Differences in Mechanical vs Computerized Sewing Machine

Are you a fan of sewing? Sewing can be a great way to create your own clothes, toys, and much more! But did you know that not all sewing machines are the same? There are two main types – mechanical and computerized. These two machine types can be quite different, so it’s important to know about them before you pick a new sewing machine. Let’s learn more about the differences in mechanical vs computerized sewing machines!

Mechanical vs Computerized Sewing Machines ... What's the difference? Picture of a person sewing at a mechanical sewing machine follows.

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What is a Mechanical Sewing Machine?


Pictured here – Brother XR3774 Sewing and Quilting Machine

A mechanical sewing machine, sometimes known as a manual or traditional sewing machine, is a type of machine that has stood the test of time with its straightforward and hands-on approach. Mechanical sewing machines are controlled with knobs, dials, and a foot pedal. Adjusting the stitch length and stitch width on these machines is a manual process, allowing you to customize your sewing to your project’s needs. The stitch length dial controls how long each stitch will be, while the stitch width dial determines how far the needle moves from side to side. Another important feature is the tension adjustment. This little dial helps ensure that your stitches come out even and not too tight or too loose. It’s like the Goldilocks of sewing – it helps you get your stitches just right! Finally, you also have a foot pedal. This is like the gas pedal on a car and it controls how fast your sewing machine sews.

These traditional sewing machines may not have all the bells and whistles of computerized models, but they are sturdy, reliable, and good sewing machines for a wide variety of projects. Their simplicity makes them a great choice for beginners, but even seasoned sewers can appreciate their durable construction and hands-on control. Remember, with a mechanical sewing machine, you’re the one making all the decisions!

Looking for a great mechanical sewing machine? Check out our review of the Brother XR3774

What is a Computerized Sewing Machine?

Pictured here – Brother CS7000X Computerized Sewing and Quilting Machine

A computerized sewing machine, also known as an electronic or digital sewing machine, is a modern marvel in the world of sewing. Packed with advanced features, computerized models open a whole new world of creative possibilities for sewers. These machines are often equipped with an LCD screen where you control the machine’s settings. These machines often have hundreds or even thousands of stitch options, including a wide variety of decorative stitches. Most computerized sewing machines also have automatic stitch settings – so the machine would automatically set the default stitch length, width, and thread tension for you. You just select a stitch and the machine does the rest.

But with all these advanced features, there can be a bit of a learning curve. It’s a bit like learning to use a new smartphone or tablet – there are a lot of buttons and menus to understand. It is also easy to get overwhelmed with all of the possible stitch selections on these machines.

Computerized or electronic sewing machines may be a bit more expensive than their mechanical counterparts, but the wide range of features they offer can make them a great investment for many sewers. If you’re a sewer who enjoys exploring new creative possibilities or if you love the convenience of automatic features, a computerized sewing machine might be the perfect tool for your sewing projects.

Looking for a great mechanical sewing machine? Check out our review of the Brother CS7000x

Mechanical vs. Computerized Sewing Machines – The Comparison

The main difference when considering computerized vs mechanical sewing machines lies in their operation and the range of features they offer. Mechanical sewing machines have a more hands-on approach, requiring the user to manually control various aspects of sewing. In contrast, computerized sewing machines automate many of these tasks, allowing for a smoother, more streamlined sewing experience. They come with a host of extra features, including a significant number of built-in stitches, automatic needle threading, precise tension control, and often a feature to download even more stitch designs.

However, these added capabilities do not necessarily make computerized machines the best sewing machines for everyone. It largely depends on your sewing skills and what you need from your machine. For instance, a beginner might find a mechanical machine simpler to navigate, while a more advanced sewer might prefer the versatility of a computerized model. The major difference really comes down to your personal sewing needs, preferences, and budget. Both types have their unique advantages and can serve different types of sewers effectively.

FeatureMechanical Sewing MachineComputerized Sewing Machine
Can do basic stitchesYesYes
Can do stretch stitchesYesYes
Can do decorative stitchesLimited selectionWide Selection
Can have new stitches addedNoYes
Has a sewing lightYesYes
Automatic needle threaderSome modelsMost models
Adjustable max sewing speedFoot pedal onlyFoot pedal + slider
Start sewing button / Stop buttonNoYes
Automatic thread cutterNoSome Models
Touchscreen or LCD displayNoYes
Price$ – $$$$$ – $$$$
Differences are in BOLD
These are generalized for most mechanical / computerized sewing machines. For exact features of a sewing machine, be sure to check with it’s instruction guide and specifications.

Ease of Use

Mechanical machines are simpler and can be easier for beginners. You manually adjust everything, so it’s straightforward. In general, you just need to learn what a limited set of knobs, dials, and levers does then you can be off and sewing. However, it can be harder to remember what settings are needed for which stitch on manual machines, so having your instruction manual handy is definitely nice even once you’ve mastered a mechanical machine.

On the other hand, computerized sewing machines, while filled with exciting features, can require a bit more time to master. It’s like learning to use a new computer or a smartphone. There are menus to navigate, options to explore, and settings to adjust. All this can seem a bit overwhelming at first. But don’t let that discourage you! Many computerized machines offer helpful on-screen guidance, making the learning process easier. And with computerized sewing machines automatically setting default stitch length, width, and tension for your stitch selections you don’t have the challenge of having to remember which settings are needed for each stitch. So, while there might be more to learn with a computerized machine, the potential for creativity is also much greater!

Stitch Options

Stitch options are the variety of stitches that a sewing machine can make. Computerized sewing machines really shine here, blowing mechanical sewing machines out of the water. Mechanical sewing machines generally have considerably fewer stitch patterns than a computerized sewing machine. While they’ll have all of the basic stitch types and stretch stitches, a mechanical sewing machine will not have as many decorative stitch options as a computerized sewing machine. If you want tons of decorative stitches at your disposal, computerized sewing machines are the way to go. These machines provide hundreds, even thousands, of stitch options. From basic straight and zigzag stitches to elaborate decorative stitches, you can find them all on a computerized machine. Some even allow you to download new stitches from the internet! It’s like having an art studio’s worth of materials ready for your next sewing masterpiece. With this many stitch options, your creativity can really bloom. So, while mechanical machines keep it simple and straightforward, computerized machines offer an extensive palette for those who love to experiment with their sewing!


Price-wise, mechanical sewing machines, with their simplicity and fewer features, are generally more budget-friendly. They make a great choice for those just starting out with sewing or those working within a tighter budget. Computerized sewing machines, packed with advanced features and extensive stitch options, usually come with a higher price tag. These are high-performance machines with more capabilities. Ultimately, the best sewing machine for your needs is one that fits your budget and aligns with your sewing aspirations. Whether you’re a novice happy with a less expensive mechanical model, or an experienced sewer ready to invest in a feature-rich computerized machine, the choice is yours to make in your sewing journey.


Durability is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a type of sewing machine. Mechanical sewing machines are typically recognized for their durable construction and simpler design. These machines are designed to last, often serving their users for many years or even decades with appropriate maintenance. However, the durability does not imply a lack of sophistication or capability, as these machines can handle a wide variety of sewing tasks efficiently.

Computerized sewing machines, while offering a host of advanced features, contain more electronic components that could potentially require repair over time. Despite this, with regular maintenance and proper handling, computerized machines can also provide many years of service. It’s essential to remember that regardless of the type of machine you choose, regular care and maintenance are key to ensuring its longevity. In the end, both mechanical and computerized sewing machines can be highly durable, offering a solid return on investment.

Pros and Cons of a mechanical vs computerized sewing machine

Mechanical Sewing Machine Pros & Cons

Easy to learnLimited stitch selection
Easy to maintainNo max speed setting
DurableLittle automation
Budget Friendly
User controls everything
These are generalized for most mechanical / computerized sewing machines. For exact features of a sewing machine, be sure to check with it’s instruction guide and specifications.

Computerized Sewing Machine Pros & Cons

Lots of stitch selectionsMore expensive
Automated featuresHarder to master
More precise stitchesRepairs can be harder
Max speed controlCan be less durable
Can be updated
These are generalized for most mechanical / computerized sewing machines. For exact features of a sewing machine, be sure to check with it’s instruction guide and specifications.


What is the advantage of a computerized sewing machine?

The main advantage of a computerized sewing machine is that the computer allows you to have many more advanced features and automatic features than a traditional sewing machine.

What makes a sewing machine computerized?

A computerized sewing machine is a sewing machine with a computer in it. These sewing machines can use a sewing machine to assist with stitch selection, stitch settings, and to have even more advanced features like auto sewing and thread cutting.

Which is better – a mechanical or a computerized sewing machine?

In general, with it’s wider selection of stitches and more advanced features a computerized sewing machine is better than a mechanical sewing machine. That said, for basic sewing projects, both a mechanical or a computerized sewing machine will work equally fine. And for some specialized sewing you would want a mechanical machine over a computerized sewing machine. There’s a reason mechanical sewing machines are still being made today!

What is the advantage of a computerized sewing machine?

The biggest advantage of a computerized sewing machine is it’s wide range of stitch selections and automatic features. Being able to quickly select a stitch and have the machine automatically apply the correct stitch settings is a huge time saver when you are sewing. Another great advantage of a computerized sewing machine is the ability for it to continue sewing a pattern or design automatically if you push the “start sewing” button. You will see this being used primarily on an embroidery machine, but you can also do similar with a computerized sewing machine and have it sew a pattern for you automatically.

What is the purpose of a mechanical sewing machine?

Mechanical sewing machines have many purposes. They can be great simple machines for completing basic sewing projects. You can even get a more specialized mechanical sewing machine for sewing straight stitch only ( great for dressmakers and tailors ) or a heavy duty sewing machine for sewing materials like denim, canvas, leather, and more.


In conclusion, the primary differences between mechanical and computerized sewing machines lie in their operation, features, price, and ease of use. Mechanical sewing machines offer hands-on control with manual adjustments for stitch length, width, and tension. They are typically more affordable and easier for beginners to use, but offer fewer stitch options. On the contrary, computerized sewing machines offer a wide variety of stitch options and automate many sewing tasks for convenience. They may require a larger investment and have a steeper learning curve, but they also provide advanced capabilities for creative possibilities. Both types have their unique strengths and the best choice ultimately depends on your specific sewing needs, budget, and personal preference.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope it has provided valuable insights to help you make an informed decision about your next sewing machine purchase.

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