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Thread: Quality of Tools

  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dolphyngyrl View Post
    I never say that. I started out on a 100 dollar cheapo mechanical brother and used it for my first decade of quilting. I am a firm believer in that you do not need a TOL for quilting or sewing, but if you can afford better why not. I have acquired everything slowly as time goes on because I started out in college with little money with an aunt that quilted that gladly gave me fabric to use. II don't think many downgrade fabrics from various sources, many on here proudly shop joanns, hobby lobby, walmart, LQS, online, anywhere they can grab a deal. I have purchased from all above sources, I usually don't even buy much fabric from my LQS unless I get money or gift card for my birthday or x-mas I splurge and shop there, and I usually still wait for a good sale or coupons, because in reality and this economy who can afford the prices of the LQS. I think most quilters just know how to be frugal and get the best bang for their buck
    Right on !!

  2. #52
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    In my humble opinion, quilting is an emotionally fueled art hobby. I have been quilting since I was a child. I started when my feet could work the treadle on my grandma's Singer. We made doll quilts out of old clothes, fabric scraps and feed sacks or anything else we could find. It was joyful for me at 5 or 6 yrs old to be able to do what my mother and grandmother did. The results were functional and even beautiful to me and to her. Quilts generally have a story that goes with them. I have never felt like cuddling up to an oil painting when I need comfort from life's happenings. Quilts have bound my family together for generations and I get great personal satisfaction from creating new ones. I like the challenge of new designs. I love the requests from my grandsons for new ones. I do believe that quilting is an art. I also believe that painting is an art. Every art has its tools, history and motivation. Sometimes it is good to compare apples and oranges. This has been a good discussion topic. Thanks for posting.

  3. #53
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    Ahhh Well. Here is the thing.... The better sewing machines last longer, do more and make a perfect stitch with less problems. My first bernina lasted 35 years and was still like new when I passed it on to my sister a couple years ago. It was used and used and used. Can a cheap machine do that? I know the answer already. I had three machines before hubby bought that one.

    The better fabric lasts longer and looks better after years too. As a matter of fact, they are easier and nicer to work with.

    The tools are just that, tools! Why not have nice tools that work well and are accurate.

    Gee... I think this is a no brainer.

    I am a long time quilter and I think I can judge whether or not the cheap stuff is good enough or not. This should be every persons right to choose what to use.

    I think experiance is talking when someone suggests good quality.
    Last edited by RedGarnet222; 01-18-2013 at 09:07 AM.
    RedGarnet222

    "Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern ... It will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that ...one stitch at a time, taken patiently."
    *Oliver Wendell Holms

  4. #54
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    I consider my quilts to be how I'll be remembered long after I'm gone. I've made many for family that will probably be passed down, although some have been 'loved' so much that they won't make it to the next generation! That's part of the reason why I use the best equipment I can afford. I bought a top of the line embroidery machine with a very large throat for ME to make it easier to machine quilt my quilts.

    I label all my quilts with my name, the date and the town I live in. Who knows? Maybe some day someone will wonder who I was? Isn't that part of the reason why we're supposed to label our quilts? There are over 100 quilts out there with this label, and I'm into the 2nd 100 now.

    I haven't been able to hand quilt for several years, so I bought my first embroidery machine to use for quilting. I haven't looked back!

    I still look for bargains in fabric and equipment, but if I need something or, more importantly, love a fabric that's not on sale but don't need it right now, I buy it. I know I'll eventually use it. And I have more than enough fabric to use in my lifetime. I've declared a moratorium on buying more, but it's a 'loose' moratorium - because if a fabric 'sings' to me, I'll buy it without feeling guilty. I try to not look at fabrics on-line or in the CT of Keepsake catalogs, but I still do!
    Last edited by JoanneS; 01-18-2013 at 10:04 AM.

  5. #55
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    I agree, and we are who we are because we take what we see, hear, and do and make it our own, we are all unique in our our own way.

    My advise to people starting out is to get what you can afford, that will do what you want it to do and then later you can grow into something else. IE going to a sewing machine store and coming out with a machine with all the bells and whistles you know you won't use or need. Stand firm and get what works for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by nhweaver View Post
    I guess after reading all the posts, I can conclude:

    we are a great variety of wonderful women and men, who have a myriad of views, different societal and financial levels, different needs and wants, diverse reasons and justifications, but the thread that binds us together is "The Art of Quilting". Hee Hee"

  6. #56
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    First, I did not read all the posts. Second, I was not offended at all. Third, my reply is I have no painting skills, wouldn't know one kind of brush, canvas or paint from another. I have a hard time picking fabric color/patterns for my quilts. But after it is all done my quilt IS my art. My choices. My time, love and care put into it. Would you appreciate my finished art? I don't know. Maybe. I appreciate the finished product. Worked hard for that moment of pride and relief. Does the person I made it for appreciate it? Usually. Not always. But that is ok. I am happy with my accomplishment. I always will be. Or it will get used for the dog bed or to cover the lawn mower. My art, my choice. Enjoy your art class. Enjoy your process. Enjoy your finished projects. Share your love and let others make thier own choice of art. JMHO

  7. #57
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    When I teach quilting, I take my tools (well labeled) to class with me. I have 2 or 3 kinds of rotary cutters, mats of varying size, markers of different makes, several different manufacturers' rulers, etc. I encourage my students to use my tools for 2 or 3 weeks and THEN they go and buy their tools, knowing which ones they like best, which one feels best to them, which ruler they can read best, etc. A lefty sometimes needs different rulers than a righty. I don't want my students to spend lots of money on tools they can't or won't use. I have had any complaints yet.

  8. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by TanyaL View Post
    I take back what I said because I see that none of you consider yourselves fabric artists. I had mistakenly thought from many other threads that most quilters thought of themselves as making fabric art. I was confusing oranges for apples.I appologize for obviously offending you.
    Don't worry about it. We don't offend easily.LOL I was going to say that artists that consider themselves professionals usually want to sell their work, not give it away. The way it sounds here, most of us give our quilts away. A few sell them, but also there are a few fabric artists who have quilts hanging in the "Halls of Fame". Most of us are just enjoying ourselves and trying to put our time to good use, or some such thing.
    Mavita - Square dancer and One Room School Teacher

  9. #59
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    Points to ponder: We all do the best we can, with the best we have.
    We love what we do and we do it with love.
    One quilt is better than no quilt.
    Like the fabrics we sew, we/they are all different and that is what makes us and them so special and
    beautiful.

    My grandmother quilted only by hand, no fancy machine, recycled old clothing for fabric, yet her quilts are far superior to mine in beauty and difficulty, I can't fathom that I will ever achieve her expertise.
    Her quilts are the most beautiful, and precious things I own.
    Just my two cents...

  10. #60
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    as a new quilter 2yrs ago when my real mother ( whom as not in my life for 30yrs) got me into quilting i was so excited to learn a new project i can do. she told me to get a pair of scissors and only use them with fabric. she told me she will get me a rotary cutter and seam ripper. that was the advice i was given. i ran out to the store and got a ruler and matt and fabrics to start. i got what i could afford. i think with anyone who is trying something out new you dont want to spend to much on tools just in case it is something you will not stick with. well today i am upgrading my tools husband has made me a sewing desk and has expaned my desk several times and i have my own room. now on my second machine 4th quilt and not stopping any time. i know with me buying what i can afford and not investing to much at first to something new help me make the decision i love this art/hobby/craft and i have all the tools i started out with. they work as good as the more pricey tools now and they are back up for my mother when she forget hers.
    Last edited by omgtimmcgraw; 01-18-2013 at 04:44 PM.

  11. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltmom04 View Post
    Here's my question, Tanya. You imply that we should use lesser quality supplies and equipment until we reach a certain level. By whose standards? The teacher? The art community? Magazines? I'm guessing this would be why so many of us don't consider ourselves "art quilters" because your implication is there's a hierarchy in the art world, where you would be very pretentious to use "professional" equipment as a beginner. Not so in the quilt world. We can use whatever we want, and if we can afford better equipment and supplies we get them, not when we feel we've graduated from' student" to 'professional', and we all try to be supportive of the work we produce. Just read all the positive comments quilters have received when they show us a photo and say "This is my first quilt"...I can't imagine us saying. "Well, she's just starting, she shouldn't be using a Bernina". I've been to lots of art galleries and lots of quilt shows. Give me a quilt show any day of the week!
    No, you misunderstood. When a beginner has asked in different threads what is needed to begin quilting; what should they have, what should they be wary of, etc. Many members have recommended buying the best sewing machine they can afford; buying the best fabric from a LQS as many members are very vocal that big box stores do not carry fabric of sufficient quality to warrant the effort involved in quilting. There has been much advice offered by some members along that line while some members offer more practical advice. But most of the advice is geared to buy what you can afford to spend implying that if you can afford to start with a $5000 sewing machine then get it, if you can afford a $300 machine get that. My question implied that the beginner status would have nothing to do with what person could afford, but what would do the job. And when the skill level exceeded the tool then a more expensive tool with more capabilities was a practical consideration. No one seemed to consider the poor beginner who could afford the $5000 machine and got and discovered quilting was boring for her. And the questions were geared to the artist quilter not the hobbiest. The hobbiest will spend anything for the sake of the hobby. The artist will spend what is needed to further the art. The art for the artist is the main thing and the striving to achieve something different and original and compitive is a driving force for an artist. That's why galleries are so full and the field of fine arts, fiber arts, etc. is so popular.

  12. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by TanyaL View Post
    No, you misunderstood. When a beginner has asked in different threads what is needed to begin quilting; what should they have, what should they be wary of, etc. Many members have recommended buying the best sewing machine they can afford; buying the best fabric from a LQS as many members are very vocal that big box stores do not carry fabric of sufficient quality to warrant the effort involved in quilting. There has been much advice offered by some members along that line while some members offer more practical advice. But most of the advice is geared to buy what you can afford to spend implying that if you can afford to start with a $5000 sewing machine then get it, if you can afford a $300 machine get that. My question implied that the beginner status would have nothing to do with what person could afford, but what would do the job. And when the skill level exceeded the tool then a more expensive tool with more capabilities was a practical consideration. No one seemed to consider the poor beginner who could afford the $5000 machine and got and discovered quilting was boring for her. And the questions were geared to the artist quilter not the hobbiest. The hobbiest will spend anything for the sake of the hobby. The artist will spend what is needed to further the art. The art for the artist is the main thing and the striving to achieve something different and original and compitive is a driving force for an artist. That's why galleries are so full and the field of fine arts, fiber arts, etc. is so popular.
    I understand what you're saying. My husband is a musician, and he would never recommend buying the caliber of instruments he owns to a beginning payer.

    However, what I think you might be missing is the rest of the sentence: "Buy the best you can afford"...to spend on a new pursuit, something you aren't sure you'll continue past a year. Most of us just assume the reader has enough common sense not to spend $5k on a lark -- unless it's a negligible sum for HER, since budget is a relative thing. If it fits her budget to try something new in an expensive way, why not spend the money if she wants? In the vast majority of comparisons a more expensive machine really WILL be better than most cheaper ones, and she can always sell it later if she decides not to continue quilting.

    Yes, some people are brand snobs, true of ANY type of group. Everybody has their thing, some with good reason and some not. But for the most part we're a group of people who've been through the fires and know ourselves, and trust others to know what's best for themselves, too.

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    TanyaL, I'm not at all offended......You brought up some good questions and it was interesting to get the feedback. I feel that quilting was born out of necessity and is now considered a hobby by some and an art form by others. I feel that either way your quilt is created it is a part of, and an expression by the person who made it and it matters not how it was created.

    I have learned soo very much from the members here and am totally impressed by their willingness to share their knowledge. I also think that what you experienced was not members being offended, I think it was people being passionate for a hobby/art form they love.

  14. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by I Herd Ewe View Post
    I actually don't think it matters if you are a hobbiest or a professional or something in between. I do many different crafts and have learned that nothing discourages a beginner more than struggling with poor quality equipment. No matter how skillful I am, it would be very difficult to make a quality piece of furniture on a tablesaw with a warped table or a wobbly fence, to make an accurate cut with a poor quality ruler or paint a fine line with a poor quality brush. I often loan my tools to new craftsmen so they can learn if they really like the craft before making a huge investment in equipment. I recommend they take a class where equipment is provided. Sometimes equipment can be rented for those first attempts at a new craft. Often you can find good quality used equipment. However, don't hand a beginner poor quality equipment and then wonder why they don't enjoy the new craft! It is hard enough to learn new skills without the extra handicap of poor quality equipment.
    I am so sorry for beginner quality tools to be equated with inferior tools. I am sure you would not advise a beginner woodworker to buy a Delta Unisaw for $3000 and probably not even a table model for $150 but would pick a model more in $500 range -prices going up every day -. I never meant to suggest a beginner tool should not do its job adequately which would be safely, with ease and have a quality to last- but still not the tool that a professional would pay for and need. I find myself having to apologize to all the good quilters who have bought TOL machines and use every feature they have built into them, and the the quilters who have simply been able to afford and wanted to own those TOL machines. I didn't mean to imply you shouldn't have them, only that they weren't beginner's tools and most beginner's didn't need to have the TOL included in the list of what they needed. I think now that some quilters are like some hunters. Before they go on their first hunt they have purchased what they need: guns, dog, wardrobe, lease, pickup truck, etc. and perhaps reserved a place to have the kill mounted. LOL To each his own.

  15. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyndaOH View Post
    I have to agree! And I wasn't offended by your post at all and didn't think any of the responses reflected anyone else feeling offended. Discussion is good! Hobbyists are good! Quilt artists are good! Quilting is good!
    You go, girl!! Right on!!!

  16. #66
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    I am a violinist and teacher. When a student asks what kind of violin should I buy, I advise them to pick the price range they know they can afford, and try out several violins. Most of the time they end up picking the more expensive violin. They sound better and are easier to play. There are exceptions, of course, but on the whole, the more expensive violins are easier to play and have a better sound. A person can spend anywhere from $100 to thousands for a violin. Even when buying a violin for a beginner, I urge the parents to buy the best they can afford. Children are much more willing to practice on an instrument that has a pleasing sound, rather than one, that no matter what you do, it sounds terrible.... even when the teacher plays it!
    As far as buying a more expensive sewing machine, I feel one should buy the best they can afford... and definitely try them out... as with violins, they are all different.

  17. #67
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    I am really grateful that when I took a graduate printmaking class, my professor encouraged me to experiment printing on some lovely handmade paper she had in her supply closet. I may never have the chance to do so again and now I have four beautiful prints to display in my home. It didn't matter to her that I was a beginner or that my skill level might mess the paper up. Not sure if this has anything to do with this discussion and am certainly not trying to stir anything up but I am truly grateful Think I'll write her a note and pass that thought along.

  18. #68
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    What do we say to all those quilters who are using older mechanical sewing machines who sew such beautiful 1/4 seams? My Pfaff zig-zag 360 bought new in Germany in 1964 and my new Brother embroidery machine using a 12 inch hoop can not sew a straight stitch as well as my Singer 201. And it has never since 1947 been in the shop for a repair. But it is not the best that I can afford; but certainly the best for putting a quilt top together. And I send the tops out for quilting by choice. There's room for all of us.

  19. #69
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    I agree that the difference between student grade and professional grade tools, equipment and supplies is more prevelent in fine art than fiber art. In whatever I'm doing I don't want to be frustrated by what I'm working with. So I buy the best I can afford. I think most quilters aren't doing it to make a living, but because they enjoy it. And most quilters aren't "students" (whatever that emplies) when they start quilting, they're experienced adults. Many women are/have been part of the work force + mother/wife/partner and know the value of their time. And then, most quilters are women.....does this make the discipline different from a male dominated field? If this were a male dominated discipline what would the sewing machines be like? I think they would have faster speeds and be a work horse. And each machine would do one thing exceptionally well. An embroidery machine would be an industrial model, no horsing around. For what it's worth.....some of my brainstorming.

  20. #70
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    Some are confusing "best" with "cost" - The most expensive isn't always the best. Sometimes the name is just snob value. Check reviews on some camera lenses.

    The TOL machines cost more - some are mini computers. If you blow a circuit, that's it - major $$$ for a new board.
    Those that use the older mechanical and newer quilting mechanical machines have a fighting chance of getting it fixed for far less expense.

    It also depends on how you feel about challenges. I can do quite a bit of the fancy stuff like cutwork and a lot of heirloom on a plain zigzag machine. It's more work, but also satisfying. (I collect old books)
    I have an old book of the most fantastic machine made lace - made on the first electric Singers. This was an art form.

    All mfg would like you to buy the TOL. Those are the most usually reviewed machines. There's good machines and lousy machines manufactured, and there's good machines and lousy machines from your point of view. If you don't want to be bothered with having to adjust a machine almost every time you turn it on, the best tool for you would be a non-computerized model, where the default stitch is where you left it. Just because you are paying a lot less, doesn't mean the machine isn't "quality" if it's well made.

  21. #71
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    I think "buy the best you can afford" advice is good for ANY artistic endeavor; but "what you can afford" is a bigger statement than it looks like. I decided I couldn't afford a big sewing machine at first; then later I decided I NEEDED one and suddenly I could afford it just fine. My income didn't change one bit, but "what I could afford" did because quilting had become more important to me.

    I suppose usually I'm buying the best I can get for the task at hand. But 'best' is subjective, too, and the task at hand may or may not need that professional-level touch.

    I DO consider myself an artist, but I don't specialize. I explore and enjoy. I have a whole garage full of past obsessions, all of which influence or are incorporated with each new thing I discover.

  22. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by TanyaL View Post
    What do we say to all those quilters who are using older mechanical sewing machines who sew such beautiful 1/4 seams? My Pfaff zig-zag 360 bought new in Germany in 1964 and my new Brother embroidery machine using a 12 inch hoop can not sew a straight stitch as well as my Singer 201. And it has never since 1947 been in the shop for a repair. But it is not the best that I can afford; but certainly the best for putting a quilt top together. And I send the tops out for quilting by choice. There's room for all of us.
    Tanya, thanks for this thought. I have enjoyed reading this discussion. I gave away a fine good working Singer that was 25 years old because it was too new and it irritated me that I couldn't remember how it threaded even though that had been my only machine for roughly 22 years. BUT... I discovered vintage machines, became addicted and now only have vintage and antique sewing machines that I use. My go-to, gotta use it, every day machine is a black long-bed 301a Singer. I bought a 2nd 301 for a backup cuz I love them so much and I didn't want my DD using my 301. I am an artist so I'm told by recipients of my quilts and I both piece and quilt with the 301.
    Chris
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  23. #73
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    I think many people will buy 'better' tools, equipment, and supplies equipment as their interest and knowledge in a particular area grows - carpenters, welders, sewers/quilters, cooks/chefs, other artists (in whatever medium they are using)

    I think as one becomes more experienced, one becomes more aware what is 'appropriate' to use for particular projects.

    I have learned that the 'biggest/'bes'/most expensive,most complicated' isn't always the most useful thing.

    In some cases, I don't think there is a line that is crossed when a person becomes 'an artist' and stops being 'a hobbyist.'

  24. #74
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    In some cases, I don't think there is a line that is crossed when a person becomes 'an artist' and stops being 'a hobbyist.'

    bearisgray, I think you are very correct. Some are artists from the day they start. They put together wonderful, singing colors and stunning quilts and only have to learn the mechanics of sewing the fabric together to achieve the wonderful original results that they already see in their minds. They make us OHHHHH and AHHHHH from their first efforts.

  25. #75
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    Interesting thread. IMHO: having taking drawing, painting (watercolor, acryilics, oils) with poor/good/best canvases, and pencils, charcoals, paints,etc., I found "tools" don't make the artist. Some people paint all their lives but never become "artists". I just think of all the most beautiful needlework/quilts in museums done by people with only materials of all kind, needles, and threads. The talent lies in the hands of those with the needles and vision...

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