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Thread: Machine advice for a newbie

  1. #1
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    Machine advice for a newbie

    Okay, so here's the deal. I am a self-taught quilter, and I still consider myself a beginner. I have been sewing on a chain store cheapie that was intended for mending. Since there are no appropriate presser feet available and the harp space is very small, I don't feel I can move forward in my hobby without a new machine. I obviously have no attempted FMQ yet, nor have I really dove into machine applique. (I tried on my cheapie, and the results were not the greatest.) Eventually, I want to incorporate embroidery into my blocks as well.

    So what do you suggest in terms of machine(s)? Do those of you out there have machines for each, or do you roll it all into one? I have a bit of dilemma in this department, as the only truly full-service, reputable dealer in town is Bernina, and they are expensive. The service, classes, and community are outstanding, but it does come with that price tag. I think the only appropriate current machine that would do it all is the 750, and I could add the embroidery module later. On the other hand, Janome appears to be highly recommended as well. I cannot 'test drive' one unless I drive an hour an a half away, but the 6500 seems like a good bang for the buck (and that dealership is supposed to be good as well). In that case, I would just add a separate embroidery machine down the road. Anyone have any input or experiences they'd like to share? I'd appreciate it!

  2. #2
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    really test drive different brands, you might be happier with a janome, they are definitely more user friendly than the bernina's and very popular, an hour and a half is not that far of a drive to test out machines. I go to my dealer once a year for servicing so to have them super close hasn't been necessary. How much are you willing to spend, berninas are expensive, not only that their accessories can be 3-4 times the price of other brands, and they are also more complicated than some other brands, meaning you will need classes to really understand how to use your machine, not easy right out of the box. A machine is an investment when you spend that much, you want to make sure you have the right one. I would also test to see if you even like FMQ because there is no sense in investing in a big harp if you hate it. I had and still have a machine like your and was all I had for like 10 years while I love my expensive machine I could still use my cheap one and still do so often. You don't want to spend 2-5k on a machine that you will regret buying. You want to make the right choice for you in a machine that has all of the features you want in a machine
    Brother XL-3500i, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D

  3. #3
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    What machine do you have, all different brands should have presser feet available for your machine even if it is from a store like walmart or target
    Brother XL-3500i, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D

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    Make a list of what you want from your machine and test drive, make a day away and go and try out as many as you can. I like good quality Brother machine and have one that does embriodery patterns (husband's thing). I have heard good things about Janome, and it does have a bigger harp. Good luck and take your time

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    Quote Originally Posted by Violet_angel View Post
    the 6500 seems like a good bang for the buck (and that dealership is supposed to be good as well). In that case, I would just add a separate embroidery machine down the road. Anyone have any input or experiences they'd like to share? I'd appreciate it!
    To be honest I think this is a reasonable place to start.. I fear that if you were to buy a machine that "does it all" that you may not fully utilize everything it can do, and you'll pay a premium for options that you probably don't really need. I don't think too many people who have just one all in one machine (meaning sewing and embroidery) are all that happy with the arrangement - some patterns take a very long time to stitch out and you end up being tied up watching the machine in case something happens (thread breaks, color change, whatever) so you really can't "set it and forget it" and walk away - having another machine available to use frees you up to do some piecing or other productive work while the embroidery is stitching away. I had an all in one machine before (the electronics went out on it 2 years ago, so I don't even have an embroidery machine now - it wasn't important enough for me to replace it right away, though I have considered getting a PE770) and I don't know that I'd ever willingly go that route again without having another machine to use as well.

    I'd also like to add that it's worth the drive to test out some different machines - yes, even if you "lose" a day by driving to visit a dealer further away, the comparison is still worth it even if you don't like anything you went to try, and the expense of gas is fairly minor compared to possibly ending up with a machine you aren't 100% happy with because you didn't get the opportunity to try anything else. Don't just test what's in your price range either - test everything, you might be surprised at what you end up liking and not liking. My experience trying out machines a couple of years ago is that some higher end machines have some quirky features that I just didn't like... like the TOL Pfaffs without the presser foot lift lever - that immediately turned me off of even considering those machines... which was a good thing since they were a bit beyond my budget anyways.

    You don't need a special machine for FMQ - harp space is generally helpful, but there are other things that make it easier (such as modifying the free motion quilting foot like Leah Day does) that can make FMQ much more successful on any machine. Small changes can make a huge difference... for me the supreme slider and the foot modifications were key for me to finally start to have some FMQ success, before that I struggled with jerky starts and stops and fabric bunching - it was a hot mess, but now it's much easier. Practice also helps a lot

  6. #6
    Senior Member lisalisa's Avatar
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    I have nothing to offer as far as what machine to buy, but as far as being able to use the machine you have to do FMQ, you absolutely can. Mine is the cheapest ever and I've put thousands of miles on it, doing mending, fmq, applique. All with no fancy settings. I could go with more throat space, but that's only considering that I've gotten much better and find that I enjoy it quite a bit. If you're just starting and want to dive in, there is no reason you can't do it now. Just get a darning foot on ebay. They're all pretty standard. I think the only thing you need to check is the shank type.
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 05-01-2013 at 02:02 AM. Reason: language
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  7. #7
    Senior Member IrishgalfromNJ's Avatar
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    Don't be afraid to look at used machines at the dealers as well, they are usually serviced and in good condition. I have a Bernina 1530 (1992) I got about 3 years ago that is quite good with FMQ. Have fun shopping.

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    I would google sewing.patternreview.com and click on the sewing machines heading (they have different things they run, sewing tips or patterns etc). People write in and review their sewing machines and you get a good idea. A few years ago I wanted a new machine ( my old Elna was 34 years old) and I looked at lots of new machines.... decided I didn't want embroidery but wanted a good regular machine, and thought I may pick Brand X....Found this website, the pattern review one and I realised that I would have bought a 'lemon', apparently the Brand X was so unreliable considering the cost, that they had a fault that was a constant headache to the sewists and dealers were so vital to ones satisfaction or unsatisfaction, once a problem was found to be a big problem, that the reviewers experiences were vital to read how they got on, and what the dealers could do or not do as the case evolved. I changed my pick and on their recommendations bought a Janome 6600P. This was in 2008, and it has been a delight... They are not making this particular model now, they have a 7700 and an 8900 after that one I think, but this website will help you figure out what you want... I thought initially it would be from people who worked for the companies or something but they are genuine sewists who you can tell they are experienced and know what they are complaining about, or praising with their Pros and Cons. Hope this helps.

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    Even though it's a drive, I'd test drive all that I could before I decided. Maybe check out all the dealers, Viking, etc on the day you go and test drive the Janome and make a day of it. Also, make sure you like the service of the store because customer service is very important for the future needs. You might even consider a previously owned machine, thru a LQS they normally come with a warranty and most dealers have them serviced and will show you the features so you get the full benefits of the machine. We each have our own picks but you need to test drive what works for you. I have a couple of Vikings and a Kenmore/Janome (around 400 at Sears) and I've had good luck with these. Others have good luck with other machines. Once you see all of the available features you'll be more equipped to decide. I love auto needle down and thread cutter, mine also has thread posistioning which is great and I never have to adjust my tension.
    Judy

  10. #10
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    Decide what you want in a machine, test drive as many as you can. Determine if the dealer will provide you with the services you will want. Then buy the best one you can afford. You won't regret it.

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