Quilting is receiving a lot of positive press these days. According to the University of Glasgow, it comes with inherent cognitive as well as social benefits. And that’s not all. It’s a stress buster too. If that doesn’t motivate you to begin quilting, then I wonder what will.
For long considered as a social contemplative activity for groups of elder women, quilting has exploded in popularity in the recent times. Everyone from children to adults, are looking at it as a creative craft and some, even consider it to be therapeutic in nature. (Experiencing Therapy Through Doing: Making Quilts, Dr. Kristin M. Langellier)
It is estimated that there are more than 40 million quilters worldwide, which includes a large number of individual designers who quilt from the comfort of their homes, recycling mundane fabric pieces into colorful works of art.
If you are a quilter, these are exciting times. On the other hand, if you are intrigued by the craft and are planning to dip your toes in the water, it couldn’t be a better time either.
While there is always the lure of going old-school and quilting with your hand, which still according to connoisseurs is the only authentic way to do it, it’s just not practical when you have machines that can allow you to replicate the same results in very little time and with much less effort.
And we are not talking about long arm machines either which make it a backbreaking task to stand all day and push huge quilts.
You’d be pleased to know that there are many compact sized sewing machines with enough bells and whistles that allow you to quilt to perfection.
How to Choose A Best Sewing Machine For Quilting
Regardless of your skill level in quilting, selecting the right machine is no mean feat. There are a plethora of brands, each proclaiming their machine to be the holy-grail for quilters. But rather than getting influenced by fancy claims and marketing gimmicks, you should weigh in some factors that will help you narrow down on a machine that is best suited for you.
Hobby vs Profession: Do you intend to quilt as a hobby or do you wish to hone your skills and go professional with it? Hobby quilters can do well with an entry level quilting machine that offers enough room to perform basic quilting techniques. Professional quilters however, may need to invest in a high end home quilting machine that also costs a premium.
Cost: The price for entry level machines can range from $100-$200. These however, offer only the most barebones designs and essential quilting features like multiple stitching and backstitching, with ample scope for lighting. Advanced quilting machines on the other hand, can cost as much as $700 or more, but will provide you with a gaggle of impressive features that can take your quilting to a whole new level. Some of the features in this category of machines include, a wider throat that allows you to use bigger quilts, better stitch quality, uniform stitching, electronic buttons for control and multiple decorative stich options.
Features: Without making it sound like technical gobbledygook, you’ll need to look for a machine that allows you to alter the stitch length, bobbin tension, the threads, switch needles and presser feats easily and also adds the ability to perform zigzag stitches.
Weight: The weight of the machine is often an overlooked factor while selecting the best quilting machines. But if you do not have a table set up where the machine can reside permanently, it may mean putting it away after every use. Putting away a heavy machine can easily turn into a chore that you dislike so much, that you start to use it lesser every day.
Which Are The Best Types of Quilting Machines for Home Use?
There are no dedicated quilting machines that are categorized into various types. Most home quilting machines are actually regular sewing machines with a few selected add-ons that make them more beneficial to quilters.
You just need to keep an eye out for some features like multiple built-in stitches, options for embroidery, fonts and customization options for stitches (width between each stitch) that can help you explore your creativity.
Any regular sewing machine that offers the above mentioned features and allows you to finish a quilt in limited time, while retaining the ‘handmade’ appearance should be a good choice. These are of course, just some of the features to look out for.
Quilting machines with a top loading bobbin that allows you to load it and start quilting, one with a clear base that lets you keep an eye on the bobbin, options to add a custom bobbin and last but not the least, one that allows you to lock the needle in both (up and down) positions are also good starting features to consider.
We have selected a list of the top 5 quilting machines in the market currently based on the features that we have mentioned above, the price and the customer reviews on major online retailers, like Amazon. This list is exhaustive and includes quilting machines for all quilters of all skill levels and at varied price points. We are sure that you can find the best quilting machine for your personal use in this list. Before we go into details of these machines, we created this table to compare them to give you a quick idea how they perform.
Quilting Sewing Machines Comparison Table
|Models||Brother CS6000i||Brother PQ1500S||Juki TL-2010Q||Janome MC-6300P||Singer 9960|
|Size (inches)||16 x 6.7 x 11.4||25 x 11.8 x 14.8||25.8 x 17.9 x 14.2||13 x 26 x 18||17.2 x 8.2 x 12|
|Warranty||25-year limited||25-year limited||2/5-year limited||25-year limited||25-year limited|
Quilting Machine Reviews
When you venture into the market looking for an affordable quilting machine that ticks all the features that we mentioned earlier, the first name that you are bound to hear is the Brother CS6000i. This is a beginner quilter’s dream machine with enough features packed in, to impress even the more seasoned professional.
From an automatic needle threader to a bobbin winder and a top stitching speed of 850 stitches per minute, this will let you press through the largest of quilts in very little time. And, it offers enough room to play around and explore your creative side.
Most people who first hear about this model are thrown off by the ridiculously low price tag. But do not be fooled into believing that this is any lesser than a high quality sewing and quilting machine. The CS6000i is a powerhouse.
Novice quilters will be delighted with the automation that it offers. The automatic needle threader and the bobbin winder adjusts according to the quilting work and saves you tons of time otherwise spent in tinkering with the machine and learning the basics.
An LCD color display shows you the stitch number, pattern and error messages in case of a malfunction. You have the option to use a foot pedal or a start/stop button to control the quilting machine and both features allow you to adjust the speed settings.
The stitch width and length is set automatically by the machine, the maximum being 7 mm and the minimum being 5. But you can manually override this setting and customize the stitch width to add some flair to your work. The unit has a whopping 60 built-in stitches which include many decorative ones too.
To top this off, the walking foot lets you feed multiple layers with ease while the quilting foot assists in the precise placement of the quilting stitches. Creating evenly spaced stitch rows in quilting is made effortless by the quilting guide.
A one-touch buttonhole operation makes this painstaking task seem effortless and it also gives you the option to choose from seven different types of buttonholes.
The only caveat, is that the tension is controlled manually by a dial, which may take a little while to get used to, especially if you are an inexperienced quilter.
Other standard features like the sewing light, a removable extension table for large sized fabrics and a drop-in bobbin holder receive less attention, but play their part in simplifying even the most tedious sewing tasks.
The Brother CS6000i is so feature rich that it’s almost impossible to pick a handful of them. But here are the most important ones that make this one of the best quilting machines.
Irrespective of whether you are a novice quilter or a seasoned one, this is a versatile machine that lets you quilt and also tackle most other sewing tasks with ease. It receives more than 6,300 customer reviews on Amazon with a very high rating. You cannot go wrong with the CS6000i. Great buy and highly recommended!
From the very versatile CS6000i, we venture into more professional turf with the Brother PQ1500S which is a bigger, meatier and powerful option that is more preferred by seasoned quilters. But that doesn’t mean that it is not novice friendly.
In fact, beginner quilters may be awed at the speed and the performance of this home machine which is as close to a commercial quilting machine as it can get.
This model is designed to handle a wide range of fabrics including leather, velvet and suede and lets you make even the most complicated turns effortlessly during quilting. It only has one stitch option though, the straight stitch. But like professional quilting machines, the PQ1500S is designed for speed rather than fancy stitches.
It also lacks an LCD screen which many novice quilters look forward to. But the lack of the built-in stitches makes it an unnecessary feature anyway.
It has a top stitching speed of 1500 stitches per minute. That is incredibly fast and will let you finish the most labor intensive quilting jobs in no time.
The automated needle threader, thread cutter for both upper and lower threads and the seven presser feet allow quilters to press through multiple layers of thick fabric with ease.
Unlike most machines which have two drop feed dogs, the PQ1500S has four of them which allows maximum pressure control from both directions. These are height adjustable in four increments and also completely retractable. If you retract it completely, it allows you to do free motion quilting. The height adjustable drop feed dogs and the adjustable presser foot pressure allows users, to completely fine tune the amount of pressure they apply for each project.
Experienced quilters who wish to exercise more control over their quilting tasks can adjust the thread tension manually. Also, the built-in fabric separator allows you to tackle projects which involve different types of fabrics. This is a very beneficial feature for novice quilters who often struggle with handling multiple fabrics while trying to add some contrast to their quilts.
The Brother PQ1500S is meant for serious quilters who find their home quilting machines lacking in power and speed to tackle heavy quilting jobs. Here are some of the features that make it click.
If you are looking to go professional with your quilting or are in a business where you have to handle very heavy quilting projects, then the PQ1500S is a must-have at home. It gives you incredible value for money and will ease most of the tasks which seem labor intensive at the moment.
After including two sewing machines that could also quilt in our list of best quilting machines, we now take a look at the Juki TL-2010Q which is a machine designed specifically for quilting. So apart from the normal tasks, this beauty will give you the convenience of free motion quilting.
The unit resembles a high end all-metal (aluminum die-casting) industrial quilting machine. And it is very similar to one in functions and features.
It is a mechanical single-stitch heavy duty quilting machine that may seem a bit old school in appearance, but makes up with a stellar performance.
For starters, this beast of a quilting machine will also do straight stitches only. So, if your idea of quilting is limited to zigzag stitches, then you are looking at the wrong machine. But wait till you hear what it can do. The straight stitches on the Juki are astute and it can handle even the thickest multilayer quilts with ease.
It has a top speed of 1500 SPM (Stitches per minute) which puts it right up there with the industrial grade quilt machines. You can attach an auxiliary table which gives you a 23 inch wide work area. Be it large sized quilts, home décor projects or regular sewing projects, you can tackle them with ease.
The Juki features an automatic needle threader, with the needle threading from the left to the right side, which makes the straight stitches more efficient. The foot control trimming system allows you to cut both top and bobbin threads by just engaging the foot pedal. All you have to do is heel back and it saves time and effort while piecing quilts. There is a push button which also performs the same function though. So, you can choose whatever feels more comfortable.
If you find the speed to be too high for your liking, then you can use the speed control lever to customize it from 200 SPM to 1500 SPM. This is particularly helpful if you are doing stitches on curves.
One of the most liked features on the TL-2010Q is the needle up/down button which allows you to instantly move the needle upwards or downwards as required. Further, you can use the adjustable quilting feet for free motion quilting.
The LED light on the model is not the best ones since it positions awkwardly. But this can easily be circumvented by using a quilting LED light kit.
This is a powerful quilting machine that is perfect for anyone who has laborious quilting tasks in huge volumes. It will run through most of the tasks and tackle any kind of fabric you throw at it. It is a beast at free motion quilting too. If you are looking for a quilting machine with some serious piecing and quilting power, this is it.
A lot of budget priced sewing and quilting machines lack the features that allows high end machines to tackle even the most difficult quilting jobs. The MC-6300P is an exception that is a perfect mélange of form and function.
It clubs the convenience of automation with the power of a professional grade machine and the result is a dream come true for quilters. It provides consistent and clean stitches and has all the features that one would look for in a serious quilting machine.
Out of the box, the item looks and feels like a professional grade machine. It is not something that you can carry every day to your quilting club. It is heavy.
If you were bored of all the single-stitch options we listed for the serious quilters, the MC-6300P features 66 built-in stitches and 4 buttonhole options. The push button selection for the stitches as well as the stitch width, makes the tasks seem effortless.
There is an LED display screen which displays a lot of information about the settings and also alerts you of a low bobbin.
There are quilter-specific features which make this such a versatile choice. For starters, there’s the 9″ x 5″ throat space which makes it easy to work with large sized quilts. In addition to this, there’s a hand-look quilt stitch and 5 blanket stitches for applique.
If you prefer using both hands while handling heavy fabric, then the knee lifter can be a lifesaver.
At the heart of the Janome MC-6300P is a powerful motor that is designed to glide through multilayer quilting projects with ease. You will not even feel that you are pressing 6-8 layers of fabric through the machine. It includes many different types of feet including a walking foot and a free motion foot.
While stitching at the top-speed (1000 SPM) is a time saver, it can get tricky if you need to stitch on curves. Thankfully, a built-in speed control mechanism lets you lower the speed in a jiffy, giving you more control over the stitching.
The automatic thread cutter feature helps save time during free motion quilting. A simple push of the button cuts the thread really flush preventing it from getting jumbled with the stitches.
We tried our best to find a flaw with this model and failed to. It is a perfect machine that is apt for all types of quilting projects. It has just the right amount of automation and allows enough features to let seamstresses take control of their quilting tasks.
Last but not the least, we have a pocket sized powerhouse that has managed to impress one and all with its versatility and features, the Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist.
With a bundle of automated features and the most intuitive designs at a throwaway price, the Singer 9960 is a complete value-for-money purchase that offers something for quilters of all skill levels.
Out of the box, the 9960 seems like any other automatic sewing machine. But it is packed to the brim with features like a variety of feet, abundant stitch options and enough customization options to make even the hardened quilting purist fall in love with it.
It lets you choose from among 600 different types of stitch patterns (103 sewing stitches, 34 decorative stitches, and 450 fonts) with a top speed of 850 SPM, which is tremendous for both beginners and experts.
To make life simpler while handling quilting or sewing tasks, it has an automated thread cutter, needle threader and tension control. This allows a hands-off sewing experience. You do not have to stop to make adjustments or cut the thread and this saves you a lot of time and effort.
Another neat little feature is the automatic bobbin winder which will wind the thread in seconds before you are ready to start the project.
Buttoning is effortless with a one-touch operation and as many as 13 different buttonhole styles. For more specific tasks like creating uniform hemlines, it allows you to connect twin needles.
An LCD screen lets you customize and select most of the settings. For the quilting enthusiasts, the presence of adjustable feed dogs is an additional perk. Also, you can attach an extension table for working on large sized fabrics.
Some of the other features include a drop-in bobbin, adjustable sewing speed and an LED sewing light.
This is the perfect machine for one and all. Be it a seamstress, a sewer or a hobby quilter, it is a versatile and complete package that should last for years.
That’s it folks. Those are the best quilting machines that give you the most bang for your buck. We hope you enjoyed browsing through the list and that it helps you to make an informed choice.