What is a free-arm sewing machine?

Buying a sewing machine is a tricky job as you have to consider a lot of aspects and factors to get a machine that suits you the best and can help you out in all of your sewing projects.

When you step into a shop for sewing machines, you will see that there are plenty of different options and all these options differ in terms of features and functionalities. It is better to have at least basic knowledge about each aspect before you buy a sewing machine.

What is a free-arm sewing machine

As soon as the shopkeeper talks about free arms, people start thinking, What is a free-arm sewing machine? What are free arm sewing machines used for? How important is a free arm sewing machine?

It is essential to have all the answers because it will help you decide why you need a free-arm sewing machine. Just continue reading this article till the end and you will get everything related to free-arm sewing machines in terms of all its aspects.

What is the free arm of a sewing machine?

What is a sewing machine free arm (and when do you use it)?

A free-arm sewing machine has an extended arm that is suspended or floats in the air right above the surface of the workstation. Sewists can slide over tube-like round garments such as sleeves or pants while sewing them.

This thing allows users to do stitching without worrying about anything as the fabric doesn’t bunch up while you sew seams or hem them. In simple words, a sewing machine with a free arm is just a normal sewing machine with a suspended arm that helps in sewing around the fabric.

What is a free-arm sewing machine used for?

A free-arm sewing machine is used while hemming sleeves and the bottom of the pants or trousers. In simple words, a free-arm sewing machine comes into play when you want to sew round fabric such as the end of sleeves and pants.

By using a free-arm sewing machine, the fabric goes under the needle properly while mitigating the risks of getting stitched to the other parts of the fabric by accident.

You simply have to put the round fabric on the arm and keep on stitching which will rotate on the arm.

Here is a video by Threadistry showing you when a free-arm sewing machine is used and how it differs from normal sewing machines.

How important is a free-arm sewing machine?

Every dress has circular areas which need to be the hem or stitched in the end. Sewing such an area could be difficult as you can catch other parts of the fabric or stitch in the wrong place.

A free-arm sewing machine will make sure that you get the best quality stitches in circular areas such as sleeves and pants.

This thing will save you a lot of time along with bringing clear stitches on the most difficult parts of the clothes.

A survey that included experts in sewing showed that when someone wants to look at the experience or expertise of a sewist, the first thing they check is the stitches on round parts and a free-arm sewing machine can make you an expert in that.

Difference between flatbed and free-arm sewing machine

Flatbed and free arms are two surfaces attached to a sewing machine right under the needle. Some sewing machines come with both while others just have either one of them.

The thing is that flatbeds have a larger surface area where you can sew straight stitching and free-arm sewing machines have an arm that is floating in the air and you can put on the sleeves and pants to sew the round area without requiring any major manipulations of the cloth.

If you have either one of the sewing machines, you don’t need to buy another one but if you are going to buy a sewing machine anyway, it is better to buy one having a remote flatbed that will expose free arms.

How do you thread a free-arm sewing machine?

  1. Firstly place the thread spool on the machine’s spool pin (mostly situated on top or back of the machine).
  2. Take the thread and pass it through the top loop pin.
  3. Now pull the thread down and pass it through the tension discs. The thread must pass through tension discs because this thing will handle the thread tension while sewing.
  4. Take the thread up again and pass it through the lever that pulls the thread up and down along with the needle.
  5. Pass the thread now through the hook situated right above the needle.
  6. At last, insert the thread into the needle’s eye.

Benefits of a free-arm sewing machine

  • It is easier to stitch around circular areas like sleeves and pants.
  • Sewing small pieces is easy.
  • Attaching sleeves to the other part of the dress is quite easy.
  • The free arm also has a flat plate which means that you can switch from straight stitching to circular stitching in a matter of seconds.
  • Increases the clarity of stitches.
  • Reduces the possibility of errors.
  • Save too much time.

Drawbacks of a free-arm sewing machine

  • Some free-arm sewing machines do not have a removable flat plate which makes the workspace quite less.
  • A free-arm sewing machine without a plate makes it difficult for you to sew large fabrics.

What to consider while looking for a free-arm sewing machine?

As said earlier, buying a sewing machine requires a lot of consideration, and below are the basic things that should be determined before you step into the shop to buy a free-arm sewing machine.

1. Your budget

Decide on the budget because you can find machines of all kinds at different prices. Therefore, it is better to stay within your budget instead of digging a hole in your pocket.

2. Size of the sewing machine

Decide the size of the machines because they come in small as well as extra-large sizes. So, it is better to have a clear mind in that regard.

3. Diameter of free-arm

The diameter of the free arm will determine how big of a circular part you can sew on it.

4. Length of free-arm

The length of the arm will also be the length of fabric that can be slid over the free arm.

5. 2-in-1 sewing machine

Look for a sewing machine that has a flatbed that can be removed and exposes the free arm as it will be a 2-in-1 bonus for you.

6. Buy one that suits you

If you are a beginner, don’t go for a sewing machine with many features as they will only be overwhelming and you may not even use them until you become a pro.

Top free-arm sewing machines

  • Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine XR3774.
  • SINGER Heavy Duty 4432.
  • SINGER ProFinish 14CG754.
  • Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9850.
  • Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine.
  • SINGER Tradition 2277 Sewing Machine.
  • Janome 2212 Free-Arm Sewing Machine.
  • Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine CS6000i.


Do you need free arm sewing machines?

Yes, you do need a free-arm sewing machine because it helps you in stitching the circular area easily and saves your time as well. It also makes your sewing more efficient while bringing the most accurate and clear stitches.

Some people also have problems attaching sleeves to the dress and for that reason, they go to other experts who can get this job done. But with a free-arm sewing machine, you are free of paying extra money or going through such issues.

What are free-hand sewing machines?

A free hand is a tool attached to a sewing machine on the bottom right side of the sewing machine. Because of this tool, you can pull or push the presser’s foot up and down with a small nudge of your knee.

This thing gives you extra control over the machine while allowing you to save time and get the job done without pulling your hands away from the clothes under the needle.

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