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I listed here my top 5 free-motion quilting sewing machines that I feel would be a great choice if you’d like to make a transition from your basic sewing machine to a proper quilting one.

So,

What is the difference between a quilting sewing machine and a regular sewing machine?

The main difference has to be the size of the throat. THIS is going to help so much when working with large projects like quilts. If you would love to be quilting your own quilt and create lovely design by free-motion quilting , the large throat will definitely be of great help. Of course, a long arm would be great but..

If you have been dreaming of a better sewing machine to free-motion quilt with, but you’re still not quite ready to invest in a professional long-arm machine,

or if you have a bigger beginner budget and know that you are going to be indulged further in this world of quilting,

then, you are in the right place.

Because in this post, I am going to list out the top 5 quilting sewing machine that is going to make your sewing and quilting more swift and enjoyable!!

Therefore, just a disclaimer, this list is:

  • only limited to domestic sewing machines and semi-industrial sewing machines – the ones that do regular sewing too.
  • not a hard and fast rule, it is just my opinion based on my experience and some research. So it is biased to my opinion and my knowledge
  • also based on some of the things that you should be looking out for when buying sewing machines for free-motion quilting

My top 5 recommended free motion quilting sewing machines

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Please find my full disclosure here.

If you ask me:

What sewing machine is the best for free-motion quilting?

Here it is! The list for the best sewing machines for quilting:

#1 Janome Horizon 8200 QCP

I highly recommend this machine and it is first on the list because I own one and I am indeed a happy buyer.

I bought my machine two years after I ventured into quilting knowing that I wanted a machine with a larger throat space so I can push around larger quilt for free-motion quilting.

It does more than that. It comes with a wonderful set of free-motion quilting foot which I talked about in detail here. I love the throat space, the simplicity of use and the steady structure.

The machine also comes with various stitches – more than you’ll ever use but it is good to know that it is there.

baby quilt Animal house free motion quilting fun quilting!

Other features that I think is a must-have for free-motion quilting that can also be found in this awesome machine are:

  • the needle down button
  • speed adjust ( easy for beginners to slow down )
  • thread cutter
  • Knee lift

One thing I wish it could do though: larger bobbin or at least can spin bobbin while sewing simultaneously.

You can check the price of this machine:

HERE> Janome Horizon 8200QCP 

HERE> for a similar one  Janome 8900QCP ✅

 

READ REVIEWS HERE> ABOUT JANOME 8200QCP.

READ REVIEWS HERE> ABOUT JANOME 8900QCP.

 

#2 Janome 1600P 

I have given this one a test before but I don’t own one.

Janome 1600P came to a really close second to my machine when I was surveying to buy mine.

The simplicity of this one makes it attractive somehow, especially if you are just looking for a machine simply for the purpose of straight-line sewing or free-motion quilting.

The reason I didn’t buy this one was because I already have an industrial machine that only does straight-line stitching. However, mine wasn’t built for free-motion quilting.

This Janome one is, and depending on the package, they usually come with a free-motion quilting foot. If not, you can simply buy it separately.

What I love about this machine is the speed, the simplicity and the thread stands that are suitable for large cone threads. I use in large cone for most of my free motion quilting projects so this is surely handy to have a built-in thread stand.

You can check the price of this machine:

HERE> Janome 1600P 

or HERE> Janome 1600P 

You can check the price of this machine: HERE> Janome 1600P 
  • High-speed sewing: 800-1,600 spm
  • Simultaneous bobbin winding
  • Knee lift
  • Extra large 8.85″ x 5.5″ work area
  • Automatic thread cutter

READ REVIEWS HERE> ABOUT JANOME 1600P.

 

Similar machines to this would be :

  • Brother PQ 1500SL – Check Price HERE. (Review also says this machine is great and this is under $700)
  • Brother DZ1500F – Check Price HERE. 
  • Juki Tl-2000Qi – Check Price HERE.
  • Juki TL-2010Q – Check Price HERE.
  • Janome MC-6300P – Check Price HERE.

#3 Bernina 750

This was on my dream pipeline. I wish I had enough to pay for it when I bought my Janome, but it was way out of my budget.

I researched a lot about this machine, but in the end, I figured that it wasn’t justified for the cost. It is definitely a dream machine and would be perfect if you are looking for a bigger machine for free-motion quilting and if you have a bigger budget. 

The machine itself is beautifully structured, and while it has pretty much similar features as the other two I discussed earlier, what makes it a distinction are some of the extra details such as:

  • larger bobbin
  • free motion quilting foot with stitch regulator option
  • a standing box for storing various foot
  • modern aesthetic

to 5 domestic Quilting Machine

Read more about the machine HERE>

I couldn’t find one online, so I guess this one is more of an in-store purchase. I had a chance to view this one myself a couple of times at my local quilt store when I was in Canberra, and the quilt show. It is dreamy and classy.

 

#4 Husqvarna Viking Saphire 950

Hursqvarna is known for its motor quality. I own 2 Hursqvarna myself, though not the exact one I recommend here as mine are the regular-throat sewing machine. Though, I have to say, they sew like a dream.

In fact, my 20-year old Husqvarna have quilted my queen size quilt very well: check that post out HERE>

Since my machine has a smaller throat, I would not recommend it as an upgrade – rather it is very similar to a regular machine. I love having it as an option and I previously used it to quilt before owning the Janome Horizon.

Hursqvarna Viking Saphire has a larger throat which suits the need of a free-motion quilter. It has a lovely aesthetic and the machine can do various stitches. This was also on my list when I purchased mine. The price is pretty similar to Janome, the only thing that made me buy the Janome was probably a few hundred $ differences.

READ REVIEWS HERE> ABOUT HURSQVARNA SAPPHIRE.

 

 

#5 PFAFF Grand Quilter

This is another machine I personally own. I bought it second hand for a really low price that I just simply can’t pass.

Another option for you if you are on a budget – look for second-hand machines.

Pretty much it’s very similar to Janome 1600P, this machine only offers straight-line quilting.

Again I am very happy with the simplicity of the machine and the large throat size.

Since this is a semi-industrial machine, the weight of the machine is also suitable for quilting. The heavy-weight will ensure the machine stays put while we shove-and-pull our quilts around.

top 5 sewing machine for quilting

This machine and the Janome 1600 can also be used with a quilting frame like this one to create a mid-arm quilting machine.

Similar machines to this would be :

  • Brother PQ 1500SL – Check Price HERE. (Review also says this machine is great and I think the price is great)
  • Brother DZ1500F – Check Price HERE. 
  • Juki Tl-2000Qi – Check Price HERE.
  • Juki TL-2010Q – Check Price HERE. 
  • Janome MC-6300P – Check Price HERE.

Out of all the similar machine list, my recommendation for quilting sewing machine is definitely the Juki TL200Qi. The price is great and affordable, and I own a JUKI machine myself which are widely used in industries.

 <– My TOP recommendation beside my Janome Horizon

Well, I guess these machines are on my top list of the best machine that I would personally recommend and use for free-motion quilting. You may be surprised that once you have one of these, you may not even need a long-arm after all.

5 top free motion quilting sewing machines

 

Let me know, what sewing machine are you currently aiming for, or the ones that you are currently using and loving?

 

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49 Comments

  1. I have Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 950 and I love her more and more! A great machine suitable for a quilter! And although Janome Horizon has more space about 1 ” then I would not exchange my Sapphire for any other machine

      • I have the Pfaff Grand Quilter hobby 1200, it’s amazing, so dependable.. I taught myself free motion quilting with this machine -12 years .. I love it!

  2. Hello Amira!
    Wow! Your #1 choice is a beauty. I hear nothing but praise for Janome machines and I’m sure it will give you many happy years of sewing.

    When I first began quilting about a year and a half ago, I tried to use my little domestic Brother CS3000 and it was almost impossible. Then I bought a Brother Innovis VQ3000. I LOVE this machine!! It does everything the Janome does, has an 11.25″ throat and even winds a bobbin at the same time I’m sewing. Most of my quilting friends own Janome’s or Bernina’s (which they love) but I’m not sorry I chose this. It has auto-threading, auto-cutting, needle down, quilting feet, and loads of stitch patterns, plus it’s programmable; I can design my own stitches if I wish. It sews everything from chiffon to 6 layers of denim, quietly and easily. Using it has even improved my FMQ. This machine is perfect for me and I use it almost every day.
    I also have 5 other machines – the Brother CS3000, a Euro Pro serger, a 25+ year old electronic Baby Lock, a 1950-ish White Rotary 77 (was my mother’s), and a 49-year old Kenmore 158-14000 (my backup machine) which I love because it’s in its own table, still runs like a dream and is superb for piecing, FMQ, and many other sewing jobs. My mother gave me the same model machine when I was a teen. I made a lot of my own clothes on it, 2 wedding dresses (one for my daughter & one for her best friend) but after I bought my little Baby Lock electronic, I sold it. I could have kicked myself later – I missed it. So, when I found one to buy I snapped it up. It’s a solid, well-made machine that will quite probably outlive me.

    With all respect to you, and as far as my poor opinion is concerned, I think the right machine for quilting is the one that works best for the individual regardless of brand. We want quality of course and that’s certainly available, but you need to try out machines before buying so you can determine what has the best features for your purposes. There are a lot of great ones out there to choose from.

    OK, I’ve been babbling on! But if you can stand a little more, I have a cute story to relate:
    When I was 7 years old, my mother began teaching me how to sew on the White Rotary. I was hooked immediately and began making doll clothes and even a cowgirl skirt for myself. Nowadays I shudder to think about how that skirt looked, but I remember wearing it and my mother smiling at me. Well anyway, this old machine is in a table and was run by a knee pedal. I got very used to it. Then, when I was a teen, my mother bought me the Kenmore 158 and I had a terrible time getting used to a foot pedal instead. But eventually I was fine. When I brought home my VQ3000 I was quite excited because it has an optional knee pedal for lifting the presser foot. Terrific! But when I installed it on the machine I found I couldn’t use it! My brain insisted on pressing it every time I wanted the machine to run! And of course, that didn’t work; it just kept popping the presser foot up and down. I simply can’t retrain myself to use it correctly. Oh well. So I’m using the foot pedal. But that’s fine, I’m certainly comfortable with it after all these years (I’m 66) and besides…I can program the presser foot to lift whenever I pause in my stitching! The knee pedal is now gathering dust. (anybody out there need one for only the price of postage?)

    • littlemushroomcap@gmail.com Reply

      Hi Laura!

      Thank you for adding on a great info to the post. I definitely agree with you that the best machine is different for each individual. That is why we have lots to choose from these days. I have heard great reviews about Brother Innovis, and am so happy to hear you are one of them too. The information you shared here will be very useful for others who might be looking for an updgrade too.
      Thanks for sharing!!

      • Hi Ann, I sent you an email about the knee pedal, did you receive it?

      • Ann Schenke Reply

        This is the first I have heard about it. Maybe someone close to me wrote to you because my birthday was on Aug 29. I would like more info about it please.
        Ann Schenke

        • Ann Schenke Reply

          The knee pedal lifts the presser foot and I use it all the time. I have not heard of a knee lift/pedal that functions as a foot pedal.
          Ann Schenke

          • Chris Perry

            I also learned to sew on a machine with a knee pedal to sew and I also struggle retraining my muscle memory. It was also a White in its own cabinet.
            I would love a knee powered machine again!

  3. Leslie Rozum Reply

    Hi Amira!
    I have a Bernina 153 that I love! Just purchased a Bernina 740 & am waiting for it to arrive. The reason I purchased this is because of the larger throat plate, bigger bobbin, dual feed & opted to get stitch regulator. I’m trying to learn to quilt with Westalee rulers & felt that larger throat area would be a plus. I agree with Laura that the best machine is different for each individual. Use my Featherweight for piecing in classes—- love this sturdy little machine!

    • Ann Schenke Reply

      I love my Brother Innovis VQ 3ooo. The throat space is large and perfect for quilting. I use the programmable stitch maker often and can make some wonderful stitches. I inheritedmy Mother’s ADLER. It is a German made machine. It was interesting to learn to use, but was a heavy wt., consistent machine. I had love hate relationship with it. Then an old Singer which was a work house. (gave it to my daughter). Then a Viking good machine. gave it to a Granddaughter. My all time favorite machine was a Bernina 930. Just loved it for it’s consistency, I could start stitching a piece of fabric ( as in piecing fabric for a quilt) and literally did not have to touch it, it was perfect. Chain piecing was a breeze. I gave it to a daughter in law who loves it too. Now i have a Brother VQ3000, and I love it. Would like a bigger bobbin. Also have a very old (1860″s) Singer treadle. it is a kick.

  4. Trish Mullins Reply

    I have the Brother PQ1500SL. Love the throat space and the power.price is very economical compared to others.

  5. I have the Janome Mc15000 quilt machine. It is also an awesome embroidery machine. I love it!

  6. I quilt everything with free motion on my Viking Diamond Royal that has a wider area for quilting. I think most modern machines are good, it is a personal choice and budget that determine which one to get. Regular professional maintenance is something that I think people skip when they find their mschine is not performing well. Because I use mine so much I oftrn have it serviced twice a year.

  7. CreativeGrammie Reply

    I too have a Janome Horizon 8200 QC. I LOVE IT & sew everything on it. Free motion quilting is so much fun to do on this machine!

  8. Phyllis Sage Reply

    When the repairman told me that my gears on my old Dependable Elna were just about shot I decided it was time to get a new machine. After all it it been 30 years plus since I got my Elna and it had many many many miles on it. The first machine I started quilting on was a gently used Janome 1600. I enjoyed my foray into the quilting World quite a bit but was unable to do much since it was in the repair shop more than it was out. After two years of frustration I went and bought a new Pfaff quilting Style machine because supposedly it was second to a Bernina. After one and a half years and three trips to the repair shop I became frustrated again and sold it for 1/4 of what I paid for it new.. At that time I waited until my local Bernina shop had a sale and got a Bernina 820 and haven’t looked back since. In retrospect if I would have spent the money for the Bernina in the beginning I would have actually broke even. and had the machine I really needed all along.

  9. For under $1000, the Juki 2010Q is great for quilting. It is a straight stitch semi-industrial workhorse with a huge harp space. No affiliation.

    • littlemushroomcap@gmail.com Reply

      Thank you Susan! Exactly. I mentioned those as the alternative to the one I have here. In fact the Juki 2000Qi is less than $700 and is also a great machine for free motion quilting. The 2010, is an upgrade but very similar.

  10. I have and love the Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2.it does free motion beautifully with a choice of 3 different feet.

  11. Karla Berg Walker Reply

    I’ve had excellent results with my Janome Sewing Machines. My Janome Jem 720 goes with me to classes, while my Janome 7700 is an anchor in my home sewing studio.I won’t stray from these excellent gems!!

  12. this sewing machine is for the best use of quilting and such kind of jobs to hold on. thanks for a great suggestions. this is a great machine for all kind of users. thank you

  13. Susan Eshelman Reply

    I agree that the 8200 hits a sweet spot with the wide throat and built-in walking foot. I did not need all the stitches on the 8900, but I wish my machine “remembered” the last stitch settings used when you first power it up like the 8900 does. I actually got the Elna 730, which is basically the same as the Janome 8200 (like Ford & Mercury twin models.) In my case, it was because a local dealer bought a bunch to take to the quilt show and was disappointed in the response, so he had a big discount on this model. The lesson: if you like the Janome, there might be an Elna you would like better (because of price, the dealer, or just the foot storage on the front of the machine.) Be a little flexible and shop around, even if you think you know what you want!
    Thank you for putting the time into collecting this information. We are less likely to be disappointed if we are well informed when making such expensive decisions.

  14. Janet Sutphen Reply

    I have a Babylock Ellisimo and have been using this for over 10 years. It is also an embroidery machine, while I use for quilting designs in the hoop, has a large throat to moving the quilt aoround when doing free motion or in the ditch stitching. It is an all around great machine with many loaded stitches of all sizes and can accommodate downloaded designs from the internet.

  15. I use a Pfaff Expression 2.0 and have been very happy with it, especially the 10″ bed. My only complaint is it is fussy about thread, it did not like Prescencia. I could use the same thread for straight stitching, just not FM.

  16. I purchased the Janome 9450 for sewing, piecing and quilting. It’s a great machine!

  17. I have two Bernina embroidery machines the 200 with stitch regular and 180(older machines). I bought a Janome 7700 QCP because of the larger throat area for quilting. I love the Janome and will be using it for quilting and use the Berninas for piecing and embroidery.

    • Janine Mathers Reply

      I started sewing on a Kenmore machine, don’t remember the model#; I sold it and purchased a Janine machine, then I discovered that I love quilting and machine embroidery. I went on a quilting cruise and was introduced to the Babylock line and I purchased a Babylock Destiny machine which I was totally smitten with this machine, so I bit the bullet and purchased it, I do find this machine a bit complicated but this is only because, I suffered a stroke and now have a brain injury so I am relearning my skills, and this is a slow process, but I will get there. I have an issue with following and understanding directions and/or patterns but with a little patience(hard for me) I will get there! Just baby steps and one at a time, I will get a project finished, and I am enjoying it! I am 63 so I do find the Destiny a bit complicated, but as long as I keep at it and keep things as simple as I can, I am getting through it! Use it or you lose it! Is my new motto! This is not a great machine for a beginner.

      • Janine,
        I suffered a brain injury in a motorcycle accident a few years ago and the description of what you just wrote, after your stroke, is very similar to my experiences and issues. But like you I’ve started to get a hunger for quilts so I need a bigger machine. Maybe looking at the 8200qcp. What stuck out, what brought it home was the motto “ Use it or you lose it!”, it has been mine as well. I live with and take care of my parents and try to encourage them with this as well.
        God bless and I pray you will continue chugging along. 🙂

  18. I have the Juki 2010 and LOVE it! I wish it had an odometer so I could see how many miles I’ve sewn on it. I also have a Janome 3500 that is close to 30 years old and I’ve never had a problem with it other than having to replace the foot pedal.

  19. Joe Oliveri Reply

    I am using my singer merritt model 1862 for any regular or decorative stitch sewing… But i love “granny”, my model 99, for anything requiring a bit more power. The 99 is early and is a simple straight stitch macine without reverse but there is just something about her that makes you fall in love with the simple and eloquent stitching.

  20. Kay Weiser Reply

    I’m looking for a reasonably priced sewing machine that will be easy to do free motion quilting. I’ve been trying to adapt my Pfaff 1209 and find there isn’t that much space between the dropped feed dog area and the free motion quilting foot. I love my Pfaff which I bought in 1987 but after months of frustration, I’m beginning to think I need a new machine. It’s confusing with so many choices. Would appreciate suggestions. Thank you so very much, KAY

    • littlemushroomcap@gmail.com Reply

      Hi there Kay,

      For under $1000, the best is Juki Tl-2000Qi – https://amzn.to/2uHj4Js for free motion quilting as it has large throat.

      The larger throat will make it so much easier and worth it!

  21. As of 2020, I’ve seen that Babylock has been having sales on their JazzII. It now has zigzag stitches and a number of other useful bells & whistles. The harp space is BIG, and I’ve seen it as low as $699.00, down from $1,000 or so, I think. A good deal with the quality of Babylock – in case anyone is interested.

  22. Eliza Payne Reply

    What can you tell me about the juki kirei hzl-nx7? I am comparing sewing machines for quilting.

  23. The first machine I started quilting on was an Eversewn sparrow 30 and I hated it. It actually isn’t a very good machine all around. Trying to fmq was hell. Threads would constantly break there was no way to keep the tension right and it skipped stitches constantly. Needless to say I gave up on that machine and bought a janome 1600p qc. I use it for quilting and bag making. It’s a strong durable high speed machine. I’ve come to love the knee lift. Mine did include the fmq feet and plate I got it for a great price. It was on sale for $1,500 but I paid $999. ❤️

  24. I have a Juki DX2000 QVP and love it. I recently bought a Pfaff hobby 1200 grandquilter with inspira frame and Quilter’s Cruise control. Took it to repair shop as soon as I got it since the previous had not used it in 2 years. Tech told me that this machine is work horse and a good machine. It worked for a little bit then started to have tension issues. It would get tension to work on practice but would be off again. Now needle breaks. I have hlx5 as recommended size 90/14 and 75/11. The only thing I could think of is the darning plate. I don’t have one.

  25. Margaret Harmon Reply

    My HQ 710 is made by Janome and is similar to both Janome 8200 and Janome 8600. What I can tell you after quilting on a Babylock Lyric … the quilting feet, the extra space to quilt in, the adjustments you can make on this machine. Wow. Never looking back! If this machine dies on me, I will definitely look at a similar Janome. Love, love!! I use a Bernina 539 for piecing and travel. It saves on service for the 710 although the 710 pieces like a dream with its quarter inch foot. For small projects, I can actually free motion on the 530. I also own a 40 year old Elna Jubilee. I am the original owner. Also pieces like a dream. I use it for travel as it is lighter than the Bernina. Was a Babylock girl til I bought the 610 and the Bernina 530. Never looking back. Happy with these.

    • littlemushroomcap@gmail.com Reply

      Yes!! And can you believe how many machines we own, so many great machines, but there’s always one or two that is truely the favourite. I love all of mine but the Janome 8200 is my love for sure!

      • Si true and I was given a Singer 201c in a cabinet. Only dies straight stitch but so quiet. It is fun to sew with. If I had to go with only one machine it would be the HQ Stitch 710 Janome 8200 alike machine. It is a dream machine. (BTW, I sold the Bernina, too heavy to travel with. I bought a passport 3.0. It is OK but it does not love going through a lot of layers such as in bag making!!

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  30. Hi!
    Well, this information is a valuable resource for anyone looking to enhance their quilting experience, offering a clear and concise guide. Thank you for sharing such a helpful piece that will undoubtedly guide many sewing enthusiasts toward finding the perfect machine for their free-motion quilting projects. ?
    Highly appreciate ??

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