A high-end sewing machine for free-motion quilting should be the only one you ever need to purchase. This isn’t always going to be the case but since a lot of these products are built for decades of use, you can expect to get a lot from them. A machine such as this should give the user the freedom to power through their quilting projects and will require a lot of room from the machine and the workspace.
Finding a quality product is easier said than done though which is why we have created the following list of the best sewing machines for free motion quilting. Each one is built to last and comes with a well-earned reputation and there is something for both the experienced user and a beginner.
The 7 Best Sewing Machines For Free Motion Quilting
#7 SWNNE Sewing and Quilting Machine
More of a beginner’s machine but it does offer free arm control so it can be useful for quilting projects. Despite its affordable price tag, there is enough quality about this machine to make it worth considering. There are 200 built-in stitches including letters and buttonhole stitches and an LCD screen that makes adjustments simple.
It still features an automatic needle threader and drop-in top bobbin that will make it resistant to jamming. We like that it is still capable of reaching max speeds of 700 stitches per minute, upper and lower needle position, easy thread cutter, and other neat accessories to make it easy to operate.
#6 Juki HZL-LB5100 Computerized Sewing Machine
An affordable option that is well suited to anyone with a restrictive budget, it still offers the chance to complete quilting projects with a larger, comfortable table. The LCD screen makes it easy to tailor the stitches and boasts an up-down needle position feature, it makes it easier to pivot, especially useful for quilting. 100 built-in stitches are generous considering the price and although the max speed is 700 stitches per minute, this is still plenty enough for most projects.
The stitch chart helps make selection easier and when it gets going, it is a quiet and smooth machine that doesn’t vibrate as much as a lot of the competition. Some describe it as a workhorse which is a testament to how well built this machine is.
#5 Janome MC6650 Sewing and Quilting Machine
What may easily be called a high-end sewing machine for free-motion quilting, it is easy to use and has a 10 inch all metal flatbed. There is a favorite stitch setting so when the machine is turned on, it is ready to go and it is also one of the fastest machines on our list with a max speed of 1,000 stitches per minute.
It offers 170 built-in stitches and selecting them is easy on the LCD screen. Easy to carry and capable of getting through tough materials like leather, it also offers free motion quilting. Its automatic needle threader is as easy to use as it sounds and above all, Janome is known for making quality sewing machines and this is no exception.
#4 Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, XR3774
Another popular Brother sewing and free arm quilting machine, this covers all the basics and more. There are 37 built-in stitches for sewing projects including quilting stitches. As expected there are the easy to use features such as an automatic needle threader but its wide table is what will be music to a quilter’s ears.
As will the versatile free arm feature to make it a versatile machine. The easy stitch selector dial is complemented by a list of each one on the side and there are 8 sewing and quilting feet included. One of the easiest machines to use, it might be limited to advanced users, but everyone else can appreciate its no-fuss approach and its ability to get through tough materials.
#3 Brother PQ1500SL Sewing and Quilting Machine
Powerful enough for professional use, this machine can sew at a max speed of 1,500 stitches per minute. This is going to be too fast for most but the speed controls are easy to use either way. The automatic needle threader is consistent, pushing the thread through the needle for fast and easy setup.
Its removable knee lifter is a neat feature, allowing the user to lift the presser foot with the knee to free up your hands. The large table measures 11″ x 21.5″ when extended and makes it easier to finish bulky quilting projects. With plenty of LED lights to make it easier to work with accuracy, thread tension adjustment dial, and all the important accessories such as needles, seam guide, cleaning brush, and more.
#2 Brother CS7000i Sewing and Quilting Machine
A machine that is known for being ideal for quilting, this option from Brother is a close second. The 70 unique built-in stitches give enough for a beginner to get started with and this includes quilting stitches. To make life easier there is an automatic needle threader and a drop-in top bobbin to make it jam-resistant as it gets stitching those quilting projects.
It includes 10 presser feet and a hard case to protect it when in storage. Also, it has a small yet easy to use LCD screen to make viewing those stitch selections easier. An affordable option, it is great value and includes a wide extension table to make quilting comfortable and free arm capability for hemming those cuffs.
#1 SINGER | Quantum Stylist 9960 Computerized Portable Sewing Machine
Although this excellent sewing machine is suitable for free arm quilting, it also boasts other neat features such as autopilot mode and an automatic needle threader to get every new project off the ground. It also offers a massive 600 built-in stitches so it can be put to multiple uses including free motion quilting. This is made easier thanks to the extension table and quilting foot.
The variable speed control makes it ideal for all skill levels as does the needle up/down feature to make pivoting easier. There are 13 presser feet included which are more generous than most and several fonts available. With a top speed of 850 stitches per minute, it works fast and has a one-touch stitch selection program. To top it off, the heavy-duty metal frame ensures it does not skip stitches and reduces vibrations for the user.
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Sewing Machines For Free Motion Quilting Buyer’s Guide
Because no one size fits all, it can be hard to tell which machine is right for your needs. As long as it ticks certain boxes, it shouldn’t be too difficult to purchase a machine that is reliable as it is easy to use. What makes any decision easier, is a little research.
Because of this, we have created the following buyer’s guide. By the end of it, you will know what makes the better free motion quilting machines so good and can tell the types to avoid.
What To Look For In A Free Motion Quilting Machine
Stitches Per Minute
Although accuracy is key so is speed. This is especially the case for quality projects where making long, consistent lines is important. The maximum stitches per minute aren’t always the sign of a quality machine, but the more expensive and impressive machines do tend to be capable of faster speeds. Anything around 700 stitches per minute and above should be a good place to start. Although some models provide double that, it’s not always so useful for a beginner.
Wide Extension Table
To make any quilting project easier, a wide extension table is important. Because bulky materials will need to pass through, it is better to ensure they do not bunch up and get stuck along the way. This is less likely with a wide table. Most brands tend to have an extension that can be tucked away so sewing is easier.
Included presser feet are always useful as it means the machine can be used with different materials. Be sure to check that the model you are looking at has quilting feet so it feeds smoothly.
Not every brand will advertise this sturdy metal frame but if they do, it is usually a good thing. The heavier this is, and the better built, the smoother the machine will be with vibrations not being such an issue.
Everyone wants their quilting machine to be comfortable to use, but a little versatility on the sewing side is always welcome. The more built-in stitches you have to play with, the greater the number of projects you can take on. Again, make sure there are quilting stitches as these are going to hold everything in place and are tailored made for such tasks.
Being able to adjust the tension of the thread is essential for quilting. The tension quilting requires is different from other fabrics and materials and some will come with an automatic selection whilst others will require a manual adjustment.
What Needle Is Best For Free Motion Quilting?
This largely depends on the material being sewed, because the thread weight will determine which needle is best. A lot of people prefer a topstitch needle although a universal needle works well. A 40 wt thread will usually require a size 75 needle so adjust accordingly.
Is Free Motion Quilting Hard?
It can be a tricky task the first time but stick to it and you will reap the rewards. For a lot of people, the hard part is getting all the settings correct which will come with mastering the sewing and free motion quilting machine. Taking control of the stitches means there is more room for error but sewing in straight lines gets easier with practice.
Can A Traditional Sewing Machine Be Used For Free Motion Quilting?
Although the basic principles of stitching material are what a sewing machine is made for, some are not well suited to thicker bulkier materials such as quilts. Because of this, it is best to stick to a machine that has a wide table, the right presser foot, and other quilting essential features.
How To Improve Free Motion Quilting Skills
For most people, it is a matter of practice. If you find it difficult, to begin with, remember that everyone has started at the same stage. The people who improve are those who practiced. Look for a product that comes with an instructional DVD or search YouTube for step by step tutorials that can help.
Always start in an area with plenty of room. Large materials and fabrics can be difficult to navigate otherwise and the added space can stop it from bunching. Other people like to keep the feed dog lower. This approach makes it easier to grip the material and help it through with accuracy.
How Much Is A Sewing And Free Motion Quilting Machine?
The good news is that these machines don’t have to be expensive. Although one might miss out on the added features and extra built-in stitches, it is still possible to purchase a reliable machine for under $300. Anyone with a larger budget will appreciate the faster speeds of the max stitches per minute and a wider extension table to make for more comfortable quilting. Expect to pay between $600 – $2,000 for these machines, often with the added features increasing in volume and quality the higher the price.
What Is The Best Stitch Length For Free Motion Quilting?
Although everyone is different and fabrics and materials can change this, a common length is 2.5mm. The type of thread is going to be a major factor in what length is used and the faster you intend to go, the better it is to work with the smaller the stitches.
How To Maintain A Quilting Machine
With regular maintenance, there is no reason why a quilting machine can’t last for many decades. Use a protector cover and this can be a hard or soft one, to ensure dust doesn’t become an issue. Also, regular oiling can ensure the moving parts do so smoothly.
Change the needle from time to time as it will dull and become less effective, making stitching difficult and cumbersome. Use quality thread and needles so the machine doesn’t jam or have to work so hard. Lastly, there is nothing wrong with tightening the screws and other parts since they work at fast speeds and can loosen over time.