6 Important Tips for Buying a Quilting Machine

If you are new to quilting, you are probably looking for a good quilting machine. A quilting machine can make all the difference in your quilting projects.

A quilting machine is similar to a sewing machine, but there are a variety of additional capabilities that a quilting machine can offer.

What Are the Differences Between a Quilting Machine and a Sewing Machine?

If you are unfamiliar with a quilting machine, you might wonder what the difference is between that and a sewing machine.

Some differences between a sewing machine and a quilting machine include:


The most significant difference between a sewing machine and a quilting machine is that there is a lot more workspace with a quilting machine.

A quilting machine has a longer length, which allows for a wider area to work with. This is not a big deal when you are sewing basic crafts, but quilts are bulky and require more room.

You can also get an extension table for your machine if you require even more space.

Add On Foot Options:

There are many foot options that you can get for an add on with your quilting machine.

Because quilters have different needs than sewers, there are other options that you can add on to your machine that will help you when it comes to quilting.

These add on options include:

  • Quarter Inch Foot Add On
  • Darning, or Free Motion, Foot Add On
  • Walking Foot Add On

Decorative Options:

Quilting machines offer decorative options for stitches that can add style to your quilt.

A regular sewing machine has a lot fewer options in regards to stitch type.

Some machines have over 200 built-in stitching options to choose from.


A great feature that a quilting machine can offer is increased speed and stability.

Quilters who plan to become serious quilters will want to look into investing in a high-speed machine so that they can complete their projects faster.

Quilting machines are also more stable because they offer a more extensive workspace foundation and have a larger work area that can help you with your project’s stability.

Can Regular Sewing Machines be Used for Quilting?

Quilting projects can be completed with a regular sewing machine, but there are more detailed projects that you will want a quilting machine for.

If you are planning to start quilting and you already have a sewing machine, this is not a bad thing. You can get a lot of learning done on a regular sewing machine and decide if quilting is right for you.

Quilting machines are also not cheap, and you will want to make sure that you intend to get the correct amount of use out of the machine before you invest in one.

How Do You Choose a Good Quilting Machine?

If you decide you need a quilting machine, you will want to make sure that you buy a good one.

Like a sewing machine, a quilting machine can cost money and should be looked at as an investment, and you want to make sure you get it right the first time.

Begin With Your Needs:

The most important thing to consider when picking a machine is your need.

Depending on if you plan to make quilting an occasional hobby or you want to make quilting more a more serious pursuit that you intend to make money off of, then you will likely be looking at different types of machines.

A more casual quilter should consider a more simple model, perhaps even a combo machine, whereas a more serious quilter will want to spend more money on a more professional machine.

How Long Should the Arm Be on a Quilting Machine?

One thing to look for when you are searching for quilting machines is whether or not you want a regular or long arm sewing machine.

1. Regular Quilting Machine:

A regular quilting machine is equipped with a standard 7-inch arm. A regular quilting machine is ideal for free motion quilting.

Free motion quilting is when you lower the feed dogs that propel your fabric forward and use a darning foot add on.

This allows you to have complete control over your stitch length and direction by guiding the quilt with your hands.

2. Long Arm Quilting Machine:

There is also a long arm sewing machine option.

This machine comes with a 10-14 foot frame that includes a 9-13 inch industrial sewing head, fabric rollers, and layered plastic table.

This type of quilting machine is incredible in terms of speed and ease. This helps to keep your fabric stationary while the sewing head moves.

These are top-notch machines that produce high-quality products with minimal effort.

These machines are ideal for serious quilters but will cost you more money.

3. Next, Features/Components:

When looking at quilting machines, there are some components and features that you will want to make sure that you have to make sure you are quilting effectively.

These features include but are not limited to:

  • Adjustable needle position
  • Motor speed control
  • Drop Feed Dogs (Free Motion)
  • Pivot ability
  • Large throat space

For a long arm option, you should look into:

  • Stitch regulation
  • Frame adjustment
  • Weight of machine
  • Size of quilting area
  • Ability to be upgraded-this is essential if you have a computerized machine that might need upgrades

4. Brand Options:

When shopping for your quilting machine, you will also want to consider what brand to buy.

The brand is essential when you are looking for a sewing machine or a quilting machine.

When looking into brands, you will want to look at things like price, product lines, and durability.

There are a few popular and durable brands, and any of them would work for you, but the ultimate decision is usually a personal preference.

What Are the Most Durable Brands in Quilting Machines?

Durability is very important when you are looking at a quilting machine.

This is because you want your machine to last as long as possible so that you do not have to worry about replacing it before you are ready for an upgrade.

Some great brands that offer a long lifespan and great durability include:

  • Brother
  • Juki
  • Janome
  • Singer
  • Bernina

Every one of these companies has held strong and made a name for themselves in the market.

They also all offer multiple options for you to choose from, which allows you to find the machine that will be a perfect fit for you and your uses.

5. Price:

Price is important when you are looking to invest in quilting equipment. The prices for quilting equipment can range anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to over thousands of dollars.

If you are looking at long arm quilting machines, you can expect to spend close to $10,000 or more.

Because there is such a large range, you will really want to check what is in your budget and how much you need to spend on a machine that will do the work for you that you need.

It might be tempting to overspend and buy the fanciest machine, but if you do not need the features that are offered, or you don’t think you will get a lot of use out of them, then it might not be worth it to spend the money.

Should I Get a Quilting Machine or a Combo Machine?

One question that you likely have is whether or not you should get a quilting machine or a combo machine.

A combo machine is a machine that can embroider and sew.

The main difference between a machine that sews and a machine that embroiders is that sewing machines are used for more practical and functional stitches while embroidery machines are more for sewing designs onto fabric.

Functional Sewing Machine

Functional sewing includes straightforward sewing and construction sewing.

The main purpose of functional stitching is to sewing fabric together, finishing edges, or manipulating the fabric with technical things like pleats and darts.

In essence, functional stitching is all about construction.

Embroidery Machine

An embroidery is a specialized form of stitching that is primarily decorative and is looked at by many as art. These seams are not meant to hold anything together and are only meant to create a design on the fabric.

If you think that using embroidery is something that you would want to do, you should look into a combo machine if you do not already have a sewing machine.

If you do not buy a combo machine first, and then later decide you want to do embroidery, you will likely find yourself buying a second machine.

This can be costly as well as space consuming, and you will constantly find yourself switching back and forth between machines.

If you already have a sewing machine, then unless you intend to get rid of your sewing machine, you do not need a combo machine because you already have a machine that is capable of sewing.

Do You Even Need a Special Machine to Quilt?

You do not need to look into a special quilting machine if you plan to stay just a casual quilter.

As long as your machine allows you to sew with free motion and you are willing to practice, you can quilt with a regular sewing machine.

Quilting equipment can be expensive and is a big investment. For that reason, you do not want to invest before you know that you are going to get all the use out of it that can make it worth it.

Sewing with the machine that you already have can help you determine if you want to get into quilting. That way, you have an idea of whether or not it would be worth it to invest in a quilting machine and other equipment.

After you make that decision, you can start investing in the proper equipment that will help you take your quilting to the next level.

No matter if you quilt seriously or casually, there is always more than you can learn and improve, and the right equipment can help get you there.