Is there anything more satisfying than looking at your favorite quilt and being able to feel proud of the fact that you made it yourself?
Quilting is a worthwhile hobby enjoyed by many. But in order to create that wonderful quilt for you to show off to your family and friends, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a top quality sewing and quilting machine for the job.
However, if you’re the more casual hobbyist than a hardcore quilter, it’s easy to be put off by the hefty price tags of machines designed specifically with quilting in mind - especially if they’ve got all the bells and whistles.
The good news is you don’t have to invest in a machine costing the earth in order to take up quilting as a hobby.
As long as your chosen machine has the essentials you need in order to get quilting effectively, there’s no reason why you can’t buy a sewing machine under $500 instead.
But how can you be certain you’ve bought the best sewing machine for quilting under $500?
We’ve put together a list of our top 5 picks on the market to get you started!
Not only that, we’ve even included a buyer’s guide to show you all the things you need to look out for when choosing your brand new sewing machine.
There’s even a list of frequently asked questions to put your mind at rest!
Short on time? Not to worry - take a look at our top pick below!
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
The Brother CS6000i sewing and quilting machine is the perfect choice for beginners.
Not only does it cover all the quilting basics, but it also gives you the choice of 60 built-in sewing stitches, to give you plenty of choice when it comes to creating your quilts.
This particular sewing machine comes with a handy drop-in top bobbin, as well as an automatic needle threader. Very handy if you don’t want to spend ages fussing over threading the needle!
The Brother CS6000i comes with a range of accessories. These include a hardcover to protect your machine when not in use, a selection of feet for you to use while sewing or quilting, a wide table for you to use while quilting, and many more.
You can easily select which settings you wish to use with the LCD screen. Simply select your stitches at the touch of a button, and get quilting!
The CS6000i comes with a 25 year limited warranty to give you peace of mind. That includes free technical support for the machine’s lifetime!
The SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960 comes with a wide range of stitch patterns for you to fulfill your creative dreams.
It even includes a wide variety of decorative stitches will be perfect for using on your quilting projects! There are 600 stitch patterns for you to choose from with this particular sewing machine.
The Quantum Stylist 9960 comes with the option of high-speed stitching, so that you can get through your quilting projects faster. It can cram in a whopping 850 stitches per minute!
This particular sewing machine comes with a wide variety of accessories, including a walking foot and a darning foot - both essentials if you plan to be doing a lot of quilting!
There’s no need to spend ages fussing over threading your needle. The SINGER Quantum Stylist comes with an automatic needle threader function so as to remove the frustration from your sewing experience!
This sewing machine comes with an extension table, which will be an essential piece of kit for your quilting projects.
The Brother HC1850 sewing and quilting machine is ideal for beginners who want to get into quilting as a hobby.
As well as a manual, this particular sewing machine comes with a fully instructional DVD so as to give you peace of mind!
There are 185 built-in stitch options included with the HC1850, which will be more than enough choice for use with your quilting.
A variety of sewing accessories are included with the HC1850 so as to give you a better quilting experience. These include the much-needed extension table, as well as a choice of 8 sewing feet.
You can easily select the stitch you need at the touch of a button on the LCD screen. The LCD screen will then display your selections - just the thing you need to get started!
This particular sewing machine comes with free technical support from the manufacturer. You can get in touch with them either via the telephone or online - whichever method of communication you prefer!
The fully computerized Janome JW8100 sewing machine is ideal for the quilting hobbyist.
This particular sewing machine comes with a range of 100 stitches to choose from; perfect if you like more choice!
The JW8100 comes with an extension table, so that you can have all the space you need for efficient quilting.
A variety of sewing accessories are included with this particular sewing machine as standard. These include a hardcover to protect your machine from dust when it’s not in use, a selection of sewing feet for you to use while quilting, and many other accessories.
A one-hand needle threader is included as an additional feature, so as to make it easier for you to get the needle threaded with minimal fuss.
Perfect if you want to just get on with quilting rather than spend ages trying to thread your needle!
Select which stitch you would like to use with the handy LCD display.
You can use the directional buttons to choose between stitches, as well as adjust the length and width of your chosen stitch.
The Brother XR3774 sewing and quilting machine is perfect for beginners who are thinking of getting into quilting, as it has all the essentials you need to get started.
There are a selection of sewing accessories included with the XR3774, including a hardcover to protect your sewing machine when not in use, a wide table for you to use while quilting, and a selection of 8 sewing feet.
This particular sewing machine comes with a drop-in top bobbin, as well as an automatic needle threader, so as to give you an easier sewing experience.
As with the other Brother sewing machines we’ve included on this list, the XR3774 comes with free technical support so as to give you more peace of mind.
The XR3774 comes with 37 built-in stitches to choose from to get you started with your quilting journey.
If you’re looking to get into quilting, you’ll want to make sure that you’re buying a reliable sewing machine that will help you complete your projects to a high standard.
There are special quilting machines designed specifically with quilting in mind, however, these are often quite expensive pieces of equipment.
The good news is that you don’t have to invest thousands of dollars in a machine that has all the bells and whistles on it.
There are plenty of sewing machines under $500 which will do just as good a job as the more expensive options - if not better!
That being said, there are still a few important features that you should look for in your sewing machine if you intend of using it for quilting.
Don’t be tempted to just buy the cheapest model you stumble across, as it might not have the sewing room you need, the sewing feet, or the specific features that will be handy for quilting.
Not sure where to start? Take a look at these key features you should look for in your sewing machine before hitting ‘buy’.
To get quilting, you’ll need ample room. Look for a sewing machine that comes with an extension table - this should give you all the room you need to get quilting in comfort, rather than have to make do with less room.
Traditional quilting machines tend to be longer in length than a sewing machine, so as to give you a wider area to work with.
Quilts tend to be bulkier, and therefore require more room - if your sewing machine doesn’t come with an extension table you should be able to purchase one as an accessory.
However, if you look for a sewing machine that includes a handy extension table, you’ll be saving yourself the hassle of having to source one.
Take a look at the throat size of your chosen sewing machine.
Ideally, you should opt for the sewing machine that comes with the largest throat size possible for your budget.
That’s because you’ll need the room if you’re making your own quilt top - especially if you’re looking to make larger bed quilts.
Similarly, you’ll want to take a look at the bed of your sewing machine. How much room will this give you for your projects? The more room you have to play with, the better.
While you won’t need a sewing machine that comes with all the bells and whistles - think digital screens, tons of sewing feet, costs a small fortune - there are a few features that will be handy to have for your quilting projects.
Try and look for a sewing machine that allows you to drop the feed dogs at the flick of a switch - and one that is easy to reach. This will be a handy feature, rather than having to use a separate cover in order to allow you to machine quilt.
Features like an automatic needle threader and drop-in bobbin will also come in handy! Try to look for a machine that holds beefier spools of thread.
For quilting, you’ll likely need to use more thread - and the bigger spools your sewing machine can hold, the less often you’ll have to change them.
A sewing machine that allows you to move the needle up or down at the touch of a button is a helpful feature to look for, too.
This will help to stop the fabric from moving around underneath your needle, and will allow you to turn corners and to rotate your quilt top easily.
An automatic thread cutter can be a real lifesaver, too! A sewing machine that gives you the option of positioning the needle to the left or right will be useful if you want to quilt in small additions from the edge of your chosen stitching foot.
While the vast majority of sewing machines available on the market will come with a selection of built-in stitches for you to use - sometimes with as many as 200 pre-programmed stitches - there are only three main ones that you should look out for.
These are the straight stitch, the zig-zag stitch, and the blanket stitch. These three will be essential for all of your quilting projects; anything else your sewing machine can offer is a bonus!
If you’re new to quilting, you’ll want to avoid the sewing machines which are trickier to use. Take a look at what other customers recommend in their reviews.
Did they find that particular sewing machine simple and straight forward to use? Did they need to practice with it for a bit first before they got stuck in with their projects?
Take a look at what help you can get from the manual. A few of the sewing machines we came across in our research were able to offer lifetime customer support from the manufacturer, too.
This could be handy if you’re fairly new to sewing machines, or even just to give you peace of mind in the unlikely event that something goes wrong with your model.
You’ll want to choose a sewing machine that will give you more bang for your buck.
While it’s true that you don’t need to spend loads of money on a fancy machine just to use for quilting, you’ll want to avoid going for the cheap and cheerful option if it’s not going to do the job you need it for.
Another way to make sure that you’re getting real value for your money is to see what other customers thought of their new sewing machine.
Did they find it easy to use? Was it a quality product? Did it do the job they needed it to do?
A handy feature to look out for is a sewing machine that comes with speed control.
That’s because it will allow you to sew as fast or as slow as you need it to, and will help you to work through projects at your own pace.
You’ll be able to use slow stitches which are needed for applique stitching, or work at a faster speed to work on any long borders.
While it’s true you won’t need to have tons of sewing feet, there are three main sewing feet to look out for that you’ll use quite regularly with quilting.
These three feet are the quarter-inch foot, the walking foot, and the darning or quilting foot.
As long as your sewing machine comes with these essentials, you can rest assured that you’ll have everything you could possibly need in your sewing arsenal.
The short answer is no.
A quilting machine is just another version of a sewing machine, with a much longer throat and machine body.
As long as your sewing machine lets you do straight stitching and free motion stitching, you’ll be able to quilt just as effectively on a standard model.
It might be worth looking for a sewing machine that comes with an extension table though, so as to give you the maximum room possible for your quilting projects.
A quilting sewing machine has a sturdy build so as to withstand the motor’s speed, which enables you to quilt at a fast pace.
They can offer more stability with a larger workspace and a wide flat bed, but are often more expensive than standard sewing machines.