Throughout your sewing journey, one question you might ask yourself is “What is the difference between a sewing machine and a quilting machine?” Even if you’re just beginning to quilt for the first time, you want to make sure you are using the right machine. Any sewing machine can be used for quilting but, a quilting machine has add-ons and capabilities the separate the two.
Before we discuss the differences in machines, let’s examine the different practices. Sewing involves stitching or fastening fabrics together using thread and needles. Quilting is the fastening of at least two (usually three) layers of fabric together with the use of thread and needles to generate a material that has thick padding.
The difference between a sewing machine and a quilting machine
Sewing includes various types of quilting and any other process that uses needles and thread to join multiple fabrics together. Essentially, all types of quilting are sewing but not all types of sewing are quilting. Some notable differences are:
A quilting machine is a sewing machine with more features and capabilities. With a quilting machine, you are going to need more space. Quilts tend to be large and bulky projects. For optimal productivity, your work area of a quilting machine should be spacious.
Your work area should be based on the length of the machine and the width of the throat. Longer the machine, the wider the throat, the larger the work area you need. For reference, a sewing machine with a throat measurement of 9 in wide by 6 in high can be considered a quilting machine.
Quilting machines allow give you the freedom of an extension table. Extensions tables are meant for bigger projects and will give you an extra boost in space and maneuverability while quilting.
For any project including a border, binding, or queen size quilt, a quilting machine is required. Not every quilting machine comes with an extension table accessory, so be sure for one that does. One that we recommend is the Janome line of quilting machines.
Quarter Inch Foot Add-on
It’s hard to machine piece a quilt top with a sewing machine. Quilting machines allow for a quarter-inch seam option to make your life easier. With the quarter-inch foot add-on, you could perform quilting with better accuracy and the feature also helps with projects that have a narrow seam allowance. Typically, any quilting machine comes with this add-on included in the package.
Free Motion Quilting Add-On
The free motion quilting add-on makes your life a whole lot easier when doing free motion quilting. You’ll minimize skipped stitching and puckering, get perfect stitch formation, and be able to keep your fingers in a safe position while the fabric moves freely under the needle. This is especially helpful for beginners looking to practice their freehand quilting.
Speed and Stability
Quilting machines are far more stable and faster than sewing machines. Expert level quilters and professionals should consider getting a faster machine to increase productivity. Machines with these capabilities translate to a more robust work area to withstand the motor’s speed.
Amount of Stitches
If you want to spice up your quilting style, decorative stitches are the way to go, especially if you plan on dealing with borders. Decorative stitches are also flexible when using a quilting machine. Some machines have over 200 built-in stitches that you could pick from.
Even Feed Foot
Your machine may not have an AcuFeed™ System, but that’s okay. The Walking Foot add-on is just as good. It’s basically a second pair of feed dogs for the top of your project, giving you the extra help you need to feed through multiple layers, difficult to sew slippery fabrics, and heavy fabrics. It also does wonders when quilting in straight lines.
What is the Difference Between a Sewing Machine and a Quilting Machine?: Conclusion
By now you probably have a better idea of the difference between a sewing machine and a quilting machine. Quilting machines are optimal for bigger projects, more speed, and plenty of other add-ons. Of course, you could still complete a quilting project with a sewing machine but there are some projects that can’t be complete with a sewing machine. For example, any project including a border, binding, or queen size quilt cannot be complete with a regular sewing machine. Whether you sew casually or if you’re a seasoned seamstress, be sure you have the right tools for the project you plan on completing.