Why Do You Love Your Sewing Machine?

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I have a problem. I have all of these beautiful quilt designs in my head and no time to make the quilts. I realize that part of the problem is that I’m a hand-quilter (and hand-piecer) with a full-time job. I mean how many quilts can I possibly expect to make in my extra 1/2 hour of personal time per day? Most of my free-time is used commuting to the office. Is there a law yet about piecing and driving?

So, why don’t I just start quilting by machine? Last year I finally retired the 1942 machine with no reverse that I have been using since college. I spent the magnificent sum of $199.00 for a machine that went forward AND backward. That’s when the trouble began: broken needles, flying bobbins, out-of-control tension (me/not the machine). It now sits malevolently in a corner of my bedroom just daring me to try to sew on it.

When I received the following Email from Jennifer, I knew that I wasn’t the right person to give advice. We sure need some, though. I’m also ready to invest in whatever it takes to get a machine that will start turning the quilts in my head to quilts for the bed.

“Hi,

I’m in the process of buying a new sewing machine. In the past the most I have spent on a machine is around $300.00. I am currently looking at a Bernina which is selling for $1699.00. The other machine I have been looking at is a Brother which is selling for $1400.00. The Brother seems to have more capabilities and stitches than the Bernina.  Do you have any advise – is one preferred by quilters more than the other. I just don’t want to purchase one and wish I had gotten something else. Any advise you can give me would be appreciated. Thank you, Jennifer

Do any of you have any advice? Do you really love your machine and want to share why? I could go to the manufacturers,  of course–but, I would really rather hear from satisfied quilters. Just post your thought here and Jennifer and I will eagerly read them.

Suzan @ AQS

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I, too, am a hand quilter. Trying to quilt on my tiny White Quilter’s sewing machine reaffirmed my love of handwork. Then I bought a Janome Memorycraft 6600, and my world changed. It’s an incredible machine. Now I rarely hand quilt anymore, as I’m completely addicted to the speedy fun of free-motion quilting. It’s not a cheap machine, but it’s worth every penny. Extremely intuitive to use!!

Alice Woodring

I bought a 1956 Featherweight on Ebay. I cleaned it, bought new feet and it is humming along. It only does one thing – straight stitch and, as they say , it does it very well. If it is not doing something right, I know it is operator error and not the machine. I also have a Bernina with a BSR. So far I have only taken a class on it. The machine that ruined sewing for me for a very long time was a Singer Golden Touch and Sew with the hard rubber feed dogs and the tension that… Read more »

Julie

The best advice that I can give is to sit down and sew on the machines. Take your time, explore the various stitches, take them through their paces. I am currently sewing on a Bernina. It took me some time to determine that was the machine I wanted – time to test it, time to think about it, research it, and time to justify the purchase to myself. I have had a Viking, a Singer, and a Kenmore. They all sewed fine for what I needed at the time. At this time, the Bernina is what is doing it for… Read more »

Mary Alice Bates

When I was ready to put more $$$ into a machine, I loaded my scrap bag with the fabrics I was likely to sew with it, visited my favorite shop/owner, and spent an hour or so auditioning the “White” that was actually a “Viking” right after the merger. The machine is still in use – by my extended family. I have a Rose now. As a summer enrichment program teacher of kintting and quilting for middle-school & jr hi students, I collected used and new machines I though a student could “wheedle” out of Dad. By having 6 different brands… Read more »

Lynnita

I have a Brother QC1000 and I love it. When I was searching for a new machine, I test drove several. I fell in love with the Brother. It has so many options and is easy to free-motion quilt with. (I’ve just finished a king size quilt on it!) I’m still learning things I can do on it (besides the stitches you can create yourself!). I just can’t afford to pay others to quilt for me and my arthritic hands don’t allow oodles of hand-quilting. I’m loving free-motion quilting! Test drive different machines and different brands. Decide what works for… Read more »

Gee whiz, and I tohught this would be hard to find out.

Molly Washburn

The only two machines I’ve ever had to return (due to stitch quality or malfuntion) were Brothers. I bought my first Bernina in 2001 and will never go back! The quality is fantastic! I traded in for another Bernina, not because I needed to, just because I wanted more bells and whistles! Get the Bernina, even if it is a simpler machine for the money!!!

nancy

Buy the Bernina. I have a Bernina 170 with the embroidery unit. Fabulous machine. Sews with ease. Embroiders beautifully. Never have any problems. I also have a Bernina 1245 with many stitches. I bought that machine to take to classes. With the press of a button, I can sew countless designs. Bernina is top quality machinery. If I were to purchase another machine, it would be another Bernina. I would not consider any other company.

I love my 17 year Pfaff and would not trade it for any other machine. The best course of action is to go and try out as many machines as possible.

Ruth Hawley

I agree with Julie. I have owned Singers, 2 Vikings and a Bernina. I have used Janome low end and high end. I will only buy a Bernina again. They are as problem free as any machine will ever be. I tell anyone that asks, buy the “best” that you can afford. (probably $2-5,000) I actually took out a loan to buy my last machine. It has been worth every penny. Taking the classes offered to learn to use the machine was the most valuble use of my time…and they are free from your dealer. There is nothing more frustrating… Read more »

Linda

My first sewing machine was a Bernina, I paid $999.00 for it in 1982. With that machine I made all my 3 kids clothes through 1991. Thats when I began machine embroidery, freehand on my home Bernina. Thats alot of speed and many stitches. I then went to industrial embroidery machines and have had my embroideey business for 20 years. I now have 2 new QE Bernina’s, my old Bernina (still going strong), and a Janome set up in my quilt room for my grandaughters. Bernina above and beyond all other is made to last a very long time. My… Read more »

PattyS

I have owned several machines but after my hubby surprised me with the Bernina 200 and embroidery module I have been hooked on Bernina. I also owned a Bernina 440 which sewed beautiful for quilting then bought the Bernina 830 which is my baby and has been given a name. I sold my 440 and seriously thinking of selling my 200 as I hate to see her just set. Go and sew with a Bernina and I think you will find your baby. Most shops have classes and the Bernina website offers classes and webinars and Yahoo has groups for… Read more »

My husband bought me a Viking for our 10th wedding anniversary, 28 years ago. I have been sewing all these years on that machine and LOVE it. I have brought it in for tune ups twice. I started out sewing clothes for my three daughters, then doing repairs in general and now making baby quilts for thirteen grandchildren. That machine was built to last. I have no trouble keeping the tension correct. (one of the biggest challenges) I plan on sewing on it for another 28 years, the Lord willing. I love my sewing machine and my husband for appreciating… Read more »

Diane

I have a Pfaff 4024 Quilters Expression which I bought about 6 years ago. I went into the store for a spool of thread, they had classroom models on for a reduced price of too good to be true, I put $100 down to hold the machine, went home called a few friends and then from their comments was convinced I was on to a good thing. I bought “Phoebe” (I named her immediately) the next day and brougth her home and she lived in her box for 2 months. I went back to the store took the 1 hour… Read more »

Elizabeth Norberg

I am currently using a Bernina 1500 Quilters Edition. I love the machine and it does almost everything I need. I am also a hand quilter and realize I won’t live long enough to use up all my fabric or to make all the quilts in my head. I have dabbled with machine quilting and realize that is the way to go. I am considering moving up to a Brnina 4400 with a BSR (built in stich regulator) It is an amazing machine but again not cheap starting at around $3000.00 I also have an inexpensive $300.00 newer Janome which… Read more »

Bonnie Landsberg

You need to “test drive” various machines and brands and determine what feels best for you. Like buying a car, individuals feel comfortable with different brands and models and you won’t know until you try some out. I have always gone to a quilt show where many brands are on display and tried different machines out. I have an Elna, and two Janomes. I love each of them for different reasons. I have also owned a Viking and a Brother, but in the end they weren’t the right machines for me. You have to find the right machine for you.

Amanda Dowdy

I, too, have a Janome. It is a little DC2007 that us about 4 years old. I love it everyday! It was about $400 in 2007. Hardly ever does it jam and when it does it was totally my fault for putting through something that I shouldn’t have. I tell people all the time that sewing is drudgery if you are constantly having to fiddle with the machine. It will get put in a corner and your sewing days will cease. If it’s the machine and not your skill level, please recognize that and don’t stop trying to find machine… Read more »

Debbie Orr

I can relate. It is hard to find a new machine when you are used to one that you had forever. I went through this last year. I wanted to be able to quilt by machine because I too work full time and have so many quilts I want to make. I ended up with a Bernina I do truly love the machine it sews really nice. I completed a mystery quilt entirely on that machine from start to finish and really enjoyed the process. I had a singer I loved for 23 years till it finally quit and replacing… Read more »

Last year I purchased a Bernina 630E sewing/embroidery machine to use in my business, SouthRiver Needleworks. It is wonderful to work with. Previous to that I had two Singers and a Sears, all of which were good unless the tension wouldn’t stay set….On my birthday I decided that what I needed was the best, so I purchased the Bernina. It always sews consistent stitches, has great instructions to follow, and embroiders beautifully. My Bernina dealer is Atlanta Sewing Center in Marietta, Ga and the staff there is super talented and know everything about my machine! When a person purchases a… Read more »

Jo Lax

I love my Bernina 440QE. It can do anything. It sews through many layers, quilts beautifully with (or without) the BSR and has many features that are easy to use.

Nancy

Julie is right: take your time searching for the best machine for you. Try them out. Read up on what sewists and quilters have experienced with the machines. Think long and hard about what you most want in a machine. Be patient. It’s a large amount of money you are planning to invest, so explore all your options. One place to check out when you are closer to actually making your purchase confidently is a sewing/quilting expo. The machine manufacturers are there and can answer your questions. Furthermore, the floor models/demo machines are available after the show for 40-60% off.… Read more »

Jan T

First, let me say that I think your machine is only as good as the service you receive from your dealer. For me buying a machine from some big lot store is a mistake. Once you walk out the door, they don’t care if you have a success with it or not. I have had both Singer and Bernina, and have had great results with both. Bernina is my all time favorite. They have wonderful service, classes to make sure that you know how to run the machine and a lot of feet to make each and every thing you… Read more »

Sue Molitor

Go to: Garden Web.com Look at the Home Forums and then go to sewing and/or quilting. It’s a great site to see what others have said about their machines. I have a Bernina 1090 ( older model) and a Babylock Jane. the Bernina is for piecing. and the Babylock is for quilting since it has a large “harp/throat”

Susan Stitch

I had never really quilted much, but had used an old Singer machine. I went to the quilt show at Paducah this year and my plan was to take a LOT of classes. I presumed this would keep me away from the vendors and I would spend less! WRONG! Each class had different sewing machines that would be for sale at a discount at the end of the show. By spending from 4 – 8 hours on a variety of machines I quickly learned what wonderful features each had and what kinds of problems and what accolades other class members… Read more »

Angie

The old adage “you get what you pay for” applies here. A $200 machine from Costco is good for repairs and light sewing but a quilter needs a sturdy machine. That being said, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg. Go around to the different dealers in town and let them run the machines through their paces. Have your questions in hand and write down what you like and dislike, soon you will know what you want. I personally love my Pfaff Creative 2.0, it has needle down, auto threader, thread cutter, needle adjustments and many other… Read more »

Liz Long

I, too, and a big fan of Pfaff. I have the 2044 and the 4.0. Love them both. For a light weight machine to haul to classes I use a Brother CS6000. It’s very inexpensive and has a great buttonhole/blanket stitch. I’ve had mine for 5 yrs and no problems. A lot of my friends have gotten them also. I also have a Viking and like it as well. It has different stitches from the Pfaff.

Grace

I too have a 440QE Bernina and absolutely love it. It has a walking foot that is wonderful for quilting. It has a lot of built in stitches-I don’t have the embroidery module but it is available. All of my quilts are lap size and it works fine for them.

vickster

i have 2 inexpensive brothers and i love them both easy to sew, thread, clean etc. i didnt pay over 200. for each machine they have a lot of stiches goes forward and backwards and if there is an error the machine stops and tells you the error. i have yet to try and actually quilt on it (large quilt)i would recommend it to anyone. and they are both quiet( late night sewing.)

I just purchased a Janome Horizon. Love the wide mouth for quilting and the heavy duty feel while quilting. BUT…I have arthritis in my hands and have a terrible time changing the quilting feet and throat plate (need to use different bobbin holder for free motion). Young people must have designed all this! I also have a Bernina and love it, just wanted larger throat area to quilt. If you quilt big things go for Janome Horizon, small things, go for ease of Bernina. Good luck.

Margie

Jennifer, When you purchase a new machine, you should also be “buying” the shop. With a Bernina you get Mastery Guide classes to teach you how to use all the bells and whistles, and the shop should have a trained technician to service your machine. Can the other dealers do that for you as well? If you buy from a big box store, you get nothing but a receipt for your purchase. Berninas are still the only family owned sewing machine company in the world – 5th generation Swiss engineering and quality. Yes, I am a very happy Bernina owner!… Read more »

Marti Johnson

When I read all the different tributes to modern machines, I’m thrilled that others have found the ones they love and want to work on. I am, however, an anomoly in the sewing world; I have a variety of treadle and hand-crank machines and wouldn’t trade them for any modern machine. Admittedly I’d prefer to hand quilt, always will, but its also possible to machine quilt on a treadle, and I love the perfect stitches that result from the machines, something I don’t see as often on the new machines. Even more impressive is the fact that I’ve never spent… Read more »

AFAIC that’s the best asnewr so far!

Renee Boomer

I have been quilting over 20 years. The machine I have always used are Pfaffs. The reason I love my Pfaff is for the walking foot. It is built into the machine and not a separate attachment which also allows me to use my 1/4″ quilting foot. I also love the walking foot when I am doing machine quilting like stitching in the ditch, doing an overall diagonal lines over the whole quilt. It makes my quilting time that much more enjoyable and relaxing.

Zane

A Bernina with a stitch regulator is wonderful if you want to do machine quilting. To my knowledge, none of the other companies have anything similar yet.

THX that’s a great aswenr!

Pam

I have a Janome/New Home Excel 15S(“Old Bessie”). It is close to 20 yrs old & just keeps going with hardly any service work even through 4-H quilting students(girls AND boys of all ages). It sews a perfect 1/4″ seam with the optional 1/4″ foot. My Janome Memory Craft 4900 has all the decorative stitches & lettering to help you out. It also has a needle threader & a knee lift-two features which really help me a lot. Even though these models are not available now, they have new model very similar to them. I would recommend you try a… Read more »

Maryellen

I have a Viking Sapphire, and love it. I had a Pfaff, and loved that, too. You need to buy a machine from a reputable machine sales company, not your big box store. You need to take the free lesson offered with a purchase, and play with a few before you bring your baby home. Janome makes some great low/mid price machines. BabyLock and Brother are the same company, and carry some good machines. Features to look for? Built in needle threader (learn how to use it!! You will love it). A foot pedal that will lift the presser foot.… Read more »

Pat Karasick

What support for which machine do you have in your area? do they have any floor models for sale?
I have a Viking Mega Quilter, changed my life, only straight stitch, but that’s all you need. Also, I use titianium embrodiery needles and usally Isocord thread especially in the bobbins, no more knots and I hardly even have to reverse sew. : )

Sewing machines are the way to go if you want to get all those quilts done. But consider riding public transport you can then piece to your hearts content. Or move to a small town where you can drive any where in 10 min. LOL

Ellisha

I love my Bernina. I wasn’t sure if I would want to be an avid quilter so I bought the entry model for $999. I love the machine so much I am looking at getting the 440 model, its expensive but so worth it. However, I think Julies advice is best. Like buying a car, go sew on every machine you think you will like and can afford, then choose. If you weigh the facts and all the options, you cannot go wrong!

Nomrllay I’m against killing but this article slaughtered my ignorance.

Rita

I had a basic Singer sewing machine for years. When it stopped working properly (probably human error) I bought a BrotherNV400 which I did not like – the feed dogs did not like being lowered and then they stopped altogether! I then worked on a machine that I got a Lidl for €69 for two years which was great for basic stuff but not great for free-motion quilting. At the beginning of this year I bought a Pfaff Select 4 which is a lovely machine but it does not have an automatic needle down position or a blanket stitch which… Read more »

As for machines I have sold Husqvarna Viking, Janome, Baby Lock you have to try them out and get a good dealer that will help you with the learning curve that they require. But definitely the more expensive gives you more features. The Janome 6600 is a wonderful machine for some quilter and the Baby Lock Ellaego is wonderful for the sewer that would like to explore the embroidery side of Quilting.

Kathy

I got my first embroidery machine years ago and then I had back problems, so I would sit and sew out embroideries when I could not sleep because of the pain. It helped to relax me and not think about the pain. Then I had all of these blocks and nothing to do with them, so I started putting them together into quilts. I made several friends in doing this. I then found out that I had breast cancer. When going through chemo. I could not be around people, so I sewed. I have said that the sewing helped with… Read more »

Suzanne

I have a couple machines, a simple Brother for piecing, and my beloved Bernina artista 200 which to me is amazing. They got it right, nothing sews like a Bernina….I an constantly amazed at it’s performance. I have had it 5 years now, and can say I actually enjoy sewing.I will expand my knowledge of embroidery and crossstitch on it this winter, and will larn to do digitizing so projects will be endless and unique. Good luck, buying from a knowledgeable dealer, one that will take time to assist you even AFTER you buy is very important.

Jim Hahn

I love my Janome 6500. It’s tough as nails and sews like the energizer bunny. It has a 9.5″ throat which means even queen sized quilts fit with ease, though that doesn’t stop me from lusting after the Janome Horizon. The stitches are consistent and the rotary hook bobbin is a breeze to check. I can usually sew to the last 10 or 20″ of bobbin thread without having to take the bobbin out. Janome’s 1/4″ foot is great and really helps with straight line and curved piecing. If you want a machine with straight forward controls that keeps on… Read more »

Claire

I have been told by a repair person that Brother and Bernina were made by the same factory (he was trying to sell me a Brother machine). I love my Bernina’s although I enjoy piecing on my 1947 Featherweight. Machine quilting on my Bernina 730 with the stitch regulator is fun!

SusanB

I still use a 25 yr old Pfaff 1374 that I paid $1400 for when it was new. I love it so much I spent $700 to have factory rebuilt last year.

Try our your machine and make sure it FEELS and SOUNDS right to you. Spend as much as you can afford so you can get one that will last a long, long time.

The first consideration should be available service. If you purchase a machine, are there reputable quilt shops where you can have the machine serviced? What is the support program from the company? What are the features that you most need? My “workhorse” has been a 30 year old Kenmore made by White. It is not computerized and has a wonderful stitch. It is simple to use and I can service it myself. Because I could not get an attachment for it that would allow me to do free motion stitching, I purchased a Janome. The model that I had was… Read more »

Ann Taylor

I have to put in a plug for Babylock machines. I started with a Pfaff that hubby brought home from Germany. At the time, it was top of the line and I loved it. Then I upgraded to another Pfaff and loved it. Then I saw the Ellegante from Babylock and fell in love with it. Today, I own 4 Babylock machines- Ellisimo, Ellegante, Sophia, and Wave serger – each one serving a different purpose in my sewing life. The best thing you can do for yourself is test drive as many machines as you can get your hands on.… Read more »

For years I had a Singers and then I very happily used a Pfaff for piecing. I was still quilting on a Featherweight and its’ big sister the 301. But as my quilts got larger they provided no room for all that material. Then I tried a Brother Sewing/Embroidery combo. I won’t go back. Yes it is the top of the line, but it always does exactly what it should with minimum adjustment. If there is a problem is it me not the machine! I machine quilt everything. I don’t have the time, even retired, to do all the things… Read more »

I love my Pfaff! The IDT (built in walking foot) and being able to set the foot to automatically raise from low to high along with needle down is wonderful for when you need to turn a corner or pivot around a curve when machine appliqueing. It’s like having a third hand. I agree that the service is very important, which is why I sold my Bernina…really bad service. I also have an Elna which I use when “on the road”. Not as many bells & whistles, but a great machine. Test drive as many as you can, and take… Read more »

Leslie Peacock

Between the 2 machines I would go with the Brother – but, if you have time, I might suggest you check out the Babylock machines, I have several and I love them all – they have many price ranges and they are sooooo easy to use. They are pretty much like the Brother, but are built better and the Babylock company has the best customer service and support. Take your time in deciding. Take the type of thread, fabric, etc., you will be sewing with and using these items, sew on all of the machines. Some of the reasons I… Read more »

Laur

I love my machine Pfaff because it is so easy to use and allows me to quilt large projects. I upgraded to it from a Huskystar which i still have and love it too. My mother has a Bernina and I like it when I use it as well. All these new machines with all the modern technology make quilting easy and fun. Just wish they could find a way to give me more time to use them.

Marti Parsons

I have a Janome Memorycraft 6600 and love it!! The built in walking foot is a breeze to use and interchanging feet is so easy! I have been eyeing a Horizon, but all the people talking about their Bernina 4400 with the BSR has got me thinking… can you have to much of a good thing??

Hello! I guess I’m a veteran sewer by now (sewing on machines for about 40 years). Here’s list of machines, in mostly chronilogical order I’ve used: Universal, Kenmore, Singer, Pfaff and Bernina. All have been electric machines, the last two computerized. I also own and use a Singer Featherweight– LOVE IT, and a green Singer– love that one too. I own and use two Bernina’s- a 210 and a 180. The Bernina’s by far are my favorite modern sewing machines- they are accurate and low maintenance. My Bernina 180 is my MAIN machine– the one I use the most– LOVe… Read more »

When you buy a machine you buy the dealer too, as warranty work and owners’ classes are given by the dealer where you buy the machine. So spend time in both shops and try to get opinions about their services from local quilters. As others have suggested, take some of the work you do in, and try it on both machines. I have a great bernina dealer 15 minutes from home and sew on Berninas. The dealer is really the deal breaker though.