Best Sewing Machine For Free Motion Quilting- Learn Free Motion Quilting Pro Guide

There is, perhaps, no other quilting technique that gives as much freedom to the quilter as free-motion quilting. In this technique, a darning foot that hovers over the fabric is installed, and the feed dogs are lowered. It is then up to the quilter to move the fabric in the direction they want to achieve the desired pattern, whether curvilinear, straight, or just an imagined pattern. The quilt movement under the needle guides the designs. Since the feed dogs are lowered, it will be up to the quilter to space the stitches evenly and control the stitch length and appearance. Despite this flexibility, it will take the best sewing machine for free motion quilting to produce aesthetically pleasing and high-quality work.

There are numerous machines in the market, each with features geared to make free motion quilting efficient and comfortable. Below, we take a comprehensive look at 10 of these machines to help you pick the right one and get quilting right away.

What Is Quilting

Best Sewing Machine For Free Motion Quilting
Sewing Machine for Free Motion Quilting

Quilting is a craft that involves sewing together layers of fabric to create a thick and warm material. Quilting can also refer to the design or pattern of stitches that hold the layers together.

Quilting can be used to make various types of items, such as blankets, bedspreads, wall hangings, clothing, bags, and more.

Quilting has a long and rich history that spans across different cultures, regions, and periods. Quilting was originally used to make functional and durable items, such as armor, clothing, or bedding.

Quilting was also used to create artistic and symbolic items, such as religious, historical, or personal motifs. Quilting evolved over time with different styles, techniques, and materials influenced by various factors, such as climate, trade, fashion, and social movements.

Quilting is a diverse and dynamic craft that can be classified into different types, such as:

  • Hand Quilting: Hand quilting is quilting that is done by hand using a needle and thread. Hand quilting is more time-consuming and labor-intensive than machine quilting, but it can also produce more intricate and delicate results.
  • Machine Quilting: Machine quilting is quilting that is done by machine using a sewing machine or a longarm machine. Machine quilting is faster and easier than hand quilting, but it can also produce more uniform and consistent results.
  • Patchwork Quilting: Patchwork quilting is quilting that involves joining pieces of fabric of different shapes, sizes, colors, or patterns to create a larger design. Patchwork quilting can be done by hand or by machine, and it can create various effects, such as geometric, mosaic, or applique.
  • Whole Cloth Quilting: Whole cloth quilting is quilting that involves using a single piece of fabric for the top layer of the quilt. Whole cloth quilting can be done by hand or by machine, and it can emphasize the texture and pattern of the stitches rather than the fabric.

What Is Free Motion Quilting?

Free motion quilting is a creative and fun way to add texture and personality to your quilts. Unlike traditional quilting, which involves sewing straight lines or following a predetermined pattern, free motion quilting allows you to move the fabric freely under the needle and create your own designs. You can use free motion quilting to make swirls, loops, flowers, feathers, and any other shapes you can imagine.

To do free motion quilting, you need a few tools and some practice. First, you need a sewing machine that can lower or cover its feed dogs, which are the metal teeth that help move the fabric through the machine. When you lower or cover the feed dogs, you have full control over the direction and speed of the fabric.

Second, you need a free motion foot, which is a special attachment that allows the needle to move up and down without catching the fabric. Third, you need a quilt sandwich, which is a layer of backing fabric, batting, and quilt top that are basted together. Fourth, you need some thread, scissors, pins, and a marking tool.

How to Do Free Motion Quilting

To start free motion quilting, you need to set up your sewing machine and prepare your quilt sandwich. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Lower or cover the feed dogs on your sewing machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Attach the free motion foot and adjust the presser foot pressure if needed.
  • Choose a thread color that matches or contrasts with your quilt top.
  • Wind a bobbin with the same thread and insert it into the machine.
  • Thread the machine and pull up the bobbin thread to the top of the quilt sandwich.
  • Set the stitch length to zero or very small.
  • Mark some guidelines on your quilt top with a removable marking tool if you want to follow a certain pattern or shape.
  • Pin or spray baste your quilt sandwich to prevent shifting.

Now you are ready to free motion quilt. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Start with some warm-up exercises on a scrap piece of fabric to get used to the movement and speed of free motion quilting.
  • Begin quilting from the center of the quilt sandwich and work your way outwards.
  • Hold the quilt sandwich with both hands and move it smoothly under the needle. Try not to pull or push too hard.
  • Keep a consistent speed between your hands and the machine. The faster you move the fabric, the longer the stitches will be. The slower you move the fabric, the shorter the stitches will be.
  • Try to avoid stopping and starting too often, as this can create knots or uneven stitches. If you need to stop, make sure to lower the needle into the fabric before lifting the presser foot.

Best Sewing Machine For Free Motion Quilting

  1. Brother PQ1500SL Sewing and Quilting Machine

The Brother PQ 1500 SL is a semi-industrial machine that has been outfitted with quilters in mind from the interior to exterior build. It has a robust and durable build and is heavy enough to remain sturdy as you quilt.

The accessory package that comes with the machine is also quite decent and includes seven presser feet and a knee lifter.  Though the PQ1500SL only has a straight stitch, this stitch is highly flexible and can be adjusted up to a maximum length of 7mm.

With a top sewing speed of 1500 stitches per minute, this is the machine to get if you quickly want to get through multiple projects. However, a beginner may struggle to control this speed as there is no automatic control feature and instead will have to learn the right amount of pressure to put on the foot pedal.

Many of this machine’s features are also adjustable to suit your preferences. These include the foot pressure- which will allow you to sew through different fabric thicknesses, the needle position by the push of a button, and the feed dogs, which have four different height settings.

The feed dogs can be replaced with a single pin, improving the already smooth fabric movement.

Even with the relatively large work area, it can be extended using a 12×18 inch extension table to work on larger projects. Maintaining this workhorse is as easy as oiling the small holes on the exterior regularly.

Summary of Top Features

  •       Adjustable foot pressure
  •       Four feed-dog height adjustment settings
  •       LED-lit working area
  •       Pin feed mechanism
  •       Adjustable thread tension


  •       Expandable workspace
  •       Fast sewing speeds
  •       A maximum stitch length of 7mm
  •       Works well with thicker fabrics
  •       Easy maintenance


  •       It only has a straight stitch.
  •       No automated speed control feature
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  1. SINGER 7258 100-Stitch Computerized 76 Decorative Stitches

A recipient of the Consumer’s Digest Best Buy award, the Singer 7258 is popular with good reason. This versatile machine can be used with sewers of different skill levels, from beginner to professional.

It offers 100 stitch options with 76 decorative stitches, seven buttonholes, nine basic, and eight stretch stitches. These stitches’ length and width are easily adjustable using the provided buttons whenever you need to do so.

The 750 stitches per minute are decent enough for this machine, but if you want a lower speed for more precise work, a speed slider allows you to change the speed. This speed is also not controlled by a speed slider but is done automatically.

To make your quilting easier, you can program the needle position-up/down for when the machine stops. A removable free arm also makes sewing hard to reach places more uncomplicated and more comfortable.

The bobbin system on this machine has been built with convenience in mind. Loading the bobbin is done by dropping-in from the top, and inserting it is easy and quick.  A transparent cover will also help you monitor the thread supply and reload when needed.

Winding the bobbin is done automatically by following the diagram printed on the machine, and the needle bar disengages automatically for your safety.

Other multiple features make this machine great for quilting. The electronic autopilot is excellent for sewing without the foot pedal, an auto tie-off ties off straight stitches at the push of a button, and a reverse stitch button is great to sew seam ends. The accessory kit is also generous and adds several functionalities to this already great machine.

Summary of Top Features

  •       100 stitch options
  •       Ten included presser feet
  •       LCD screen
  •       Top speeds of up to 750 stitches per minute
  •       Top drop-in bobbin loading


  •       Programmable needle up/down
  •       High presser foot lifter
  •       Twin-needle capability
  •       13 needle positions
  •       Adjustable speed


  •       Non-adjustable presser foot pressure
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  1. Juki TL-2010Q 1-Needle, Lockstitch, Portable Sewing Machine

The Juki TL-2010Q is a 1-needle sewing and quilting machine full of excellent features for all skill levels. You can only sew straight stitches with this machine, which may be a loss for those looking for more caries stitches.

However, this stitch is flexible, and its length and width can be adjusted to your preferred dimensions, with a maximum stitch length of 6mm. Reinforcing seam ends when sewing is critical, and the reverse lever allows you to do just that.

Speeds on this machine can go up to 1,500 stitches per minute, allowing you to work quickly and promptly finish your projects. A speed control lever gives you full control over the speed, and you can go as low as 200 stitches per minute for precision work.

The presser foot pressure is also adjustable according to the fabric thickness by turning the regulator on the machine’s top. These adjustments will also be useful in matching the top and bottom fabric and thread tension. You can also keep your hands sewing when you need to lift the foot, using a knee lifter for up to 12mm.

An extension table increases the space you have for sewing and allows you to sew and work on larger projects, and the bobbin is easily replaced for quick rethreading of your machine. The 2010Q package also includes ¼ inch and 1/5 inch quilting feet suitable for free-motion quilting.

Summary of Top Features

  • Adjustable thread tension
  • Needle up/down control features
  • Knee lifter lever
  • Expandable working area


  • Well-lit working area
  • Automatic thread trimmer
  • Automatic needle threading
  • Adjustable foot pressure
  • Comes with several quilting feet
  • Fast, adjustable speeds


  • Comes with only one stitch
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  1. Janome 1600P-QC Straight-Stitch Machine

The Janome 1600P-QC is a heavy-duty quilting machine that allows you to work with an industrial-grade machine at an affordable price.

Though it can only sew straight stitches, it does this very well. The fabric is also less likely to be pulled down as the needle plate has one needle-hole in it.

At a maximum sewing speed of 1600 stitches per minute, you can blaze through your projects and take on new ones in no time. The speed control can also be varied according to the user preference using the speed control slider.

With a working area of 8.85×5.5’’, tackling your larger projects will not prove a challenge, and the side loading bobbin is simple to use. This machine is also equipped with features for when you are dealing with thicker/multilayered fabrics.

The presser foot pressure is adjustable and capable of up to 11 pounds of pressure. Apart from sewing through thick fabrics, this is essential when matching the top and bottom fabrics and thread tension, and stitch quality.

An extra-high presser foot lifter also keeps your hands working when you need to raise the presser foot.

The needle up/down position settings are memorized by this unit, so you can conveniently remove the fabric or rotate it around for precise placement of stitches.

Other features that make this machine great for the sewer with a large workload that needs a workhorse are the extremely heavy-duty and sturdy build, thread cutting for the upper and lower threads, and separate motors bobbin winding and the top thread.

Summary of Top Features

  • It has sewing speeds of up to 1600 stitches per minute.
  • Side-loading bobbin
  • 8.85×5.5’’ work area
  • Presser foot sensor
  • A maximum stitch length of 6mm


  • Sturdy and durable
  • Fast sewing speeds
  • High-quality stitches
  • Automatic thread cutting
  • Smooth feeding mechanism
  • Memorized needle up/down setting


  • It only sews straight stitches
  • Not easily portable
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  1. SINGER | Quantum Stylist 9960 Computerized Portable Sewing Machine

The Singer Quantum 9960 is a powerful, computerized sewing machine that works for most fabric types and full of features that make it great for quilting. One feature that makes it very popular is the sheer number of stitch applications.

With 600 built-in stitches, you can work on any varied project you desire. The stitches’ breakdown includes 12 utility stitches, 34 decorative stitches, 13 buttonhole stitches, 91 sewing stitches, and 450 letter, character, and number stitches in 5 fonts. These stitches are easily selected using a quick reference chart on the machine.

This sewing machine’s interior frame is made of heavy-duty metal, which makes it sturdy when sewing and durable, and its weight makes it not that difficult to move around.

The feeding mechanism that this machine uses is also a unique feature. The box feed mechanism allows for more consistent fabric feeding as the feed dogs will be in equal contact with the fabric and presser foot.

The maximum speed for this machine is 850 stitches per minute, which, while not the fastest, is fast enough and can be controlled by the speed slider.

The needle up/down position is managed using a button, though this feature is non-programmable, and the machine will always stop sewing in the needle down position. An automatic thread cutter on this machine also comes in handy and snips the top and bottom threads, saving you a lot of time and effort.

Summary of Top Features

  • 600 stitch options
  • 13 included presser feet
  • Top loading drop-in bobbin
  • LCD screen
  • Sewing speeds of 85 stitches per minute


  • Speed control features
  • Easy and quick loading
  • Multiple stitch functions
  • 13 buttonhole styles
  • Multiple included accessories


  • Foot pressure is not adjustable.
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  1. Brother HC1850 Sewing and Quilting Machine

Weighing in at around 10.1 pounds, the HC 1850 from Brother is a lightweight but durable quilting machine that you can quickly move around with and easily be carried to classes.

It is a computerized machine with great features that make it an excellent choice for quilters starting. This machine contains 130 stitches from essential to decorative ones and has one integrated monogramming font and eight one-step auto-size buttonholes. You can create perfectly sized buttonholes in one quick step.

There are three stitching speed options that you can choose from on this machine, suitable for when you want to work quickly or when you need slow precision sewing.

The bobbin loading for this machine is a top drop-in system, which makes for quick rethreading, while the transparent cover allows you to monitor your thread supply keenly so you don’t run out in the middle of a project. Threading the needle is also done automatically with the touch of a lever to save you from eye strain and frustration.

The feeding mechanism of the HC 1850 is a thing of beauty, and it moves the fabric seamlessly to so that your fabric does not bunch up. This mechanism helps in maintaining consistent, high quality, and accurate stitches. This machine can be used with the right accessories to meet your quilting needs on most fabric thicknesses.

Summary of Top Features

  • 150 integrated stitches
  • LCD screen
  • Automated needle threading
  • Adjustable stitch and width length
  • Eight one-step buttonholes


  • Adjustable sewing speed
  • Drop-feed for free motion quilting
  • Affordable
  • Automated features
  • Easy to use


  • It cannot be connected to the internet
  • Does not come with a case/cover
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  1. JUKI HZL-F300 Sewing and Quilting Machine

In the HZL-F300 sewing and quilting machine, Juki has incorporated a wealth of experience to produce a powerhouse loaded with features to be the perfect quilting tool.

With 106 pre-programmed stitches, ranging from decorative, heirloom, buttonhole, and basic stitches, you can tackle various sewing and quilting projects.

Three lettering fonts come with this machine. Selecting the stitch that you want to use has also been made convenient by using a numerical keypad with every stitch having a unique number.

The automated features that come with this machine also make it infinitely quicker and more comfortable to use.

These include the needle threader, which makes threading easier if you are not dexterous or have poor eyesight, and the thread cutter snips the upper and lower threads when you finish sewing.

Speed control is also a convenient feature of this machine. Shifting the speed slider to the left allows you to lower the speed, while to the right allows you to increase the speed.

Needle up/down positions are programmable when using this machine. The up position is convenient when you want to remove fabric from the machine, while the down position helps you rotate and reposition the fabric without fear of losing precision in your work.

Stitch length and width are both adjustable so you can get your exact design done quickly, and the free arm allows for seeing in hard to reach areas.

Summary of Top Features

  • Programmable needle up/down position
  • Adjustable foot pressure
  • 106 stitch patterns
  • Three lettering fonts
  • Automatic needle threading and thread cutting


  • Numerous stitch patterns
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Programmable needle up/down position
  • Easy bobbin loading
  • Large workspace


  • Relatively heavy
  1. Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, XR3774

The Brother XR3774 is an affordable quilting machine that offers excellent value at its price. It comes with 37 built-in stitches, including garment construction, heirloom, decorative, and a one-step buttonhole.

There are 74 stitch functions that you can use, which provide a wide variety. Eight sewing feet are also included with this package: buttonhole, zipper, zigzag, blind stitch, narrow hemmer, button sewing, walking, and quilting feet, which add numerous functionalities to your machine.

As a quilter, you will often require a working area that is wide enough to handle your more extensive projects, and the XR3774 does just that. An included free arm option makes it easy to sew hard to reach areas with ease.

An almost standard feature with Brother machines, the top drop-in bobbin loading is quick, efficient, and jam-proof, making rethreading the machine much more straightforward. The bobbin has a transparent cover, so you can analyze your thread supply and refill as needed.

Whenever you are working in low-light conditions, an LED light can be used to brighten the working space, eliminating the need for you to bring in an additional source or stop your work.

The 25-year limited warranty from Brother is also pretty great and covers the chassis and main components with a shorter labor and electrical parts warranties. Brother also provides video instructions and user manuals, and customer support to learning the machine and asking any questions.

Summary of Top Features

  • 37 built-in stitches
  • Eight sewing feet included
  • LED-lit working area
  • Drop-in top bobbin
  • Top speeds of up to 800 stitches per minute


  • Quick and easy stitch selection
  • Automatic needle threading
  • Wide working area
  • Affordable
  • Well-lit working area


  • Can be a bit noisy
  1. SINGER 4423 Sewing Machine

The Singer brand is a market leader in producing great sewing machines at great value, and the 4423 is no exception. The small size makes it an easy machine to move around while remaining stable enough not to wobble when sewing.

The bedplate is also made from stainless steel, and this provides smooth fabric movement and even consistent sewing. Singer also claims that this machine is constructed with a 60% stronger motor that will allow you to sew through thicker fabrics with ease.

This machine comes loaded with 23 built-in stitches, including four stretch, 12 decoratives, and six basic stitches- a variety that will prove useful in different kinds of crafts.

This machine’s three needle positions allow for more precise stitch placement and can be changed according to your project. The 4423 can also be adjusted for needle tension to ensure that the stitches you produce are stable and consistent. The free arm makes reaching hard to access areas more effortless and more comfortable.

Automated features in sewing machines ultimately make your work more comfortable, faster, and require less effort.

An automatic needle threader to thread your needle’s eye without frustration or strain, an automated one-step buttonhole to create exact-sized buttonholes in one step, as well as automated reverse sewing and foot pressure control are all found on this machine.

An automated bobbin winding clutch also makes bobbin winding neater and safer as the needle bar is disengaged.

Summary of Top Features

  • 23 built-in stitches
  • Speeds of up to 1,100 stitches per minute
  • LED-lit working area
  • Three needle positions
  • A heavy-duty metal interior frame


  • Fast speeds
  • Automatic needle threading
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Adjustable stitch lengths
  • Steel bedplate for seamless fabric feeding


  • The speed is not easily controlled
  1. Brother CS7000i Sewing and Quilting Machine

Building on the wildly popular CS6000i, the CS7000i is Brothers upgrade to the well-loved machine. These two machines have many identical specs, but the CS7000i has some updated features that just edge out its predecessor.

This machine has 70 integrated stitches, which are ten more than the CS6000i. You will also get seven one-step auto-size buttonholes, which make perfectly sized buttonholes in one quick step.

Since this is a computerized machine, stitch selection and stitch dimensions are easy to make, and you are given a recommended presser foot for that stitch.

Anyone who finds threading a needle frustrating for various reasons will appreciate the automatic needle threader. It makes threading convenient and saves you a lot of o time and effort.

The maximum sewing speed for this machine is 850 stitches per minute, and this is adjustable using a speed controller if you are a beginner or want to work slower.

The large LCD screen helps you preview your selected stitch and presents useful information such as the stitch length and width. The bobbin is also quick to set up and can be rethreaded quickly and comfortably.

The Brother CS7000i is quite generous when it comes to the accessories offered. It comes with ten quilting feet, which expand your machine’s functionalities, a detachable and easily installed quilting table, and many more that save you money.

Summary of Top Features

  • Top speeds of up to 850 stitches per minute
  • 70 integrated stitches
  • Back-lit LCD
  • 10 included quilting and sewing feet


  • One-step auto-size buttonhole
  • Adjustable speed
  • Large working area
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Quick and easy bobbin loading


  • Inconsistent needle threading
  • Designs cannot be imported.

Best Sewing Machine For Free Motion Quilting Buyer’s Guide

The final product of your quilting project depends on your skill level and the machine you use. The wrong tool in the right hands will still not produce the best possible results.

When shopping for the best sewing machine for free motion quilting, there are some features you need to consider that will complement and even improve your skill. Here is a comprehensive shopping guide for free motion quilting machines.

Why You Should Buy The Best Sewing Machine For Free Motion Quilting

  1. Precision

Specialization will set you on the road to excellence. While a sewing machine might handle quilting decently, only with a specialized quilting machine will you achieve some measure of perfection.

The best sewing machine for free motion quilting is equipped with features that make it attuned to the specific needs of quilting so that you can achieve your best work.

  1. Speed

Most quilting machines operate at speeds that are higher than those in average sewing machines. With larger projects, this will allow you to complete your projects promptly and start on new ones.

  1. Durability

Quilting machines are made from strong interior and exterior parts, which means you can use this machine for a long time to come. Apart from the high-quality build, the best machines will have upgradeable components which mean your machine will not be redundant and can still be used when upgrades come out.

What Should You Consider As You Shop For Best Sewing Machine For Free Motion Quilting?

  1. Working area

Free motion quilting will see you working on relatively large fabrics, and an inadequate working area will only frustrate you or limit the projects you can take on. Select a machine whose working space is sufficiently large.

Today, most quilting machines come with an extendable working space, which is an excellent feature to look for. Choose a machine that includes a quilting table that is easy to install in the accessory package.

The throat size of the machine is also a feature that requires careful deliberation. Quilting machines generally have large throat sizes, but a general rule is to buy a machine that is one size or two (or three) more extensive than what you think you need. This larger size prepares you in case your quilting needs evolve in the future.

  1. Space

The large working area of the best sewing machine for free motion quilting, combined with the expansion table, means that they take up space.

If you plan to sew in one location without moving around, set up a dedicated area and measure it beforehand to ensure the machine will fit comfortably. Purchasing a quilting machine to discover you have nowhere to put it can prove very frustrating.

If you want to move the machine around, i.e., from room to room or classes, you may consider investing in a more lightweight machine.

  1. Stitches

The stitch functions you choose on a machine will largely depend on your preference. If you are more interested in decorative work, look for a machine that has a wide selection of different stitch types to express your creativity. Many stitch options will give you room to play around and come up with beautiful designs.

As you choose a multi-stitch machine, be keen to check whether they offer specialized quilting stitches.  You can also go for machines that have only one stitch if this is your primary interest.

Another stitch function to look for is the adjustment of the dimensions. The ability to adjust the stitch length and width (and even edit stitches as is seen in some computerized models) will allow you to make slight adjustments to your work so that it can look even better.

  1. Speed

Two factors relating to speed are considered when looking for the best sewing machine for free motion quilting—first, the maximum speed. A fast machine will allow you to get through your larger quilting projects promptly and move on to other projects.

This quick speed will also save you a lot of effort and time. Second, a way to control the speed. Speed control features are handy if you are a beginner who is not yet accustomed to fast speeds or if you would like to slow down for more precision work.

  1. Durability

Quilting involves working with multilayered fabrics. You will need a quilting machine that is outfitted to deal with thick fabrics. Look for a machine that has a heavy-duty interior build and can remain sturdy when sewing. Also, ensure that the exterior parts are not flimsy-looking and look to be of a good build.

The presser feet also determine the ability of your fabric to deal with thick fabrics. Adjustable pressure is critical so that it can be changed depending on the material. A knee lifter is also a great accessory as it allows you to lift the presser foot without removing your hands from your work.

While a general-purpose foot is excellent for sewing, you will need specialized quilting feet that will deal with thick fabrics and fabric feeding beautifully to get the best possible results.

Final Thoughts

The journey to purchasing the best sewing machine for free motion quilting does not end once you pay for and secure your machine.

Maintaining, upgrading, and learning are all part of the never-ending process after researching the machine that you want to settle on and consulting with other quilters.

It is always important to try the machine for yourself. Go to exhibition and sales shops and try quilting on these machines until you find the right fit. Keep your proof of purchase with you so you can make a warranty claim when you need it on either labor, parts, or electrical components.

Proper maintenance of your machine is the key to keeping your machine for a long time to come. Oil it as instructed in the manual and clean it as needed. Then, never stop learning.

Take extra classes and join a quilting community near you. Not only will this make your projects more fun, but you will also gain and share invaluable knowledge and experience.

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