When it comes to quilting sewing machines, you’ll find a different style for each sewing need.
From simple mending to making dresses, from embroidery to quilting – there’s a quilting machine for it!
When it comes to sewing machines for quilting, how do you decide which one is right for you?
First, decide what your quilting plans and projects will be. Are you only going to be piecing quilts, or do you want to do the top quilting as well?
If you’ll be doing free motion stitching, you’ll want something with a larger table area (also called the throat).
Then, decide what you are willing to spend. If you feel you need a top-of-the-line, computerized machine that does everything but the dishes, you can expect to spend thousands of dollars. (The Janome Horizon Quilt Maker Memory Craft 12000 can set you back over $5,000.)
Once you have a good idea of what you need and what you can spend, it’s time to talk to other quilters.
What sewing machine do they use? What machine would they like to have for quilting?
Serious quilters are going to invest in a heavy-duty machine, such as the Bernina 770 QE (around $6K), the Baby Lock Destiny II (around $8K), and the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8200QCP (around $2K).
All three of these come with high recommendations from professional quilters.
Serious hobbyists also had recommendations for sewing machines for beginners; after researching them all, we put together our list of favorites.
But first, let’s review the types of machines you might consider as you develop your sewing and quilting skills.
- What Are The Different Types of Sewing Machines?
- The 9 Best Sewing Machines for Quilting
- FAQ About Sewing Machines for Quilting
What Are The Different Types of Sewing Machines?
All-In-One Sewing Machines
Some sewing machine brands have created versatile machines that can embroider and still provide serger and straight stitching options.
These are the absolute best sewing machines industry-wide and afford a professional level of quality. But with this quality comes a higher price tag.
Serger Sewing Machines
Serger machines allow you to add finishing touches to your sewing projects. They can certainly handle basic sewing chores with ease, but this machine also trims the seam and encloses the seam allowance or edge of the fabric all in one step. The more you spend on your serger, the more bells and whistles you’ll get.
Some sewing projects can be done totally on a serger, but a serger can’t replace your regular sewing machine. You will need Old Faithful for facings, zippers, topstitching, buttonholes, etc. — which a serger can’t do.
Embroidery Sewing Machines
As with the other types of sewing machines, some embroidery machines are simple and easy to figure out, while others have additional features to create complex designs at the touch of a button. The more features, the more expensive the machine.
Be aware that many embroidery machines only offer an embroidery stitch, so you may still need another sewing machine for a straight stitch.
Now that you know a little about the different kinds of sewing machines for quilting, let’s begin our review of the 5 best basic quilting machines for beginners.
The 9 Best Sewing Machines for Quilting
Check out our review of all 5 to discover what the best sewing machine is for quilting:
Brother Industries has been making sewing machines since 1908 when the Yasui Sewing Machine Company was established in Japan. With a focus on electronics and computerization, this company excels at keeping up with consumer needs and wants.
The CS6000i has 60 built-in stitches and can sew 850 stitches per minute. The feed dogs are droppable to allow free motion stitching, and it comes with a free motion quilting foot. An oversized, detachable table allows for larger quilt projects, and the needle threading system means no eye strain.
Overview of Brother CS6000i features:
- Simple to use, LCD display stitch selector
- Easy threading
- Automatic needle threader
- Easy bobbin winding
- Free arm for sewing cuffs and sleeves
- Easy-to-see, superbright work area
- Oversize table
- Adjustable sewing speed
This Brother machine is a fabulous option for quilters with its 165 built-in stitches, including 55 alphanumeric stitches. It also comes with a handy detachable table which gives you a larger workspace when quilting your projects.
Brother is a well-known and trusted brand in the crafting world and makes a wide variety of sewing machines for every sewer and quilter level.
Overview of the Brother Project Runway XR9550PRW features:
- 165 built-in stitches
- Detachable table, perfect for quilting
- LCD display
- Includes 8 feet and other accessories
Much like the Brother machines, the Singer Confidence Quilter also has a “drop and sew” bobbin system, an extension table, and the ability to drop the feed dogs for free motion sewing.
An added feature of this particular model is the twin needle sewing capability – making it easy to run a double line of stitching for extra durability or extra fancy quilting. The LED lights keep the work area well lit, and the machine comes with 98 built-in stitches.
Singer has been in business for quite a while. First established in 1851 by Isaac M. Singer, their focus has been only sewing machines. To say they know “a little bit” about sewing machines is an understatement.
Overview of SINGER 7469Q features:
- Drop and sew bobbin system
- Automatic needle threader
- Programmable needle up/down
- Drop feed
- Heavy duty metal frame
- Bonus quilting feet
- Extension table included
- Adjustable Stitch Length and Width
Janome is one of the most recognizable brands in the quilting community, and this machine would make a great addition to any quilter’s arsenal of tools.
This machine has many great features like its “jam-proof” bobbin system, thread cutter button, and easy-to-use LCD display. Another desirable button the Janome 3160QDC has is the reverse stitch button which is great when you want to lockstitch.
Overview of the Janome 3160QDC features:
- 60 built-in stitches
- Several included feet and other accessories
- “Jam-proof” bobbin system
- Multiple convenient function buttons
- Up to 820 stitches per minute
Juki began making home sewing machines in 1945 and soon grew into an industrial sewing machine giant.
The TL-2000Qi is considered a mid-arm quilting and piecing machine. Besides being portable and lightweight, this machine has an extension table that can be added to make the work area 23 inches long – perfect for quilting!
This machine has a sewing speed of 1,500 stitches per minute – almost twice the speed of the other machines and includes a thread tension scale, speed control mechanism, and presser foot pressure adjustment capability.
Although it costs a little more, it’s well worth the investment if you enjoy quilting.
Overview of Juki TL-2000Qi Long-Arm features:
- Throat area: 8.5(L)x 5.9 (H) inches
- Sliding speed control
- One pedal foot control
- Auxiliary table included (dimensions 590 mm x 277 mm)
- LED light
- 1500 stitches per minute
- Stitch length 6 mm
Here we have another Brother machine created specifically for quilters. The PQ1500SL is ideal for quilters who plan to make quilts from start to finish. With its spacious throat (harp) space, this machine gives you plenty of room to free-motion quilt larger quilts.
Another unique trait of this machine is it is a straight stitch only machine. It can stitch a max speed of 1,500 spm. That’s almost double the rate of most domestic machines.
Overview of the Brother PQ1500SL features:
- Max stitch speed: 1,500 spm
- It comes with a large extension table
- Accessories include: 7 presser feet and a knee lifter
- Brother’s Pin Feeding technology for even fabric feeding under the needle
- 4 Feed Dog positions
- 8 ½” throat space
EverSewn is a relatively new company owned by Bernina, one of the most well-respected companies in the sewing community. EverSewn’s mission is to create sewing machines for “the next generation” of crafters. This machine is an excellent example of how they have taken the attributes of older hardware and modernized them.
The Sparrow QE offers professional quilting tools at a fraction of the cost of other quilting machines. The machine offers 70 stitches, an automatic thread cutter, and a handy knee lifter for when you need to lift the presser foot but don’t want to take your hands off the fabric.
Overview of the EverSewn Sparrow QE features:
- 8” throat space
- 70 built-in stitches
- Automatic needle threader and thread cutter
- Drop-in bobbin
- Large extension table
- Easy-to-navigate panel to select and adjust stitches
- Weighs 24 lbs
- It comes with a straight stitch plate
Elna sewing machines have been around since the 1930s. They’ve been popular ever since for their simple design and quality materials. This computerized machine would be the perfect fit for someone who wants a smaller machine that doesn’t skimp on features.
This machine offers 60 built-in stitches, including six buttonhole options. The throat space is approximately 6 ½,” and you can remove a cover to use the free arm for circular projects.
Overview of the Elna Elnita ec60 features:
- Zigzag stitch max width: 7mm
- 6 ½” throat space
- 60 built-in stitches
- Extension table included
- Seven presser feet included
- Memorized needle up/down feature
- LCD screen for easy stitch selection
- Weighs 17 lbs
This Juki machine is a fantastic option for someone who wants an industrial-strength machine but doesn’t have a huge budget. The HZL-70HW has everything a quilter would need to create gorgeous quilts and other crafts. This machine has Juki’s Box Feed technology to feed the fabric evenly in a box movement instead of the traditional oval movement.
Since this machine has Juki’s industrial technology, you can easily sew light to heavyweight fabrics. You will have 180 stitches to choose from and one alphabet to customize your projects.
Overview of the Juki HZL-70HW features:
- Drop-in bobbin
- 6” throat space
- Sews through a wide variety of fabric thicknesses
- Juki’s Box Feed system
- Speed control
- 180 built-in stitches plus one alphabet
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FAQ About Sewing Machines for Quilting
I’m sure you have questions about choosing a sewing machine for your quilting needs. Here are some of the most common questions I hope to clarify.
What kind of sewing machine is best for quilting?
It depends on your specific needs, budget, and skill level. There isn’t “one” machine that is the best. If you asked 100 quilters this question, you would probably get 100 different answers.
I always recommend choosing a budget first and then looking at machines that fit that amount. There are great machines for almost every price range.
What is the difference between a regular sewing machine and a quilting machine?
Honestly, there isn’t a difference. You can use a regular sewing machine for quilting and vice versa. Some quilting machine features make quilting a lot easier, such as larger throat space, drop-down feed dogs, speed control, etc., but they are not necessary to create a quilt.
Can you use any sewing machine for quilting?
Yes, you can! I wouldn’t recommend quilting a king-size quilt on a small regular sewing machine. That would be difficult. But the point is, you don’t have to get an expensive, “designer” quilting machine to make gorgeous quilts.
Do you need a quilting machine to quilt?
Absolutely not. Yes, a quilting machine will be potentially more manageable. Still, if you don’t have the means to purchase a quilting machine or can’t borrow one from a friend, I would love to challenge you to do a small quilted project on a regular sewing machine and see what you can do.
As you begin looking for your perfect sewing machine for quilting, consider making a list of the features you desire in a machine.
- Does it need to be computerized?
- What about lighting and an extension table?
- Do you need a needle threading system, a thread sensor, or an independent bobbin winding motor?
- How fast do you want it to stitch?
- Do you plan to do free motion stitching which requires the feed dogs to drop?
- Does it come with special quilting feet, or can you at least order them?
- Do you plan to do other sewing with this machine as well? Buttonholes? Embroidery?
Once you’ve decided on a machine, find a friend (or a local store) who has one. Ask if you can take it for a test run. Take some scrap material and thread along to see how it feels to sew with it. Check out all the features to be sure you understand how it works.
There are hundreds of different sewing machines available. Knowing what you need and what you can afford will help you find the best one for your quilting pursuits.
Do you have a machine you love? Leave a comment and let us know!