Hello, I was wondering if someone could help me with some questions about finding a quality quilting machine. You probably are wondering what a network engineer is doing on a quilting forum, so let me start there.
I recently got married to my best friend from High School class of 78 and want to find her something that is better than the simple sewing machine you buy at a department store. She’s been quilting most of her life so I want to help her by getting a machine that will bring her up to the next level.
Last night was the one year anniversary of her mother’s death, but before her mother could leave she needed her daughter to help finish a promise she made to the Wounded Warrior Project in Camp Pendleton and San Diego.
In all Denise completed and delivered 25 quilts and lap blankets two days before her mother’s passing.
With your help I need guidance in selecting a quilting machine that will help her advance her skills. In researching quilting machines I find that the term sewing machine quickly replaces my queries. Are these terms Sewing and Quilting machines synonymous with each other?
My initial search for quality and durability led me to the Pfaff and Bernina websites. I found these machines to have price tags equal to their quality and capability, but more than what she would want to start with. This website gave me ideas of capabilities and options I would want to try to find in a less expensive model. Some qualities other than durability I found were throat space, vertical space and quilting tables for larger projects.
I won’t purchase anything without her approval, but I would like technical help in narrowing down some choices. If you asked her opinion paying $150 - $300 would be fine, but I know the right machine would last her a long time and a stepping stone to advance her abilities and move up.
For the right machine I would want to see what is available in the $1000-$1500 range and as high as $2000. I would appreciate any advice.
That's just the sweetest thing.
So many wonderful machines out there. I think where you should start is to find out what brands have dealers close to your area. A couple reasons for this. The first is many offer free classes with purchase to help you get to know the machine. Secondly, and more important is having a service person close. If anything happens you don't want to have to drive two hours to have it serviced.
I think more and more sewing and quilting machines have merged, into being one. There are exceptions, as in long arms and some Quilt machines that only do a straight stitch. Most of your price increases in machines you'll find are in the features, and additional decorative stitches. And of course machine embroidery. That's an addition that really bumps it up there.
For a machine used primarily for quilting, I'd look for one with a large throat area, (space between the needle and the body of the machine). You'll want at least 10 inches if she does large quilts. Needle up/down position that will allow the needle to stay in the fabric and have the presser foot lift to pivot the fabric. That's an awesome feature in both piecing and quilting. Having a thread cutter is really nice. A bobbin sensor that let's you know when the bobbin is low. Nothing more frustrating than to be quilting along with a bulky quilt and realize your bobbin thread ran out ten minutes ago.
After finding a machine with those features you can go on to find out value for the money in the additional features and cost differences in machines. I know with my Viking dealer they had a deal that if you trade it in within the year, they credit what you paid for your machine and apply it toward an upgraded machine.
Dewey78:A capability I forgot to mention was heavy duty enough to do multiple layers with any kind of quilting material. Most of this kind of work she’s had to do by hand or hasn’t been able to attempt because she didn’t have a powerful or strong enough machine to do it with.
Dewey, your wife is a lucky woman, please tell her for me that you are definitely a Keeper, but I bet she knows that by now.
I'm not sure if anyone mentioned a "walking foot", one attached to the machine you buy her is a nice feature. This will take care of the problem you mention above. I have a Janome 7700 and I love it. From what I hear, the next model up from that is even better.
Dewey, as a wife that her husband also loves to buy me machines, make sure you have a great dealer that will give classes on how to work the machines. I have a featherweight for regular sewing and taking to classes. It is perfect for piecing and taking places as it is so light. I also have a 301 Singer for home sewing as the throat space is a bit larger. I don't do the free motion quilting on a domestic machine as I also now have a long arm. But you can use a local quilt store long arm, for renting before making that type of purchase.
I now also have an embroidery machine and yes, I do set it up for embroidery while sewing on the other machines. It takes some coordination but I can do 2 pieces like that at one time. But to get comfortable on the embroidery machine you really need a few classes unless she is one to read instruction books. I also have found that the books don't really get to the "meat " of the machine and I have learned so much more at the classes. So if you are not close to a store that she loves the classes, I would do classes in different quilt stores to know where the most comfortable. Just my opinion, but I hear this slot from other quilters also.
I looked at the embroidery machines last year. Since she enjoys this type of work, go with one that can do many ranges in size. If I recall Janome had the best software compared to Brother, but these are both good machines. There are more brands out there. I was only wanting one to use for lettering and I was going to go with the smaller Brother- still have not bought one.
As the other posters have pointed out, the classes will be a great value for your wife. You can but these machine cheaper on line, but then you will not get the classes.
Dewey78:it was recommended that we get one machine, or one for quilting and one for embroidery. To me this makes sense as with two machines you don't wear out equipment and while one is doing embroidery the other can be used for sewing and quilting. My wife was excited and said she could set the embroidery working while so continues working on quilting or sewing...
I had to chuckle at this. I started out with an embroidery/sewing machine. I bought a used Viking Designer 1. Fabulous machine! I did use it to quilt an oversized queen size quilt, and worried about the wear and tear on it. It was rough too with the smaller throat space. For Christmas two years ago my husband went into the dealer and gifted me with a Viking Sapphire for quilting. So now, I can and do have both machines going. It's just fascinating to watch the embroidery machines as the designs take form. It's also nice to have a back up in case one has to go in for repair.
Dewey78:What embroidery machines are worthwhile?
I'm not sure if this is still true, but with the Brother there was a limitation on purchasing only "their" designs. With other machines you could go online and download any design into your embroidery software and write the design onto a usb or card for your machine. I forgot to mention that my initial purchase was another machine that only had the capability of doing small designs. I got so hooked, that it wasn't three months, and I was back at the dealer ready to trade up. LOL
Hopefully you'll get more input from others with different brands. I'm locked into my Vikings, love them, and I have a dealer close for anything I need.
One more thing I forgot to mention. In the case with my machines, all of the feet I had purchased over time fit both machines. Sounds like a small thing, but some of them are pretty pricey and it was nice not to have to go to the expense to have to buy one for each machine.
I will just add to this that if she doesn't want to use the walking foot for a certain application, it is easily moved up out of the way. The application that I can think of for this would be during free motion quilting. Ginny
my best recomendation is in the distance from needle to neck what i mean is space to the right of needle the bigger the better. Also checkout Janome Brother and Babylock I'm sure you'll find the one that is right.
Quilting My Rainbow
I know many woman who have a Bernina and would have no other machine. Do think about that the machine you buy her now maybe be the only machine she will ever need. I have a Janome and love it. I bought one for two of my nieces and a cousin, yes I love it that much! I also don't have kids, so I could spoil these people.
Take her to a sewing store that carries both of these in your area and then tell her to pick out the one she wants...don't tell her ahead of time what you want to do, just take her out to eat and then tell her, I need to stop by a store..." You indeed are a very loving husband. My mom still has the one my Dad bought for her over 60 years ago.
Hi Dewey. I agree wholeheartedly with Stephanies advice about going to a local dealer to have your wife personally pick out a machine. The one thing I might add is you might also consider buying a used machine in good condition from the local dealer. People may be upgrading their sewing machines for Christmas, and their "old" model may be just what your wife is dreaming off.
I dream of having a sewing machine with the knee lift bar. Someday!
One thing I’m good at no matter what the subject is research. With the right key words I’m receiving from all of your wonderful advice I’ll be able to build a list of possible equipment my wife Denise can review for herself.
A capability I forgot to mention was heavy duty enough to do multiple layers with any kind of quilting material. Most of this kind of work she’s had to do by hand or hasn’t been able to attempt because she didn’t have a powerful or strong enough machine to do it with.
Once I finished my research I was going to start looking for dealers in our area “San Diego”, but I didn’t know you could “Test Drive” them. Stephanie, I appreciate you pointing that out!
I’ll create a list of all of the features that have been mentioned when narrowing down our choices and hope there are some good dealers in our area.
Please keep the advice coming, I'll let you know what we decide and how she reacts.
Dewey, I know from experience that a sewing machine will be a gift she will cherish for a very long time. My husband and boys got me a Huskvarna Viking and I have been using it to quilt most of my quilts. The test drive is the best thing. It's also important that the dealer listens to her needs and not just want to make a fast sale. Most dealers take time to show you the features, then let you play with it. Your wife is very lucky that you understand her passion foe quilts.
Angèle from NWO
When you get her one, or she picks out one, will you please post back to us and let us know what she got? I am so thrilled for her !!
We went to the local Janome dealer that happened to be less than 5 miles from the house. Denise tried to go with a cheaper machine, but I convinced her to let us continue researching. The Janome representative wasn't there, but the store personnel made a good point after she asked what Denise wanted in a machine. It turns out that quilting and embroidery work is important and it was recommended that we get one machine, or one for quilting and one for embroidery. To me this makes sense as with two machines you don't wear out equipment and while one is doing embroidery the other can be used for sewing and quilting. My wife was excited and said she could set the embroidery working while so continues working on quilting or sewing... lol My wife did all of her embroidery by hand in the past so we'll be comparing the price of one all inclusive or two separate machines. That brings me to a new question. What embroidery machines are worthwhile? Denise Smart, I've added a "knee lift bar" to our list of desired options. Thank you for pointing that out. I've worked with this kind of device on other equipment. Marie, I'll look into what a walking foot is, but so far in my research no one else has brought it up. Once we finalize our purchase I'll let everyone know what my wife ended up selecting.
Dewey, another option is to look on Craigs list or ebay to see if there are embroidery machines she may like. I bought my first embroidery machine, Brother, on Craigs list and was very happy with it. This gave me the option to find out how much I would really do, if I liked it, what options I would want if I invested more money in the machine, and I would have a machine that I could trade in. Just a thought. I still have my first Brother, upgraded to the Viking.
Dewey78:Marie, I'll look into what a walking foot is, but so far in my research no one else has brought it up.
This foot is a necessity for quilting the three layers together when your wife is at the quilting stage. Girls, please comment on this.