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charm | Posted in General Sewing Info on

hello there,

I’m planning on buying a new manchine that will be use for clothing alterations. I need advice on good sewing machines that can sew over jackets, thick materials, jeans? I don’t want to sew anything that is leathers. I only have singer inguenity 7436 that can only sew over lightweight fabrics. I have heard of few singer machines that can do the jobs. but I need to hear this from other people who has different kind of machines to tell me of like and dislike of its. I’m also gonna help my pastor sew pet items for his ministres. there is a viking machines dealer closer in town, and have asked them regarding of their machines. and they haven’t returns my message. any informations would be of help. thanks




  1. User avater
    ShineOn | | #1


    The newer Singer machines that have mostly plastic parts inside tend to work better on light and medium weight fabric, but don't fare too well on heavy fabrics like denim. If you really want a singer try to find an older one with metal workings on the inside that has been refurbished by a good repairperson. I have a White 9800 about 10 years old now that I love, it sews very fast and has been able to handle whatever fabric weight I sew on it.  Hope this helps you out, Keep on sewing.

    Shine On

    1. charm | | #2

      and how did you find the white 9800 machine? have you ever try sewing it over jackets too? just wondering how well you machine works.

    2. charm | | #5

      Shineon, does it has sensor adjustments on your white machine? I don't like anything that doesn't have a pressure feet adjustments to sew over the layers of fabrics. thanks

      1. User avater
        ShineOn | | #8

        I bought my machine from a locally owned fabric shop that has been in business many years - White is made in the same factory as Viking but is a less expensive option - I am not sure what you mean by sensor feet - it has many different pressor feet and is computerized so you press a button for what type of fabric you are sewing and the machine adjusts for correct stitch length and tells you if manual tension adjustment is necessary. You can also adjust the amount of pressure applied by the pressor foot. I have sewn coats on it successfully. I just made a fall coat out of fleece and Sari fabric that came out beautifully. I have sewn canvas in the past, can't think of anything much heavier that I have sewn.   Try sewing a sample of whatever you plan to sew, before buying. Hope this helps.


        1. charm | | #9

          sensor foot is what you mention on your post board here. it adjust the area of the thickness of your fabrics so the pressure foot can adjusted the space that it needs to sew over the layers of fabrics.  your white machine does a wonderful job by the way you have explained it to me how it's operates. I would like to know what is the brand model white do you have? and where did you buy it? or do you know any websites that I can look this up. as soon as you said you sewn a jacket with your machine I knew your machine is a real gift!

          1. User avater
            ShineOn | | #10


            My machine is a 9800, I bounght it new about 10 years ago at a local store Saftlers in Whitman, MA. They are still in business and selling machines from many different brands, thay do buy old machines in trade when people upgrade to a new machine,  they refurbish and resell the old machines but I don't know if they will have this model. You could try calling them .Shipping to you may be very expensive I would try your local sewing machine repair guys first.

            Good Luck

          2. charm | | #11

            Thanks SineoOn,

            it's been crazy lately. but I'll be albe to make the finale decisions on which sewing machine I'm gonna buy I'm thankful there are few local dealers sells different brand model of sewing machines. I'll be going in town to test there machines after thanksgiving. hardly cannot believe thanksgiving will be here next week. soon Christmas will be here next month. time is going by to fast and too insane! lol! so long now see you later.

  2. NoraM | | #3

    I love my Bernina. It is one of the simpler ones, neither embroidery nor quilting (I'm not in to either of these), but is terrific for sewing clothing, drapes, home dec, heirloom and freehand. It sews heavy jeans and gossamer silks with ease. It is a work horse with great features. I would recommend Bernina over Pfaff any day. The next best, in my personal opinion, is a Viking. I am not familiar - haven't tried - the Janome, but I hear that it is also a good machine. Good luck with your search.

    1. charm | | #4

      what brand model is your bernina? I'm still doing some researched on machines before we decide to buy it. it's nerve wracking thou, because I don't want to pay for something that won't do the sewing ability for the job of alterations. thanks NoraM.

  3. MaryinColorado | | #6

    I love my Vikings!  That said,  take your own fabric samples in to the shops and test drive every machine that you are interested in.  Just like a car, you must test drive to see how it "feels" and if it is capable of fitting your needs.  (I have a 26 year old Singer that is still going strong, but have heard the new ones have alot of tension problems, don't know if that is accurate or not.  I switched to Husqvarna Vikings over a decade ago and love them.)  Bernina, Brother, and Pfaff would be at the top of my list too.  If I wanted a really heavy duty machine, I'd check into used reconditioned warranted industrial machines or a treadle like DamascusAnnie here can tell you all about.  Good luck in your search!

    All of the major brands seem to have several low end models that are not as well made and of lesser quality than their main line.  These are often made of cheaper materials and in other countries than the rest of their line.  They are made to their "specifications" but the quality control may be lacking.  Often these machines are discontinued within a short timespan and the parts or accessories may not be available.  Buyer beware. 

    I like a dealer that does their own repairs locally,it can be expensive to ship machines out of state, especially if they don't fix it right the first time around!

    Free classes and warranties are great too.

    http://www.patternreview.com has some excellent sewing machine reviews done by their owners.  This may help you. 

    1. charm | | #7

      Can you tell me more about your vikings? I have been looking up all the machines that the sewers here have been shared with me. as far as I was gonna lead towards was the singer and found out they one that they wanted to sale to me don't have a sensor adjustemtns. and that drives me nuts not to have that on my own regular sewing machines. every alterations professional needs sensor adjustments to sew over any layers of fabrics. I get tired of trying to sew over the side seams of the pants and jeans. anyway, I do cut more insde side seams off to lesser the bulkiness of the fabrics. only on my own jeans. I have been talking with a lady who owns a vilkings machines. I'm leading towards the sapphires 830 or 850. but I'm not crazy about the prices fo it. because the way this economy is going. I'm just trying to find this brands machine for a good sale prices. I'll be looking forward hearing from you soon MaryinColorado. i'll look up the website that you have provided. thanks for the infomation! happy sewing

    2. charm | | #16


      aha, there you are? I was looking for you! now you said you loved your vikings! can you tell me did you ever had problems with the tensions with your vikings? I'm aiming at the Vikings model 830,850 or 870. I have read onlines a lady said a dealers told them that the vikings machines was made in sweden and haven't had any problems with the machines until he noticed the machines starting having problems when its was made at the other countries. I'm not sure if this is true. but since you own one of your vikings I would like to hear from you again regarding of that machine. I was planning on buying industrial machines. but I don't think I would be happy with it because it's cost to much money and it don't have a sensor foot adjustments, and  only has one kind of stitch, such as straight stitch. since I don't want to waste my money on industrail machine to do clothing alterations. I talked with a lady who work for the huskqarvarna dealers. she said these viking models is good to do clothing alterations. I'll be looking forward hearing from you soon. what kind of model do you have?

      1. MaryinColorado | | #18

        Hi!  I do love my Vikings!  The Rose is about 12 years old now and still going strong.  I bought the Designer I (about 7 years ago I think)because I wanted a larger embroidery capability and it's got more features too.  They offered me a nice trade up but I kept the Rose for my Grand daughter but she keeps it at my house so it gets used often enough.  I also have the Huskylock 936 Serger with Coverstitch (about 10 years old).  They are all excellent machines and I highly recommend them for reliability, stability (no vibrations), beautiful stitches on all settings, I am just thrilled with all of them. 

        I think there are many great machines out there in several brands.  If I had to buy a new machine now, I would probably buy a gently used reconditioned and cleaned Viking with an extended warranty.  I couldn't afford to buy new anymore as I am retired on a fixed income.   I would only buy from a reliable dealer that provides local factory authorized Viking service though.  It is expensive to have to ship machines like some dealers do to Ohio on your dime.

        Good luck in your search, I hope you find the "perfect machine for you".  Be sure to test drive on your own fabric.  When you decide which model you want, I would have them open the box and let you practice sewing on that machine too, just to be sure you know how to use it and that it isn't a "lemon".  I love the drop in bobbin and the self adjusting tensions, needle up/down, nice buttonholes, etc.

        Oh, also, invest in a serge protector, it's important and also saves on electricity!!!  Mary

        1. charm | | #22

          talk about serge protector I toally forgot all about that useful thing! I have it all hooked up to my electronics. and can't live without it. we had my washer, dryer, frg, stove plugged into a erger proector we had a bad storms. the other people lost most of their stuffs. and we were blessed that not one single electornics of anything got fried! thank you.

          1. MaryinColorado | | #23

            Glad to help! 

      2. MaryinColorado | | #19

        Forgot to answer your question, I only had trouble with the tension once on the Designer I and they fixed it under warranty at the dealership.  They even gave me a "loaner" machine as I was in the middle of an important project!  (It may have been operator error that caused the tension problem while embroidering an extremely dense design on too light a fabric with the wrong stabilizer.  I should have listened to the machine, it was making "funny noises" which it never does unless I'm doing something stupid like that.  I really put my machines through their paces with many unusual techniques and unique fibers and threads.

      3. jjgg | | #20

        I have both a viking designer 1 and a designer se. I also have a couple of older Bernina's - 1130, 1530.
        I use them all, they have different plus and minuses.About the sensor foot, I never rely on it to do the right thing, I always want to be in total control of the setting I use. I want to adjust the thread tensions the way I think I need it, the stitch length etc. These are the things I DON'T like about the Vikings, It always sets them in ways I don't like. It's much easier on my Bernina's to adjust these and KEEP them where I set them.I do custom sewing and alterations as a business, I also do some quilting for myself and I teach sewing classes. I love the automatic pivot and presser foot lift of the viking, but I wish it had a manual lever to lift the presser foot, not just a button for it. I love the knee lift on my Bernina's, it allows me to lower the presser foot slowly and gently. I love how the presser foot automatically drops on the viking as I start to sew (and this drives me nuts when I switch back to the Bernina and I start sewing thinking the foot will just drop down!).I think this whole thread was started because someone wanted a machine for an alterations business. If you are doing that, you really need a machine that you can control something very manual and not rely on auto settings.

        1. MaryinColorado | | #21

          Not as a criticism, just a different personal outlook:  I adjust my "auto settings" manually quite frequently and find it easy on my Husq/Viking Designer I, Rose, and Huskylock 936.  I love that it automatically goes back to the "standard" settings in case I forget to. 


        2. charm | | #24

          jigg, thank you! eveybody here seems to be helping me out in good terms. I'm glad to be able to read what you all had to say about industrail or home sewing machines. I see some of you like the auto settings and some of you don't. I'm just curious to if I should go farther looking into Bernina or praff? the last vikings I looked into cost a way to much at this time. what I would like to hear from those who have Bernina and Pfaff and let me know how you feel about your machines? what is good or bad about its? I'm still planning on logging in the patternreview. to see what the owners have to say about their machines. I always felt it's better to do research than to be sorry. than you once again threads readers.

          1. jjgg | | #25

            You need to go test drive many different brands of machines. Each manufacturer has different 'special' features. You could probably live without all of these features, but it comes down to what do you want, and what do you want to pay. All you "really" need is a basic straight stitch machine to do alterations. and a serger, that is very important. You need to put the garment back the way it was done by the manufacturer. That means that if the hem was serged, or a seam was serged, when you shorten or take it in, you have to serge the seam back.I don't know what your experience is with sewing, alterations, fitting or the use of machines, but you need to be very familiar with all of these things to do alterations.you need a machine that will do a good quality stitch, it will be rare that you will ever need much more than a straight stitch and a zigzag for alterations, but quality and like you said, it needs to be able to handle heavy fabrics. Take fabric samples with you to the store to test out the machines.

          2. charm | | #26

            jigg, I simply want to say thank you! that is common sense on tips you have given to me regarding of machines. I do have a serger. I seen Bernina has a really nice machine with no extras on its. just pretty much like straight stitches, zig zag. I have heard from some else to get more things on the machines so I can use its in much better ways. I decided not to buy vikings which cost way to much money, and have heard some disavatage of its. but some says they loved it. so I should just focus on something that will do the sewing of clothing alterations instead of having all those extras stiches and so on. But in the other hands I like to have extra stiches to do craft projects. since you do alterations, I'm sure you know what it's like to sew and have experiences with sewing. I'm doing as much as I can to save money and be happy with the machine that will sew just about anything that needs to be done. thanks jigg have a great day!

          3. jjgg | | #27

            If you go to a dealer that sells Bernina's, see if they have any used machines. If you can get any of the following, you won't go wrong - Bernina 1130, 1230 or 1530. even an earlier model would be a great machine to buy. Don't get the very low end Berninas (the really cheap $200.00 ones) they are not wroth the money you spend on them.Have a great ThanksGiving

          4. charm | | #28

            I looked at the website of those models you told me to check out. I seen something was nice but not sure if it's worth it. it's bernina auora, activa 240 it has 283 stitch, I'm not sure if this machine will sew the ability to do alteratings for clothings. and also I'm working on a projects to make pet items, blanets, few crafts. anyway, I did wrote down the models on my paper. thanks jigg, you have a happy thanksgiving too!

          5. MaryinColorado | | #29

            It seems that the lowest end machines are not made in the same factories or countries as the rest of a brands' machines.  They are made to the "specs" but may be of different materials and may be focused on production speed rather than quality control.  When looking for MIL's new machine, all of the dealers we went to told us this.  I appreciated their honesty, but wondered why they sell them then?

  4. MyrtleFillmore | | #12

    Since your machine is going to be put to work, I'd check out industrial sewing machines, not home sewing machines.  You should be able to find a bargain in a used machine.  If you don't have industrial machine dealers in your area, check out the web.  I applaud your endeavor. 

    1. charm | | #13


      I have looked at several industrial machines so far. I still haven't found one that has sensor adjustments. I don't like to sew anything without it sensor adjustments or pressure foot adjustments its by myself. I already have a regular sewing machine that has a pressure foot that don't adjust the layers of fabrics. which can be very difficult to sew anything. but only a thin layer of fabrics. I'm still doing researched on machines on my spare times. thank you very much for filling in infomation. I also wanted to say to others thank you too. smiling

      1. MaryinColorado | | #14

        Although a machine has a sensor presserfoot, it shouldn't always be left on the "center" setting. I still change the setting for very thick fabrics or very thin fabrics.   The sensor presserfoot "floats" over the differences in thickness in that particular fabric at the seams or with a zipper or binding for instance.  With the thick seam on jeans, I still use a "jean a ma jig" to go over the thick side seams without skipping or irregular stitches.  I love the feature of the auto sensor foot preassure, just wanted to clarify.  Hope this is helpful. 

        1. charm | | #15

          yep pretty much I have used jean a ma jig before. when i get to the side seams to sew over its, the fabrics  was way to thick than it will skipped stitches or just won't sew over it. other than that now what I want to do next is to lessen the bulky side seams by trimming it off inside the jeans seams area. so hopefully this will help to solve the problems until I buy a new sewing machine with foot sensor. I thank you for giving me tips on the way you always changed the center. I didn't think of it by moving the center to the left or right. so I'll will definetly try that. it was a pleasure to received infomations from people like you. any more tips? I'll be looking forward hearing from you all again. thanks

          1. MaryinColorado | | #17

            I rarely do hemming on the sewing machine anymore.  I just turn the hem under once, press it well, and use a two thread wide coverstitch with my serger with the right side up.  This inishes the underside and prevents ravelling well.  It takes practice to learn how to get over the thick seam as it doesn't have the floating presserfoot. 

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