Best Sewing Machines for Quilting

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With so many sewing machines available for different tasks, finding the best sewing machines for quilting can be a challenge. You have to take into account your sewing ability and make sure your machine can cope with the demand you’re placing on it. Quilting, after all, isn’t quite as simple as making a garment.

Not only do you have several layers of fabric for your machine to contend with, you also have the sheer bulk of the material to cram into the throat space of your trusty companion. With all this stress, you need to make sure your sewing machine can cope.

So what are the best sewing machines for quilting?

Beginner Quilter Sewing Machines

These sewing machines are great for quilters who are just starting out. Or, sewists who want to try their hand at quilting but aren’t sure whether they want to stick with it long term. They’re simplistic but effective and work just as hard as their professional counterparts.

Brother CS6000i

Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i

If you’re not sure quilting is for you but you enjoy sewing, the Brother CS6000i offers a lot of features perfect for sewing in general. Not only is it reliable, it’s affordable and perfect for carrying to lessons.

With an extension table included, several feet to choose from and 60 built-in stitches, your quilts will look unique every time. Plus, the CS6000i is designed with beginner sewists in mind, making this machine easy-to-understand for those just starting out.

Key Features:

  • 7 automatic buttonholes
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Extension table
  • 10 sewing feet
  • LCD screen
  • 25 year limited warranty

Pros:

  • 60 built-in stitches
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Portable

Cons:

  • It may be too light for heavier projects
  • Small throat space

Brother XR3774

Brother XR3774 sewing and quilting machine

Another entry-level machine is the Brother XR3774. Again, if you’re not sure quilting is right for you, the XR3774 offers a variety of features for other sewing tasks and it’s completely beginner friendly.

Although it comes with less built-in stitches than the Brother CS6000i, the XR3774 has many similar features. From the extension table to the free arm to the automatic needle threader. Better yet, it’s affordable for sewists with a tight budget.

Key Features:

  • 37 built-in stitches
  • Automatic buttonhole
  • Automatic needle threader
  • 8 sewing feet
  • Free arm

Pros:

  • Beginner friendly
  • Extension table
  • Portable
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • May be too light for heavier projects
  • Small throat space

Intermediate Quilter Sewing Machines

If you’ve been quilting a while and know you love it, you no doubt want to upgrade from a standard entry-level machine to a more in-depth model. The following sewing machines are great for the experienced sewist looking to expand beyond the limitations of beginner sewing machines.

Singer Quantum Stylist 9960

Singer Quantum Stylist 9960

At a great price for the available features, the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 is a fantastic choice for the sewist who wants to stretch their abilities. A fully computerized machine, it has 600 built-in stitches, an extension table and a heavy-duty frame to cope with larger projects. This machine is the perfect choice for quilters and general sewists alike!

Key Features:

  • Automatic needle threader
  • Computerized
  • 13 one-step buttonholes
  • Extension table

Pros:

  • 600 built-in stitches
  • Great value
  • Heavy-duty metal frame

Cons:

  • Small throat space
  • It may be too complicated for beginners

Janome Skyline S5

Janome Skyline S5 quilting machine

If you want to upgrade but worry about the leap from entry-level machine to intermediate, the Janome Skyline S5 is a great middle ground. With a computerized interface and speed control setting, it’s easy to use and versatile. While it’s a little expensive, the S5 hosts a lot of features from the more expensive models, including a memorized needle up/down setting.

Key Features:

  • Computerized
  • Automatic thread cutter
  • Speed control slider

Pros:

  • Memorized needle up/down setting
  • Speed control
  • Easy-to-use

Cons:

  • Expensive

Juki TL2000QI

Well known for their commercial machines, Juki offers a robust and hefty choice for quilters with the TL2000QI. Built to a semi-industrial standard, the TL2000QI can chug its way through the thickest of quilts with ease. With 1,500 stitches per minute and an automatic needle threader, you’ll fly through your projects in no time.

Key Features:

  • Automatic needle threader
  • Aluminum die-cast arm and bed
  • Extension table

Pros:

  • 1,500 stitches per minute
  • Knee lift
  • Semi-industrial

Cons:

  • Straight stitch only
  • Intimidating for beginners
  • No speed control

Brother PQ1500SL

Brother PQ1500SL- great machine for quilters

If you’re on the lookout for a semi-industrial grade sewing machine but can’t quite stretch your budget to the Juki TL2000QI, the Brother PQ1500SL is a cheaper alternative.

Soaring through even the heavier projects with a speed of 1,500 stitches per minute, the PQ1500SL has more than enough space for your quilt. If the large throat space isn’t enough, the included extension table is more than ample.

Key Features:

  • 1,500 stitches per minute
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Extension table
  • Removable knee-lifter

Pros:

  • Semi-industrial
  • Large throat space
  • Adjustable feed dogs

Cons:

  • Straight stitch only
  • Intimidating for beginners

Juki HZL-F300

Juki HZL-F300- small machine that can quilt well

Lighter than the previous two sewing machines, the Juki HZL-F300 is small but versatile. Personalize your quilt with the wide range of 106 built-in stitches and save time with the automatic needle threader and thread cutter.

To make up for the limited throat space, the HZL-F300 comes with an extension table and the ability to lower the feed dogs for free-motion sewing.

Key Features:

  • 106 built-in stitches
  • Free arm
  • 16 automatic buttonholes
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Automatic thread cutter
  • Adjustable feed dogs

Pros:

  • Portable
  • One-touch automatic threading

Cons:

  • Small throat space
  • Extension table is an optional extra

Juki HZL-DX7

Juki HZL-DX7 sewing and quilting machine

A domestic sewing machine that benefits from Juki’s experience with industrial machines, the HZL-DX7 can handle all sorts of heavy-duty projects. That bulky quilt you can’t get a regular domestic to handle is one of them.

With a maximum speed of 1,050 stitches per minute and speed control, the HZL-DX7 is perfect for the intermediate sewist who is still wary about faster machines. Although limited in size, it’s lighter than the other Juki’s on this list and much easier to take to quilting classes.

Key Features:

  • 1,050 stitches per minute
  • 287 built-in stitches
  • 12 presser feet included
  • Speed control
  • Needle up/down
  • Straight stitch lever
  • Knee lift

Pros:

  • Portable
  • Computerized

Cons:

  • Small throat space

Janome MC6650

Janome MC6650- great machine for quilting

Compared to the Juki TL2000QI, the Janome MC6650 is more expensive. When it comes to quilting, Janome is the top go-to brand for quality, reliability, functions, and accessories. Packed with features including 170 built-in stitches, a start/stop button, and a speed of 1000 stitches per minute, the Janome MC6650 is a quilter’s dream!

With a throat space of 10 inches, it can handle even the bulkiest of quilts without hassle. Bonus marks go to the 6 LED lights. Perfect for illuminating your sewing projects on even the darkest of days.

Key Features:

  • 170 built-in stitches
  • 1,000 stitches per minute
  • 10″ metal flatbed
  • Start/stop button
  • 6 LED lights in 3 locations
  • Automatic needle threader

Pros:

  • Favorite stitch setting
  • Comes with 2 needle plates for different tasks
  • 10″ seamless metal flatbed

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Not beginner friendly

Advanced Quilter Sewing Machines

Beyond the entry-level and intermediate sewing machines, we have the top-of-the-line models home sewists dream about. These are the professional grade sewing machines that make quilting, and other projects, a real walk in the park.

Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8200QCP

Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8200QCP- one of the best quilting machines

As a special edition, the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8200QCP comes with an assortment of useful accessories for your sewing. Not only does it offer a substantial throat space, but the extra-wide extension table means you’ll never be short of space.

Save time with the automatic thread cutter, needle threader and tension control. While the 8900QCP isn’t the fastest sewing machine on this list at only 1,000 stitches per minute, the 5 LED lights and LCD touchscreen make crafting a breeze.

Key Features:

  • 10 one-step buttonholes
  • Automatic thread cutter
  • Automatic thread tension control
  • Built-in needle threader
  • Extra high presser foot lift

Pros:

  • 170 built-in stitches
  • 1,000 stitches per minute
  • 5 LED lights
  • LCD touchscreen

Cons:

  • Not beginner friendly
  • Expensive

Janome Continental M7 Professional

Janome Continental M7- the very best quilting machine

The absolute pinnacle for quilting machines, the Janome Continental M7 is a machine for the serious quilter. With a daunting price tag, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Or the budget-conscious! We’ll include it anyway, simply for the awe-factor.

A professional grade sewing machine, the Continental M7 makes the other machines on this list look measly in comparison. With an in-built 7″ HD color touchscreen and included tutorial app, even newbies to sewing can figure out how to use this machine.

Including a maximum speed of 1,300 stitches per minute, an optical bobbin sensor for whenever your thread runs low and a massive throat space, you’ll finish your quilt in no time at all.

Key Features:

  • 400 built-in stitches
  • 1,300 stitches per minute
  • Tutorial app
  • 7″ HD color touchscreen
  • Optical bobbin sensor
  • Start/Stop button
  • Lock stitch button
  • Reverse button

Pros:

  • Professional grade machine
  • Built-in tutorial
  • 7″ HD touchscreen

Cons:

  • Incredibly expensive
  • Not ideal as a starter machine due to the cost

Things To Consider

Now you know the best sewing machines for quilting, you have a starting point in finding the brand and model best for you. Before you make a final decision however, here are some important points to remember.

Accessories

When you purchase a new sewing machine, they usually come with all sorts of bits and bobs to make using your machine easy for various purposes. While they don’t all come with the same accessories, there are a few that are common among all the brands. Spare bobbins and a few needles being the most obvious.

For quilters, you should pay particular attention to the spare feet included with your sewing machine. If the accessories only include a foot for buttonholes, you’ll have to spend more money to purchase the feet you need to finish your quilt.

Adjustable Feed Dogs

Quilters use the ‘free motion quilting’ technique a lot to make decorative stitches across their work. This process involves lowering the feed dogs to allow you to guide the fabric through the sewing machine at will.

Since feed dogs are designed to grip the material and keep it straight as it goes under the needle, you can see why being able to adjust them is necessary for the avid quilter.

Budget

Among one of the most important things to consider when buying a sewing machine, is your budget. There’s no point purchasing a machine that’s too expensive, you’ll never have enough left over to stock up on supplies. Similarly, if you buy a sewing machine that’s too cheap, you may find the parts are poorly made or it’s too basic for your sewing ability.

Find a happy medium and stick with it. Your sewing, and your wallet, will thank you for it.

Built-in Stitches

Quilts are designed for decoration or to snuggle up under during cold winter nights. Either way, stitching them together is the most complex part of the craft.

Having a variety of stitches built into your sewing machine will help you make all your quilts unique. Pay particular attention to the decorative stitches the sewing machine offers. While a simple straight stitch does wonders, for those places you really want the stitching to stand out a little extravagance can go a long way.

Extension Table

Sometimes, the space available with your sewing machine just isn’t enough. Even if you purchase a top-of-the-line model that has all the latest features. Sewing machines only have a limited amount of space. This is where an extension table comes in handy.

For quilters especially, the extension table offers that little bit of extra space so the heavy material doesn’t drape off the edge of your table and drag your seams out of alignment.

Extra High Presser Foot

Unlike your ordinary sewing tasks, quilts are a lot thicker. No matter how many layers they have, you can be certain they’ll have at least three. The front, the back and the batting.

Depending on the material you choose, and the amount of seams, the thickness of the quilt varies. An extra high presser foot will allow you to lift the foot well out of the way and enable you to get your quilt beneath it.

Lighting

We’ve all been there, you get so into a project you don’t realize the day’s flown by until you’re squinting at your machine trying to see the seams you just stitched. These days, sewing machines, fortunately, come with built-in LED lights directed at the needle. Depending on the brand, some of these lights can be more useful than others.

Pay particular attention to how much lighting you need your sewing machine to offer. While some have only one light available, others have several.

Needle Up/Down Button

The foot pedal is great for chugging your way through long seams with little effort, but it’s not so easy to make sure your needle finishes in the position you need it to. A needle up/down button, does exactly what it says and is incredibly useful if you need to throw in a few pivots in your sewing.

Programmable Features

Not everyone likes computerized sewing machines. They can be a little daunting with their LCD screens and abundance of settings. But, they do come incredibly useful when you want to personalize your machine.

Not only can you set your favorite stitch as your default, you can also tell your sewing machine to stop with the needle down. No matter what you’re sewing, the down needle will help you pivot without having to worry about losing your spot.

Throat Space

If you’re a beginner sewist, ‘throat space’ refers to the gap between your sewing machine’s needle (on the left) and the pillar (on the right). This space gives you room to bundle your material through the machine as you work.

Unlike garments or stuffed toys, or many other crafts you can make at your sewing machine, quilts take up a lot of space. Not only are they made with multiple layers of fabric, they tend to be huge. If your sewing machine has a small throat space, you’ll struggle to sew your quilt together.

Weight

Layers of fabric make for a heavy project and quilts are one of the heaviest tasks you can use your sewing machine for. It’s important to ensure your machine is hefty enough to counteract the weight you’re putting through it.

A sewing machine that’s too light will bounce when it reaches a certain speed. Or worse, fall over under the weight of your project.

Conclusion

Sewing comes with all sorts of projects, from the easiest stuffed toys to intricately heavy quilts. Whatever you’re sewing, one thing you need to be certain of is your sewing machine. For quilting especially, your trusted partner needs to enhance your skills, not hamper them.

Remember to consider what you want from your sewing machine and your venture into quilting. This list will help you find the best sewing machine for quilting and your sewing ability.

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