Cowboys wear jeans for a good reason — aside from just looking good!
Super tough and practical denim can stand up to the roughest treatment — but this can also make it a challenge to sew.
When considering what sewing machine is good for jeans, we need to understand that this thick, fibrous fabric requires a more specialist approach than thinner materials like cotton.
We’ve compiled this list of the best sewing machines for denim and jeans, as well as a buying guide for features to look out for.
You’ll soon know what sewing machine is good for denim and a whole lot more besides.
Let’s take it away…
- What is Denim?
- What Sewing Machine is Good for Jeans?
- 5 Best Sewing Machines For Denim and Jeans
What is Denim?
Before we even consider how to sew jeans, we should really understand a little more about denim as a fabric.
Although we think of denim as a much sturdier fabric than cotton, it’s actually made entirely from cotton. The reason why it’s so thick and strong is because of the way it’s been weaved together.
A weft thread passes beneath at least 2 warped cotton threads, producing the typical diagonal ribbing we see in denim fabric.
When it comes to clothing, denim is most commonly found in jeans, skirts, shirts, overalls and dresses (although it’s been known to crop up in other uses too!).
The word ‘jeans’ actually comes from the city of Genoa in Italy, where jeans were first manufactured.
What Sewing Machine is Good for Jeans?
Now that we’ve had a little history lesson, let’s get down to it: what makes a sewing machine well suited to denim?
When it comes to knowing what sewing machine is good for denim, we have to consider the features which will work most effectively with the fabric to give the best results. The right sewing machine will step up to the challenge and get the job done without compromising the quality of the finished item.
If you plan on sewing a lot of denim you will need a durable heavy duty machine.
Heavy duty sewing machines have stronger construction and more ‘oomph’ than many beginner or more basic designs, and can easily handle tougher, thicker fabrics like denim.
As long as a sewing machine is powerful and sturdy enough, it should be adequate for the task providing it includes some of the following features:
Dedicated Denim Needle
These needles are specially designed to penetrate tightly woven fabrics like denim, and are much sharper and thicker than a standard needle. The eye of the needle is very slim on a denim needle.
You may need to lubricate the needle to help it punch through the thick fabric and should change the needle regularly as it will naturally dull with use over time.
Some sewing machines will come ready equipped with a dedicated denim needle, but you will need to purchase them separately if the machine is not kitted out.
The presser foot you use will be very important when you’re sewing jeans as it can be very tricky to feed the thick denim smoothly through a machine.
Some sewing machines come equipped with their very own jeans presser foot — Bernina, for instance — but otherwise a walking foot should do you just fine.
This will prevent the fabric from stretching and slipping around as you attempt to sew it.
High Presser Foot Lifter
As such a heavy fabric, you’ll want to be using both your hands to guide your denim during the sewing process.
So you don’t have to waste your hands lifting the presser foot, you should buy a machine with a high presser foot lifter to do this hard work for you.
This way you’ll have plenty of extra clearance for sewing multiple layers of denim and will still be able to control the fabric with your hands.
Powerful Motor and Metal Frame
The best sewing machine for jeans will be equipped with a metal interior frame and — most importantly — a strong motor.
A strong motor will ensure that your machine can always force the needle through your denim without accidentally breaking or chewing up the fabric. It will also mean your machine can take on multiple layers of thick fabrics without giving up the ghost.
A metal interior frame — as opposed to plastic — lends even more support and gives the machine a longer lifespan, despite the fact that it’s working harder than normal.
Metal (as opposed to plastic) inner workings and a strong motor are required to force the needle through jeans without it breaking or chewing up the fabric. Metal parts mean the machine will have a long lifespan even though it’s working hard.
Stitch Length Variation
Longer length stitches are best for denim, as shorter stitches may result in snapped threads or broken needles with this bulky fabric.
When your sewing machine has an option for variable stitch length, you’ll be able to choose the optimal stitch for the fabric. On the best sewing machine for denim, you’ll be able to use a dial to select stitch length easier than ever before.
Zig Zag Stitch Option
Anyone who’s tried to sew denim before will be well aware of how easily this fabric frays if you’re not careful.
As such, taking the time and effort to stitch sturdy seams is an absolute must. Make sure that your sewing machine has a zig zag stitch available for the job.
5 Best Sewing Machines For Denim and Jeans
Now that we know what it takes to sew denim like a pro, it’s time to find which of these machines are best at what they do.
Check out this table to easily compare the machines against each other:
|# of Stitches||37||30||50||34||23|
|Automatic Needle Threader?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Denim-Friendly presser feet?||Spring action zigzag foot||Seam foot||No||Gliding foot||No|
Choose the machine that’s right for you and get stitching!
Specially designed to handle heavyweight fabrics including jeans, the Brother ST371HD is an impressive entry level heavy duty sewing machine.
Even with several layers of thick denim the stitch quality is remarkable — this machine represents true value for money.
It comes with a set of heavyweight needles — including a #16 — that are perfect for sewing denim and a zigzag presser foot with spring action, which is ideal for sewing thick seams.
It also features a choice of 37 stitches, automatic needle threading, high pressure foot lift and a convenient quick-set drop-in bobbin system to reduce the risk of problematic jams. It’s perfect for beginner sewers and the more experienced among us.
- Suitable for beginners and the more experienced
- Very user friendly with a built-in needle threader and jam-resistant quick-set drop-in top bobbin
- Reliable and durable
- Mechanical machine means less costly repairs
- Powerful motor
- 37 built-in stitches
- Comes with 6 quick-change sewing feet
- Bright work area
- Free arm for sewing sleeves
- Tension control
- Adjustable stitch length and width
- Low cost
- There’s no speed control
- It’s not computerized
- No up/down button for positioning the needle
The Janome 7330 Magnolia is a high tech and sturdy machine, that’s suitable for everyone from inexperienced sewers to professionals.
The double lift presser foot can be lifted high enough to pass bulky items with ease and it’s powerful enough to punch through multiple layers of denim fabric.
The superior 7-piece feed dog system pushes fabric through with the minimum of friction and the stop/start feature with variable speed control slider means you have maximum control while you sew.
It also comes with a ton of user friendly features such as jam proof bobbin system, automatic needle threader, top loading bobbin with see-through cover and automatic thread tensioning. Perfect for beginners and those needing something that just works.
Could this be the best sewing machine for jeans?
- Suitable for inexperienced sewers up to professionals
- Sturdy and durable build quality
- 30 built-in stitches plus 6 1-step buttonholes (great for clothes makers!)
- Backlit LED screen
- Automatic needle threader
- Free arm
- Extra high presser foot lift
- Variable stitch length
- Auto declutch bobbin winder
- Speed control slider
- Easy snap-on presser feet
- Runs quietly
- Only a minimal choice of embroidery stitches
- No carrying case
We’re back with Brother again for this sewing machine designed especially for clothes makers, in collaboration with the highly popular Project Runway TV show.
Denim glides through this machine thanks to the advanced feed dog system, and the motors have enough power to keep stitches neat even when working with thicker fabrics like denim at faster speeds.
Stitch length and width is variable so you can adjust easily to achieve the best results.
There are a whopping 50 types of stitch to choose from, and it also includes automatic needle threader, top loading bobbin and a vertical spool pin to keep thread feeding through efficiently and minimize tension troubles.
Considering its wide array of features, we think it’s incredibly reasonably priced.
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Good choice for novice sewers and clothes makers
- Huge range of stitches — including utility, decorative and heirloom, and 5 1-step buttonholes
- Runs quietly with minimum vibration at higher speeds
- Vertical spool pin for smooth and consistent feed
- Solidly made
- Reasonably priced
- One step bobbin replacement with quick-set drop-in bobbin
- Automatic needle threader
- LCD display screen
- A little limited for more advanced sewers
- LED light could be brighter in the work area
This unique machine has been specially designed to sew denim fabrics. Not only is it exceptionally powerful, but it also produces accurate and even sewing.
The gliding presser foot pressure can be finely honed using a dial to get it exactly right to effortlessly slide over layered denim fabric – it will even adjust to varying thicknesses.
It’s also built for ease of use: this mechanical machine comes equipped with automatic needle threading function, 34 built-in stitches, a wide sewing area, convertible free arm, and drop feed system.
- Very powerful
- The embroidery stitches work excellently on denim
- Easy to use
- Sews multiple layers of thick fabric
- Automatic needle threader
- Convertible free arm
- Comes with a host of accessories, including a gliding foot
- Presser foot pressure can be adjusted with a dial
- Can be noisy
- Although it’s ideal for denim, some users have found it can pucker a little when used on thinner fabrics
Our final machine in the competition of the best sewing machine for jeans is the Singer 4423 Heavy Duty — one of the most popular sewing machines available on the market right now.
Its primary appeal is it’s incredibly fast speed — up to 1,100 stitches per minute — but it also more than holds its own against heavy fabrics like denim.
The metal frame of the Singer 4423 makes it strong enough to handle tough denim and the weight prevents the machine bouncing around at high sewing speeds, keeping it stable and your stitches even. The 60% stronger motor doesn’t do any harm either.
It features an extra high presser foot lifter, so no matter how thick your material is you won’t have any problem sewing layers. Foot pressure is automatic, as is the needle threader.
We also can’t complain about that ultra reasonable price!
- Good budget option
- High speeds of up to 1,100 stitches per minute
- Very stable and durable
- 60% more powerful motor can handle tough materials
- 23 built in stitches including 1 buttonhole
- Stainless steel bed plate for smooth feeding
- Heavy duty metal interior frame
- Automatic needle threader
- Top drop-in bobbin
- Extra high presser foot lifter
- Adjustable presser foot pressure control
- Adjustable stitch length
- It can be tricky hitting on the correct thread tension
- Runs quite loudly
- Stitch range is limited
So that’s our pick for the best sewing machines for denim and jeans! You can find more of our recommendations of top rated sewing gear here.
Let us know your favorites!