The Best Sewing Machines for Quilting
Almost unanimously, quilters of all levels will tell you the best sewing machines for quilting come from either Janome, or Bernina. Both are high quality brands that offer the ultimate in sewing experience.
Janome sewing machines are easier on the wallet however, and widely available. But this doesn't mean they are inferior to Bernina - in fact the two companies are peers when it comes to respectability in the world of sewing.
The Janome 7330 Magnolia is an excellent machine for making smaller quilts in the lap to throw size, or for creating similar sized art quilts. This is a computerized machine with 30 built-in stitches (more than enough for the casual quilter) and is capable of free motion sewing. It also includes automatic functions such as needle up/down and a button for stop/start in lieu of the foot presser for those times when precision is needed. At around $400, the Janome 7330 is one of the best sewing machines on the market for the price.
The one negative about the 7330 is it doesn't include a 1/4 inch foot needed for quilt seams, but a good one with an edge guide only runs about $10. A walking foot will also be needed for top stitching.
The Janome 7330 does not have enough throat space (the space to the right of the needle) to accommodate larger quilts made for beds and a bigger and heavier machine will be needed for these super-sized quilts. If you've ever tried to shove one of these quilts through a 5 inch throat space, you'll know what I'm talking about.
The Janome Memory Craft 6500P is the perfect companion for those who are ambitious enough to tackle the giant quilts. With 9 inches of throat space it allows room to create quilts of any size. This is a high-end machine and comes with some amazing features like 1000 SPM capability when straight stitching those loooong seams, an automatic thread cutter (wow!), and an advanced feed system for thick projects. This machine also comes with an extension table, a must-have for quilting.
The 6500p is quite a bit pricier than the 7330 at around $1200, but is still quite a bit cheaper than the Bernina equivalents.
Both the Janome 7330 and the 6500P are two of the best sewing machines available for quilting, receiving 5 stars overall across hundreds of user reviews. I personally own the 7330 and have made dozens of quilts on it without any problems. I've also sewn with the 6500P (wonderful!) and am seriously thinking of upgrading since those bigger quilts are beckoning :-)