Upholstery sewing machine reviews: What’s the best model?

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TOP FACTORY MACHINE
Consew 206RB-5 Walking Foot Upholstery Machine w/Table & Motor (Table Comes...
CLOSE SECOND
JUKI DNU-1541S Industrial Walking Foot Sewing Machine with Safety Clutch
BEST HOME MACHINE
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Highlead GC0618-1SC Heavy Duty Compound Feed Walking Foot Machine with Large...
Reliable 4000SW Single Needle Walking Foot Sewing Machine With 550W Sewquiet...
REX 607Z Portable Walking-Foot/Zigzag with LED Light
Consew 206RB-5 Walking Foot Upholstery Machine w/Table & Motor (Table Comes...
JUKI DNU-1541S Industrial Walking Foot Sewing Machine with Safety Clutch
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Highlead GC0618-1SC Heavy Duty Compound Feed Walking Foot Machine with Large...
Reliable 4000SW Single Needle Walking Foot Sewing Machine With 550W Sewquiet...
REX 607Z Portable Walking-Foot/Zigzag with LED Light
TOP FACTORY MACHINE
Consew 206RB-5 Walking Foot Upholstery Machine w/Table & Motor (Table Comes...
Consew 206RB-5 Walking Foot Upholstery Machine w/Table & Motor (Table Comes...
CLOSE SECOND
JUKI DNU-1541S Industrial Walking Foot Sewing Machine with Safety Clutch
JUKI DNU-1541S Industrial Walking Foot Sewing Machine with Safety Clutch
BEST HOME MACHINE
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Highlead GC0618-1SC Heavy Duty Compound Feed Walking Foot Machine with Large...
Highlead GC0618-1SC Heavy Duty Compound Feed Walking Foot Machine with Large...
Reliable 4000SW Single Needle Walking Foot Sewing Machine With 550W Sewquiet...
Reliable 4000SW Single Needle Walking Foot Sewing Machine With 550W Sewquiet...
REX 607Z Portable Walking-Foot/Zigzag with LED Light
REX 607Z Portable Walking-Foot/Zigzag with LED Light

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Working on tasks such as furniture restoration or customized auto seats obviously calls for the correct tools. Textiles are often padded and soft, which can make stitching awkward unless you have the best sewing machine for upholstery at your disposal.

Now, what may be the best upholstery sewing machine for one may not necessarily be the right fit for another, so today I’m going to take a look at several really great devices to give you an overview. 

Hopefully, once I’m done, you’ll have a better idea of what’s available and which upholstery sewing machine is best for your own individual requirements.

Do you really need a different sewing machine for upholstery?

This is an extremely common question, but it’s only really asked by hobbyists and home sewists. Professionals know that it’s nigh on impossible to work with thick, padded textiles on anything but a tool specifically made for the task, especially if you’re going to be stitching upholstery on a regular basis.

That said, there are a few domestic devices on the market that will happily handle the occasional upholstery or reupholstery sewing job, and I’ll cover (excuse the pun) a few of those today, as well as the more specialized upholstering sewing machines.

Are there different types of upholstery sewing tasks?

Yes, and we’ve already touched on a couple in this article. In short, there are four main types of upholstery, although there are plenty of subdivisions within each.

These are:

Residential upholstery

close up of an upholstered leather sofa

No prizes for guessing what this entails. Yep, residential upholstery is the umbrella term used for the creation or restoration of home furniture. Think chairs, sofas, settees, couches, benches, ottomans, and the like.

Commercial upholstery

office chairs in conference room

Another straightforward upholstery type, this area of expertise concentrates on, unsurprisingly, the commercial sector. Commercial upholstery often means working with extremely heavy-duty fabrics, as usage will be far higher than most residential items.

Common commercial upholstery projects include things such as seating for restaurants and bars, armchairs for lobbies, headboards for hotels, office furniture, and other, more tailor-made pieces.

Auto upholstery

auto upholstery seats

This form of upholstery has become big business since the explosion of customization just a few decades ago. What was once the preserve of car companies is now open to creative artisans who craft magnificent works of art that you can sit on.

Naturally, an auto upholstery sewing machine is required for this work and there’s some crossover with the best sewing machines for leather here. However, auto upholstery tools and sewing techniques may differ somewhat to other leatherworking tasks.

That said, car seats can be upholstered with more than just cowhide, so general purpose upholstery sewing machines can be just the ticket for some reupholstery jobs. [1]

Marine upholstery

yacht upholstery

The final of four, marine upholstery is another self-explanatory term. Many boating enthusiasts will try their hand at do it yourself marine upholstery only to find that their home appliance isn’t up to the task.

Even DIY marine upholstery requires a machine with enough torque to punch through the dense marine upholstery foam and material, and many a sewist has suffered a broken needle or worse, a burnt out motor, when pushing their luck with a domestic device.

Boat upholstery material, commonly referred to as “marine vinyl”, is tough stuff, so you’ll need the best upholstery sewing machine you can afford if you intend to work with it on a regular basis. [2]

Benefits of owning an upholstery sewing machine

For professional upholsterers, there’s an obvious answer to this question, but what about everyone else? Are there any benefits to having an upholstery machine in your sewing room?

Obviously, a lot will depend upon the type of sewing you do. If you work frequently on garments, but play around with the odd cushion here and there, then the upsides of owning an upholstery sewing machine will be negated by the additional cost. 

If, however, you flip that on its head and feel that your sewing tasks are predominantly homeware based with a little dressmaking on the side, the benefits become a lot clearer. 

The best sewing machines for upholstery are built to work with the awkward fabric that furniture crafting calls for, so you’ll often find that these tools are typically safer to use than domestic machines. 

You’ll also find that these appliances are built to last and will often outlive you if you religiously follow the correct maintenance procedure. Their powerful motors are real workhorses and will literally run all day without overheating, so you can trust that your upholstery sewing machine will be ready to work when you are.

Speed, too, is a factor here. As with most of the best commercial sewing machines, upholstery appliances are fast. Where domestic sewing machines will top out at around 1,500 stitches per minute, a good upholstery sewing machine will process double that and beyond.

Don’t disregard domestic heavy-duty sewing machines, though

While the benefits of owning a specialized machine for stitching upholstery are clear, for some they may be overkill. Many of these devices really are factory-style appliances, which makes their use in the home less than practical.

As you’ll see when we get to the reviews, there are a few listed here that will happily sit on a tabletop in your sewing room, but many are behemoths that will rattle the foundations and certainly cause your other half to turn the TV up to 11.

So, the question you need to ask yourself is this, “Do I really need an upholstery machine?”

If you’re really only going to use it for the occasional job here and there, you might be better off buying the best heavy duty sewing machine for home use your budget will allow rather than going for one of these beasts instead.

What can you expect to sew with an upholstery sewing machine?

sewing upholstery for a seat

In order to answer this, it’s probably best to look at the dictionary definition of upholstery:

Soft, padded textile covering that is fixed to furniture such as armchairs and sofas.

From this we can glean one thing: that the material used in upholstery is generally going to awkward to sew. 

Soft and padded will often mean thick and cumbersome, which further emphasises the fact that you’ll need a specialized upholstery sewing machine to competently take on the task at hand.

Are the best sewing machines for upholstery able to sew light fabrics too?

Again, this is often asked by those who infrequently work with upholstery materials rather than the pro upholsterers who are unlikely to use their upholstery sewing machines for delicate work.

True all-rounders are hard to come by when you’re talking about such a specialist arena. The best upholstery sewing machines are built for that task and little more, whereas some domestic devices will be able to handle a wide range of fabrics, but still struggle with the heavier stuff.

The long and the short of it is: If you’re planning on stitching upholstery regularly, you’re going to need a tool that will handle the workload. 

So, if you want to sew delicate and lightweight materials as well, it’s probably a good idea to have two machines at your disposal rather than relying on one to do everything. While this may be inconvenient for a number of reasons, the fact remains that if you want something done properly, you’re going to need the right tools for the job at hand.

Best sewing machine for upholstery must-haves 

upholstery sewing machine close up

When searching around for the best upholstery sewing machine, you’ll notice that some will make a song and dance about a certain feature, while others will brag about something completely different. 

It’s often wise counsel to ignore many of the bells and whistles, concentrating instead on the fundamentals. Sure, there will be things that catch your eye and those features might even be essential to you. If that’s the case, on the list they go!

The question – What are the must-haves for a top-rated upholstery sewing machine? – still remains, though, so in this section I’ll cover what I consider to be crucial elements of a great device.

Powerful motor

When you’re frequently working with heavyweight materials, you’re going to need a motor powerful enough to punch through them time after time. 

Non-domestic machines will have either a clutch or a servo motor installed, with the latter my own personal preference. Servo motors are far more user-friendly than old-fashioned clutch motors and they’re gentler on your energy bill too.

That said, many upholsterers still favor clutch motors as they generally produce greater torque than servos. Technology is helping bridge the gap here, though.

Solid build

A powerful motor means little if the chassis isn’t built to accommodate it. Most devices will have a solid metal frame, but some upholstery sewing machines out there have less than solid exteriors. 

A lot will depend upon your usage. Take, for example, the SINGER 4432. As we’ll see in a bit, this is a great little machine for the occasional upholstering task, but there’s no way on earth you should buy one for frequent use; it’s just too flimsy.

Stability

Following on from build quality, stability is another key factor in finding the best sewing machine for upholstery. Thick, padded textiles can be awkward to maneuver and will also push the motor to the max, so the last thing an operator wants is a wobbly machine.

Weight can be a decent indicator of an appliance’s stability, but not always. Some heavy machines will still vibrate and jiggle when pushed to their limits, so be sure to take this into consideration before buying. 

Extra-high presser foot lift

All those layers and padding require as much work space as you can get, but that doesn’t stop at the throat of the machine. The space between the presser foot and the plate matters, too.

Look out for an extra-high presser foot lift when doing your research. Almost all will have one, but it’s so important it’s always worth double checking. 

Bear in mind, too, that the amount of lift can vary from machine to machine. It might only be fractions of an inch, but that small amount could be the difference between frustration-free sewing and a whole lot of expletives!

Knee lift

You’ll know by know that upholstery fabric is often heavy and almost always awkward to handle, so you’re going to need to be hands-on 99% of the time. This is where a knee lifter comes in.

Knee lifts allow you to keep your hands where they should be – on your work – while you raise the presser foot with your, you guessed it, knee. This is often operated by way of a simple lever or bar, yet it can be revelatory when you first use one.

Precise feed system

A reliable feed system should be paramount in any sewing machine purchase, but for those working with upholstery materials it bears extra weight. For many upholsterers, only a compound feed walking foot machine will do.

Best upholstery sewing machine reviews

close up of a presser foot

So, now we know a little bit more about what makes a good sewing machine for upholstery, it’s time to take a look at the best in class. 

As ever, I’ve tried to give a broad overview of the machines on offer in order to give everyone a chance of buying an appliance that suits their needs. Some are specifically selected for occasional home reupholstery sewing, while others are suited to craftsmen and manufacturers. 

They’re pretty easy to distinguish between, but I’ll mention more in each review.

Enough chat, let’s start off with our first appliance appraisal…the Consew 206RB-5.

Consew 206RB-5

Consew 206RB-5

Widely regarded as one of the best sewing machines for upholsterers, the Consew 206RB-5 is a great place to start this review roundup. This is a serious bit of kit.

This appliance is famed for making light work or heavy fabrics, so it’s perfectly suited to upholstery. Leather workers love the torque produced by the 206RB-5’s ¾ hp servo motor and you’ll get a lightning fast 3,000 stitches per minute thrown into the bargain. 

A 3,000 SPM is a lot to handle, but the aforementioned servo motor does a brilliant job of regulating the speed when required. The control you get from it is superb and you can slow things down to a crawl should you need to, without losing the punch required to get through those layers.

While some machines offer power and little finesse, the Consew 206RB-5 has both. The stitches produced by this machine are second to none, which makes it all the more pleasing to operate. The stitch quality is evident throughout the speed spectrum, too, so there’s no need to worry about speed changes affecting the end result. Every stitch remains balanced and beautiful.

These types of devices are always noisy, so to say the Consew 206RB-5 is quiet would be a stretch. However, it is quieter than most other upholstery sewing machines, so take from that what you will. Just don’t email me saying that it isn’t silent!

This machine is built primarily for factory work, so be warned if you’re looking for a domestic device. Most retailers ship this model unassembled and it can be a bit of a job putting it together. In truth, it’s a pain in the butt. Be sure to have someone on hand who knows what they’re doing or hire a professional to install it – it’ll be worth the money.

As a factory machine, the Consew 206RB-5 ships with its own table and various other odds and ends. Things such as extra bobbins and needles, spool pin, a knee lifter, tools such as hex keys, screwdrivers, wrenches, an oil dispenser, extra screws, and the not-very-helpful user manual are all there when you receive the appliance, but don’t expect much else. 

Once assembled, you’ll see just how solid this thing is; it truly is built to last. That said, don’t be surprised if you feel a fair amount of vibration when you take it up to the maximum 3,000 SPM. It’s a quirk of this particular model and, thanks to the brilliant built-in locking stitch regulator, doesn’t affect the quality of the stitches produced. It can give you a fright, though, and make you question whether or not you’ve put the thing together correctly!

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Consew 206RB-5 is just how easy it is to use. If you already know your way around a standard mechanical device, you’ll pick this up in no time. Don’t put too much faith in the user manual, though. It’s shockingly bad and makes the machine seem more complicated than it actually is.

The Consew 206RB-5 is competitively priced and outperforms many other machines in its class. No, it’s not cheap, but for those who are looking for a seriously good upholstery sewing machine, this appliance takes some beating.

LIKES
  • Excellent servo motor
  • High torque
  • Very fast (3,000 SPM)
  • Relatively quiet
  • Extremely solid and durable
  • Simple to operate
  • Great value for money
DISLIKES
  • Nothing

JUKI DNU-1541S

JUKI DNU-1541S

To the second machine on our list, then, it’s the JUKI DNU-1541S.

The reputable industrial brand has three models with the DNU-1541 moniker, this one is the “S”. What does that mean? Simple. This model has a built-in safety mechanism that helps minimize any potential damage to your machine should you have issues whilst operating it. 

Handy to have and great for peace of mind…especially when you’re laying out this sort of money! The S is often mistakenly thought to denote a servo motor, but it’s the safety mechanism that it stands for.

Some retailers will sell the JUKI DNU-1541S with a servo motor, but others ship it out with a ½ HP 1750 RPM clutch motor, so make sure you check this out before you checkout (sorry, couldn’t resist). As you may have gathered from my earlier ramblings, I’d always opt for the servo motor wherever possible, but your mileage may vary.

The JUKI DNU-1541S is a proper workhorse that will make light work of even the heaviest upholstery materials. This is a truly no-nonsense bit of kit and one that will run forever with the correct maintenance and care. 

Despite its clearly industrial nature, the JUKI DNU-1541S is surprisingly easy to use. Naturally, a novice would be baffled by it, but if you’ve had a little experience with an old sewing machine you’ll easily pick this up. 

Stitch quality is fantastic and you’ll be able to rocket along at 2,500 stitches per minute without any trouble. At 16mm, there’s a little extra room in terms of the presser foot clearance when lifted by knee, which may seem almost inconsequential but it’s amazing just how much of a difference fractions of an inch can make.

It’s double capacity hook works well and the DNU-1541-S has no problems whatsoever riding over bumps and thick seams. Put side-by-side with other similar devices, this model is also a lot more compact, which is something those pushed for space will no doubt appreciate.

All in all, this is a very good machine from a name you can trust.

Highly recommended.

LIKES
  • Produces excellent results
  • Fast (2,500 SPM)
  • Decent presser foot clearance
  • Safety feature should help lengthen the machine’s lifespan
  • Trusted brand name
  • Compact
DISLIKES
  • Nothing

Highlead GC0618-1SC

Highlead GC0618-1SC

Next up on our list of the best sewing machines for upholstery we have the Highlead GC0618-1SC.

This machine from China-based Highlead is the next-gen version of the GC0618, and the improvements made on the original appliance are welcomed and were, frankly, needed. The newer model is built better and feels sturdier than its predecessor and has the added advantage of being more reliable, thanks to the new safety clutch assembly.

As a compound feed walking foot device, the Highlead GC0618-1SC handles most weights with ease, but it’s not great when you get to the really thick stuff like saddle and harness leather. For the majority of upholstery work, however, this machine will work just fine.

Speed-wise, the Highlead GC0618-1SC falls behind the Consew 206RB-5 reviewed above, coming in at just 2,000 stitches per minute. This will not concern some of you, but others may see a 33% difference as unacceptable, especially when the stitch quality of the Consew is so good.

The presser foot clearance on the GC0618-1SC is decent enough at 14mm for the knee lift and the single row feed dogs work well at getting material through the business end of the machine. 

Probably the biggest thing that goes against this machine from Highlead is the price. Currently sitting in direct competition with the Consew 206RB-5, the GC0618-1SC doesn’t stand a chance, in my opinion.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with this upholstery machine, but the Consew is next level for around the same money.

LIKES
  • Upgrade has improved quality tremendously
  • Feeds medium-weight material really well
DISLIKES
  • There are better machines out there for the same money
  • Not much use for really heavy work

Janome HD3000

Janome HD3000

Time for a domestic model now, the much talked about Janome HD3000.

This model from the Japanese sewing giant is about as basic as things get, even if its price point tells you otherwise. It’s obvious what Janome were aiming for here, concentrating on getting the fundamentals spot on, but have they succeeded?

Well, there’s certainly a lot going for the HD3000 and it would make a fine choice for anyone looking to make soft furnishings and do the odd piece of upholstering or reupholstering at home. 

Is it the best upholstery sewing machine choice domestic users can make? That’s up for debate. This model from Janome is not without flaws, most of which are in relation to its durability, so if you are intent on doing lots of heavyweight stitching you might be better off looking elsewhere.

There have been a few complaints about the plastic parts used in this machine, which is understandable given the price tag, but not surprising when you step back and see that pretty much every domestic machine has them. 

Some have even speculated that there could have been a quality control issue at the factory, and it’s not out of the realms of possibility, although you’d expect better from a company such as Janome. What adds weight to this theory is the fact the HD3000 is actually a fabulous machine…when you get one that ships without issues!

So, lemons aside, the Janome HD3000 is a capable machine that would definitely suit the home upholsterer. This device actually lives up to Janome’s claims that it’s a heavy duty appliance, which is refreshing as so many domestic appliances don’t. However, as I’ve already mentioned above, its longevity might be questionable.

In terms of speed, you’ll get around what is average for a domestic device: 860 stitches per minute. While this is light years away from the more powerful tools on this list, for those who are used to working with ordinary sewing machines, 860 SPM will be perfectly adequate. 

As one would expect from a Janome, the stitch quality is superb. For such a basic machine, you will need to pay more attention to set up than one would hope, but the results make the extra effort worthwhile. The HD3000 weighs in at a considerably hefty 18.7lbs, which is up there for a domestic appliance, but this helps keep things nice and steady when you sew. 

The star of the show here, as it so often is with Janome’s sewing machines, is the feed system; it’s fantastic. The adjustable presser foot pressure works brilliantly in conjunction with the dogs to help feed even the most awkward fabrics through smoothly. It really is a joy to use in this regard.

Naturally, as we’re talking about a home appliance, you’d hope for a bit more versatility than you find with the one-trick ponies found on the factory floor. The Janome HD3000 does indeed have a few strings to its bow, but not as many as the price tag would insinuate. 

Its stitch library is somewhat limited at only 18 pre-programmed patterns and the manufacturer’s standard accessory pack is somewhat stingy, given what you’re expected to pay. The link above has a few more bits and bobs included to sweeten the deal, but there’s still a fair bit less in the box than you’d find with cheaper models.

So, all in all, this is a bit of a polarizing contraption, with both good and bad things to be said about it. To be honest, if you’re a domestic sewist who wants to do a bit of upholstery here and there, the HD3000 isn’t a bad choice.

If, however, your sewing is a bit more serious than that, I’d steer clear.

LIKES
  • Feed system is superb
  • Very affordable
  • Stitch quality is fantastic
DISLIKES
  • Very limited stitch library
  • Setup takes a bit of getting used to
  • Not the sturdiest domestic machine on the market
  • Comparatively slow (860 SPM)

Reliable 4000SW

Reliable 4000SW

To the Reliable 4000SW then, yet another compound feed walking foot machine to feature in these reviews.

Marked up slightly (very slightly) cheaper than the Consew 206RB-5 and the Highlead GC0618-1SC, this model from the brilliantly named Reliable stable is worthy of a place on this list. The question is, does it live up to it’s brand name?

The answer is unequivocal – yes it does! This upholstery device is a true workhorse that will run all day if you want it to…providing you don’t push your luck in terms of what you feed through it. 

Whilst it looks and feels incredibly sturdy, the Reliable 4000SW is more of a general purpose upholstery tool than a true heavyweight. Most tasks won’t cause it any problems, but if you’re working with really dense materials on the regular, then I’d look elsewhere.

The Reliable 4000SW is another appliance that hits its max at 2,000 stitches per minute and the supplied SewQuiet DC servo motor is phenomenal. Specced up at 550W and ¾ hp, this is a truly great motor. Its 12 coils produce enough torque to handle the majority of an upholsterer’s jobs. 

Sitting in front of this Reliable is unintimidating and everything feels as though it has been well thought through. Ergonomically, this is a nice machine to use and operation is surprisingly straightforward.

Like the Highlead GC0618-1SC, the Reliable 4000SW has a presser foot lift clearance of 14mm, which will be enough for most upholstery work. In many ways, the 4000SW is an almost direct clone of the Highlead and, like the GC0618-1SC, I’d take the Consew over it every time. 

LIKES
  • Built to last
  • Ideal for light upholstery work
  • Quick (2,000 SPM)
  • Servo motor is superb
DISLIKES
  • Will struggle with really heavy or thick materials

Yamata FY5318

Yamata FY5318

Next in line we have the Yamata FY5318, a rather affordable upholstery sewing machine from the China Feiyue Sewing Machinery Group’s USA division.

For those who need a lot more than, say, the Janome HD3000 can offer, yet don’t want to spend their life savings, the Yamata FY5318 is an attractive proposition. The problem here is that the old adage, you get what you pay for, is often true. Does the FY5318 buck the trend?

Well, in a lot of ways, it does. This is a pretty decent machine that will happily jog along at 1,350 stitches per minute all day long. Sure, that’s not anywhere close to the brilliant Consew I’ve already spoken about, but the Yamata FY5318 definitely warrants a place on our list.

This is another walking foot lockstitch appliance, but unlike many of the other upholstery sewing machines reviewed here, this one operates without a compound feed. While this isn’t of much concern if you’re working with relatively easy fabrics, those who are intent on working materials such as leather may find that the savings they make turn out to be a false economy.

So, what does the Yamata FY5318 use instead of a compound feed? A drop feed walking foot, which makes it well suited to lighter fabrics. Sewing upholstery of a certain kind might be stretching the tool to its limits…I’m looking at you again, leather.

The Yamata FY5318 does, however, come with a very capable 1750 RPM, 110 Volt, ½ HP servo motor that controls the speed very well. It also runs relatively quietly, although this is somewhat of an oxymoron where upholstery stitching is concerned! 

While there are definitely savings to be made here, I’d be inclined to overlook them and spend the extra on the Consew 206RB-5. It’s just a far better machine and certainly one I’d rather put my trust in if I were buying for business use.

LIKES
  • Well priced
  • Excellent for lightweight work
DISLIKES
  • No compound feed

REX RX-607Z

REX 607Z

I’ve got another drop feed walking foot machine for you now. This time it’s the turn of the RX-607Z from REX.

Billed as a portable device, the REX RX-607Z is a budget solution to heavyweight sewing, although you will need to either buy or make a table to accommodate it before you begin stitching.

Currently selling for under $500, this is a very affordable appliance that is capable of handling materials up to medium grade leather. Anything above that would be pushing it, but for lightweight upholstery work, this is a decent enough device that won’t send you broke.

That being said, the REX RX-607Z is not without limitations. For starters, the clearance of the presser foot leaves a lot to be desired and anyone wishing to sew thick layers of any material would struggle to do so without frustration. The walking foot itself isn’t that great either, as it feels as though it has been transplanted from a smaller machine.

It’s also a million miles from being a set-and-forget appliance. Some people like to be constantly fiddling around with tension and pressure, as it makes them feel “at one” with their machine, but I’d rather be able to get on with the job of making stuff. The REX RX-607Z needs a lot of attention to keep it running sweetly.

To be honest, the hand wheel on this is not up to the job, so you’ll probably want to switch it out for a more substantial bit of kit. The common choice here, especially amongst those working with leather, is the Sailrite 604u Monster II Balance Wheel. Granted, this additional piece of apparatus will push the overall price up a little, but the extra outlay is worth it. 

As with so many upholstery machines of this ilk, the REX RX-607Z is also maintenance hungry. Be prepared to use a lot of oil. You might also find yourself having to make minor repairs on the fly, so be warned. If fiddling around with parts isn’t your thing, buy something else.

In case you were wondering, the Z on the end of the model number denotes that the REX RX-607Z has zig-zag capability. This is awesome for those who work with frayable and/or stretchy materials, but not vital for the majority of upholstery work.

To sum up, the REX RX-607Z is a decent enough machine if you have the time to nurse and care for it. Personally, I’d rather pay a little extra and do more of what I love.

LIKES
  • Inexpensive
DISLIKES
  • Requires more TLC than many will care to lavish on it
  • Constant tweaking required to keep it running sweetly
  • It’s advisable to change the hand wheel, which is an extra cost

Juki TL-2010Q

JUKI TL-2010Q

On to our final appliance on this best sewing machine for upholstery review roundup, then, and it’s somewhat of a hybrid: the Juki TL-2010Q (AKA Juki TL-2200QVP Mini in the United Kingdom).

Billed as a semi-industrial machine, the Juki TL-2010Q brings factory sewing into the home…and I love it. If you’re serious about sewing but only want a home machine, you’re going to want to give significant thought to this device before making your final decision.

Built with quilters in mind, the Juki TL-2010Q lends itself perfectly to most upholstery tasks. Weighing in at an impressive 25.lbs, this is a table top appliance that feels as steady and sturdy as any mounted machine you may have come across in the past.

It’s a beast.

While it’s not quite up there with the speed merchants we’ve already seen, for an unmounted domestic device the Juki TL-2010Q is still able to rack up an impressive SPM. Fifteen-hundred stitches per minute, to be precise, which will be more than enough for most hobbyists and occasional sewers.

The nice thing about this being a tabletop home appliance is the fact that there’s a sliding speed control built into the machine itself. No need to blindly reach underneath the table to find the dial on the servo motor here! It’s also got tortoise and hare icons, which make me smile every time I see them, so you’ll be in no doubt which way goes fast and which way goes slow.

The sewing area is generous on this model, yet it still manages to feel relatively compact. As a single needle lockstitch machine, you obviously won’t get much in the way of stitch variety, but what it does do, it does to an exceptional standard.

Stitch quality is sublime, regardless of material used or the speed you’re operating at. You get a fair amount of features with the TL-2010Q as well, including a programmable needle, presser foot adjustment, and a really good bobbin winder. I also love the foot operated thread trimmer, too. A quick flick of the heal and voila, you’re cut loose.

The automatic needle threader is, however, overly fiddly. It works, but it takes a bit of getting used to. Settle down with a cup of coffee and the manual, and steel yourself for a few expletives along the way. It’s fine once you get the hang of it, but it does take a bit of mastering. 

Those looking to go really thick will want to know that the presser foot lift is considerably less than you’d find on the Juki TL-2010Q’s industrial counterparts. At 12mm, it’s not exactly low, but if you really need the extra space to work your upholstery material this could cause issues. Oh, and yes, you do get a knee lifter with this machine.

If you’re a serious hobbyist or an upholsterer pushed for space, the Juki TL-2010Q is an absolutely belting machine that will serve you well.

Big thumbs up from me. 

LIKES
  • Excellent stitch quality
  • Ideal for the home user
  • Stable and sturdy
  • Pretty quick for a table-top (1,500 SPM)
  • Sliding speed control is a breeze to operate
  • Compact, yet there’s plenty of room to work with
DISLIKES
  • Auto threader can be annoying at first

So, which is the best sewing machine for upholstery?

We’ve reached the end of the post and it’s time for the big reveal: which is the best upholstery sewing machine on the list?

As I’ve essentially featured two types of machine here today – home and factory – it’s only fair to split the final verdict and give you my opinion on both…so here goes!

Factory use

Consew 206RB-5
JUKI DNU-1541S

If you’re buying for business and looking to put your machine on the shopfloor or in a designated workshop, I’d go for either the Consew 206RB-5 or the JUKI DNU-1541S. Both are brilliant at what they do.

Home use

JUKI TL-2010Q

No question about this one, it’s the Juki TL-2010Q (which is the Juki TL-2200QVP Mini in the UK) all day long for me. This is an exceptional tabletop appliance and one that really wouldn’t be out of place in a workshop, either. A real workhorse, and no need to reinforce the floor!

TOP FACTORY MACHINE
Consew 206RB-5 Walking Foot Upholstery Machine w/Table & Motor (Table Comes...
CLOSE SECOND
JUKI DNU-1541S Industrial Walking Foot Sewing Machine with Safety Clutch
BEST HOME MACHINE
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Highlead GC0618-1SC Heavy Duty Compound Feed Walking Foot Machine with Large...
Reliable 4000SW Single Needle Walking Foot Sewing Machine With 550W Sewquiet...
REX 607Z Portable Walking-Foot/Zigzag with LED Light
Consew 206RB-5 Walking Foot Upholstery Machine w/Table & Motor (Table Comes...
JUKI DNU-1541S Industrial Walking Foot Sewing Machine with Safety Clutch
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Highlead GC0618-1SC Heavy Duty Compound Feed Walking Foot Machine with Large...
Reliable 4000SW Single Needle Walking Foot Sewing Machine With 550W Sewquiet...
REX 607Z Portable Walking-Foot/Zigzag with LED Light
TOP FACTORY MACHINE
Consew 206RB-5 Walking Foot Upholstery Machine w/Table & Motor (Table Comes...
Consew 206RB-5 Walking Foot Upholstery Machine w/Table & Motor (Table Comes...
CLOSE SECOND
JUKI DNU-1541S Industrial Walking Foot Sewing Machine with Safety Clutch
JUKI DNU-1541S Industrial Walking Foot Sewing Machine with Safety Clutch
BEST HOME MACHINE
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine with Automatic...
Highlead GC0618-1SC Heavy Duty Compound Feed Walking Foot Machine with Large...
Highlead GC0618-1SC Heavy Duty Compound Feed Walking Foot Machine with Large...
Reliable 4000SW Single Needle Walking Foot Sewing Machine With 550W Sewquiet...
Reliable 4000SW Single Needle Walking Foot Sewing Machine With 550W Sewquiet...
REX 607Z Portable Walking-Foot/Zigzag with LED Light
REX 607Z Portable Walking-Foot/Zigzag with LED Light

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Read our other sewing machine reviews!

If you enjoyed working your way through this post or simply didn’t find the right device for your needs, you might like some of our other review articles. We look at the best rated sewing machines across a number of categories, so do take a moment to check them out.

best upholstery sewing machine reviews pinterest image

REFERENCES

  1. FH GROUP AUTO | What material is used for car seats? Which one is best? | https://medium.com/@fhgroupauto/what-material-is-used-for-car-seats-which-one-is-best-5a463b2da196
  2. Doityourself Staff | Marine Upholstery Fabric Types | https://www.doityourself.com/stry/marine-upholstery-fabric-types

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