Choosing Between the Ultrafeed® LS & LSZ
Choosing the right sewing machine for your needs is a big decision. At Sailrite, we’re happy to answer any of your questions and concerns regarding our dependable, heavy-duty sewing machines.
Most of our customers decide on a Sailrite® Ultrafeed® Sewing Machine for its power and portability, and they want to know the differences between the red LS and blue LSZ. This blog will compare these industry-leading machines and share some common projects that you can do with each one.
Similarities & Differences
The LS and LSZ have a few mechanical differences that are important to consider when choosing the best machine for you. We’ll cover the most significant ones to help you decide.
Straight vs. Zigzag Stitch
The biggest difference between the two versions is that the red LS machine only sews straight stitches, while the blue LSZ sews both straight and zigzag stitches. We color-coded them so that customers could quickly and easily tell which machine sews which stitch type. The machines’ initials (LS and LSZ) also tell you what stitch types each can sew. Let’s decode these initials to show you what we mean.
The L in LS and LSZ stands for Lowell. This is an homage to Sailrite founder Jim Grant’s father, whose name was Lowell. Next, the S refers to straight stitches, which both machines can sew. Finally, the Z in LSZ points to that machine’s ability to sew zigzag stitches in addition to straight stitches.
So, you can tell what stitch type the Ultrafeed machines sew by considering their names and colors. The red LS sews straight stitches only, and the blue LSZ sews straight and zigzag stitches. Why would you need two different stitch types? Because different projects call for one type over the other.
For example, zigzag stitch is a must for sailmaking because it can stretch to evenly distribute stress along a seam. This allows a sail to fill or change shape without the seams puckering or breaking. On the other hand, straight stitch resists most stretching — a plus for many non-sail projects like bags, covers and home décor items.
Walking Foot Width
Another factor to consider is the difference in the presser foot width of the two machines and what that means for your sewing experience.
The LS foot is 15mm wide. It’s narrower than the LSZ foot, making it better for sewing into tight upholstery and bag corners. Because the LSZ can do zigzag stitch, its foot has to be wider than the LS foot. It’s a bit difficult to sew into corners and other tight spaces with the LSZ’s 19mm foot — especially on smaller, "shaped" assemblies. The advantage of a wider foot and feed dog is better grip and more positive feeding power due to the wide foot’s larger surface area.
Needle Position & Stitch Width Levers
Having said that, the LSZ has a needle positioning lever to compensate for the wider foot. It allows you to move the needle to the right, left or center. This way, you can get closer to a zipper or grommet without having to change the foot. In fact, when the hardware piece is on the right side of the presser foot and you move the needle to the right position, you can actually sew as close to the hardware with the LSZ (6.2mm away) as you can with the LS (6.5mm away)!
In addition to the needle position, you can also change the zigzag stitch width on the LSZ thanks to its built-in stitch width lever. Choose a width up to 5mm to get just the right zigzag stitch for your project. Since the LS is straight stitch only, it doesn’t have a stitch width lever.
Those are the major differences between the LS and LSZ. We’ve made an easy-to-read chart to help you compare all the physical and technical aspects of the two machines. Take a look!
Now that we’ve covered the internal and external physical qualities of the LS and LSZ, let’s delve into the most important consideration: What do you sew?
What Kind of Sewing Do You Do?
Let’s talk about the type of projects you work on. This is undoubtedly the biggest factor in deciding which machine is right for you. The chart below lists some common sewing projects and techniques, as well as the recommended stitch type for each.
Once you’ve chosen the right machine for your needs, you can customize it with convenient upgrade packages! The DIY experts at Sailrite have carefully curated five unique bundles to include the most useful tools and notions for common DIY categories:
- Leather Craft
- Canvas & Sail
- Bag Making
- Upholstery & Home Décor
- Speed Reduction
We offer separate versions of each package (except Speed Reduction) for the LS and the LSZ, so you can be sure the attachments you get with the packages you choose will fit your machine. And since there are no duplicates from one package to another (besides consumable notions and items like fabric clips, which are always helpful to have extras of), you can purchase all five packages without getting repeats of the same tool or machine attachment!
Overall, both the LS and LSZ are powerful, well-equipped portable walking foot sewing machines. You won’t go wrong purchasing either one.
If you think that you may one day get into sailmaking or sail repair, we strongly recommend the LSZ because you’ll need to sew zigzag stitches. If you’re not a marine sewer and you simply want zigzag stitches to add a decorative element to your sewing, we suggest the LSZ for you too. That way you have the zigzag stitch should you ever need it.
On the other hand, if you’re an upholsterer, bag maker or hobby sewer, the straight stitch only LS will be your best option. Its narrower foot excels at fitting into tight corners, which are common in the types of projects you prefer.
Don’t forget: You can get special upgrade packages that will give you the most important tools and notions for your preferred projects. Whether you choose the LS or the LSZ, there are upgrade packages that perfectly fit your machine. You can buy as many as you want without getting multiples of the same tool or machine attachment.
If you still have questions or would like to talk to one of our highly trained customer service representatives about these machines, don’t hesitate to call, email or online chat with us. Choosing the right Sailrite sewing machine is an important decision, and we want to help you in any way we can.
This blog was updated in January 2023 to reflect updates to Ultrafeed naming conventions and introduce the optional upgrade packages.