Best Sewing Machine for Free Motion Quilting

Top 8 Best Sewing Machines For Free-Motion Quilting

The only sewing machine you should never need for quilting is a high-end sewing machine.  This will not always be the case.  However, since many of these products are made to last a long time, you will certainly get a lot from them.  Those who use these machines power through the quilting projects that they do; this is going to require lots of room not only for the machine but for the workspace as well.  

It is hard to find the right sewing machine for your particular needs.  Luckily, here is a list of the best sewing machines for free-motion quilting that you can use to quilt in free- motion. 

Top 8 Sewing Machines For Free-Motion Quilting

Image ProductDetails 
Brother PQ1500
Brother PQ1500

  • Customer Ratings: 4.8 out of 5
  • Brand: Brother


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Janome MC6650Janome MC6650

  • Customer Ratings: 4.7 out of 5
  • Brand: Janome

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Brother XR3774
Brother XR3774

  • Customer Ratings: 4.7 out of 5
  • Brand: Brother

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Brother CS7000i
Brother CS7000i

  • Customer Ratings: 4.7 out of 5
  • Brand: Brother

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Juki HZL-F600
Juki HZL-F600

  • Customer Ratings: 4.7 out of 5
  • Brand: Juki

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Juki HZL--LB5100
Juki HZL--LB5100

  • Customer Ratings: 4.5 out of 5
  • Brand: Juki

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Singer Quantum Stylist 9960
Singer Quantum Stylist 9960

  • Customer Ratings: 4.5 out of 5
  • Brand: Singer

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SINGER Futura XL-550 Embroidery and Sewing Machine
SINGER Futura XL-550 Embroidery and Sewing Machine

  • Customer Ratings: 3.8 out of 5
  • Brand: Singer

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1. Brother PQ1500SL Sewing and Quilting Machine

This machine has power great enough for professionals.  It can sew at 1,500 stitches per minute, maximum.  Most sewers will find this speed to be too fast, but the speed controls are easy to use anyway.  This model also comes with an automatic needle threader; you can push the thread through the needle and set everything up quickly.  

Another remarkable feature of this machine is a removable knee lifer.  This feature permits the sewer to use their knee to lift the presser foot and free up their hands.  There is also a big table that measures 11″ x 21.5″ when the user extends it, making it easier to get bulky quilting projects done.  The LED lights help make the machine work with accuracy, thread tension adjustment dial, and other important accessories, like needles, a seam guide, a cleaning brush, and other accessories. 

Pros
  • Quieter than other heavy-duty machines
  • Sewing speed: 1,500 stitches per minute
  • Can use thick and heavy fabrics
  • A plethora of accessories and feet
  • Can be oiled easily
  • Sensitive foot pedal: allows you to control the machine easily
Cons
  • Easy to trim thread too short
  • Not for beginners

Sample Customer Review… I bought this machine after doing a lot of research. I was looking for a quality and powerful straight stitch machine. I didn’t have room to invest in an industrial machine with a table so I started looking for a portable one. I know that this brother pq1500sl is designed as a quilting sewing machine. However, I did not buy it for that purpose. I make bags and purses. I have constructed several using this machine. I use fabric and faux leather. I invested in a straight stitch Teflon foot for this type of sewing. I use a larger needle and heavy thread and have had no problems whatsoever. I took my time and practiced a lot to get the tension right. Sews like a dream! The needle-down function is awesome and so is the knee lift bar!!! I absolutely love these features. I think this machine is well worth the money for me. I also checked out the Juki similar model. They were more money for basically the same type of machine. I have nothing against the Juki but for me, the brother was a better fit. I sew just about every day and this machine is the one I use now more than my other machines. With regular maintenance, it should last a very long time.

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2. Janome MC6650 Sewing and Quilting Machine

This machine can be considered a high-end one for free-motion quilting.  This machine is easy to use, and it comes with a flatbed of 10 inches that is made of metal.  This machine is ready the minute you turn it on, and it sews at 1,000 stitches per minute maximum.  

The Janome MC 6650 has 170 built-in stitches and you can easily choose from them on the LCD screen.  You can carry it easily, and it can handle tough materials, such as leather.  It is great for free-motion quilting.  You can easily use this machine’s automatic needle threader.  Best of all, Janome is famous for creating high-quality sewing machines like this one. 

Pros
  • Lots of stitches
  • 12 presser feet for help with many sewing projects
  • The stitch quality is neat and clean
  • Lots of accessories
Cons
  • No stitch Recall Capability
  • Free arm not included

Sample Customer Review… The Janome MC6650 sewing machine is the best! Through Amazon and SewVacDirect, I got this sewing machine at a great price and very quickly, I might add. I contacted the SewVacDirect before it shipped, and they even sent me the full package, including the rolling cart to transport my sewing machine to quilting classes, etc. and a couple of hand carrying cases to transport notions for the machine or fabrics and thread. When I called SewVacDirect, they were very courteous and helpful on the phone. The sewing machine I purchased has a wonderful instructional manual, so I’ve been able to figure out how to use it with ease. I am very pleased with my purchase!

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3. Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, XR3774

Here is another popular sewing machine from the Brother company.  This machine not only covers the basics but can assist with more skills as well.  It contains 37 built-in stitches to use in sewing, including the stitching of quilts.  Like other machines, it contains easy-to-use features, like an automatic needle threader and a wide table; quilters will really like the latter.  

Also like many other models, this one has a free arm which makes it adaptable.  There is also an easy stitch selector dial, as well as 8 sewing and quilting feet.  This is a really easy machine to use.  While it might be limited to sewers at the advanced level, everyone else can enjoy the no-fuss approach that it provides and how easily it can handle tough materials.  

Pros
  • Amazing design
  • Very quiet
  • Eight sewing feet: good for users of all levels.
  • Lots of accessories
  • Worth investing in for first-timers.
Cons
  • No thread cutter
  • Not for advanced sewers

Sample Customer Review… Been using a 1945 Domestic cast iron sewing machine my whole life and finally bit the bullet and bought a new one. I was struggling with quilting on my old machine and needed a walking foot, which they didn’t make for my machine back in 1945! (BTW: I’m 34, I wasn’t actually around in 1945, just as the first machine I was given as a kid to learn on and never could afford to buy a new one.) I purchased this model specifically because it comes with walking and quilting foot accessories. I have to say, I was hesitant. I loved my old iron workhorse and thought I would not like this new technology. Figured I would only use the Brother for top quilting and would use the old Domestic for piecing and seamstress work… after having this for a few months, I will admit, I will probably never use my old Domestic machine again! This is a great little sewing machine! I have used the walking foot: brilliant! Works just as it should. My quilting came out beautiful. Just used the darning plate and function last night to fix a pair of jeans: super! Have used a few of the decorative stitches: awesome! It is so much quieter than my old machine as well. The foot pedal action is great. My old machine had basically 2 speeds with the pedal: fast and lightning. This foot pedal is really responsive. Overall, I was super skeptical when I purchased this new machine, and I have to say, I’m putting my old domestic on eBay today since I’ll never use it again!

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4. Brother CS7000i Sewing and Quilting Machine

This machine is also a great one for quilting.  There are 70 built-in stitches that are enough for a first-timer to start with, including quilting stitches.  The automatic needle threader, and drop-in bobbin that help prevent jams as you stitch the quilts.  

This model comes with 10 presser feet and a hard case to protect it from damage when not in use.  Like many other models, this machine has an LCD screen, so that you can more easily view those stitch selections.  It is quite affordable and has a wide extension table; this will make quilting more comfortable for the user.  Lastly, it comes with a free arm, which can help with reaching areas that you cannot otherwise reach easily. 

Pros
  • Can sew and quilt with this machine
  • The 70 built-in stitches
  • Maximum sewing speed: 850 stitches per minute
Cons
  • Hard to use the automatic needle threader
  • More expensive than other models
  • Expensive memory card reader and USB port

Sample Customer Review… I sew for a living and mainly use my serger, so I just needed a basic sewing machine with a decent number of stitch options. I bought a cheap $80 brother at Walmart and it was terrible. No power, no-stitch options, and just felt cheap. I was very skeptical of this one because it was the same brand and not much more expensive, but wow. This hands-down has to be the best value around for a sewing machine that comes with several stitch options and a lot of computerized perks. Threading the needle and bobbin is a breeze! The only complaint I have is that the fastest speed isn’t very fast, especially on a zig-zag stitch. All in all, if you’re doing basic sewing, I highly recommend it!!

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5. Juki HZL-F600 

This Juki machine is a little more expensive than other Janome machines.  However, there are lots of built-in stitches.  The straight stitches look absolutely perfect.  This machine works great with thick fabric layers.  This machine is lightweight, has variable speed control, has a needle up/down feature, an 8-inch throat, and an extended sewing table. 

Pros
  • Can handle both heavy and light fabrics
  • Can help you when necessary
  • Quiet
Cons
  • Not for beginners

Sample Customer Review… Thank You Sew Vac Direct and Amazon for carrying this brand of the sewing machine. I’ve sewn on industrial Juki machines so had no doubts that Juki was the right brand. The features on this machine allow a sewist to go from garment sewing, hemming, and mending to household sewings like curtains and drapes, to quilting “seamlessly”. The transition from one function to the other is flawless. I’ve just finished a 108 X 112 king-size quilt and this machine would have made that process a breeze. I love the exact 1/4″ needle placement for scant 1/4″ piecing that is flawless each time. I love the thread cutter. This machine is quiet compared to base-level machines. Lighting, there are two LED lights, one over the needle one over the bed. The machine is intuitive and easy to set up and operate right out of the box. I played with mine for half an hour and started piecing another quilt. This machine produces a quality stitch each time. I also love the bobbin winder, fills a smooth tight even bobbin, and has an independent bobbin motor so there is no need to stop sewing for bobbin filling. The free motion quilting foot is so well designed and makes FMQ a breeze. I can’t say enough about this machine, I knew what Juki would deliver as I ran Juki machines working at Levis Strauss years ago. I am not disappointed. This was the right machine for me.

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6. Juki HZL-LB5100 Computerized Sewing Machine

This machine is a great option for those who have a tight budget.  Sewers can do quilting projects with a big and comfortable table.  This machine also comes with an LCD screen; you can easily tailor the stitches, and move the needle up or down.  Then, you can more easily pivot it, which is particularly useful for quilting.  The machine contains 100 built-in stitches.  This is a generous amount for the price of the machine.  Like the SWNNE, it sews at 700 stitches per minute, and that speed is great for most projects.   

This machine also comes with a stitch chart to help you select your stitches.  When the machine is running, it is quiet and has a low vibration; lower than that of the Juki company’s competitors.  Many would call it a workhorse; that just tells us how well-designed the machine is. 

Pros
  • Convenient
  • Adaptable
  • Simple to set up and use
Cons
  • Can be loud
  • Frustration with malfunctions

Sample Customer Review… I researched machines and read reviews until my eyes were ready to fall out of my head. I finally narrowed it down to this machine, a Janome and a Brother. I love this machine. It is very easy to use, whether you are a beginner or more advanced sewer this machine will work great for you. There is a instructional DVD that comes along with it as well as a very easy to use manual. The tension in this machine is very even (one of my biggest pet peeves is a machine that does not regulate the tension well!). It is quiet and sews a beautiful stitch. It comes with several excsessories and sewing feet. The only sewing feet I had to purchase separately were an invisible sewing foot and a walker’s foot. Juki sewing feet can be expensive but I purchased ones on amazon that are compatible and they work just fine. Also, you are not going to be able to buy extra bobbins and things like that at Joanne’s. I buy bobbins and other parts online with no trouble. I have used this machine to make several garments and have been very pleased. I don’t quilt so am not familiar with all the extra’s that a quilter would like in a machine. Also I have used this machine to make a denim skirt and it worked great but if you are really into sewing with heavy fabric you may want to look into a heavy duty machine. This is a great machine for the money. I looked at several that were more expensive and I feel I made the right choice. This machine does have a 100 different stitches, which I admit I do not use very often so I probably would have been just fine with one that does fewer stitches. Overall a great buy, happy sewing.

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7. SINGER | Quantum Stylist 9960 Computerized Portable Sewing Machine

This model is wonderful for doing free arm quilting.  Additionally, there are other great features, like autopilot mode, and an automatic needle threader to help get a brand new project started.  There are also 600 built-in stitches, which allow for many uses; this includes free-motion quilting.  The extension table and quilting foot make free-motion quilting easier.  

This machine has variable speed control; this makes it a great choice for sewers in every skill level.  The up/down needle also makes pivoting easier.  There are also 13 presser feet and a speed of 850 stitches per minute.  This model also comes with a one-touch stitch selection program.  Best of all, this machine has a heavy-duty metal frame to keep it from skipping stitches and to reduce vibrations for the person using it. 

Pros
  • Can use a plethora of designs with this model
  • Lots of accessories
  • Lots of stitch choices
  • Good speed control for first-timers
Cons
  • No buttonhole quality
  • No quilting tray

Sample Customer Review… This machine is an absolute joy to use!! HOW could anyone find fault with it, or rate it with anything less than 5 stars?!? To just touch on a couple of my favorite features: first off, I never even use the foot pedal anymore; the very sensitive and clearly-marked buttons that control starting (that one lights up Green when you’re actually ready to . . . ) and stopping (the same button: turns Red when Stopped!), as well as the Speed control slider, just make the foot pedal obsolete; for me, anyway. OK, and when you reach the end of your seam, hit Stop – and then you can touch another button, marked with a pair of scissors – the machine chirps, the needle lifts, and both threads are cut! Another button lets you pick whether to have the needle in the raised or lowered position whenever you’re stopped. And the needle-threader! Makes threading the needle such a piece of cake, and it’s no matter if the thread-end is frayed; it pushes a loop of your thread through the needle a few inches from the end! And you can wind bobbins while the needle is still threaded – I’m so happy to own one of these beautiful machines – you will be, too . . .

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8. SINGER Futura XL-550 Embroidery and Sewing Machine

This machine has been made for sewers of all levels.  You can use and handle it easily.  This model has 125 built-in embroidery designs and up to 215 built-in sewing stitches.  Singer Futura XL-550 is a great model to make dresses and tablecloths.  It consists of a hyper font, advanced editing software, and auto punch.  These features will help to enhance your creativity.  At just the push of a button, you can start embroidering. 

This model is recommended for designing dresses or tablecloths. It has a hyper font, advanced editing software, and auto punch. Just push the button, and you will soon be embroidering.   This machine also has built-in spool threads, LED lights, a foot lifter with an extra high presser, and a tray to handle your accessories.

Pros
  • LED work area
  • Swift smart threading system
  • Multi hoop capability
  • Affordable price
  • Compact body
  • A lot of built-in designs
  • Stability
  • Large surface
  • Large sewing space
  • A 25-year warranty
Cons
  • Not for beginners
  • Hard to handle at first

 Sample Customer Review… If you are looking for the next level of sewing or embroidery please buy this machine. I have 2 singer Futura sewing and embroidery machines. This machine is one of them and I love it. When I purchase this machine and I was looking for all those reviews I found nothing good but all of the bad experiences. I did close my eye and purchased this baby. Once it came and I love, love and love and more love again hahaha. I wanted a great machine but I also don’t want to spend 2-3k on the sewing and embroidery machine. This machine gave me the greatest quality for all of my projects. Plus it comes with the software and very handy. I do not recommend this machine if you used to have a brother or other types of those fancy machines out there. This one is totally different animal. Now I understand why people don’t like this machine because the system built in a different way from all other machines. I do not recommend if your beginner with sewing or embroidery. I love what I have now.

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Buying Guide – Sewing Machines For Free-Motion Quilting

Sewing machines are not one-size-fits-all products.  So, it is not easy to pick the right sewing machine for your needs.  If you know what you require in a sewing machine though, it should be fairly easy to decide which sewing machine is best for you.  Do some research; it will make your search that much easier.  

With that being said, here are some ideas of what you should look for in a sewing machine.  This will give you an idea of what features you need for free-motion quilting.  

How To Improve Free-Motion Quilting Skills

Improving free-motion quilting skills takes practice.  It will be hard at first, but that is the way it is for all beginners.  Improvement comes with practice.  Find a product with a DVD that teaches what to do, or find tutorials on YouTube.  

It is important to have lots of room.  Big fabrics are hard to navigate, and having plenty of space will help with avoiding bunching.  You might also want to keep the feed dog lower; you can more easily grip the fabric and accurately pull it through.  How Much Is A Sewing And Free-Motion Quilting Machine?

You don’t have to buy an expensive machine.  Even if you miss out on the added features, you can still buy one of the best machines for free-motion quilting on the market.  If your budget is bigger, you can buy a machine with a faster speed and a wider extension table, which will add to your comfort when quilting.  You will have to pay expensive amounts for such machines, usually more features and higher quality the higher the price.  

How To Maintain A Quilting Machine

If you maintain your machine regularly, it will last for years.  Protect your machine with a cover to keep it from getting dusty.  Oil it regularly too; this helps the moving parts to move more smoothly.  

Be sure to change the needle now and then.  It will get dull, and lose its effectiveness.  Make sure to use quality thread and needles to avoid jams or making the machine work so hard.  Finally, you can tighten the screws as well as other parts; they move at quick speeds, loosening them over time.  

What To Look For In A Free-Motion Quilting Machine

Stitches Per Minute

Accuracy and speed are both key qualities of a sewing machine.  That is particularly true if you are doing a quality project that requires long, consistent lines.  Of course, the maximum stitches per minute do not necessarily make a quality machine.  However, more spendy and impressive stitches often do provide faster speeds.  Consider starting at about 700 stitches per minute or above.  Some models provide twice that much, though that might not be ideal for a beginner.  

Wide Extension Table

Wide extension tables are necessary for easier quilting.  Since you are using bulky fabrics, you should make sure to avoid getting them bunched up and stick while you are working.  A wide table will lessen the likelihood of that.  Most sewing machine brands will have this to make sewing easier.  

Presser Feet

These are useful since they allow you to use different materials on the machine.  Make sure that the model has quilting feet; this will allow it to feed smoothly.  

Metal Frame

Of course, not all brands will advertise having this feature.  However, for those that do, this is good.  The heavier and better built it is, the smoother the machine will be; the best sewing machines for free-motion quilting will not have problems with the vibrations.  

Built-In Stitches

We all want to be comfortable when using sewing machines, but the best sewing machines for free-motion quilting will have some adaptability.  The more built-in stitches to select from, the more projects you can take on.  Double-check to see if there are quilting stitches; these will hold everything in place and are tailored specifically for quilting.  

Adjustable Tension

You must be able to adjust the thread’s tension.  Quilts require a different tension than other fabrics; some models will have an automatic selection, while others will make you adjust the tension manually.

Stitch Length

Everyone is different with fabrics, but many people choose a length of 2.5 mm.  The kind of thread is a big factor for choosing your length.  The more quickly you want to go, the better it will be to work with the tinier the stitches are.  

FAQ

What Needle Is Best For Free-Motion Quilting?

This depends on what kind of fabric you are sewing; the weight of the thread will determine the best needle to use.  Many sewers prefer to use a topstitch needle, although you can use a universal needle too.  You will needle a size 75 needle for a 40 wt thread, so be sure to make the right adjustment.  

Is Free-Motion Quilting Hard?

Free-motion quilting can be hard when you first start, but if you persevere, it will be a rewarding experience.  What sewers tend to have the most trouble with is getting the settings right; you will be able to do this when you have mastered the sewing and free-motion quilting machine.  While there is more room for mistakes when you take control of the stitches, it will become easier to sew in straight lines the more you practice.  

Can A Traditional Sewing Machine Be Used For Free- Motion Quilting?

While sewing machines are made for the basic principles of stitching material, some machines are not made to handle thick and bulky fabric, like quilts.  Therefore, you should choose a machine with a wide table, the right presser foot, and other important features for quilting.  

Conclusion

Probably one of the best sewing machines to use for free-motion quilting is the Singer 9960.  One thing that makes it stand out from the other brands on the list is having 600 built-in stitches.  The automatic needle threading system is yet another awesome feature of this brand that makes it the most popular.   

The Singer 9960 also has more useful features than other models.  More expensive sewing machines might have tons of features, but some of them will be pointless, especially for beginners.  Plus, Singer is a trusted brand, so you are sure to get premium quality and a sewing machine that lasts for a long time.

Written by: Carmen Boneck



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