Best sewing machines for quilting: 7 standout models to suit all budgets

These are the best sewing machines for quilting for every skill level and budget, as tested by craft expert Esme Clemo

Four of the best sewing machines for quilting displayed on a pink background with blue paint strokes
(Image credit: Future / Baby Lock / Bernette / Bernina / Pfaff)

With so many sewers exploring the world of patchwork and quilting, it’s no wonder that there’s now a whole range of sewing machines specifically designed for quilting.

A long-arm quilting machine is on the wish list of most sewing pros, while others will be after high-speed stitching or a simple straight stitch to create a hand-finished look. Whatever you’re looking for in your next sewing machine for quilting, we’ve weighed up all the pros and cons in our round-up. 

If you're looking for something less specialized and a robust all-rounder, check out our guide to the best sewing machines. And if you're just starting out with the hobby, consult our guide on the best sewing machines for beginners.

How we tested the best sewing machines for quilting

Why you can trust Woman & Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Our craft expert, Esme Clemo, works through basic and complex quilting techniques to test the sewing machines. Here are the criteria we focus on during the process. 

Look and feel: We begin judging the moment we look at the box, see how the model has been packaged and how it looks. We take a look at the additional tools and features, too, like extension tables and hardcovers for better storage.

Instructions and ease of use: Setting up a quilting machine can be complicated, especially with more specialist models. We record the time it takes from assembling the machine to making the first stitch. Based on the simplicity of the instruction manual and sewing machine itself, this can make a massive difference in scoring. 

Stitch range: With a sewing machine for quilting, you’d expect all the basics. We look for decorative stitches, pre-designed stitches that mimic template quilting, and how well the machines perform free-motion stitching. 

Performance over time: Once the machines are set up, it’s time to stitch. We work with a range of different fabrics and quilt battings in varying lofts to test the stitches, starting with the basics to the more complex stitches. Often we’re able to test the sewing machines for several weeks before writing up our reviews, so we have plenty of time to complete full quilting projects with each machine.

The best quilting sewing machines you can buy right now

It’s worth mentioning that sewing machines for quilting are more expensive than regular sewing machines, simply because they have more features, more accessories, and are physically bigger. Our favorite quilting models start from $349/£349, which is a good entry price point and go up to $2,799/£2,299. 

quilting sewing machine

(Image credit: Pfaff)

Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630

The best quilting sewing machine for most people

Specifications

Arm space size: 200mm
RRP: $1,999 / £999
Weight: 9kg
Amount of stitches: 201 built-in stitches (including seven buttonholes)
Sewing machine type: Computerised sewing machine
Warranty: Five years

Reasons to buy

+
The mid-range price point is great value for money
+
Vast selection of stitches

Reasons to avoid

-
We can’t find any reason to avoid this model

Chic and simple, the Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 is the professionals' go-to for quilting.

Our top choice overall, it has all the features a quilter could need, with 201 built-in stitches, including a one-step buttonhole, two alphabets, and a range of 42 specific quilt stitches. 

If the stitches don’t wow you, then perhaps the tech will. A color touchscreen operates the whole machine, allowing for memory sequencing (to combine and save 60 stitches or letters to be sewn as many times as desired, perfect for those big repeat patterns on large quilts), mirror imaging of stitches (so you can flip your designs to fit your project), along with the regular stitch selections and sewing setting recommendations.

For ease, there are a number of things the Pfaff Quilt Ambition can do to make your sewing life a little easier. There’s automatic thread tension, free-motion sewing with easy-access feed teeth drop, thread snips to trim your top and bobbin threads and pull them to the reverse of the fabric at the same time, the Original IDT system to precisely feed through the fabric from the top and bottom, and a possible 29 needle positions so you can sew your straight stitch exactly where you want it. 

The Pfaff Quilt Ambition gives the sewer total control, without compromising on its impressive list of features to do so. 

quilting sewing machine

(Image credit: Brother)

Brother Innov-is VQ2

The best premium quilting sewing machine

Specifications

Arm space size: 285mm
RRP: £2,299 (UK only)
Weight: 11.5kg
Amount of stitches: 473 built-in stitches (including fourteen buttonholes)
Sewing machine type: Computerised sewing machine
Warranty: Three years

Reasons to buy

+
Creates custom stitches
+
Great selection of stitches

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive model
-
Wide table attachment not included

This machine really did wow us. It’s a stand-out model with such a long list of useful quilting features. So if you have the money to invest in a model like this, go for the Brother Innov-is VQ2.

It’s a larger option with a longer arm space and the add-on purchase of a wide table makes it ideal for tackling larger projects. An in-built pivot function simultaneously lifts the presser foot while keeping the needle lowered, leaving your hands free to rotate the fabric and perfect your corner stitching. But the real selling point for quilters has to be the Innov-is Continuous Automatic Pressure Sensor. It detects varying fabric thicknesses as you sew, adjusting the pressure to give you smooth and even stitches, great for intersecting seams and appliqués. 

If that’s not impressive enough, the stitching capabilities of this model are sure to win you over. The My Custom Stitch feature gives the sewer free rein over stitches, allowing them to design their own stitches using the LCD touch screen control panel. Plus, it sews at a speedy 1,050 stitches per minute, so you can sew up your quilts faster than ever. 

quilting sewing machine

(Image credit: Singer)

Singer Modern Quilter 8500Q

The best budget quilting sewing machine

Specifications

Arm space size: 210mm
RRP: £999 (Currently only in stock in the UK)
Weight: 12kg
Amount of stitches: 215 built-in stitches (including six buttonholes)
Sewing machine type: Computerised sewing machine
Warranty: Two years

Reasons to buy

+
Extra large extension table
+
Extra large circle stitching
+
Affordable price point

Reasons to avoid

-
Only comes with a two year warranty

Budget doesn’t mean basic when it comes to this machine. If you’re just starting out on your quilting journey, the Singer Modern Quilter 8500Q is a great beginner machine. It’s not too technically advanced but has all the features a quilter could want without going over budget.

Along with the regular gadgets like a programmable needle up/down, drop feeds, auto-pilot (no need for a foot pedal), and speed control lever, this machine also has an included knee lifter for raising and lowering the needle for hands-free turning, an extra large extension table, 13 needle positions for accurate stitch placement, an automatic thread trimmer (no need for scissors), SwiftSmart system for easy threading, and an independent bobbin winding system. I could go on, the list of features is long and first-rate. 

But it’s worth mentioning that this option boasts a heavy-duty metal frame too, making for a very durable sewing machine that will last longer than most models. It means that when tackling tougher projects, it will hold the stitches in perfect alignment. 

Simply put, the Singer Modern Quilter 8500Q offers almost all the features of some of the top-end models but for a fraction of the price. 

sewing machine

(Image credit: The Sewing Studio)
The best value for money quilting sewing machine

Specifications

Arm space size: 177mm
RRP: $2,499 / £1,395
Weight: 9.5kg
Amount of stitches: 650 stitch patterns (including nine buttonholes and three alphabets)
Sewing machine type: Computerised sewing machine
Warranty: Seven years

Reasons to buy

+
Wide range of stitch patterns to choose from
+
Sews at a speedy 900 stitches per minute

Reasons to avoid

-
Touch screen display is quite technical

It’s all in the details with this tech-savvy sewing machine and the Bernina 435 is an all-rounder like no other. If quilting is a passion but not your only sewing outlet, then it's worth investing in a machine that delivers across multiple disciplines. With this machine, every single detail has been thought about, every function adapted to help the sewer stitch easily and quickly. 

The main quilting selling point of this model is the jumbo bobbin, which means fewer bobbin changes and interruptions throughout your stitching. Add to that the slide-on extension table and you have ample space for stitching up bigger projects like quilts. 

In terms of value for money, all you have to do is look at the unrivalled amount of stitches. This model has the most out of our favourite five best sewing machines for quilting. True, some might find this an overwhelming selection to choose from, but with an in-built memory function to save and store your stitch settings, you can return to your favourites time and again at the click of a button.

Read our full review of the Bernina 435 here (opens in new tab)

quilting sewing machine

(Image credit: Janome)

Janome Horizon Quilt Maker Memory Craft 15000

The dream sewing machine for quilting

Specifications

Arm space size: 280mm
RRP: £2,899 (Currently only in stock in the UK)
Weight: 12kg
Amount of stitches: 500 built-in stitches (including 13 buttonholes)
Sewing machine type: Computerised sewing machine
Warranty: Two years (an additional three years can be purchased)

Reasons to buy

+
Connects to PC and iPad wirelessly
+
Built-in memory banks of up to 4MB
+
Stitch Composer software

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive model

The Janome Horizon Quilt Maker Memory Craft 15000 is everything you could want in a quilting sewing machine and more. Quite simply, it's the ultimate quilting dream machine. There are several embroidery elements to this machine that make it all the better for quilters, like the embroidered designs created to fit within a quilting square, from big blocks to charm square sizes. There's an AcuFil quilting system that allows stitches to stipple across an entire quilt top without a long arm. And not forgetting the AcuFeed Flex that sews through thick layers of fabrics and batting easily by utilizing two widths of sewing feet. 

Then, of course, there’s the total personalization of embroidery designs using your PC or iPad devices with the provided software, giving sewers the chance to create anything from unique monograms to designing stitches from scratch.

The only thing that puts this machine at a disadvantage is the price. But if you’re a keen quilter that’s considering long-arm quilting machines too, then this might be a more affordable option that won’t take up quite so much room. 

Baby Lock Sashiko Quilting Machine

(Image credit: Baby Lock)

Baby Lock Sashiko

The best sewing machine for a hand-quilted look

Specifications

Arm space size: 230mm
RRP: £2,799 / £1,740
Weight: 13kg
Amount of stitches: One
Sewing machine type: Mechanical sewing machine
Warranty: Two years (an additional two years extended warranty available)

Reasons to buy

+
Creates a unique hand-stitched appearance
+
Ability to change the length of stitches and stitch spaces

Reasons to avoid

-
Lesser-known brand
-
Limited stitch type

If you’re a fan of a hand-stitched quilt, the Babylock Sashiko quilting machine is for you. This sewing machine perfectly mimics the look of hand quilting, similar to traditional Japanese Sashiko, to leave your quilting projects soft and pliable in comparison to the rigidity of regular machine stitching. 

While the singular stitch type might be limiting to some, the advanced engineering of this model allows the user total control of stitch and stitch space lengths, while an internal latch wire system gives the hand-finished look to the stitches. You can easily adjust the presser foot height and pressure with the dials on the machine head, enabling you to quilt with thicker batting easily, too.  

Bernette 05 Academy Sewing Machine

(Image credit: Bernette )

Bernette 05 Academy

The best beginner quilting sewing machine

Specifications

Arm space size: 165mm
RRP: $349 / £349
Weight: 7.5kg
Amount of stitches: 30 built-in stitches (including a 1-step buttonhole)
Sewing machine type: Mechanical sewing machine
Warranty: Two years

Reasons to buy

+
Extension table and free-motion foot accessories are included
+
Compact and lightweight for easy storage
+
Affordable price tag

Reasons to avoid

-
Not a specialist quilting sewing machine
-
Small throat space for stitching larger projects

The Bernette 05 Academy sewing machine is a fantastic all-rounder that works perfectly for quilting projects, too. If you’ve just started to quilt but want to continue garment sewing, then this model is ideal.

It comes with a plethora of accessories. The twelve sewing feet include a darning foot, open embroidery foot, hemmer foot, edgestitch foot, and blindstitch foot, plus there’s a finger guard for free-motion stitching safety and seam guide to help keep your quilting uniform. The extra-large slide-on extension table is what makes this a great quilting machine, although you’ll still be slightly hindered by the small throat space.  

The concise stitch range provides all you’ll need for basic sewing, plus a few decorative extras should you need them. At just $349/£349, we think it’s a steal.

How to choose the best quilting sewing machine for you

There are tons of sewing machines with quilting capabilities, but not all of them will suit your needs. When considering which of the best sewing machines for quilting, it’s essential to think about what you will use your machine for. If you sew one quilt a year, it’s probably worth looking at the slightly cheaper models that have more general features for sewing other projects. For keen quilters who only want to patchwork, quilt, and embroider their projects, think about investing in a model that will grow with your skillset.

Why do you need a special sewing machine for quilting?

If you’re enthusiastic about quilting, it’s worth investing in a specialist sewing machine to make stitching easier. You need a sewing machine that can cope with the varying thicknesses of wadding, comes with a range of specialist feet (a walking foot, a darning foot or a free-motion foot), and the ability to lower the machine’s feed dogs. 

Some basic sewing machines, particularly beginner models, can’t provide these quilting essentials. The best sewing machines for quilting usually come with extra features, like extra-large extension tables and longer sewing arms, making it easier to stitch bigger quilts. 

What is the best sewing machine to use if you're new to quilting?

If you’re new to quilting, we recommend the Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630. It’s a real step up from a regular sewing machine, with many features that set it apart from the rest. With 42 specific quilt stitches and memory sequencing for stitching big repeat patterns. The tech is pretty cool too, a color touchscreen operates the whole machine with total ease. At an RRP of £999, it might seem like a big spend but it’s surprisingly reasonable when compared to the other best sewing machines for quilting.

What is the best sewing machine for free motion quilting?

Most sewing machines for quilting can perform free-motion stitching, but the Bernina 435 makes free-motion sewing much easier. It has a jumbo bobbin, which means you can stitch for longer with fewer interruptions. Go for the optional free-hand system, which lifts or lowers the foot with a knee pedal leaving the hands free to guide projects under the needle.

What is the best quilting sewing machine to buy if you are on a budget?

Look at the Singer Modern Quilter 8500Q for £759 which is the cheapest specialist sewing machine for quilting that we tested. If that’s out of your budget, consider buying a model that’s not explicitly designed for quilting. So long as the sewing machine has the ability to free-motion stitch, can handle different thicknesses, you can buy extra feet suitable for quilting and has a relatively roomy sewing arm, then it will work for most small quilting projects. 

For a cheaper general model, take a look at our Singer Heavy Duty 4423 review, it can sew through very thick fabrics and a slider operated at the back of the machine easily drops the feed dogs for free-motion quilting.