Want to make your own jeans? Or a denim jacket? Or are you looking to save money by hemming your own jeans instead of taking them to the dry cleaners? Sewing with denim is definitely a step up in the sewing game. It takes a little bit of know how and some tips and tricks and most importantly, the proper sewing machine (and needle) to sew through thicker material such as denim.
This article will help you figure out what you need to look for when shopping for the best sewing machine for denim and jeans and also give you some info that will help you with your first denim sewing project.
What to Look for In a Sewing Machine for Denim
When it comes to denim there isn’t such a thing as a “denim sewing machine” but rather heavy-duty sewing machines. They are called “heavy-duty” because they can handle thicker fabric and overall tougher and bigger sewing projects .
Keep in mind that just because a machine isn’t specifically labeled “heavy-duty,” doesn’t mean it can’t handle heavier fabrics, like denim. So when you are shopping for a sewing machine for jeans and denim it is important to know what kind of features to look for because heavy-duty sewing machines are made differently than basic home or beginner sewing machines.
It is also important to understand that most basic home sewing machines can handle hemming a pair of jeans or making something out of denim as long as the proper needle and thread are used.
But if you are going to be sewing with thick and heavy fabrics a lot or sewing through several layers of fabric more often than not, you’ll need to upgrade to the “heavy-duty” type machine.
This is because many basic home or beginner sewing machines have plastic gears and relatively weak motors, which can easily wear out over time if you are consistently sewing heavy-duty materials and projects.
It is important to understand that needle type and size is very important, no matter which machine you choose.
If you are sewing through thick materials such as denim, use a needle that is both larger and sharper than your usual universal needle. There are needles specifically made for denim, called denim or jeans needles. It is a strong thick needle with a very sharp point so it’s made to handle the challenge of sewing denim. These needles are inexpensive and easy to find online or at your local sewing store. .
Also, it’s important to change the needle often. All needles will dull over time, but particularly if it is being used a lot to pierce thick fabric or several layers of fabric at once.
Another tip to help your needle get through thick fabric is to lightly lubricate the needle with a silicone sewing lubricant. There is something called Sewer’s Aid that works perfectly for this.
Things to Keep In Mind When Shopping for a Good Sewing Machine for Denim
A strong motor. Sewing machines that do well with heavy materials such as denim need to have a strong motor so it can drive the needle through thick fabric.Many low cost beginner sewing machines have weak motors or motors with plastic gears that will easily wear out over time.
Extra-high presser foot lift.
With this machine you can fit multiple layers fabric or bulky fabrics under the presser foot with ease.
Leveling button. You may have seen this feature on Look for machines with a leveling button on the general purpose foot. This is a tiny button (usually it’s black) on the presser foot. When pressed, it lifts the front of the presser foot up so that it can climb over the thickness change in fabric. This comes in handy when sewing through the multi-layer side seam or the multi-layer bottom seam in jeans. This is typically the area of sewing jeans that causes the most broken needles.
Side by Side Comparison of Three Great Machines for Sewing Denim
|Janome DC2014||Janome HD1000||Singer 4423|
|Computerized or Mechanical||Computerized||Mechanical||Mechanical|
|Presser Feet Included||3||4|
|Easy Buttonholes||3, one-step buttonholes||1, 4-step buttonhole||1, one-step buttonhole|
|Slider Speed Control||Yes||No||No|
|Thread Cutter||Yes, Manual||Yes, Manual||Yes, Manual|
|Max Speed||1,300 spm||840 spm||1,100 spm|
|Extension Table||Not included||Not included||Not included|
|Weight||18.2 lbs||20.2 lbs||14.5 lbs|
|Average Rating (out of 5)||4.9||4.1||4.0|
|Current Price||Check Current Deals||Check Current Deals||Check Current Deals
In Depth Review of Each Machine
Check out a video of this machine in action. At one point you can see the machine easily sew through 12 layers of denim without a hitch.
The body is made of cast aluminum like the metal machines that used to be standard in the industry.
Features of this machine:
- 14 built-in stitches with a convenient stitch panel on the front of the machine
- Automatic needle threader
- Extra high presser foot to easily glider over several layers of fabric
If I could point out some downsides to the Janome HD1000, there are two. First, there is no speed control. This may be a bummer if you have used this feature in the past and are used to it. (I know I’ve become attached to this feature on my machine). Also, this machine only has utility stitches so if you want decorative stitches you won’t find any here.
Overall, the Janome HD100 is an excellent choice for the home sewer with intermediate or advanced skills.
If you are among the majority of home sewers who love to sew but don’t care so much about having a bunch of decorative stitches or fance extras, the Janome HD 1000 is a good fit for you. It is priced very affordably for most budgets and the all metal body proves that this machine will last for years to come.
Check out the 130+ reviews from owners of the Janome HD1000.
If you want a machine with a few more built-in stitches and an automatic one-step buttonhole, check out the big brother of this machine – the Janome HD3000 for $50 more.
Of the three machines here, this is the only one with an electronic speed control. This allows you to modify the pace of your machine to fit your specific need. Set the speed to the “Max” if you want to sew quickly or to “Min” if you are teaching someone or if you need to sew something slowly and with precision. I use this feature all the time and it is one feature I wouldn’t want to do without.
The Janome DC2014 is a great choice for a heavy-duty sewing machine. It easily sews through several layers of thick fabric such as denim, and it also has many other convenient and user-friendly features that are handy for all types of projects.
Features of the Janome DC2014:
- 50 built-in stitches with a great mix of utility and decorative stitches
- 3 styles of one-step buttonholes
- Automatic needle threader
- Memorized Up / Down needle stop position (you are able to either have the needle always stop down or up)
At 18 lbs it is not exactly lightweight, but it comes with a hard case with convenient handle so it is definitely portable.
If you are interested in this machine, I have a complete in-depth review here.
You can also read customer reviews of the Janome DC2014 to assist you with your buying decision.
Though it is the higher priced of the three machines I’m reviewing here, the DC2014 is my top pick for a heavy-duty sewing machine that has all of the features you’ll need for most sewing projects and it will last you for years.
As you can see, the Singer 4423 is specifically labeled “heavy duty.” While I don’t think this is the top of the line as far as heavy-duty machines go, I chose it for a couple of reasons.
1. It does do well with heavier material such as denim or leather, though I don’t think it will last as long as the machines reviewed above, with daily heavy-duty use.
2. I also chose this because of the price. If you need a heavy-duty machine but you are on a budget, this is your machine. It is half the cost of Janome HD1000 above and a third of the price of the Janome DC2014 above.
Let’s look at the features:
- 23 Built-In Stitches including the essential utility stitches, stretch stitches, and decorative stitches.
- 1 automatic 4-step buttonhole
- Automatic needle threader
- Extra-High presser foot lifter
One downside to this machine is that it is not exactly quiet. I’ve sewn on machines that can sew fast and easily through many layers of fabric and they are whisper quiet. The Singer 4423 is louder than other models I’ve sewn with, which may or may not be a negative for you.
Overall, this machine has mixed reviews. Some are glowing, while others have issues with threading. For under $130, this is not exactly a high-end machine but if you need a heavy-duty sewing machine and you are on a tight budget, this is one of your best options.
Sometimes reading reviews from those who have the machine is the best way to decide on whether a machine is right for you. Check out the 1200+ reviews from customers who bought this machine.
The Bottom Line on Sewing Machines and Jeans
I always say it is best to get the highest quality machine that you can afford. Sometimes if you spend just an extra $50 to $100 you can get a much better machine with a myriad of features that will provide for versatility, as well as quality and durability that will last for a long time.
I hope one of these three machines suits your needs and budget for a heavy duty sewing machine. You can always check out Amazon.com for other heavy duty sewing machines.
Good luck and happy sewing. Please let me know if you have any questions. I do my best to respond to everyone.