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Thread: Newbie Quilter Needs Your Input & Recomendations Desperately!!

  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Hello everyone. Hope you can help me out. I want to purchase a new/used or refurbished sewing machine with all the features to make my quilting easier - hopefully within the next 6 months. I would love to have a computerized machine, but I'm not able to spend a whole lot of money. If I can find one at a decent price though, I'd get it. My problem is that there are so many choices and so many conflicting reviews of each machine when I search that I'm so confused and don't know where to turn! I think I can rule out Singers and definately the Brother 6000, (but there are great reviews on that one too). I've read that BabyLok's can be quite tempermental, so I'm going to avoid them. I have read a lot of great reviews on Janome and have also been told by another quilter that they don't like their Bernina! I have read reviews on many different machines and half the people love that particular machine and the other half hates it. I have also read that top loading bobbins cause a lot of problems with thread binding up than front loading bobbins (from a quilting book, not from a person). I would absolutely love to have a self-threading machine.
    Here we go:
    1. What machine/s have you used and what do you like and dislike about them? What is your favorite machine and why? Suggestions on what brand or machine to definately stay away from would help. Also, can you give me an estimate on cost of a good machine to "grow with"?
    2. I am not only a beginner quilter, I have yet to finish my very first quilt. (I just need to add the border and finish it off). What features and accessories do I need (it seems there are millions of them)!? What features are on your machine that you absolutely can't live without? What features are on your machine that you never use when quilting/sewing and wish you hadn't paid the extra money for?
    3. Of course, I'd love to have the latest and greatest with all the bells and whistles - but again - money restrictions. I want to learn as much as I can so I can become a great quilter. I want to eventually do embroidery by machine as well.
    4. I know that I should "test drive" any machine before deciding to purchase it and what to look for - ease of use, easy to understand, especially for a beginner, how it sounds when working, etc. I'm just trying to get input from other, more knowledgeable quilters. We have a few, but not a lot of sewing machine dealers here in Virginia Beach, VA (and the surrounding areas), that sell new, used and refurbished machines and also service them and the variety of machines are limited. I also want to be able to take it in for service without waiting weeks to get it back. I'm really close to Northeast NC and am willing to go there to find what I'm looking for.
    Any and all feedback would be so appreciated! I'm willing to travel an hour or two if I can find what I'm looking for and get an awesome deal. I know this request is kind of lengthy and I apologize. I'd appreciate it soooo much if you could spare a few minutes and give me some feedback and any and all suggestions!! Also, what machines do your quilting friends use that they absolutely love?

    Thanks so much! CherylR, waving hello from Va. Beach, VA.
    By the way, is there ANYBODY out there from the Mid-Atlantic region of the country? Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Hampton, Franklin, Portsmouth, (VA) or northeast NC? I feel so alone!!!!

  2. #2
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Camarillo, California
    I have a Bernina and love it. It is an expensive bugger though. There are lots of people on here that should be able to help you!

  3. #3
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Alturas, CA
    If you have any dealers around your area, I would recommend you test drive different machines and brands. I like the elnas, personally and they're fairly reasonably priced.

  4. #4
    varacefan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by CherylR

    By the way, is there ANYBODY out there from the Mid-Atlantic region of the country? Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Hampton, Franklin, Portsmouth, (VA) or northeast NC? I feel so alone!!!!
    Hello! I live in Chesapeake. I bought my Janome at Sew EZ in Portsmouth - they were very helpful and informative.

  5. #5
    Pam is offline
    Super Member Pam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Southern Illinois
    AWwww, you need to find a quilt guild in your area and get some quilting buddies. I have an older Bernina, it is about 17 years old, and I love it. I cannot tell you anything about the newer machines, I like the oldies.

  6. #6
    Member Bustertruster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Williamsburg, VA
    Yup, I can echo VaRacefan's recommendation of sew ez as I also found them very helpful. I have a older Pfaff and a new Janome (which I love). Figure out what you need on a machine and ask lots of questions.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    My advice on your new sewing machine: I don't believe the brand is as important as buying one from a trusted dealer close to you where you can get help when you need it. I have a newer Bernina & would not buy one again. They say it doesn't need oiling but when it starts to sound like a thrashing machine... it needs oil! I have 3 Elnas of early '70's vintage. One I purchased then, the others two I have picked up, one at a rummage sale and another as used in my local store. Love then & it is fun to teach my twin grandkids on them because they are all the same. Two features I do like on the Bernina that I would not want to do without are 1)The feature that allows me to stop my needly either up or down & 2) the feature that allows me to lift the pressure foot with the knee lever. But I am sure they are probably available on other brands. But I still think the most important thing is to buy it close to home where you can take lessons on it, talk to the person who sold it to you, get help when you need it, buy attachments as you can afford them, etc.

  8. #8
    Google Goddess craftybear's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Central Indiana (USA)
    Blog Entries
    I would go around to some of the dealers and test drive them

  9. #9
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    High Entropy Zone
    Sorry, I can't help with location. I'm in Texas (but my parents still live in VA if that helps).

    Things I think are a must with my machine:

    For piecing:
    1. The built in "walking foot" (on my machine it is called IDT).
    2. The sensor light that indicates when the bobbin thread is about to run out.
    3. Adjusting my needle position so I can get an accurate 1/4 inch seam (It is important to me, maybe not so much to others.)

    For quilting, quilting:

    1. Being able to drop my feed dogs.
    2. As big a throat as I can afford so I could handle more quilt bulk.
    3. Is there an big open toed free-motion/darning foot available? I hated the little darning foot that came with my machine. I couldn't see a thing.

    I'm sure there are more but I didn't think of them yet.

    I would think that the following would be part of things to think about:

    1. cost of feet [Can you get a 1/4 inch piecing foot with a blade, stitch in the ditch foot (mine is called a knit edge foot because I wanted the all metal construction for durability), etc]
    2. warranty and repair facility [Does the machine get serviced on site or does it have to be sent away? That is a big factor for me]
    3. if the machine can download stitched from a computer, is the software compatable with the new Windows 7 and Vista updates. (My machine will not load the software on the those new operating systems but the machine itself is still wonderful. Just wanted to give you a heads up on the software issues since my old computer "ate itself and I bought a new one".)

    I own a Pfaff 7570 and bought it new. I paid a lot for things I really probably haven't used enough of like the computerized emboidery, but I can't say enough about how the way it handles all sorts of fabric. That is important to me because I sew a lot of other things besides quilt pieces. Front bobbin loading has never been an issue for me because I don't think I've ever owned a machine that didn't do this. However, I bought my daughter her first sewing machine, a Janome DC2010 (fairly economical, has some good features, access to feet that are inexpensive, serviced at the place I purchased, etc.) It has a top loading bobbin and I liked it a lot. That little machine sews pretty well and has handled everything she has given it so far. She hasn't pieced anything so I can't tell you how well her new 1/4 inch foot works yet (or the stitch-in-the-ditch one either). We do use those feet for other sewing needs and they've preformed well so far.

    My point of view is just mine, but I have bought many machines over the years. I have to say I'm getting better with each one I purchase.

    Make sure you take fabric and thread with you to test drive a machine (make a small quilt sandwich or two as well.) I'm sure other people will think of more things to consider. I always envision sewing everything when I buy a machine (I kind of sound like Alton Brown, all things should multipurpose not just single task) because I usually end up doing it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member tortoisethreads's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    I have an older Singer that I use daily for piecing and other projects. I also have a fancy Husqvarna that only gets used for free motion quilting. I like the older one better. It's metal and sews wonderfully!

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