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From Beginner to Quilt Master: Find The Sewing Machine That Fits Your Budget

No matter your budget you can get the best sewing machine for quilting.

Hand stitching is one way to make a quilt, my Grandma Green did that, but most of us don’t have time for that. That means I’m using a sewing machine for quilting and I’m guessing you want to, too. So no matter your budget, you don’t need thousands of dollars, we will get you into the right sewing machine to make your quilting journey fun, creative, and enjoyable.

There are a lot of sewing machines on the market these days, and it can be tough to decide which one is right for you. Luckily, The Quilting Room with Mel is here to help! We've rounded up the best sewing machines for quilting, no matter your budget. Whether you're looking for a new sewing machine or a vintage gem, we've got you covered. So what are you waiting for? Start shopping today!

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Prices and ratings listed below are current as of January 2024. The machines listed below are the best machines for quilting in 2024.

The Best Sewing Machines for Quilting

I’m just going to spoil the entire blog post right now, the best sewing machine for quilting is the one that you will use. I know it’s not that simple so we’ll talk about the budgets, features, and reliability all the things that play into the shopping for your sewing machine.

Some notes about the machines listed below:

  • All machines linked are from Sewing Machines Plus, Fat Quarter Shop, Carolina Forest Sewing and Vaccum, and Sewing Parts Online. These are trusted partners of mine. You might be able to get the exact model cheaper elsewhere on the internet but you won’t have a small business backing your purchase or the warranty. I have ordered from all these businesses before I was a partner with them.
  • Speaking of warranties be sure to read the info on the warranty as far as who pays to ship. This isn’t necessarily the shop’s decision but the manufacturer’s decision.
  • Not every brand is represented below. It’s not that I have an issue with any brand but I was looking at 3 factors for my recommendations price, function, and reviews. If a machine didn’t have solid reviews or the features didn’t match the price I didn’t include it. All machines have a 4.5 star rating or above.
  • There are no embroidery sewing machine combo machines. We are focusing only on sewing machines.

Budgeting For A Sewing Machine

Before we start looking at sewing machines you need to set a budget. Knowing how much you can comfortably spend is key. With the variety of machines available today, finding a machine that covers what you want to do within your budget is possible. Don’t let someone make you think you need a specific brand or type of sewing machine to quilt. Paul’s first quilt was made on a treadle from the 1880s and mine was made on the state-of-the-art sewing machine of the 1980s.

There are some things to keep in mind when setting your budget:

Do you want new or vintage?

Vintage will be cheaper but you might need to be able to fix and maintain it yourself. Not every area has someone who repairs older machines. New will have easier-to-use features and it will be easier to find a repair shop in your area for maintenance. While a new machine might not last as long by the time it wears out the technology in the machine will be outdated anyway.

What fabrics do you want to sew?

If you are not just a piecer you’ll need more features than someone who only pieces quilt blocks. Are you going to be sewing just cotton or do you want to sew a leather skirt? If you want to sew something heavier than garment fabric, i.e. thicker leather than a leather skirt it would be best to have an industrial sewing machine. The longevity of your sewing machine is determined by how well you take care of it. Using it for things it wasn’t designed for will shorten its life and you will spend a lot more on repairs or replacement machines.

What features do you NEED?

Need and want are two entirely different things. If you don’t need zigzag do you need a sewing machine with that feature? If you aren’t going to use embroidery you don’t need to buy those features. Applique means you’ll want zigzag and maybe some other decorative stitches. If you make clothes as well you’ll want stretch stitches.

As I’ve gotten older a built-in needle threader has become more and more important. I think newer needles have smaller holes than they used, it can’t be my eyes.

The newer the machine and the more features it has the more expensive your machine will be. Buying from a dealer, online or locally, will yield you a better machine than buying from a big box store. If you would rather shop for a sewing machine based on the type of sewing you’ll be doing check out Our Beginners Guide To Sewing Machines.

Write Your Budget Down NOW

Before scrolling on I want you to write down the number you are comfortable spending now and the number you are comfortable spending after saving for three months. Once you have those two numbers continue reading.

*A note about the vintage sewing machine suggestions. I put them in the price category that I normally see them. As always, many factors play into the price of vintage sewing machines like accessories, condition, and market area.

Best Sewing Machines for Quilting Under $200

There’s only one new machine that I would suggest if your budget is under $200. With that exception, the rest are going to be vintage machines. All of these machines are mechanical machines meaning they are going to be easier to maintain yourself. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles on sewing machines that are less than $200. Honestly though, for quilt piecing, you only need a straight-stitch sewing machine.

Treadle and hand crank machines are absolutely an option for quilting. They are not my specialty, they are Paul’s. You can certainly make quilts on them, Paul has made several. Hand cranks are also a great option for kids just starting. If you end up with a vintage machine and need help restoring it check out our sewing machine restoration post.

Suggested Vintage Sewing Machines for Quilting Under $200

These machines will handle what housewives of the 40s and 50s would have sewn. Quilter’s cotton, lightweight garment material, and lightweight home decor fabrics. You’ll be able to hem a pair of jeans on them, make new curtains for your living room, or even a new cushion for the couch. That’s truly why I think these are the best sewing machines for quilting under $200.

Singer 301 – A great straight-stitch only machine, lightweight, big sister to the Featherweight but much more affordable. The feed dogs do drop and with a slant shank FMQ foot, you can quilt on these. These machines use the same bobbin case and bobbins as the Featherweight.

Singer 301 sewing machine a great option for under $200

A 15 machine – A Singer 15 or a 15 clone is another great option. These are usually cheaper than the 301 and are straight-stitch-only machines as well. Some of these machines will have the ability to drop the feed dogs. They are also low shank machines.

Singer 66 or Singer 99 – Another great option for an affordable straight-stitch-only machine. Some models have back-tack, similar to reverse, and some don’t. If you need reverse you’ll want to make sure you get one with that.

Zig-Zag Capable Sewing Machines

Necchi BU – Is a great machine with zigzag capabilities. They are high shank machines. This is my baby, my go-to, the one I do the majority of my sewing on. It’s also why my cat is named Vittorio, after Vittorio Necchi the founder of the company.

Necchi BU sewing machine

If you want a few more features like decorative stitches these machines will do them with cams. These come from the 50s and 60s so again keep in mind what women were sewing in those days.

Necchi Nora – These look a lot like the BU but take cams. There are 12 available for this machine. If you are a treadle sewist these fit in a Singer treadle cabinet with no issues. Paul has treadled with the cam even.

Singer 401 or Singer 500 – Both of these have some built-in stitches and they take cams giving you a wide variety of stitches. These machines are slant shank machines.

If you want to sew stretch fabrics you can not go wrong with a Kenmore from the early 70s. I adore my Kenmore 10 and Kenmore 1040 for garment construction. They are slower sewing machines than those listed above so they aren’t my favorite to piece on. The 1040 though is a budget-friendly alternative to the Singer Featherweight.

Suggested New Sewing Machines for Quilting Under $200

The range of sewing machines available for $200 has improved over the years. You can now find a basic mechanical sewing machine for under $200 that will serve you well as a portable machine or a gift for someone just started out sewing.

Baby Lock Zest

The Baby Lock Zest sewing machine comes in under $200, currently $129. It has a free arm, 15 built-in stitches, and weighs 13 pounds. That makes it similar in weight to a Singer 301. It is a beginner machine so there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles. It doesn’t have an automatic needle threader and it has a pretty small throat area.

Baby lock zest sewing machine

Eversewn Sparrow 15

The Eversewn Sparrow 15 is an all-mechanical machine. It’s just $179 and it has a needle threader. It weighs in at just 14 pounds and with 32 stitches it’s not just a good choice for beginners it’s also a good choice for travel. It has a 4.7 out of 5 star rating.

Eversewn Sparrow 15 sewing machine

Janome 2212 Mechanical Sewing Machine

The Janome 2212 will run you $199.00. It has 12 built-in stitches, drop feed dogs, and weighs in at 13 pounds. The Janome 2212 doesn’t have an automatic needle threader. It has a 4.7 rating and the poor reviews were again about shipping.

Janome 2212 sewing machine

Mel’s Picks of the Best Sewing Machines For Quilting Under $200

Hands down it’s the Necchi BU. It’s my daily sewing machine, it is a simple machine. ZigZag and straight stitches are all I need usually. The biggest con of this machine is it’s not portable. I can’t take it to retreats because it weighs close to 50 pounds and it is in a full cabinet.

My pick for a new machine is the Evernsewn Sparrow 15 since it has an automatic needle threader. It’s getting harder and harder for me to thread needles without one. My arms just aren’t as long as they used to be.

The 301 would also be a great portable option. I love taking mine to class and retreats.

Best portable sewing machine under $200 Singer 301

Best Sewing Machines for Quilting Under $500

This price point will get you more new machines than vintage. Vintage sewing machines typically are much cheaper but there are always exceptions to that rule. The newer machines at this price point are going to have more features and reliability than the cheaper ones.

Vintage Sewing Machines Under $500

Singer Featherweight is a great little machine for piecing. I did put this in the under $500 range but they can go for more, especially if they have a custom paint job and have been restored. It is a straight-stitch-only machine.

Necchi Supernova Julia is another great option in this price range. The machine takes cams and you can build your own decorative stitches with the cams.

New Sewing Machines Under $500

Baby Lock Joy

The Baby Lock Joy is $249. It has a needle threader, free arm, 19 built-in stitches, and weighs in at 12 pounds. It has a 4.8 rating with no reviews lower than 3-stars.

Baby lock joy sewing machine

Baby Lock Zeal

If you have a little more room in your budget the Baby Lock Zeal is $349. Baby Lock says it’s built 20% stronger than the previous machines in the Geniune line, like the Joy. It has a built-in needle threader, 25 built-in stitches, and weighs 15 pounds. It has a 4.5 rating.

Baby Lock Zeal sewing machine

EverSewn Sparrow 25 Computerized Sewing Machine

The EverSewn Sparrow 25 is $360. It has 197 built-in stitches, an automatic needle threader, button start/stop, and weighs in at 14 pounds. It also has a 4.7 rating and most people bought it as a machine to take it to class.

EverSewn Sparrow 25 sewing machine

Juki HZL-80HP

The Juki HZL-80HP is packed with features for $399. It has the needle threader and it’s just 13 pounds but it also has stop & start button for foot free control. This makes it more accessible than some of the other machines. It also has presser foot pressure control. If you purchase from my link use juki-25 for an additional $25 off. It isn’t for heavy duty work though so do keep that in mind. It has a 4.8 rating.

Juki HZL-80HP sewing machine

Mel’s Picks for the Best Sewing Machine for Quilting Under $500

I love my Necchi Supernova Julia, it’s a great machine. It has an automatic needle threader very similar to the needle threaders on modern machines. The downside of it is it’s not portable.

The under $500 range is getting into sewing machines with more features and the automatic needle threader that my eyes love so much. The Baby Lock Joy is an excellent choice on the lower end of the price range and the Juki is great for those who need a push-button start and stop but my choice is the EverSewn Sparrow 25.

Best sewing machine for quilting under $500 is the EverSewn Sparrow 25

Best Sewing Machines for Quilting Under $1000

This price range, $500 – $1000, is where most seasoned quilters will shop. You want something that has easy-to-use features but you don’t want it to cost as much as a car either. You know you’ll get your money’s worth before the machine dies or the technology ages out.

The Juki TL 2010Q $999 is not only great options for piecing you can also put them in the Grace frame and use them as a quilting machine. It has an automatic needle threader, thread cutter, knee lift lever, and does 1500 stitches per minute. They both also have 8.5″ of throat space.

Baby Lock Jazz II

It is $799. This is one of my sewing machines. It has a 12″ inch throat and it currently lives on a Grace Frame at my house. I also pieced a quilt top on it before moving it to the frame and it did a great job. The machine is mechanical, has a needle threader, and it does 1,000 stitches per minute. I puffy heart love it. It did come with a knee lift which I’m not a fan of but it’s optional so I don’t have to have it on there.

Baby Lock Jazz II

Brother PQ-1500SL

The Brother PQ-1500SL comes in at $799. It has the basic features we’ve seen in this price range like the automatic thread cutter, the extension table, and 1500 stitches per minute. It also has a color-coded tension dial. One reviewer mentioned she was purchasing her second one because she’s had her original for 10 years and wanted to make sure she had a replacement ready to go. I think we can all say that we get $80 a year of use out of our machines.

Baby Lock Accomplish

The Baby Lock Accomplish is $849.00. It’s similar to the Juki above for the same price. It is a straight stitch-only machine but it does 1,500 stitches per minute. The Accomplish also has a pin feed system and adjustable feed dogs. I got to watch this one in action and if I wasn’t a penny pincher I would have ordered one but I don’t NEED another machine.

Baby lock Accomplish sewing machine for quilting

Mel’s Pick for the Best Sewing Machine for Quilting Under $1000

I don’t think it’s going to shock anyone that my pick for the best sewing machine under $1000 is the one that I own, the Baby Lock Jazz II. It has served me well in the Grace frame.

Best sewing machine for quilting under $1000 is the Baby Lock Jazz II

Best Sewing Machines For Quilting Over $1000

When I originally posted this I stopped at $1000 but I had enough people reach out that had a little more to spend and wanted recommendations in that price range. I’ve spent the last year watching demos, reading reviews, and chatting with friends who own machines in that price range so that I could put together some recommendations.

Juki HZL-F600 Exceed Series

The Juki HXL-F600 is $1,199. This machine uses a box feed system for the feed dogs. It has a thread cutter but you rock the foot pedal back to cut the threads. Anyone who has used a treadle sewing machine knows going backward is the quickest way to break the thread and Juki has integrated that in some of their machines. It has a 4.8 rating.

Juki HXL-F600 sewing machine

Baby Lock Allegro

This machine comes in at $1,299. Now the Allegro does have a lower rating than the other machines but those reviews are all from when the machine was first released the newer reviews only sing the praises of this machine. The main issue mentioned was a tension issue that didn’t reappear in the replacement machines. It’s not always about there being an issue but how it is handled and Baby Lock took care of this issue as quickly as they could. It has a HUGE 12″ throat making it great for doing the actual quilting of your quilts. It does 1000 stitches per minute as well. This is an upgraded version of the Jazz II, it is computerized, has built-in thread-cutting, and speed control.

Baby Lock Allegro sewing machine

Baby Lock Altair

The Baby Lock Altair is $7,999. This is a sewing and embroidery combo sewing machine. I think the only thing it doesn’t do is the dishes. It is WiFi compatible which means you don’t have to have a USB to transfer designs, it has “smart hoops” that let you take a picture of your fabric hooped so it stitches the design correctly, and it has 11.25″ of throat space. It has a 4.9 rating.

Baby lock altair sewing and embroidery machine

Mel’s Pick for Best Sewing Machine for Quilting Over $1000

It’s the Baby Lock Altair. I got to watch a demo of it recently and it blew me away. Even though embroidery isn’t something that I’ve found I needed I could see myself getting sucked into it with this machine.

The best sewing machine for quilting over $1000 is the Baby Lock Altair.

Honorable Mention

This isn’t a sewing machine per se but if we are talking machines over $1000 I have to mention the Baby Lock Sashiko machine. This is a specialty machine but ever since I saw my friend using hers I have wanted one. Sashiko is a type of hand embroidery from Japan and this machine replicates that.

Conclusion for the Best Sewing Machines for Quilting

I have come to the conclusion that it might be time to update my disclaimer from the fabric budget to the new machine budget. There are so many machines on my wishlist now, the Sashiko machine and the Altair are at the top. Do I need them? No. Do I want them? HECK YEAH!

The most popular sewing machine on my list is the Baby Lock Jazz II. It is followed closely by the Juki 2010Q. When I was shopping for my larger throat machine those were my top two choices as well. What it came down to for me was I wanted the larger throat of the Baby Lock but truly you can’t go wrong with either of those machines.

Frequently Asked Questions about Sewing Machines for Quilting

There are a lot of questions about sewing machines and even more when we start talking about the best sewing machine for quilting.

What sewing machine do most quilters use?

The one that fits their needs. There are many popular brands and everyone has their favorite. Janome, Bernia, and Babylock are all great brands but keep in mind your budget and your needs. You don’t NEED a Janome or Bernia or Babylock to make a quilt.

What sewing machine do I need to quilt?

If you are piecing, i.e. making the quilt top, you need a sewing machine that does a straight-stitch and has a 1/4″ foot or needle setting to get that perfect 1/4″ seam.

If you want to do the quilting, i.e. stitch all three quilt layers together you’ll need a machine with a wide throat area and the ability to drop the feed dogs. You might consider a mid or long-arm machine dedicated to quilting. There are a couple of budget-friendly ideas above or you can check out my ultimate gift guide for my recommendations on sit-down and standing quilting machines. If you aren’t sure what you want for a long arm check out our long arm quilting machine tips to get the right one.

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

You can quilt on a sewing machine and there are more and more “regular sewing machines” that you can quilt on. A regular sewing machine is going to have a smaller throat space and some can be added to a frame plus they do more than just one thing.

A quilting machine is on a frame, either a stationary frame in which you move the fabric or a carriage that moves the machine over the fabric. A quilting machine will also have more throat space making more room for the quilt sandwich.

The Ultimate Sewing Machine Buying Guide: Budgeting, Features & More
Confused about buying a sewing machine? Our ultimate guide is here to help! Understand everything from budgeting to identifying the features you truly need, with in-depth insights on new vs vintage machines and tips on maintenance. Take the first step towards making an informed purchase today!

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