What sewing machine do you use?

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Quilnan wrote
on 21 Oct 2009 3:34 PM

Since we are still talking machines... an endlessly interesting subject to many of us... I'll add that I have a "new to me" Bernina 440 QE. It was an upgrade from the 153 QE model and has the added feature of the stitch regulator which I love. My first project was "Luv", the small free-motion project taught by Tina Givens on a QA Workshop dvd.

Other favorite features are a needle threader that really works, and I love the buttonhole stitch and the control I can get when using it at corners or points. The 153 also had that good control.

Also have a Featherweight. I use it so seldom that I somehow feel I'll damage it. So I avoid it. Realize that makes no sense. But one of my goals is to get it oiled up and take it out a few places so I will no longer be intimidated by it. Go figure...all those fancy stitches and computer things, and the FW challenges me!

I'm amazed at the variety of machines stitches use and what workhorses these machines are. Keep on stitchn' everyone! Nancy

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robbieklow wrote
on 22 Oct 2009 8:59 AM

I use a Bernina 730 for everything but free motioning on a large quilt. For that, I use my AQPS Millennium. Before I had the Millennium, I used either whatever Bernina I had at the time, or a Juki TL98E. The Juki has a longer "harp". I did not use the Juki on a frame, just on a table.

The features I find useful for free motion quilting, are:

1. Speed of the machine: as fast as a domestic machine runs, they are still too slow for me, that's why I like the Juki TL series. They run at about 1500 stitches per minute, as opposed to 1000 or so that the top of the line machines that can do a zig zag. The Juki needle does not move side to side, I think that's one reason it can run so fast.

2. Needle up/needle down: I like to set it for needle down so that at the end of a line of stitching, the needle is DOWN and keeps the quilt from accidently shifting.

3. Knee lift: It's like having an employee who will lift the foot and release the thread tension for you, whenever you want it. Also, if you get used to using only the knee lift instead of the tension lever, you'll have a better chance of avoiding free motion work with no needle tension. That leads to nasty nests of thread on the back of the quilt.

4. Some form of thread rack that lets you feed cross wound thread off the top of the spool.

5. Oh, and the number one thing I forgot to say in the beginning: A bobbin case that lets you lower the bobbin tension. Get an extra one and leave it set to a lower tension for free motion quilting. Most sewing machines come from the factory with the bobbin tension set too high for free motion quilting, in my opinion. That's because for good satin stitching or embroidery, you need a fairly high bobbin tension in order to pull the needle thread to the back. You do not want that in free motion quilting.

6. While a larger table for the machine bed is good, in my opinion, a cabinet is even better. Having the machine at the right height makes a huge difference.

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anntextile wrote
on 22 Oct 2009 12:39 PM

Hi my oldest machine I only purchased last year through ebay! Its a small bernina 625 , I think, originally purchased in 1953. All the paperwork to do with the "trade in" price and the balance was included inside the suitcase it came in. I love it and it is the quietest of my three berninas. I use it for classes.

My next bernina is a 1630  again I purchased this second hand about three years ago. I knew from my dealer it was a good model and reliable. It is a beautiful sewer and . I bought it to ensure I had a machine I could use, when my main machine.was being serviced or if I had the embroidery unit set up on my main machine, I wasn't being held up and having to stop and swap all the time. This machine is quieter than my 170 but not as quiet as the older machine!

My third machine is a 170 it has an embroidery unit I purchased seperately last year through ebay, for £70. It normally retails at £600. It had never been used, it was an unwanted gift.!!! I have had my 170 for a good few years now, it is just brilliant. It sews whatever I ask of it, whether it is fine , bulkyfabric, quilting, or embroidery. I do lots of free-motion embroidery with it too.

I decided that as I am now in my early 60's these will have to last me till my time comes. But I am confident they will do so.

When I was a girl, my Mother had  a Singer. which I greatfully learnt to sew on, so for my 21st she bought me a brother, it was a nightmare, every time I needed to use it it required an engineer to set up the tension, and wo if I wanted to sew a summer dress after an anorak for my litttle ones. I then managed to buy another Singer, but I could not get it to sew slowly enough, for things I wanted to try, that was when I discovered Berninas and Husqvarnas. What an eye opener that was. Sorry I have gone on a bit, this is my first 'joining in' I have done since signing up on the web, although I have been having Quilting Arts since it started.   Bye for now Anntextile in Wales(UK)

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wendyc31 wrote
on 22 Oct 2009 4:05 PM

I have a Pfaff 2170, a Bernina Virtuosa 155 and a Janome 6600p.  The Pfaff is a precision machine, it has bells and whistles which make sewing easy. The dual feed is a dream to use.   It has beautiful 9mm wide patterns, some 30mm built in patterns and an embroidery unit.  It doesn't like free motion embroidery, the darning foot has to be screwed on and the embroidery hoop doesn't fit under the foot, so each time I change the hoop I have to take the foot off.  If I get a birds nest from the bobbin thread it is difficult to remove all the scraps and I can't dismantle the bobbin assembly.  So I never use this machine for free motion work.  The Bernina does free motion embroidery splendidly, has wonderful feet to make it easier and if I mess up, I can take the bobbin assemblly apart and generally fix problems myself.  It doesn't have dual feed and the built in patterns are only 6mm wide.  I use this machine for free motion embroidery.  The Janome is a recent addition because I want to make bigger quilts and the large harp will make this easier.  I don't like the dual feed on this machine, so will probebly use it as a quilting machine.  I don't believe there is one machine which will do everything I want to well. but if  I could only keep one, it would have to be the Bernina.  

:) Wendy 


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Coogan wrote
on 22 Oct 2009 10:41 PM

hi judy:  I have this same machine and really like it.  It has so many features for quilting.  About the Fab-u-Motion, I have this too.  In fact, that is what attracted to this machine.  However, I have only tried to use it a couple of times.  I felt it best to acquaint myself w/the machine first and then the fab-u-motion even tho I have been free motion quilting for many years.  Will post when I feel competent in using it.  Thanks Coogan

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denmiller wrote
on 21 Nov 2009 4:54 PM

I'm always interested in the sewing machines people use.

When I got "serious" about exploring quilting possibilities I chose a Bernina Artista 180 and still enjoy using it.  When I retired, and realized arthritis would cause difficulties playing with machine quilting I splurged on a Bernina 730 and then a motorized table with special acrylic cutout for the Bernina 730 hoping I could use the one table at heights up to 40" and Bernina hidden or level or above surface (WAY too expensive, by the way), $3000!).  However, the height adjustments just don't work for the machine on the $$$ table and I've found I'm just not sewing anymore.  I'm hoping to change that (with the $$$ table in the living room and dreams of making the living room my studio) and very much enjoyed reading the enthusiastic posts on everyone's sewing machines.

Denny (computer savvy BUT first post ever online ... had to start at QA, best mag ever) 

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KLSpaints wrote
on 21 Nov 2009 5:57 PM

I did a good bit of research in the way of reading reviews on the internet before purchasing my new machine. I have been using a Pfaff 1475CD since 1992 and love it most of the time. Without trying a machine, my research led me to think I would purchase either a Janome or a Babylock. I have not "test driven" the Janome. But at a recent quilt show in Atlanta I was able to "test drive" the Babylock. I really did not like it at all. I had also tried out a Viking at a local dealership and did not like it either. My thought was, "why spend money on a machine that is no better than what I have?" But then, I tried a new Pfaff! I guess, once a Pfaff girl, always a Pfaff girl. The biggest advantage to me over the 1475CD is the extra harp space on the Quilt Expression 4.0 - 10" vs. 7" - Wow! that's big! Especially for free-motion quilting a bed-sized quilt! I also love the presser foot release feature for pivoting. So far I am in love, love, love with "Phoebe" my QE4.0. I still have my 1475CD as back-up, but she sits sadly neglected in the corner. : (  I sold my Tiptronic 2020 - reason being, no 'needle down' option. That was SO inconvenient! I guess I would rather hoard hand-dyed fabric and ephemera for art quilting than hoarding sewing machines, haha. Two is more than plenty for me. Just know I am absolutely, ecstatically in love with my Pfaff QE4.0, and I would recommend it highly. You sew girls!! Happy Thanksgiving!

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on 22 Nov 2009 3:45 AM

OH! YES!!!  My next machine will be the Pfaff QE4.0. I have been coveting it since the people I work for bought 2 this year.  I have a Pfaff 2058 and it does all I want and more, but that extra space and big bed is too good to pass up!!  I have to wait till June when I get my tax return and bonus, but I am going to trade in my 5 year old Pfaff 2004 too, so hopefully it will help with the price and space. I don't need 3 machines :)

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LauraM@9 wrote
on 22 Nov 2009 4:19 AM

I have the Pfaff 2170....and love it!  She is one of my best friends!

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meadowstwo wrote
on 23 Nov 2009 1:35 AM

If your Kenmore will let you take all the pressure off the lowered presser foot, you can do that and set your stitch length at zero. Voila: you now can free embroider and quilt  with your Kenmore.

Just think of using the needle as a pencil and draw with it. You're moving the "paper", the fabric, instead of the pencil.

hope this works for you. black thread on muslin is quite magical. the drawings have a character of their own.

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arlijohn wrote
on 23 Nov 2009 9:21 AM

I have a Janome sewing/embroidery machine. I find I don't use the embroidery that often. I prefer to do my own thing with free motion. The embroidery feature is fun and useful for the few times I make clothing or things of that nature. But, I would never invest in the embroidery again. If you use the embroidery you are not creating original work and it is a limiting option.

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Susan Mary2 wrote
on 2 Feb 2010 7:50 AM


I'm looking for all the help I can get.

 I rec'd a Bernina stitich regulator from my husband.  I want to live up to his belief in me!  Could you give me any suggestions on how best to use the  stitich regulator?     I have done some successful machine quilting without it in the past. 

Any sugestions will be appreciated.  Thanks. 


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khusty wrote
on 13 Mar 2010 10:12 PM

I had my mom's Bernina 830 record...its 25 years old and still running!  I wanted a computer machine with all the bells and whistles, so after lots of research...i wanted a Bernina...but couldn't afford the price. I went with a Memory Craft 9500 and paid only 1399.!!! on line at sewinginusa.com which i would recommend to anyone.  Great customer service!

So i just received the machine this past Thursday and it is Saturday night and i have already used all the specialty stitches, sewed buttons on,sewed on paper, free motioned, quilted, and embroidered!  Very user friendly and it sews just as nice as a Bernina!  I am in LOVE and don't want to go to sleep! 

I have ordered a ATA PC card so i can make my own embroidery designs...I am very please thus far and think i will be for a long time.

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BasicLady wrote
on 26 Mar 2010 6:12 PM

Four machines and one serger currently live at my house.  They have their own rooms,  Janome 3500 lives in the upstairs former guest room-turned-quilt room,  Bernina 440 QE and emboridery system live in the dining room turned studio, Singer treadle lives on the front porch in her cabinet and basically provides seating for John the Cat to watch over the neighborhood, Singer from 1970 stays in her case in the quilt room closet but her attachments live in the same cabinet as the Janome attachments, Singer serger lives in her original packaging in a cabinet because she refuses to be threaded.  My husband and I spent a full day trying to thread her correctly and then she practically sliced my fingers off when I tried to do a practice chain stitch (at least it felt like that.)   I don't know if she'll ever be allowed out again, although I would LOVE to be able to do serger projects.   My Janome is about 12 years old and I really loved it until Bernina came into my life 4 years ago.   I was not looking for a new machine but the Stitch Regulator was advertised on TV and I felt I really needed to have it in order to better free-motion quilt.   (WRONG) So, I bought Bernina with the BSR, the embroidery module, and a "drop-in" cabinet specifically made for that machine. ($6,000)  I could never sew without a cabinet again, well worth the $$$.  I have never figured out the BSR, I cannot tell any difference between that and the regular darning foot, VERY frustrating and I do not feel it was worth the $$$.  I prefer Janome's drop in bobbin to the "snap-in" Bernina bobbin. I ALWAYS run out at the crucial stitch OR I have 20 bobbins with just a small amount of thread left on them.  With Janome I can see the amount of thread in the bobbin without taking the whole machine apart.  I also bought a drop-in cabinet for Janome.   Most importantly...my bernina dealer is 1 1/2 hours away  (3 hours round-trip not including lunch) and my Janome dealer is practically  across the street.  Any specific item Bernina wants has to be planned out for a day trip as Bernina does not sell on-line.  Anything Janome wants is a 10-minute round-trip.  HOWEVER, when going from Bernina to Janome I can definitely tell the difference in quality, workmanship, features, etc.  Bernina just "feels" better, but I love Janome too.  I do all my piecing and miscellaneous stitching on Janome, and all my quilting, artwork, embroidery on Bernina.  Embroidery was a little extra feature, and I'm very glad I got it.  I use it for everything, kids & grandkids love it, but I will say, the whole experience is quite expensive.  So,  my ultimate advice would be, bottom line, find a machine you like at a LOCAL dealer.  Having used the Bernina 440 QE, I could definitely not go back to the Janome 3500 for quilting.  HOWEVER, Janome may have a  QUILTING/embroidery machine to the comparable to the 440QE.  (I did try out the $12,000 Bernina !!!!!!! but could NEVER justify it .....maybe if the dealer was closer?????....) 

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on 1 Apr 2010 12:53 PM

I've used a Bernina 1090 since 1993, and since 2001 also have a Bernina 170.  I do lots of free-motion quilting and am good at it...fast!  I took a Bernina seminar about 4-5 years ago (??) when the BSR was being introduced and did not like it at all!  Nina McVeigh was doing the workshop and she admitted to me that if I were already experienced and tended to free-motion rapidly, I would not care for it, as it has it's own "agenda".  I am sure the BSR is probably wonderful for beginners to the technique of free-motion.  Dennie

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