• Last updatedLast updated: Aug 01, 2020

10 Best Sewing Machines for Quilting that Can Cope with the Heaviest of Tasks

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If you love the idea of quilting, you may not have considered that your basic sewing machine will not be able to handle the rigors of this task. Not all sewing machines can cope with the demands of heavier materials and the need for a larger workspace.

If you think you know what to look for in a sewing machine for quilting, you may be mistaken. Although they may look like standard sewing machines, there is more than meets the eye.

In our quest to discover the best sewing machine for quilting, we’ve assessed a number of important features. Firstly, we looked at mechanical vs computerized machines. We also considered the number of built in stitches, the maximum sewing speed, and the maximum stitch length and width, which all impact the day to day use. Finally, we looked at some practical features such as the workspace size, machine size and weight, warranty and whether the machines have an automatic needle threader. All of these factors will determine how easy it is to use your new sewing machine for even the most challenging of quilting projects.

Editor’s Choice

An extremely popular computerized sewing machine with 70 built-in stitches and max. sewing speed of 850 SPM

  • Detachable wide table
  • 10 included feet
  • Drop-in top bobbin
Read Our Review
9.8
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.
Premium Pick

A great quilting machine with 170 built-in stitches and max. sewing speed of 1000 SPM

  • 10-inch all-metal seamless flatbed
  • Memorized needle up/down
  • 12 accessory feet
Read Our Review
9.7
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.
Best Singer Sewing Machine for Quilting

A computerized sewing machine with 600 built-in stitches and max. sewing speed of 850 SPM

  • 5 alphanumeric fonts
  • Automatic threader
  • 13 presser feet
Read Our Review
9.5
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.

A combined sewing and quilting unit with 185 built-in stitches and an oversized quilting table area

  • free arm and extension table
  • 8 sewing feet
  • LCD display
Read Our Review
9.3
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.

A computerized sewing machine with 300 built-in stitches and max. sewing speed of 820 SPM

  • 7-piece feed dog
  • Memorized needle up/down
  • Bonus quilting kit
Read Our Review
9.2
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.
Great for Embroidery

A computerized sewing and quilting machine with 106 built-in stitches and max. sewing speed of 900 SPM

  • 8” x 12 ¼” workspace
  • Automatic thread trimming
  • Six presser feet
Read Our Review
9.0
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.

A portable sewing machine with 32 built-in stitches and max. sewing speed of 1,100 SPM

  • Automatic threader
  • Top drop-in bobbin
  • Six presser feet
Read Our Review
8.9
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.

A professional-quality sewing machine with a sleek design and 165 built-in stitches

  • 8 included sewing feet
  • Drop-in top bobbin
  • Monogramming font
Read Our Review
8.8
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.

A portable sewing machine with dedicated straight stitch and max. sewing speed of 1,500 SPM

  • 11″ x 21.5″ wide table
  • 7 sewing feet
  • Removable knee-lifter
Read Our Review
8.6
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.
Best Value

An entry level sewing and quilting machine with 37 built-in stitches and max. sewing speed of 800 SPM

  • Free arm and extension table
  • Drop-in top bobbin
  • 8 sewing feet
Read Our Review
8.5
CraftyScoreTM
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.

Top 10 Sewing Machines for Quilting Review 2020

1.

Brother CS7000iEditor’s Choice

Features
  • Max. sewing speed: 850 SPM
  • Built-in stitches: 70
  • Max. stitch length: 4mm
  • Max. stitch width: 5 mm
  • Automatic threader: yes
  • Size: 16.02 x 6.69 x 12.09 inches
  • Weight: 17.9 lbs.
  • Warranty: 25-year limited

Other features: 10 included feet, 2-inch LCD display, detachable wide table, 7 auto-size buttonholes, drop-in top bobbin

The Brother CS7000i is an extremely popular computerized sewing machine with user friendly features for beginners and it is our editor’s choice. This may be the best portable sewing machine for quilting on our list and it has been top seller on Amazon for many years. The Brother CS7000i has broad appeal because it’s affordable and yet it has features that you only see on machines with a higher price tag.

If you ever attend a quilting class you can virtually guarantee that someone will be using this machine. It’s easy to work with, fun to use, reliable and extremely versatile. Users can work on thicker quilts thanks to the included walking foot. A handy quilting guide ensures that your stitches are straight and even when working. The LCD screen is bright and easy to read and stitch selections are a simple task. An auto-threader function makes threading easy and you can be up and running in next to no time.

The Brother CS7000i really is a dream machine for any beginner or intermediate user that wants performance and portability. The machine is light and easy to transport making it an ideal choice for a sewing or quilting class. The only minor criticism is that the machine may be too small and light if you want to work on a very large quilt. But, that is the tradeoff when you choose a portable sewing and/or quilting machine over a larger model with a built-in table.

Pros
  • One user had “no complaints after three years of use”
  • This is an inexpensive machine with a great feature set
  • The Brother CS7000i is light and portable
Cons
  • This machine may be too lightweight for very large quilting projects
2.

Janome MC6650 Premium Pick

Features
  • Max. sewing speed: 1000 SPM
  • Built-in stitches: 170
  • Max. stitch length: 5mm
  • Max. stitch width: 9mm
  • Automatic threader: yes
  • Size: 20.3 x 11.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Weight: 24.25 lbs.
  • Warranty: 25-year limited

Other features: 12 accessory feet, 10-inch all-metal seamless flatbed, 6 LEDs in 3 locations, memorized needle up/down, top drop-in bobbin system, 9 one-step buttonholes, auto-declutch bobbin winder

The Janome MC 6650 is a complete quilting machine with the perfect working space for small and larger projects and this is why it is our premium pick. This may be the best Janome sewing machine for quilting projects and it has the speed and precision that advanced users need. The 10” flatbed has an all metal construction and a stop/start button provides instant control of your stitching. Users can add their favorite stitches to a default setting that engages when the machine is turned on.

Speaking of stitches there are 172 built-in and 9 automatic one step buttonholes to select. Both block and script alphabets are available in lower and uppercase with 5mm or 7mm size settings. The needle plate is easy to change at the push of a button and you can switch between Straight, ZigSag and Needle plates without fiddling with tiny screws. This machine has a top loading drop-in bobbin system with a rotary metal hook. This system can only move in a single direction, it’s quiet and it requires less lubrication than a typical front-loading bobbin system.

The threading diagrams are easy to follow and they are printed directly on the machine. The built-in needle threader speeds up the process further and a 7-piece feed system makes the fabric flow through the machine. A drop feed lever drops the feed dogs for tasks such as darning, buttonholes and free motion quilting. The industrial grade thread tension control gives the user plenty of confidence when sewing.

Pros
  • Users praise the wonderful stitch selection
  • The bright 3.6” LCS screen and quick button system make this machine easy to use
  • The presser foot pressure can be changed with a simple dial turn
Cons
  • This is a premium grade sewing machine with a matching price
3.

SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960Best Singer Sewing Machine for Quilting

Features
  • Max. sewing speed: 850 SPM
  • Built-in stitches: 600
  • Max. stitch length: n/a
  • Max. stitch width: 7 mm
  • Automatic threader: yes
  • Size: 17.25 x 8.25 x 12 inches
  • Weight: 20 lbs.
  • Warranty: 25-year limited

Other features: 5 alphanumeric fonts, exclusive buttonhole underplate, 13 presser feet, top drop-in bobbin system

The Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 is an inexpensive machine that is a surefire favorite amongst beginners and intermediate users. This may be the best singer sewing machine for quilting beginners because it’s easy to use. A fast auto-needle and drop-in bobbin system make this sewing machine a dream to use. The 9960 has 600 stitches to select and 13 different styles of automatic buttonholes. If you’re interested in monogramming there are 5 different fonts to choose from.

Users of the The Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 have a great deal of control over the stitch width, length. elongation and mirror imaging. This allows the user to tailor the stitches to meet the needs of their project. When it’s time to get quilting you will appreciate the heavy duty frame, generous quilting table and the 18 presser feet. The sewing machine speed can be adjusted with a simply lever pull and even beginners can achieve very precise stitching.

The Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 has 25 different needle positions and a maximum stitch width of 7mm. Other useful features, include: horizontal threading, an auto reverse function and a generous 25 year warranty. This is a light and portable machine that would be perfect to bring with you to a sewing or quilting class. The Quantum Stylist 9960 is hard to fault at this price, it’s a great portable machine for beginners and intermediate users alike.

Pros
  • One user liked the color LCD screen and found it easy to navigate
  • This machine has all the features found on more expensive models
  • There are 600 stitches to choose from and they are fully adjustable
Cons
  • The quilting bar cannot be used with the walking foot
Features
  • Max. sewing speed: n/a
  • Built-in stitches: 185
  • Max. stitch length: 4 mm
  • Max. stitch width: 5 mm
  • Automatic threader: yes
  • Size: 19.2 x 12.5 x 15.2 inches
  • Weight: 10.1 lbs.
  • Warranty: 1-year (parts), 5-year (electronic component)

Other features: 8 included feet, LCD display, top drop-in bobbin, 8 one-step buttonholes, free arm and extension table

The Brother HC1850 is a significant step up from the popular XR9500PRW that it replaces in the Brother lineup. This may be the best Brother sewing machine for quilting on the market right now because it’s packed with advanced features. This comes at a slight increase in cost, but the HC1850 still represents great value for money.

The Brother HC1850 is one of the best sewing machines for quilting and general sewing tasks on the market today. This sewing machine has 130 stitches, 8 one step buttonholes, an oversized quilting table area and an automatic needle threader. Proficient users can use the HC1850 for a wide variety of sewing, embroidery and quilting tasks with ease. Quilters will love the decorative stitches such as the feather stitch that’s ideal for applique and over seams.

Brother are well known for their production of high quality sewing machines and the HC1850 is no exception. Brother have made the HC1850 a user friendly sewing machine, a unit that is both user friendly and advanced enough to satisfy advanced users. This is a portable unit, but the large working area ensures that you can work on larger quilting projects with ease. For the sheer number of features and accessories supplied with this machine this is a bargain when compared to some other machines that cost far more.

Pros
  • Many users like the portability of this sewing machine
  • The wide working table is detachable
  • There are many stitches and embroidery machine patterns included at an affordable price
Cons
  • As a lighter sewing machine this model could tip if the user is working on a heavier and larger quilting project
Features
  • Max. sewing speed: 820 SPM
  • Built-in stitches: 300
  • Max. stitch length: 5 mm
  • Max. stitch width: 7 mm
  • Automatic threader: yes
  • Size: 7.2 x 16 x 11.7 inches
  • Weight: 14.3 lbs.
  • Warranty: 25-year limited

Other features: memorized needle up/down, 7-piece feed dog, foot pressure adjustment, even feed foot, 1/4″ seam foot, extension table, bonus quilt kit

The Janome 4300QDC-B is a fully computerized sewing machine that’s simple to learn and easy to operate. It has a sturdy construction and yet it is light and portable to take to your sewing or quilting classes. Threading the machine is simple thanks to the automatic needle threader and quick set bobbin function. Janome have included 300 stitches, stitch editing, mirror stitching and twin needle functionality on this 4300QDC-B. Suffice to say, this is a feature rich sewing machine that can handle a wide range of tasks including quilting.

The LCD screen is easy to navigate, there is an “Easy” reverse button, foot pressure adjustment and manual thread tension controls. The maximum stitch height and width is 5mm and 7mm respectively and a 7 piece feed dog and locking stitch button complete the feature set. Janome have added a huge number of accessories to this machine, including: a zigzag foot, zipper foot, auto buttonhole foot, satin stitch foot, overedge foot, overcast foot, open toe satin stitch foot, ¼ “ seam foot, blind hemming foot, a pair of small and large spool holders, an extra spool bin, four bobbins and a screwdriver.

To help users get up and running quickly Janome have included an instructional DVD and the included reference chart which is very handy. The extension table is large enough to handle small to medium sized quilting projects and Janome has a 25 year warranty on mechanical parts, 5 years on the electrical parts and 1 year on any labor. This shows significant confidence in their product and the Janome 4300QDC-B certainly offers a lot for a reasonable investment.

Pros
  • One user described this as a “Fabulous machine packed with useful features”
  • The huge number of included accessories adds a great deal of value
Cons
  • There is not enough clearance under the machine for very thick fabrics
6.

JUKI HZL-F300Great for Embroidery

Features
  • Max. sewing speed: 900 SPM
  • Built-in stitches: 106
  • Max. stitch length: 5 mm
  • Max. stitch width: 7 mm
  • Automatic threader: yes
  • Size: 17.5 x 8.3 x 11.4 inches
  • Weight: 25 lbs.
  • Warranty: 5-year limited

Other features: 8” x 12 ¼” workspace, one pedal controlled thread cutting, 6 snap-on presser feet, large LCD display

The Juki HZL-F300 is a full sized sewing and quilting machine with over 100 embroidery stitch patterns, including: applique, decorative and quilting stitches. With this number of patterns and stitches available to them the user has free reign to get as creative as they like. This machine is not supplied with a wide extension table to work on larger projects but you can purchase one as an optional accessory.

One of the most interesting features is the random stitch selection feature for quilters. Let’s face it, we all get stuck in a rut from time to time and we stick to our go to stitches on multiple projects. But, the HZL-F300 can randomly select the stitch type and wide to make wonderful looking stitches on the fly with no need to make any manual adjustments. This is a very unique feature that sparks creativity and it may make this one of the best home sewing machine for quilting products on the market.

Frequently used stitch patterns can be assigned to a “Direct Select” mode for quick access. Juki have also included a number of features to make the user more productive, including: a one touch needle threader, dual LED working lights, an independent bobbin winder with a built-in guide and an adjustable presser foot.  The Juki HZL-F3000 allows the user to work on a wide range of materials and thicknesses from light up to heavy. The underarm is wide to give the user plenty of room to work on larger quilting projects. The thread tension is consistent and the free motion sewing function is a nice touch.

Pros
  • This is a great quilting and embroidery machine
  • One user described this machine as “Everything I want and more”
  • The knee lifting level allows the user to lift and lower the presser foot if your hands are full
Cons
  • The extra wide extension table that you will need for larger projects is not included
Features
  • Max. sewing speed: 1,100 SPM
  • Built-in stitches: 32
  • Max. stitch length: n/a
  • Max. stitch width: 6 mm
  • Automatic threader: yes
  • Size: 15.5 x 6.25 x 12 inches
  • Weight: 15.7 lbs.
  • Warranty: 25-year limited

Other features: automatic one-step buttonhole, top drop-in bobbin, adjustable stitch length, 6 presser feet

The Singer Heavy Duty 4452 has a simple but tried and tested design that has made it a best seller for years. This may not be the most attractive mechanical sewing machine on the market but if you don’t need fancy features it is a powerhouse of productivity. The external casing is plastic but don’t be fooled, under the surface this sewing machine is made with a full metal frame. This makes the machine heavier than it looks but it is a durable unit that is likely to last for years. The Heavy Duty 4452 has a built-in carrying handle to improve the portability but it may be on the heavy side for many users.

This sewing machine has a maximum sewing speed of up to 1,100 stitches per minute which is fast enough to satisfy even advanced users. The power offered by this machine can be compared to an industrial grade machine and this would work well in a professional capacity. If you work with fabrics on a daily basis or you want a simple and hard working machine to start a new business the 4452 may be the ideal machine.

As a purely mechanical sewing machine the Singer Heavy Duty 4452 is pretty simple to maintain. Many modern computerized models suffer from electronic problems that can require special technical assistance each year. Overall, this is a budget friendly machine that’s simple to learn and easy to master and it will certainly boost your productivity.

Pros
  • One user liked the pedal control and they could sew at much slower speeds as they got used to the sewing speed of this machine
  • Part of the base unit can be removed to make free arm sewing easier
Cons
  • The is no large extendable working table making this a poor choice for larger projects
  • Sewing at the top speeds consistently tends to break needles
  • No case is included with the machine
Features
  • Max. sewing speed: n/a
  • Built-in stitches: 165
  • Max. stitch length: 5 mm
  • Max. stitch width: 7 mm
  • Automatic threader: yes
  • Size: 7.01 x 16.26 x 12.48 inches
  • Weight: 9 lbs.
  • Warranty: 25-year limited

Other features: 8 included feet, drop-in top bobbin, LCD screen, monogramming font, 8 one-step buttonholes, wide table and hard case included

The Brother XR9550PRW Project Runway Limited Edition sewing machine has an LCD screen that allows easy selection of 100 built-in stitches. These include decorative and  heirloom stitches and 8 one step auto buttonholes. The wide working table is ideal for larger projects including quilts and a free arm allows the user to sew sleeves, cuffs and pant legs with ease. This is a versatile sewing machine that can handle a wide range of projects and it is relatively inexpensive when you consider the extensive feature set.

The Brother XR9550PRW has an auto needle threader and the LCD screen is backlit and clear to read. The stitches are selected with a touch of a button and all the settings are shown directly on the screen making it easier to keep track of your project. This sewing machine comes with 8 presser feet, including: zipper, zigzag, monogramming, button sewing, blind stitch, buttonhole, overcasting and spring action quilting. The presser feet are quick to change to boost productivity and keep the project moving quickly.

Brother have included pretty much everything you need to get up and running with the XR9550PRW in next to no time. Some of the accessories include: an instructional DVD, a seam ripper, an eyelet punch, a ball point needle, a twin needle, spool caps, bobbins, an accessory pouch and a hard case for the machine. In summary this is an inexpensive computerized machine that will suit beginners and more advanced users on a budget. There are plenty of available stitches and all the features you need to get creative.

Pros
  • Many users report that this is an excellent machine for beginners
  • It is a light and portable machine
  • This sewing machine offers a lot for a modest investment
Cons
  • Because this is a lighter machine it could tip when working with larger quilting projects
Features
  • Max. sewing speed: 1,500 SPM
  • Built-in stitches: dedicated straight stitch
  • Max. stitch length: 7mm
  • Max. stitch width: n/a
  • Automatic threader: yes
  • Size: 7.9 x 12.6 x 19.3 inches
  • Weight: 29.8 pounds
  • Warranty: 25-year limited

Other features: 7 sewing feet, removable knee-lifter, Pin Feed system, 11″ x 21.5″ wide table

The Brother PQ1500SL High Speed Quilting and Sewing Machine may be the best sewing machine for free motion quilting on our list. This is a portable machine but it is heavier than it looks and it will not tip over when working with larger quilts. The PQ1500SLhas been specifically designed to handle all of your quilting projects with ease. Brother have added many key features to boost your creativity and productivity when sewing and quilting at home. The auto needle positioner and knee lever to lift the presser foot are handy features when you need to keep your hands free to move the fabric.

The Brother PQ1500SL has a heavy duty motor that is capable of up to 1,500 stitches per minute. In fact, if you want to work with multiple layers of thicker fabrics you will find that this sewing machine will have no problems meeting your needs. One particularly useful feature is the ability to control the feed dog with four different levels of adjustments possible. The feed dog and presser foot pressure can be easily controlled to maintain maximum control when working.

The quilting community really enjoys this sewing machine and it has a lot of favorable online reviews. This is a great quilting machine but it is versatile enough to handle general sewing tasks making it an ideal all rounder for beginners. The Brother PQ1500SL learning curve isn’t too steep for beginners and intermediate or advanced users will appreciate the productivity boosting feature set and high sewing speeds.

Pros
  • Many users praise the high quality features of the Brother PQ1500SL
  • This is an industrial grade quilting machine that could be used professionally
  • The 4 feed dog settings are a handy feature to have
Cons
  • This is formidable quilting and sewing machine with a matching price
10.

Brother XR3774Best Value

Features
  • Max. sewing speed: 800 SPM
  • Built-in stitches: 37
  • Max. stitch length: 4 mm
  • Max. stitch width: 5 mm
  • Automatic threader: yes
  • Size: 15.3 x 5.8 x 12 inches
  • Weight: 15.8 lbs.
  • Warranty: 1-year (parts), 2-year (electronic components)         

Other features: drop-in top bobbin, drop feed, 8 sewing feet, free arm and extension table, foot pedal, reverse function

The Brother XR3774 is an entry level sewing and quilting machine that is packed with features at a bargain price and it is our best value pick. This may be the best sewing machine for quilting under $500 on the market today. TheXR3774 can handle a wide range of projects up to and including lighter quilts but it may struggle with heavier projects. It has a maximum speed of 800 stitches per minute and a handy built-in needle threader. There are 74 high quality specialist stitches to select and a DVD instructional video is included to get you up and running quickly.

The working area is lit brightly with LED lights and the top drop-in bobbin is jam resistant. The free arm allows the user to sew cuffs, pant legs, sleeves and their quilts and the wide table makes it easy to handle quilting projects. Stitch selections are made with a turn of the dial and they are numbered to keep things nice and simple. The Brother XR3774 comes with 8 different sewing feet, including: zigzag, zipper, buttonhole, narrow hemmer, button sewing, walking stitch, blind stitch and quilting.

In 2018 the Brother XR3774 won the Women’s Choice Award and it is an excellent machine considering the inexpensive price tag. Anyone looking for an affordable quilting machine would have to give the XR3774 serious consideration. The only real drawback is that this machine isn’t heavy duty enough to sew thicker fabrics such as denim. But, it can handle most other types of fabrics and it is an excellent choice for a beginner.

Pros
  • User like this machine because it is affordable and versatile
  • This is a light and portable machine
Cons
  • This model doesn’t have an automatic thread cutter function

Buying Guide

If you love the idea of quilting, you need to have confidence that your sewing machine can handle the rigors of this task. Unfortunately, with so many models on the market, it can be tricky to choose the best model for your needs. So, here we’ve compiled a buying guide with features to consider and answers to some frequently asked questions to help you make your purchase decision.

What is a quilting machine?

10 Best Sewing Machines for Quilting that Can Cope with the Heaviest of Tasks

When you’re looking for the best sewing machine for quilting and embroidery you need the capability to make 4”-6” blocks. This makes the quilting fast and efficient and the fabric is fed into the machine by hand. When quilting the fabric is pinned in advance and the pins are removed as the sandwich of fabric is sewn. The best quilting machines have a long arm and 10”-14” wide table that allow the user to work with larger quilts. A dedicated quilting machine with these specialized features can be very expensive. But, a sewing machine that can handle quilting projects doesn’t need to be as expensive and you can achieve similar results. Most of the models on our list are affordable and our best value pick, the Brother XR3774 is an absolute bargain.

The sewing and quilting machines on our list are hybrid machines. They have a slightly different set up process when compared to a dedicated quilting machine. However, the end product can still be of a high quality if you take the time to learn how to learn the machine. The fabric stays in place when you’re using a long arm machine and it’s the machine that moves. But, a hybrid machine is a great way to quilt for more casual users because you get a versatile sewing machine too. If you want to try your hand at quilting before you invest in an expensive dedicated quilting machine, a hybrid machine is a great way to get started.

Quilting machine vs. regular sewing machine. What’s the difference?

A sewing and quilting machine look alike and they work in a broadly similar fashion. In fact, as you can see on our list, there are many machines such as the Janome MC 6650 that can sew and quilt to a good standard.

However, the primary difference between a sewing machine and a quilting machine is the size of the workspace that you need. Because quilts are larger projects made with thicker materials they require a larger workspace to manipulate your bulkier project.
A quilting machine usually has a faster sewing speed and special presser feet to give your project a professional finish. A hybrid machine usually has an enlarged workspace or a detachable table to create more space for working. They also have more presser feet to handle a number of different functions including quilting.

Features to consider when choosing a sewing machine for quilting

With so many sewing machines on the market it can be a challenge to find the best one for your needs. Here are just some of the features you should consider before you make your final purchase decision.

Type

The first question that any person new to sewing or quilting will ask is “what type of sewing machine will I need?” and there are a lot of machines to choose from. However, if you can figure out which type of machine you need to fit your needs you can narrow down your choices significantly. Broadly speaking there are three different types of sewing machines and each have their own pros and cons.

Manual sewing machine is the most basic type of sewing machine that you could buy and it’s probably not what most people really need. These types of machines are pretty slow and this will have a major impact on your creativity and productivity. It’s true that manual sewing machines are more reliable because they don’t have electronic components. A manual sewing machine will have a foot pedal so that you can run the machine hands free.

Electronic. This is the next level in sewing machine technology, it lacks the advanced features found on computerized models but it will be more efficient. This type of machine usually has a single motor that is used to power the needle that’s controlled with a foot pedal. But, you can also adjust and control the settings and speeds electronically with a dial or lever. When you use an electronic sewing machine you can use the machine hands free and this allows you to control the fabric with your hands.

Computerized. In recent years we have seen major advances in computerized sewing machines. These types of machines are more affordable than ever and they are packed with features to make your life easier. Some such as the Brother CS7000i have bright LCD displays that help the user to set their options. This can really help a beginner to learn their machine and favorite stitches and patterns can even be stored for later recall. The most advanced machines allow the user to download new designs, store them in the memory and use them later.

Workspace

10 Best Sewing Machines for Quilting that Can Cope with the Heaviest of Tasks

The throat space on a sewing machine used for quilting needs to be large to accommodate bulkier layers of fabric. The workspace needs to have adequate space to manipulate and control the project when sewing quickly. Some hybrid machines have an enlarged workspace built-in to the machine and others have a detachable table. Smaller and lighter machines can handle larger projects than you might imagine but very large projects can be tricky. A lighter machine could tip over if very heavy quilting is attempted but medium sized projects can be accommodated with no problems.

Extension table and free arm

Some machines have an extendable table that allow the user to freely work on larger quilting projects. Both the free arm area and the table space must be sufficiently large to accommodate the size of your project. A long arm sewing machine is more desirable because it will give you that wider throat space that you need for the larger quilting projects. A table extension gives you a larger flat area that will be invaluable if you want to try free motion quilting.

Presser feet

The presser feet are needed to provide steady rotations and layering when you are sewing. Different types of presser feet are required for different tasks but they are all designed to prevent the slipping of material when working.
The sewing machine that you choose needs to have the presser feet to meet your needs and improve your results. Some of the machines on our list such as the Brother XR9550PRW come with a larger number of presser feet. It’s tempting to go for a cheaper model that doesn’t have many presser feet but this will limit your options in the future. If you have the budget, get more functionality than you need and you will have room to grow as your skills develop.

Max. sewing speed

Sewing machine speeds are measured in stitches per minute (SPM) and although this figure is accurate it can be a little misleading for beginners. Sewing machine manufacturers use SPM as a way to convince their potential customers that they can sew and quilt faster than the competition. But, precision is important, especially when quilting and raw speed is rarely a factor for more advanced users. It’s more important to have plenty of needle speed that you can fully control. A good speed control system will allow the user to focus on quilting and rely less on their foot pedal. It’s also worth mentioning that sewing at very high speeds places the needle under considerable strain and it is more likely to break and slow down your productivity. The stitches per minute can be important for proficient users that want to set up a sewing business because time is money. But, for the rest of us it’s more important to focus on mastering precision and accuracy.

Number and type of stitches

Anyone new to sewing will only really need a straight and zigzag stitch to learn how to sew their first projects. However, as a user gains experience they will want to expand their repertoire and tackle different types of projects. If you’ve ever thought about trying embroidery or quilting you are going to need a sewing machine that has a lot of stitches. A prime example on our list would be the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 that has 600 stitch choices and they are fully editable. Please remember that you cannot add more stitches after you have purchased your sewing machine. So, if you want to future proof your sewing machine for different types of projects look for more variety in your stitches. Make sure that your new sewing machine has the stitch types, length, width and tension that you are going to need now and in the months and years ahead.

Max. stitch length and width

Having a large number of stitches to select is a great starting point but what about editing those stitches for more precise results? Having the ability to adjust the length, width and even height of a stitch can have a dramatic effect on your sewing or quilting project. Look for a machine where you can adjust the stitches and the tension control to give you more options when sewing.

Needles

10 Best Sewing Machines for Quilting that Can Cope with the Heaviest of Tasks

If you choose a sewing machine that allows you to position the needle in an up or down position you will have an easier time when quilting. Machines with this feature allow the user to have more freedom of movement when they are making a quilt.

Bobbin placement

For absolute beginners, the bobbin is the round or oval shaped object that comes with your sewing machine. Some manufacturers supply as many as four or six bobbins with their machines. An older style of sewing machine would have the bobbin located in a slot under the sewing area. This bobbin was placed into a frame to wind thread onto the bobbin for sewing. The bobbin keeps the thread fixed to ensure that the sewing machine stitches are laid in a precise manner. Most modern sewing machines have a better top or front-loading bobbin system and this is faster and more efficient than older models.

Automatic needle threader

Many modern sewing machines have a built-in needle threading system that sounds like a luxury but in reality it can be a real time saver. When you have the ability to thread quickly and easily you can get your next project underway without pricking your finger.

Knee lifter

Many sewing machines have a knee that raises and lowers the presser foot leaving your hands free for other tasks. Some users never use their knee lifter which seems strange but this feature is an incredible time saver when you get used to it. Having the ability to place your hands on a section of fabric or ribbon or elastic or all three at the same time and then lower the presser foot without letting go is a revelation.

Size and weight

If you want to quilt with a sewing machine that isn’t going to tip over when working on thicker and heavier fabrics you need a heavier machine. A sewing machine that weighs in at over 25 lbs will give you plenty of stability to work safely. But, if you want a lightweight machine for casual sewing around your home or to take to a class you will have to compromise. A machine such as the Brother HC1850 can handle light and medium weight quilting projects with ease but it could struggle with heavy quilting projects.

Warranty

Like any complex machine a sewing machine will have a warranty to protect the purchaser if anything goes wrong. However, some warranties are better than others and a great warranty is worth a great deal over the useful lifespan of your machine. Many machines such as the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 have a 25-year warranty on mechanical parts and this shows that the manufacturer has confidence in their product.

How to set your sewing machine for quilting

10 Best Sewing Machines for Quilting that Can Cope with the Heaviest of Tasks

When you own a hybrid sewing machine and you want to quilt you will need to set the machine up in a very specific way. Let’s take a look at some of the key settings that you can adjust to make your quilting faster and more efficient.

1. Ensure That the Sewing Machine is Well Lubricated

Many people new to sewing seem to forget that their sewing machines have working components that need regular lubrication. When you’re quilting you need every mechanical component to work precisely and efficiently to improve your results. This is particularly true if you are using your machine more than 3 times per week or every day. More casual users should oil their sewing machine after every 3-4 sessions of use and a machine that is well lubricated will always perform better. If you have neglected your sewing machine in the past oil it up before you start your next project and it will run smoothly. The owner’s manual provided with your sewing machine should have full lubrications instructions and an optimal oiling timeline to follow. When you’re oiling your machine clean out any dust or loose threads that you find that could mix with the oil and cause jams.

2. Make Sure That You Have Plenty of Working Space

Any experienced quilter will know that you need plenty of clear space when you’re making a quilt. If you don’t have sufficient space you will find it difficult to manipulate the fabric and it will quickly become a frustrating experience. Ensure that your sewing machine table is large enough to handle your project and clear some space around the machine. If you have access to a dedicated sewing room that is an ideal situation but other people may want to work when they have the home to themselves.

3. Slow Down the Stitching Speed

A fast stitching speed may be desirable when you want to finish a quilting project quickly but that approach can create problems. It is perfectly possible to quilt at high speeds but you can lose the control and precision that you need. When you quilt consider reducing the speed to gain better control over your fabric and your project will go smoothly. Even experienced quilters can make mistakes when quilting at high speeds and beginners will make many more.

4. Choose the Correct Quilting Foot

It’s important to choose the right quilting foot for your project and this is usually a hoppin, darning or dedicated free motion quilting foot. Until you get used to your machine it can be tricky to install your foot but full instructions will be provided in the owner’s manual for your machine.

5. Lower the Stitch Length and Feed Dog

The stitch length should be set to zero to prevent the feed dog from moving when it is lowered. The length of the quilting stitch will now be determined by how fast you move the quilting blocks and the speed of the needle. The feed dog should always be lowered before you begin quilting and most modern machines have a button or lever for this purpose.

6. Disable the Thread Cutter

A thread cutter is handy when you become proficient at quilting on a sewing machine. But beginners should disable this feature when they are working on their first quilts. The quilter needs a sufficient tail to clip the thread close to their quilt.

7. Turn Off the Down Needle

When the needle is in the down position you can reposition and turn the quilting blocks and maintain control. One of the best quilting features that you can have on a modern sewing machine is a stop down needle.

8. Choose the Right Stitch Plate

Choosing the right stitch plate is crucial if you want to quilt on your sewing machine. The best option is a straight stitch plate and a straight stitch presser foot. If your sewing machine doesn’t have these plates you may be able to purchase them as an optional accessory.

9. Adjust the Walking Foot Pressure

On some sewing machines you can change the walking foot pressure and this is ideal for quilting purposes. If your sewing machine has this function you can learn how to do this in the owner’s manual.

10. Turn Off the Fix Stitch

A fix stitch is a great feature to have on any sewing machine but it is a terrible option to use when quilting. Disabling the fix stitch will prevent tie knots that will ruin your quilt.

FAQ

It is possible to quilt on a regular sewing machine, but there are two potential problems. Firstly, you may not have the workspace necessary and secondly, your regular sewing machine may not be able to handle the thicker materials.

When straight stitching, it is recommended to set your machine’s maximum stitch length to 3.0, which is approximately 8 to 12 stitches per inch. If your thread has a shine or sparkle, you should use a longer stitch length.

Threads are available in a variety of fibers. Generally, a good rule of thumb is to match your thread to your fabric. So, use cotton thread when quilting natural fibers and polyester thread for synthetic blends.

Our Verdict

As you can see, there are some superb sewing machines for quilting. From the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960, which has an easy to navigate menu and a choice of 600 fully adjustable stitches to the Janome MC 6650. The MC 6650 has easy to follow threading diagrams and a built in needle threader, with over 170 stitches.

However, the stand out as the best sewing machine for quilting has to be our editor’s choice, the Brother CS7000i. This impressive machine is inexpensive, yet has a wealth of features. It is fun to use, easy to work with and versatile. There is a walking foot included to make it possible to work on thicker quilts. There is also an easy to read, bright LCD screen that makes selecting your desired stitch easy, while the auto threader function will have you up and running in no time at all.

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