Variable Speed Control Sewing Machines – What It Is and Why You Need It

Readers often ask me what is the one feature on a sewing machine
that I couldn’t live without. It’s a tough question because modern
sewing machines have so many bells and whistles. You can find
a machine with hundreds of different stitches, embroidery,
automatic buttons, drop-in bobbins, automatic needle threader (this is a close 2nd) and the list goes on and on…

But if I had to choose one I would definitely say variable speed control (also called adjustable speed control).

When I started sewing this was the one feature on my first sewing machine that I thought was brilliant and so useful for a newbie. Several years later and I am
still in love with this feature and use it every time I sew.

A Foot Pedal vs. Speed Control Slider

Well, let’s talk about various ways you can control the sewing speed when
you sew. This is important because you need to be in control when
you are sewing or else you are going to have crooked lines, ugly stitches,
and just an overall poor finished result.

Before the variable speed control slider you had a pedal. You put pressure on the
foot pedal, which makes the sewing machine “go” or the sewing needle
go up and down. And just like a car the harder you press, or the more pressure you put on the pedal, the faster your machine will sew.

My problem with foot pedals is they can be sensitive and it is almost impossible for me to provide a consistent steady pressure on the pedal while maintaining hand / eye coordination and focusing on the garment I’m sewing.

What typically happens when I use a foot pedal is I put too much pressure and my machine is sewing at light speed and then I ease off the pedal and I’m going too slow. It is back and forth.

I am not exaggerating and although some foot pedals are better than others, I could never find that middle ground of consistent sewing at a minimal speed or even at a s

low speed. This is where variable speed control comes in.

What is Adjustable Speed Control and How is it Helpful?

A machine with adjustable speed control will typically have a slider where you choose the speed that you want to sew – this can be as low as 50 stitches per minute on up to 1,000 stitches p




er minute if your machine has the capacity for it.

You set your speed and press stars and your machine sews at that speed. If its too slow, adjust the slider higher. If its too fast, adjust it down.

This sounds so simple but I cannot stress how convenient and helpful this is.

Three Top Sewing Machines with Variable Speed Control

If variable speed control is a must have feature for you then you will be shopping for a computerized sewing machine (as opposed to a mechanical sewing machine) and this is because adjustable speed control is a feature where your machine will essentially sew for you at a determine speed set by you – this is an electronic feature – vs. a mechanical sewing machine that has no electronic components. I have an in depth article on the differences between a mechanical and computerized sewing machine  if you aren’t clear on it.

Here are three top selling computerized sewing machines with adjustable speed:

 Janome 8077Brother XR9500PRWSinger 7258
Built-In Stitches 30100100
Presser Feet Included4710
Easy Buttonholes686
Needle ThreaderAutomaticAutomaticAutomatic
Slider Speed ControlYesYesYes
Thread Tension Manual Manual Automatic
Thread CutterNoYesYes
Max Speed820 spm850 spm750 spm
Weight18.2 lbs9.9 lbs14.75 lbs
Average Rating (out of 5)
Current Price

Janome 8077 Computerized Sewing Machine

Janome 8077 Computerized Sewing Machine Review A great sewing machine from the dependable Janome brand (pronounced juh-no-mee). This brand makes great mechanical sewing machines and their computerized machines are just as good.

What I really like about this computerized machine is its simplicity. With 30 built-in stitches it is not overwhelmingly complicated. It has a great variety of utility stitches, three styles of overcast stitches, and 2 blind hems for woven fabrics and knits and a handful of decorative stitches for heirloom sewing and a blanket stitch for applique. (30 stitches altogether).

And yes it has a variable speed control slider. Learn more about the Janome 8077 or purchase here.


Brother XR9500PRW Project Runway Sewing Machine

With 100 unique built-in utility, decorative and heirloom stitches, the XR9500PRW Project Runway™ sewing machine is a feature-packed machine that can be used for embellishing clothing and home décor items to creating beautiful quilt designs. This is a computerized sewing machine and it has a large back-lit LCD screen for easy stitch selection.

This really is a great machine for all sewing levels. It is usable right out of the box so it is perfect for beginners. On the other end, more experienced seamstresses will appreciate all of the automatic features, including a speed control slider.

There is also a quilting table to accommodate your quilting or other large projects. See my complete in-depth review on this machine if you want to learn more or visit Amazon to purchase and check out reviews and additional specs.


Singer 7258 Styling Sewing Machine

The Singer 7258 is one of Singer’s best selling sewing machines. It is a two time Consumer Digest award winner based on their combination of eight criteria: performance, ease of use, features, quality of construction, warranty, efficiency, styling, and maintenance and service requirements.


This is a computerized sewing so it has an LCD screen with easy navigation keys to choose your stitch. You get 100 built-in stitches, which is plenty for any type of project a beginner can think of.

Since this is computerized it has more automatic and touch button features like a start / stop button and of course speed control. Learn more and compare pricing.

Final Word on Adjustable Speed Sewing

If you can’t tell by this article so far, I am a big fan of variable speed control when sewing. This is a must have feature for me. If you are brand new to sewing you can take my word for it or go to a local sewing machine dealer or craft store and try out a machine with variable speed control and one without. After trying out both types of machines I’m sure you will appreciate the control and flexibility that the speed control gives you.