Nothing quite compares to the amount of heart-stopping dread you feel than when the upholstery in your vehicle rips. Perhaps the dog got too excited and shredded the seat, or that end table you bought had a sharp end that tore into your backseat. Whatever the reason, a gash like that can be unsightly and upsetting, especially when you plan on trading the vehicle in. Plus, you have to deal with the expense of getting the ripped car upholstery repaired by a professional.
You can expect a minimum of $1,000 for a professional reupholstering of a vehicle in the US. But depending on the make, model, and quality of material used, it may cost several thousand.
What if there was another way? You could potentially save tons of money by repairing the upholstery yourself. Though it will take a little practice, you can easily stitch together rips or fully replace sections of your car’s upholstery with an industrial-grade sewing machine.
We’ve reviewed the best sewing machine for auto upholstery to help you get started, so keep reading to find out more.
What is an Industrial Sewing Machine?
Similar to a standard home sewing machine, an industrial sewing machine is slightly heavier and used in textiles or related industries. A common use of an industrial sewing machine is the mass production of sewing pockets onto thicker fabrics, such as denim or canvas.
Industrial sewing machines are the best for sewing automotive upholstery because they can punch through multiple heavy layers of material, including leather, vinyl, and canvas all at once. These sewing machines are powered by a large servo motor and a clutch.
Best Automotive Sewing Machine
There are plenty of options out there for auto upholstery sewing machines, but only a few get high ratings across the board. We checked out all kinds of industrial sewing machines to see ones are the best for auto upholstery so you don’t have to. When choosing the best of the best, we considered the size of the sewing machine, speed, weight, price, needle size, and stitch length. For example, will the stitch length support thicker materials?
A couple of sewing machines caught our attention. Check out our favorites below:
Best Auto Upholstery Sewing Machine: Consew 206RB-5 Walking Foot Industrial Sewing Machine
Consew has been around for many years (since 1898) and has produced some of the best upholstery sewing machines during that time. So, you can trust that the Consew 206RB-5 Walking Foot Industrial Sewing Machine is not only an incredible asset but that it will do everything you need and more. Let’s talk about why this is one of the best industrial sewing machines you can get your hands on.
First off, the Consew has a triple feed walking foot that is height-adjustable. Second, if you plan on working with car upholstery, whether it is leather or vinyl, you need something that can tackle the thickness and space to stretch out all those materials. The Consew is a workspace and sewing machine in one, so you can set up shop and never worry about where you placed a needle. With all that space, your stitches will also come out more precisely.
Another reason we love the Consew 206RB-5 for vehicle upholstery is the 10mm maximum stitch length. A longer stitch means stronger seams that won’t come undone. Further, the powerful motor pumps out around 3,300 stitches per minute. That’s impressive!
The only downside right out of the box is that this sewing machine is going to be intimidating to beginners. That said, if money isn’t an issue and you have some patience or experience, the Consew sewing machine is the best of the bunch.
- High powered motor with a maximum speed of 3,300 SPM
- High foot clearance of 14mm
- Large max stitch length (10mm)
- Built-in workspace
- Very expensive
- Straight stitch only
- Assembly directions are incomprehensible. You will have to go on YouTube for more accurate instructions.
Runner Up Auto Upholstery Sewing Machine: Sailrite Heavy-Duty Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Basic Walking Foot Sewing Machine
Founded in 1969, Sailrite is another company that is well known for its high-quality sewing machines and tools, but they started out making sails for boats. The Sailrite Heavy-Duty Ultrafeed Sewing Machine is a testament to the craftsmanship of the company. Don’t be fooled by the size of the machine, either. Though smaller than the Consew sewing machine, the strength and speed of the Sailrite unit are not lacking.
The Sailrite model can sew through 10 layers of heavy materials, like canvas, denim, and leather. This not only means the unit is built tough but that the walking foot, with a clearance of 9.5mm, is designed to hold thicker materials in place. You can sew straight and zigzag patterns.
Although the Sailrite sewing machine has a smaller stitch length (6mm) than some industrial models, the stitching itself is resilient to stress. The machine also comes with the trademark Posi-Pin Clutching System technology, which means that power is transferred at a balanced rate to the needle, keeping the clutch from slipping. This is great for thicker materials, like vehicle upholstery. Needle sizes #10 to #22 fit into the unit.
- Ideal for heavy materials like heavy canvas, sailcloth, upholstery, and denim
- Uses the patented Posi-Pin clutching system and a Power Plus Balance Wheel
- Comes with a 2-year limited warranty
- 6mm straight stitch length and 5mm zigzag stitch length
- Needles sometimes drag on leather
Best Budget Auto Upholstery Sewing Machine: Brother ST371HD
You may have noticed that a lot of industrial sewing machines cost a lot of money. Since you don’t know when you will be using such a machine again, it might be wise to choose something less pricey than the other options. That is where the Brother ST371HD comes in. Built tough, this industrial strength sewing machine has everything you need for your home. It can even handle many thicker forms of fabric, including those used for auto upholstery.
One of the reasons this sewing machine is so well received would be the free arm, so you can tackle numerous projects. The unit also comes with 6 sewing feet—nonstick, zipper, buttonhole, button sewing feet, blind stitch, and spring action zigzag foot. There is little that will give this sewing machine a problem, though you may have some issues with very thick canvas.
If this is your first time using a sewing machine, you are going to love the free instructional DVD that the unit comes with.
- Easy needle threading
- 6 sewing feet
- 37 built-in stitches
- Quick-set drop-in top bobbin system
- Budget-friendly price for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money
- Lighter-duty than competitors
- The plastic lever that holds down clothing is weak
When you are looking around for the best sewing machine for auto upholstery, you will find plenty of choices out there. However, the Consew or Sailrite industrial sewing machines are a cut above the rest. They are time-tested and reliable, especially when you consider the cost. Or, if you are looking for something more affordable, the Brother sewing machine is an even strike between ability and cost. Standard sewing machines can’t do the same thing our recommended machines can, so why not check them out?