Which Denim sewing machine is best?

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OUR FAVORITE
Bernette 38 Swiss Design Computerized Sewing Machine
BEST BUDGET OPTION
SINGER Heavy Duty 4432 110 Stitch Applications, Metal Frame, Stainless Steel...
OUR HIGH-END PICK
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine w/Hard Case + Ultra Glide Foot + Blind...
Brother ST150HDH Sewing Machine, Strong & Tough, 50 Built-in Stitches, LCD...
Janome 2212 Sewing Machine Includes Exclusive Bonus Bundle
Bernette 38 Swiss Design Computerized Sewing Machine
SINGER Heavy Duty 4432 110 Stitch Applications, Metal Frame, Stainless Steel...
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine w/Hard Case + Ultra Glide Foot + Blind...
Brother ST150HDH Sewing Machine, Strong & Tough, 50 Built-in Stitches, LCD...
Janome 2212 Sewing Machine Includes Exclusive Bonus Bundle
OUR FAVORITE
Bernette 38 Swiss Design Computerized Sewing Machine
Bernette 38 Swiss Design Computerized Sewing Machine
BEST BUDGET OPTION
SINGER Heavy Duty 4432 110 Stitch Applications, Metal Frame, Stainless Steel...
SINGER Heavy Duty 4432 110 Stitch Applications, Metal Frame, Stainless Steel...
OUR HIGH-END PICK
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine w/Hard Case + Ultra Glide Foot + Blind...
Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine w/Hard Case + Ultra Glide Foot + Blind...
Brother ST150HDH Sewing Machine, Strong & Tough, 50 Built-in Stitches, LCD...
Brother ST150HDH Sewing Machine, Strong & Tough, 50 Built-in Stitches, LCD...
Janome 2212 Sewing Machine Includes Exclusive Bonus Bundle
Janome 2212 Sewing Machine Includes Exclusive Bonus Bundle

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Regardless of whether you’re looking to make jeans or jackets, skirts or shirts, sewing with this particular fabric can be tricky, to say the least. Buying the best sewing machine for denim will make things a whole lot easier…and more enjoyable, too!

In today’s post, I’m going to help you make the correct selection for your sewing room. Not only have I reviewed some of the best sewing machines for denim, I’ve also included some tips and advice for denim sewers, old and new. 

First, though, let’s take a look at why denim can prove to be so difficult to sew.

What makes denim different from other fabrics?

Denim is well known for its durability, and blue jeans were first made popular by Levi Strauss who made denim pants designed specifically for miners during the gold rush of 1853. 

The material then went on to become synonymous with general workwear before it was embedded firmly into American culture by style icons such as James Dean and Marilyn Monroe in the ‘50s. Blue jeans, back then, were seen as a symbol of disobedience and rebellion. [1]

But, what is it about denim that makes it so different from other materials out there? And why is it so difficult to sew?

Denim is basically a heavy cotton twill, which changes the material’s composition when compared to a standard weave. Twills are generally woven by running the weft (the vertical yarn from the loom) over and under more than one warp (the horizontal yarn), but denim takes things a step further. [2]

weft and warp denim

Weft yarns are taken over one horizontal yarn then back under three warps to leave the diagonal ribs on the underside of the fabric. This process of going under one and then back over three makes the material far more hard-wearing than the weaker over one and under two.

This process not only makes denim more durable, it also complicates the sewing process because of the way the horizontal and vertical yarns lie in relation to one another. You need a device with enough punch to consistently sew denim well, and you must pay attention to the quality and sharpness of your needle, too.

Will a regular sewing machine handle denim?

In short, yes, but there’s a little more to it than a straightforward yes or no.

Even the most basic device will be capable of hemming jeans every once in a while, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to run swathes of denim through it on a regular basis. You won’t, and if you push your luck too far you’ll probably end up with a bunch of broken needles and wasted material.

A burnt out motor or broken gearing is not out of the question, either. I know, I’ve been there.

While there are actually very few sewing machines made specifically for denim use, you will want to look at those capable of handling heavier fabrics if you want to frequently sew denim garments.

Key features of the best sewing machines for jeans and denim

sewing jeans

So, now that we know we’re looking for a more robust tool to help us sew denim perfectly, how do we go about selecting the best one for the job? Well, there are a few key features to look out for, including those listed below:

Powerful motor

Naturally, the most important part of the best sewing machine for denim will always be the motor that powers the rest of the appliance. Torque is an important component here, but it is only usually spoken of in commercial circles. 

So, how do you find a good domestic device with enough oomph to cope with denim?

Probably the easiest way is to look at the appliance’s SPM or Stitches Per Minute. While this is by no means a foolproof guide, it will give you a decent overview of the motor’s power and capability. Look for no less than 800 spm.

Low-cost devices will generally have weaker motors that won’t be able to consistently handle the workload associated with punching through thick layers of denim and will eventually give up the ghost. If you intend to work with this fabric regularly, it’s probably a good idea to avoid devices at the lower end of the market.

Build quality

As with the motor, the overall build quality of any denim sewing machine needs to be better than average if you want to buy an appliance that will last. Strong and durable are the keywords to look out for here.

Generally speaking, the greater the number of metal parts, the better, but such devices can be difficult to find – especially in the domestic market. Plastic is everywhere these days, and it is often the weakest link in terms of a machine’s lifespan.

Weight

A decent indicator of quality is weight. Heavy machines will largely be made up of sturdier parts, so keep an eye on the poundage. 

Be careful here, though, as many retailers will show different figures. Some will show the item weight, which is what you want to know, while others will publish the shipping weight, which isn’t as helpful. 

Knowing how much the box, accessories, instruction manual, and everything else weighs isn’t going to give you much of a steer when it comes to evaluating the solidity of your prospective purchase.

Receptive foot pedal

Another crucial part of any good sewing machine for denim is the foot pedal. This is often overlooked, but it is a mistake to do so, as control is everything when working with this thick fabric.

Frequent speed adjustment is part and parcel of sewing denim. Take hemming jeans, for example. You’ll be able to whizz along on the nice even parts, but then you’ll have to slow things right down to get over the ‘hump’ of those flat-felled seams. 

Once that’s done, you’ll be off to the races again…all of which requires a receptive foot pedal.

Some appliances ship with pedals that simply aren’t receptive enough, leaving you with an out of control feeling. If you hear or read about slow uptake or response lags, it’s best to give these devices a wide berth if you intend to regularly work with denim.

Presser foot pressure adjustment

Knowing when, and how, to adjust the presser foot pressure is something that catches out newbies, and even some intermediates, but it’s essential if you want denim to feed through your machine smoothly and evenly.

Not all sewing machines have the capability to adjust the pressure of the presser foot, and those that do will vary in quality. 

Suffice to say that you’re better off with an appliance that has this feature than one without it, but it’s even more favorable to have one that works well. So, keep an eye out for any mention of this often ignored control setting – both good and bad. 

Extra high presser foot lift

This is fairly standard on most machines built with heavier fabrics in mind, but it’s worth highlighting, nonetheless.

An extra high presser foot lifter does pretty much what you’d expect it to…lift the presser foot extra high! This is handy when working with thick materials, and especially when said fabric is layered, such as when you are hemming jeans.

Selecting the right needle for sewing denim

hemming jeans

Possibly as important as the machine itself is the needle you decide to use with it. Selecting the right needle for sewing denim is vital if you want to achieve consistently good results.

Thankfully, many manufacturers actually label their needles with “Jeans”, so that’ll take any guesswork out of the equation. What you are looking for, though, is an extra fine point needle with a very strong shank.

Unsurprisingly, thicker denim requires a larger needle size than thinner denim, so keep that in mind as well. 

You’ll also need to change your needles frequently, as constantly punching through denim will dull the needle faster than you think. Personally, I like to switch them after around six hours of continuous use or whenever a project comes to an end. Others will tell you that eight hours is fine, so judge for yourself. [3, 4]

Just be sure to do it!

Needles are fairly inexpensive and regularly changing them will actually prolong the life of your machine, so it’s an investment worth making.

pack of Schmetz jeans needles

Personally, I’m a fan of Schmetz needles when working with jeans.

What about thread?

woman selecting denim thread

As with needles, choosing the right thread is vitally important. Again, we’re lucky here, as these are often labelled as “jeans thread” as well, so no need for head scratching.

The brand you use will come down to personal choice. I find Gütermann to be a solid manufacturer that balances quality and value well.

Which presser foot is best for sewing denim?

Perhaps the final piece of the best sewing machine for denim jigsaw is the choice of presser foot. 

You’ll probably find that very few machines will ship with the right presser foot for sewing jeans, so you may have to buy them separately. Thankfully, they’re not all that expensive.

Here are some to consider:

Roller foot

sewing machine roller foot

Many people love using a roller foot when sewing denim, and it’s easy to see why once you’ve used one yourself.

Most roller feet will actually have three rollers: one large one, which is situated at the front of the foot, and two smaller rollers towards the back end. Their presence allows thicker fabrics to be fed easily and evenly.

You can pick up a rolling foot that will snap on any low-shank appliance here.

Walking foot

walking foot

The walking foot is a favorite with quilters and leather workers, but those who are sewing denim frequently can benefit from having one in their arsenal as well.

Walking feet work in conjunction with your machine’s feed dogs to apply pressure in the same direction as the feed. This is the opposite of what happens when you are using a regular presser foot, where the foot will sometimes be working against the flow.

While this isn’t a problem with straightforward fabrics, thicker stuff like denim or layered material may end up being pushed backwards, which can result in misaligned stitches. 

Walking feet, on the other hand, skip over the top side of the fabric in a, you guessed it, walking motion, thus ensuring there’s no movement when the material is being fed.

Some walking feet, like this one here, can be bought retrospectively and will fit many different makes and models.

Any other tips for sewing jeans and denim?

Before we get to the best sewing machine for denim reviews, here are a few more tips and ideas for you to use when you get in front of your appliance and start stitching.

Leveling button

Ever wondered what that little black button on the side of your presser foot is for? It’s a leveling button, and it’s an incredibly important feature that many people are unaware of.

The leveling button allows you to hem jeans with ease once you know how to use it. The basic principle is this:

How To Use The Leveling Button On Your Sewing Machine

  1. When the fabric thickness changes and the front of the foot raises up to a point where it is higher than the back, stop sewing with the needle in a downward position.
  2. Raise the presser foot slightly and push down gently on the front of the foot to level it out on the heightened edge of the material. When level, lock the foot into this new position by pressing the black button.
  3. Keep pressing the button whilst lowering the foot back down. The foot will stay at the level you set and you can release the button.
  4. Resume sewing and the button will “pop” back out once the foot comes back down from the raised fabric.

Dritz Jean-a-ma-jig

Dritz Jean-A-Ma-Jig

This is a natty bit of kit that, again, will help when you are hemming jeans. It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that!” items that are so simple, yet very effective. 

If you hem jeans often, you need a Dritz Jean-a-ma-jig in your life. Go get one now…you can thank me later!

Stop skipping stitches

More often than not a skipped stitch will be caused by the needle. This is especially true when sewing denim or hemming jeans, as the tough material will dull a needle far faster than other, softer fabrics.

Using an incorrect needle will also cause skipping issues, so double check that you have the right one fitted. If in doubt, switch it out.

As mentioned above, needles aren’t all that expensive and they will help prolong the life of your denim sewing machine.

Do away with frays 

Anyone who has handled denim will know just how easily this type of fabric frays. The problem is caused by the way in which denim is produced, but there’s a simple enough solution: a zig-zag stitch.

Yep, a simple zig-zag will eliminate frays from seams and it looks pretty cool, too.

Soften denim before you sew

This is a big one, although it’s something that is often overlooked. This is understandable, as you’re adding another task to your project, but the extra effort is well worth it.

How do you soften denim?

Simple, you just prewash it. Doing so will loosen the fibers and also have the added benefit of giving you truer measurements as denim has a tendency to shrink a little with the first wash. 

Make this part of your denim sewing routine and you’ll not look back.

Get ironing

Another seemingly tiresome and unnecessary chore is ironing your denim before you sew. I get it, ironing is boring and time-consuming, but when it comes to working with denim, it’s another job that’s worth the effort.

If you haven’t already got one, buy yourself a good steam iron and press your seams before you sew. This will make your next denim project easier to sew and it’ll help prevent broken needles and thread.

Ultimately, it’ll protect your sewing machine, too.

Best sewing machine for denim and jeans: The reviews

Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, it’s time to start reviewing the best sewing machines for denim. I’ve tried to give a varied range of devices here, so there should be something to suit all pockets.

Let’s get to it!

Bernette 38

Bernette 38

First up is the brilliant Bernette 38.

For those of you who are aware of the Bernette range, you’ll know that the Bernette 38 (or b38 for short) is the top model from what is essentially the domestic arm of that fabulous sewing machine manufacturer, Bernina.

As such, I had high hopes for this device…and I wasn’t disappointed. This really is a very good sewing machine indeed. 

With plenty of bells and whistles, the Bernette 38 could easily overwhelm, but it doesn’t. In fact, it’s a rather friendly appliance and pretty intuitive to use. I honestly believe that you could sit a complete novice down in front of this machine and they’d be sewing away within an hour. 

The balance between simplicity and capability is superb. Not only will a newbie have no issue whatsoever with the b38, intermediate and advanced sewists will also be happy to use it as well. It’s a sewing machine for all levels, which would make it a great buy for a multigenerational household.

The Bernette 38’s versatility isn’t restricted to skill levels, either. This tool will handle a wide range of tasks and cope with them all admirably. I featured it in my best sewing machine for clothes roundup, as it will sew everything from lightweight materials right up to what we’re here for today – denim.

Build quality is superb and the machine remains stable throughout the speed range, which will take you up to 820 stitches per minute at full pelt. While I’d ideally like to see a motor produce a little more when looking at sewing machines for hemming jeans, the b38 doesn’t miss a beat.

Stitch quality is also fantastic and you feel completely in control at all times. The Bernette 38 will also appeal to the creatives out there, as you get a mind blowing 394 preprogrammed built-in stitches to choose from. This includes eight different one-step buttonholes and three alphabets. 

Presser foot adjustment is simple and responsive, hence the b38’s ability to handle such a wide range of fabrics. In terms of the feet themselves, you’ll find eight included in the accessory pack: overlock, blindstitch, satin stitch, button sew on, buttonhole (with slider), zig-zag, zipper, and open toe. You also get a hard cover with this machine, which is always preferable if you intend to sew on the go.

A final plus point for the Bernette 38 is its looks. Now, I know looks aren’t everything, but many sewing machines out there are downright ugly, so being able to cast your eye over something as aesthetically pleasing as the b38 is a bonus that can’t go unmentioned.

As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of this Swiss designed machine. A solid two thumbs up from me.

LIKES
  • Superbly constructed
  • Simple to use, yet there’s plenty of depth for advanced users
  • Handles thick fabric beautifully
  • Great value for money
  • Ships with a hard dust cover & extension table
  • Looks incredible
DISLIKES
  • Could possibly do with being a bit higher in the SPM stakes (820)

SINGER 4432

SINGER 4432

Next up we have an extremely popular model from industry giant SINGER, the 4432.

First impressions are good when you unbox the SINGER 4432, as its distinctive battleship gray look makes it seem as though it’s ready to tackle anything you may throw its way. Closer inspection may make you a little more concerned, however, as it’s pretty flimsy in places, but don’t be fooled…this is a very capable machine for the money.

That’s really the crux of what has made the SINGER 4432 so popular. Sure, it’s not going to last a lifetime, but it’ll serve you well while it’s around, that’s for sure.

SINGER claim that the motor they’ve put inside the 4432 is 60% stronger than the ones they equip their standard sewing machines with, and I have no reason to doubt that. This is a really powerful appliance, especially when you consider that it’s essentially in the budget range of sewing machines for denim.

Stitches per minute are impressive to say the least. At 1,100 SPM, the SINGER 4432 certainly packs a punch. The good news continues once you see the results, all stitches are balanced and even, which is vital when a lot of them will be on display as they are with jeans.

The presser foot pressure is decent and the feet can be lifted into an extra high position to allow those hemming jeans and other layered fabrics enough room to maneuver. As the SINGER 4432 is mechanical, you don’t anywhere near as many pre-programmed stitches to choose from as you do with the b38 above but, with 32 built-in, it’s not too shabby. Many non-computerized devices have far less, and cost a lot more.

Being mechanical will undoubtedly appeal to many, as LCD display and too many buttons will put old-school sewers off. Thankfully, with the SINGER 4432 you’ll still get an exceptional machine, albeit one that isn’t exactly built to last. 

In terms of accessories, you’ll get four presser feet – zipper, all-purpose, buttonhole, and button sewing – and there’s a seam ripper / lint brush, needles, quilting guide, spare bobbins, spool pin and felt, a screwdriver, and a soft-sided dust cover in the box as well. 

This is no tank, and it won’t take kindly to really dense layers of denim or other materials like thick leather, but if you’re working on standard projects like hemming jeans and such, this is an incredibly good buy. Definitely recommended to anyone who doesn’t want to break the $200 mark.

LIKES
  • Very fast (1,100SPM), especially given the price
  • Excellent value
  • Will tackle on most denim tasks with relative ease
  • Fantastic motor
DISLIKES
  • Might not be as durable as some of the other models

Janome HD3000

Janome HD3000

Another computer-free zone for you now, it’s time to review the Janome HD3000.

If you’re looking for a bare-bones and basic device, then the Janome HD3000 may well be on your shopping shortlist. This is about as straightforward as sewing machines get these days, but there’s nothing stripped down about the price tag. 

This has a fairly hefty one attached to it, especially as it’s such a rudimentary piece of apparatus. We all know, however, that you often get what you pay for, so let’s not jump the gun.

Performance-wise, the Janome HD3000 bangs out a reasonable 860 stitches per minute, but it can sound a little bit cranky at times. There’s also a concern about the strength and durability of some of the parts found underneath the casing, which is baffling at first glance as this appears to be a very well-built appliance.

There have been more than a few complaints about the plastic components used in the HD3000, and given the cost it’s not surprising to hear gripes and groans. Even some of the external controls feel a little bit stiff and cumbersome.

So, we can write the Janome HD3000 off our best sewing machine for denim list than, can we? Not so fast.

As contrary as it sounds, I still think this is a really decent machine, notwithstanding the fact that it may still be a tad overpriced. Others have suggested that there could be a quality control issue at the plant where it’s made, and that’s not outside the realms of possibility given the polarizing opinions you’ll hear when discussing the HD3000.

Let’s examine some of the plus points. 

This machine copes really well with heavy materials and will zip through layers of denim without issue. Granted, it’s marketed as being a heavy-duty tool, but I’ve been sold that line before! This one, however, really does live up to its billing, although you’ll still have to draw the line at the really thick stuff. Saddle leather, for example, is probably a bridge too far.

Stitch quality is excellent, providing you take care when setting up, although the HD3000 only comes with 18 built-in patterns, so you may feel a little short changed in that regard. The feed system is equally impressive. You can confidently send through all manner of fabrics without fear of them becoming misaligned. Naturally, you can also drop the feed dogs on this appliance as well if you fancy going freestyle.

The Janome HD3000 weighs in at a hefty enough 18lbs, so not much wobble to be had even when hit the top speed. It’s just a pity about the noise; there are definitely quieter gadgets out there.

In the box, you’ll find five extra feet – blind hem, rolled hem, overedge, zig-zag, and an automatic buttonhole – to go along with the all-purpose one that is already fitted. Accessory bundles vary, though, so be sure to check what you’re getting before hitting Buy Now.

Personally, I’d sit on my hands and save up for the Bernette 38, but I know that isn’t going to be a viable option for many of you out there. If you’re willing to lay out the money for a HD3000 (as opposed to, say, the less expensive SINGER above), given the problems others have had I’d seriously consider taking out additional warranty with it. Better safe than sorry, no?

LIKES
  • Produces wonderfully balanced and even stitches
  • Perfect for most denim work
  • Sturdy and solid, no wobble here
  • Excellent feed system
DISLIKES
  • Limited stitch library
  • Setup can be a little finicky
  • Can feel a little clunky
  • Expensive for what you get

Toyota J34 Super Jeans

Toyota Super Jeans J34

On to the next review in this best sewing machine for denim roundup, the Toyota J34 Super Jeans.

Now then, as fans of the BBC car show Top Gear will no doubt be aware, Toyota know a thing or two about making indestructible stuff. Obviously, the company’s infamous Hilux pickup truck is a bit different to a sewing machine, but you’d be forgiven for having high hopes regardless. 

So, does the J34 Super Jeans live up to its four-wheeled cousin? Well, the jury is out on that one. While it may be designed to plow its way through 12 layers of denim, the Toyota J34 Super Jeans seems to struggle with a lot less…and this model sits at the top of their denim sewing machine range, ahead of the less expensive J15, J17, and J26. 

Somewhat unsurprisingly, the J34 Super Jeans comes with 34 built-in stitches, which isn’t bad at all considering this is yet another mechanical appliance. The range of patterns is decent, too, with a fairly even split between standard and decorative stitches (15 and 19 respectively).

The Toyota J34 Super Jeans is really easy to operate and the gliding foot that comes with the machine is the star of the show, although I wouldn’t trust it to glide over 12 layers of denim as advertized. This isn’t as robust as the exterior look and the marketing would lead you to believe.

Another thing that annoyed me about this device was the “Built-in Quick Advisor.” This sounds jazzy and high-tech, but in reality it’s just a cheap spiral-bound set of flash cards stuck to the side of the machine. They’ll be handy for those who need prompts for threading and placing the bobbin, but how long they’d be of use is up for debate.

The J34 does come with adjustable presser foot pressure, unlike the other appliances in the Super Jeans range, and it works well enough. Other features like the drop feed lever, easy to use dials, reverse sewing switch, and stitch length control all perform as expected, but they don’t exactly fill you with joy when you’re using any of them.

At just under 11.5lbs, it’s also pretty lightweight. This is a plus point if you intend to cart the contraption around with you, but for sewing jeans and other denim garments I prefer a little more heft. As this is specifically marketed as a sewing machine for jeans, this is a little disappointing.

As mentioned above, you get a very good gliding foot with the J34 Super Jeans, along with an overcasting foot, zipper foot, blind hem foot, buttonhole foot, and a roller foot, so Toyota have got that range spot on. 

Other accessories found in the box are standard needles, jeans needles, a ball point needle, plastic bobbins, spool cap, quilting guide, seam ripper, screwdriver, and dust cover, so in terms of extras, the J34 has plenty going for it.

The machine itself, though, isn’t my favorite. In fact, I was tempted to leave it out of this list altogether, but as it is marketed so directly at those who want to sew denim I thought it important to give my opinion. 

All in all, this is an underwhelming appliance. I’d much rather have any of the other denim sewing machines reviewed here.

LIKES
  • Easy to use
  • Gliding foot is great
  • Decent accessory pack
DISLIKES
  • Bit lightweight
  • Struggles to live up to the marketing hype
  • The “Built-in Quick Advisor” is horrible
  • It’s an ugly beast

Brother ST150HDH

Brother ST150HDH

Time for a relative newcomer to the denim sewing machine world now, the Brother ST150HDH.

This model from Brother sees us return to microchips, rather than mechanics. Billed as “Strong and Tough”, the Brother ST150HDH certainly talks a good game, but does it perform as well as the cogs and gears featured above? 

Happily, I can tell you that it does. 

As with most of the devices reviewed here, the Brother ST150HDH isn’t going to get on too well with the really heavy stuff like factory equipment will, but when it comes to basic denim stitching it carries out those tasks admirably. 

Like the J34 above, the ST150HDH is pretty lightweight. In fact, this device is actually lighter than the Toyota, but it doesn’t feel that way when you are sewing on it. At a mere 10.14lbs, this is surprising to say the least and how Brother have achieved the stability they have with such an easy to lift sewing machine is a mystery, but I’ll take it.

Speed-wise, the Brother ST150HDH churns out 850 stitches per minute, which is relatively standard. The inclusion of the speed control feature, something only present on computerized devices, will be welcomed by those who like to slow things down without having to worry about applying unwanted pressure on the foot pedal.

Speaking of which, the ST150HDH responds nicely in this regard, as it starts to stitch at the first hint of pressure from your foot and moves up steadily through the speed ranges. Stitches remain balanced and even, giving you clean results across the whole SPM scope.

Fabric feeds nicely enough through the machine thanks to the seven-piece system and your hands don’t feel overly cramped or restricted, despite the compact nature of this particular device. No problems with slippage or material misaligning whatsoever.

The stitch library, however, is a little disappointing for a computerized model, as you only get 50 to choose from. In fairness, though, this will probably still be more than enough for many domestic sewists. Stitch selection is really straightforward, and the LED screen is clear and easy to read.

You get a decent enough selection of handy bits and pieces with this appliance, with nine presser feet – zipper, quarter inch piecing, blind stitch, button sewing, buttonhole, spring action zigzag, walking, overcasting, and monogramming – plus a selection of needles and a few bobbins, too.

If you’re in the market for a denim sewing machine that does a bit more than the SINGER 4432, but don’t want to break the bank, the Brother ST150HDH could be the perfect fit.

LIKES
  • Great value for money
  • Very lightweight, yet remains stable in use
  • Handles thick fabric well
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Nice range of accessories
DISLIKES
  • Could do with a broader stitch library

Janome 2212

Janome 2212

Next up we have another entry from Janome for the best sewing machine for denim. This time it’s the turn of the excellent 2212.

The Japanese manufacturer has done an outstanding job with this model, making a basic machine that does the fundamentals exceptionally well without costing the earth. It’s a cracking sewing machine, especially if you’re looking to buy an appliance at the budget end of the market.

Despite it’s basicness, and the fact that Janome make a point about this model being perfect for those new to sewing, the 2212 isn’t all that intuitive, so I’m going to disagree with them on this one. Personally, I think there are better appliances for beginners out there. I’m not saying it’s particularly difficult to master, but it’s no plug and sew, either.

Other than this minor moan, the Janome 2212 is great and would make an ideal upgrade for anyone looking to replace an old appliance that has gone to the great sewing room in the sky. If you’ve sat in front of a sewing machine before, you’ll get to grips with the 2212 in no time.

Performance is good, but admittedly not gold standard. For the money, however, this is understandable, although I can’t help but compare this gadget with the SINGER 4432 reviewed above, as they’re so closely matched pricewise. The 2212 will turn out a respectable 860 stitches per minute but, as we’ve already seen, the 4432 blows that away with an awesome 1,100 SPM.

Speed isn’t everything, though, and the stitch quality of the Janome is great across a wide range of fabrics. I’d actually say that this device has a little more finesse about it than the rival SINGER, so if you’re looking to sew light materials as well as denim this could be a deciding factor.

Built-in stitches are few and far between, though, with only 12 patterns available with this model. The buttonhole is a four-step affair as well, which is a shame given that many of the 2212’s competitors, including the SINGER 4432, offer a timesaving one-step option.

As with the majority of Janome’s sewing machines, the 2212 has a truly excellent feed system. Fabric moves effortlessly through the business end of the appliance and stays perfectly aligned at all times. Again, this is true across a wide variety of fabric types and thicknesses, although I wouldn’t trust it with the really heavy stuff.

Tension is good on this machine as well, but you will have to experiment a little to get things just so (start off on 4 and go from there). The effort is rewarded, however, as once its set up for the task at hand, it stays set. No more fiddling about halfway through a project with this device.

There’s no automatic threader on the 2212, which is unfortunate, and the accessory pack isn’t going to set the world on fire, either. There’s three extra presser feet inside the box – blind hem, zipper, and buttonhole – along with a seam ripper, bobbin, needle set, screwdriver, and a vinyl dust cover.

That aside, the Janome 2212 is a really good machine with a fantastic price point. The biggest problem the Janome has is that it is in direct competition with the SINGER 4432, which would probably get the nod from me if I were out there buying a sewing machine for denim.

LIKES
  • Produces fantastic results
  • Very well built
  • Nice speed (860SPM)
  • Feed system is awesome
  • Reliable and durable
  • Good choice for intermediate to advanced users
DISLIKES
  • User manual isn’t the best
  • Accessories and stitch library are poor
  • No needle threader

JUKI TL-2010Q

JUKI TL-2010Q

Last up we have a device from one of the most trusted names in the business, the JUKI TL-2010Q (AKA Juki TL-2200QVP Mini in the United Kingdom).

Admittedly, this isn’t an out and out domestic device, but it’s undoubtedly worthy of a mention here in this roundup review of the best sewing machine for denim. It is, in fact, marketed as a semi-industrial machine, so you know you’re buying a workhorse if you opt for this particular piece of apparatus.

A more straightforward sewing machine you are unlikely to find, as the JUKI TL-2010Q is a single needle lockstitch machine that does one thing and one thing only, no fancy decorative stitch patterns here. What it does, however, it does to a ridiculously high standard, which makes it a machine that is held in extremely high regard across the world. 

While the JUKI TL-2010Q is really built with quilters in mind, its ability to easily punch through layers of different materials translates perfectly to denim work. The motor that drives this model is awesome and it delivers an astonishing amount of torque, giving it that punchy feel that zips through layered denim like butter. 

Speed-wise, the JUKI TL-2010Q is top of the class in these reviews. At a very fast 1,500 stitches per minute, users are able to get workshop-like performance at home for just shy of four figures. Not cheap, but this is an exceptional appliance. 

Those who might find that much speed scary will be delighted to hear that, unlike the slightly cheaper JUKI TL-2000Qi, this model has a variable speed control slider so you can slow things right down to 200 SPM should you so wish. This is especially handy for anyone who enjoys freemotion work, as it affords the user unrivalled precision and breeds confidence when working on tricky tasks.

Stability is not an issue, largely thanks to the weight of the thing. At a hefty 25.4lbs, the JUKI TL-2010Q stays put even when you’re pushing it to its limit. The feet do an excellent job of absorbing any vibration, too, and there’s little to no transference of trembling when you’re working. 

While this may not be the most versatile machine in the world, the JUKI TL-2010Q is not without features. The all-important presser foot adjustment is superb and the needle up / down button does the job it’s supposed to do without any fuss. I love the thread trimming on this machine as well, which is controlled by the foot pedal. A quick downward flick with the heal and you’ve made a perfect cut.

There’s a very good bobbin winder on the TL-2010Q, too, but the automatic threader isn’t the best, which is a real pity. Actually, that may be a little unfair, as it does work, but it takes a while to wrap your head around it. Unnecessarily complicated would probably be the best way to describe it.

If you frequently work on larger projects, the JUKI TL-2010Q will suit your needs perfectly. The large throat space and knee lifter all help when you’re working with large swathes of any fabric, but they’re especially handy when trying to maneuver bulky denim whilst stitching.

As a single needle lockstitch machine, though, it’s likely you’ll need to hang on to your old machine as well if you’re upgrading. Remember, there’s no zig-zagging with this bad boy, which is something that all denim workers need. Well worth bearing in mind if you don’t have the room to accommodate two machines.

To sum up, the JUKI TL-2010Q will take your sewing to the next level if you’re an intermediate sewer who is looking to progress. Yes, it’s expensive, but you most definitely get what you pay for with this model. 

LIKES
  • Oozes quality in every way
  • Excellent motor, great torque
  • Lightning fast (1,500SPM)
  • Some nice, surprising features included
  • Heavy and solid, ideal for denim work
  • Great for larger projects
  • Very little vibration
  • Superb variable speed control
DISLIKES
  • Expensive
  • Automatic threader is more complicated than it needs to be

So, which is the best sewing machine for denim?

Bernette 38

Out of the six denim sewing machines I’ve reviewed here today, I’d happily take any of them bar the Toyota. Personally, I love the Bernette 38 and would opt for that if you’re looking to spend a mid-range amount on your new device. 

SINGER 4432
JUKI TL-2010Q

For those who aren’t willing to go above $200, the SINGER 4432 is hard to beat, while at the other end of the market, the JUKI TL-2010Q (otherwise known as the Juki TL-2200QVP Mini in the United Kingdom) is a truly fantastic machine, albeit one that is a bit more specialized.

That’s it for this post. Whether you’re just hemming jeans or working on larger projects, these are some of the best sewing machines for denim you can buy, and I hope that you’ve found these reviews helpful.

Until next time, happy sewing!

OUR FAVORITE
Bernette 38 Swiss Design Computerized Sewing Machine
BEST BUDGET OPTION
SINGER Heavy Duty 4432 110 Stitch Applications, Metal Frame, Stainless Steel...
OUR HIGH-END PICK
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine w/Hard Case + Ultra Glide Foot + Blind...
Brother ST150HDH Sewing Machine, Strong & Tough, 50 Built-in Stitches, LCD...
Janome 2212 Sewing Machine Includes Exclusive Bonus Bundle
Bernette 38 Swiss Design Computerized Sewing Machine
SINGER Heavy Duty 4432 110 Stitch Applications, Metal Frame, Stainless Steel...
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine w/Hard Case + Ultra Glide Foot + Blind...
Brother ST150HDH Sewing Machine, Strong & Tough, 50 Built-in Stitches, LCD...
Janome 2212 Sewing Machine Includes Exclusive Bonus Bundle
OUR FAVORITE
Bernette 38 Swiss Design Computerized Sewing Machine
Bernette 38 Swiss Design Computerized Sewing Machine
BEST BUDGET OPTION
SINGER Heavy Duty 4432 110 Stitch Applications, Metal Frame, Stainless Steel...
SINGER Heavy Duty 4432 110 Stitch Applications, Metal Frame, Stainless Steel...
OUR HIGH-END PICK
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine w/Hard Case + Ultra Glide Foot + Blind...
Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine w/Hard Case + Ultra Glide Foot + Blind...
Brother ST150HDH Sewing Machine, Strong & Tough, 50 Built-in Stitches, LCD...
Brother ST150HDH Sewing Machine, Strong & Tough, 50 Built-in Stitches, LCD...
Janome 2212 Sewing Machine Includes Exclusive Bonus Bundle
Janome 2212 Sewing Machine Includes Exclusive Bonus Bundle

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need more sewing machine reviews?

If you want them, we’ve got them! Spanning numerous different categories, our sewing machine reviews cover pretty much every aspect of the craft and all are written with one thing in mind – helping you buy the best device for your needs and budget. Go check them out!

best denim sewing machine reviews

REFERENCES:

  1. Stephanie Hegarty | How jeans conquered the world | https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17101768
  2. Masterclass | What is denim fabric? | https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-denim-fabric-a-guide-to-the-history-of-denim
  3. Karen Ball | How to make your own jeans | https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/did-you-make-that/2013/jul/02/how-to-make-your-own-jeans
  4. Nancy Fielder | Know your needles – Sewing basics | https://www.janome.com/siteassets/blog/2016/sewing-basics-1.pdf

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