When choosing from the best sewing machines for quilting you need to consider a number of things, as whilst it’s true that any sewing machine can be used for quilting, there’s no denying that a machine designed with quilting in mind is going to offer a quilter some beneficial extra features.
As stitching quilts can involve working on very large pieces of material, it’s worth finding a specialist sewing machine that can provide a larger work space, known as long arm sewing machines or zigzag sewing machines. As quilting requires stitching through several layers of materials needing to pass through the machine at the same time, you’ll want to find a machine with great feed dogs and the appropriate feet to help glide your quilting through. The best sewing machines tend to be computerised too, as they are able to store an impressive number of stitch designs so there’s no end to your creative capabilities.
Below are my five favourite sewing machines for quilting. Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first machine or an award-winning quilter, there’s a sewing machine to meet your needs or budget. If you need a more general machine, read my guide to the best sewing machines. If you're new to sewing, I also have a guide to the best sewing machines for beginners. You find out more about out reviews process in our 'How we test craft and sewing machines' guide.
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The Brother CS700X is the best sewing machine for quilters if you're new to new to quilting and looking to buy your first machine. This sewing machine has everything you need to get started for an excellent price.
Besides what’s included for the price, this sewing machine also makes a great first machine because its ease to use and transport. The Brother CS700X is light enough to take to a class and you can extend the workspace with the included extension table, which is one of the many useful features for quilters I was surprised to see included for this price.
Some of this sewing machine's other benefits include a very impressive selection of feet, including the all-important walking foot for stitching through multiple layers. I like that you can set the needle stop position and that the machine has automatic reinforcement stitching, all features that make stitching easier and quicker for a quilter.
As its name suggests, the Singer Patchwork 7285 was designed with quilters in mind but is still a great machine for all sewing tasks. It comes with lots of good extras too, including a quality canvas cover and extension table pocket for safe storage.
I was impressed with the number of useful features for quilters included for the price, such as the needle up and down button, speed adjuster and 98 built-in stitches. It was also pleasantly surprising to find that the machine comes with an excellent selection of feet, which includes helpful feet for quilting such as a ¼-inch foot, a walking foot and a darning foot.
The Singer Patchwork 7285Q is easy to set up and navigate, which makes it a great machine for beginners and newcomers to quilting on a sewing machine, but there’s still plenty here to keep intermediate quilters busy, excited and stitching with ease.
The Bernette B38 remains a popular choice amongst beginner and intermediate quilters and it's easy to see why. This is one of the best sewing machines for quilting if you're looking for a well-made machine that will last.
Whilst the Bernette B38 is compact enough to easily transport it to a quilting group or class, the spacious included extension table provides a fantastic workspace. I like the clear and plentiful plate markings and the handy scissor button for snipping your threads.
It’s easy to select your stitch from the abundance of built-in stitches, which includes a great range of utility stitches as well as the more decorative and alphabet options. With options to control both your speed and the pressure on your work, the Bernette B38 is a sewing machine that's ideally suited to quilting.
The Janome Memory Craft 6650 is the best sewing machine for quilting if you’re looking for a fast machine that does everything and is built to last, not just mechanically but also in terms of your ability – this sewing machine will improve as you get better.
The machine’s 10-inch all metal flatbed not only provides great space for working on free-motion embroidery but also acts as a sturdy support when stitching at 1,000 stitches per minute. Whilst you might never use all the 170 built-in stitches, there are many other added benefits for quilters with this machine, such as the 7-point feeding system providing greater contact with your work.
I particularly like the extra high lift on the pressure foot so you fit a quilt under it easily and that you can adjust the amount of pressure holding your project in place. The Janome 6650 is a pricey piece of kit, but with a 25-year warranty on its mechanical parts it’s set to be a good investment.
Committed quilter? Then the Janome Memory Craft Horizon 8200QCP Special Edition is the machine for you, but it's an investment. If you know that you’re going to be spending many hours enjoying the craft you love, then you might also be ready to spend some serious cash on a dream machine with all the features.
I love the Janome Memory Craft Horizon 8200QCP Special Edition for the fantastic light and space it provides for all your quilting tasks. Thanks to the five ultrabright LED lamps you can see your work with ease and there’s an impressive 11-inch of space to the right of the needle to make working on larger quilts more manageable.
The high-resolution LSD touch screen makes programming the 170 built- in stitches a breeze and you can take the speed control up to 1,000 stitches per minute, making it a machine that’s both fast and easy to use.
The best sewing machines for quilting: Q&A
What makes a quilting sewing machine unique?
The best sewing machines for quilting are ones that have a larger sewing areas, often with a long arm for quilting; this means they are extra long so there's more space to the right of the needle for large materials.
Often sewing machines for quilters will have more foot attachments, and you need a 1/4 inch foot and a walking foot. Sewing machines designed for quilting may also have stronger needles, be more powerful and have a knee lifter so you can keep two hands free. Also look out for 'free motion sewing' for artistic Embroidery and quilting.
Can any sewing machine be used for quilting?
Technically, yes, but you'll soon find you need a larger machine to fit your heavy material and standard sewing machines are only good for straight line quilting (basic quilting). For more complex projects you'll need free motion sewing, which generally only quilting machines offer.
Quilting on a sewing machine is heavy and demanding work, so you may find standard sewing machines and cheap sewing machines will overheat and break down more often.
Do I need a special needle for quilting?
Ideally yes, sewing machines designed for quilting use needles that are slim and tapered to a sharp point and are often stronger than standard needles (they need to punch through many layers of fabric). For regular or thick quilting use a 90/14 needle and for detail work use a 70/10 or 80/12 needle.
What's a walking foot and is it essential for quilting?
Yes, you'll need a walking foot for quilting and always ensure a sewing machine comes with this; some sewing machines marked up patchwork machines, for example, often won't feature one. So what is a walking foot? This is a foot attachment that pinches two layers of fabric together and moves them under the needle together at the same speed. As you'd expect, quilts need this as they are made up of two layers of fabric with batting in the middle, making them heavy and hard to move.