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Thread: New and in need of advice!

  1. #1

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    Hi everyone,
    My name is Chrissy and I am from Niskayuna, NY (close to the state capitol of Albany).

    I am brand new to quilting and have very little sewing knowledge. A friend is helping me make my first quilt, but I am using a sewing machine that is probably 35 years old. Even though I just had the machine serviced, I am still having major problems with the tension (bottom thread is loose no matter how I set the tension knob). My husband was going to get me a new machine (my Mother's Day gift) but he was overwhelmed when it came to the choices and now says I must pick out the machine I want. Price is an issue, but I want to get something that is goint to last. So my questions are:
    1. If spending between $300-400, what do all of you recommend?
    2. Can I even get a decent machine for this price? (I'd rather wait and save up more money if the answer is no)

    And seperately from the sewing machine questions, what's the best piece of advice you have for a newbie like myself?

    Thanks so much for all of your help!

  2. #2
    Super Member Ducky's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, my sewing machine desires tend to run much higher than the $300-400. That's not saying I can afford what I desire, but they are the ones I keep my eye out for. A while back I went into a Pfaff center to replace a 1/4" and while I was waiting I looked at some nice looking refurbished machines. Have you looked at any refurbished? It may be a way to go until you can get something different.... Good luck

  3. #3
    Super Member sewjoyce's Avatar
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    Hi and Welcome from southern Indiana!!

    And I think Ducky has the right idea -- buy a refurbished machine from a reputable dealer. Go to the different shops, tell them how much you want to spend and then test drive all of them. And sometimes, you can find a really nice machine on ebay for little cost.

    Best advice for a newbie quilter? Gee -- take as many classes as you can; watch the t.v. quilting shows (if you're lucky enough to have any in your area); and of course you can ask all kinds of questions here as well as get inspiration!

  4. #4
    Power Poster Ninnie's Avatar
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    You can also go tho the tutorial section here and go through it!

  5. #5
    Senior Member quiltswithdogs's Avatar
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    I bought my great Bernina in your price range. It's called a Bernette 65. Love it!

    Welcome!

  6. #6
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    Welcome from Southern California. I found a great machine on e-bay but it is a little over your price range. You may find one there, but I recommend that you do go to a dealer close by and talk to them and see what used machines they have in their shop. It is wonderful to have someone close by who you can call or take you machine into when those occasional problems crop up. You will definately want a machine that you can lower, or cover the feed dogs, a 1/4" foot (may be purchase separately) an "open toe" or embroidery foot that you can use for free motion quilting. Have some fun and sit down and try out a couple of machines if you can.

  7. #7
    Super Member Chele's Avatar
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    Check the bobbin on your older machine. Is it in properly? When I started sewing, I missed that a few times. It made the tension funky. Once I got the bobbin seated correctly and "threaded" all was well. I would encourage you to use the machine you have during the learning process. In the meantime you can save up for a fancier machine and discover exactly what you need.

    You're going to have fun no matter which route you take! Start clearing closets for your fabric stash! LOL!

  8. #8
    Senior Member quiltswithdogs's Avatar
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    Chrissy, I forgot to say that while you are researching new machines, you might want to take your old one in for a clean-up then when you pick it up, ask for a free lesson about your bobbin and tension.

    I did that and my crummy old machine worked great for a couple years.
    Then wham, right in the middle of my first ever wedding quilt... it broke and was declared unfixable. 2 weeks later, I opened up my Christmas present from hubby and it was a brand new machine; my Bernina! He wisely went to a wonderful mom&pop place that sells and services sewing machines. I got a free lesson about all the features, although I only use a few. I can call them at their shop for advice and they seem to always have a booth at quilt shows.

    That reminds me... look for a quilt show and go! There are often sewing machine places that have a special discount there!

    Go get going and have fun!
    Cathy

  9. #9
    Senior Member Stitching4Fun's Avatar
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    I have had many many sewing machines and only one was over the $500 price range. Most of mine were the basic ones, and did not cost much at all. (some around the $100 range). And some of those were the best sewing machine.

    I don't need all the bells and whistle on a machine. Most of the time on my quilt I just use my featherweight. I have a long arm so I don't need one for that stitching.

    Get as much practice as you can.

    Barb

  10. #10
    molly4503's Avatar
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    Hello and welcome from Maine! I am also a newbie so I know how you feel! I always post my questions on this board; the people are so knowledgeable, helpful and friendly it's amazing.

    I also needed to get a newmachine and was in the same price range. I actually got a great deal on my machine. I bought the Baby Lock Grace. It is a great machine in my opinion. The good thing about buying from your LQS is that often times you can upgrade for a newer model, more expensive machine during the first year. So, you really don't have to wait to save up!

    The dealer where I got my Baby Lock will let me trade up anytime within the first year and will credit me the full purchase price of my current machine towards the purchase of a hgher end one!

    Also, ask for deals. LQS are looking for your business and you want to build a good relationship with them. They threw in the walking foot, darning foot, and 1/4"foot with guide and a Baby Lock sewing bag for free- value on the freebies was about 85.00 alone. I spent 299. on my machine with all the above!

    There are deals to be had you just have to look for them! Good luck and let us know what you decide....

  11. #11
    molly4503's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by molly4503
    I also needed to get a new machine .....
    I guess I should have said WANTED! Had one,worked fine was just older with no bells and no whistles. You always need a back-up plan! I was a girl scout, I was taught to be prepared!!! :oops:

  12. #12
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I have a fairly basic Brother that I love. I don't remember just how much it cost (about $300), but I did some research and ended up negotiating. (Yes, even on a low end that is possible). It doesn't mind being carted to the quilt classes, and it does a better blanket stitch than my higher end Pfaff.

    I wonder what is wrong with your machine, since you just had it serviced. It is possible that you have the bobbin in incorrectly like a previous quilter postet. Can you take it back to the service place to have the tech walk you through proper setup or have an experienced sewer in your realm check it out. Sometimes the older machines are better work horses than the new ones, and for quilting you need to be able to sew a consistent 1/4" seam (straight stitch).

    If you end up getting a new one, make sure you test drive it and put it through its paces.

    Good hunting.


  13. #13
    Super Member twistedstitcher's Avatar
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    One thing you might want to try is adjusting the bobbin tension. I know many people warn against doing this but sometimes it's necessary when adjusting the top tension doesn't work. Here's some information that might help.

    http://www.ca.uky.edu/HES/fcs/FACTSHTS/CT-MMB-213.pdf

  14. #14
    Power Poster littlehud's Avatar
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    I really love my Brother. Got it at the fabric store. It doen't have all the bells and whistles some do but was a great price. It works wonderful for all my needs. The only thing is if you want to quilt your own quilts, it didn't work well for that. I battled with it for about a year and then got a refurbished Juki. That was about 500 dolllars, but I figured it would pay for itself. The thing is the Juki isn't great for piecing and the Brother isn't great for quilting. It all depends on what you expect from your machine.

  15. #15
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    I personally would take your machine back to the shop who "serviced" it and tell them to fix it right. Just because it's an older machine, you should still be able to quilt with it, at least until you can decide on a machine that will fit your needs.

  16. #16
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    I forgot to welcome you from NE CA. Glad you found us.

  17. #17
    Super Member zyxquilts's Avatar
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    Welcome to the Board from So Cal!
    My 'new' Janome "Heart Truth" machine was in your price range & I love it! As I understand it, Janome makes one "special" machine every year that they sell at a lower price - mine was from last year, and a portion of the proceeds went to Women's Heart Health charities. It has a few 'fancy' stitches...but my favorite thing is the needle threader! lol One other nice thing is that the optional feet are reasonably priced. :D
    (I also have a 1953 Singer as a back-up.)

    Look for a quilt guild in your area & try them on for size. Most guilds offer workshops at very low prices, and there are lots of brains to pick too! :wink:

  18. #18
    Super Member shaverg's Avatar
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    I have to say my machine was quite a bit more but it is 25 years old.

    But you can definitely get a good machine for under $500. At a recent quilt show there was a baby lock for under $500. I was looking at it and as I was doing so several quilters walked up and told me what a wonderful machine it was and how much they loved it.

    Also there are many dealers in my area that have really good used machines that were traded in.

    Take your time and do a little research on the computer. You will find what you want. The main thing is make sure you can test drive it.

  19. #19
    Senior Member humbird's Avatar
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    I agree with whoever said to take it back to the service center. The machine I use most of the time is much older than 25 years, and I wouldn't give it up for anything!. I have had 3 new machines, (over$500 each) and now my daughters have them! What ever you decide, I wish you good luck. I am sure you will enjoy quilting. You will receive lots of encouragement here on this board.

    Phyllis

  20. #20
    Super Member LindaR's Avatar
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    I would take the old one in first and see if they can adjust the tention. There is a way to adjust the tension yourself...I'll try and explain, might help. On your bobbin case there is a little screw (very little) be sure and ajust over something you can see the screw if it drops. LOL the rule is "righty tighty and lefty loosey" It sound like you need to tighten...turn a half of a turn and then try it. This should help and then thoroughly clean the machine and your all set :<)

  21. #21
    Super Member Deb watkins's Avatar
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    Welcome to the wonderful world of quilts! I purchased a Janome, the middle of the road price and it does everything I need it to do. Refurbished machines from a reputable dealer is a good way to start. As you become more proficient (we all continue to learn) you will determine what other features you might like in the future. U-Tube has so many great tutorials, they are short yet very clear and informative. Definately take as many classes as you can afford to, one of the best things I did for myself was to go to the Mancuso Quilt show in Harrisburg, PA last Sept. This year is it near Philly, though it will be a 5 .5 hour drive for me, it is well worth it. Take the time and spent the weekend!

  22. #22
    Super Member Shemjo's Avatar
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    Hello, and welcome from Missouri! :lol:
    I agree with taking the machine back to wherever you had it serviced, or call them on the phone and explain your problem! You may not have the bobbin seated properly. Another thought, have you changed the needle and it is backward? Just a thought because I have been there, done that. :?

  23. #23
    Senior Member ddrobins1956's Avatar
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    I've had good luck on ebay. I bought a really nice Elna last year for under 150.00. It's a great basic machine. I also bought a Brother machine with more bells and whistles, under 200.00. It has lots more stitches and it's computerized. But, my old standby workhorse is a 38 yr old Kenmore, it still sews great. I'll bet your old machine just needs some further adjusting. Since you are just starting out with your quilting, I wouldn't break the bank on buying a machine. Get something sturdy and easy to use and I think you will be very happy. You can always trade up later on and keep your starter machine as a backup. Most of us have several machines.

  24. #24

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    Wow! Thank you all so much for your quick responses! My husband said the same thing about taking the machine back to be re-serviced; I know I should, but I feel like I'm causing trouble...

    As for choosing a new machine, I'm probably not any less overwhelmed. The local JoAnn's has an independent Husqvarna-Viking dealer located inside of it, but I have not read many favorable reviews about the company's current entry level machines. There is also a local quilt shop that I haven't yet visited (my girldfriend who is teaching me warned me about all of the beautiful fabrics that i was going to fall in love w/and I thought maybe I shoud avoid it for a bit) but maybe I should head there too? Anybody have any thoughts?

  25. #25
    Senior Member genghis khan's Avatar
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    What kind of machine is it mine is an older one too it has a removable bobbin and on it is a very tiny set screw that ajusts the bottom tension for the bobbin hope this helps. Chris

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