Which Sewing Machine Is Right for Me?

Item # X-HT-300132

If you know you need a heavy-duty sewing machine, you’ve come to the right place! But we know that looking at the various options of Sailrite machines can feel overwhelming at times. Choosing your new sewing machine is a big decision and we don’t take that lightly. To help make the decision-making process easier, we’re going to walk you through the thought process that we’ve been using for over fifty years to help customers decide which machine is just right for them. Are you ready to choose your new sewing machine?

Do I Need a Zigzag Stitch?

Zigzag versus straight stitches

The first consideration to make is to think about the type of sewing you are looking to accomplish with your new sewing machine. Will you be sewing upholstery or sails? Do you own a sailboat? How you plan on using your machine will help dictate if you need a zigzag stitch option or if a straight stitch only machine will work for you.

The majority of sewing projects are done using a straight stitch. For many sewers, especially those whose main projects include upholstery, home décor, canvaswork and awnings, a straight stitch is all they will ever use. If this is true for you, we suggest looking at our straight stitch options: the Ultrafeed® LS-1, Leatherwork® and the Fabricator® Sewing Machines.

The zigzag stitch is more of a specialty stitch, but it has its place. You want to look at a zigzag sewing machine if you are planning on doing any sail construction or repair. In fact, we recommend looking at our Ultrafeed® LSZ-1 if you have a sailboat in general, even if you’ll mostly sew canvaswork, so you have the zigzag stitch if you ever need or want to do a sail repair. The zigzag stitch offers more flexibility and stretch and also helps distribute stress at the seams, which is why it’s used on sails; this also makes it a good choice when sewing stretchy fabrics like neoprene. Additionally, crafters often like to use a zigzag stitch as a decorative element or for bar tacking. If you see yourself in any of these examples, you’ll want to look at our zigzag and straight stitch machine: the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine.

Do I Need a Portable Machine?

The Ultrafeed sewing machines are easily portable in the Industrial Carrying Case

The second consideration to make is to think about where you sew. A portable sewing machine is one that is compact and can be transported around your home or to different locations. These machines are still fairly heavy, but their smaller package allows them to be packed up, moved around or easily stored. A nonportable machine is one that’s set up in a table configuration, takes two people to maneuver around a room, and is not easily disassembled. So which is right for you?

To decide if you need a portable or full-size sewing machine, think about the amount of room you have to sew. If you live in a small home, even if you don’t take your machine on the road, you might want the more compact setup of a portable machine. And, of course, if you like to take your machine from place to place, like from your home to the marina or to conventions, you will want a portable machine. On the other hand, if you have the room for a larger machine, you sew on a regular basis, or you want the extra sewing room a table offers, you might want to think about a machine that comes with a table setup. Our full-size industrial machine is also a good choice for those who sew primarily large-scale projects like awnings or enclosures because it offers more power, a higher foot lift and more underarm space.

At Sailrite, we carry a line of portable heavy-duty sewing machines, the Ultrafeed, in addition to our full-size, industrial Fabricator machine. The Ultrafeed is our only portable sewing machine. While the Sailrite Leatherwork® Sewing Machine has a stationary setup, the machine head is the same size as the Ultrafeed and the table stand is compact enough to be moved about your home or workshop.

Will I Be Sewing Leather?

The Leatherwork is great for sewing leather.

Leather crafting requires its own unique sewing machine specifications, like power and slow speed control. We offer three machines that can sew leather: the Ultrafeed, the Fabricator and the Leatherwork Sewing Machine. The latter is based on the Ultrafeed but is designed specifically to sew leather in a compact, stationary setup. Below you’ll find a brief explanation of each of our leather sewing machines and resources to learn more.

The Ultrafeed is a solid choice for those who want to occasionally sew leather but need a completely portable machine. Get an in-depth look at this machine by reading our blog “Why Choose an Ultrafeed?” (#300330XHT).

The Fabricator is great for anyone primarily sewing up to 20 ounces of leather and those in need of a full-size, industrial machine with a larger tabletop. Visit our blog “Why Choose the Fabricator Industrial Sewing Machine?” (#300358XHT) for details. This machine is available in two stationary sewing packages, the Sailrite® Standard Fabricator® Sewing Machine Package (#400500) and the Sailrite® Deluxe Fabricator® Sewing Machine Package (#400600). The main distinction between the two is that the deluxe package features a more craftsman-inspired look with a maple butcher block table and several intuitive additions including a larger flexible sewing light and more storage.

The Leatherwork is primarily engineered for leatherworkers looking to sew up to 16 ounces of leather in a more economical, compact, stationary setup. The Leatherwork is a great introductory machine for small leather shops and DIYers wanting to get into leatherwork. To learn more, check out our blog “Why Choose the Leatherwork Sewing Machine?” (#300470XHT).


All Sailrite sewing machine models

Now it’s time to put it all together. If you've decided that you need a portable, straight stitch only sewing machine, check out our package options for the Ultrafeed LS-1 Sewing Machines. If you think you’d rather have a straight stitch only, full-size machine, the Fabricator is the way to go. If you’re primarily interested in sewing leather and want an economical, smaller machine in a compact, space-saving table setup, check out the Leatherwork. Got to have that zigzag stitch? The Ultrafeed LSZ-1 is the machine for you.

Still have questions? Feel free to contact us and we’ll help you work through it. Sailrite customer support is available over the phone, via email and through the chat function on our website. We'll help you find the Sailrite machine that's just right for you.


We updated this blog in February 2021 to include mention of the Leatherwork Sewing Machine.