No doubt you’ve seen them. The machines which are self-proclaimed to be the best sewing machine for quilting.
You have visited shopping malls and scrolled through websites like Amazon, your jaw hanging at the sheer number of choices you have at your disposal.
And inevitably, there was that one shortcoming-which you read in its reviews-which forced you to forego every machine you saw and move on in your search for the top quilting machine.
To put it mildly, then, you’ve wasted your time.
Worse still, you haven’t moved an inch closer to your destination-that is of landing the best machine. The quilt fabric is sitting right there, hoping, begging you to make a choice. But here you are, unable to do so.
So, the question remains:
Which is the best?
And wouldn’t it be brilliant if someone tells you what exactly those machines are? And where could you buy them?
Yes, we are going to do just that.
Choosing The Best Sewing Machines For Quilting
First thing first, there is no one-size-fits-all machine for all of you. What has worked for your friend may not work for you. So, the best way to go searching for the best machine is to look for these handy features:
Stitches per Minute
Also known as SPM, it is for you to decide how many stitches you want per minute from your sewing machine. If your work involves large pieces, you may want a faster machine which can help you finish the arduous parts faster.
However, if you are a beginner who is just learning the trade, a fast device might take the control out of your hands.
Summarizing everything said above, you need to keep two factors in consideration while choosing SPM: your experience level and the magnitude of work at hand, before merging them both to select the SPM for you.
Auto Needle Threader
Let’s be honest: none of us like threading the needle manually,
Not only does it take more time, but the squinting involved in the process takes the difficulty level of needle threading to a whole new level.
Hence, if you want to save yourself from the aggravating and extremely tricky “process” of threading the needle yourself, allow the automatic needle threader to come to your rescue.
Auto Thread Trimmer
Do you want your machine to be free of your habits?
If your answer is in the affirmative, the automatic thread trimmer might help.
With the automatic thread trimmer feature, the number of revs of the machine will be automatically controlled. That is, no matter who is operating the machine at which point, it will work seamlessly.
What’s more, with this feature, you can improve the production speed while reducing the manpower required at the same time. This feature, therefore, is pretty useful for professional quilters, those who have a high workload on their shoulders.
Seeing quilt fabrics of all sizes on your table?
It’s time you get a machine which offers an extension table.
Believe it or not, there are machines out there-like the Brother PQ1500SL, which offer an extension table.
Having an extension table doesn’t mean, however, that it would stay extended all the time. Rather, depending on the fabric you are sewing, you can both expand or fold it back. Hence, no matter what the size of fabric under your eye is, the extension table will aid you in sewing it flawlessly.
Top-loading, drop-in bobbin
I have a confession to make: I hate front loading bobbins.
On my first machine, the bobbin was hidden inside its front. To change the bobbin, I had to take the arduous journey of taking the case off the machine’s front, then removing the casing of the bobbin to reach the bobbin which-for some purpose alien to me-was placed vertically inside.
What’s worse-even if I subscribed to go through this path time and again-I had no way of seeing whether the bobbin was running low on the thread or not. As a result, my bobbin developed an uncanny “ability” of running out just when I was in full swing.
That’s when I turned to the drop-in bobbin. And thankfully, I’ve never looked back in regret.
First of all, since they use metal bobbins, machines with top-loading bobbins carry more thread, making them more useful for big projects. Also, you don’t have to dismantle your whole sewing project to change the bobbin. Finally, and Thank God for it, a top loading bobbin allows you to see how much thread is there.
Free Arm Capability
Let’s be honest: if you are going to sew straight, long pieces of fabric, a free arm sewing machine might not offer an extra incentive. That said, if your work involved curved surfaces, you need your machine to have the free arm capability.
But what is the free arm, I hear you ask?
Well, all machines-under their needle-have the area where feed dog, shuttle, and bobbin are located. If the machine is a free arm, this area would be much longer to allow you to manipulate curved surfaces such as cuffs and collars.
But quilters don’t deal with collars and cuffs, I hear you murmur?
Yes, they don’t. Still, free arm machines come with a plate which snaps on/off easily, hence making it easier for you to sew straight pieces while also providing a better surface for straight seams. What’s more, some free arm machines give custom plates which allow you to extend the width of the machine.
Thus, even for quilters, the free arm machine has got something to offer.
Another confession from my side: I hate uneven stitches.
While most of the time it was my carelessness that led to uneven stitches, I felt solace in cursing the machine. With the walking foot feature, however, I knew that if anything still goes wrong with the stitching, I’d have no choice but to blame the person in the mirror.
The walking foot feature is important in the sense that it keeps the bottom fabric feeding into the machine at the same speed as that of the top fabric, hence resulting in even stitches.
Also, when you are attaching binding into the edge of your quilt, the walking foot will again prove its usefulness. For, when attaching the binding, you’ll be stitching through a number of layers: the batting, backing, two layers of binding and the quilt top.
If you have the walking foot, it would make sure all these layers move together. As a result, not only the puckering will be prevented but the binding will be attached at the same time.
Tell me: don’t you just love evenly spaced lines on your quilt?
If you do, congrats as you can quilter these lines using the quilting bar. By attaching itself to the back side of your presser foot, it makes sure the quilter sews equally spaced lines on the quilt.
Moreover, apart from drawing evenly spaced lines, a quilting bar allows you to adjust the widths between them, hence
Just Before You Start Quilting
Now that you know what features characterize the best quilting machine, here are some precautions you need to take before starting the machine.
Install the Darning Foot
If you love free motion quilting, you need to have a darning foot on your machine. As the quilter is going to move the fabric around, the presence of the darning foot will make sure the fabric doesn’t come off. Hence, just before you start quilting, install the darning foot.
Lower the Feed Dogs
If you want to start the machine safely, lowering the feed dogs is a must. While modern machines have a lever or button, the traditional models offer a cover to lower it.
Stitch Length should be set at 0
Since you have lowered the feed dogs, they won’t move. Now, to set the stitch length at 0, combine the needle speed with that of your hand (the movement of your quilt’s sandwich beneath the needle).
Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle
The first thing you may want to know about the Juki TL-2010Q is that it offers advanced thread trimming. Using a system which you can control by your foot, you can trim both the top and the bobbin threads with maximum comfort thanks to this feature.
Hence, if you want to save time which a lot of tailors put in trimming-not to mention the fast and perfect trimming on offer, this feature will satiate your appetite.
In addition to the advanced thread trimming, the Juki TL-2010Q also has an advanced thread trimming button. Press the button, and you can simultaneously trim the bobbin threads on the sewing end as well as the needle. Consequently, efficient and quick trimming is guaranteed with this machine.
Giving you a justification of its price tag, this item will save you from quivers and twists thanks to its automatic thread tension feature. No matter how heavy or light the thread is, it will be the machine-and not you-which will take care of it.
Finally, if you have dealt with multi-layered quilt fabrics in the past, you may know that they require you to sew at slow speed than normal. Thankfully, due to its speed control mechanism, this machine allows you to sew at slow speeds to make sure the fabric gets perfectly stitched.
Although the auto needle threader is a brilliant feature, it isn’t easy to use, meaning you might have to spend some time to get used to it.
- Incredible speed control mechanism
- Lightweight and portable
- Illuminates the work surface with its LED lighting
- Has an automatic thread trimmer
- Auto Needle Threader would require some patience to use
Having combined performance, beauty and usefulness, the Juki TL-2010Q is a sewing machine every quilter should look for in the market.
What’s it about this machine that I love so much? For starters, its simplicity. Since it has been designed to be used by beginners, its user-friendliness is supreme. There are no complex menus, meaning you won’t have to pull out its owner’s manual time and again to prod along.
Despite its low price, however, the Brother XR3477 comes with a fairly generous amount of pre-programmed stitches. Including the decorative, quilting and blind hem stitches, 37built-in stitches are included in the package, enough to keep beginners busy.
Continuing our talk about beginners, they don’t necessarily know which stitch should be used for which particular purpose. To help them out, therefore, this machine has a stitch selector dial which lets its users select the most appropriate stitch for the task at hand.
Since this machine was designed to heavy quilts, anything less than a wide quilting table would have done a disservice to its reputation. Thankfully, then, Brother has provided it with a brilliantly wide table to give you ample room to maneuver.
Finally, if you decide to buy this machine, you can afford to say goodbye to the teeth grinding which come when the spool runs dry. Thanks to its drop-in bobbin, refilling the spool is a cinch.
If you live in a quiet household, the amount of noise generated by this machine will take some doing for you, or those living around you, to withstand.
- Super Versatile
- Low Price and Easy to use
- Includes a sewing feet
- Brightly lit
Although it isn’t perfect, the Brother XR3774 can be regarded as one of the best beginner sewing machines for quilting available on the market at this moment.
First up in the list of enviable features which this machine possesses is the set of 100built-in stitches which you just cannot miss. What’s more, you can also adjust the length and width of the stitch up to 7mm using the nicely lit LCD screen.
If that wasn’t enough, the Singer 7469Q comes with 7built-in styles of 1-step buttonhole stitches.
Assuming you are dealing with oversized buttons, just select the “infinite” bartack option from the menu bar, and you’d be granted the freedom to extend the length of the buttonhole as much as you want. This feature is especially useful if you are dealing with decorative button closures and/or hand carries bags.
To further sweeten the deal, the Singer 7469Q provides 8built-in presser feet in the package. Of the 8, only five came with the model while the remaining three are added as a bonus. To give you just one example, there is the presser foot not only whose height you can adjust but which also deals with fabrics extra thick and multi layered.
Talking about quilting, this is the even feed foot which will help you in this regard. For example, assuming you are quilting on a fabric which is extra thick, the even feed foot will apply feed dogs to the upper side of the fabric. Consequently, the material will move along seamlessly regardless of the thickness of its layers.
Although the presser feet will allow automatic adjusting to accommodate extra thick fabrics, it is not adjustable. Moreover, the manual doesn’t tell how you can use the quilting accessories which come as a bonus alongside the machine.
- Has a 25-year limited warranty
- Contains bonus quilting accessories
- Needle is programmable
- Provides functionality for the drop feed dog
- Large number of built-in stitches
- Manual isn’t that helpful
As quilters, we like extra work space and included accessories. And as the abovementioned features of this machine suggest, it offers both, without charging a lot of price for its services.
With entirely manual controls on its left side and lots of sturdy metal parts, the JUKI TL-2000Qi is one machine which won’t let you go haywire with any computerized, delicate mechanisms. That is, if you don’t want a machine which goes haywire just with one wrong selection, you need this machine.
Moving on, and in an effort to justify its industrial price tag, Juki has equipped this machine with a 13” extension table. Detachable, this extension table merges perfectly with the machine when/if a large, bulky project might be underway.
If you belong to that category of quilters who want to sew right out of the box, you’d find it good to know that this machine has got a number of standard bobbins to sort you out.
What’s more, once you feel the need of replacing these bobbins, you won’t have to search extensively, as this machine supports any standard bobbin.
Much to the rejoice of quilters, the JUKI TL-2000Qi provides them with automatic needle controls to save them from the labor of manually lowering or raising the needle, hence making turning corners or stitching evenly on ends a cinch.
Finally, if you are dealing with a thick fabric, you’d find it good to know that this machine allows you to lower feed dogs to straighten out any creases in the fabric. Alternatively, if you feel they might not be of much help, just raise the feed dogs to get on with your work.
Just One Stitch. Put simply, if there are any criteria of what constitutes a versatile sewing machine, this machine simply won’t fulfil it, for there is only one stitch on offer.
- Provides brilliant stitch quality
- Lower and raise feed dogs
- Automatic Threader and Needle Controls
- Huge Work area and operates very fast (at 1500SPM)
- Has only one stitch
Fast, high quality and efficient, this machine is a workhorse. By combining the effortless sewing capability of a home machine-with the speed of its industrial counterpart, this machine is a must-have for quilters.
Laura Ashley Limited Edition CX155LA
In contrast to what your grandmother may have told you, threading a needle isn’t fun. For, no one in their right sense would like pricking their finger while threading a needle. Thankfully, then, you won’t be encountering this issue with this machine thanks to its advanced threading system.
All you have to do to thread the needle is to just touch the lever located on the right side of the machine. Thus, while you may feel like cheating your coworkers-who might still be pricking their fingers, the feeling of not stabbing your finger would definitely be worth it.
Another useful feature of this machine is it using a drop-in bobbin. In addition to carrying more thread, a drop-in bobbin makes sure that the bobbin stays in its place. There is also a jam-resistant mechanism there which makes sure the frequency of jams is kept to a minimum.
If you ever wanted to have a machine which might give you a stitch for every occasion, this machine does just that by providing 155built-in stitches. More importantly, you won’t have to be a rocket scientist to shuffle between machines.
They are all laid out there on the diagram on the top right of the machine so shuffling between them won’t be difficult.
Just below the stitch diagram-and on the front right of the machine are the speed controls. However, if you are more inclined to try out traditional methods, there is a pedal which also gives you the freedom of controlling the machine’s sewing speed.
Most users complained that the lighting on the machine was on the dimmer side. Other than that, there are no significant complaints.
- Advanced Needle Threading System
- Huge workspace
- Huge collection of built-in stitches
- Easy to use
- Lighting is a bit dim
Despite providing a plethora of useful features, this machine has the price tag rivaling even the low-end machines. Hence, if you want a combination of low price and rich feature list in your next sewing machine, you need the Laura Ashley Limited Edition CX155LA.
Your search for the best sewing machine for quilting ends here. That doesn’t mean, however, that there might not be better machines in the market. Provided you can find one, let us know and we might include it in our next article.