Free motion quilting is a form of art. For obvious reasons, nobody can get perfect at their first take. It takes years of practice and dedication. But when you have the perfect equipment to start with, the work becomes so much easier.
Some particular features are must be needed for free motion quilting. Without those features, the machine would not be worthy. This article contains a bunch of information about all the things you need to know before buying the best sewing machine for free motion quilting for you.
Now have a quick look at all of my top picked products if you’re in a hurry…
- Juki TL-2010Q – Best Overall
- Brother PQ1500SL – Runner-Up
- Brother XR3774 – Best Budget
- Janome 1600P – Deep Throat
- Brother CS7000X – Most Popular
- Janome Memory Craft Horizon 8200 QCP – Other Consideration
- SINGER | Heavy Duty 4423 Machine – Other Consideration
- What Is Free Motion Quilting?
- 7 Best Sewing Machine For Free Motion Quilting: My Honest Review
- What To Consider While Buying The Best Sewing Machine For Free Motion Quilting?
- How To Maintain A Sewing Machine Free Motion Quilting for Beginner?
- Final Words
What Is Free Motion Quilting?
Before starting with free motion quilting, you need to know what quilting is. Generally, it has three pieces of clothes stitched together, where the first one is used for topping, the middle one is called batting and the final one is for the backing. But in reality, quilting is much more than that. Quilting has a historic and artistic background as well.
Now, you can quilt with a hand swing and by a machine also. The free-motion quilt is a particular style of quilting where you stitch a sandwich of three pieces of cloth together with the help of a machine. Also, you are free to do whatever design you want to stitch on the cloth.
7 Best Sewing Machine For Free Motion Quilting: My Honest Review
There are so many great machines for free motion quilt in the market that sometimes is hard to find the right one. To make the job easier for you, here are some of the best machines to check out.
1. Juki TL-2010Q – Best Overall
One of the main reasons people pick this machine is for its high-quality stitches. Even if you do not go for a perfect finish intentionally, the final result will surprise you. You can work with thick material in Juki as per the requirement of a free-motion quilting machine. Nonetheless, talk about the machine quality itself, it’s very much efficient and of high quality.
The first and foremost thing you are going to get from this machine is beautiful sews without any skipped sutures. The stitch will look perfect even when you give less effort. Regarding the thread, there will not be anything broken or tangling so that you can work with the utmost comfort.
Higher quality machines do not go well with free motion quilting. As per this one, quilters love Juki for free motion quilting. The sewing machine has a large throat which is a plus point for free motion quilting. You can also work with thick material without any difficulties.
Juki has a speed control feature that can be useful from a beginner to an advanced quilter. The highest speed of this machine is so effective that you may never be comfortable using another one once you get used to. This sewing machine does not vibrate the table or make any kind of noise. Due to the smoothness, you may want to buy Juki.
What did we like?
- Great for free-motion quilting
- High-quality stitch
- Easy to work with thick materials
- Smooth speed controller
- Gives high-quality finish
What didn’t we like?
- Only produces straight stitches.
- The automatic needle threader is not easy to use.
Summary: As Juki TL-2010Q is our best pick for many reasons, describing all of those was not possible here. But if you are an advanced free motion quilter or just want to begin with it, do not hesitate to choose Juki TL-2010Q. Because this sewing machine combines almost all of the features that a free motion quilting machine requires.
2. Brother PQ1500SL – Runner-Up
Brother PQ1500SL differs from the heavy-duty ones by its speed. It offers a 1,500-stitch sewing speed which is noticeably fast with an automatic thread cutter. You will find all kinds of features you need for free-motion quilting in this one. The only issue you may find is, it is not a computerized machine. This may come in handy to those who like simplicity and want to avoid complications.
Time is valuable, we do not complain if you want to finish your quilting project fast. Brother PQ1500SL can help you with that because Brother is one of the fastest sewing speed machines you can find in the market. It also comes with an automatic thread cutter and needle positioner which also saves a lot of time of yours.
The machine comes with a knee lifter which every quilter will love. With this feature, you can adjust the tension or lift the presser motion foot without stooping your quilting or using your hands. Once you have figured out the exact control, quilting will be easier than ever.
With its feed dog adjustment, you can work with any kind of fabric you want. You can easily choose from its four feed dog control settings. You can also set the needle position by yourself. The needle stops in a down position by default but you can change whenever you want.
Basically, there isn’t much difference between the top pick and the runner up. However, you may not find some little things in this machine like the tension dial or a variable speed controller. Those are not major setbacks; yet make sure where you are putting your money.
What did we like?
- You can sew 1,500 stitches per minute.
- Automatic threading, trimming, and positioning.
- Do not make a loud noise.
- Large workspace for free motion quilting.
- Comes with many accessories.
What didn’t we like?
- The thread cutter cuts the thread shorter than usual.
Summary: Brother PQ1500SL is a great machine if you want a high speed and time saving one. Do not expect fancy sews as you will find only straight stitches in it. this machine can be a convenient option both for those who just started quilting or an advanced free motion quilter.
3. Brother XR3774 – Best Budget
Brother XR3774 is the best sewing machine for beginner quilters as it’s simple and easy to operate. The XR3774 is affordable yet you can use almost all quilting features in it. For its lightweight characteristics, you can easily carry it to your quilting classes. This machine comes with an easy to handle stitch selector with a variety of sews. With all the basic features, the look of this machine is really beautiful which makes this one of the best machines for free motion quilting.
On the front side of the machine, you will find a dial for selecting sews amongst the 37 stitches. Also, the package contains a quilting table for larger projects. You can do free-motion quilting by dropping the feed dog using the needle plate cover.
It may not be the fastest machine in the market but this one is not meant to be. This sewing machine is made for beginners and when they first start its 800 stitches per minute is more than enough.
There is an LED bulb attached to the machine to light up the sewing area to prevent expensive and annoying silly mistakes. The automatic needle threader will save you some time. For this, you need to touch the lever on the side of the machine and that’s all. It has 6 feed dog points with a quick-set bobbin system.
What did we like?
- Easy to use for beginners.
- Lightweight and portable.
- Comes with LED light.
- 37 stitch to select from.
- Includes a large quilting table.
- Reasonably priced.
What didn’t we like?
- Does not come with a foot pressure adjustment.
- Many may struggle with the needle threader.
Summary: If you are new in quilting and do not want to invest a sum of money in a free arm quilting machine, this one will be perfect for you. You may need another one if you are dedicated enough and get into advanced level quilting. Because it will not provide you a vast amount of stitching options.
4. Janome 1600P – Deep Throat
As one of the best quilting machines for home use which is as industrial as one can get, you can consider Janome 1600P. The construction of this machine is very strong due to the high-quality metal. Moreover, Janome has a thread stand and can produce straight sutures only. The sewing machine helps perform excellent quilting on almost every kind of fabric at the fastest speed possible.
Many say that this is one of the fastest sewing machines you can find in the market for its capability of ensuring 1600 stitches per minute. Yet, doesn’t move a bit or vibrate because of the sturdy and stable metal body. 1600P glides over thick material or multiple layers of clothes like butter which will be loved by advanced level quilters.
Though Janome only provides straight sews, the stitch quality is really good. You may need to get used to the needle threader as it is a bit difficult to use. Also, dropping the feed dog in this machine is not possible. However, that should not be much of a problem while using it. You can cover the feed dog for free motion quilting.
But bobbin winding is considerably easy compare to other machines. For all those reasons, you would love this one among all Janome sewing machines with stitch regulator options.
What did we like?
- Heavy-duty sewing machine.
- Can sew 1600 stitches per minute.
- Quite and stable.
- Features an automatic thread cutter.
- Runs smoothly on thick material.
What didn’t we like?
- Feed dogs cannot be dropped.
- It is not portable and has no free arm.
- The machine is capable of only stitching on straight lines.
Summary: If you are a beginner in quilting you may not want to go for this heavy-duty machine. because this sewing machine is more of a machine built for advanced quilters. If you want something lightweight, loads of stitching options, you can check out the previous one.
5. Brother CS7000X – Most Popular
Brother is one of the best free motion quilting machines and a trusted name in the industry. But his model particularly is the most popular one amongst the other. It covers a wide range of users with its user-friendly features.
This one’s automatic needle threader has been improved a lot than the previous models. Brother CS7000X also includes a large needle-to-arm workspace, a free arm, an LED screen, 70 build-in sutures to choose from, and so on.
The preset includes quilting stitches as well as decorative stitches. So you can be creative with this one as much as your imagination takes you. Plus the large workspace will give you ease while working on big quilting projects.
Users faced some issues with Brother CS6000i or CS7000i’s needle threader which you will not face in this model. The free arm aptitude of this machine makes it easier to sew skinny jeans, sleeves, and cuffs. Though the machine has many advanced features yet is comparatively easy to use. Therefore, anyone can easily access this machine.
What did we like?
- Beginner-friendly and affordable.
- Includes lots of useful accessories.
- 70 built-in stitches.
- You can easily do quilting and sewing both.
- 7 one-step buttonholes.
- Comes with a large workspace and LED light.
What didn’t we like?
- A bit slower with 100 stitches per minute.
- Not durable enough to last for a very long time.
Summary: In my opinion, this model is best for beginners and suitable for all kinds of quilters. The reasonable price and many advanced features help you to level up from novice to advance. But not durable enough to last you so that you can spend your life with it.
This model of Janome comes with 170 built-in stitches including 3 lettering sews and 10 one-step buttonholes can be significant when it comes to stitching there isn’t any barrier in it.
Janome Memory can stitch 1000 stitches per minute which is a fair enough speed for both the beginner and the advanced level quilters.
This is a computerized machine which will provide a large table for a big quilting project. Its LCD display is simple and straightforward to use. You will find a knee lifter as well which all quilter admire.
The range of motion foot pressure (1 to 7) allows you to work with very fine fabrics as well. Its automatic threader and thread cutter can save you some of your time.
The only drawback you will get in it is the cost. This machine is very expensive. If you are doing quilting projects for some time then you may know a machine with this power costs a bit more than usual. About the power, it’s too much if you are a trainee.
You can count on Singer for its thoughtful and smart design. The sewing area may not be as lit as you want in a dark room. Some may find some issues with the automatic threader but those issues will get better with some practice.
Singer sews 1100 stitches per minute which are fair enough for the price. You can stitch almost any kind of fabric including thick to fine. This machine comes with 23 sutures which is comparatively low than the others.
But being a heavy-duty industrial machine, this one does not come close to the power this sewing machine is supposed to have. The stitch quality is fair but it could be better. You may also find the bobbin area problematic. That is why I couldn’t place this one in the main review section.
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What To Consider While Buying The Best Sewing Machine For Free Motion Quilting?
Free motion quilt can be done in a normal swing machine. But specific quilting machine comes with many additional features that make the process easier for you. It would be better to keep the following features in mind before you buy a quilting machine.
Wide Throat Space
In a quilting machine, throat space is the area that starts from the right side of the needle and ends at the edge of the machine. Remember that, quilt is not like a normal swing where you can work with a fabric that does not take much space.
In quilting stitch, generally, you have to work with bulkier fabrics that need more space. So, getting a wide throat sewing machine, the work will be easier for you.
Before the growing popularity of quilting, there were not any quilting machines available that have throat space up to 8 inches. But now you can find a quilting machine with 18-inch working space. If the budget is not a problem for you go for a wider space machine.
Long Arm Quilting Machine
If you intend to work commercial quilt long arm quilting machine is the best option. In this machine not only the throat is extended but also the left side table is large. This helps you to see the bigger picture altogether. For advanced quilting designs, those kinds of machines are the finest.
When you are a novice, speed actually does not matter. In reality, everyone starts slow. But after getting into advanced level or working on bigger projects, you will eventually need a quilting machine that can stitch faster.
It will enable you to work on multiple quilting projects at once and finish them on time. Most of the high-quality machines tend to have high-speed. 700 stitches per minute can be good enough but you can increase the speed according to your need.
For free-motion quilting, a machine needs to have the right preset patterns. Without the right sutures, the whole project can be ruined. So, you have to be very careful while choosing the quilting machine.
A good-quality machine comes with many types of built-in stitches which is suitable for free motion quilting, you can be creative with it as well. But if the sews do not go with free motion quilt, you will see visible defects in the stitches which are not desirable.
Sewing Feet Options
Having multiple presser feet option is always a great advantage. There are also machines that come with one presser with multipurpose. But when you are in advanced quilting there are many limitations with one quilting motion.
Try to select a quilting machine with multiple sewing feet options. Because different kind of quilt foot works well in different types of stitching. Most of the free motion quilt can be done with a darning foot. But there are some times when you may need to use another presser foot to add some creativity to your quilting.
Up or down needle position is a controversial feature. Some say that this is absolutely necessary where some say this is a luxury. But you have to decide which one you are comfortable with.
With this up/down feature, when you stop the needle rest in the down position. It helps you to make corners easily. If the sewing machine does not have this feature the needle will stop wherever that is.
But for free motion quilting, needle up or down position is an advantage if you have this feature.
The tension between the threads is a very important thing in free motion quilt. It is not like the tension, usually happens between the normal stitches. Some quilting machines require automatic and some require manual thread tension control. Make sure which one you need before you buy one.
How To Maintain A Sewing Machine Free Motion Quilting for Beginner?
Many quilters, especially beginners often get confused about when to clean and oil the machine. Well, it’s usually after you finish two bobbins of thread. After finishing this amount of thread, you need to brush out the bobbin system area, oil the machine, and change the needle.
Two bobbins have a lot of threads and it creates a lot of dust as well. Those dust can build up over time and create many problems including jamming the machine and uneven stitches. If you do this cleaning religiously, you surely can increase the lifespan of your machine and have less frequent problems with it.
Free motion quilt is not an easy job when you first start. It’s also not like you have to buy an expensive one to make the job easy. But you will eventually need a machine if you are dedicated enough. So, make sure it’s the best sewing machine for free-motion quilting when you buy.
Set your needs and comforts and decide accordingly. Surely, these reviews can help you with that. Because free motion quilting machine is not something you get to buy very often.