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Published Jun 21, 2022 10:00 AM

The best sewing machine for quilting is one that suits the quilter’s level of expertise as well as their budget, all while providing features and functionality that accommodate the sewing of large, bulky materials. Many quilters engage in sewing garments, home decor items, and craft projects in addition to quilting. For these sewists, versatile sewing machines fit the bill. While shopping for sewing machines, they may search for built-in, decorative stitches, as well as buttonhole stitches and monogramming fonts.

On the other hand, serious quilters may seek out high-speed machines that produce only straight stitches for quilting. Additionally, they might select models that provide exceptionally large throat space and extended work tables to accommodate the bulky materials of large quilts. Here are our picks for the best sewing machines for quilting.

How we chose the best sewing machines for quilting

Alliance, a 2020 survey revealed a quilting market estimated at $4.2 billion per year. Additionally, the group estimates that between 9 million and 11 million quilters in North America are actively involved in the art of quilt-making. Each quilting enthusiast seeks to utilize the best sewing machines for quilting, crafting, and sewing their unique projects, and each can find a specialized machine that suits their needs here. 

To begin our research on the best sewing machines for quilting, we read the product descriptions and specifications for 14 sewing and quilting machines from five different manufacturers. From that research, we selected six machines for our list of recommendations. To identify them, we took a deeper dive into the details, features, and specifications as described on the manufacturers’ websites. These companies are well-respected leaders in the production of sewing and quilting machines; they include Singer, Brother, Janome, and Juki. In addition to reading the product descriptions, we gleaned additional information about the machines from critical and customer reviews and the answers to FAQs. 

We considered both computerized and mechanical sewing machines for quilting with special attention to automatic features that save time and effort for the user. Additionally, we searched for machines that include wide extension tables to accommodate the large swaths of fabric required for quilt-making projects. Knowing that the quilter must maneuver the bulky fabric through the machine, we considered the throat size of each machine. Additional factors included the availability of quilting feet, quilting guide bars, and drop-feed functioning for free-motion sewing. Although we did not limit our selections to machines with low-end price points, we did consider value and expense in our selection process.

The best sewing machines for quilting: Reviews & Recommendations

Best overall: Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 Sewing Machine

SINGER

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Why it made the cut: With a large, attachable work table, a vast array of built-in stitches, and numerous automatic features to save time and effort, the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 sewing machine is favored by quilters.

Specs

  • Weight: 20 pounds
  • Product dimensions: 17.25 inches long by 8.25 inches wide by 12 inches high
  • Computerized or mechanical: Computerized

Pros 

  • Speed control with high-speed capacity
  • Includes 14 interchangeable, attachable feet
  • 600 built-in stitches with 5 fonts for monogramming
  • Extension table for larger work area

Cons 

  • The throat is not as large as some machines

The Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 computerized sewing machine receives high praise from quilters. Additionally, it’s a versatile machine that lends itself to myriad, creative sewing projects in addition to quilting. With an enormous array of 600 built-in stitches and five alphanumeric fonts, this machine allows sewists to fulfill their most imaginative quilting dreams. Quilters may elongate and mirror-image many of the built-in stitches to achieve truly unique designs.

In addition to accessories such as needles and bobbins, this machine includes a large extension table that is ideal for working with bulky quilts. Included, interchangeable accessories facilitate multiple sewing tasks, including: Quilting guide bar; General purpose foot; Zipper foot; Buttonhole foot; Satin foot; Blind hem foot; Narrow hem foot; Open toe foot; Cording foot; Darning/embroidery foot (may be used for free-motion sewing); Even feed/walking foot; Overcasting foot; Button sewing foot; and Quarter-inch foot.

The Quantum Stylist 9960 is capable of numerous functions that make sewing and quilting easier and more enjoyable. The speed control allows fast sewing of up to 850 stitches per minute for straight seams. Alternatively, sewers can select a slower pace for intricate patterns. For quick set-up, the see-through bobbin features a top drop-in design that allows easy monitoring of the thread supply. When it’s time to thread the needle, the machine accomplishes the job automatically, eliminating frustration and eye strain.

Best computerized: Brother HC1850 Sewing and Quilting Machine

Brother

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Why it made the cut: The Brother HC1850 computerized sewing machine offers quilter-friendly features, such as a spring-action quilting foot and free-motion sewing along with push-button stitch selection and a backlit LCD screen.

Specs

  • Weight: 10.14 pounds
  • Product dimensions: 19.2 inches long by 12.5 inches wide by 15.2 inches high
  • Computerized or mechanical: Computerized

Pros 

  • Automatic drop feed for free-motion sewing
  • 185 built-in stitches
  • Large table workspace
  • Automatic needle threader

Cons 

  • The throat is not as large as some machines

Many quilters engage in various types of creative sewing projects, but they look for specific quilting functions when they shop for sewing machines. The Brother HC1850 computerized machine offers several preferred quilting features. These include a detachable wide table, a spring-action quilting foot, and the capability to perform free-motion sewing. On top of that, the machine boasts 185 built-in stitches, including 55 alphanumeric stitches for monogramming and eight one-step buttonhole stitches. Users may consult the built-in stitch flip-chart and select their preferred stitch patterns with push-button ease. Their selections display clearly on a backlit LCD screen. 

Numerous features of this machine facilitate creative quilting, sewing, and monogramming activities. Both the top drop-in bobbin and the automatic needle-threading system assist in quick and easy set-up. A speed-control system allows sewers to accomplish fast stitching for straight seams or utilize a slower pace for free-motion sewing and intricate patterns. At any speed, the advanced feed system ensures the smooth movement of multiple, diverse fabric types through the machine. Additionally, the bright LED light illuminates the work area for precision sewing.

The Brother HC1850 machine includes eight interchangeable feet for a variety of sewing and quilting functions, including: Spring-action quilting foot; Blindstitch foot; Buttonhole foot; Button-fitting foot; Overcasting foot; Monogramming foot; Zipper foot; and Zigzag foot. Additional accessories include needles, bobbins, a seam ripper, a screwdriver, and more.

Best with a wide work table: Brother PQ1500SL Sewing and Quilting Machine

Brother

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Why it made the cut: Boasting an extra-wide work table and a large throat, the Brother PQ1500SL machine adds a pin-feed mechanism, a built-in knee lifter, and four feed-dog adjustments to make quilting a dream come true.

Specs

  • Weight: 29.76 pounds
  • Product dimensions: 19.3 inches long by 7.9 inches wide by 12.6 inches high
  • Computerized or mechanical: Mechanical

Pros 

  • High-speed straight stitching
  • Large throat area for bulky quilts
  • Extra-large table work area
  • Pin feed mechanism

Cons 

  • A bit expensive
  • Straight stitches only, no built-in, decorative stitches

For passionate quilters, the Brother PQ1500SL sewing machine offers several advantages over other machines that promote versatility for multiple types of sewing projects. It’s a straight-stitch machine that is capable of high-speed operation, up to 1,500 stitches per minute. But it does not offer built-in, decorative stitching options.

This machine provides the necessary workspace to create large quilts. The extra-wide, attachable table measures 11 inches by 21.5 inches. Additionally, the throat area is larger than most machines. It provides a needle-to-arm space of 5.7 inches by 8.6 inches. Both the extension table and the throat accommodate the extra bulk of quilting projects. 

When the feed-dog system is used, the machine allows four optional settings to achieve maximum control of diverse fabric types. Alternatively, this machine offers the option of a pin-feed mechanism that operates in lieu of the feed-dog system. An adjustable pin extends from below to maneuver all layers of a quilt together in a smooth feed through the machine. The spring-action quilting foot adjusts to variations in the layers and thickness of the fabric as it feeds through the machine. Additionally, the built-in knee lifter is a handy feature for quilters. It allows the sewer to lift and lower the presser foot by moving a lever with their knee. Therefore, the user’s hands are free to control the movement of the fabric. 

Along with needles, bobbins, and additional accessories, the machine includes seven interchangeable sewing feet, including: Spring-action quilting foot; Walking foot; Quarter-inch foot; General purpose foot; Rolled hem foot; Adjustable zipper/piping foot; and Invisible zipper foot.

Best with a large throat: Juki TL-2000Qi Sewing and Quilting Machine

JUKI

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Why it made the cut: With its large throat area and wide, attachable table, the Juki TL-2000Qi sewing machine offers ample workspace for manipulating bulky quilting materials. 

Specs

  • Weight: 25.4 pounds
  • Product dimensions: 17.8 inches long by 8.6 inches wide by 13.8 inches high
  • Computerized or mechanical: Mechanical

Pros 

  • High-speed sewing, up to 1,500 stitches per minute
  • Large throat area
  • Wide, attachable extension table
  • Knee lifter

Cons 

  • Straight stitches only; does not include decorative stitches

With headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, the Juki Corporation and Juki America, Inc. provide sewing equipment for industrial use, as well as home sewing machines. The Juki TL2000Qi sewing machine is favored by quilters as a single-needle, lockstitch machine that is well-suited for high-speed, precision, straight-stitch sewing. One of its features favored by quilters is the large throat area, measuring 8.5 inches long by 5.9 inches high. Additionally, an attachable extension table offers extra space for sewing bulky quilts. 

Several convenient features make this sewing machine a delight to use. The automatic needle threader takes the frustration out of threading the needle, and the automatic thread trimmer cuts both the needle and bobbin threads simultaneously with only a light push of a button. An enlarged bobbin case area makes it easier than ever to remove and replace the bobbins. The knee lifter allows sewers to raise and lower the presser foot without using their hands. This feature means that users can keep their hands on the fabric at all times for greater control.

Simply turn a regulator on top of the machine to adjust the presser foot pressure for diverse types of fabric. Use the Needle Up/Down control to designate the needle position when the machine stops. A down position facilitates a pivoting action that is useful in the free-motion sewing technique required for many quilting projects.

The Juki TL2000Qi machine is capable of high-speed sewing, producing up to 1,500 stitches per minute. The arm and bed are constructed of die-cast aluminum to produce only minimal vibration when the machine is in use. Accessories and interchangeable feet include the following: Needle pack, bobbins, and spool cap; Screwdriver and lint brush; ⅕-inch quilting foot; Even-feed foot; Compensating presser foot; and Standard presser foot.

Best for free-motion sewing: Janome MC6650 Sewing and Quilting Machine

Janome

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Why it made the cut: The Janome Memory Craft 6650 sewing machine facilitates free-motion sewing, as well as offers a plethora of convenient features and accessories for creating beautiful, heirloom-quality quilts.

Specs

  • Weight: 24.25 pounds
  • Product dimensions: 20 inches long by 9 inches wide by 12 inches high
  • Computerized or mechanical: Computerized

Pros 

  • Drop-feed capability for free-motion sewing
  • 6 LED lights in 3 locations
  • High speed up to 1,000 stitches per minute
  • 170 built-in stitches + 2 alphabets

Cons 

  • Upper-end price point

Serious quilters who want to achieve new heights of artistic expression through their quilting projects may be interested in the computerized Janome Memory Craft 6650 sewing and quilting machine. One of the trademark techniques for quilters is free-motion sewing. This machine facilitates that technique through its drop-feed capability that lowers the feed dogs to disengage their hold on the fabric. Additionally, the programmable needle up/down feature allows users to pivot the fabric when the machine stops with the needle in the down position. Among the standard accessories, the MC6650 includes interchangeable parts for free-motion sewing, such as a convertible, free-motion quilting foot set; a free-motion quilting holder; and a free-motion quilting zigzag foot.

Create imaginative and unique quilts with the 170 built-in stitches, including many decorative options. A backlit LCD screen displays the stitches, and users simply push a button to make their selections. The built-in stitches include two alphabets for monogramming quilts and other sewing projects. Slide a lever to control the machine’s operating speed, up to 1,000 stitches per minute. 

Numerous, convenient features make the Janome MC6650 a joy to operate. The machine includes two needle plates along with a one-push needle plate conversion mechanism. An automatic needle threading system takes the annoyance out of threading the needle. The entire work area is well-lit via six LED lights placed in three locations on the machine. Use the manual thread-tension control to adjust the tension for various fabric types, then enjoy the smooth feed of fabric facilitated by the 5-piece feed-dog system.

In addition to the free-motion accessories mentioned above, the Janome MC6650 machine offers an array of standard, interchangeable parts for versatility in sewing projects, including: Blind hem foot G; Buttonhole foot; Darning foot; Open-toe satin stitch foot; Overedge foot M; Rolled hem foot; Satin stitch foot; Zigzag foot; and Zipper foot E.

Best budget: Brother XR3774 Sewing and Quilting Machine

Brother

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Why it made the cut: For budget-minded quilters, the Brother XR3774 mechanical sewing machine offers numerous friendly features, including a large table, spring-action quilting foot, and a quilting guide bar.

Specs 

  • Weight: 15.87 pounds
  • Product dimensions: 15.3 inches long by 8 inches wide by 12 inches high
  • Computerized or mechanical: Mechanical

Pros 

  • Large extension table
  • Spring-action quilting foot for free-motion sewing
  • 37 built-in stitches
  • Automatic needle threader

Cons 

  • Not computerized
  • Not as many built-in stitches as some machines

Available at an affordable price point, the Brother XR3774 sewing machine offers multiple features that quilters appreciate. The extra-large table facilitates manipulating the bulky fabric of large quilts. Additionally, a well-designed walking foot allows sewists to simultaneously feed multiple layers of fabric through the machine. A transparent plastic quilting foot promotes visibility for the sewer. On top of that, the quilting foot features a spring-action design to raise and lower the foot as it glides over varying layers of fabric. An included quilting guide bar helps quilters achieve evenly spaced rows of stitches in their projects. 

Although this mechanical machine does not feature the high-tech attributes of computerized machines, it does offer numerous convenient features to make sewing tasks easier. Sewists can utilize the 37 built-in stitches for 74 stitch functions, including a 1-step, buttonhole maker with automatic sizing. The automatic needle threader saves time and frustration, and the top drop-in bobbin is jam resistant for trouble-free sewing sessions. Additionally, the machine winds the bobbin automatically. When users are not working on quilting projects, the built-in free arm allows sewing in tight spaces, such as cuffs, sleeves, and trouser legs. 

See all of the functions and features of the XR3774 machine via the bright LED light that illuminates the work area. Shift from one sewing task to another by attaching the eight interchangeable sewing feet that come with the machine, including: Quilting foot; Walking foot; Blind stitch foot; Zipper foot; Zigzag foot; Buttonhole foot; Button sewing foot; and Narrow hem foot.

Things to consider before buying a sewing machine for quilting

Quilting is an ancient, decorative art that dates back to the Middle Ages in Europe and to earlier centuries in the Middle East and Asia. Today, millions of sewists engage in the art of quilting to produce utilitarian bed coverings that also exist as works of art and become family heirlooms for future generations. For quilters, sewing machines with specialized features provide the best tools for their craft. Before selecting a machine for quilting, shoppers might consider the following factors.

Extra-wide work table

Sewing a quilt requires manipulating large swaths of fabric with multiple layers through the sewing machine. For this purpose, the free arm of a machine does not provide sufficient workspace. Therefore, sewers need a detachable work table that may be fitted in place to enlarge the horizontal work surface. Quilters may search for sewing machines that advertise a wide extension table to ensure adequate space for maneuvering the bulky fabric of a quilt.

Large throat area

The throat of a sewing machine is the open space bordered by the upright arm, the horizontal arm, the sewing head, and the bed of the machine. With a longer horizontal arm and a taller vertical arm, the throat area is larger and therefore capable of accommodating the bulky materials of a quilt. Quilting and sewing machines for home use are generally classified as short-arm machines. Within this category, many throats measure only approximately 5-inches long. However, quilters might search for models that feature throats measuring 8- to 9-inches long.

Free motion sewing

For most sewing projects, the metal teeth of the feed dogs emerge through the throat plate of the machine to guide the fabric in a straight line as it feeds through the machine and under the needle for stitching. The teeth of the feed dogs gently grip the fabric to control its movement. However, many quilting projects require free-motion sewing, a technique where the feed dogs are disengaged to allow the sewist to control the movement of the fabric and the direction of the stitching. Quilters create interesting designs with the free-motion technique. Therefore, they search for sewing machines that advertise the drop feed feature, indicating that the feed dogs may be disengaged to allow free-motion sewing.

FAQs

Q: What is the best quilting sewing machine?

Due to the large amount of fabric in a quilting project, quilters might search for machines with large throats and attachable extension tables. These features allow quilters to manage the bulky quilt materials. Additionally, quilters who use the free-motion sewing technique might search for machines with a drop-feed function. 

Q: What is the difference between a regular sewing machine and a quilting machine?

The difference between a regular sewing machine and a quilting machine is that a quilting machine facilitates specific sewing techniques for making quilts. Interchangeable parts, such as a spring-action quilting foot and a quilting guide bar, assist the quilter in their work. A large throat area and a wide extension table provide the workspace necessary for handling bulky quilts. Quilters also prefer machines that offer a drop-feed function for free-motion sewing. 

Q: How much does a sewing machine for quilting cost?

A sewing machine for quilting costs as little as $150-$200 or as much as $2,000-$4,000. Quilters may search a wide range of machines with varying features and capabilities. 

Q: Can you quilt with a regular sewing machine?

You can quilt with a regular sewing machine by manufacturers such as Singer and Brother, but it might not provide a large enough throat area and work table to handle the large amount of fabric in a quilt. Managing the bulky quilting materials on a regular sewing machine might prove to be awkward. Additionally, some regular sewing machines do not offer the drop-feed function that makes free-motion sewing possible.

Q: What sewing machine does Suzy quilts use?

Suzy Quilts uses a BERNINA sewing machine. Suzy is a BERNINA expert ambassador and she publishes a blog offering tutorials, quilt patterns, fabrics, quilting tools, and more. 

Q: Do you need a special sewing machine for quilting?

You need a special sewing machine for quilting if you plan to engage seriously and regularly in the craft of quilt making. For beginners and casual hobbyists, it is possible to sew quilts on any sewing machine; however, the machine may not provide enough space to handle the bulky materials. Many sewing machines provide versatility for sewing garments and home decor items as well as creating crafts and quilts. 

Q: Can you use a mini sewing machine for quilting?

You cannot use a mini sewing machine for quilting because it would be too small to sew through the multiple layers of fabric in a quilt. Additionally, a mini sewing machine does not provide the workspace necessary to handle the large, bulky materials of a quilt.

Final thoughts on the best sewing machines for quilting

The Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 receives high marks from reviewers and sewists ranging from beginners to seasoned experts who applaud its durability and versatility. With computerized functioning, it offers a wide array of automatic features that make sewing a pleasurable activity, leading to successful outcomes in quilting, sewing, and crafting projects. For ease of use and versatile features, the Quantum Stylist 9960 is an ideal choice as the best sewing machine for quilters and sewing enthusiasts.