In the past year, I’ve been asked more than ever before for my favorite sewing machine for quilting. With people having more dedicated time at home over the past year, many people were taking up new – or renewing old -hobbies. If you are looking for a brand new beginner, entry-level sewing machine or you’re ready to update your previous machine for more throat space or other handy features, I’ve got lots of advice for you today. Scroll. down to learn more about the best sewing machines for quilting!
Find a Sewing Machine Dealer
My first and most important piece of advice: find a local sewing machine dealer. Don’t buy a machine from a big box store (Target, Costco, etc.). Those big box stores like to make it feel like you’re getting a great deal. But when it comes to well-calibrated machines that you’ll to enjoy year after year, project after project without any grief, the old adage is true: You get what you pay for.
That is not to say that you need to spend a lot of money if you’re just getting started or maybe buying a first machine for a child or friend. There are some GREAT entry level machines at very reasonable prices. I’ll get to those below.
The reason you want to buy a machine from a licensed sewing machine dealer is that relationship is worth every penny. The A#1 reason to shop at a dealers is they let you try all of the machines before you buy one.
And then they will help you find the machine that is just right for your sewing level and budget. In addition to those invaluable reasons, they will often also provide access to free classes (in person or online) to help you learn how to get the most out of your machine.
They also typically provide maintenance, repair, and trouble-shooting services if something goes wrong or when your machine just needs a tune-up.
And finally, a dealer will also allow your the opportunity to exchange your machine for new one when ever you are ready to upgrade! Dealers really are the best resource there is when it comes to finding happiness with a sewing machine.
They WANT you to succeed.
The machines at big box stores are generally lower quality and no one at Costco is going to teach you how to use your machine or help you troubleshoot when you run into a problem. (Which you most likely will sooner or later with one of those machines.)
I have been working in a sponsored partnership with Baby Lock sewing machines for the past few years and have genuinely LOVED each machine that I’ve worked with. Baby Lock has provided me with a variety of sewing machines to sample and try out – from simple to super technically advanced – and I’ve loved every one. Since these are the sewing machines I’m most familiar with, I will be sharing my recommendations based on what I’ve learned and my own personal experiences.
Baby Lock has a sewing machine that is just right for any level – a simple basic machine for a beginner or super high-tech, state-of-the-art machine will all the bells and whistles. They also have machines simple or complex to fit your needs! You can find your nearest Baby Lock dealer here.
Recently I visited My Girlfriend’s Quilt Shoppe – a local Baby Lock Sewing Machine dealer – and they walked me through all of the latest options and levels of machines. Here are some of their recommendations (and mine):
Best Sewing Machines for Beginners:
Baby Lock recently released the the Genuine Collection – a refreshed collection of updated smaller, entry level machines. Here’s what I’ve learned and my experiences with beginner, entry level machines.
If you’re looking for a beginning machine and don’t want to spend a lot of money, a Baby Lock Zest is the perfect machine. It’s doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles, making it affordable, but still sturdy and reliable. Russell Conte – an experienced garment sewer and instructor, who teaches sewing classes at a college, uses and recommends these machines for their beginning students. I highly trust his experience, opinion and recommendation.
If you are looking for a good just-beyond-entry-level-machine, whether it’s your first sewing machine, or you’re looking for a second machine that is easily portable, I highly recommend the Baby Lock Jubilant. It’s lightweight and easily portable (making it a great travel machine) but is sturdy with a consistent stitch. I have been sewing with the Jubilant for over a year now – especially when I am taking a machine to sew away from home.
This machine has over 80 built-in stitches – including overlock, buttonholes, and a variety of decorative stitches. And it also sews a beautiful straight stitch at a decent speed- which is my biggest preference in a sewing machine.
Mid-Level Sewing Machines:
The Jazz machine is super simple to operate, sews 1,000 stitches per minute, has 28 different stitches, large throat space, and feed dogs that drop for free motion quilting. It’s another popular machine without extra frills that offers a lot of bang for the buck. It’s designed to be very easy to navigate and operate.
Another great mid-level upgrade is the Lyric. You can read Dana’s (from Dana Made It) review of her Lyric here.
If you’re looking for a one-stitch machine – as in you only need to sew a simple straight line and want to do it fast – the Baby Lock Accomplish is for you! This machine is sturdy and sews 1,500 stitches per minute and is perfect for any garment or quilting project. It also has expanded throat space and comes with a large extension table. This machine is a work horse ready for pedal to the metal.
Best Sewing Machines for Quilting:
If you’re ready to upgrade to a higher-end machine, I recommend the Baby Lock Aria or the Crescendo. I’ve been sewing on the Baby Lock Crescendo for a few years now and it sews SO beautifully! It’s a bigger machine with lots of throat space for quilting and includes a dual-feed foot (an upgrade from a regular walking foot) and a free-motion foot.
It also includes lots of other fancy features like a scissors button for instantly trimming threads – I love not having to remember to hold thread tails when I start sewing or long threads tails trailing from every seam. It makes for more efficient bobbin use. The automatic threader makes threading a needle SO easy.
I also love the laser beam light you can cast on to the needle plate and beyond – perfect for making half square triangles or snow-ball corners. It also has amazing dual-feed stitching option for even feeding – perfect for sewing on binding or working with more slippery materials.
The great thing is that many of these features are available in other Baby Lock machines at a variety of price points.
You can read more about a Crescendo machine in this review by Elizabeth Chappell of Quilter’s Candy. (We had very similar experiences switching machines.)
Honestly, there are so many handy dandy features on new machines these days. If it’s been a while since you’ve tried a newer sewing machine, you might have fun visiting a dealer and just seeing how far machines have come!
Versatile Sewing Machine Accessories:
Another one of the things I love most about Baby Lock sewing machines is that they come with a range of accessories and feet. And if you need/want to buy other accessories, their feet attachments are so reasonably priced – it’s easy and affordable to get the ones that you want. AND many of these feet, bobbins, etc are interchangeable with the other machines. For example, I have a 1/4″ foot that works on both the Jubilant and the Crescendo machine.
There’s a brief introduction to my favorite Baby Lock machines. A good, trusty sewing machine is worth it’s weight in gold. You will get so much more enjoyment out of your sewing experience when you have a reliable machine, as well as a reliable dealer for anytime your well-loved-and-used machine needs a little tune up.
If you’d like to learn more about the variety of Baby Lock machines, check out the Baby Lock YouTube Channel for loads of information and sewing machine tips!