The 5 Best Sewing Machine for Free Motion Quilting

Brother PQ1500SL Sewing and Quilting Machine

Brother PQ1500SL Sewing and Quilting Machine, Up to 1,500 Stitches Per Minute, Wide Table, 7 Included Feet
Brother PQ1500SL Sewing and Quilting Machine, Up to 1,500 Stitches Per Minute, Wide Table, 7 Included Feet
  • It comes with many different types of feet

  • Fast, industrial-like machine

  • The machine has accurate control of the thread tension

  • Multi-functional machine

  • Extra-large throat plate with table extension

JUKI TL-2000Qi Sewing and Quilting Machine

JUKI TL-2000Qi Sewing and Quilting Machine
JUKI TL-2000Qi Sewing and Quilting Machine
  • Quick and adjustable sewing speed with 1,500 stitches per minute

  • Lightweight, yet sturdy and durable machine

  • Computerized control

  • Extra-large throat plate with table extension

  • Hands-free working made possible due to the knee-lifting option

Brother XR3774 Sewing and Quilting Machine

Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, XR3774, 37 Built-in Stitches, Wide Table, 8 Included Sewing Feet
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, XR3774, 37 Built-in Stitches, Wide Table, 8 Included Sewing Feet
  • Perfect for beginners to sewing

  • Lightweight yet sturdy sewing machine

  • Very budget-friendly

  • Comes with a walking foot

  • Extension table

  • Automatic needle threader

Amongst quilters, free-motion quilting is extremely popular, although it is not always as easy. However, having the right type of sewing machine at hand can make this process already a lot easier. Initially, this type of quilting is done with a long-arm sewing machine. Unfortunately, this type of machine is quite big, heavy, and not always as easy to operate. Besides, this type of machine weighs a lot and can equally cost quite some more dollars than a sewing machine- between $5,000 and $35,000.

But, that machine-type is not what we’re here for today. Free-motion quilting is absolutely accessible to sewers accommodated with a regular sewing machine as well. 

When you’re new to free-motion quilting: it is the process of quilting done with a sewing machine, also known as stippling or meandering. This type of quilting requires tools such as a quilting foot, darning foot, or a stippling foot. Free-Motion quilting also requires the ability to lower or cover the feed dog so that you can move the fabric in all directions. The stitch length on the machine is set to “0,” and the thread is used to “draw” all kinds of curves and smooth lines on the quilt top. In this way, a special quilt design is created.

Quilting has been used as a sewing technique all around the world and is mostly known for wall hangings, baby quilts, and warm blankets.

But, what is the best sewing machine for free-motion quilting? That’s what you’ll find out today. Below, we have done extensive research on the top 5 best quilting sewing machines for free-motion quilting, combined with a detailed buyer’s guide and other helpful tips and tricks on choosing the right one out of all the best sewing machines for you. 


Sewing Machine for Free-Motion Quilting 101

Although a free-motion sewing machine is not that much of a difference from your regular sewing machine, there are a few major differences. What comes in incredibly handy when you set your stripes on a sewing machine capable of performing free-motion stitching is the extra-large workspace because of the bigger throat space. This way, you can freely move around with enough space around the needle to create beautiful lines and shapes.

Next to that, many sewing machines are even equipped with an extension table to stretch out your work area even more and to assure that your quilt is laid down evenly and flat. Another feature of this type of machine is the built-in quilting stitch options, specially designed for quilting applications. The free-motion foot, or darning foot, as we discussed earlier, avoids skipping stitches while you work and ensures your hands with more protection (that’s always nice). What makes this type of foot even more attractive is that the open front is improving the visibility of your stitching.  


Reviewed: Our 5 Top Pics on Best Sewing Machines for Free-Motion Quilting

We have carefully reviewed the below-listed sewing machines for free-motion quilting on several criteria and features, including price-level, warranty, and user-friendliness – to ensure you make the right choice in all the great options that are available to us right now.

#1: Brother PQ1500SL Sewing and Quilting Machine, Up to 1,500 Stitches Per Minute

Brother PQ1500SL Sewing and Quilting Machine, Up to 1,500 Stitches Per Minute, Wide Table, 7 Included Feet
Brother PQ1500SL Sewing and Quilting Machine, Up to 1,500 Stitches Per Minute, Wide Table, 7 Included Feet

One of the most important features quilters and sewists look for in a machine is a large workspace to move around their quilting projects freely, enough space to create beautiful, large, and cozy quilts without hassle. This strong workhorse manufactured by Brother is not just equipped with a spacious work area but carries many traits of a sewing machine suitable for free-motion quilting. Features such as a thread tension controller, a fast sewing speed of no less than 1,500 stitches per minute, and adjustable feed dogs are included as well.

Brother understands how sewists like to work and what they need to do so. Given the fact that this machine includes an automatic thread cutter ensures you of starting as quickly as possible. This system enables the machine to take care of the needle threading for you. Nonetheless, the bright LED-light on the machine lights up your work area while sewing and a big benefit: the machine comes with several extra accessories that cover all the basics. These include a few polyester threads, a seam guide, a fabric frame, a spool cap, and a felt scraper. A complete package, is there anything left to wish for? We don’t think so! 

Features

  • Built-in needle threader
  • 1,500 stitches per minute
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Adjustable needle position
  • Thread tension controller
  • Wide throat space and large extra table
  • Precision pin-feeding system
  • Knee-lift system 
  • Jam resistant drop-in top bobbin
  • Instruction manual
  • Includes 7 different feet

Pros:

  • It comes with many different types of feet
  • Fast, industrial-like machine
  • The machine has accurate control of the thread tension
  • Multi-functional machine
  • Extra-large throat plate with table extension

Cons:

  • The machine can be somewhat noisy when in use
  • It’s a quite heavy machine 

#2: JUKI TL-2000Qi Sewing and Quilting Machine

JUKI TL-2000Qi Sewing and Quilting Machine
JUKI TL-2000Qi Sewing and Quilting Machine

Another fast sewing machine that is perfectly suitable for quilting on our list is the Juki TL-2000Qi. With 1,500 stitches per minute, this workhorse allows you to quilt like a pro, given the extra-large workspace and the built-in automatic needle threader. Juki is a well-known brand in the world of sewing machines and equipment, and once again holds up its reputation with this model. This portable machine includes many features that make free-motion quilting so much easier.

Thick fabrics or multiple layers of material will not be an issue when working on the Juki TL-2000Qi. As the machine is manufactured with a built-in microcomputer that adjusts the speed control mechanism, you can simply adjust the speed to match it to the material of your choice. Similar to the Brother PQ1500SL sewing machine, this device is equipped with a knee lifter lever that allows you to work with both hands while raising and lowering the presser foot. Without a doubt, one of the best sewing machines for free motion quilting! Last but not least, the machine is built with several aluminum details to reduce vibration (and sound!).

Features

  • Built-in needle threader
  • 1,500 stitches per minute; adjustable sewing speed
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Adjustable needle position
  • Thread tension controller
  • Extension table and wide throat space
  • Feed dog control
  • Knee-lift system 
  • Automatic thread cutter
  • Built-in LED sewing light
  • Includes several types of presser feet
  • Instruction manual

Pros:

  • Quick and adjustable sewing speed with 1,500 stitches per minute
  • Lightweight, yet sturdy and durable machine
  • Computerized control
  • Extra-large throat plate with table extension
  • Hands-free working made possible due to the knee-lifting option

Cons:

  • Not all stitches are held up properly or consistent

#3: Brother XR3774 Sewing and Quilting Machine with 37 Built-in Stitches

Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, XR3774, 37 Built-in Stitches, Wide Table, 8 Included Sewing Feet
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, XR3774, 37 Built-in Stitches, Wide Table, 8 Included Sewing Feet

When you are new to sewing, quilting, and especially free-motion quilting, the XR3774 model by Brother might be just what you need. Although the machine has a significantly slower stitching speed than other sewing machines, it is still a very reliable, sturdy machine that has many abilities. The included extension table is a perfect add-on to the machine that allows you to quilt around freely without your quilt hanging or dangling off the table.

Next to that, the machine is priced at a lower level, which makes it an excellent choice for sewers with a smaller budget that still looks for a multi-functional machine. Also, Brother included an instructional DVD to guide you along on how to operate the XR3774. A helpful, extra feature that is vital to beginners. As for quilting in a free-motion way, the feed dog is created with the ability to drop it by using the needle plate cover. 

The machine is equipped with no less than 37 built-in stitches to choose from by using the dial function. Added up to that, the machine comes with several presser feet, including a narrow hemmer, quilting foot, and a buttonhole, for example. And can we just mention the playful yet appealing design of the machine? It is a great entry-level option.

Features

  • Built-in needle threader
  • Drop-in-top, jam-resistant bobbin function
  • 800 stitches per minute
  • Instructional DVD
  • The extra-large work area and extension table
  • Machine cover
  • Versatile free arm
  • 74 stitching functions

Pros:

  • Perfect for beginners to sewing
  • Lightweight yet sturdy sewing machine
  • Very budget-friendly
  • Comes with a walking foot
  • Extension table
  • Automatic needle threader

Cons:

  • Slower stitching speed compared to other sewing machines
  • It does not include an automatic thread cutter

#4: SINGER | Quantum Stylist 9960 Computerized Portable Sewing Machine

SINGER | 9960 Sewing & Quilting Machine with 600 Stitch Applications Electronic Auto Pilot Mode, Extension Table and Bonus Accessories, Perfect for Customizing Projects, 28.22 Pounds, White
SINGER | 9960 Sewing & Quilting Machine with 600 Stitch Applications Electronic Auto Pilot Mode, Extension Table and Bonus Accessories, Perfect for Customizing Projects, 28.22 Pounds, White

The Singer’s 9960 Quantum Stylist model computerized sewing machine is extremely compatible with free-motion quilting. With its adjustable stitching speed control, the machine is a great partner to the beginning, intermediate or advanced sewers and quilters. The extension table is a must in any quilting project, and the 9960 is equipped with it. As Singer is a big name in the world of sewing, quilting, and embroidery, purchasing this machine comes with a 25-year limited warranty.

The 600 built-in stitches make this machine an extensive option that meets all your needs. Including 13 styles for buttonholes in one step and the automatic needle threading function (in no less than six seconds!), the machine is a real breeze to use. The built-in LCD screen makes all your projects even easier to navigate. By purchasing the Singer 9960, you will also enjoy the 2 LED lights to improve visibility, electronic twin needle settings, 7-segment feeding system, automatic locking stitch function, built-in reverse, horizontal threading, automatic bobbin winding clutch, direct select stitch selection buttons, automatic tension settings, extra-high presser foot lift, center zigzag taper, automatic presser foot pressure control, amongst other features as well.

The machine is known to be compatible with working its magic on both more heavy-duty projects such as denim and quilt sandwiches and thinner materials too.

Features

  • Built-in needle threader
  • 600 built-in stitches
  • Speed of 850 stitches per minute
  • 2 LED work lights
  • LCD screen
  • Presser foot control
  • Speed control slider
  • Extension table
  • Twin needle settings
  • Heavy duty frame
  • 13 built in 1 step buttonholes

Pros:

  • Perfect for beginning, intermediate, and advanced sewers
  • Extension table
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Solid but not-too-heavy in weight
  • Thread cutter does its job very clean without fraying
  • Easy to use and monitor bobbin system with clear cover
  • One touch stitch selection–with numerous stitch selections to choose from
  • 25 year limited warranty

Cons:

  • Slower stitching speed compared to other sewing machines

#5: Janome 4120QDC Computerized Sewing Machine with Extension Table

Janome 4120QDC Computerized Sewing Machine (New 2020 Tan Color) w/Hard Case + Extension Table + Instructional DVD + 1/4" Seam Foot w/Guide + Overedge Foot + Zig Zag Foot + Buttonhole Foot + More!
Janome 4120QDC Computerized Sewing Machine (New 2020 Tan Color) w/Hard Case + Extension Table + Instructional DVD + 1/4" Seam Foot w/Guide + Overedge Foot + Zig Zag Foot + Buttonhole Foot + More!

Janome covers all the basics with this mid-speed computerized sewing machine. To perform free-motion quilting, the machine is provided with different kinds of presser feet and has the option to extend the work area by adding the extension table. It is an all-round machine that can also be used to embroider and basic sewing applications. The machine includes 120 built-in stitches and a built-in alphabet. Other automatic features that the Janome 4120 machine is equipped with include the famous needle threader and cutter. 

To help you find your way to operating the machine, purchasing this machine comes with an instructional DVD and book. With 820 stitches per minute, this lightweight Janome sewing machine allows you to work precisely and control, also using the LCD-panel. In a nutshell: with this machine, there are no limitations in sewing projects, but mostly: it is an excellent choice for free-motion quilting! 

Features

  • Built-in needle threader
  • LCD screen
  • Jam proof top-loading bobbin
  • Automatic thread cutter
  • Adjustable needle position with just one button
  • Extension table
  • Instructional DVD
  • 820 stitches per minute
  • 120 built-in stitches

Pros:

  • An all-round machine that is suitable for quilting, but many more
  • Extension table
  • Automatic needle threader and thread cutter
  • Lightweight machine

Cons:

  • It is somewhat noisy when in use
  • Less suitable for beginners
  • It has a slower stitching speed

The Final Verdict: Brother PQ1500SL Sewing and Quilting Machine

For our top choice on the list of the best sewing machine for free-motion quilting, without a doubt, we are choosing the Brother PW1500SL machine. Firstly, Brother is a reliable manufacturer that has been around for a while, thus far very professional, and recognized by many sewers. The sewing machine is equipped with every feature you need to perform free-motion quilting and beyond. The machine provides you with enough space to work, adjust every big and small detail of the machine, and is a true workhorse that will stand (and stay!) by your side. 


Buyers Guide on The Best Sewing Machine for Free Motion Quilting

As mentioned above, purchasing the best sewing machine suitable for free-motion quilting requires gathering a lot of information beforehand to make sure you know what you buy. It is a significant investment and requires some serious considerations. That’s why we have put together our detailed buying guide below.

Can any sewing machine do free-motion quilting?

Yes, this quilting technique can be done on a regular sewing machine. However, there are some switches and adjustments to be made to make sure you can. Free-motion stitching requires to lower the feed dogs or even disengage them because free-motion quilting is a special sewing technique, as you are moving around your fabric freely in order to make different designs. With that being said, not all regular machines are optimized thus far, and it is easier to opt for a sewing machine that does carry the traits for free-motion quilting. Regular sewing machines usually aren’t equipped with a larger workspace, something that can make a huge difference.

What is a good sewing machine for quilting and embroidery?

Depending on your needs, the options are almost endless. There are a few features for you to take into consideration so you can determine the machine right for you. However, our preference goes out to a multi-functional, all-in-one machine that offers plenty of different options for sewing. For example, the Brother PW1500SL model is one of the best sewing machines, that meets our needs. Brands to look for are for example Brother, Janome, Juki, or Singer. All of them are qualified manufacturers that are known for their expertise in the field.

Is free motion quilting hard?

As free-motion quilting is another technique other than regular quilting, it can be seen as challenging. However, some may feel like it is even easier than regular stitching and quilting! Free-motion quilting requires a lot of patience, practice, and plenty of space to move around freely. When you are new to the free-motion technique, try to get used to the different movements by testing on (old) pieces of fabric or quilts. To carefully plan-out and draw up the design you are aiming to quilt, you can even use a quilting pattern software.

What needle do you use for free-motion quilting?

First, it is important to determine the weight of the thread you will use for your project. Commonly used weight in threads is a Wt 40. This type of thread weight goes well with a needle with size 75.

What do I need for free-motion quilting?

First, you will need a sewing machine that’s equipped with all the features that make free-motion quilting easier. Think about features such as a walking foot, darning foot, a quilt sandwich, and an extension table. Also, make sure to, before you start, take some time to draw and sketch your desired design. This will not only get your creativity flowing, but it also allows you to detailedly know what to stitch, how to stitch, and where to stitch. Increasing your chances of achieving what you had in mind! And: don’t forget to keep your hands safe by wearing quilt gloves.


Final Words

Free-motion quilting is a different technique, but it is so much fun to do and worth learning if you are new to it. It gives you the ability to create more advanced quilting designs. Choosing the right machine will help you a lot by easing out the process for you and offering you all the tools you need. From the above-reviewed sewing machines, it is clear that a few features are – almost to say – mandatory. Think about a wide work area with an extension table, knee-lifting abilities, an automatic needle threader, and a high but adjustable sewing speed.

To extend the longevity of your sewing machine, make sure to take care of it by cleaning it regularly, treating it with a drop of oil every now and then, and try to avoid it getting dusty as much as possible by using a protective cap or cover. Luckily, purchasing a sewing machine like these often includes accessories like a (nylon) lint brush. Unplug your sewing machine every now and then and don’t forget to check and tighten the screws to optimize the mechanics inside your device.

Next to that, it is key to invest in good quality threads (that don’t build up too much lint and fiber), needles, and appliances. Changing and replacing your needle regularly is also key to extend the life of your sewing machine!

Hopefully, we have been of good help with this review for you to choose the right sewing machine suitable for free-motion quilting. Next, you may want to check out popular styles and techniques or quilting or look into the best thread for machine quilting. Happy crafting!