18 Best Sewing Machine For Quilting Reviews in 2021 (MUST READ!)


quilt pieces Best Sewing Machine For Quilting verycreate.com

Trying to choose a sewing machine for quilting can be overwhelming and expensive so I share my more than 30 years of sewing experience with you in this article.   

If you are a beginner, I will make it easy for you, the best sewing machine for quilting is the Brother Computerized 1850. I would recommend you buy an entry-level quilting sewing machine before you invest thousands of dollars on a super expensive quilting sewing machine that has impressive extra features. 

Jump Ahead To:

If you are in a hurry, here is a shortcut to my best sewing machines for quilting  (but I highly recommend you read this entire article for insider information!):

  1. Brother Computerized 1850   << Best Budget Sewing Machine
  2. Singer Quantum 9960   << Most Versatile and Most Features
  3. Janome  Memory Craft 6650   << Best Mid-Price Sewing Machine
  4. Brother Cs 6000i
  5. Juki TL 2010Q   <<Best Free-Motion Quilting Sewing Machine
  6. Janome Memory Craft 6300
  7.  Janome 3160QDC
  8. Juki HZL F600
  9. Janome Memory Craft Horizon 8200 QCP
  10. Bernina 530
  11. Janome Horizon MC QCP 8900   <<Beautifully Deluxe Sewing Machine for Quilting
  12. Elna Elnita ef 72
  13. Brother PQ 1500 SL
  14. Janome MOD 50
  15. Juki HZL-LB5100
  16. Brother XR3774
  17. Singer Confidence 7469 Q
  18. Janome JW 8100

Introduction To Quilting With A Sewing Machine

The truth is that you can create many, many quilts on any sewing machine that just does one utilitarian straight stitch and a reverse stitch to anchor your seams.  Believe it or not, you can get a brand new sewing machine delivered right to your front door that will fit that requirement for less than $100. 

If you can afford a bit more, you can get a sewing machine for quilting that has fantastic features and will make quilting easier, faster, more precise and so much more fun!  Budget sewing machines for our purposes here are going to be anything at a price point below $400 that gives us as many special features unique to quilting as possible. 

The mid-price range will be from $450 to $1,600. Higher price point sewing and quilting machines will start at $1,700 and for our purposes here range to $4,000. Keep in mind that the price of quilting sewing machines departs for the stratosphere after $4,000, and we’ll leave reviewing those beauties for a separate article.  

However, what is really important to realize is that a budget sewing machine will not last indefinitely without needing repairs.  Often the repairs will exceed the purchase price of a new sewing and quilting machine! Once the price point hovers near $1,000 the quality of construction and engineering gets better and better, requiring fewer repairs over the years.

It is important to be aware that even the high-end manufacturers will sub-out the manufacturing of their brand budget sewing machines.  The quality is NOT the same as their higher-end sewing machines.

I recommend that you assess your needs and the extra features that you may like firstIf you are really new to quilting, please read my Features To Consider List below.  It will give you insider information on the specific needs of quilters from my years of experience and from lots of other quilters as well!  If you are intending to use your sewing and quilting machine for quilting, then those features will be extra important to your sewing ease and pleasure!

smiling woman sewing quilt Best Sewing Machines For Quilting verycreate.com
The best sewing machine for quilting can greatly enhance the fun!

 I’ll include a large variety of price points for our recommendations for the best sewing machine for quilting so that you can see what features are available and what owners are saying about their sewing machines.  Quite a few brands that make sewing machines for quilting are only available at authorized dealers and have no shipping to your home. These brands are typically Elna, Viking Husqvarna, Bernina, and Pfaff. 

However, there are many, many great sewing machines available online that can be delivered directly to you even at free shipping!

It used to be that the advantage of patronizing a local dealer was for instruction classes.  Thanks to the internet, you can find all the tutorials, manuals, question and answer forums and videos you could possibly need online!  The price point for online shopping is very often dramatically better because you aren’t paying money towards overhead for a brick and mortar shop.

I love supporting my local shops, but when we get into saving hundreds of dollars, I gotta protect the purse!   For our article, we will focus only on those sewing machines available for online purchase.  

Here Is My Complete List of Sewing Machine Reviews In Order Of Increasing Price Point:

Brother Cs6000i Sewing Machine  <<Best Sewing Machine For Under $250

>>Check Price<<

  • Highly rated by owners
  • Automatic needle threader
  • 7mm stitch width capability
  • Stretch stitches for elastic
  • The display tells you which presser foot to use with the stitch you select
  • Free Arm for sleeves and pant legs
  • See-through bobbin thread cover
  • Quick set drop-in bobbin
  • Wide table
  • Hard protective case 
  • Small harp opening
  • Walking foot 
  • 60 built-in sewing stitches, including decorative stitches and 7 styles of one-step buttonholes
  • adjustable sewing speed control system
  • Start/Stop Button Yes Speed Control Yes Needle Position Key (Up/Down) Yes
  • Drop Feed/Free-Motion Yes Free Motion Quilting Foot Yes Built-in Quilting Stitches Yes Included Quilting Feet Yes Specialty Feet Included Yes (Additional specialty feet may be available. See Optional Accessories)

Overall rating  55%

  • 5 stars out of 5    Owner satisfaction
  • 5 stars out of 5    Necessary accessories included
  • 2 stars out of 5    Large harp area
  • 2 stars out of 5    Longevity without needing repairs
  • 2 stars out of 5    Ease of using free motion
  • 4 stars out of 5    Features for easier quilting 

 

Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 Sewing Machine  <<Most Versatile Sewing Machine Under $500

As I own this sewing machine, I’ll go into a deep dive with this review.

>>Check Price<<

 

Santa brought me one for Christmas! and here is a video of the unboxing and first set up stitching samples

  • The display shows correct presser foot for each stitch selected
  • Heavy-duty metal frame
  • Quiet and strong motor
  • Drop feed dog capable
  • Second presser foot lifting height for very high fabric insertion
  • 2 LED lights
  • Large extension table included
  • 6.75 inch harp opening
  • Top drop-in bobbin with clear cover
  • Automatic threading
  • Automatic tension
  • Hard case cover included
  • Auto-lock end stitch capable 
  • Four alphabet fonts
  • Hand quilting look stitch
  • Needle up/down for pivoting
  • Thread trimmer
  • 13 built-in automatic buttonholes
  • 600 stitches..(that includes many, many basics plus all their variations)
  • The default stitches are highlighted on the screen, so easy to revert to if you experiment
  • Mirror stitch capable of three ways

Overall rating  63%

  • 5 stars out of 5    Owner satisfaction
  • 5 stars out of 5    Necessary accessories included
  • 3 stars out of 5    Large harp area
  • 2 stars out of 5    Longevity without needing repairs
  • 3 stars out of 5    Ease of using free motion
  • 5 stars out of 5    Features for easier quilting

Basically, this sewing machine has everything a $3K machine has, except the price.  The only issues are going to be longevity and a  wimpy motor. Hopefully, it will last the time I need it to! 

Well, after a couple of months of daily using this sewing and quilting machine, I’m pretty impressed!  Here are some pictures of some sample stitches I tried. I used in the top thread: Gutermann grey and green thread and metallic gold and red threads.  So cool!!  It really let me down on bulky projects like puffer jackets and thicker garment sewing.  It just doesn’t have a strong enough motor or parts to handle heavy-duty sewing.  

gold stitches 2 Best Sewing Machine For Quilting verycreate.com
Gold metallic thread in the upper thread feeder gives a unique look to some of the decorative stitch options. I love it!
Gold stitches A Best Sewing Machine for Quilting verycreate.com
Using gold decorative threads on a few alphabet letters test
Decorative stitches B Best Sewing Machine For Quilting verycreate.com
These will be so fun to use on things for children or for schools
decorative stitches A Best Sewing Machine For Quilting verycreate.com
Decorative sample stitches are so fun! Singer Quantum

 

Janome MOD-50 Sewing Machine 

>>Check Price<<

Janome is a great brand of durable sewing machines.  They do manufacture a few entry-level sewing machines that might fit your budget.  This one is highly rated by owners.  It doesn’t have some of the fancy stitches, a walking foot, an extension table for free-motion quilting, a hard case cover nor any alphabets that other machines offer.  Plan on adding at least $30 for a walking foot, and close to $100 for an extension table to make this sewing machine quilting ideal.

  • Highly rated by owners
  • Heavy-duty all metal interior frame
  • Great entry-level sewing and sewing machine into the Janome brand
  • 7 mm stitch width capable
  • 6.7 inch harp area
  • Locking stitch button
  • Needle up/down button
  • Start/Stop button
  • Drop feed
  • Free arm
  • 50 Automatic stitches including two blanket stitches
  • Jam proof bobbin system with clear cover
  • Good reviews from owners
  • No walking foot included
  • No extension table
  • No Automatic thread cutter

Overall rating  63%

  • 5 stars out of 5    Owner satisfaction
  • 3 stars out of 5    Necessary accessories included
  • 3 stars out of 5    Large harp area
  • 5 stars out of 5    Longevity without needing repairs
  • 3 stars out of 5    Ease of using free motion
  • 4 stars out of 5    Features for easier quilting

 

Brother Computerized 1850 Sewing and Quilting Machine

>>Check Price<<

  •  Here again, no walking foot or hard case is included, so factor this into your end purchase price
  • 130 stitches with one alphabet font and blanket stitch
  • Drop feed dogs
  • Extension table
  • Free arm
  • Advanced needle threading 
  • Drop-in bobbin with easy threading
  • 8 styles of buttonholes
  • No walking foot included
  • No hard case included
  • No auto thread cutting
  • No anchor stitch
  • Automatic needle up/down
  • 5.75 inch throat size= pretty small

Overall rating  47%

  • 5 stars out of 5    Owner satisfaction
  • 3 stars out of 5    Necessary accessories included
  • 1 star out of 5       Large harp area
  • 3 stars out of 5    Longevity without needing repairs
  • 2 stars out of 5    Ease of using free motion
  • 3 stars out of 5    Features for easier quilting

This is a demo from a shop in Australia, but the model is very similar 

 

Juki Computerized  HZL-LB5100 Sewing Machine 

>>Check Price<<

  • Very highly rated by owners
  • One of the world’s biggest sewing machine manufacturers with a great reputation
  • 6.75 inches harp opening = not very large
  • Great auto start/stop button  that works as an anchor stitch
  • 100 stitch patterns
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Free arm
  • Semi-Hard case cover
  • No walking foot
  • No drop feed dogs for free-motion quilting
  • No extension table
  • No automatic thread cut off

Overall rating  50%

  • 5 stars out of 5    Owner satisfaction
  • 1 star out of 5      Necessary accessories included
  • 2 star out of 5      Large harp area
  • 5 stars out of 5    Longevity without needing repairs
  • 2 stars out of 5    Ease of using free motion
  • 3 stars out of 5    Features for easier quilting

 

Brother XR3774 Sewing Machine

>>Check Price<<

  • No drop feed dogs, but it does come with a darning plate to cover the feed dogs, so free motion is possible
  • Easy to use, dial stitch selection (mechanical, not computerized)
  • Good reviews by owners
  • Walking foot included
  • Great price point – the lowest priced Brother sewing machine they make
  • Drop-in bobbin with clear cover 
  • Wide table extension included
  • Free arm
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Semi-Hard cover
  • Stretch stitch capable for knits and swimwear
  • One-step buttonhole maker
  • 37 built-in stitches
  • Very lightweight

Overall rating  55%

  • 5 stars out of 5    Owner satisfaction
  • 5 stars out of 5    Necessary accessories included
  • 1 star out of 5      Large harp area
  • 3 stars out of 5   Longevity without needing repairs
  • 2 stars out of 5   Ease of using free motion
  • 4 stars out of 5   Features for easier quilting

 

Singer Confidence Quilter 7469Q Sewing Machine

>>Check Price<<

  • Steel metal frame
  • 96 built-in stitches
  • Walking foot
  • Needle up/down
  • Drop feed dogs
  • Drop-in bobbin with viewing window
  • Automatic tension
  • Extension table
  • Extra high presser foot lifting
  • Locking stitch
  • No automatic thread cutting
  • Small harp area of 5.5 inches

Overall rating  50%

  • 4 stars out of 5    Owner satisfaction
  • 5 stars out of 5    Necessary accessories included
  • 1 star out of 5      Large harp area
  • 2 stars out of 5    Longevity without needing repairs
  • 2 stars out of 5   Ease of using free motion
  • 4 stars out of 5   Features for easier quilting

 

Janome JW8100 Sewing Machine

>>Check Price<<

  • 100 built-in stitches
  • Drop-in bobbin with viewing window
  • Interior metal frame
  • Anchor stitch
  • Start/stop button
  • Extra-wide extension table
  • 1/4 inch foot
  • Walking foot
  • Automatic needle threader
  • 6.75 Harp opening
  • Hard case
  • 7 mm stitch width
  • Removable free arm
  • Drop feed dogs
  • Needle up/down button

Overall rating  66%

  • 5 stars out of 5    Owner satisfaction
  • 5 stars out of 5    Necessary accessories included
  • 3 stars out of 5    Large harp area
  • 4 stars out of 5    Longevity without needing repairs
  • 3 stars out of 5    Ease of using free motion
  • 4 stars out of 5    Features for easier quilting

 

Janome Memory Craft 6300 Computerized Professional Heavy-Duty Quilting Sewing Machine

Janome Memory Craft 6300P Sewing & Quilting Machine w/ FREE BONUS

>>Check Price<<

  • Nine inch harp opening!
  • 66 stitches and 4 buttonholes
  • Nice  5 different blanket stitch options
  • Automatic thread cutter
  • Knee lift capable
  • Drop feed dogs
  • Dual thread spool holders
  • Advanced feed mechanism 
  • Needle up/down setting
  • Not a free arm
  • Large extension table
  • 63 stitches with 7 mm max size
  • Extra high presser foot lift

Overall rating  75%

  • 3 stars out of 5    Owner satisfaction
  • 5 stars out of 5    Necessary accessories included
  • 5 stars out of 5    Large harp area
  • 4 stars out of 5    Longevity without needing repairs
  • 5 stars out of 5    Ease of using free motion
  • 5 out of 5 stars   Features for easier quilting

 

Juki TL-2010Q Sewing and Quilting Machine                    

>>Check Price<<

Owners rave about this machine because it is NOT computerized and is so fantastic for free motion quilting.  It is easy to use, a heavy workhorse with low vibration from its sturdy motor

  • Very highly rated by owners
  • Manual tension adjustments needed
  • Manual sewing machine, no fancy stitches but a workhorse
  • Large harp opening 8.5 inches
  • Automatic thread trimmer is exceptionally good – one on the sewing and quilting machine and one on pedal= super convenient
  • Needs regular oiling
  • Comes with a very large extension table
  • All metal, industrial quality
  • Very stable at high speed
  • Very good for free motion quilting – no fancy stitches, no fancy accessories but BEST for free-motion for price
  • Lighting not so good
  • Walking foot
  • Sideloading bobbin
  • Not so good automatic needle threader
  • Knee lift and up/down 
  • No buttonholes or fancy stitches, but it’s a durable workhorse

Overall rating  77%

  • 5 stars out of 5    Owner satisfaction
  • 4 stars out of 5    Necessary accessories included
  • 5 stars out of 5    Large harp area
  • 5 stars out of 5    Longevity without needing repairs
  • 5 stars out of 5    Ease of using free motion
  • 4 stars out of 5    Features for easier quilting

 

Janome Memory Craft MC6650 Sewing Machine   <<My number one recommendation in the mid-price point range

 

>>Check Price<<

A great price on a great sewing machine for quilting!  I really like the durability of Janome, based on my interviews with sewing and quilting machine repair shops and my own experience owning Janome.  This sewing machine’s only drawback is that it is not a free arm, so less easy to stitch garment sleeve cuffs. It is quite heavy, so this one is not intended to be taken to and from classes.  I like how the stitch selection is above the work area.  (When I free-motion quilt, sometimes the quilt will accidentally bump up against the right hand of my Singer Quantum and change stitches on me).

  • 170 stitches
  • 2 alphabets
  • Very large harp opening
  • 9 buttonhole styles
  • 9 mm stitch width
  • 6 LED lights in three locations
  • One button push needle plate conversion
  • Warranty: 25 Years on Mechanical Parts, 5 Years on Electrical Parts
  • Janome’s SFS Superior Feed System Plus means no walking foot needed
  • Superior automatic needle threader
  • Not a free arm
  • Knee lift presser foot option
  • All metal interior frame and flatbed
  • Automatic thread cutting
  • Invisible tack stitch and cut off
  • Select stitch and the display shows you which presser foot to use
  • Independent bobbin winder so you can wind bobbins while you are sewing
  • Automatic tension adjusts
  • Very stable at high speeds of 1000 stitches per minute
  • Straight stitch plate with one button easy change out

Overall rating  100%

  • 5 stars out of 5   Owner satisfaction
  • 5 stars out of 5   Necessary accessories included
  • 5 stars out of 5   Large harp area
  • 5 stars out of 5   Longevity without needing repairs
  • 5 stars out of 5   Ease of using free motion
  • 5 stars out of 5   Features for easier quilting

 

Bernina 530 Sewing and Quilting Machine

>>Check Price<<

I included an entry-level Bernina because they are legendary Swiss quality.  There are not many extra features included and you will need to purchase an extension table and walking foot. For the price, it is disappointing that there is no automatic thread cutter and other extras.  But it is one of two Berninas that are at a moderate price point.

  • 5.5 maximum mm stitch width
  • No walking foot
  • 148 stitches including 12 quilting stitches
  • No automatic thread cutter
  • USB connectable
  • Bobbin winding while sewing
  • Extension table
  • Knee lift presser bar

Overall rating  72%

  • 5 stars out of 5   Owner satisfaction
  • 3 stars out of 5   Necessary accessories included
  • 4 stars out of 5   Large harp area
  • 5 stars out of 5   Longevity without needing repairs
  • 5 stars out of 5   Ease of using free motion
  • 4 stars out of 5   Features for easier quilting
https://youtu.be/Jat2-RWnf80

 

Bernina 350 Patchwork Edition Sewing Machine

Bernina 350 Patchwork Edition Sewing & Quilting Machine

>>Check Price<<

  • its memory offers space for the permanent storage of up to 30 stitch-pattern combinations
  • 115 Stitches
  • High precision automatic button hole maker
  • 6.3 inch harp opening
  • Free arm
  • 5.5 mm stitch width
  • Start/stop button
  • Needle up/down button
  • Bobbin winding while sewing
  • Extension table
  • Walking foot
  • Built-in needle threader

Overall rating  72%

  • 5 stars out of 5   Owner satisfaction
  • 5 stars out of 5   Necessary accessories included
  • 4 stars out of 5   Large harp area
  • 5 stars out of 5   Longevity without needing repairs
  • 5 stars out of 5   Ease of using free motion
  • 4 stars out of 5   Features for easier quilting

 

Brother Quilting and Sewing Machine, PQ1500SL

>>Check Price<<

No nonsense straight stitch workhorse machine with a very large harp area of 8.75 inches

  • Highly rated by owners
  • Very high-speed stitching at 1,500 stitches per minute!
  • Knee lift
  • Extension table
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Built-in thread cutter
  • No bobbin viewing window – the bobbin is side loading which makes for one more step to change out the bobbin
  • No decorative stitches or alphabets

Overall rating  72%

  • 5 stars out of 5   Owner satisfaction
  • 5 stars out of 5   Necessary accessories included
  • 5 stars out of 5   Large harp area
  • 3 stars out of 5   Longevity without needing repairs
  • 5 stars out of 5   Ease of using free motion
  • 3 stars out of 5   Features for easier quilting 

 

Janome 3160QDC Sewing Machine  

>>Check Price<<

  • 60 built-in stitches
  • Thread cutter
  • Anchor lock stitch
  • Needle up/down
  • 1/4 inch presser foot
  • 7mm stitch width
  • Highly rated by owners
  • Thread cutter
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Hard cover
  • 7 inch harp opening
  • Extension table
  • Walking foot
  • No alphabet or very many fancy stitches

Overall rating   77%

  • 5 stars out of 5   Owner satisfaction
  • 5 stars out of 5   Necessary accessories included
  • 4 stars out of 5   Large harp area
  • 5 stars out of 5   Longevity without needing repairs
  • 4 stars out of 5   Ease of using free motion
  • 5 stars out of 5   Features for easier quilting

 

Juki HZL-F600 Sewing Machine

>>Check Price<<

  • 8 inch Harp opening
  • Very highly rated by owners
  • Automatic thread cutter
  • Independent bobbin winding while stitching
  • Walking foot
  • Extension table
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Knee lift
  • Strong and quiet running
  • Four alphabet fonts
  • 255 stitch patterns

Overall rating  100%

  • 5 stars out of 5   Owner satisfaction
  • 5 stars out of 5   Necessary accessories included
  • 5 stars out of 5   Large harp area
  • 5 stars out of 5   Longevity without needing repairs
  • 5 stars out of 5   Ease of using free motion
  • 5 stars out of 5   Features for easier quilting

 

Janome Memory Craft Horizon 8200 QCP Special Edition Sewing Machine 

>>Check Price On SewingMachinesPlus.com<<

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

  • Spendy, but this price and package is a wonder!
  • Accufeed flex system is as good as the high priced competitor’s proprietory system
  • Whopping 11 inch harp opening! great for free-motion quilting!
  • Extra high presser foot lift
  • 9mm stitch width
  • Straight Stitch Plate With Simple Plate Conversion with one button change out
  • Extra-large extension table
  • 200 stitches and alphabets
  • 7 styles of buttonholes
  • Stitch elongation up to five times the length
  • Excellent anchor stitching
  • Automatic thread cutter
  • Very good automatic needle threader
  • 5 Led lights
  • Adjustable knee lift
  • Capable of programming up to 50 decorative stitches at once
  • Very heavy machine – shipping is 51 lbs, so not portable
  • Very smooth at high speed

Overall rating 94%

  • 4 stars out of 5   Owner satisfaction
  • 5 stars out of 5   Necessary accessories included
  • 5 stars out of 5   Large harp area
  • 5 stars out of 5   Longevity without needing repairs
  • 5 stars out of 5   Ease of using free motion
  • 5 stars out of 5   Features for easier quilting

 

Elna Elnita ef  72 Sewing Machine

>>Check Price<<

  • Heavy-duty aluminum frame and outer body: not plastic!
  • Easy change needle plates
  • Extra high presser foot
  • Large harp opening
  • 1/4 inch presser foot included
  • Knee lift
  • Swiss made quality manufactured
  • Automatic programmable thread trimmer: automatically cuts the top and bobbin threads in an instant
  • Program up to 20 stitches in sequence
  • Stitch elongation
  • Stitch mirroring
  • 9mm stitch width
  • Locking stitch
  • 172 stitches

Overall rating  Well, we couldn’t find any product reviews by owners of this machine, but Elna is a quality brand with loyal owners. Apparently, they just aren’t posting their opinions online! Repair shops rank Elna alongside Viking Husqvarna, Pfaff, Janome and Bernina in quality. We are impressed that this machine has a solid metal frame and body and has a large harp opening.

 

Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900QCP Special Edition Sewing Machine 

>>Check Price<<

This Janome is deluxe and filled with quality and workmanship….and it’s not in the category of high-end price point!

  • 270 stitches
  • 9 mm stitch width
  • 3 Alphabets
  • 11 buttonholes
  • Automatic tension
  • Thread cutter
  • Excellent anchor lock stitch
  • Extension table
  • Extra high presser foot
  • 5 ultra-bright LED lights
  • 10 inch Harp! HUGE!
  • Metal frame
  • Easy change metal plates
  • Accu-feed system for perfect feed dogs
  • 1/4 inch presser foot
  • Walking foot

Overall rating  100% 

  • 5 stars out of 5   Owner satisfaction
  • 5 stars out of 5   Necessary accessories included
  • 5 stars out of 5   Large harp area
  • 5 stars out of 5   Longevity without needing repairs
  • 5 stars out of 5   Ease of using free motion
  • 5 stars out of 5   Features for easier quilting

 

Here’s Some Modern Intel For Choosing The Right Quilting Sewing Machine For You:

I’ve been sewing for a loooooong time, and what was once very high priced luxury options on a sewing and quilting machine are now standard features, even on machines costing less than $300! The addition of the computer into the workings of a sewing quilting machine has blasted the options wide open. Most sewing and quilting machine manufacturers create quilting sewing machines at a huge price point spread.

Innards cropped of modern sewing machine Best Sewing Machines For Quilting verycreate.com
Plastic, metal and computer components inside modern sewing machines with the mainframe being all plastic, which equals a budget machine

I consulted sewing machine repair shops and asked about the addition of computers to the issue of repairs. (We all know how touchy computers are and that they need to be replaced every two years or so because the processing software just can’t handle the new programs coming out). 

The technicians assured me that the computers in quilting sewing machines are nothing like the complexity of laptops/processing computers and are not a repair red flag issue at all. In addition,  the benefits of having a computerized sewing machine far outweigh any concerns. 

They consistently told me that the brand they have the least amount of repair issues with is a mid-price point and higher Janome, and they label them as reliable workhorse quilting sewing machines. 

The repair people advised me that virtually all entry-level quilting sewing machines are built to last a relatively short time.  They have little to no metal framework inside.

man repair sewing machinesBest Sewing Machines For Quilting verycreate.com
No matter which quilting sewing machine you purchase, it will need periodic tune-ups and adjustments by skilled repair shops. The trick is to match your price point with the machine that will need it less often!

This is important: just like purchasing a car, some sewing machines are engineered to last about 4 years before parts start breaking down or replacement parts get phased out of availability completely as newer units are designed and manufactured. Less durable materials like lower grade plastics are now commonplace in entry-level machines which results in a very lightweight machine that makes them affordable and very portable to take to classes, on vacations and retreats. 

I do own one entry-level machine for those very reasons!  Plus, they are great machines to teach kids on. 

However, the real real is that according to customer reviews and sewing machine repair shops, unless you can fork over $1K or more for a mid-price range machine, the odds of getting a lemon seems to be about 11% in the budget price range quilting sewing machines. That being said, it’s not bad odds, I suppose.  Be sure to read our insider tips towards the end of this article for a best-case scenario for purchasing your new sewing machine for quilting in a low price point category. 

 Here’s what you might find helpful in narrowing down your choice:

Features To Consider When Selecting The Right Quilting Sewing Machine For You

  • Quilters need a larger opening under the arm area (called a Harp) if you intend to machine stitch your quilt sandwich instead of hand quilting or tying the fabric sandwich layers together.  The larger the harp, the bigger quilt you can manhandle as you machine quilt. A minimum size should be 6.5 inches. 7 inches is better and 8 – 10 inches is fantastic. Anything smaller will drive you nuts if you decide to machine quilt a Queen size or larger quilt. The quilt sandwich simply won’t roll up tight enough to fit into the harp opening and still be maneuverable. Many mid-price range quilters base their final selection of machine just on the harp opening alone because they want the option to free motion large quilts with ease. 
rolled quilt in harp Best Sewing Machine For Quilting verycreate.com
Here’s one of my lap quilts rolled into the harp area for machine quilting. Imagine a queen-sized quilt rolled in four directions to quilt in the center area! It gets very crowded and difficult to maneuver.
  • A great option is to decide to only machine quilt the sandwich with straight stitches and hand quilt anything curvy or highly detailed.  That way you don’t have to limit yourself to large harp openings=much more budget-friendly sewing machine selection! I’ve done this for over 20 years and it works great.  I can put the quilt in a large embroidery hoop and hand quilt the curvy stuff while I watch tv or even take it on the road. 
  • Another option is to use a method called ‘quilt as you go’.   Here are some tutorials on how to do it:
  • An automatic anchor stitch feature is often high on the list for many quilters. Some quilting sewing machines will stitch an anchor stitch in place that is essentially invisible. Forward and backward anchor stitching is another automatic feature on some sewing machines, but it is not invisible to the eye and is often used for garment sewing where the seams are hidden to the inside of the garment. Manual forward and back is the only anchor stitch I’ve had and I’m giddy about the options on the new machines!
  • Automatic cut-off of the upper and lower threads after you anchor stitch saves thread and is super convenient to use.  You’ll find that more expensive thread makes a huge difference no matter what quilting sewing machine you use, and saving money there is very welcome.  Mid-price point sewing machines will give you invisible thread cut-offs. 
  • Ability to handle many layers of fabric with no strain on the engine.
  • Automatic needle up/down so that you can stop and pivot around corners.
  • Maximum stitch width: the widest in mid-price point range is 9 mm, but less is more common.  9mm blanket stitch, for example, would look great on a large quilt border, whereas a 7mm stitch width is more in proportion to placemats or sewing machine applique. If you are excited to use fancy stitches like miniature animals, houses, cars, etc in your topstitching, you will crave a 9mm width capability so the designs are large enough to show up easily. 
  • Knee lift lever capabilities so that you can lift the presser foot hands-free and use both hands on the fabric.
  • Auto sensors for adjusting tension automatically: sew off of six layers of denim (like on a seam and hem) right onto sheer fabric with no issues.
  • Built-in walking foot or proprietary walking foot so that fabric layers don’t bunch up when stitching several layers together.
  • High lift capability for presser foot to insert very thick layers.
  • Computerized fancy stitches and alphabets, which are very useful for home decor and clothing. 
  • Included extras like a long work table extension, better LED lighting, snap-in plates for sewing guides, specialized presser feet.  The extension table is especially important if you are making curtains or machine quilting, you need that larger flat area to the left of your sewing machine to carry the weight of the fabric at the same height as your sewing plate area.  It makes a huge difference as you are trying to maneuver a bulky quilt.
  • Mirror reverse capability on fancy stitches for ultimate design options.
  • If you want to learn to do free-motion quilting, then you’ll need a machine that lets the feed dogs drop down and will accommodate a presser foot designed for free-motion stitching.  You will also need an extension table towards the left side of the machine so that your surface area to glide across is at least elbow to elbow in width (so you can glide the fabric around in a free motion manner). 
  • Variable speed feature for easier control.  Especially useful when you are trying to teach yourself how to free motion quilt.  The slower the sewing and quilting machine stitches, the more accurate you can be. 

Some features that used to be high-end are now standard on most sewing machines!  These include:

  • Forward/reverse buttons
  • Jamb-proof stitching when you run off the edge of the fabric
  • Tension adjusting from heavier fabrics like denim to lightweight chiffon – manually or automatically 
  • Ability to sew knit or stretch fabrics like spandex 

So, create your dream wish list of features and let’s get cracking at looking at the best machines we could find for quilting and bang for your hard-earned dollars.

 

Insider Tips If You Are Serious

TIP 1:

According to owner reviewers online, manufacturer’s warranties seem to be problematic for budget or entry-level quilting sewing machines.  Unless you live in a large urban area, chances are there are no authorized repair shops near you for the brand you select and shipping to the manufacturer’s authorized repair locations will run you about $90 each way!  Most warranties are very limited in the fine print. What we think should be covered is not (sounds sadly familiar to many genres, doesn’t it??).    

TIP 2:

Customer reviews on budget quilting sewing machines vary from super happy to super not. So, a good tip is if you are in the market to purchase a budget or entry-level sewing machine for quilting, consider buying from Amazon because their full refund/return policy is stellar and there most likely is a free drop off return locations where you live (as of 2020, Kohls department stores have free Amazon return drop off counters in the back of their stores). 

TIP 3:

You should plan on opening your new sewing machine for quilting and test it out and use it (especially forward and backward multiple times) right away…. right up until just before the Amazon return policy expires.  That way, if you get a lemon or one that mysteriously needs repairs during that time window, you can get a full refund or get a new one shipped out to your home. 

TIP 4:

Get a variety of needles specified for your sewing machine. They make a huge difference.  (Topstitch, heavy-duty, multiple thread thickness sizes etc.). 

TIP 5:

Don’t try and cross fit bobbins and accessories from other brands into your new sewing machine unless you are positive they will work.  Many, many machines have proprietary needles, bobbins and accessories, just like cars. Sometimes the machine is fine, and it is user error.

TIP 6:

If your machine does not come with one, buy a walking foot.  In a sewing machine, the feed dogs pull the fabric along, but the upper layers lag behind a tad, creating ripples in your quilt sandwich.  A walking foot pulls the top fabric along at the same rate as the lower feed dogs, giving a smooth appearance where it really counts: on the top of your quilt. walking foot attachment Best Sewing Machines For Quilting verycreate.com Modern walking foot attachments help you stitch the quilt layers together without puckering or ripples

TIP 7:

Read your manual.  It is so important! Which direction you feed the needle, what quality of thread you are using, which direction the bobbin unwinds, etc. etc. all make a difference in most machines. 

TIP 8:

Pay a little more for a quality thread like Aurifil or Gutermann.  I can’t tell you how many times a cheap brand of thread has shredded in my sewing machine needle, snagged on its plastic spool and jammed up the machine or has been impossible to thread. It’s not your machine’s fault.  I’m done using cheap thread. 

TIP 9:

Even the best sewing machine will perform poorly until you change the needle for a new one. They bend and snag and get little burrs on them that gum up the works. Some people advise changing the needle with each new project. If your machine starts doing something wonky, change the needle out for a new one and rethread your machine on the top and in the bobbin.  

TIP 10:

Try turning off your machine and letting it sit for 30 seconds then turning it back on.  Computerized sewing machines will reset to the factory settings and get you back to your ‘oops, user error’ proof settings.

Important Last Words and Advice

This decision of what sewing machine to buy comes down to personal preference and opinion. I always ask professionals  “What do YOU own?” and it is often very telling. So, here’s my personal requirements and what I currently own and plan to buy really soon:  

I have a Singer Featherweight, which is a 1950’s antique.  It only goes forward and backward, but it is 100% all metal and I adore it.  I use it for piecing quilt blocks while I sit in front of the TV at night. It is small enough to sit on a small tv stand. It makes a charming whirring sound when it stitches. 

It’s a vanity purchase because I would never attempt to use it on knits, denim or anything other than quilt fabric and (small pieces at that).  It won’t do free motion quilting as the feed dogs do not drop down, but I bought a service kit and with youtube videos, I can tune it up myself!  I’ve even done light repairs on it.  

It’s so ‘old school’ that I have to oil and lube it with two different kinds of oil like an old Edsel each time I use it. LOL! If you are interested in them, try haunting the want ads online in your area.  Reconditioned antiques can start at $500. Here’s the USA authority on Featherweights. They have a fantastic site with world-class knowledge on Singer Featherweights and they sell them completely reconditioned.

https://singer-featherweight.com/

I also have a New Home Janome that I bought over 22 years ago. It was not considered fancy back then, but it has served me well.  It jambs up on more than four layers of denim, then needs servicing and it has now aged to the point that it needs repairs to the very simple computerized parts. Now I want more of the modern features that are available in a mid-price point sewing machine. It’s time for an upgrade and you better believe I”m going to be uber picky about what I spend my hard-earned cash on. I figure it will take me a couple of years at a minimum to save up that much cash.

I also own a 1950’s all metal  35 pound behemoth industrial that I only use on denim belt loops or denim hems or canvas outdoor fabrics.  It cost me $95 at a used industrial sewing machine shop about 15 years ago and it’s been worth it!

I have sewn jean hems, outdoor canvas curtains and upholstery covers without a problem.  It never jambs due to fabric weight, but it only goes forward and backward and will not sew on knits. It also jams if I sew off the fabric accidentally.

I bought it to save repairs on my old Janome when I got impatient and tried to use the old Janome on uber heavy fabrics. (You’d think I would learn after doing that once, but sadly, no.)  After two unnecessary repairs, which cost more than this oldie but reliable goodie, I now never use my ‘old good’ machine on hemming jeans over the french seam area on denim, or on heavy outdoor fabrics.

Like I mentioned above, Santa did bring me the Singer Quantum. If it lasts more than two years, I’ll let you know!  So far, so good!  It’s a treat to sew on.  It has some awesome features and I’ll retire my old Janome to use this one as my everyday sewing machine until I can afford a new mid-price sewing machine. I plan on donating my old Janome when I purchase my “last new machine” to a worthy cause unless the store says it’s too far gone. 

I used to have an antique treadle sewing machine which I regret selling.   It was another luxury purchase, as I loved owning a piece of history and had the ability to use it if the power went out…I miss it. I felt connected to my pioneer ancestors just looking at it. It had a lovely carved cabinet and fancy gold decals. Sigh. 

I also own a serger, which is a topic for a different article!

For my mid-price point future purchase, my personal requirements for the overall best sewing machine for quilting are:

  • Longevity and durability.  It must last me for the rest of my life. I’m in my sixties, so I figure at least 20 years (hey, I’m an optimist!). Plastic shell and some plastic parts are unavoidable, but it better be good, thick, durable plastic and better quality plastic internal parts. 
  • I for sure want an all-metal frame.  So, this will put me at the mid-price point level.  I look at it as an investment in my future, as trips to the repair shop will be less feasible for lots of reasons.  As I hit my elderly years, I sure won’t have the option for expensive tune-ups or repairs or shipping to service centers.   
  • Two choices in anchor stitches with immaculate thread cut off.  I want an invisible anchor stitch, not some lumpy bar tack looking ending stitch. 
  • The largest Harp area I can afford, just in case I ever get the hang of free-motion quilting. 
  • 9mm stitch width…I intend to use it for decorative blanket stitch with heavier threads on blankets and wall hangings.  After using my Singer Quantum’s decorative stitches, I admit I’m in love.  I never thought I’d use decorative stitches, but they are a hoot!  I’m having a ball with mine. For the future, I want tons of decorative stitches or the ability to download or even design my own!
  • Uniform presser foot parts and accessories – nothing requiring expensive proprietary accessories just because it is an expensive brand name! 
  • A change-out plate with a tiny hole for straight stitching so that a thin layer of single fabric doesn’t get sucked down into the hole.
  • I want a heavy sewing machine. It won’t be traveling, and I want a sturdy machine. I don’t want a lightweight sewing machine that will nudge off the table if I get careless.  This baby better be SOLID.
  • I want a strong motor and one that is not going to jiggle around the table at high speeds because I am a fast sewer.
  • No embroidery options …machine embroidery goes into the stratosphere in cost and I much prefer hand embroidery anyway. 
  • A beautiful satin stitch for machine applique. So the stitches have to be tight. My Singer Quantum just can’t dial it down tight enough for a flawless satin stitch.
  • I will store it in a closet when not in use, so it has to be capable of storage of some sort.
  • I don’t want to have to read an encyclopedia to understand the digital functions or learn a complicated computer program that will need constant online updating. 
  • Price point. I won’t be spending over $2,800. 
  • Right now I’ve decided it’s between the Pfaff Expression 710 (which is only available at licensed dealers)  and the Janome Memory Craft MC6650, but in researching this article, I have found more options at the mid-price point level!  I’ll let you know what I decide.  The issue with the Pfaff is that it is finickier and will need periodic adjustments and tune-ups according to my repair shop sources, but the decorative stitches are out of this world!  So tempting. 

Good luck with your hunt! I hope you have found our research and opinions very helpful for narrowing down your choice for the very best sewing machine for quilting!  You will never regret owning a wonderful quilting sewing machine! 

Video Tutorials On Sewing Machine Quilting

Free motion basics

 

 

Free motion basics:

 

Ten sewing tips valuable for quilters:

Here’s my article step by step tutorial using my new Quantum Singer how to sew a placemat for beginners!

Conclusion

Well, thank you for joining me on this journey. I hope you learned a lot. After all that, if you are a beginner, the best sewing machine for quilting is the Brother Computerized 1850. Please be sure to email me and let me know what you decide to go with! I am excited for you!

Anita HC

I hope you are enjoying this article! I love helping creators learn. My goal is to help you find the knowledge and inspiration you need. Check out our library of articles and visit often...I'm adding articles every week! Thank you again for reading!

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