Choosing the Best Straight Stitch Sewing Machine
We have a phenomenal lineup of straight stitch only sewing machines that are suitable for a broad range of sewing endeavors. While all of our straight stitch machines can sew a variety of materials, each machine has its specialty. In this blog, we're going to take an in-depth look at our three straight stitch machines and help you decide which one is best suited to your DIY lifestyle. Do you want the power and large stationary setup of an industrial machine? Are you looking for a portable machine you can take on the road, to the marina and more? Do you primarily work with leather? All of these topics, and more, will be addressed. Let's find the right sewing machine for you!
First, let's talk about size. Portability can be a key deciding factor for some DIYers when it comes to sewing machines. The Ultrafeed® LS-1 is our only truly portable straight stitch sewing machine. It comes in two carrying options: a wooden base and a carrying case. The wooden base comes with the Ultrafeed LS-1 BASIC package. The machine is secured inside the base's cavity, and handholds on either side of the base make it easy to move around. Ultrafeed LS-1 PLUS and PREMIUM packages come with the Industrial Carrying Case. The Ultrafeed sits inside the case's base and the lid attaches to the base with strong butterfly latches. A handle on top of the case makes the machine easy to carry. The foam-lined lid protects the machine during transportation. You can even store it on its side.
The Ultrafeed machine's portability gives you the freedom and choice to sew wherever you want — on your kitchen table, out on the patio or on any sturdy surface — even the floor! Another benefit of the Ultrafeed is that it's compatible with the Monster® II Balance Wheel. This 7-pound, nickel-plated steel oversized balance wheel's weight creates enough momentum that you can easily hand crank the machine. You can sew without electricity even through thick assemblies. If you plan on taking your sewing machine outside, on the road, sewing at a farmers market or convention, having the ability to operate the machine without electricity is a huge selling point.
If portability is not a concern for you, consider either the Sailrite® Fabricator Sewing Machine or the Sailrite® Leatherwork® Sewing Machine. The Fabricator is our full size, industrial straight stitch machine. This machine is designed for a permanent, stationary workstation. It's perfect for small businesses and intrepid DIYers who have the space and need the power of an industrial machine. The machine sits in a large 47-1/2-inch x 20-inch tabletop, which offers plenty of space for working on large sewing assemblies.
The Fabricator is available in two packages, the Sailrite® Standard Fabricator® Sewing Machine Package (#400500) and the Sailrite® Deluxe Fabricator® Sewing Machine Package (#400600). While both of these include our incredible full-size straight stitch sewing machine, there are a few differences. The Sailrite Deluxe Fabricator Sewing Machine Package features our machine in a craftsman-inspired maple butcher block table and powder-coated steel table legs. It has extra storage and our new and improved LED sewing light. If you’d like to learn more about these two packages, visit our Sewing Machine product page.
The Leatherwork Sewing Machine body is the same size as the Ultrafeed and comes with a compact table for a stationary sewing setup. The Leatherwork tabletop — 23-1/2 x 18-3/4 inches — is much smaller than the Fabricator machine's, which means it takes up less room in your home or workshop. It's perfect for DIYers who want the power of an industrial machine in a compact size. You can almost think of the Leatherwork as semi-portable (73.5 lbs. fully assembled in the table with motor). The machine head is the same size as the Ultrafeed, and the tabletop is easy to dismantle and maneuver should you ever need to move the machine around your home or take it to a farmers market or convention to do demonstrations.
Next, let's talk about how much power you need in your sewing machine. Both the Fabricator and the Leatherwork come equipped with the Sailrite® Workhorse® Servo Motor. This 550 watt, 3/4 horsepower motor is a Sailrite exclusive. It's designed for continuous use on industrial sewing machines. The Workhorse runs quietly, is energy-saving and features fully adjustable speed settings. This means you can set your top stitching speed and maintain variable speed control. Paired with a cogged timing belt(s) and oversized balance wheel, the motor delivers incredible power while maintaining slow-speed control, allowing you to sew stitch by stitch.
The Fabricator has a top stitching speed of 1,108 stitches per minute, whereas the Leatherwork's top stitching speed is 412 stitches per minute. The Fabricator Sewing Machine's ability to sew both stitch by stitch and fast is one of the reasons that makes the Fabricator better suited for production sewing for a small business or entrepreneurial DIYer. The slowness and ultimate control of the Leatherwork is perfect for someone starting out in leatherwork or who is most comfortable sewing with stitch-by-stitch slow-speed precision. The difference in the two machines' speed range is due to a special under the tabletop speed reducer utilized by the Leatherwork. The machine is intentionally engineered to sew slowly.
Just because the Ultrafeed is portable doesn't mean it lacks power. The machine is powered by a 1/10th horsepower motor that runs 6,600 rpm at 1.5 amps. The maximum sewing speed for the Ultrafeed is 500 stitches per minute. To get power from such a small motor, a similar speed reducer to the Leatherwork is incorporated between the motor and balance wheel. The machine's mechanical walking foot (same as the Leatherwork) effortlessly climbs over various fabric thicknesses without ever skipping a stitch. The Ultrafeed has the power and durability to penetrate heavy fabric assemblies consistently for beautiful, perfect stitches.
All three of the machines come equipped with the Posi-Pin Clutching System. This patented technology (Patent #7438009) is found only on Sailrite sewing machines. The Posi-Pin provides 100% power transfer from the motor to the upper drive shaft, ultimately powering the needle. Unlike outdated and inefficient friction clutches, the Posi-Pin locks the balance wheel, bushing and drive shaft together so there is absolutely zero chance of slippage and loss of power. This strong connection means that you get the most power delivered right to your needle so you can sew through heavy and thick fabric assemblies, even at incredibly slow speeds.
Finally, let's discuss the purpose for your sewing. In other words, what kind of sewer are you and what materials are you sewing? Are you a business owner looking for a production machine that can run full time? If so, then the Fabricator is the machine for you. With its incredibly powerful Workhorse Servo Motor, finely machined parts and high-quality internal components, the Fabricator is engineered for daily operation. It's perfect for small upholstery and canvaswork shops. It beautifully handles leatherwork with the addition of specialty leather feet.
But that doesn't mean DIYers can't enjoy this machine. If you are a prolific sewer and you want the power and slow-stitch capabilities of a full-size industrial machine, then the Fabricator is right for you. The Fabricator can sew fast (up to 1,108 stitches per minute), which is ideal for the daily production of a small business. The machine's compound walking foot is better suited for sewing through consistent material thicknesses, whereas the walking foot of the Ultrafeed and Leatherwork excels at climbing up fabric thicknesses with ease. Both walking foot designs eliminate uneven feeding and reduce fabric puckering.
Because the Fabricator is an industrial machine, it can handle thicker thread and needles than the Ultrafeed and Leatherwork. The Fabricator can accommodate thread up to V-138 and needle size #24. The Ultrafeed and Leatherwork can handle up to V-92 (Tex 90) thread and size #22 needles. The Fabricator can sew up to 8mm stitch length, and the Ultrafeed and Leatherwork feature a maximum stitch length of 6mm.
Are you primarily interested in sewing leather? Then consider the Leatherwork. This one-of-a-kind sewing machine fills a gap in the leather sewing machine market. Its compact size and reasonable price point appeal to DIYers wanting to get into leatherworking or who don't have the space for a full-size industrial machine. The Leatherwork machine's slow-speed control and ability to sew stitch by stitch is a major benefit to leatherwork. A mistake in leather is costly, as stitch holes are permanent. Leather crafters demand precision and accuracy in a sewing machine, and the Leatherwork delivers. Another great thing about the Leatherwork is that all of the presser feet and feed dogs that are available for the Ultrafeed LS-1 are also compatible with the Leatherwork. That means you can change out the feet and feed dog in order to sew canvas, upholstery denim and more. You're not just limited to sewing leather, but you will sacrifice sewing speed.
If you want a machine with the freedom of portability and the strength and dependability of a heavy-duty sewing machine, there's nothing like the Ultrafeed. This sewing machine is truly in a class of its own. It boasts semi-industrial strength in a portable package. You can move it around your house, take it on the road, take it to the marina or a sewing workshop, and more. Plus, the addition of the Monster II Balance Wheel gives you the option to hand crank and sew without electricity. This feature is only available on the Ultrafeed. If you think you'll ever need the mobility of a portable unit, we strongly recommend the Ultrafeed LS-1 Sewing Machine.
To learn more about our three straight stitch sewing machines and all they have to offer, check out our blogs:
"Why Choose an Ultrafeed?" (#300330XHT)
"Why Choose the Fabricator Industrial Sewing Machine?" (#300358XHT)
"Why Choose the Leatherwork Sewing Machine?" (#300470XHT)
Machine Characteristics at a Glance:
- fully portable machine and easy to carry
- up to 500 stitches/minute
- 6mm stitch length
- 3/8" presser foot lift
- no table (unless purchased separately)
- walking foot with aggressive feeder tracks
- oscillating hook
- intended for canvas, upholstery, awnings, vinyl — can do leather with appropriate presser feet and feed dog
- compatible with Monster II Balance Wheel for hand cranking and sewing without electricity
- up to V-92 thread and size #22 needles
- portable size machine head in a compact table
- stitch-by-stitch sewing speed and up to 412 stitches/minute
- 6mm stitch length
- 3/8" presser foot lift
- walking foot with soft knurled feeder tracks
- oscillating hook
- intended for leatherwork — can do canvas and upholstery with appropriate presser feet and feed dog
- up to V-92 thread and size #22 needles
- full-size industrial machine in a larger table
- stitch-by-stitch sewing speed and up to 1,108 stitches/minute
- 8mm stitch length
- 9/16" presser foot lift
- compound walking foot
- large-size rotary hook
- intended for large-scale awnings, canvas, upholstery — can do leather with appropriate presser feet
- up to V-138 thread and size #24 needles
- large bobbin thread capacity
- self lubricating
- Available in our stationary Sailrite Deluxe or Standard Fabricator Sewing Machine Package. The Deluxe Package features a more craftsman-inspired look and several intuitive additions including a larger flexible sewing light and more storage.
We hope this blog has helped you learn the biggest differences between our straight stitch sewing machines. Now that you're equipped with the characteristics and qualities of each machine, you're ready to choose the one that is best suited to your sewing needs. Let us know if you have any additional questions regarding our selection of straight stitch sewing machines. You can contact Sailrite via phone, email and the chat function on our website.
Footnote: This blog was updated in February 2021 to include mention of the Leatherwork Sewing Machine.