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Thread: New (to me) Machine Advice

  1. #1
    Junior Member QuiltedCritterLady's Avatar
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    Red face New (to me) Machine Advice

    Hi Quilters, I am starting to look for a new machine. I've been using a Baby Lock QC, but I am looking for something that might also allow me to do embroidery in the future and will do better with free motion. What I want are more even stitches in FM quilting.

    I sort of have my eye on Bernina probably second hand, as the new ones cost as much as a car. I do not want to get heavily into embroidery, but I would like the capability. I like free motion quilting and Bernina dealers want to sell me on the idea of a stitch regulator for that. Is that all hype? Is a Bernina worth the money? Is there something better out there? Any recommendations? I would appreciate any opinions/input.

    Thanks!
    Never underestimate the power of a woman with a sewing machine!

  2. #2
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Have you tried the stitch regulator? If you went to a dealer why didn't you try it? Test driving a machine is the only way to know if it's the one for you if you're uncertain.

  3. #3
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I would advise you to get a separate embroidery machine, if possible. That way, if you want to do embroidery, you can still be quilting while the embroidery machine is running.

    I love my Bernina 1230 and can get very nice looking FMQ on it (because I practiced a lot). Its biggest drawback is the small throat space. Personally, as much as I love my 15yo Bernina, I would not pay the current price for a used Bernina with stitch regulator; I just do not think they are worth that much money. If you go with a separate machine for embroidery, I kind of think you are better off with a used Sweet Sixteen or other machine made strictly for FMQ.

    One thing to think about is whether you ultimately prefer sitting down to FMQ or using a frame setup. I have done both, but find that frame quilting is easier for me (especially physically) and more fun. I can complete quilting much faster on my frame setup. If I had to choose between a Bernina with BSR and an entry-level Innova, I would go with the Innova:
    http://www.innovalongarm.com/shop/in...ge-detail.html

  4. #4
    Super Member Farm Quilter's Avatar
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    I agree with Prism. My longarm was new when I bought it and it cost less then some of the Berninas on the market and I have an 18" throat on a 12 foot frame! Funny, I just finished reading Prism's post...I have an Innova too and mine is 6 years old and still fabulous!! I am quilt on it just about every day since I quilt for others as a "job"!!

  5. #5
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
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    You really have to test drive any DSM just like you would when buying a new or used car. I have a Bernina 1530 which was a model produced before stitch regulators. Achieving FMQ takes a lot of practice. I learned from the best at the time I was professional quilting for others. I took a class from Harriet Hargrave and it was the turning point in my quilting. You need to be able to duplicate the movement that the your sewing machine moves the fabric at a certain speed. Secondly, you need to learn to be looking to where you want to go, not where you are at currently. Hope this helps. Make some charity quilts or dog beds to hone your FMQ skills.
    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

  6. #6
    Super Member QuiltingVagabond's Avatar
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    I have a Bernina 440 and I will tell you what the dealer told me when I got it ...

    "If you are wanting to do embroidery, there are better machines out there than this one"

    Since I was wanting it for piecing and FMQing I had no qualms about getting it. Now whether she was referring to another brand or another Bernina, I do not know.
    QuiltingVagabond aka Kathy

  7. #7
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    I have several Bernina's. Can you say my favorite machine. Please PM me. Thanks.


  8. #8
    Senior Member quiltedsunshine's Avatar
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    My dream machine is a Bernina 630. It has great embroidery capabilities, a little bigger throat space, and it has an oscillating hook. Most Bernina Embroidery machines have the rotary hook, which just doesn't give as great stitch quality (IMHO). I don't even like the new 7 Series Berninas, just because the stitch quality isn't there--and that's a whole different hook system. The stitch regulator is OK, but not great. Bernina machines only go about 800 to 900 stitches per minute. You can easily out-run the BSR. Just to give you an idea... the Handi Quilter Avante goes 1800 stitches per minute. They're 2 different animals. The Bernina 440 is a great machine, but the embroidery system is obsolete.
    Annette in Utah

  9. #9
    Junior Member QuiltedCritterLady's Avatar
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    Wow, thanks! You have all given me quite a lot to think about. I thought the stitch regulator was the answer, but maybe not so much. I did not know the difference between oscillating and rotary hooks. Interesting! (I Googled it for an explanation.) I guess I will keep looking and like Candace advised, test drive everything before buying. ;-)
    Never underestimate the power of a woman with a sewing machine!

  10. #10
    Super Member Bree123's Avatar
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    Glad you're going to test drive it. About 1/2 of the 80 people in my quilt guild say they would never use a stitch regulator because they don't want to give up that control. Often I hear them compare it to the difference between a stick & an automatic. There are advantages to each.

    The other thing I would add is that you will want to prioritize the features you're looking for in a machine. There is no one machine that is the best at everything. If you pick a machine that is better at embroidery, usually it will not be as good for quilting, precision sewing, or other tasks. The same holds true if you pick the top of the line for quilting. It's the reason why so many people have multiple machines. I am not at all pushing for you to get more than one machine; just encouraging you to consider that there are always trade offs. Take your time & test out any of the features you want to use on at least 3-4 different machines before making your decision. A lot of time dealers will be eager to have you try out different features on different machines based on what the machine's strength is. I've even seen them be very slick about it by saying something like "well, since you've tried out FMQ on this machine & you said you also wanted to do embroidery, let's try embroidery out on that machine so you can compare." That's comparing apples to oranges.

  11. #11
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    Test drive they aren't for everyone. I have used a bernina without stitch regulator 550QE I believe it was didn't care for it. I have my brother dreamweaver that I adore without a doubt best machine I have sewn on. I do have a stitch regulator for it can't say its improved my FMQ craftsy and practice really have improved it, still have not got the hang of the regulator. I am sure it has its purpose but I still think nothing beats practice. I do love the 11inch harp on my machine and the dual feed is awesome. Some are deterred because of size but it can plow through ten layers with ease like any industrial can and you can use for heavy duty items to sheers there is a different range depending on the v-series model chosen. Embroidery i can tell you will be easiest on a brother/babylock than any other brand even the TOL are easy peasy to use. even my baby was playing around with the dream machine and could figure things out she is 4 so that tells you how easy they are to use. I do like pfaffs IDT alot but probably will not get because I am satisfied with my dual feed. Janomes are also a solid choice, but they have different feed styles so you really have to test a few models. Berninas are a solid machine just way too overpriced for everything including accessories.
    Brother XL-3500i, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D, Juki MO-2000QVP

  12. #12
    Super Member DOTTYMO's Avatar
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    Bernina 440 and 550 have a small throat 9" .therefore free motion quilting a large quilt is a major job. Not impossible.
    Also I for get the stitch regulator once I could free motion.
    The juki range have an 11" throat but don't know their embroidery ability.
    Janome have a wide selection and I enjoy their embroidery feature
    No nothing about pfaff but would like one.
    Also brother offer a wide range with embroidery features.

    With which ever you select look for a local dealer. With my brother I had to travel long distances to get it repaired. Big disadvantage to dealers doorstep.
    Finished is better than a UFO

  13. #13
    Super Member Farm Quilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltedsunshine View Post
    Bernina machines only go about 800 to 900 stitches per minute. You can easily out-run the BSR. Just to give you an idea... the Handi Quilter Avante goes 1800 stitches per minute. They're 2 different animals.
    My Innova can go up to 3,000 SPM and when I'm doing an all-over pattern I frequently quilt between 2,200-2,500 SPM.

  14. #14
    Member tdvxh's Avatar
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    I had a Bernina 820 for quilting. It was a good machine but I find the Janome Memory Craft 15000, w/embroidery a much better machine because the accessories are much more affordable. The machine itself is a quality machine with very few problems. I also have a Janome Artistic 18 quilter w/frame. When I started quilting and embroidery, I thought having two machines was the better way to go. Now unless you get used ones, the prices are way too high. You might want to look at the Babylock. But as others have said, test drive before you buy. Good luck.

  15. #15
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    There are lifetimes of good ideas and advice on this thread. I am making serious mental notes. Wow!

    I am late but let me vote for looking at the Bernina 1630. It is an older machine - say, maybe 15 years? - but when I get the new sewing machine itches and compare that model to what's in the stores today, .... I am sticking to it. It is computerized, with memory, and, with few exceptions, every bell and whistle today's machines have.

    The machine does have a downside but it is a downside that it shares with every other machine on the market - the manufacturer wants to sell more machines and those machines are ever more internally coplex: what I program into my 1630 can be updated but there are no new designs available for the machine. Only the ones available when the machine was new. And, honestly, there are somethings it doesn't have: larger harp, larger hoop, won't connect directly to your computer using a particular operating system, and a few others that aren't coming to me this minute. Then there is the issue of computer problems. Mine has gone lots of hard and persnickety miles with me without a hiccup and I do all the cleaning, oiling, etc. on it. But, when I wanted to take it in for a really "from top to bottom" go over, there was no one in my area who had a tech who was familiar enough with that particular machine to do it. I have never had a mechanical part develop a problem.

    My machine was thirdhand to me. The professional quilter who originally owned it had 3. 3! Good heavens. She bought them in FL, used them all and sold 2 of the three before she returned to Canada. One went to my best friend. The other was sold but never picked up by the buyer or used and sat in its case in the best friend's sewing room for a number of YEARS. My Elna died and that's another story. On my friend's advice, I bought the 1630 from its second owner for $400 - a lot cheaper than the $1,800 she paid for it. I congratulate myself every time I sit down to sew.

    That "congratulations" thing is what I wish for you. Sorry about being so longwinded. Please let us know what you finally decide. Applause.

    Pat

  16. #16
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    I bought a used Bernina with a stitch regulator. I had a hard time with the regulator because I was used to free motion quilting with out it. I don't use it. I love my Bernina machine. A stitch regulator is a waste of money in my opinion.

  17. #17
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    I was reading about the BSR recently and I found a lot of mixed reviews on it. Apparently it has trouble on lighter colored fabrics, and someone was saying that her chalk lines often throw it off too. After reading all of that I decided I'd be better served just doing a lot more practice, so I would be skilled enough to FMQ on any machine. Can't say I'm there yet, but I AM improving! I never test drove one myself, though.

    I like having my embroidery machine as a completely separate machine. That way I can still sew as it's working.

  18. #18
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    I'm also sewing machine shopping. I took a tour of all the local dealers last week and got quite an education. I was really surprised to learn how few manufacturers there really are and that they are all made in China, Thailand and Japan now. You'd think that shipping labour overseas would lower the price instead of raising it but it hasn't. Anyway, when I started I thought I wanted a Babylock Aria until I found out they are made by Brother and that I can get the exact same machine with a Brother paint job for hundreds less. I tried out Berninas, Janomes, Husqvarnas, Babylocks and Brothers and the one I decided to save up for is the Brother Dreamweaver for quilting (VQ3000). It really impressed me in every way. I liked the Babylocks just as much but couldn't see any reason to pay hundreds more just for the name.

  19. #19
    Senior Member ladydukes's Avatar
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    I'm not an expert on any of this, but I will pass this info on that I have gleaned from my BFF in Texas who is a computer/quilter/embroidery guru who has/does own several TOL Vikings and TOL Brother sewing/embroidery machines. She purchased the Brother Quattro 2 and enjoyed it so much that she stepped up and bought the Brother Dream machine which is the TOL Brother that does sewing and embroidery. In her opinion, it's like buying a Lexus versus a Toyota (and yes, for those who want to remind me, Toyota builds Lexus, but they are not the same vehicle). She also said that Bernina has a machine with BSR that she tried, but the Brother Dream did everything she wanted from a machine.

  20. #20
    Super Member purplefiend's Avatar
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    I learned to FMQ before there was such a thing as the stitch regulator; I don't get along with it at all. You can get good stitches with practice. I have 2 older Berninas, a 930 and 1031, I don't think the new crop of Berninas are up to snuff, considering how much they cost and what you get; a long throat costs $8,000+.
    I just recently bought ($2,000)a Pfaff Quilter's Expression 4.2, I really like this machine. It has 10" of throat space, built-in walking foot, does really well for FMQ. Pfaff has 4 embroidery machines, I don't know the prices. The website is www.new.pfaff.com
    I just finished a skirt over the weekend, was impressed. I have been sewing since I was a child, used many different machines. I am mainly a quilter and sometimes make clothing for myself.
    Sharon W. in Texas

  21. #21
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    I love doing embroidery on my Bernina 880. It's my 3rd one. I traded in a 640 for it so I can use a bigger embroidery hoop. It can do a very large hoop for embroidery and has a large throat for fmq. I still have a White Pearl I keep as back up. Even though I am a long arm quilter I enjoy the space when doing binding. I believe they are worth the cost. I plan for this machine to last the rest of my life. I will take it in for yearly updates and spa treatments. Definitely try out a stitch regulator though. If you already fmq you may not need it and could put the $ toward other accessories. Another thing to consider is service. We have a great service dept. at Pine Needles Sewing Center in Cedar Rapids IA.
    Cheryl Robinson
    http://www.silverneedlestitching.com
    APQS Millenium Longarm with Intelliquilter

  22. #22
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    i too have a dream machine by brother. I love it, but it cost major bucks. Look at the machines that people traded in for the new Dream Machine. Quattros do so much and have a large hoop, you can get them used for much less than a new one. Generally speaking, you spend that much money on a machine you maintain it.

  23. #23
    Junior Member joycet's Avatar
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    I have the Bernina 830 and it's ok. I wanted it to so badly until I got it. Now I know it's a lot smarter than I am. LOL I'm glad I didn't wait the other month and bought the 880. The 830 is really involved when trying to do any embroidery. The module has to be put on..then the extended table has to be put back on....My husband bought me a new Horn sewing machine cabinet with it. So I will have to take the knee lift off..then the plexiglass has to come off and raise the machine to think about doing any embroidery. My best friend has a Jamone 12,000 I think..or maybe the 11,000 the embroidery module just swings on and off. It stays attached all the time. If I were to do it again I would keep my old Baby Lock Quilters Edition with my vintage machines and save my money. I could have bought a LOT of fabric for that that 830 costs. Just my .02 for what it's worth. LOL

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