What is the best sewing machine for quilting? Read My Master Buyer's Guide Below
best quilting sewing machine
Here are my reviews of five of the best sewing machines that are suitable for quilters.
The Brother CS6000i is an affordable, any-level quilting machine. One of the first things I noticed about this project was the distinctive arch shape above the throat. Most sewing machines keep this flat, but arches make it easier to roll up quilts and pass them through, and that’s the kind of detail that matters when you’re working on a bigger project.
The CS6000i comes with an oversized table for quilting projects, which means you do not need to get an extension table for it. It also has extra illumination for the sewing area for working with dark fabrics, an adjustable sewing speed, and an LCD stitch selector that allows you to move between your options quickly.
The machine has a variety of useful features. Sixty built-in stitches and 850 stitches per minute are relatively standard and good enough for any home project.
In short, I think this is an excellent machine for small and simple projects, or if you want just to try quilting. On the other hand, if you only want to test quilting, you may want to rent a unit at a fabric store and practice there before buying your own.
- Lightweight and easy to move around, which is particularly helpful if you want to take it to classes or on vacation
- Decent selection of sewing feet
- The adjustable speed is useful for beginners and provides additional control for tougher projects
- Alerts users when bobbins are out
- Quieter than most of its competitors, which is especially useful if you want to watch television or other entertainment while quilting
- Built-in extension table
- Comes with a hard cover to protect the components
- Has a free arm for other sewing projects
- Limited documentation about the different stitches and their purposes
- Usually cheaper to replace than repair, so you’ll need to get a comprehensive warranty
- A relatively small throat area
best rated sewing machine for quilting
SINGER 9960 is a mid-range model. While not a long arm model, it does have more throat space than most of its competitors, making it a better choice for mid-size quilts than the first two sewing machines I reviewed here.
Other features on this model include an optional extension table, a black-and-white display, a heavy-duty metal frame, and an electronic twin needle setting for advanced stitches.
More importantly, this unit has 600 built-in stitches, with a guide to them hidden under a hinged flap at the top of the machine. This is a high number of stitching options, although not the highest in the industry, but is still enough for most needs.
The 9960 also takes the nice step of including a storage area within the machine for the 18 presser feet that come with it. I’m surprised by how rare of a feature this is for some manufacturers, given the ease of installing storage and how much more convenient this is.
However, while this is a solid unit overall, its walking foot does not work with the quilting bar. This is a problem if you need that particular combination, though most quilters can get by with another foot. This isn’t an insurmountable drawback, but it’s enough of an issue that I feel obligated to point it out.
- Capable of sewing through multiple layers of thicker materials
- Far more decorative stitching options than most of the competition
- Allows you to set the needle to end in the up or down position
- You can edit many of the stitches to elongate them, mirror them, and so on
- Comes with a large set of accessories, including a pack of needles, a lint brush, seam guide, and a clearance plate
- Surprisingly quiet for a machine with so much power
- 2 LED lights to illuminate the sewing area
- Has the center and left needle positions, but not the right position
- Only one brand of bobbins work properly, limiting purchasing options
- Doesn’t allow you to change the size of some stitches, especially its alphabets
- Automatic tension system might be faulty
- Bobbin jamming is common on some units
- The bobbin case is a little flimsy
best sewing machine for quilting and embroidery
Another model is Brother’s HC1850, works for both sewing and quilting, with 130 built-in stitches. This is significantly more options than in our previous review, that alone makes this worth considering over our first entry.
Other notable features include free motion quilting options, a spring action quilting foot, and a detachable extension table. I prefer the removable versions to the built-in ones since you don’t want a wide table for every sewing project, so that’s overall a plus in my view.
The monogramming features on this machine aren’t quite as useful for quilting, but they are a useful way to add letters to some projects, and I can see the value of including them. Meanwhile, a flip chart makes it easy to see all the stitches on the machine without having to consult a manual, which is an important detail when you start getting over 80 or so options.
It has a small throat and is therefore not suitable for large quilting projects. Second, it still doesn’t have the power for thicker projects. It may be better than the first option, but being only slightly better doesn’t inherently make it worth getting. It’s a decent choice for beginners, but not for serious quilting needs.
- 94 decorative stitches
- Bilingual manual and instructional DVD
- Push-button stitch selection system
- Front-adjustable sewing speed
- Has a monogramming font
- It’s easy to change the length and width of stitches
- Allows you to choose up or down for needle stop position
- Light enough to move easily
- Easy for beginners to set up
- The needle threader can be awkward to use
- Vibrations may cause the power cord to fall out
- You may block the built-in light when changing or threading needles
- Its short throat is not suitable for large quilting projects
- Does not have an automatic thread cutter
- Needles jump easily
best sewing machine for free motion quilting
Brother’s XR3774 includes 37 stitch options, a wide table for holding up quilts, and an instructional DVD to teach you how to use it.
This is a surprisingly user-friendly machine. I’m particularly fond of the simple spin dial for switching between stitches, which is practical when you don’t have many options to work with.
To be clear, I don’t think this is a good sewing machine if you want to quilt a lot of projects. However, this is a good choice if you want to try quilting or sew a single project. Surprisingly, this still isn’t the simplest model Brother offers, though it’s pretty close to the bottom.
Accessories for this unit include 8 feet, a 3-piece needle set, a twin needle, a screwdriver, four bobbins, a darning plate, quilting guide, and a machine cover.
The Brother XR3774 is surprisingly resilient, too. The simplicity of this machine is something of a boon because there are fewer parts and ways for it to break. That’s a real point of value for starter machines, and I know some people who gave up on quilting because their first machines broke so quickly.
- Ideal for beginners
- Decent selection of stitch options
- Easy to set up and start using
- Highly responsive foot pedal
- Light enough to be portable
- More resistant to jams and problems than most of the competition
- The optional wide table is stable and easy to attach
- Not large enough for anything except the smallest quilting projects, which makes it hard to recommend for anyone except complete beginners
- This machine sometimes skips stitches, which is especially unsightly on quilts where the stitches are decorative instead of practical
- Feed dogs sometimes fail and chew up the fabric a little
- The bobbin area is particularly prone to problems, including tangles
best sewing machine for quilting beginner
Brother’s PQ1500SL is a high-speed unit, capable of making up to 1500 stitches per minute. The throat is still in the small range, with a little under nine inches of horizontal space, but this is still more room than many of the other options on this list.
Other features of this unit include an extension table for large projects, a feed dog adjuster, an automated needle threading system, and a knee lifter for the presser foot. That last feature is relatively rare on quilting machines, so I’m happy to see it available on this unit.
I won’t go as far as calling this an industrial machine, but it’s certainly in the same neighborhood. What it doesn’t have is stitch variety. This is a straight stitching machine, which means it only has a single type of stitch, though a large knob on the front controls the length and can bring it up to 7mm.
In other words, the PQ1500SL has no ability whatsoever for decorative stitching unless you can pull it off with your straight stitches. That’s a real problem if you want to create many types of quilts, and as a result, I can’t recommend this machine for most buyers.
That said, there is one group that will get great value from this: Quilters who don’t need decorative stitches and do need to sew a lot of quilts. Since it doesn’t need intricate components for dozens or hundreds of stitching options, this machine is more reliable than many of its counterparts.
- Exceptionally good at a single quilting task
- Among the fastest consumer machines on the market
- Has a rare accessory
- Easy for novices to use, especially because you do not have to learn different stitches
- Puts the bobbins in a side casing for easy access, which is rare on quilting machines
- Powerful enough to go through several layers of material like vinyl
- Mainly designed for quilting, but also good for other crafts that use straight stitches
- Lower failure rate than many other machines
- Fast setup
- Comes with several feet for different types of projects, although it doesn’t advertise these very much
- No stitch variety aside from making the straight stitch longer or shorter
- Does not always tell you about certain things you need to do to make features work, such as raising the pressure foot before using the auto thread cutter
- The throat is a little small, especially given the overall simplicity of this machine
- May have a hard time competing with other quilting machines, which could have dozens or hundreds of decorative stitch options
- A little on the heavy side, which makes it harder to move this unit around
- Too fast for some beginners, although you can get used to it over time
best sewing and quilting machine
All five of these machines are relatively good for beginners, although Brother’s PQ1500SL is faster than some users are comfortable with. I can’t call any of them a true top-of-the-line machine, but if you’re just starting to get into quilting, I think the Brother CS6000i is the clear winner here.
The main reasons for this are varied stitch options and general resistance to jams and other problems.
There are only two real options for buying a quilting machine: Something so affordable it’s okay if you break it and something durable enough to last for as many projects as you want to use it on.
Mid-range sewing machines are especially vulnerable to problems like jams or incorrect tension. Chances are you’ll end up spending more on repairs than you would have if you got a great machine to start with.
The Brother CS6000i has just enough features to be worth taking seriously, without problems of advanced options. Once you’ve spent some time quilting, you’ll be in a better position to judge your needs and compare products.
Quilting is one of the most unique types of sewing, so you can’t use just any sewing machine if you want a quilt to look good. Here’s what you should know about picking the best sewing machine for quilting, including what features to look for, which accessories to look for, and which products I believe are worth your first look.
How Does Quilting Differ From Other Sewing Projects?
There are several significant differences between quilts and most other sewing projects.
First, the size. Quilts are typically among the largest sewing projects people ever make, and all that extra material matters if you need to bunch it up under the machine to reach certain areas. There’s a finite amount of space on one side of the sewing machine, and if that’s too small, you may not be able to finish your project. Remember, machine quilting is quite different from hand sewing a quilt.
Next, the thickness. Quilts usually have at least two layers, separated by a thick interior. Some quilts have additional layers. Sewing these together is very different from sewing two pieces of fabric and requires a more powerful sewing machine. If your unit isn’t strong enough, it may not even reach the bottom of your quilt.
Finally, there’s the appearance of the threads. Some people prefer to hide the stitches on quilts, but other people use them as part of the decoration. In fact, many of the unique stitches you see on most modern sewing machines are for quilting projects. It may take a little time to get used to decorative stitches, so don’t forget to practice them on some extra materials.
Quilting also requires some specialized skills. Learning these can significantly improve the final result of each of your projects.
What Should I Look For In A Quilting Machine?
Here are the essential features to look for when you’re buying a quilting machine.
The throat of a sewing machine is the distance between the needle and the control panel, which companies usually put on the right-hand side of the sewing machine. Most regular sewing machines have just a few inches here, but for quilting, this is one of the most essential features. As I mentioned above, the sheer size of quilts means that too small of a throat could stop you from finishing your project.
Companies split sewing machines into three categories based on the length of their throat space. Short arm machines have throats up to twelve inches, mid-arm machines have twelve to seventeen inches, and long arm machines have up to twenty-seven inches.
For quilting, you should have a bare minimum of seven inches, but that’s still not enough for most projects.
The best way to estimate throat space is to buy your materials, then roll them up to see how thick they are and how much space you’ll need. You can’t always keep the material on the left side of the machine, where there are no space limits, so estimating this is important.
If you’re not sure how much space you’ll need, employees at your local fabric store can help you estimate the throat space required for a particular project.
Don’t forget to think about any future projects. Many quilters opt for long arm machines, despite the expense, because they are the only units suitable for the large quilting projects.
Extension tables are accessories for sewing machines, and I didn’t realize how useful they were until I started using them. Most importantly, extension tables help prop up quilts and limit their weight’s pull on the fabric you’re moving underneath the sewing needle.
When you’re maneuvering a large project around, that’s an important consideration. I’ve messed up more than a few stitches by allowing the weight of my quilt to pull it out of alignment. All the extra tugging is terrible for the needles, too.
Not every sewing machine has an extension table, and some are so large by default that they don’t need them. Still, these are worth getting if you can. If your sewing machine doesn’t have one, consider making a custom extension table.
The most useful sewing feet for quilting are the quarter-inch foot, the free motion foot (sometimes called the darning foot), and the walking foot. Each of these has a different purpose in quilting, and chances are you’ll want to get all three of them.
The quarter-inch foot is ideal for piecing quilt tops with accuracy, mainly because most quilts have an exceptionally narrow seam allowance. This foot can help you guide each section through your sewing machine and get straight lines.
The free motion foot is mainly for decorative stitching. Open toe versions of this foot, where it has a gap instead of being an unbroken circle, are particularly useful for seeing what you’re doing and where your stitches are going. Free motion feet are particularly helpful when you want to sew along curves.
The walking foot is a particularly gripping foot that provides additional pushing support from the top of your quilt, which is useful when sewing through unusually thick areas.
Quilts are challenging, but using the right type of sewing feet can make all the difference. Some companies include these sewing feet with new models, while others sell them as optional accessories. Feet selections are rarely standard, even between different products from the same company, so be sure to check the feet included with any unit you’re thinking about buying.
Variety of Stitches
Adding new stitches to a sewing machine is difficult at best, and most home units don’t support that kind of thing. That’s a bit of a problem when quilting asks for various types of decorative stitches. In general, the more stitching options a machine has, the better.
You may not be planning to use most of them, but if you plan to quilt a lot in the future, planning ahead can save you a lot of trouble.
Many sewers aren’t sure how much is too much for stitch variety. The truth is that most quilters use fewer than a dozen stitches regularly, so having six or seven hundred stitches is genuinely more than most people need.
In other words, stitch variety matters if you actively want to use different stitches and incorporate them into unique designs. If you aren’t planning to do that and just want to sew something simple, then you don’t need to care about this and can save a lot of money by getting a machine that has ten or fewer stitches.
Quilts are among the largest sewing projects, so differences in sewing speeds can save you a lot of time. I don’t think this is quite as important as the other factors described here unless you plan to quilt commercially, in which case the fastest and most stable machine you can get is a must for success.
The ideal speed range for quilting is 800 to 1500 stitches per minute. Faster stitching causes machines to vibrate more, so manufacturers often weigh them down. This makes them less portable, so you’ll need to decide whether speed or portability is the most important to you.
Some low-end models make fewer than 800 stitches per minute. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for beginners, but if you want to keep using your first machine, look for units that have variable speed options. This is a common feature from many manufacturers, so you may not need to give up on other features to get this.
Most Popular Questions About Sewing Machines for Quilting
I decided to start a new heading here at the end of each post. I will public and answers for the most popular questions which I get to my email every day about machines that was mention in this post.
Can you make embroidery with Brother CS6000i ?
Unfortunately no, because this machine does not includes an embroidery hoop and other embroidery features. Even if this machine has a lot of decorative stitches, you can’t tell that this is an embroidery machine. I know that some people use regular sewing machines for free motion embroidery using a simple wooden or plastic hoop. But I never tried this method, so maybe you should try to find some instructions on YouTube how to do this. I think the best way to make embroidery is by using an embroidery sewing machine.
I have already bought Brother HC1850 taking advantage of your reviews. However I am not experienced in sewing and will sew leather things for the first time. Do you have some advice for me?
The main advice is to use a special leather needle for your sewing machine. Leather needles have a different shape, they have sharp edges which better punches holes in the leather material. The usual size of these needles is 16 inches or even larger.
Can you set up the width and length of the stitches on the Brother XR3774 machine?
Sure you can do this, like in other sewing machines. This is an easy option and you can make it fast. Really good machine.
Will Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 sews jeans and denim fabrics?
This machine sews perfectly through many layers of fabrics. This is really great sewing machine not only for quilting only you can perform a lot of sewing tasks, it also feeds the material so perfectly, everything comes out straight. Just don’t forget to take the right needle and threads fits denim.
Free-motion quilting Advice
Have you always wanted to try free-motion quilting? Free-motion quilting gives you the whole creative freedom to make any quilting design you would like, including curved lines, letters, and even drawings. It takes practice but it can really add to the planning of your quilt. I’m going to offer you my favorite tips for free-motion quilting on your domestic sewing machine.
For free-motion quilting, you’ll need a free-motion quilting foot, which is typically called a darning foot. When free-motion quilting, you’ll be able to move your quilt top in any direction, so you would like to lower the feed dogs so that they don’t pull on the underside of your quilt. Some free-motion quilting feet include a plastic guard that you simply can use to hide up your feed dogs, which is handy if your particular sewing machine model doesn’t allow you to lower them.
On my sewing machine, there’s a stitching mode that’s made specifically for free-motion quilting which will automatically lower the feed dogs and lift the presser foot so you have got more clearance for the layers of your quilt sandwich. Check your sewing machine manual to seek out the optimal setting for your particular sewing machine model.
There also are some notions that are incredibly helpful for free-motion quilting. First and foremost, machine-quilting gloves offer you a far better grip on the quilt sandwich as you guide it under the needle. Gardening gloves with grips also work, but in my experience, gloves made specifically for quilting work just a touch better.
Speaking of needles, it is usually an honest idea to alter out your needle before starting your project. you furthermore may want to use good quality cotton machine quilting thread. If you favor to mark your design first, use a marking tool that’s made specifically for fabric, and always test it on a scrap from your particular project first to create sure that the marks come off cleanly.
Before you begin stitching, it’s good to practice doodling designs first. This helps develop your muscle memory for the design you would like to undertake and trains your brain to grasp what’s turning out next. Once you’re able to try actual stitching, make an evident quilt sandwich from fabric in your stash to practice on. I always prefer to practice on orphan blocks and tiny projects. Table runners and pillows, as an example, are a good place to start out. If you’re having trouble turning out with quilting designs, try following along a motif that’s in your fabric. it is a excellent spot to start out if you’re having trouble picking only 1 design.
As you’re quilting, listen to how you’re moving the material. If you’re right-handed, you’ll want to push the fabric to the left and use your left as more of a guide. Your movements are smoother if they feel natural to you.
For free-motion quilting, the speed within which you move the material matters. you would like to move the fabric at the identical speed because the needle is moving. Otherwise, you’ll be able to have tension issues as you go around curves. Another thing that may assistance is to hum or sing as you progress your hands at the identical speed because the machine. it’s going to feel a touch goofy initially, but it really helps you retain a gentle rhythm.
With free-motion quilting, practice truly does make perfect. Try that specialize in just a pair of versatile designs to start out, and so you’ll be able to build up your skills from there. My favorite beginner-friendly designs are this wishbone scroll that i favor to use for pieced pieces, these leaves, vines and perhaps the occasional flower for borders, and so stippling for any wide open spaces. Once you develop some go-to designs, you will have a repertoire that you simply can use again and again. So, if you’re able to take your quilting to the subsequent level, use the following pointers to free-motion quilt on your domestic sewing machine.