Mechanical vs Computerized Sewing Machine: an easy guide

I have been sewing for nearly fifty years and the question I often get asked is ” should I buy a mechanical sewing machine or an electronic or computerized model?

So let’s take a look at a mechanical vs computerized sewing machine, the main differences between them and what to keep in mind when choosing a sewing machines.

Considerations when looking at sewing machines

  • Your budget is often the first thing to keep in mind. Budget constraintsMechanical machines are normally cheaper than computerized machines, but with fewer features and options.
  • I suggest that you take a good look at the type of sewing that you do and also how often you do sewing. This should give you an indication as to the type, and also the features, that you want in a machine.
  • One of the biggest decisions you’ll make, is between a computerized and a mechanical sewing machine, because it directly affects the features and the price of the machine. Make sure you are not paying for features that you don’t need and / or won’t use.

Mechanical Sewing Machines

  • Advantages of mechanical sewing machines: Mechanical sewing machine
    • Cost – Mechanical sewing machines are the most economical option and most mechanical sewing machines start at a lower price range than computerized ones.
    • Easy to maintain – Mechanical machines don’t have the intricate electronic parts and mother boards that computerized machines have. Many owners of mechanical machines often say they are easier to maintain because of their simplicity and therefore fewer problems.
    • Work horse – Depending on the type of mechanical machine you buy, you can get a seriously heavy-duty machine. A heavy-duty mechanical sewing machine can handle both thick fabrics, like denim, and delicate fabrics, like silk.
  • Disadvantages of mechanical sewing machines:
    • Limited number of stitches – Mechanical machines have fewer stitch options and often as few as eight basic stitches. If you are impressed by the hundreds of stitches that a computerized machine can offer, then you’ll notice that most mechanical machines only have a fraction of that.
    • Stitch length – these have manual dials and levers, so any changes to the stitch length has to be made manually.
    • Tension – once again the tension has to be adjusted manually, which could be frustrating for a novice seamstress.
    • Few buttonhole options – If you like making clothes, then you are limited in choice when it comes to button holes and normally you only have one option.
    • Can be more complicated – With a mechanical sewing machine you have to choose all your own settings for stitch length and tension, which could be difficult for an inexperienced seamstress. A computerized machine where everything is automatic and you just need to touch a button, is often easier for the beginner.

Computerized Sewing machines

Computerized sewing machines often have a higher cost, but they have many features that could be of great benefit: Computerized sewing machine

  • Advantages of computerized sewing machines:
    • Automatic features – many models can automatically thread needles, cut thread, needle up and down position and automatically adjust tension and stitch length at the touch of a button.
    • These machines have many more stitch options and many will have as many as two hundred stitch options, including letters and numbers. The truth is that many computerized machines have far more stitches than most people will ever use.
    • Tension – select the stitch you want to use and the tension will automatically be adjusted
    • Stitch length – once again the stitch length is automatically adjusted according to the stitch option that you have selected. Normally you can also change it yourself.
    • Automatic buttonholes – sewing perfect buttonholes every time couldn’t be easier with the automatic settings.
    • Some computerized machines offer better speed control too, and with many models you now have the option that you don’t need the foot pedal.
  • Disadvantages of computerized sewing machines:
    • Can be over complicated – beginning sewers can find a computerized machine overwhelming because of the many features. You might pay for features that you will simply never use.
    • Cost – computerized sewing machines are normally more expensive than mechanical machines.
    • Durability – some people say that a computerized machine doesn’t last as long as a mechanical model. With technological advancements, many people now buy new machines after only a few years. Often, you buy a new machine not necessarily because the old one died, but because you just want to try a new machine with features that the other machine didn’t have.

My verdict on a Mechanical vs Computerized Sewing Machine Mechanical vs Computerized sewing machine

Both are very good and both have their pros and cons, so it is not that one is better or worse than the other. They both have a place and you must just make sure that you choose the machine that is right for your current needs.

My personal opinion is that if you can afford it, then go for a computerized machine. The additional features are certainly worth the extra dollars and you don’t want to feel after a year that you need to upgrade already.

Beginners who won’t be sewing very often, may find a simple mechanical machine far more efficient than a computerized model. However, if you like having more stitch options (and you know you’ll use them), and you don’t want to mess with manually adjusting dials, a computerized machine might be the right choice for you.

Please also read my review on how to chose the best beginner sewing machine.

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below and I will get back to you.

14 thoughts on “Mechanical vs Computerized Sewing Machine: an easy guide”

  1. Extremely interesting!  I am 81, and haven’t sewn much lately, but I used to make all my own clothes.  In a home economics class in high school, I made a suit, complete with bound buttonholes.

    I’ve never used a computerized machine.  I learned to sew on an old treadle, and loved that machine.  Later switched to an electric one.  It’s pretty amazing what new innovations there are.  I can certainly see the benefits of a computerized machine, if only for its needle-threading capacity. I would like to try one, to see if I would like it.

    • Hi Fran, computerized sewing machines do have many features that make it easier and quicker to make clothes, so I am sure you will enjoy using one. Please let me know if you need help to choose one. Liné

  2. This is some great information. I wish I had this information years ago when I bought my wife a sewing machine. I had no clue on what I was looking at. I ended up buying a fairly expensive computerized sewing machine that did so much. But also so much that she didn’t use. Seems she liked just doing the basics. I think I could have gone for a more mechanical sewing machine and it could have gotten done what she liked. 

    • Hi Rob, some computerized sewing machines have so many features that some sewers do find that they don’t use them all. If it is only basic sewing that one does, then a mechanical sewing machine will often fit the bill. Liné

  3. Oh wow this is fantastic, honestly I have never even heard of a computerized sewing machine. My mom is looking for a new sewing machine and at close to 70 years old she can barely see to thread her sewing machine at the moment. It would be amazing for her to have this all done for her. I think that the benefits of the computerized sewing machine far outweigh he negatives, especially for someone like my mother that has the money available to buy one and she is experienced enough at sewing to be able to use most of the features. 

    • Hi Lynne, There are many features of a computerized sewing machine that make them ideal for beginner and experienced sewers. It certainly sounds as if your mom would benefit from the automatic threading that are available on some sewing machines. All the best and happy sewing, Liné

  4. Hi, My mother has a mechanical sewing machine and she’s been sewing for more than four decades now. Recently I thought it was the time to replace it with new computerized ones.But I neither know the technical concepts nor differences between old and brand new ones.I found your tips to be very helpfull and I need to show it to my mother to get her opinion about it. Thanks

  5. Thank you very much for listing the advantages and disadvantages of both sewing machine types. My mom just started learning to sew from her friends to start her own custom baby clothing business. However, we don’t really understand what type of machine should we use in the beginning. I personally alright with higher cost if the features are good, so we may try look into computerized sewing machine to make her time learning become easier. Thanks

  6. I love your post as it has given me an in-depth analysis of both mechanical and computerized sewing machines so that it’s easier for me to decide which one to go for. 

    Though I am in the market searching for low- cost sewing machine, I will agree with you that it is better to pay the extra dollars and invest in  a computerized one due to many automatic features available on it like adjusting of tension and stitch length at the touch of a button. I also love to have not just eight basic stitches, but hundreds of stitches. 

    Thanks for this pretty good article and I share it.

  7. Hello Line :),

    This is really informative. I enjoyed reading and learning the differences between computerized and mechanical sewing machines.

    My girlfriend just recently started taking sewing machines and has opted to get a mechanical sewing machines but plans to upgrade as she gets better.

    Any recommendations on very good and trusted brands?


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