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Basic Electric and Computerised Sewing Machines Compared

compare computerised and electric sewing machine

If you’ve taken up sewing as a pastime and are shopping for a sewing machine, you’ll discover an almost uncontrollable selection of sewing machines – a true sewing machine maze.

With this post, I hope to make it a bit easier for you to spot key differences as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the two most common sewing machine kinds – mechanical (electric) and computerised.

The stitch patterns on a computerised sewing machine are more complicated, whereas basic electric sewing machines feature a simple straight stitch. It is ultimately up to you to determine which type of equipment is ideal for your needs and budget. And in order to do so, you must be informed.

Electric Mechanical Sewing Machines Explained

Electric Singer sewing machine
Electric Singer sewing machine

The mechanical electric-powered sewing machine is a very dependable and simple operation. You have manual control over your stitches with a mechanical machine since you can manually modify the stitch length with an adjustable wheel or knob, which only affects the stitch that matches that number. Additionally, the mechanical machine lets you simply wind bobbins and alter the stitch type of your machine by swapping out the faceplates.

Mechanical sewing machines are manually operated, with levers, wheels, or sliders used to pick stitches and set stitch length and width.

While with computerised models, all settings are produced using such setting options, with electrical devices, a computer is built in that automatically sets the stitching settings for you.

To establish the desired stitch, simply use the buttons on this sewing machine to select the corresponding number. On computer sewing machines, the suggested stitch length and width are established automatically but can be modified as required.

Key Advantages of a Basic Electric Sewing Machines

Some people spend their entire lives using a mechanical sewing machine. You have no desire to upgrade to a more complicated machine. They choose to sew with a basic sewing machine for a variety of reasons. Among the benefits are:

  • Ease of use – If you learned to sew on a mechanical machine or in a sewing class, it may be as natural to you as eating with a fork! You already know what to do to get the machine sewing the way you want it, so you don’t have to waste time learning something new.
  • Simplicity is an ancient ability passed down through your family’s centuries. Perhaps you remember watching your granny masterfully stitch on an old pedal machine or antique Singer. Basic electric-powered machines maintain the age-old way to sew, without complicating things with microchips and automation. Some people don’t want automation, as they enjoy the hands-on feeling and problem-solving of sewing. 
  • Best for the old-school traditionalist. Moving to any type of digital equipment comes with a learning curve. If you are not tech-savvy and like to do things manually, or in the old traditional way, a mechanical electric machine is your best bet.
  • More affordable – Mechanical sewing machines are much less expensive than computerised equipment. A top brand mechanical equipment will cost significantly less than a top brand computer-controlled machine.

The price gap between these two types of sewing machines is the first thing that draws your attention. Computer sewing machines are often more expensive than mechanical sewing machines, and there is a wide range of them available.

With that said, there are a bunch of computerised sewing machines that can be bought quite cheaply that provide that advantageous features that separate them from manual mechanical machines. 

Everything a tailor’s heart desires is accessible, from the most basic to the most complicated, with all the functions imaginable. The more capabilities and conveniences are accessible, the higher the price.

Disadvantages of a Basic Sewing Machine

  • The Limited Number of Stitches – If you’re surprised by the hundreds of stitch patterns and designs available on a computerised machine, you’ll be disappointed to learn that most mechanical machines only have a fraction of that.
  • Fewer buttonhole options. If you like to sew clothes, your options for buttonholes are restricted with this machine.
  • Can be more difficult for beginners. That is, some sewing beginners like the machine to perform jobs automatically at the push of a button. Auto threading, tensioning, stitch format, buttonhole patterns, etc, are all game changers for unskilled seamstresses.

Computerised Sewing Machine

Computerized machines offer speed controls that allow you to customise your stitching depending on the type of fabric or project (e.g. quilting or leather). Furthermore, many computer sewing machines offer memory settings that allow you to save specific stitch patterns for later use.

The computer-controlled sewing machine conducts the needle up/down operation automatically. With the press of a button, you can thread the bobbin, modify the stitch width and length, select the type of stitch to display on the LCD screen, and more!

Key Advantages With Computer Sewing Machines

  • Numerous automatic operations such as automatic needle threader, optimal stitch selection, automatic needle up and down, and automatic thread cutter. These features are beneficial and time-saving.
  • Dozens of stitch options – Some machines feature hundreds of stitch possibilities, including letters and symbols. This greatly expands your options for carrying out your sewing endeavours. 
  • Dozens of automated buttonholes – A computer-controlled machine makes creating a buttonhole much faster and easier. Simply put on the buttonhole foot, push the button, or step on the foot controller, and let the machine do the rest – you’ll have a flawless buttonhole every time. 

A significant distinction is that practically all basic mechanical sewing machines have a so-called 4-step automatic buttonhole, whereas computer sewing machines feature a 1-step automated buttonhole.

Both can be done extremely effectively, but the 1-step buttonhole is easier and more comfortable to stitch because you only select the buttonhole and the sewing machine does the rest.

The numerous work phases for the 4-step buttonhole must be chosen one after the other.

This is also visible in the design of the buttonhole feet. Electric sewing machines have pretty simple buttonhole feet, and you must do more of the sewing yourself.

Machine Buttonhole Foot

Computer sewing machines have larger buttonhole rails where the button is inserted from the back. This enables the sewing machine to automatically detect the size of the buttonhole and sew it completely mechanically.

The amount of buttonholes on the two sewing machines is also different. While electric sewing machines can only make a standard blouse buttonhole, computer sewing machines offer a far wider range of options. You can also stitch different eyelet buttonholes with one or two eyes, and high-end computer sewing machines can sew up to 11 distinct buttonholes.

  • Greater Motor Control – A computer-controlled machine provides superior speed control, and many machines have the option of not utilising the foot pedal at all.

Main Disadvantages of Using a Computerised Machine

  • Can be overly complicated. For sewing beginners, a computerised machine might have so many functions that it can be rather daunting, and you can often pay for things that you will never use. Choosing from one or 500 stitch patterns can be overwhelming, and some say unnecessary.
  • Outdated tech – Some old mechanical machines are over 100 years old and have stood the test of time because of their simple non-techy design. It’s true that computerised machines are reliable, but their software may develop faults or become outdated, which is never a concern with basic mechanical machines. 
  • Large upfront costs. While there are many inexpensive computerised sewing machines available, a more advanced machine will most certainly cost more than its mechanical version.

All Things Considered

So, before purchasing a sewing machine, consider what is important to you, what functions you require, and what you want to make. Depending on your budget, you will then check into mechanical sewing machines or computerized sewing machines.

An uncomplicated basic electric mechanical sewing machine has a simple straight stitch, whereas a computerised sewing machine has more intricate patterns and stitches, as well as several types of foot-for-buttonholes.

There are also mechanical variants with a free-arm capability that allow you to sew on sleeves or cuffs without having to remove the garment from the table. Computerized machines are more expensive than mechanical machines, but if your budget allows, they have several wonderful features like zigzag stitching and automatic needle threading that make them desirable in many circumstances.