Best Sewing Machine for Free Motion Quilting in 2024 Reviewed

Process quilting with an electric sewing machine by using a free-motion technique
Kris Daub
Published by Kris Daub | Senior Editor
Last updated: November 30, 2023
Review Process and Standards
In our reviews and guides, we perform detailed, hands-on evaluations of every product featured. This involves anonymously purchasing products and working with an independent group of evaluators. This approach allows us to collect firsthand insights and provide advice grounded in factual data.

When it comes to free motion quilting, the possibilities are endless as long as you have the imagination to create a marvelous quilting masterpiece.

And like any artist, you will want the best sewing and quilting machine to help you produce such art.

But, as you may know, not all machines are designed with free motion quilting in mind. If you’re like me, there was a time you probable didn’t even know the answer to “what is free motion quilting?

Imagine buying a machine for free motion quilting and that machine cannot do the job – the horror!

I’ve used many machines and have been a part of the quilting community for many years, so I have gained an insight into which machines may be best for quilting.

Today, I want to share that knowledge with you.

So, let’s not dilly-dally any longer and dive straight in!

Top Pick

Janome Memory Craft 8200

A unit that truly heightens the quilting and free motion experience. It comes with all the bells and whistles a user would need regardless of experience.

Janome Memory Craft 8200

This is one of the most expensive sewing machines for free motion quilting included in this round-up, but it comes with a range of free motion features.

This includes the AcuFlex feeding feature, which best helps guide thick or multiple layers of materials through a machine.

It’s great for quilting!


The 8200 gives some of the widest stitches from a sewing machine, with most of the 170 built in stitches set to 9mm – this is 2mm bigger than most machines.

If you want an accessible machine, then this Janome series unit may be the right one.

One aspect I like most about this is the organization of stitch patterns, separated into 6 modes.


Free motion quilters will love the automatic tension control.

A selection of sewing feet come with this unit.

Those looking for time-saving features will like the automatic thread cutter, top loading bobbin system, wide 24 x 16 large extension table, and adjustable knee lift.

Threading System

Speaking to friends from the quilting community, it is worth noting that some users have had issues with their automatic threading system, requiring them to hand thread a needle.

This doesn’t seem to be a widespread issue affecting many machines, but it can be a make or break for some quilting enthusiasts and creators.


  • Color: White
  • Material: Metal
  • Power Source: Power Cord
  • Dimensions: 27.6 x 24 x 20 inches
  • Weight: 51.6 Pounds


  • Included free motion foot and darning foot
  • Accessibility is easy


  • Expensive
  • Potential issues with threading system

Bernette 38 Computerized Sewing Machine

An ideal unit for those who like to take their time when creating quilting projects.

Bernette 38 Computerized Sewing Machine

It wouldn’t be a free motion quilting roundup without featuring an easy to use Bernina sewing machine for quilting.

This is not the fastest of the sewing machines for free motion quilting, producing 820 stitches per minute.

But, it is an ideal computerized sewing machine for those who like to take their time when creating quilting projects.


This is one of the best sewing machines for free motion quilting in general, though, as it comes with an amazing array of stitch patterns – 394 to be exact!

Its stitch patterns give free motion quilting creators almost unlimited potential when it comes to their design work.

Free Arm

Those looking to create bigger pieces will benefit from the 170mm free arm.

The free arm feature gives more room for those who need it to create items like quilts etc.

This is a standard sewing machine free arm, and isn’t as big as some of the others on offer, but is more than enough free arm space for a machine to have without affecting the stitch quality of the final product.

Knee Lifter

Quilters who want a machine that makes tackling corners easier through the use of a knee lifter may not like that this is not offered on the Swiss unit.

It doesn’t affect the sewing experience for some, however, others may find this a bigger issue if this feature helps them when creating.


  • Color: White
  • Material: Metal
  • Power Source: Power Cord
  • Dimensions: 19.5 x 16.1 x 11.1 inches
  • Weight: 21.7 Pounds


  • 394 Built in patterns
  • 170mm free arm included


  • No Knee Lift
  • Slower Stitches Per Minute Sewing Speed
  • No automatic needle threader
  • Extension table sold separately

Best Heavy Duty Sewing Machine

Singer Heavy Duty 4452

Perfect for creating large projects and can handle multiple thick layers with ease.

Singer Heavy Duty 4452

This Singer sewing machine had to make the list for its sheer specification points alone.

The 4452 sewing machine is described as “heavy-duty” because it comes with 50% more power and quilting speed than others.


It’s one of the best machines for free motion quilting, putting out 1100 stitches per minute.

This free motion sewing and quilting machine is perfect for creating large projects, repairing quilts, and can handle multiple thick layers with ease.

One of the reasons I find this is one of the best sewing machines or units for free motion quilting is that the stainless steel bed plate assists material flow, easing the process of feeding layers through the throat space.


This is a fast machine that is quiet and does not shudder nor shake while creating quilting projects.

That allows sewers and quilters to crack on with the job without worry, and features including the automatic needle threader makes quilting projects easier.

There are a number of accessories included with this sewing and quilting machine as well as a 5 pack of 16 needles, so users can dive straight into their next free motion quilting creation.

Speed Control

Free motion quilting enthusiasts may not like that there is no speed control on this sewing and quilting machine, which may make the experience frustrating unless you are an expert quilter.

The speed can be controlled via the presser foot pedal, which can be tricky for beginners.


  • Color: Grey
  • Material: Metal
  • Power Source: Treadle Powered
  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 6.25 x 12 inches
  • Weight: 15.7 Pounds


  • Fast and heavy duty machine
  • Powerful enough to quilt thick materials
  • Multiple accessories; presser foot, sewing foot, and free motion foot


  • Speed control on foot

Brother CS7000i

One of the best machines for quilt creations – it’s just not the fastest.

Brother CS7000i

Let’s start by saying that this Brother sewing machine is one of the best machines for quilt creations – it’s just not the fastest.

With a maximum sewing speed of 850 stitches per minute, this is not appalling, but quilters looking for more speed may not like the number of stitches a minute this sewing and quilting machine can produce.


This one features a 5.2” throat space, bright backlit LCD screen, an automatic needle threader system, and an easy to follow bobbin system.

Users can create designs with ease thanks to the built in needle threader and 70 stitches including decorative stitches. The possibilities for creativity are endless when using decorative stitches.

One specific feature that I like is that the presser foot pressure can be adjusted, depending on the type of material working with.

Thread Cutter

There are two potential downsides to this sewing and quilting machine. Firstly, there is no automatic thread cutter feature.

The automatic thread cutter may not be essential, but for those used to working with one it may be a much missed element.

Secondly, those wanting to build upon space will have to purchase an extension table separately, as there is not one included with this quilt creating machine.


  • Color: White
  • Material: Metal
  • Power Source: Treadle
  • Dimensions: 16.02 x 6.69 x 12.09 inches
  • Weight: 17.66 Pounds


  • Ample throat space to work with
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Stitches per minute speed perfect for beginners


  • No automatic thread cutter
  • No knee lifter feature
  • Not as many built in stitches compared to other machine or units on offer
  • Slow stitches per minute
  • No extension table included

Best Home Sewing Machine For Free Motion Quilting

Brother XR3774

An amazing all-rounder quilt creating unit. It comes with enough accessories and extras that users can dive into work immediately.

Brother XR3774

I love the extra large 6.18” throat space of this unit, as it gives ample space to work with when sewing and creating quilt projects.

Accessories and Stitches

There is also a range of accessories included with the machine, so users can begin a sewing project immediately.

Unlike some of the others featured, this Brother series machine comes with 8 sewing feet and an extension table included.

Users of all levels can create quilt marvels with 37 built in quilting stitches, more than enough for sewers to create stand-out works.


There are built in features and elements that also work to make the sewing and project experience a breeze.

The automatic needle threader, for example, can really save time that adds up when threading a needle manually.

Quilters can activate free design features with the drop feed dogs feature, done via the console panel on the machine.


  • Color: White
  • Material: Metal
  • Dimensions:15.3 x 5.8 x 12 inches inches
  • Weight: 15.87 Pounds


  • Easy to activate free motion quilting by drop feed dog system
  • Feet included such as presser foot
  • Needle Threader is automatic


  • Not as many built in stitches compared to others like Janome.

Juki TL 2000QI

It can produce a staggering 1500 stitches per minute while keeping a low noise due to its build.

Juki TL 2000QI

I see the Juki TL 2000Qi as one of the best sewing machines for free motion quilting, as it can produce a staggering 1500 stitches per minute.

Now at that speed, you’d probably expect some noise or commotion, right? Not with this Juki sewing machine thanks to the aluminum design and build.

Knee Lifter

Do you struggle with corners when free motion quilting? The included knee lifter allows sewers to focus on their design by raising the Juki presser foot.

There is also ample space to work with, thanks to the extension table of this Juki sewing and quilting machine.

Time-saving features include the automatic needle threader that does the hard work for you!

Thread Cutter

There is an included thread cutter on this Juki which is activated by rocking back on the foot pedal.

So, users must be careful to not rock their foot back without meaning to, or they may cut the thread by accident – it’s not what you want when free motion quilting.

Feed Dogs

Some users from the quilting community have noted that their Juki TL 2000QI machine has issues with the feed dogs getting stuck or jammed once in the down position.

This is easily fixable and just requires some patience, but some sewers and quilters may not have such patience needed!


  • Color: White
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Power Source: Cord
  • Dimensions: 17.8 x 8.6 x 13.8 inches
  • Weight: 37.8 Pounds


  • Knee lifter
  • Handles thick materials
  • Table Included
  • Amazingly fast sewing speed


  • Juki feed dogs can get stuck in the down position

Singer 9960

This unit ensures that designers of all levels of experience have unlimited potential when it comes to their stitches and design possibilities.

Singer 9960

If you are a creator who likes to put personality into your work, this may be one of the best quilting machines for you due to the 600 built in stitches this Singer unit has to offer.

This machine ensures that designers of all levels of experience have unlimited potential when it comes to their stitches and design possibilities.


Elements of this machine that have enriched my sewing experience have been the included automatic needle threader, which saves users from fiddling with needles when they can use that focus on a quilt!

There is also a large extension table included, which is easy to install in seconds.

Just clip it on and done – it also saves users money as they don’t need to go out and invest on a separate element.

Feed Dog System

When I reached out to others within the quilt community, one or two did report that they found the feed dog system to be too low to hold fabric down for a straight stitch.

This could be an issue for some users, but this doesn’t seem to be a consistent or major widespread machine flaw.


  • Color: White
  • Material: Metal
  • Power Source: Corded
  • Dimensions: 17.25 x 8.25 x 12 inches
  • Weight: 20 Pounds


  • Large number of built in stitches
  • Included table


  • Some users report issues with feed dogs
  • Number of stitches can be overwhelming to beginners.

Singer 4423

A great machine for beginners with its features and price point.

Singer 4423

Great machine for beginners with 23 built in stitches – perfect as to not overwhelm users unfamiliar with their way around a machine.

Doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as, let’s say a Janome, but that doesn’t mean this machine isn’t a great quilting sewing machine for free motion.

Almost identical to the Singer model above, this machine may be a contender for those quilters on a budget.

Unit Only

This unit comes on its own; there are no accessories that go with this machine that are included.

The additional accessories such as the feet, darning foot, or other key items used to create a quilt, can be bought elsewhere.

Experienced quilters and quilt enthusiasts may even have spares, especially if they’ve been brand loyal throughout their sewing journey.


Experienced quilt creators may want this machine as a spare in case one breaks, or they might need a machine to take out and about.

For the sheer speed and powerhouse options, this quilt creating machine can be a contender against any high priced units such as Janome.


  • Color: White
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Power Source: Treadle
  • Dimensions: 17.8 x 8.6 x 13.8 inches
  • Weight: 37.8 Pounds


  • Quilt accessories and extras like darning foot are included
  • Cheap and powerful machine


  • Doesn’t offer as many bells and whistles compared to machines like Janome

What is Free Motion Quilting?

Quilting Blue Fabric Close Up
Quilting Blue Fabric Close Up

Free motion quilting is a style of quilting that can be done on certain sewing machines.

It gives users full creative control over the stitch length and size, rather than letting the machine do all the hard work.

A sewing machine that offers a free motion quilting function normally lowers feed cogs, which allows users to feed the fabric through the quilting sewing machine.

When free motion quilting, a darning or walking foot is attached to the sewing and quilting machine, which gives quilters full design control and the ability to truly tailor creations.

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

A regular or standard sewing machine gives users the ability to create amazing quilts, however, a quilting machine has a variety of additional accessories and abilities.

These extras are made to make the sewing and design experience of quilting easier and offer more quilting mobility.

These extras include wider throat space, quilting feet, and built in stitches to give more creative freedom.

Things to consider when buying the best sewing machine for quilting


The best sewing machine for quilting can cost a pretty penny if you want all the bells and whistles.

Consider what you need from the best sewing machine for free motion quilting, and think of how features and elements can improve the experience of a quilting project.


This is another point where users need to consider the purpose and how long they plan on keeping a sewing machine.

The best sewing machines vary in the warranty they offer.

The best free motion quilting machine can be costly, however, these quilting and sewing machine units can come with longer warranties.

This gives sewers reassurance when creating their quilting projects.


Investing in a quilting sewing machine early gives users some quilters an easy to use experience with the knowledge that they are covered should anything go wrong.


Pile of Quilt Projects
Pile of Quilt Projects

This refers to both the quality of a great machine and the stitch quality of the overall quilting project.

The overall build of a machine can have an impact on the overall sewing experience, so it is important to think of what considerations need to be taken into account when thinking of sewing machines for quilting.


Firstly, the material a motion quilting machine is made from can affect things.

If sewing machines for quilting are made from plastic, it is safe to assume that they may not be as durable as their metal counterparts.

Motion quilting machines made from less durable or quality materials like this shake more, especially when free motion quilting.

This can lead to issues with the final product too, with uneven length or alignment issues with the stitches.


Quality can affect every part of a computerized sewing machine, including elements such as the LCD screen.

While an LCD display on a free motion quilting machine is not essential to free motion quilting, many machines do feature a screen.

However, units of lower quality do tend to have more issues with their LCD screen compared to others.


Think of what you work with when using a machine, and whether the free motion sewing machine you choose can handle the materials you use.

If you work with fabric such as cotton, organza, or polyester in single or multiple layers, you may find more machines can handle those compared to ones that work with thick materials like denim or leather.


Forcing a sewing and quilting machine to sew through material it wasn’t designed for can work momentarily in some cases, but in most cases, a buyer just ends up breaking their machine.

Thicker materials forced through a machine can cause issues with the feed dog system, built in needle threader (if featured), and free motion sewing foot which can really put a scupper to any immediate quilting projects.


Quilting Machine Beside a Pile of Fabric
Quilting Machine Beside a Pile of Fabric

If you’re in the market for a new machine, consider the space of the area you work in – will a new unit fit into the space with ease?

The last thing a quilter wants is to unpack a new machine and find it eats up all the room or begins to affect maneuverability.

Take a look at the dimensions of the best quilting sewing machine that catches your eye, and double – no, triple check – that it will fit into your workspace.


Is this sewing device for free motion one that will work harmoniously where it lives? Or, is it one of those sewing machines that will be taken on quilting adventures like camps or events?

If this is the case, think of whether the size of a sewing machine impedes transportation; can it be carried? Does it fit in your vehicle? Etc. If you need something smaller, consider the mini sewing machines I’ve reviewed here.


That brings us into considering how heavy the best free motion machine might be.

If you are someone looking for a machine for free motion that will live in one place, then weight will not be as much of a consideration point compared to those looking for a sewing machine with portability.

Anyone looking for the best sewing machine for free motion quilting that can be carried around will want to consider sewing machines within the load they can physically carry.

No one wants to find the machine for free motion of their dreams and have it be too heavy for purpose. And, no one wants to injure themselves when creating quilting projects on a great machine.

Throat Size

The longer quilting sewing machines are, the wider the throat which gives a larger work area for quilters to work with.

A larger throat size gives a longer arm which offers more space when creating quilts and free motion design work.

If you’re wondering what quilting machines feature a large throat size and a longer arm, then you can read more about it here.

Beginner FAQs

Do I need a special sewing machine for quilting?

Yes, but only because a sewing and quilting machine comes with features and accessories built to help assist sewers with the motion quilting process.

Using a regular sewing machine not built for the quilting process increases the chances of breaking it.

Is free motion quilting hard?

Free motion quilting requires work in order to get better and develop it as a skill. So, don’t expect to produce quilting free motion masterpieces immediately if you’re a beginner!

Don’t let this put you off though, free motion quilting gives sewers a new world of sewing possibilities. Take the time to really develop your skill if you’ve never played with free motion quilting before.

Here’s a short video to give you an idea on what it’s like.

Beginner Free Motion Quilt tutorial on a home machine 2019


Top tip: start small when free motion sewing to ensure an even, neat stitch rather than a messy final product.

Do you need a walking foot to quilt?

A walking foot helps grab material and pull it through the machine, creating an even quilting project.

Without it, quilters would find that a basic sewing machine wouldn’t handle the material bulk well, pushing it out back towards.

If you are an avid quilter, walking feet should be considered.

Best needle size for free motion quilting

A free motion quilting machine needs specific needles in order to quilt a material as they have a rounded point to quilt a material.

When creating work via free motion quilting, the general rule with a quilting needle is using a 75 size needle with a 40 weight thread.

If the thread is a lower number (heavier) then use a larger needle size. If the thread is lighter, use a higher number, lighter thread.

That’s right; a smaller number = heavier thread.

What is the difference between a walking foot and a quilting foot?

  • A quilting foot is used to help pull and feed material through a sewing machine when creating three-layered quilts. Quilting feet are used to give users more control and direct the material in any direction.
  • A walking foot can only pull material and stitches in a straight line and tends to be more expensive than a quilting foot, as these give more accuracy and stitch precision.

Walking feet come with a bar that attaches to the needle, so it can feed the top and bottom layers of material through the computerized machine at the same time.

What does stitch in a ditch mean?

Blue and Red Quilt on a Machine
Blue and Red Quilt on a Machine

When stitches are placed on the top of a material at the seam, it’s to catch the fabric on the back. This is normally done with a sewing machine’s walking foot during the quilting process when sewing in blocks.

A walking foot is not always needed, as sewers can stitch in a ditch without a foot if the speed for both the top and the bottom layer is not an issue.

The stitch is not visible on the final product unless you look at the back of the fabric.

Sewing a stitch in a ditch can be tricky for beginners and experts alike, which is why I always recommend using a foot for even straight stitches.


Units such as the Bernia from the list above would be perfect, as it comes with a built in ditch guard.

Can you free motion quilt with the feed dogs up?

It has long been thought that in order to make free motion quilts, a machine must have the feed dogs lowered. However, I can tell you that is not the case.

Normally, feed dogs are raised in order to help grip fabric and feed it through the sewing machine.

Lowering dogs would normally loosen the grip a machine has on fabric, giving quilters more control.

Some sewers like the grip the feed dogs offer and combat the pulling of the machine by putting tape over them. Users can also limit their stitch length to 0 too.

Do I Need More Stitches Per Minute For Quilting?

Sewing Pink and Violet Fabric
Sewing Pink and Violet Fabric

Speed can certainly help when quilting, as it can produce sewing projects quicker compared to sewing machines with lower stitches per minute speed.

However, it must be noted that the faster a machine can stitch per minute, the more likely you will need to invest in high quality thread.


Using lesser quality thread in high speed machines can create issues with the final product, as it creates stress on the stitch which would affect length, size, or consistency.

Should I buy a sewing machine for free motion quilting?

If you are a sewer who works on creations like quilts that need more space and arm reach, you should definitely consider a sewing machine for free motion.

The best sewing machine for free motion quilting comes with great features and elements.

Quilting projects can be enhanced with elements that include more throat space, which gives designers more room to work with when free motion quilting.

Features To Look Out For

Included features such as a walking foot which is a great stabilizer for a quilt sandwich and an advanced needle threading system or automatic needle threader can also be a great addition to a computerized sewing machine if you are a quilter who doesn’t already have that option at their disposal.

Things like this allow users to save time and solely focus on the quilting process, rather than waste time on the smaller, nitpicky details.

Wrapping Up the Thread

And that’s it for this roundup – have you decided yet which is the best sewing machine for free motion quilting? For a recap, take a quick look below.

Top Pick

The top pick would be the Janome Memory Craft 8200, as it can create a quilt with ease and comes with anything a user could want to quilt in peace.

Best For Home Use

The best machine for a home setting in my eyes is Brother XR3774, which comes with enough accessories to start at once.

And, it’s a great all around machine.

Best Heavy Duty

The right sewing machine for free motion quilting is the Singer 4452 because it is the most heavy duty machine in this lineup, offering more power for money compared to many others.

Thanks for coming on this journey with me in finding the best sewing machine for free motion quilting, I hope you take something away that will really help you!

Until next time, you can take a look at other articles on a host of machine topics found here. I have also created a collection of sewing bee patterns inspired by the TV show The Great British Sewing Bee that you can check out.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to get in touch via social media – I can’t wait to hear about your quilting projects and sewing adventures!