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Thread: Newbie Question

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    Newbie Question

    I have always wanted to learn how to quilt and I decided to finally do it. I have signed up for a beginner's class at the local quilting and fabric store. The question I have is does machines made for sewing and quilting the way to go? What things does a quilting machine have versus just a basic sewing machine?

    Looking forward to learning lots of information from this forum!!!

  2. #2
    Super Member Knitette's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    The Granite City, Scotland
    I couldn't thread a sewing machine until a couple of years ago, but very quickly wanted some extra features that my sale bought machine didn't have, such as being able to stop the machine at the end of sewing with needle down, an auto lock button which (sometimes) saves you reverse stitching and a built in thread cutter - the thread cutter has paid for itself in the amount of saved thread, lol.

    I suggest you buy an inexpensive used machine to start with and look for these features if you decide to upgrade later. More expensive quilting machines have loads more features again.

    Ideally you should be able to drop your feed dogs (the little toothed cogs that feed your fabric through) and a needle threader is great too.
    Lang may yer lum reek. (I'm a knitter - hence - 'Knit-ette'. Confuses a lot of people!)

  3. #3
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    western NY formerly MN, FL, NC, SC
    Blog Entries
    A larger throat space is a great feature to have, also. Welcome to the QB
    Nancy in western NY
    before you speak T.H.I.N.K.
    T is it True? H is it Helpful? I is it Inspiring? N is it Necessary? K is it Kind?

  4. #4
    Junior Member totosmom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Bedford Co, PA
    Welcome to QB ocydroma. Glad to know you have taken the Big Step towards quilting. Classes are definitely the way to go, and you might want to visit your local quilt stores to find out if there are any quilt guilds in your area. You'll learn so much from other quilters.

    As for your question, it all depends on what you are doing, but since you specifically mention quilting, I'd go with a simple sewing machine. To start you don't need anything fancy ... and of course your choice will need to play well with your budget. For bells and whistles, I'd look for a starter machine from a solid name like Bernina, Janome or Brother. They will happily provide customer service which every beginner (and some veterans) needs. For economy and reliability, I'd consider a vintage Singer 301 which makes a beautiful stitch and is portable for your classes. The Kenmore 158 series are also highly praised but I mostly see them in cabinets (= not very portable!).

    I have learned to live without all the bells and whistles because I love those old machines, but a beginner will probably look for a needle down option, thread cutter, and large throat space. An extension table and a 1/4 inch foot would be great too.

    Whatever you choose, keep us posted.
    Dorothy in PA

  5. #5
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Long Island
    Since you are a beginner I would strongly suggest buying an inexpensive second hand machine at a yard sale or on craiglist. A few years from now when you have several projects under your belt you will know exactly what you want. Machine is a highly personal thing. I have been sewing for 30 years and quilting for about 12 and all that on a simple Singer 5050.i actually started on a treadle and bought Singer about 10 years ago.
    Last edited by Tashana; 09-10-2012 at 04:43 AM. Reason: Addition

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Keene, New Hampshire
    Were I you, I'd look at the Jem Platinum.
    It's not expensive, light weight, has a needle-down function and you can adjust the needle for a scant 1/4" seam (critical when sewing up a block with many pieces)
    Mine came with a nice cloth carrying case and the walking foot (which you'll want if you plan to machine quilt, regardless of which machine you get).

  7. #7
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Ontario, Canada
    Some good input from the previous posters.
    If you are purchasing a machine, whether now or later, be sure you are getting it at a reliable dealer and one that will offer in-shop service. Plus know the machine to the extent that they can support you as you learn.

    IF you already have a machine ... just use it for now!
    There's no need to go out and buy a new one.
    Many use treadles and vintage machines and turn out incredible quilts.

    As you sew, you'll discover the features you would like to have when you are ready to upgrade.
    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!

  8. #8
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Small town in Northeast Oregon close to Washington and Idaho
    Blog Entries
    Really, to start off sewing quilts, a regular sewing machine would work fine. That's how I learned for a few years. But I didn't quilt them. I pieced the blocks together only, which is probably what you need to learn first. After you learn the basics, then you'll know what you want in a sewing machine and if you want to try and quilt your own quilts, which I guess a lot of people like to do (not me) here. But a regular machine will work just fine to get your started. You don't have to have anything special. It's nice to have all the bells and whistles...but that can wait a bit. Learn to put together a quilt first and make sure you enjoy it. Make sure you enjoy shopping for fabric and putting fabrics together to make a quilt. Some people, I don't know any of them, don't like the process of making a quilt, so make sure you do before you spend your money on a sewing machine that costs quite a bit of money. From what I gather, you can get one at Walmart for a little over $100 to begin sewing and the people who own them seem happy with them. That's what I'd do. My first machine was a beginner. Very basic. Had it 20 years. Just gave it to my daughter for her to learn to quilt with.
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
    Strong people don't put others down...they build them up."
    "Remember that your instincts are more important than rules"

  9. #9
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Outside St. Louis
    I have two 9" throat straight stitch only machines, drop the feed dogs with walking foot and darning foot for FMQ.
    One cuts the thread, not crazy about that. Both have knee lift bars, I don't use them, they get in my way. Been quilting since 1965-1966 I have made 142 machine quilted quilts, 27 hand quilted quilts. These machines are all I need. Good luck.
    Welcome to this great board from Missouri.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Toni C's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    You didn't say if you already had a machine. If you get a used machine get the manual for it! That will tell you everything you need to know including how to thread it. All the previous advice is good. Welcome and BTW I use a treadle Singer for most of my piecing

  11. #11
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    home again, after 27 yrs!
    Blog Entries
    you can quilt on any machine. a larger throat space is wonderful if you can get it. i have 6 inches. 9 is great to have!!
    needle down is nice too. you don't need much else.

  12. #12
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Southern California
    A basic sewing machine is all you need until you get into the fancy stuff, you might want to look for features like needle down, drop feed dogs, adjustable stitch width and length, generous harp space right of the needle, pivoting, adjustable presser foot pressure and height, thread cutters, but you can get a simple machine with some of these features even from walmart, until you are sure you want to invest the money on a higher end machine. I sew on my brother SQ-9050 all the time that I got from walmart, unless I am quilting a huge quilt it suits all my piecing needs and only cost me 180, 200 without the rebate now, and I tell you makes more beautiful buttonholes than some of the higher end janomes, huskies, and other models in my class. The SQ has drop feed, needle down, adjustable stitch width length, some nice features for the price

  13. #13
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Thanks for all the replies!! After spending all day researching, comparing and reading reviews, I chose the Brother XL 3750 Free arm sewing machine with quilting features. It was really cheap and several people I know recommend Brother.
    I have done some basic sewing several years ago but used a machine that my mom let me borrow.
    Guide to Sewing" put out by Singer.

    I am very excited to learn lots of things from this forum!!

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