Quilting is the art of sewing two more layers of fabric together. It can be done by hand or by a sewing machine. Generally most sewing machine these days have quilting features added to them. But the machines only for the purpose of quilting are made industrially. They are not very suitable for household uses. The most sensible thing for you to do is buy a sewing machine that can do them all: quilting and regular sewing. But there are a few machines for quilting only, you can buy them too. Here in this article, we shall help you find the best sewing machine for quilting by guiding you to learn what to look for and what type of sewing machine suits you best. After that, you will be able to choose for yourself what kind of sewing machine you want to buy. We also provided some reviews of the top rated sewing machines for quilting for you.
What is Quilting Machine
A quilting machine, as you can tell from the name, is a sewing machine that quilts. Before we get to the machine, let’s see what is quilting. As many of you may know, quilting is joining two or three or more layers of fabric together. It can be done both by hand and by machine.
A quilting machine or quilting sewing machine if you will, is a sewing machine that can do one stitch and that is the straight stitch. It usually has a big opening for bulkier fabrics. A stand up quilting machine is mobile. It is mounted on wheels on a track of a giant table of 10 to 15 feet. The fabric is attached to different poles of the table and you have to move the machine over the fabric of choice to create a design of your liking on the fabric. The quilting machines have stitch regulators to change the speed of your stitching. You can alternate speeds to make sure you have even sized stitches.
Things Obviously Need to have a Quilting Sewing Machine
A pro quality sewing machine for quiltings requires a few key features. These features are going to make your quilting easier. So, make sure your quilting machine has the following things:
1. Stitch regulator and speed control
The most wanted feature in a quilting sewing machine is the stitch regulator. With this feature, you can ensure even length stitches at any stitching speed. There is two modes of regulation. One mode stops the stitches while the user stops moving the machine. The other one maintains a chosen minimum speed of the needle to allow you to position your stitches.
That brings us to the next feature; the stitching speed. You should be able to control the speed of your stitches. With this feature, you will be able to decide how fast you want your needles to go and adjust the speed to your liking.
2. Large bobbin
When you quilt you don’t always want to refill your bobbin very often. A large bobbin holds more thread than usual sized bobbins. This way you can work a long time without having to rewind your bobbin every once in a while. A M-class bobbin is the largest commercial bobbin in the market and holds about 80% more thread than a regular bobbin. With your larger bobbin, you can quilt your way with no interception.
This is one of the features you really need. Most quilting machine today offers this feature. It is a lever attached to the body of your machine. You can move it with your knee to control the presser foot. You can easily move the presser foot up or down with your knee without having to remove your hands from the fabric.
4. Big opening
The difference between normal sewing machine and quilting sewing machine is that the quilting machine has a much bigger opening than a regular one. The bigger opening allows you to work with ease when you fold a big piece of fabric at the right of the needle. You won’t be able to move your quilting piece freely if the opening is small. The bigger the opening the bigger quilting project can be handled. But you must know bigger does not always mean better. You should consider your comfort first.
5. Needle up down Control
Automatic needle position control is a feature most common in the best quilting machine. It controls the needle position when it stops. You can set it so when the needle stops it stops in the down position or in the up position instantly without having to do any extra stitches to adjust the position of your needle.
6. Drop feed
Drop feed is an important feature for free motion quilting. Free motion quilting can be done by lowering the feed dogs down under the needle plate and moving the fabric around to do a pattern of your choice. So drop feed system is a must have in your quilting machine.
7. Enough lighting
Enough lighting, whether it’s a regular sewing machine or a quilting machine, is a must have feature. Most sewing machines today have LEDs for illuminating the workspace. As for quilting, you will need lighting more than anything to see if your pattern is coming out right, or if the stitches are of even length or if any stitch is being skipped and so on.
8. Sliding table
Quilting needs a big table for larger quilting projects. Some quilting machines come with a sliding table that can be removed easily. Without the sliding table, it is hard to work on the free arm only. Some quilting machines come with the fixed table which is good too. But sliding table makes the machine more portable than the fixed table ones.
9. Hopping foot
A hopping foot “hops” eliminating the problem of dragging and unwanted folds in the fabric. The foot is round with ¼ inch equal distance between the needle and the other side of the foot. The hopping foot must have the thickness to accommodate 1/4-inch thick acrylic templates and rulers to help you get precision in quilting.
10 3 types of foot
For quilting, you will need three types of foot. The first one a 1/4th inch foot, which is great for deciding how much seam allowance you want to keep. It has two markings on to show 1/4th inch. The second one is a larger one named a walking foot. This is needed for bulky fabrics or too many layers of fabric. It adds an extra set of feed dogs on top of your machine making it easier to match the pattern. Another one is a darning foot. it is mainly used for free motion quilting. It is seen though so you can easily see what you are doing.
These are the main things you quilting machine must have. There is a lot more a quilting machine these days offer. But for your basic quilting needs, these features should be more than enough.
Best Sewing Machine for Quilting Buying Guide
Now that we have discussed the features will make the sewing machine for quilting the best, let’s talk about the things you should consider before buying a quilting machine.
1. How much the machine weigh?
You don’t want a too much heavy machine. Operating a heavy machine can cause strain on your hands, back and lower parts of your body. But your machine can not be too light either. The good enough weight would be 65 lbs or less. You should always try out the machine before buying it to make sure it is comfortable enough for you.
2. Does it come with an extension table?
For quilting, you will need large workspace whether its freestyle quilting or regular quilting. As we said earlier a key feature of quilting machine is a large table. The table can either be removable or fixed. Either way, you will need a table that can allow you to handle any sized quilting projects.
3. How is the warranty and customer support?
You want your quilting machine to last and last long. But if it does not, you should have a way to fix it. Buying from a trusted source will give you that. You should always try to buy from a well-known brand. The most popular brands including Janome, Brother, Singer provides great warranty and customer service. So, before buying a machine, talk to your dealer about the warranty and customer service of your machine. Make sure there are enough opportunities for getting your machine fixed if need be or there is a chance of taking classes on your machine. Your warranty should cover all parts of your machine.
4. Does the machine have all the features you want?
To make sure you have all the features you want in your machine you must try out your machine first. You might want a few features that are not quite like the way you want them to be. Or there may be some features you thought you need but you don’t need in reality. Or there may be some features you did not want but end up needing in the long run. So, try out all the features your quilting machine offers to see that everything you need is there. As we discussed earlier there are some basic things to look for in a quilting machine. Make sure your quilting machine has them first, then move on to more complicated features.
5. Does the machine run smoothly at any speed?
This is very important. If your machine vibrates too much on high speed it can make too much noise and the stitches will be of poor quality. For noiseless precise quilting, your quilting machine must be able to operate smoothly both on high and low speed. It also shows the quality of the machine.
These are the things you should keep in mind before buying a quilting machine. Of course, you can have other preference. We are merely providing a guide for you to start with.
Best Sewing Machine for Quilting
1. SINGER 9960 Computerized Portable Sewing Machine
The singer has the most amazing sewing machines on the market. Although this machine is not made particularly for quilting it serves the purpose very well.
It is a fully computerized machine with 600 different stitches in basic, stretch and decorative stitches for fashion décor as well as quilting. it has LCD guiding system to help you operate the machine easily. Most of the instructions are written on the body of the machine so you can get it ready to sew or quilt in no time.
It has automatic needle threader, top drop-in bobbin, automatic thread cutter to save you a lot of manual labor. With a stitching speed of 850 stitches per minute, it saves you a lot of time. The added accessories include darning feet and 1/4th inch feet which is very useful for quilting as we said before electronic autopilot system allows you to sew without the foot control but you will still have full control over the speed.
The problem with this machine is that it is not very portable. It weighs about 25lbs making it a heavy weight machine. So, if you want to move your machine a lot this is not for you. But overall, it is a very good sewing machine for quilting within a reasonable price range.
2. Janome 2212 Sewing Machine
Janome, as Singer, is a well-known brand for sewing machines. They also provide some great features in quilting.
Janome 2212 Sewing Machine an affordable sewing machine with 12 built in stitches. It comes with the drop feed technology to help you do all your free motion quilting. it also has free arm system allowing you a large opening for your quilting projects. It has built in thread cutter to cut your threads after quilting with ease. You can adjust the length of your stitch with just stitch adjuster.
It is a mechanical machine, so it does not come with a lot of bells and whistles but it makes that up in sturdiness. It is easy to use and saves energy. It is lightweight and portable. It has a great stitching speed with 860 stitches per minute rate.
There are a few lacking in the sewing machine in the quilting field though. It does not have all the presser foot needed for quilting. it also does not come with verities of stitches in quilting.
But it is an excellent sewing machine for beginners whether in quilting or normal sewing. As it has the ability to handle multiple layers of fabric it can easily do regular quilting.
3. Brother HC1850 Quilting Machine
Brother, another name in the sewing industry that represents quality and precision. Brother makes products suitable for both armatures and professionals.
Brother HC1850 is not only made for regular sewing it is also aimed at making quilting a lot easier. it has 130 built in stitches. Among the stitches, there are 14 quilting stitch functions. It also comes with a detachable table for large quilting projects. It also comes with a spring action quilting feet. it is easy to thread and provides precise stitches. It is a heavy duty machine and can handle any type or multiple layers of fabric.
It comes with a large LCD display to let you choose any stitch you like. It has automatic needle threader and speed control to create stitches as your liking. Despite being a heavy duty sewing machine it is still very lightweight and can be carried around to classes. It has drop feed system for doing any free motion quilting. its LED illuminates the workspace for a greater view. It is a simple and affordable machine with a stitching speed 850 stitches per minute which you can control.
The problem with this sewing machine is that it does not come with the quilting feet necessary for free motion quilting. although it was made for quilting it does not have a knee lifter.
This sewing machine is definitely one of the best sewing machines for quilting. it gives much scope for the beginner quilters as well as the professionals.
4. SINGER 7469Q Confidence Quilter
This mode of Singer is made for quilting. It provides lots of different features for quilting.
It is a fully computerized machine with 98 built in stitches. It has the more advanced feature like drop and sews bobbin system, automatic needle threader. It also comes with the programmable needle up down feature. So when you stop sewing your needle can be positioned inside the fabric to prevent any movement.
It has the drop feed system for your free motion quilting needs. With the stitch length and width adjuster, you can change the length and width of your stitches. For larger quilting projects the sewing machine has an extension table. So you can work more freely and with ease.
Its LED illuminates the workspace for you. It also comes with 4 sets of most important quilting feet. It is simple and easy to operate.
The machine is slower than the usual machines. The customer service is very poor, especially for the questions asked.
Overall, it is a great machine for quilters. It has all the features a quilter could want. And all that at an affordable price.
5. Juki HZL-F600 Computerized Sewing and Quilting Machine
Juki is a brand that started out in the field of industrial sewing., but now they have come with a wide range of home sewing machine. This particular machine was made for quilting.
The machine comes with 255 sewing patterns and also of features made for quilting. it has a wide opening with an extension table and we all know how important large working space is when it comes to quilting.
It comes with a quilting guide for helping you with the quilting. most importantly it comes with a knee lifter! This is a very handy tool when it comes to keeping your hands on the fabric all the time while quilting. it also provides you with two kinds of foot necessary for quilting.
It has speed control settings so you can adjust the speed as you like and then there is the stitch adjuster which allow you to vary the length and width of your stitch. It is a high speed fully computerized machine that is surprisingly light weight and allows you to deal with just about any type of fabric. Its dual LED system lights up your workplace like no other.
6. SINGER 8500Q Portable Quilting Machine
Singer 8500Q is another machine from Singer that was made for quilting. it has lots of features in quilting but the price range may not be for everyone.
The machine comes with 215 built in stitches with 17 quilting stitches allowing you to choose from a wide range of stitches. It comes with a huge space for quilting o both side of the needle with an extension table that allows you to handle even large quilting projects.
Moreover, it comes with a knee lifter for hand free moving of presser foot. it has the feature of extra high presser foot lifter which is a very handy tool in quilting as it allows you to use 6mm bulkier fabrics. It comes with a set of quilting feet needed for you which included all-purpose (walking) foot, 1/4th inch foot and darning foot. it has the drop feed technology for all your free motion quilting needs. Its LED screen helps you select the stitch you want.
Its smart threading system includes an automatic needle threader which helps you thread your needle with ease. It also has the programmable needle up down feature to control your needle position when you stop the machine. it has the electronic auto pilot mode where you will still have the full control over your speed.
It needs a lot of adjustments for free motion quilting and setting up the machine can be a little too complicated for some users. But in short, it is definitely one of the best sewing machines for quilting.
7. JUKI TL-2000Qi Quilting Machine
Juki TL-2000Qi is a true work horse. It is a heavy duty powerful machine with no vibration. It has a high speed of 1500 stitches per minute.
It is a mechanical machine that comes with a 13 inch extension table that is detachable which makes it portable. It comes with 4 different feet including three for quilting. Automatic needle up and down helps you position your needle after stopping. It has automatic thread cutter that saves you the trouble of cutting hard reached threads with ease. With the thread tension adjustment feature, you can change the tension settings.
It, like other great quilting sewing machines, has a knee lifter. It has a dial on the top of the machine that allows you to adjust the position of you presser foot. it comes with speed control system to choose the speed you want to work with.
It is a dream machine for quilters. Its heavy duty body allows it to do all kinds of quilting. with every feature added for free motion quilting, it makes free motion quilting a piece of cake.
But it can be a little pricy. It does not offer much for the creative quilters but an excellent choice for beginners.
8. Brother DZ3000 Computerized Quilting Machine
From brother disignio series this one is one of the best sewing machines for quilting.
It has 240 built in stitches in regular sewing and quilting. It comes with 14 different sewing and quilting feet. In the added accessories comes a wide extension table for large quilts.
Its LED illuminated the workspace and LCD display helps you choose the stitch you want. its drop feed system helps you with the free motion quilting. it has a wide working space and a stitching speed of 850 stitches per minute.
It does not come with the feature of presser foot adjustment so you can only work with less thick fabric. it also does not come with a knee lifter. And the use of the plastic makes it less sturdy than most sewing machines for quilting. But overall the performance of the machine is great according to the user reviews.
Types of Quilting
By now, you all must know what quilting is. It is just some equally spaced straight stitches of the same length joining multiple layers of fabric. But before we start on the quilting machine, let’s talk about the types of quilting there are. There are two types of quilting :
- Regular quilting
- free motion quilting
The regular quilting is just your ordinary type of quilting. it is the processes of pinning two or sometimes more layers of fabric and then sewing it down. With regular quilting, the feed dogs are kept in place and you can only do some fixed types of patterns.
Free motion quilting is like doodling on your fabric. You have to lower your feed dogs for this so your fabric can move freely. For free motion quilting, you just have to move your fabric around to create the pattern of your liking. You would need a darning presser foot for this job.
Both these can be achieved by most sewing machine these days. With older models of sewing machines simple less layered quilting can be easily done.
Is It Possible to use all Sewing Machines for Quilting?
You will be surprised to know that you can do quilting with just about any sewing machine you want. You see, quilting requires one stitch and one stitch only: the straight stitch. And every sewing machine has this feature. To do free motion quilting you will need to make sure you can do two things required for it. The drop feed technology and the quilting feet for free motion quilting.
Now, most of the advanced machines these days offer the drop feed technology. You will need to disengage your feed dogs by lowering them under the sewing plate. If your sewing machine doesn’t have this feature you can cover your feed dogs instead and it will work just fine. There is a plastic made cover called supreme slider which helps you cover your feed dogs. It stays attached to the bed of your sewing machine and provides a slippery surface for your quilt to glide through.
Another thing you will need is the feet for free motion quilting. Most sewing machines come with added accessories that include different feet for different jobs. If your machine does not come with this foot you can always get yourself a generic darning foot. it is suitable for all sewing machines.
Where free motion quilting offers you to draw a pattern of your own, normal quilting gives allows you pattern of some fixed types. You can do normal quilting in your regular sewing machine. Many sewing machines have quilting stitches. You can use those. Even using the straight stitch you can create different patterns on your fabric.
The problem with a normal sewing machine is that it does not offer a big opening. Working with bulkier and long fabrics becomes tough with small openings. But small quilting jobs can easily be done with normal sewing machines. Even the bulkier fabrics are easy to handle these days with the extra high-pressure foot lifter technology. But if your machine is not heavy duty it’s better not pressurize your machine too many layers of fabric.
Advantages of Mechanical Sewing Machine Over Electrical while Quilting
There are different types of quilting machines out there. All with different features and benefits. The mechanical types are mainly the old ones, where you have to do most of the things manually. A few benefits you might find in the mechanical ones are:
They are sturdy
This is because they are made of hard metal inside and out. They are made to last decades without a scratch.
Another thing that comes with the sturdy body is the work performance. These are heavy duty and they can quilt through just about any layers of fabric. They are pure workhorse and handle multiple layers better than the electrical ones.
The mechanical quilting machines lack a lot of bells and whistles the electrical machines have to offer which in the end causes them (electrical) to be expensive. Mechanical quilting machines are much cheaper than the electrical ones.
Easy to use
Mechanical quilting machines do not have any complicated motherboards or switches for different jobs. They do have a few electricity driven parts. But most of the works can be done manually.
But the cons are these machines lack a lot of features. They don’t have so many stitch options or changeable presser foot for different jobs and manual settings can be a lot difficult for beginners who do not know their way around things.
Advantages of Electrical Sewing Machine Over Mechanical while Quilting
The electrical ones, of course, have a lot of different features and functions. They can have the following advantages:
Lots of different stitches
Where mechanical machines provide only one stitch the electrical ones provide at least five. They come in both basic and decorative stitches.
Many automatic features
With the added automatic features you don’t have to do anything manually. Automatic needle threader, automatic thread cutter are some of the best features they can offer. You can choose everything on your machine, from needle position to what kind of presser foot you will be using everything can be done with the press of a switch.
There are lots of different control options for you on these machines. You can control your stitching speed or stitch length or stitch width. They come with dials that you can turn to choose the settings of your liking. So, there are a lot of opportunities for you to be creative.
The cons are that these machines can be costly and complicated. They have lots of different functions making them very hard to understand. They also don’t last very long. Their plastic made body makes them portable but at the same time prone to damage.
What I am Suggesting to You
It is very hard to say which type of machine is better. It is easier to say which is suitable for which type of user.
The mechanical ones are sturdy. If you are looking for a long lasting machine and you work with bulky fabric, the mechanical ones will serve you perfectly. If you are not comfortable with complicated technology you can find your peace with the mechanical ones. But you have to know what you are doing because the mechanical machines need everything done manually. This means if you want to learn the basics, mechanical quilting machines are what you need.
Now if you want to do verities of different projects and need a lot of different patterns for quilting, electrical sewing machines can give you that. If you don’t want the complications of doing everything manually you should not go for the mechanical machines. Now electrical machines give you much more comfort and control over your projects than the mechanical one. It saves your time and effort in many ways. So if the money is not the concern you should the electrical machines.
Depending on your preference you can choose any type of quilting machines you like. As long as the quilting machine has what you want you are good to go.
Sewing Machine for Quilting FAQ
There are a few questions asked by users about sewing machine for quilting. Hope it will hep you to improve your basics of sewing.
Q: can my normal sewing machine do the quilting?
A: plenty of textures can be done with straight line stitches. A walking foot and even feed system gives out nice straight stitches. If these are not available, your normal all purpose foot can be used as well.
Q: what is the best stitch length for machine quilting?
A: for straight stitches, the standard is to set your machine’s stitch length to 2.5 to 3. But you can always set the length as your wish.
Q: How many stitches should be in an inch in machine quilting?
A: the average is 6 inches per inch, for accomplished 8 stitches per inches and for expert 10 stitches per inch.
Q: what kind of needle is needed for machine quilting?
A: for machine quilting, a 90/14 needle is best. It is sturdy enough to hold up while sewing though multiple layers of fabric. The eye of the needle is big enough to accommodate any kind of thread.
Q: what kind of foot is needed for a sewing machine to do the quilting?
A: for regular quilting a walking foot is suitable. It is best for feed three of the layers of quilting fabric though the machine. For free motion quilting, a darning foot is necessary.
Q: what speed is required for machine quilting?
A: it’s best to do it slowly. It makes sure that there is not ripping of the thread. Once you get used to the slower speed you try increasing the speed a little at a time to get used to it.
Q: what is the tension settings should be for machine quilting?
A: You do not really need to change the tension settings on your sewing machine while quilting if you are using the same thread in needle and bobbin. For different thread, you might need some adjustments. But it is better to leave it alone.
Quilting is an art of sewing. You can do any kinds of quilting in your ordinary sewing machine. The machines made only for quilting gives you a lot more independence. You can work more freely and with a wide range of fabrics or even with multiple layers of fabric. The best sewing machine for quilting would be the one that gives you both the room for regular sewing and quilting. It should have the large opening for bigger quilting projects and must provide you with added accessories like three types of feet and have the features like drop feed system and free arm etc.
For quilting, you basically need the straight stitch only. So, do not stress about the quilting part. It is a flexible art, it can be done by any type of sewing machines. The best ones for quilting only provide you with a little more comfort and ease.