Free motion quilting is very challenging; the sewist must be a true master, up to the task.
The activity requires more than skill; it needs proper timing, and excellent control, which will probably take years for someone to master.
But it is gratifying; mastering free motion quilting allows sewists and artisans to deliver the most refined design to a quilting project.
It is a combination of play and hard work, creativity, and ingenuity as one feeds the fabric into the machine; a work of art is always the result.
And most of the time, you need the proper equipment. Yes, there are sewing machines ideal for free motion quilting, and we will discuss some options for the best sewing machine for free motion quilting.
But first, what is free motion quilting?
What is Free Motion Quilting?
Free motion quilting is a style of quilting where the quilter moves the quilt in any direction.
We call it such because you remove the mechanism that usually restricts the free motion and put the fabric in place.
In free-motion quilting, you do not use feed dogs. This sewing feature is responsible for moving your quilt, allowing the machine to stitch evenly.
Instead, you use a darning foot, a unique presser foot put above your quilt, allowing you to move in all directions.
Free motion quilting is challenging because it poses many problems for the sewist. He needs to be firmly in control of both the quilt and the speed of the machine.
That is because the mechanism that ensures even stitches is absent.
And failure to properly exercise control through delicate hand movement and proper speed may result in uneven stitches. The result could be pretty ugly.
But once you master free motion quilting, the resulting sewing project could be a fine piece of aesthetics, but it may take a lot of practice and patience to master the art. Some even took years before finally learning to tame the material and the sewing machine using their hands.
In truth, you can do free motion quilting in any machine by adjusting some features, but some sewing machines are more free-motion quilting-friendly than others.
It is these machines that could facilitate a more leisurely activity that we deem best, those that allow you to do free motion quilting with ease and less difficulty.
See More: Want to know how to quilt, step by step?
Best Sewing Machine for Free Motion Quilting: Our Top Picks
1. Brother HC1850: Best for Beginners
This Brother sewing machine has many excellent features, ideal for any quilting project, small or large, and can deal with various types of fabric.
It uses impressive technology and offers the user a wide array of options for stitching; all are best for quilting, decorating, and nearly all types of sewing.
It has 185 built-in stitches and 170 stitch functions, a superb feeding system, an excellent bobbin system, and an automatic needle threader.
It has an LCD screen for easy navigation and operation and LED lights for better visibility when sewing.
The package includes many accessories; the most important might be the table that allows you to have a larger working area.
It also has eight presser feet that will enable you to do a lot of sewing functions, including free motion quilting.
- It has a wide array of options for stitches and stitching functions.
- It has excellent features and advanced technology for a more fantastic sewing experience.
- It has a lot of accessories.
- It has an extended table.
- It can deal with various fabrics, from light to heavy materials.
- It can handle both small and large sewing projects.
- It is portable and very light.
- It is very much affordable.
- It does not have an automatic thread cutter
- It only has one monogramming font.
Verdict: You wish you do not have those downsides, but we have to consider that you have so many features for a much lower price for this machine.
It has many upsides and can make the life of a beginner quilter much more manageable and fun.
It is probably the most crucial thing for those beginning to engage in free-motion quilting.
2. Juki TL-2010Q: Best Heavy Duty
This one is custom-made for quilting, which makes it a natural candidate for free-motion quilting. But with all its features and excellent quality stitching, this one makes it among the top choices.
This mechanical sewing machine is capable of 1,500 stitches per minute, has a speed slider, and has an automatic thread cutter and needle threader. That makes sewing relatively easy and comfortable.
But for all the speed and features, it also has a drop feed dog, which allows you to do free-motion quilting.
And unlike others that are pretty shaky, this one is sturdy and durable, so you can fully control the material without the machine affecting your hand movement.
- It is sturdy and can give the sewist greater material control.
- It has excellent features that make for a comfortable sewing experience.
- Multiple layers of batting are available on this machine.
- It has a fast sewing speed with its 1,500 stitches per minute capability.
- It has an excellent foot pedal.
- It has vertical holders for larger spools.
- It has no open-toe walking foot; you need to buy one for this machine.
- Other stitches, like a zigzag stitch or decorative ones, are unavailable; only a straight stitch is in this sewing machine.
- It needs constant oiling.
- It takes a while to learn to use the automatic needle threader.
Verdict: This is a machine that all lovers of free-motion sewing would want. It has all the features that make it easier to do free motion quilting and is user-friendly.
It might be expensive at just below a thousand dollars, but it can give you the excellent, free-motion quilting experience you love.
3. Singer 9960 Free Motion Quilting Machine: Most User-Friendly
This computerized sewing machine has advanced technology features and many accessories that make free motion quilting fun and enjoyable, even at its most challenging.
It is also one of the most affordable ones in the market.
It has a speed of 850 stitches per minute, definitely no slouch, and has twelve presser feet, including the all-important darning foot for free motion quilting. But it has a drop-feed dog mechanism which you can use anytime.
It has 600 built-in stitches and 13 one-step buttonholes. The LCD touch screen allows for more outstanding operability, while the extension table gives you a lot of room to do the free motion quilting.
- It is effortless to use and operate.
- It has excellent features, like the Start/Stop button and speed control which makes for a more comfortable sewing experience.
- It has many accessories, which are crucial for free motion quilting.
- It has many stitch options available.
- It has a lot of presser feet included.
- It is very much affordable.
- At 20 lbs, this one is portable and convenient to bring anywhere.
- Mastering the sewing machine may take some time.
Verdict: The markings are on the machine itself and difficult to read for some. But once you learn how to use it, everything is easy.
You will smoothly glide the fabric on the machine and do the free motion quilting with ease and comfort.
Considering everything, on balance, it is one of the more inexpensive sewing machines around and one that is genuinely suited for free-motion quilting.
4. Juki HZL-F600: Most Versatile
If you are into taking all kinds of sewing projects, whether large or small, involving light and heavy fabrics, this Juki sewing machine might be your best option.
Not only can it deal with those things mentioned, but it can also give you many options for your sewing projects.
It can run up to 800 stitches per minute but offers you many stitching options; 255 stitching patterns and four fonts.
It has twelve presser feet available and has an excellent array of features, from automatic and advanced ones like an automatic needle threader to an LCD screen.
It also has many accessories, which greatly help beginners and advanced users alike. The most important is the extended table which gives you a large working area for free motion quilting.
- It can handle many sewing projects and take on various fabrics.
- It has excellent features for easy operability.
- It has many accessories.
- It has decorative stitches, ideal for free motion embroidery too.
- It is very sturdy and durable.
- It is pretty expensive at above one thousand dollars.
- It caters more to advanced users.
Verdict: Variety is the spice of life for this machine: it can handle many sewing projects of various fabrics and presents you with many options.
If you do not put your eggs in one basket and want all available options, this is the sewing machine for you.
The drawback is that it is pretty expensive, but the machine leaves nothing to be desired when talking about performance, quality, and everything concerning stitching.
Best of all, it is very much perfect for free-motion quilting.
5. Janome Memory Craft 6650: The Best High Quality
If you want an elite, top-of-the-line sewing and quilting machine that can handle tough fabrics like leather, you can never be wrong with this one.
This Janome machine is the most durable and has the best quality among those that we reviewed here.
The options may not be that many at 170 stitches with two alphabets, and the speed, though real fast as 1,000 stitches per minute, may only be a notch above others.
But in performance, in excellence, in giving comfort, it is vastly superior to others.
The needle threading system is excellent, and so is the bobbin system. It offers quality stitching and has a large throat of ten inches, allowing greater flexibility in your free motion quilting.
- It has superb quality and consistent stitching.
- It provides an array of excellent stitch selections.
- It has a large throat at ten inches, ideal for free motion quilting.
- It has seven feet presser, including a darning foot, basic for free motion quilting.
- It is very sturdy and durable.
- It does not include a free arm.
- It is genuinely expensive.
Verdict: Quality need not come at a price, but for the elite ones, those of top quality, you may need to spend some bucks.
But aside from the price, which it rightfully deserves anyway, this machine is superb for free motion quilting.
The specs of this memory craft will not show how excellent its performance is.
But once you feed the material onto the machine and start your free motion quilting, you can easily understand what kind of performance and comfort it affords the sewist.
Though you can do the free-motion quilt in any regular sewing machine as long as you adjust its features, having an authentic quilting machine for that purpose is far more ideal.
Some aspects of the sewing machine reviewed are for that purpose, resulting in a better experience and a more excellent quilting project.
The machines we reviewed here have pros and cons, but all are of excellent performance and great quality. They offer many options, which the quilter can optimize for free motion quilting.
That makes all of them prime candidates for the best sewing machine for free motion quilting.