Can I Sew Upholstery With A Regular Sewing Machine

Have you ever been curious if upholstery sewing can be done with a regular sewing machine? Most people tend to think that upholstery sewing should be done with an industrial, heavy-duty machine. But, with careful planning and practice, you can actually sew upholstery with a regular sewing machine.

Upholstery sewing creates beautiful products with thick, dense fabrics and medium- to heavy-weight materials. With the right product knowledge, needle selection, and fabric combinations, it is possible to work with the right materials to create long-lasting upholstery products.

When preparing to sew upholstery with a regular sewing machine, it is important to consider the type of fabric you will be welding. Upholstery fabric is usually much thicker than apparel fabrics, so make sure your machine can handle the weight and thickness. Investing in quality upholstery weaver is critical for successful sewing results.

To ensure a good quality result, choose a machine that can handle stitching through multiple layers of fabric. A zigzag stitch is a great stitch for upholstery, as it has more flexibility and does not fray or unravel easily. Adjust the tension of the needle so that it can penetrate the fabric without putting too much strain on the fabric.

It is also important to use strong, durable thread that is thick enough to support the weight of the fabric. Bobbin threads should be wound with enough tension to hold the thread in place. The presser feet should fit the application and be able to stay flat against the fabric.

In order to sew upholstery properly, it is important to select tools that are up to the task. Heavy-duty needles, high-quality thread, and the right presser feet and attachments are essential for a successful sewing project. It is also important to use the right density and type of batting to give the desired result.

While there are some risks associated with sewing upholstery with a regular machine, the rewards can be great. With practice and patience, anyone can create beautiful upholstered pieces with a regular sewing machine.

What Machines Are Best for Upholstery Sewing?

When selecting a machine for upholstery sewing, there are several factors to consider. The machine should be powerful enough to handle the weight and thickness of the fabric, and have a high-end, reliable stitch quality. The type of needle the machine uses should be able to penetrate the fabric without breaking it.

High-end models are preferable since they are more reliable and can handle heavy fabrics with ease. A drop-in bobbin mechanism is highly recommended, as it makes it easy to change bobbin bobbin. In addition, adjustable tension, adjustable speed, and an automatic foot-lift are all important features to look for in a machine for upholstery sewing.

Another important factor to consider is the type of needle you will be using for the project. First, measure the thickness of the fabric, and then choose a needle that is suitable. For example, a 70/10 or 80/12 needle is ideal for light- to medium-weight fabrics, while a 90/14 or 100/16 needle is better for heavier fabrics.

Finally, it is essential to use a good quality thread that is strong and durable enough to hold the fabric in place. Polyester thread or heavyweight cotton thread is best for upholstery sewing; this type of thread is stronger and more resistant to fraying or unraveling than regular thread.

Tools for Upholstery Sewing

In addition to choosing the right machine and thread for upholstery sewing, it is important to have the right tools on hand. High-quality scissors are a must for cutting dense fabrics, as well as an unpicker, ripper, and tailor’s wax for removing stitches and seams. Staplers and brad nailers are also important for securing layers of fabric.

Measuring instruments such as tape measures and rulers are also important for precise stitching. A rotary cutter is also helpful for cutting large pieces of fabric, as it allows you to cut through thick fabric quickly and evenly. For constructing projects with multiple layers, a layer cake is essential. It is also important to have a good quality iron and ironing board to help press and shape the fabric to the desired shape.

Finally, it is important to have a good quality seam ripper on hand for unpicking any mistakes. It is also helpful to have a number of spare needles on hand, as they can wear out quickly when sewing thick materials.

Tips For Sewing Upholstery

Before beginning any upholstery project, it is important to understand the process and practice on a test piece of fabric. Measure the area to be upholstered so there are smaller pieces for sewing ease. For difficult fabrics, it is helpful to practice on scrap material before working on the actual project. It is also important to pre-cut all the necessary pieces for the project before beginning.

When measuring the fabric, always remember to allow extra room for stretching and wrinkles. This extra room can be removed once the project is complete. When sewing the pieces together, it is important to use the right stitch pattern and tension. A small-scale stitch length is best for upholstery, as it is less likely to show on the finished piece. The tension should also be adjusted to match the weight of the fabric.

Basting is a great time-saving technique for upholstery projects. This is a temporary stitch that allows you to adjust the pieces of fabric before stitching them together permanently. Basting also helps hold the fabric in place while sewing. Be sure to mark any measurements or spaces with a fabric marker, as this will make it easier to sew the pieces together accurately.

Upholstery Batting

Upholstery batting is an important part of a successful upholstery project. Batting provides support and cushioning for a piece of furniture and helps to protect the fabric from wear and tear. High-quality upholstery batting is the key to a comfortable, durable finished piece.

There are different types of upholstery batting available to choose from. Polyester batting is lightweight and flexible, and is best for indoor use. For outdoor use, cotton, wool, or synthetic batting is best, as it is more durable. In addition, there are different densities of batting to choose from, depending on the needs of the project.

Before installing the batting, it is important to carefully measure the area that requires padding. The batting should fit snugly in the area, with no gaps or excess fabric. When attaching the batting, the edges should be secured with staples or glue. For added protection, the batting can also be covered with an upholstery liner or muslin before attaching the fabric.

Finishing Touches for Upholstery Projects

The final step in any upholstery project is the finishing touches. This includes adding the decorative trim and trimming away any excess fabric. To prevent fraying and lengthen the life of the fabric, it is important to secure the edges with pinking shears or an edge stitcher. In addition, it is important to finish the seams with a trim or bias tape to help reinforce the fabric.

Finally, furniture protector and Scotchguard are useful products for helping to protect the fabric and extend its life. For more elaborate designs, such as tufting, it is important to use heirloom buttons or high-quality upholstery tacks. These products will help to keep the fabrics and trims secure, and give the finished piece a more polished look.

Safety Tips for Sewing Upholstery

Safety is an important consideration when sewing upholstery. Always use a face mask and gloves when working with heavy fabrics, as this can help avoid accidents and unwanted contact with sharp objects. Wearing protective eyeglasses is also important, as stray bits of fabric or needles can cause serious injury.

When working with a sewing machine, it is important to make sure the bobbin is properly threaded, and the needle and presser foot are in the correct position. Also, make sure to read the manual carefully to understand any special instructions or warnings.

When cutting the fabric layers, always use a long ruler and make straight cuts. Cutting the fabric into straight lines helps to avoid waste and ensures a neat finish. Be aware of any fraying fabric, as loose threads can become entangled in the sewing machine and cause damage.


Although it is possible to sew upholstery with a regular sewing machine, it is important to first determine if the machine is up to the task. If not, investing in a higher-end machine is the best option for a successful project. It is also important to use the right tools and materials, and be aware of any safety considerations. With careful planning and practice, anyone can create beautiful upholstered pieces with a regular sewing machine.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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