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Quilting Machine Suggestions for Beginner

Quilting Machine Suggestions for Beginner

Old 12-08-2022, 12:42 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2022
Posts: 17
Default Quilting Machine Suggestions for Beginner

Hi everyone,
Forgive me if this has already been addressed elsewhere, I apologize in advance (I DID search for a similar thread but didn't see any....)

I have been quilting now for about a year (as time permits) and between using my old Singer Rocketeer (piecing and some FMQ for QAYG projects) and my daughters' Brother SE1900 (for applique' and more detailed FMQ), I now have an idea of what I would like in a more quilting-oriented machine for myself (does not have to be brand new). I HAVE done some searching online but would prefer to get your suggestions, as there is so much out there and I am not sure what to believe! Everyone says to start with a list of wants/needs, so here is my list and I would love to hear specific suggestions:

- Ability to drop feed dogs
- Speed control
- Needle-down
- Larger throat space (more than the 6.25" I have now!)
- Stitches: Straight plus blanket/zigzag for applique' (I do NOT need tons of stitches - never us them)
- Sturdy (preferably metal ) construction - especially gears (no plastic gears!)
- Reliability

- Automatic threader
- Thread cutter

Budget: I hesitate to put that here - suffice it to say something that won't break the bank, but enough to acquire a machine that will last for years.

Thanks in advance for your help :-)
JenMo is offline  
Old 12-08-2022, 01:26 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 8,623

Sewing machines are very personal articles. You'll get as many opinions as you'll get posts. I suggest finding some dealers and test driving some machines. A lot will depend on your budget and personal preferences. I prefer Berninas. I think they are the most awesome machines and I don't have the problems with them that others seem to have with their machines. They are pricey, but in my opinion worth it if you can swing it.

That being said, I have a Juki 2200 QVP Mini (same as the TL 2010) that I used mostly for FMQ. I have a lot of machines and can piece on something else so I leave the Juki in the SewEzi table set up for FMQ most of the time. I've been very impressed with the quality of the machine. I particularly like the feet. They are solid one piece feet that stay steady. I'm not a fan of the snap on feet because they tend to move around.

Whatever machine you choose, happy quilting!
cashs_mom is offline  
Old 12-08-2022, 03:22 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 1,364

I agree completely with Patrice's comments above - My Bernina is my preferred machine because it is exceptional in so many ways from the variety/quality of the stitches to the quality of the actual machine. I expect to have my Bernina for many, many, many years and it is appropriate for any type of sewing/quilting/embroidery projects I would ever desire to do.

But my 1st purchased machine was the Juki 2200 QVP Mini - I still have, use and love this machine and will never part with it. It is much more economical than the Bernina machines, sews beautifully, is metal, I swear can sew thru concrete and has all of your 'must haves' and 'nice-to-haves' except it is a straight stitch only machine. The throat space is wide & tall giving you generous room for quilting. There are several older and newer versions in the Juki TL series each having little differences but all continue to receive great reviews. Similar to the Juki TL series machines is the Brother 1500. I think Babylock has/had a similar all-metal, straight-stitch only machine, too.

There are so many different machines and I'm sure if you test drive a Bernina, Brother, Babylock, Juki, etc.. you'll notice the differences and decide what fits your needs best.

One last comment - if it weren't for the desire to have TONS of creative stitches, 9mm wide zig-zag, tons of specialty (and expensive) feet and the ability to do embroidery, I probably would still be very satisfied with just my Juki. And honestly, I don't use those extra features all that much but my Bernina is like driving a Porsche and my Juki is my Ford F-250 ready to tackle my multi layered tote bags, upholstery/home decor projects and even piece and quilt.

Good luck and let us know what you decide to buy!
TheMerkleFamily is offline  
Old 12-08-2022, 03:34 PM
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 56

My Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2 has all the items on your wishlist.
The IDT is invaluable for accurate piecing.
Took me a long time to figure out how to FMQ with it, but now that I have a sew steady table lined with a supreme slider, and found the right needles and preferred thread, I’m able to decent FMQ and simple ruler work.
The throat space is never enough (!), but much better than most domestic machines, and since a long arm is not in my future, it’s perfectly adequate. The largest quilt I’ve quilted was probably close to 80 inches square, and we managed.
I don’t know if Pfaff still makes this model, but I would definitely recommend visiting a Pfaff dealer and see what the current version of this machine is. No idea what the price might be, but mine was around $1500 in 2015.
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Old 12-08-2022, 04:17 PM
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Location: Houston, TX
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My Juki 2200 has some good throat space. That's the main reason I bought it. I've done FMQ on 60 x 90 quilts with no problem. I'm going to do a king size after the holidays. I'll let you know how it goes!
cashs_mom is offline  
Old 12-08-2022, 07:51 PM
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OK, here is my thoughts. I have several machines, most of them not vintage. For actual piecing I prefer a 5.5 mm feed dog machine, not the 9mm because it is way less hassle free for me to get a good 1/4 inch seam with it and a good straight stitch. There are many nice straight stitches only machines out there that have everything you list on your wish list except for the zigzag stitch. Now, there are many machines out there that have amazing stitches for doing applique in addition to a zig zag. My Bernina 590 does an almost invisible applique stitch, a wonderful blanket stitch that I can vary the sizes on and even reverse the direction, a ladder stitch and many more. It also has a knee lift to raise the pressor foot to turn the fabric so you can keep both hands on the fabric to guide it around the applique and actually I can set it do an auto lift of the pressor foot with needle down to make it even easier to pivot. Yep the 590 is a bit pricey. If you just want a good less expensive machine to begin your quilting journey, I think I would go with a good straight stitch machine with the rest of the features you listed and add a fancier stitch machine later. I am of the opinion if you find you really enjoy quilting, one machine is never enough. So my main machines now are a little Bernina 215 which I take to classes as and do a lot of my piecing on, My Bernina 590 which can also piece with but takes a bit more fuzzing with but does a great job with the applique, free motion quilting, embroidery, and a lot of other things. And my APQS long arm which I use for the actual quilting of larger quilts. I am good!
sewingpup is offline  
Old 12-09-2022, 09:09 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2022
Posts: 17

Yes, I am definitely seeing how having more than one machine helps a lot! As I said, I use my old Rocketter for piecing (it stitches beautiful, straight, perfect 1/4" seams :-) - though surely not as fast as modern machines, but honestly, who pieces at 1500 spm?)

For FMQ and applique' I have been using my daughter's Brother 1900SE (which we got her for Xmas last year because she is getting into embroidery but needed both sewing and embroidery abilities). I do love using her Brother - it's very user-friendly, sews beautifully, and when doing applique', I often just set the speed control to very slow and just "steer" - so awesome. Someday however she WILL leave the house LOL (she is commuting to college right now) and take it with her.......

Also, her Brother makes short work of heavy duty jobs - it handles 7 layers of denim without blinking (not that I would ever need to do that, but....this thing is a BEAST).

Finally, I never realized the size of the feed dogs could make such a difference in the accuracy of 1/4" seams....thanks for that tip!
JenMo is offline  
Old 12-09-2022, 09:13 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2022
Posts: 17

And thank you all for your ideas so far - looking forward to hearing more. Basically, what I am taking home from this is that there is no one "perfect" machine for handling every sewing task (shocker), and yes, I can see having at least 2 machines in the future - one for piecing (love my Rocketeer for this) and one for FMQ - and, OK, maybe a third for fancy stitching (? so far haven't had the need for this) and applique'. I love the sturdiness of the Brothers - and will also check out the Jukis mentioned here. But keep your ideas coming.....I appreciate them all!
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Old 12-09-2022, 09:25 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2020
Posts: 608

I’ll share my journey. I have a 25 YO Bernina 1090, that feels like it is still going strong. It has a 5.5” throat space. I have quilted up to small queens in the space, but it wasn’t that much fun and took longer with all the fabric wrangling. I thought about upgrading to a Bernina 735 to get a bigger throat space but keep the 5mm feed dogs. When I was looking, the 735 wasn’t yet available in the US, but the Bernina Q20 sit-down caught my eye: 20” throat and takes up less space in my home than a longarm on a frame. That is my current combination: 1090 for piecing and some fancy stitches and appliqué and Q20 for FMQ.
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Old 12-12-2022, 01:44 PM
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Posts: 5,508

Several ideas:

You might want to look at the new Baby Lock Allegro. It has 11 or 12" of throat space and also the other things on your list- speed control, drop feed dogs, some stitches that would be good for appliqué, etc. and runs around $1300. It's a brand new this year machine so I haven't seen any info from folks who actually have one and use it.

Like others, I have multiple machines for different things.

Since you are already using a Brother machine and like it, you might want to stop by a Brother dealer and check out what they've got available. I know that there are several Brother machines that will do all the things you want- depends on your budget. Prices for Brother machines that do sewing, but not embroidery, at dealers range from $1300 for a model that had 8.5" throat space and lots of decorative stitches, all the way up to over $3000 for a machine with 11 or 12" throat space and lots of bells and whistles.

My go to piecing machine is a Brother PQ1500 straight stitch only machine is my go to for piecing and for many years it was also the machine that I used for FMQ as it has 9" of throat space plus enough height to provide good visibility around the needle. Very similar to the Juki that others have suggested. Runs around $700 new, but used ones can be found for $350 - $500. Very sturdy Mechanical machine with all the stuff you want except for the stitches for appliqué.

For fancy stitches I use a Brother PC420 (similar to the 1900 you're currently using, but it doesn't do embroidery).

For most of my quilting these days I use my Sweet Sixteen sit down quilter- these can be found used at great prices now because Handiquilter has come out with two newer and larger sit down quilters. I've seen them going used for between $2500 and $3500.

As others have said, there are lots of good machines out there, it's just a matter of testing them out and seeing which one(s) feel right to you.


Last edited by rryder; 12-12-2022 at 01:46 PM.
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