free motion machines for art quilters

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jclyell wrote
on 30 Jan 2012 8:41 AM

I am looking for recommendations for machines.   I want a sit down machine for doing detailed thread painting but would like a long arm for larger pieces.  What do you use and what do you like?  This will be a big investment and I want to get it right. 

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ckquilter wrote
on 31 Jan 2012 4:11 AM

hi jc

there was quite a discussion a year or so ago about machines. you may be able to still follow that thread if you look  some of the older responses.

i don't know if they deleted it or not.

it is always good to have feedback from people who have used a machine for awhile.

but i am still of the opinion that there is no substitute for test sewing for yourself.    i would start the same way you did here. make a list.

but make a list of ALL the features you want for the machine. and a list of all the methods you want to be able to do on it. then make a sample kito take along to the various dealers. your kit should contain a sample to sew on for all of the methods you want that machine to do. include the threads yo want to be able to use. and your preferred stabilizers.

and then spend the time to go to each dealer and try several machines. they will be able to get you started with features - and then you will need to narrow it down to the model by sewing on it. a good dealer will let you work with the machines as long as you need.

make sure you thread the machine (using your thread - not theirs. and take along the metallic threads you plan to use, any threads for the bobbin you plan to use, monofilament, and your piecing and quilting and thread painting threads. and run them all through the machine.)

make sure you change presser feet, tension, needles, presser foot tension, and wind the bobbin.

if you are gonna be using special fabric - take samples to sew on. 

it sounds like you are gonna be getting 2 machines. a long arm for quilting and a regular machine for piecing and thread painting.

remember, recommendations are good; especially from people who have used a certain model for a few years. but it is absolutely not a substitute for test sewing yourself. once you have sewn on a machine for an hour, and tried sewing on all your samples, you will KNOW what you prefer and what works for you.         ckquilter

 

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jclyell wrote
on 31 Jan 2012 8:44 AM

That is all great advice.  As I have done more research I realized my terminology is wrong.  I am looking at a mid arm machine.  I am an art quilter and although I want to work on larger pieces,  do not want to do bed sized quilts.  My quilts are painted and I sometimes work on heavy canvas so it needs to be heavy duty.  I want one machine that is a sit down model.  I am really drawn to the Handi quilt Sweet sixteen and will probably test that one first.  The orientation of the machine similar to a long arm set up makes so much sense to me.  The price is better than most and the reviews are very positive.  Does anyone have any other recomedations of machines that I should try?

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ckquilter wrote
on 2 Feb 2012 6:59 PM

hi jc

i use a regular sewing machine for everything. so i don't have first hand experience with mid arms.

however, my weekly sit and sew group meets at a shop where they sell the hq.  i have a number of friends who have bought machines there.so far all i have heard is positive comments.   the shop also uses their long arm to quilt professionally for others. and while i am only there one day a week, i don't remember their ever having the machine down for service. and it has been set up for some years now, with almost daily use.

i did ask yesterday, their mid arm does ONLY straight stitch. no zigzag. so it is gonna be hard to thread paint with. and will take a lot longer than a zigzag machine. if you are just quilting on it, then most of the time a straight stitch would be sufficient. but if you want to thread paint, like you originally mentioned, you are gonna want a different/ another machine.

good luck. hope you get a great machine.                        ckquilter

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LauraJReff wrote
on 9 Mar 2013 8:05 AM

I use a Brother Nouvelle 1500 for my thread painting and free motion work. It's a heavy duty quilting machine. This machine just go, go, go goes. I've done free motion on denim, heavy knits and jeans (even through the seam, although slow enough not to break the needle). I don't know if this is a mid arm machine, but it is deeper than my regular Brother machines.

I bought this machine to work with pleathers and only found that it was so easy to drop the feed dogs, that I switched from an older Singer I was using for that purpose to this. But I do agree with other commenters. Take several swatches of your typical fabric and thread and go test several machines out to see what feels most comfortable.

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