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If you’re new to embroidery or quilting, sorting through manufacturer specs for a huge variety of sewing machines is daunting if you’re not familiar with the terms.
To help you out, I’ll review the pros and cons of some of the best sewing machines for quilting and embroidery and walk you through features that you’ll want to look at before making your purchase. Then you can feel equipped to choose the machine that’s going to best meet your crafty needs.
Let’s get started!
Two Types of Sewing Machines for Quilting and Embroidery
There are two types of sewing machines that quilt and embroider. It all depends on what you consider embroidery.
- Standard Sewing Machine: All sewing machines can technically “embroider” if you are open to free-motion embroidery or appliqueing with a sewing machine satin stitch. On a standard sewing machine, there is no computerized component that allows importing embroidery designs from your computer. Essentially, all embroidery has to be done with you guiding the fabric and tailoring your machine’s stitch settings.
- Computerized Embroidery Combo Machine: In contrast, with an embroidery machine that also sews, you can import embroidery designs to the machine and stitch them out from machine memory with minimal input from you. Hoop fabric and stabilizer, press go, and watch the magic happen!
With these machine reviews, I will be focusing on sewing machines that boast quilting-friendly features but also allow for embroidery from computerized designs. If you are looking for a great quilting sewing machine that does not have computerized embroidery input but allows for manual embroidery, I recommend the Brother HC1850 sewing and quilting machine or Singer Quantum Stylist 9960. You can also find more about these in my post about the best sewing machines for monogramming.
How can an embroidery machine help a quilter out?
- In-the-hoop quilt block piecing. By using embroidery files, you can create your own quilt blocks. Piece In the Hoop is a fun book I’d recommend checking out to get an idea of how it’s done. All you do is place the fabric onto your hoop, stitch a straight line (it’s programmed into the file), turn the fabric, press, and repeat. All until you have an awesome, beautifully complicated quilt block! While it’s arguably a little slower to piece this way, it produces MUCH closer to perfect results.
- Personalized quilt labels. If you want to stitch words or names onto your quilt, an embroidery machine is perfect for that. Import your favorite font to your machine or use a built-in font, and then start personalizing!
- Embroidered blocks. If you want to have the main feature of a quilt block be a design or applique, an embroidery machine can easily do that! I’ve seen some really cute nursery-themed quilts made from embroidered blocks that I love!
- Replicating long-arm quilting and adding surface designs. With embroidery designs dedicated toward finishing quilts, you can embroider swirls, shapes, and other patterns onto the surface of your quilt. Assuming you line up your quilt within your hoop perfectly, this produces tip-top results!
Helpful QUILTING Features for an Embroidery Sewing Machine
If you’re not already experienced with sewing and embroidery, here’s a list of sewing features to consider when choosing the best embroidery machine for quilting.
The throat space is the area to the right of the machine head where you’d be able to roll up your quilt. If you’re planning on sewing king-sized quilts, a larger throat space will accommodate larger quilts more easily.
Dropping Feed Dogs
If you still plan to free-motion quilt, you’ll need to drop the feed dogs. These are the spiky metal pieces on the sewing machine plate that move the fabric along. On most quilting and embroidery machines, feed dogs are dropped with a switch. However, some older and more inexpensive machines require you to get out the darning plate to cover the feed dogs. I’m not a big fan of this added step, especially when I’m in a hurry to finish a project!
Most embroidery machines do not come with an extendable wide table. Many machines will offer this as an added accessory, though. This extendable wide table can be helpful for holding bulky quilts to the left of the machine. To be honest, I rarely use mine, but if this is a necessity for you, make sure you choose a machine that offers this as a compatible accessory.
I always scoffed at the need for a knee-lifter until I purchased a machine with one. Then I realized how much I had been missing out on! Knee lifters allow you to raise and lower the presser foot with your knee rather than having to use your hands. Thus, your hands can remain free to help with fabric placement underneath your machine presser foot. This makes sewing two ends of elastic together, for instance, effortless!
Stitches On a Quilting Machine
- Straight stitch. Make sure the stitch length is adjustable or has several preset options, especially a basting stitch if you prefer to baste with your machine.
- Zigzag stitch. Preferably, choose a machine with adjustable stitch length and width, especially if you plan to applique without using a computerized embroidery file.
- Piecing stitch. While not necessary, a piecing stitch is a nice feature to help with those perfect scant 1/4″ seams.
- Dedicated quilting stitches. Many quilting and embroidery machines will have a couple of quilting stitches such as the invisible applique stitch, stippling stitch, or even a hand-look quilting stitch. While not necessary, they are nice to have!
Helpful Quilting Presser Feet
While you can do most quilting and piecing with your everyday zigzag presser foot, a few special quilting presser feet can help make your job easier. Most machines, if they do not include these feet, do allow for separate purchase.
- 1/4″ piecing foot. Sew perfect scant 1/4″ seams with this foot. It is helpful for beginners who have not yet learned to sew precise seams yet.
- Walking foot. If you’re stitching multiple layers together, a walking foot (or even feed foot) helps all layers of fabric feed at the same rate.
- Spring-action quilting foot (aka darning foot). For free-motion quilting, this clear foot helps you see where your needle is going and where your stitches and designs are.
- Quilt guide. You can insert a quilt guide to help you sew parallel lines of stitches.
Important EMBROIDERY Features On A Quilting Sewing Machine
The most important differentiating feature of an embroidery machine is its maximum embroidery area. This going to be the largest design you can embroider without having to split your design and rehoop your fabric. If you plan to only embroider specialized quilt labels, a 4″x4″ embroidery area will likely do the trick. If you’re planning on piecing large quilt blocks or embroidering large blocks, it’s worth the investment into a larger embroidery area.
Even if you have a small area, you can still split designs with embroidery software and stitch in steps. This is just much more time-consuming.
Built-in Designs and Fonts
All computerized embroidery machines for quilting include built-in goodies. If you don’t want to have to download designs and import them to your machine, take a look at the pre-loaded designs and fonts before purchasing. I’ve typically found the fonts and designs included with all my machines to be lacking and instead prefer to create my own designs or download them, though. (Two helpful posts to check out: where to download free embroidery machine designs and where to download free embroidery machine fonts.)
Design Import Method
There are three ways to import new designs to your quilting and embroidery machine. First, attaching your computer to your machine via a cable. Second, plugging in a flash drive. And third, sending the design wirelessly. If you’re not tech-savvy or don’t have reliable wireless internet, make sure not to choose a machine with wireless transfer!
Ease of Switching Between Features
When you switch from sewing to embroidery, you’ll have to change the presser foot to your embroidery foot and then attach the embroidery arm. Some machines make this process easier and less time-consuming than others, so make sure to check out the switching process before you make your final decision.
Best Sewing Machines for Quilting and Embroidery
Now, here are the top 5 sewing machines for quilting and embroidery reviewed in detail.
1. Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Machine
|Embroidery Designs||138 designs, 11 fonts, 10 frames with 14 borders|
|Stitch Options||240 stitches, 10 buttonhole options|
|Maximum Sewing Speed||850 stitches per minute|
|USB Connection||Built-in USB port|
I’ve owned my Brother SE1900 for almost a year now, and I still think it’s the best sewing machine for quilting and embroidery at its price point.
It has a nice-sized 5″x7″ embroidery area, which allows me to embroider a very large selection of designs without splitting. There are also 138 built-in designs (they’re ok, but I’d still recommend making or downloading others) and 11 fonts, 7 of which are in English. This large selection of fonts is VERY helpful if you’re looking to frequently monogram or add a name and brief personalization to a quilt. You can also create your own applique shapes or frames from one of 10 basic shapes with 14 different border stitch options. Within the touchscreen, you also do have a lot of editing capabilities if you don’t want to purchase software.
In terms of sewing, the Brother SE1900 comes with 7 sewing feet (as well as the embroidery foot). A walking foot and 1/4″ piecing foot are not included, but these are inexpensive to purchase separately if needed. There’s also an impressive 240 sewing stitches with the option to import new stitch files or create them on screen. So, no need to worry if your favorite stitch is not among the 240! It’s also fun that there are three different piecing stitches (needle left, center, and right) and several dedicated quilting stitches, too.
The Brother SE1900 also has a knee lifter, which makes a huge difference when I sew hands-free!
Read all about it in my Brother SE1900 review!
If you want a larger hoop size on a Brother combo machine, you can consider the Innov-is XJ1 (embroidery area: 9.5″x14″) or Innov-is VM5200 (area: 8″x12″).
2. Janome Memory Craft 9850 Sewing and Embroidery Machine
Our local library has a Janome Memory Craft combo machine, and it’s amazing! However, Janome sewing machines are considerably pricier than Brother sewing machines and thus make more sense only for a very frequent hobbyist.
If you’re looking for an even larger hoop size than the 5″x7″ of the SE1900, though, the MC9850 has a 6.7″x7.9″ max embroidery size. It also works with smaller hoop sizes and has the option of a small free arm to help with small areas like cuffs.
There are 175 built-in embroidery designs and 200 stitches as well. Ways it is better than the SE1900 include programmable jump stitch trimming and a maximum stitch width of 9mm compared to 7mm on the SE1900. It also embroiders up to 800 spm and sews at 1000 spm, which is a bit faster than the SE1900. (I rarely sew at top speed anyway, though!) However, it only has 2 monogram fonts compared to the larger selection on the SE1900.
It matches the SE1900 in that it includes a knee lifter, on-screen editing capabilities (no actual included software, though), automatic thread tension, and a built-in automatic needle threader.
3. Husqvarna Viking Designer Jade 35 Sewing and Embroidery Machine
Our local JoAnn always has the Jade Viking in the display area to take for a test drive. It’s fun getting to play around with it! Here are a few of its pertinent details!
- Maximum embroidery field: 6″x9.5″
- Sewing stitches: 120
- Embroidery designs: 70
- Number fonts: 2 sewing and 1 embroidery, but software is included to design more!
- Presser feet: 8
For the price, the Designer Jade 35 is an impressive sewing machine that quilts and embroiders. What differentiates it from some of the other machines on this list is the larger 8″ throat space and the nice-sized 6″x9.5″ embroidery field. The one downfall is it’s just not as popular as Brother or Janome machines. That makes finding videos and tutorials online for complicated tasks more difficult if you’re a beginner! Plus, I thought its interface was more complicated and difficult to figure out than that of my Brother SE1900. (I own 4 Brother machines right now, so I am a bit partial, though!)
One other fun thing about the Designer Jade 35 is it also comes with basic embroidery software, which will help you create additional fonts and monograms. It’s not a digitizing software for designing actual embroidery files, though.
You can purchase this one from Sewingmachinesplus.com!
4. Brother SE600 or SE625 Sewing and Embroidery Machine
|Dimensions||21.2" x 15.5" x 16.5"|
|Embroidery Designs||80 included|
|Stitch Options||103 stitches, 10 buttonhole options|
|Maximum Sewing Speed||710 stitches per minute|
|USB Connection||Built-in USB port|
I started my embroidery journey on the Brother SE625 embroidery machine, which is the gold-colored twin of the Brother SE600. I had it for about a year and then decided I needed a bigger machine when it turned out I enjoyed embroidery so much!
My Brother SE625 quilted well, and it embroidered well. However, as I mentioned, the embroidery area was only 4″x4.” It’s one of the most inexpensive embroidery machines you can purchase, though, which is why I wholeheartedly recommend it to beginners. If you plan to embroider only a few times a year, learning to split designs and work with the 4″x4″ area is the most financially prudent option!
In terms of embroidery, the Brother SE600 has 80 included designs, and the Brother SE625 has 280 designs. The only difference between the Brother SE600 vs SE625 is the extra 200 designs on CD with the SE625 as well as a gold faceplate rather than the silver of the SE600.
In terms of quilting features, there are 103 stitch options, including 2 piecing stitches (needle center and right) and 4 decorative quilting stitches. It doesn’t have a knee lifter or wide extension table, but again, this is a budget embroidery machine. You won’t be disappointed with the stitch integrity, though, when sewing!
The maximum sewing speed is only 710 spm, which may be a bit bothersome if you love overcasting fabric edges at serger-like speeds.
5. EverSewn Sparrow X Combination Machine
EverSewn is a brand at the forefront of technology for entry-level embroidery machines. Instead of USB transfer like all these other quilting embroidery machines, the Sparrow X has WiFi transfer. This means you can transfer designs and control the machine’s embroidering from your electronic device. This is great news if you have reliable WiFi and are techy, but not so much if an advanced computerized embroidery machine scares you off!
This machine also reads all of the most common embroidery file formats, which is convenient if you have a library of assorted embroidery files and don’t want to have to convert them all before stitching!
Here are a few other stats for this machine that may help form your decision.
- Max embroidery field: 4.75″x7″
- Embroidery designs: 100
- Stitches: 120
- Presser feet: 8
The reason I haven’t ranked this machine more highly is it includes NO built-in fonts. While it’s not too much of a hardship to import your own fonts, it’s just not as quick to add labels or names without a built-in font!
Best Sewing Machine for Quilting and Embroidery: Conclusion
I hope this post has explained the basic features you’ll want to look for in your next quilting and embroidery machine and helped you differentiate between some of the major players. If you have a local sewing shop, you can stop by and try out several of these models. And, if you have any questions, let me know!