Best Sewing Machine for Quilting and Piecing
Finding the best sewing machine for quilting will take some research. If you already have a sewing machine and you’re thinking of upgrading, read on to learn more about the important features to look for in a machine that can handle heavy-duty use.
Top Quilting Sewing Machine Features to Look for
Some of the newest models on the market are packed with a ton of bells and whistles. For the most part, these features are great to have and can make some aspects of quilting much easier. The bad news is, with more features comes a higher price tag.
Basically, every quilting task is repeated over and over. If your current machine is difficult to use, then it can turn the fun task of quilting into a daily nightmare. If you’re not happy with your sewing machine, then you definitely need a change and a machine that can do some of the heavy lifting for you.
A good quilting machine should be able to make a decent straight stitch. This is a must for both quilting and piecing.
- When the same 50wt to 60wt thread is used in the bobbin and needle, the result is balanced tension.
- When different threads of different thicknesses and weights are used, you can expect to make some needle tension changes.
- Fine-tuning and tension adjustments are simple to do on a good sewing machine.
An unobstructed view of the needle is also crucial. If you’re not able to easily view the needle when it enters the fabric, how will you be able to ensure the stitches are tight and precise? With some models, the needle is placed further back, a position which can prevent you from closely monitoring the quality of your work.
Making a quilt is a lot of work, for both you and your sewing machine. A sewing machine that’s tough enough to handle quilt making needs should have a good motor that can handle running for hours without overheating. When you’re machine quilting, the sewing machine’s motor is constantly running. Unlike when you’re piecing, which involves stopping to pin, trim, and press, you’ll be quilting nonstop for hours at a time.
Pro Tip: While many older models have a cover for their feed dogs, a newer model will typically lower them with a button or lever. Your goal is to have the feed dogs out of the way when you’re doing free motion quilting.
Choosing the Best Sewing Machine Feet
Many experienced sewers recommend feet that are engineered specifically for the model of your machine because they work much better than generic feet. Generic feet are usually compatible with many different models and brands of machines and don’t offer that custom feel.
The walking foot is used for straight line work and ditch quilting, while a darning foot is designed for free motion quilting.
The edge foot is used for piecing. This type of foot features a guide along the right side that’s used to produce reliable and accurate ¼ inch seam allowances. In order to use this foot correctly, you’ll need to change the needle’s position, using a throat plate that has an oval opening so the needle won’t hit you as you work.
If an edge foot isn’t an option, the next best choice is the ¼ inch foot.
Must-Have Sewing Machine Features Recommended by the Pros
Needle down and needle up control is one of the best features to have for piecing, quilting and machine applique. You can choose to stop the needle in the down or up position with just a push of a button. Stopping the needle down works just like having an extra hand to hold the fabric in place for you.
The pivot function is another must. With the pivot function, the presser foot is able to raise up a little with the needle placed down in the fabric once you’ve stopped stitching. This feature saves a ton of time when you’re piecing.
Pro Tip: With a variable speed motor control, the user has the ability to limit the machine’s max speed when the foot pedal is pushed to the ground. This can help the sewer to maintain better control if they’re free motion quilting.
The stock throat plate that comes with a sewing machine features an oval hole that allows the needle to pass through when making a stitch. It will function for decorative, zig zag, and straight stitches. The single stitch throat plates feature a smaller round hole and helps the user to create straighter stitches. This will be a must if you enjoy free motion quilting.
How the Stitch Regulator Works
The stitch regulator works to create even, regular stitches when you’re free motion quilting with the feed dogs down. The stitch regulator is a pretty new addition to sewing machines specifically designed for quilting. A machine with this feature is usually more expensive. While you can learn to make even stitches when you’re free motion quilting, it takes quite a bit of practice. Many pros don’t recommend buying a new quilting machine just for this feature, However, it’s definitely worth the extra cost if you’re in serious need of an upgrade.
The automatic thread cutter is a common feature found on newer models, while it’s nothing flashy, it really helps save time.
The best quilting machine doesn’t have to come packed with a wide range of decorative stitches. However, if you’re crazy about quilting, you’ll be able to achieve impressive results with your new machine and thick, luscious decorative threads. But for free motion quilting, machine applique, machine piecing, ditch quilting and a walking foot, these additional stitches are pretty great to have.
Buying a Quilting Machine based on Budget
When choosing the best sewing machine for quilting, your budget will have a major impact on the type of model you buy. If you’re a beginner, you won’t need a ton of flashy features that you might not be able to even use, but some of the features we’ve covered can help even a novice create a beautiful and lasting quilt.