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Thread: What sewing machine should I get???

  1. #1
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    What sewing machine should I get???

    What Bernina or ??? Sewing machine would you suggest for a fairly new quilter? I want something that I would be happy with for many years. I would want to use to it quilt and do sewing projects. Thank you for suggestions, comments on my search. Karen Tries Quilting 😊

  2. #2
    Power Poster Onebyone's Avatar
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    The features I want on a new expensive machine are auto threading, auto thread cutting, needle up/down, variable needle positions, separate bobbin winder, auto lock stitch start and stop, and knee lift. I don't care what brand it is. I have Bernina, Brother, Janome, vintage and new Singers. They all sew just fine. I want the features.
    I believe giving what I can will never cause me to be in need.
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  3. #3
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    Make a list of what features you want in a machine. I wanted good harp space for machine quilting, good buttonhole stitch for machine appliqué, needle up/down feature, a few fancy stitches and the Bernina Stitch Regulator for machine quilting. My Bernina 440 was about $3000 a few years ago. Your wants will be different so check out all good brands within your price range.

  4. #4
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
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    The best suggestion that I can give you is to go to a major quilt show in your area. There will be dealers with many sewing machines on display to actually test drive. Start making a list of any options you would prefer and what you can afford. I bought my Bernina 1530 in the late 90's and I am still quilting on it. Buying a sewing machine is just like buying a car. You have to go out and test drive them to see what fits your needs. Have fun!
    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

  5. #5
    Super Member cashs_mom's Avatar
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    When I was choosing a new machine, I went to the three machines I was most interested in after doing some research on all of them. I spent some time with each one and did lots of samples on my own fabrics. Then I went home and sat on my back porch and looked at all of them before deciding. I eventually bought a Bernina and am now on my second one. Don't get too hung up on "it has the be exactly right and I have use it forever". It puts too much pressure on the decision. If you decide after a few years that you want something else, that's okay. You can trade in the machine you've got a get another. If you budget is tight, most dealers have refurbished machines for sale that are considerably cheaper and just as good as a new one. Sometimes it's better to buy that way because you can get a better machine than what you could buy new. Sort of like cars or houses.
    Patrice S

    Bernina Artista 180, Singer 301a, Featherweight Centennial, Rocketeer, Juki 2200 QVP Mini, White 1964 Featherweight

  6. #6
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    Those are all great suggestions. My Janome dealer is also the largest fabric store in the county. It was on sale and when I sent to the store to check it out I told the sales lady that I was a quilter, that I did not make clothes anymore and my concern was being able to quilt on the machine. So she didn't waste my time showing me the embroidery/sewing machine. But she did say that I wanted a machine above what I have now so that I can grow. And she explained why I wanted the bells and whistles Onebyone talks about and how they become so necessary while quilting. (I don't care about the knee lift - never got used to it, but know a lot of people love it.)

    Also the suggestion to go to a major show with all the different vendors is one place is also good, but my create a long delay and all the sales are going on now.

    Just don't feel pressured to buy anything while checking them out.

    One additional item I would suggest you get, if possible, is the sewing table so that your machine sets into it. My Janome came with it. My old Singer is in a cabinet so was used to having the flat surface. Two of my machines have the acrylic tables and those just aren't the same. I got the SewEz table for my Husqvarna, you order it based on the machine you have. I also got the piece to put in when the machine is out of it to close the hole.

    Have fun shopping. Let us know what you decide.

  7. #7
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    A lot depends on your budget. I am a Baby Lock fan.

  8. #8
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    My brother dreamweaver has been nothing but a dream, I recommend demoing many machines to find the features you prefer. Every brand has a nice model worth looking at
    Brother (XL-3500i, CV3550, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D), Juki MO-2000QVP, Handiquilter Avante

  9. #9
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    What is your budget? If it's under $500 the suggestions will be different than if it's $1,000 or more.

  10. #10
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    I am also looking for a new machine. Like others said above, write a list of must haves and then figure out which machines fit your list. Then go and test drive.

  11. #11
    Super Member peaceandjoy's Avatar
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    I am a dyed-in-the-wool Bernina girl. The first one I bought - 20 years ago - still sews as beautifully as it did the day I brought it home. My "travel" Bernina, a 240 (since discontinued and replaced with a 300-series machine) is a little lighter than my 153QE, but still over 20 lbs. It also sews beautifully.

    In between buying my 1st and 2nd Bernina, I tried 2 different Janomes for traveling with. I go to a retreat (sometimes 2) each year, as well as several sewing days with the guild I belong to and the occasional class. Berninas are still all metal, with the exception of the housing, so they are heavy and I was looking for something lighter. The Janomes just didn't do a thing for me.

    All of that said, Berninas are pricey. Until you know that quilting or sewing is something you want to do, I'm not sure I could say they are beginner machines unless you have quite a bit of discretionary money that you don't mind spending on something that you may or may not use. A Bernina, should you decide you don't want to keep it, will hold a good resale value if you want to deal with selling it, but still, that's a pain in the neck.

    Do you have dealers in your area, or within an easy drive, regardless of brand? What do they offer in the way of support with a purchase? You should have an opportunity for classes to get familiar with your machine. What kinds of reviews do they have for their service? What to they offer as far as trade in if you decide to trade UP?

    What are your needs, and what are your wants? Some folks love the knee lift on the Berninas - I've never gotten used to it and don't use it. Do you anticipate sewing through multiple layers (lots of seams coming together, batting or stabilizers), or very basic piecing? Do you like the look/feel of embroidery?

    The only things that I wish my machines had that they don't have are BSR for free-motion quilting and an automatic thread cutter. Both are just wants, not needs by any means, so I'm not upgrading to a higher level machine that would have them.

    Don't rule out a good used machine from a dealer - they get them from people who are trading up and many offer excellent value. There are scads of threads here on machines, and you'll get lots of different opinions on every brand out there. Another source for machine info is www.sewingpatternreview.com; some info there is open to all, some requires joining their site (which is free).

    Budget, dealers (for sales, support and service), and features are the things I'd look for if I were starting out again. Take some fabric with you and sit and sew on each machine you are considering. The only thing I would tell a beginner to NOT consider is a machine that comes in a box that you are not able to try.

    Good luck - a sewing machine that you find intuitive can make a huge difference in whether or not you enjoy any type of sewing, be it quilting, garment construction, decor, etc. If you are forever struggling with the operation, jamming, stitch quality, etc., it will end up being an expensive dust collector.

  12. #12
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    What's your budget? If under $1000, check out the Janome 4120 QDC. A friend of mine has it and has made over 50 quilts of various size (from baby to queen) . It has needle up/down, auto thread cutter (which often can't be found on machines in this price range, alphabet, a ton of fancy stitches and it's easy to use. I'm a fan of Janome . I have the 8200 because it has the 11" harp, but I was using an entry level Janome ($300) before that, so that I could see if quilting was something I really enjoyed enough to justify a better machine.

    Obviously it was! I can be obsessive about a hobby and then fizzle out after a while, but I'm addicted to quilting. So I'd advise you get a low-end machine and give yourself a year to figure out for yourself what you enjoy and don't about quilting. That can help you decide later on when it's time to drop bigger bucks. You can always take the lower end machine to classes or on the road with you.

  13. #13
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    After making your "got to have" list -- make sure you try out machines. While there are tons of very good machines out there, one will stand out as "this is comfortable". I've had my machine 8 years and still pleased that it's the one I use! If you buy a mid- to upper-range machine, finding a tech service is important. Some stores sell "service maintenance agreements" which charge you a flat fee to do service on the machine without additional cost for a number of years, and include parts and labor -- my three-year contract averages out the cost of one service a year without it - and allows me to bring it in anytime there is a problem. Please avoid buying untried "in the box" machines... you might be fine, or you might regret the money spent on something that doesn't please you in the long run.

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    Depending on your budget, take a look at the Juki machines. I purchased the F600 about a year or so ago and love it. It was in the $1100 range, came with the knee lift, extension table and lots of decorative stitches (which I use occasionally). There are a lot of good Juki reviews and you need to do your research. I especially like that the machine is quiet and sews through thickness easily.

    A big factor is having a dealer nearby and being able to try different brands with the features you want within your budget. Then you will know which machine works for you. Good luck and let us know what you get.

  15. #15
    Super Member skaduzy's Avatar
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    I love my Janome. They are easy to use so are great for a beginner or someone who has been quilting a long time. There is something in every price category. Be sure to go to a dealer whatever kind you get because they are a good support system and usually provide free lessons to learn your machine.
    Sew many Quilts.......so little time!

  16. #16
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    I have a Janome 6600 which I bought used from our LQS and it had the features that I wanted. I love it and saved for some time to buy it but I love it. It all depends on your budget and what features you want. If you have friends that are quilts you might want to see what they like in the machines they have. Good luck.

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    I have a janome 6600 and 8900 and I like them both. But I recently got the juki tl2010q and it's in a class by itself. It's only single stitch but it beats the pants off the janomes in stitch quality and the quarter inch foot almost makes it impossible to mess up that quarter inch seam. Harp space on the 8900 enables me to quilt the sandwich with ease. Just finished 1st time quilting with invisible thread on the 8900...no problems at all. Don't know how the juki would have done but I was in a hurry to get it done and the 8900 didn't disappoint me.

  18. #18
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    Lots of good advice here! If you already have a sewing machine, are you able to quilt on it by dropping the feed dogs? I used my vintage straight-stitch-only Singer 301 to learn FMQ, because I could drop the feed dogs, and the stitch quality was also lovely for piecing. I enjoyed quilting on it for one year, and then decided I needed the wide harp space to the right of the needle for larger sized projects. I jumped right up to the Janome Horizon line, was thrilled with the bells and whistles, and love my 8900 for all things quilting. (But I still take the very portable Singer 301 to classes!)

  19. #19
    Junior Member Nanax4's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice above. I just bought a BabyLock Crescendo in April 2015. Love it! It does everything a person could want, except the dishes, and I'm pretty sure it'll have that figured out by next week. It's a great quilting machine. And will also be a great all-purpose machine for my sewing.

    I just started my first sewing project this week. That machine is just the best to sew with. I'm making satin nightgowns for the granddaughters. Machine is doing a wonderful job!
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  20. #20
    Super Member OhCanada's Avatar
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    - make a list of features you desire
    - visit your nearby dealers to find out who is best
    - test drive!
    Valerie

  21. #21
    Super Member Bree123's Avatar
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    I just got a Bernina 350. It is on the lower end for price, but a huge step up from my Singer Genie 353 (from the 1970's). It comes with a bunch of feet for sewing & quilting. I also looked at the Bernina 215 -- it is the sister machine to the Activa 210 that Leah Day uses for piecing. Looking back, I almost wish I went with the 215 so I could pick my own accessories -- e.g., an open toed metal darning foot rather than the plastic closed toed one included with the 350. But they are both nice machines.

    I personally believe that it doesn't make a lot of sense to invest a huge amount of money into a machine when you are still new because you don't know what kind of features you will end up liking as you advance. I went with a lower priced machine this time because I am saving to get a mid-arm (like the Sweet Sixteen) that will give me a huge harp space & has a stitch regulator. It is difficult to get a machine that does piecing & quilting well with the features I want and I wouldn't have known that about myself earlier on.

    A lot of the fancier machines just have extra stitches. I don't use any of those. I made sure to clearly communicate to the people at the store when I was looking at machines that I didn't want to waste time trying out the decorative stitches because I have zero interest in doing those. I'm glad they're an option for those who like them, but they're not for me. I wanted a reliable work horse, and the all-metal Berninas are a great choice for that. However, they have the tiniest harp spaces of any machines I've ever seen. Yes, the top of the line Berninas do get larger harps (up to a max of 11.8" with the 880) so if your budget allows for that & you want all the other features, go for it! Just keep in mind that the fancier machines are really more like computers than sewing machines because you have to spend time programming before you start sewing. That's true even on a much smaller scale with the 350. Every time I turn my machine off, it resets to the default & I have to reprogram it for the few options I use. In addition, Bernina parts are possibly the most expensive on the market. Bernina claims that if they discover you using non-Bernina parts with your machine, it will void the warranty. I'm not sure how they'd know, but so far I'm too nervous to try.

    The one thing I was really surprised about at the dealer I went to, they were reluctant to let me try out the darning (FMQ) foot on my test drive. I was ready to walk when they changed their mind. The entire reason I was upgrading was to be able to get better results on my FMQ -- so make sure to advocate for test driving the features you actually plan to use. The 350 did give me slightly smoother results than the 215, so that's a big part of why I chose to go with it.

    No matter what machine you ultimately choose, good luck & enjoy the process of picking one; shopping for a new machine is nearly as much fun as using it!
    Last edited by Bree123; 11-30-2015 at 11:45 AM.

  22. #22
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    My two cents. . . try out the Janome 6600. I started out on an old Singer, I couldn't keep the tension right to save my soul. Then I purchased a Baby Lock Grace, traded up to an Ellure (Big Boo Boo--I hardly ever use the very expensive embroidery feature).
    I joined a quilt guild. One of my mentors at guild has a Janome 6600 and a Bernina. A nice Bernina, too. She lives on the 6600. My sweetheart, Larry did all my cutting for me. He's now retired. A couple of years ago we were at the Mid-Atlantic quilt show, HE brought home a nice, new 6600. He caught on rather quickly (okay, I was a little jealous), but as I watched and LISTENED to his 6600.
    It has one of the largest throats available on a domestic machine (which I love). We loved it so much we bought a second barely used 6600. Find someone with a 6600 and use it for an afternoon.
    Berninas are nice, but they are nice and expensive, too. I've used another friend's Bernina, it's an awesome machine, but like my friend, I enjoy the old mechanical Bernina over today's $$$$$ models.
    If you're just starting out, you don't need a $4000 sewing machine. Our local dealers will allow you to trade up within three years. . .ease your way up, that's what I did. (Save some of your $$ for fabric!)
    The Janome 6600 is very precise, which is part of the reason I love it. I love it for FMQ, too. Although my Ellure is no slouch, the 6600 has a bigger throat. SWEET!

  23. #23
    Super Member DOTTYMO's Avatar
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    I would suggest looking at the juki range. They have a bigger hole than 440 berninas. When doing quilting this is a big advantage.
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