Not for the faint-hearted, free motion quilting is something that takes practice, and you need the right machine to make life as easy as possible. This is why the best sewing machines for free motion quilting are so popular. They take a lot of the guesswork and strain out of the equation and the better brands allow you to sew at high speeds to get large projects finished faster.
This is only possible when you have features such as a large throat and a comfortable area to sew in different directions with ease. To help make the process of finding the ideal product easier, we have created a list of the best sewing machines for free motion quilting. Each one features an easily accessible bobbin, feed dog options, and a lot more.
- Editor’s Choice
SINGER 7258 100-Stitch Computerized 76 Decorative Stitches (Amazon) – Review
- Best High-Speed
Brother Quilting Machine, PQ1500SL Up to 1,500 Stitches Per Minute (Amazon) – Review
- Best Affordable
SINGER | Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine with 23 Built-In Stitches (Amazon) – Review
- Best Value
SINGER | Quantum Stylist 9960 Computerized Portable Sewing Machine (Amazon) – Review
- Best High-End
Brother Designio Series DZ1500F High Speed Straight Stitch Sewing Machine (Amazon) – Review
- Best Accesories
Janome Memory Craft Horizon 8200 QCP Special Edition Computerized Sewing Machine (Amazon) – Review
Editor’s Choice: SINGER 7258 100-Stitch Computerized 76 Decorative Stitches
One of the most popular sewing machines for free motion quilting, this has the reputable Singer brand name behind it and a lot more. With 100 stitches including 76 decorative stitches that can be selected by pressing the side display, it is one of the easiest to navigate. There is plenty more for the experienced sewer and because it is computerized, there is an LCD screen on the side.
You can make adjustments to your stitches so if you need them to be longer or wider it is easy to amend each one. Two LED lights allow the user to sew with accuracy and it has more than enough power for most in the 750 stitches per minute motor. It comes with 6 different buttonholes and because of the metal frame, there is a sturdy feel to this impressive machine.
- 100 built-in stitches
- 750 stitches per minute
- LED lights make it easy to sew with accuracy
- Good value
- Adjustable stitches
Best High-Speed: Brother Quilting Machine, PQ1500SL Up to 1,500 Stitches Per Minute
With a top speed of up to 1,500 stitches per minute, this product will help you fly through the free motion quilting although it is better going in straight lines that are to be expected. To help you get started faster it comes with an automatic needle threader and a top drop-in bobbin that is jam-proof.
The wide table makes it easy to accommodate large fabrics for your quilting projects and there are 7 sewing feet included. There is also a knee lifter so once you get up to speed you release your hands from the presser feet. The precision fabric feeding separator system makes it easily capable of sewing different fabrics, ideal for quilting.
- High speed at 1,500 stitches per minute
- Wide table ideal for quilting
- Includes 7 presser feet
- Quick bobbin threading
- Upper thread cutter cuts a little short
Best Affordable: SINGER | Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine with 23 Built-In Stitches
If you are looking for an affordable sewing machine for free-motion quilting then this is a good option from Singer. Because of the price you only get 23 built-in stitches but there is still plenty of power for fast sewing in the 1,100 stitches per minute which are more than a lot of the products that are 3 times the price. It is well built so it is still a heavy-duty machine which also means it doesn’t vibrate so much.
It features a reliable motor that keeps going for ages no matter how big the quilting project. There is still an automatic needle threader and it remains stable even when pushing through thick fabric. There are a handful of useful presser feet included as well as a lint brush and bobbins among others to make this a great free motion quilting machine for beginners.
- 1,100 stitches per minute
- 23 built-in stitches
- Reliable and heavy-duty machine
- Lots of presser feet included
- Not as many built-in stitches as other models
Best Value: SINGER | Quantum Stylist 9960 Computerized Portable Sewing Machine
With 600 built-in stitches, a large extension table, and a reasonable price tag, this is one of the best deals you can get when looking for a sewing machine for free-motion quilting. It can also deliver up to 850 stitches per minute giving it plenty of power to make quick work of large quilting projects. Included are a good amount of presser feet and a built-in needle threader to help you get a head start.
There are decorative stitches included so you can personalize any finished piece and 13 built-in buttonhole styles. We like the one-touch stitch selection making this product one of the easiest machines to operate and with a heavy-duty metal frame, it certainly has a durable feel whilst absorbing the vibrations.
- 600 built-in stitches
- 850 stitches per minute
- Heavy-duty metal frame
- Large extension table
- Automatic cutter can be a little tricky
Best High-End: Brother Designio Series DZ1500F High Speed Straight Stitch Sewing Machine
Up there with the best high-end sewing machines for free motion quilting, the DZ1500F is a near-professional ready machine capable of 1,500 stitches per minute. To say this is impressive would be an understatement but there is a lot more to this machine than speed. It comes with a needle felting attachment which is valued at $150 and the pin feeding system keeps the stitches accurate and smooth.
There are 6 presser feet included and an extra-large extension table making it well suited to larger quilting projects. The thread tension dial is color-coded to make life easier and it is capable of keeping dual spools at the ready. There’s plenty to like about this product which is why it is so popular.
- 1,500 stitches per minute
- Includes needle felting attachment worth $150
- Extra-large extension table
- Includes 6 presser feet
- Can be a bit pricey for some
Best Accesories: Janome Memory Craft Horizon 8200 QCP Special Edition Computerized Sewing Machine
Ideal for a sewing machine for free-motion quilting as it can accommodate larger fabrics to bring your special projects to life. The flex feeding system makes it easier to feed the top and bottom fabrics together for quilting and there is also an automatic needle threader making the start of every new project simple.
You can adjust the width of the stitch up to 9mm which is more than you get with a lot of other models in the niche. This is arguably the best package you are going to find because of all the additional accessories. These include instructional DVD, black roller trolley case, a variety of presser feet (including one for free motion quilting), knee lifter, foot control, and a lot more. With 200 built-in stitches and 5 bright lights, Janone has done a lot to make this product an impressive package.
- 200 built-in stitches
- Lots of accessories
- Flex feeding system for free motion quilting
- Adjustable width up to 9mm
- Takes a little getting used to the free motion quilting
If you do not have the right machine for a quality project, you are going to find it hard work sewing two fabrics together. This is why it is important to find the nest sewing machine for free-motion quilting, as you get plenty of space and a machine with enough power to make each project a joy.
The problem is that the criteria that make a quality product can be a little confusing. With so many features packed into every model, we have decided to create the following buyer’s guide.
Large Extension Table
To make it easy to sew large fabrics together, you need a large table. Not only does this allow you to keep everything in line but it allows for smooth stitches and increased accuracy. A lot of regular sewing machines offer this feature for this specific purpose.
The throat space of a sewing machine for free-motion quilting also needs to be big enough to fit everything through without bunching.
As with any decent machine you want a good amount of built-in stitches. this makes it easier to stitch different fabrics and add a little flair when the need is there. Anything around 100 and above should give you enough to play with although a budget item might offer you good value with less.
Stitches Per Minute
The speed at which you can sew a large project together will go a long way towards the suitability of the sewing machine for free-motion quilting. No one wants to have to deal with a sluggish machine that makes a project take twice as long as it should.
This is why better products tend to offer sewing speeds of up to 850 stitches. A high-end machine can give you 1,500 stitches per minute and whilst this makes any project a lot faster, it does take some building up to.
Up/Down Needle Position
This is ideal for sewers but particularly for quilting. This allows the user to take on projects involved a wide range of materials to create interesting pieces.
For any machine to be suitable for free motion quilting, it needs to have the right built-in stitches. Brands offering 100’s with their machine usually give you a handful of quilting stitches included.
Some brands include decorative stitches which become useful when you either want to personalize a finished quilting project or add a little flair.
This is a must-have for any sewing machine as it will mean there are fewer vibrations when the stitches are hammering home. Although it might make some machines a little heavier, this can be a good thing as it stops it from moving around as much.
Although you might have to spend a little more to get a decent product with fine adjustments, this is one of the important ones. Different quilting projects and materials require unique lengths and widths which means you need more options.
This is a common feature in most products but the better models have a greater range to play with.
You will find that with most reputable brands, you get a decent selection of presser feet included with your sewing machine for free-motion quilting. A multi-purpose presser foot is great but has its limitations, especially for an experienced quilter.
It can take some building up to your first free-motion project but when the shackles are off, you can have a lot of fun with it. These are the two most common options and the machines we have reviewed offer you the choice of both.
A straight line is more reliable and means you will get consistent stitches but it can be restrictive. This is why a lot of people like to try their hand at free-motion stitching. You might have to correct uneven stitches, particularly when you are getting used to this method. When you grow in experience you can sew corners and patterns, something not so easy with straight line stitching.
Because you are covering a larger area when quilting, it can be important to get a product with enough speed to go over the fabric. However, you don’t always need to be going at full speed. As long as you have around 750 stitches per minute and above you should find that you can speed through most projects.
Still, the faster you go the more likely it is that you will make mistakes and have to go over certain areas. To stay in control, go at a steady pace.
As with any sewing machine, there is a period of learning how to use the new settings. Most products tend to make it easy, especially with LCD displays and computerized settings.
However, free motion quilting is a technique that comes with its challenges so it is best to be patient when using the machine. Look for a product with little features that go a long way such as an automatic needle threader among others.
This depends on your intended use but the best product tends to cost over $1,000. This doesn’t mean you can’t pick up a decent product for less.
Budget free motion quilting sewing machines only cost around $250. This should still get you a powerful product you might just have to compromise when it comes to adjustable settings and accessories. Some of the best products we have seen are around $500 so there is something for every budget.