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Types of Home Use Sewing Machines

There are three basic types of home use sewing machines: mechanical, electronic, and embroidery machines. Sergers are also used for home use, to create more professional looking seams.


From the introduction of sewing machines in the mid-1800's until the 1960's, all sewing machines were mechanical. Early machines used a bullet shaped shuttle-type bobbin case. Later on, a back-and-forth oscillating shuttle was introduced. Modern sewing machines use a complete rotary system.

Mechanical machines come in a variety of styles. Basic machines start with a simple straight stitch. Stepping up in features would add a zigzag stitch. Then keep adding different stitches, some utility and some decorative to reach the top line models. Necchi 3620 Quilter Free Arm Sewing Machine

All the action of these machines is caused by many spring loaded cam followers being mechanically pushed or pulled to move the material in conjunction with the needle to make various stitches.


The electronic sewing machine became popular in the 1970's. These machines have all the features offered by the mechanical machines and more.

Instead of the pull and push method of creating stitches and patterns, now an electrical impulse literally shoots and returns the needle to place it in the proper area to coincide with the feeding mechanism and create patterns. This new idea stretched the possibilities of even more decorative stitches with much more precision. Brother NX-600 Computerized Sewing Machine

Computer Sewing Machines

The computer sewing machine is very similar to the electronic sewing machine. It uses the same basic chips and stepper motors that the electronic machine has, but it also has a microprocessor. This allows the machine to accept new information, usually in a card form, and create the patterns that are loaded on that particular card.

All computer machines can either work like a mechanical machine or they can be set up to create designs that are automatically generated by the program without any help in either guiding the material or deciding where the pattern is. With a computer machine, all you do is decide where you want the pattern and the machine will do everything automatically. The newer versions of these machines will stop for each color change in the pattern and will automatically trim the thread when finished. A good example of a computer machine is the Singer XL-1000.


Serging machines are finishing machines, sometimes called an overlock or merrow, and their function is to cut and finish the edge of the material to give the material a finished look. Unlike a straight stitch sewing machine, a serger uses loopers in order to make the stitch, and a set of knives- one on top that moves against the bottom blade- similar to a pair of scissors in action.

See more information on sergers by clicking here.

Machines Referred to
in this Article

Necchi 3620 Quilter Free Arm Sewing Machine
Necchi 3620 Quilter Free Arm Sewing Machine

Brother NX-600 Computerized Sewing Machine
Brother NX-600 Computerized Sewing Machine

Singer XL-1000 Computerized Sewing Machine
Singer XL-1000 Computerized Sewing Machine