Free motion quilting refers to the process of making a quilt with an intricate top stitch pattern without the use of a set of rollers to help guide the quilt along. Free motion quilting is most often used by people who want to get creative with their quilting designs, as it can be used to create swirls and interesting geometric patterns on their quilts. This way of quilting allows the sewer to feel out their design and allows them to stitch on a traditional sewing machine without worrying about wrestling with more complicated sewing equipment. While it is possible to free motion quilt on a long arm sewing machine, we’ve taken a look at some of the more traditional sewing machine options for free motion quilting to help provide you with a more generally useful line of sewing machines to pick from.
Following the spirit of free motion quilting, the sewing machines we’ve included are closer to your traditional home sewing machines, with enough added features to make quilting a breeze. They feature normal sewing arm sizes, instead of the extended long arm designs of some of the most popular sewing machines. However, don’t let that scare you off from these machines. Not only can they be used in a wider range of sewing projects, but they also work like a dream for free motion quilters of all skill levels, whether you’re threading your first bobbin or setting to work on your hundredth quilt.
[table id=2 /]
What to Keep in Mind
These sewing machines have moderate to heavy-duty needle options for stitching through multiple layers of fabric, as well as a wide range of stitches to choose from to help you customize your quilts. They are high-quality but are not so specialized that you feel you’ll have to dedicate a single machine to quilting (however, we do recommend checking out our options for the Best Mid and Long Arm Quilting Machines if you’re looking to take the plunge for a dedicated quilting machine). These options won’t break your budget and will return fantastic results, no matter which you pick. We’ve also gone ahead and chosen the easiest movement options for each machine, as it can be tricky to feel out a quilt like free motion quilting calls for on a more complex, clunky machine.
Without further ado, here are the best sewing machines for free motion quilting.
Our Favorite Free Motion Sewing Machines For Quilts
No frills, no fuss, no frustration is the life motto of this sewing machine. With a wide enough arm space to allow for maneuverability and 12 basic stitches to choose from, the Janome 2212 Sewing Machine is a basic option that is easy to use on the go and is lighter than many traditional quilting machines. Its basic design allows you to have full freedom of movement when working on your quilt, and it’s simplistic stitching allows you to freely turn your quilt as you go without catching. The largest complaint with this machine does come down to its simplicity, as it does only have 12 stitches to choose from.
- Easy turn dial pattern selection
- 12 built-in stitches including a four-step buttonhole
- Stitch width adjustment and length adjustment ensures ease of use
- Drop feed for free motion sewing and quilting
- 110-volt machine, for use in US only
“It’s easy to use and beginner friendly” boasts one Amazon reviewer. This machine has one of the must-haves for any free motion quilting: a reliable motor and heavy-duty construction. Not only does this ensure that you won’t burn out your machine motor halfway through your stitching, but it also allows you to experiment on a wide range of fabrics without worrying about wearing out your sewing machine. Again, the largest downside with this machine is that it only has 23 built-in stitches, but it’s speed and general motion controls make it a FMQ dream.
- SINGER HEAVY DUTY SEWING MACHINE: The 23 built-in stitches including basic, stretch, decorative, and buttonhole stitches allow you to sew a variety of projects, such as fashions, home décor, quilts, crafts, and more
- AUTOMATIC NEEDLE THREADER SEWING MACHINE: After following the threading path printed right on the machine, this built-in feature helps you to effortlessly thread the eye of the needle without eye strain or frustration
- HIGH-SPEED SEWING MACHINE:The Singer 4423 Sewing Machine has a maximum sewing speed of 1, 100 stitches-per-minute, so projects can be sewn quickly. The 60% Stronger Motor provides greater piercing power for thick seams
- HEAVY DUTY METAL FRAME: The Singer 4423 heavy duty sewing machine is a true workhorse. With a heavy-duty metal interior frame, stainless steel bedframe, extra-high sewing speed and powerful motor, this sewing machine can sew through a variety of heavy weight fabrics and provides long lasting stability
- SEWING MACHINE ACCESSORIES: A variety of accessories are included with All-purpose foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, seam ripper/lint brush, quilting guide, needles, bobbins, screwdriver, auxiliary spool pin, spool pin felt are all conveniently located and stored in the accessory tray. A soft-sided dust cover is also included in the packaging
185 stitches and variable speed control, did someone say FMQ dream machine? With a computerized setting for squaring away your corners and over 10 dozen stitches for everything else you could dream of, this is the perfect machine to let your imagination run wild. According to many different reviewers, the Brother Designio Series DZ2400 is “dependable and versatile,” and its wide range of stitch options and general ease of use make it a killer free motion quilting machine. The only downside is you won’t find yourself using the computerized portions of this machine as often as you’d like when FMQ, but that doesn’t outweigh the other pros for this beautiful sewing machine.
- 185 BUILT-IN STITCHES: The DZ2400 computerized sewing and quilting machine comes with 185 unique stitches, including 55 alphanumeric stitches for basic monogramming
- BACKLIT LCD DISPLAY: Advanced technology is infused into the Designio Series, including a backlit LCD display for easy viewing in low light
- ADVANCED NEEDLE THREADING: Never struggle with threading the needle again with this built-in easy needle threading system
- VARIABLE SPEED CONTROL: The Brother DZ2400's stitch speed slide lever gives you control over how fast or slow you want to sew
- SUPER BRIGHT WORK AREA: An LED lighting system brightly illuminates your work area, which is beneficial when sewing on dark fabrics
If you’ve spent any time looking through our quilting recommendations, you’ll notice the Juki line shows up more often than not. That’s because these machines are ridiculously reliable, and hard to beat. This compact edition has a motor that is meant to work hard and long hours and can deal with even the toughest of fabrics (though it’s a good idea to check your needles before biting off more denim than you can chew). As far as built-in stitches go, the Juki can’t compete with our number one slot, but at 1,500 stitches a minute at 6mm wide, you’ll be flowing along like you’re on a cloud when you quilt with this machine. Take it from one of the many satisfied customers who lauds the added arm length on this machine: “ I absolutely love the large throat space for quilting!! So much room!”
- Light weight and portable
- Arm and bed of TL-2010Q is contructed of aluminum die-casting
- Larger work area - wider handling area than conventional sewing machines
- Automatic Thread Trimmer
- Maximum Predetermined Stop Position of the Needle
600 stitches, autopilot, and extension mode, and a reliable design that’s lightweight but durable put the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 at the top of our list of best sewing machines for free motion quilting. It’s hard to beat these features in a machine this responsive. Not only will this machine last for years to come, as one of the thousands of satisfied purchasers mentioned: “I love the quietness of the machine and all the tools especially the walking foot. I’m just in love with my machine. I call it my second husband.” While we doubt you’ll be pulling out the wedding rings for this machine, it’s smooth stitching and easy-to-use design will have you saying “I do” to any free motion quilting project you see in your future.
- SINGER COMPUTERIZED SEWING MACHINE: The SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960 portable sewing machine has loads of ease-of-use features to allow you to fulfill your creative dreams Has a large selection of stitches including basic, stretch and decorative stitches for fashion sewing, quilting, home decor and crafting There's even a selection of fonts to personalize projects
- AUTOMATIC NEEDLE THREADER: Threading the machine is so easy that you can have the entire machine threaded, from the spool to the needle's eye, in seconds The built-in needle threader threads the eye of the needle for you, eliminating eye strain and frustration
- BEST SEWING MACHINE: The SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960 sewing machine has 600 Built-In Stitches including 5 Alphanumeric Fonts and 13 built-in 1-Step Buttonholes with Exclusive Buttonhole Underplate It also has Mirror Imaging and Stitch Elongation providing even more creative possibilities
- HIGH-SPEED SEWING MACHINE: The SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960 sewing machine has a maximum sewing speed of 850 stitches-per-minute, projects can be sewn quickly
- SEWING MACHINE ACCESSORIES: A variety of presser feet are included with the sewing machine: All-Purpose Foot, Zipper Foot, Buttonhole Foot with Underplate, Button Sewing Foot, Blind Hem Foot, Satin Stitch Foot, Open Toe Foot, Overcasting Foot, Darning and Embroidery Foot, Rolled Hem Foot, Cording Foot, Straight Stitch/Quilting Foot, Even Feed / Walking Foot 110 volt machine designed for United States and Canadian use only