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Dance like no one is watching
I use ONLY a cast iron 1941 Singer "portable".....and love it. Weighs a ton but when I do manage to take it places, I love all of the great comments and the love that it gets from the other quilters. Having had this experience, I'd recommend getting a Featherweight. She'll be the envy of every class and it does what you need for classes, which is to sew a straight stitch and not mess up. (But----having read all of these posts, I will look at Janome Gems. Thanks for your post!)
Mistakes are just opportunities to invent a new quilting technique!
for free motion quilting. Also the machine has stop/start button, length and width slider, speed adjust button and needle down function, you can purchase several extra feet including a walking foot and many more - has quite a few stitches and best of all very lightweight. I am starting a machine quilting course soon and have no hesitation to take it to the class !
One step at a time, always forward.
Yes, please involve your wife in the choice of machine. She will probably want special features like needle down, automatic needle threader, etc. etc. useful especially to quilters. Give her a spiffy homemade gift certificate and be her chauffer (sp) for the day and let her make the choice while you smile and nod! You'll never regret it!
If you can afford the Jem Plantinum (760), I'd recommend that you buy that one. It's a great machine.
I bought a Janome My Style and it ways about 12 pounds. It does not come with a 1/4 inch foot but you can purchase one. It is a great little machine and easy to carry. All of her feet should fit it as well. The one that I bought happened to be on sale.
Don't. Let her pick it herself.