Quilting, like baking, canning, and healthy home cooking, has been reclaimed. No longer is it simply a quaint hobby of the elderly. Quilts are far more than something you might sneer at at the local rummage sale. Quilts are in.
They make practical baby shower gifts and they’re a fantastic way to commemorate a special event such as a wedding. They bring your personality into your home and add a touch of style to any room. And everyone can use a quilt, whether they live in a mansion or a cramped apartment.
Quilts are the traditional made contemporary. They are for spreading on the bed while reading Dickens or snuggling on the sofa watching Netflix. They can be bright and bold, subtle and chic, and everything in between.
They have been made for hundreds of years in just about every corner of the globe. Americans are probably most familiar with Amish quilting, but every culture and country has its own take on the art.
This is the place where sewing begins to move from a simple craft to an art form. Knowing how to select and place vastly different patterns and fabrics together into an attractive, functional whole is a real skill. And being able to produce strong, lasting results takes a real machine.
Read our reviews of dedicated quilting machines to find the right machine for you.
The Top 5 Sewing Machines for Quilting
#1 – Singer Confidence
The Singer 7469Q Confidence Quilter features 98 built in stitches, and a one-step button hole, so you can easily create, for example, a range of unique, comfy bedding.
The Confidence Quilter features an automatic needle threader, so getting started is a breeze, even for those who are usually all thumbs. There is also a programmable needle up/down function, which is ideal for quilting projects, allowing you to easily remove and adjust fabric as you work.
The automatic needle threader does need to be checked for accuracy, as the machine can be somewhat temperamental if it has been threaded incorrectly. For some people, this may not be an issue. Others, however, might find it irksome, and one more thing to detract from the business of their project.
Be honest with yourself about which type of person you are before you invest in this machine. Another frustrating design quirk is that, unlike other machines, the Confidence Quilter needs to be reset each use. This may be an issue for someone with a high volume workload, or who wants to make larger quilts.
For the confident beginner, however, this machine shouldn’t prove too much of a problem. It comes with a range of accessories, and full online support is provided.
This is a sturdy, metal framed machine. It should serve a beginner well.
Adjustable stitch length and width, and an automatic twin needle control, mean it is easy to customize your projects using the Confidence Quilter.
If you are planning a larger project, you’ll be pleased to know that the Confidence Quilter includes and extension table. There are also four quilting feet, for full variety and function.
- Automatic needle threader and Drop & Sew bobbin system make for quick and easy set-up. Helpful Hint: To secure thread, pull both threads to...
- 98 built-in stitches with seven fully automatic one-step buttonholes provide endless project possibilities
- Programmable needle up/down and drop feed make quilting fun and easy
#2 – Brother XR3774
The Brother XR3774 Sewing and Quilting Machine is, as its name suggests, suitable for both quilting and standard sewing. This makes it an affordable option for those just getting into sewing, but who already know they will be trying quilting, too.
The XR3774 includes a wide table for larger projects, as well as a bright, LED-lit work area. This is useful when you’re working with dark fabrics, or want to get a project finished even though the evening is drawing in. It also means you save space on your work area, as a desk lamp is not essential.
As well as 37 unique built in stitches, and a wide variety of decorative stitch, the XR3774 also includes eight quilting and eight standard sewing feet. This gives you a broad scope in terms of what can be achieved, and what projects you can undertake.
The XR3774 is easy to use, and includes an instructional DVD. It has been designed to minimize distractions, with a jam-resistant drop in bobbin system and quiet operation.
The XR3774 is a great entry-level machine, but is not powerful enough to handle thick or heavy fabrics.
- 37 UNIQUE BUILT-IN STITCHES: The Brother XR3774 includes 37 built-in stitches including blind hem, decorative and quilting stitches and a...
- AUTOMATIC NEEDLE THREADER AND DROP-IN TOP BOBBIN: This sewing and quilting machine includes an automatic needle threader that perfectly...
- INCLUDED ACCESSORIES: The XR3774 quilting and sewing machine comes with a machine cover, wide table, 8 sewing feet, instructional DVD, and...
#3 – Juki TL-2000 Qi
The Juki TL-2000 Qi is definitely not a beginner’s machine. As well as needing regular oiling to ensure smooth running, the bobbin thread is not visible. This can be very disconcerting to all but the most experienced sewists.
It has a steep learning curve, requiring extreme patience. The Qi is not designed to handle heavy fabrics.
In its favor, however, is the fact that it has very low vibration. This sounds trivial, but, on larger projects, can be an absolute godsend. The Qi includes an extension table for larger projects, and features bright LED lighting.
If you’re a confident, experienced sewist working with lightweight fabric, the Qi might just be the machine for you.
- Updated with LED lights and one pedal operation
- 1500 SPM for quilting apparel and home décor
- Automatic needle threader
#4 – Janome 1600P-QC
Another combination quilting and sewing machine, the Janome 1600P-QC Sewing and Quilting Machine offers high-speed sewing, up to 1,600spm (stitches per minute). It also provides the ability to vary your stitch length for unique, custom designs.
This is a heavy duty machine, which can handle thicker fabrics. The 1600P-QC features a side-loading bobbin, and a memorized needle up/down function. This makes life a little easier for the sewist, allowing them to focus their attention on their project, rather than their machine.
The only slight drawback to the 1600P-QC is that it doesn’t come with any accessories. However, these can easily be found and purchased separately. Purchasing accessories, such as feet, separately also allows you the freedom and flexibility to select exactly what you need. This minimizes clutter in your work room, and is a more efficient use of your dollars in the long run.
- Presser Foot Sensor
- Memorized UP/DOWN Needle Setting
- Independent Bobbin Winder
#5 – Brother PQ1500S
Finally, the Brother PQ1500S High Speed can work at up to 1,500spm (stitches per minute.) Its heavy-duty construction means the machine also holds relatively stable at these speeds.
The PQ1500S includes an extension table for larger projects, and an automatic needle threader and thread tension adjuster for ease of use.
As the PQ1500S is not programmable, and doesn’t notify the sewist when the bobbin is close to running out, it would better suit experienced, confident quilters.
- 1,500 STITCHES PER MINUTE MAX SEWING SPEED: Maximum stitching of up to 1,500 stitches per minute allows you to sew and quilt more in less...
- ADVANCED NEEDLE THREADING SYSTEM: This sewing and quilting machine includes an automatic needle threader that perfectly pushes thread...
- INCLUDED ACCESSORIES: The PQ1500SL longarm sewing and quilting machine comes with a wide table, 7 sewing feet, knee-lifter, instruction...
What Else Do I Need?
The obvious quilting requirement, other than your machine, is fabric. You can use old clothing or household soft furnishings, or purchase fabric you choose specifically to make your quilt/s. There are a wide range of places selling just about every style and design of fabric you can think of.
Thrift stores can also yield excellent finds. They may stock fabric, or you may come across items of clothing whose material, color, or design would be the perfect addition to your project. Fabric shopping is fun, but it is also addictive – every sewist will attest to the fact that you can never have too much fabric! Other members of your household, however, may not share this view.
Other than fabric, you will need quilting patterns, which guide you in different styles of quilts. These can be readily purchased online if you don’t have a local sewing supplies store. You will also need a rotary cutter and board, for cutting your fabric appropriately, as well as pins, thimbles, and, of course, thread.