Quilting vs "Regular" sewing

donna_loomisMarch 25, 2013

I have an older Kenmore, which perfectly fits my "regular" sewing needs (making clothing, mending, etc.). I have recently begun quilting and I can already see that a different type of machine might be desirable. I do have a sewing room and am able to leave my sewing machine out in the open so it is available to me at any moment. But I wouldn't have room to leave 2 machines set up that way. I would like to find one machine that would serve both types of sewing equally well. I would love to hear the opinions of seasoned quilters/sewers as to the good and bad. And as much as I'd like to say that money is no object, that is not the case. So, I am looking at a reasonably priced machine that will do the job - If such a thing exists. TIA.

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When I was ready to consider a new sewing machine years ago that would be primarily for quilting, I made a checklist of features that I had to have, wanted to have, those I wanted but could live without, and those I didn't care about. It made it a whole lot easier to cross-reference different machines/makers.

From a quilting standpoint, the ability to move the needle position (to 1/4"), a needle down position, speed control, and ability to drop the feed dogs (for free motion quilting) were the features at the top of the list.

I still have and use the machine that I purchased at that time, 8-9 years ago!

Janome is my brand of choice, but everyone will give you a different answer on that. So it's important to try a variety out, and make notes so you can compare them. All dealers will let you do a test run in their shop, or they should. I didn't (& still don't shop from 'dealers') but you should. They usually give classes on your machine, and offer trade ins, etc.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 5:17PM
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All I can say is procede slowly and carefully. Do test drive any new machines you consider buying. See another post on this forum about a gal who traded her 'old faithful' in on a new machine and regretted it. I am into year six of quilting now, having sewn other projects my whole life since a kid. I bought a new machine a year ago because it had some of the features I thought would make quilting easier, like dropping feed dogs, 'heavy duty' ram, etc. I thought it would make free motion quilting easier for me. Well, let's put it this way. I set up my old machine and that's the one I do the actual quilting on. I have a plate to put over the feed dogs, even thought they don't drop, and the FMQ foot works better on my old machine than my new 'quilter friendly' one. I'd have chucked my new machine entirely, except it's too handy to have two set up so I can do patchwork on one, and leave the other up to quilt on. The only option I don't have with either machine is a long distance from the needle to the upright part of the machine, giving a bigger workspace. You need to quilt awhile to see how many options you need. You may not even get into FMQ, lots of gals here just sent them out to Long arm owners to have them done. Unless you have major money to invest in something like that, you may be happy with your old machine. I know I ended up digging my cheap 'old faithful' out again and use my newer fancy one for just patchworking and general sewing and it's still quirky. Every decade, it seems they cheapen up machines and just add more bells and whistles. I'm not a bells and whistle person. As soon as I get my 1950s Necchi serviced and cleaned, I'll probably go back to that one.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:15AM
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My old Pfaff 6270 Tiptronic is still my go to machine. This past summer I bought a straight stitch Babylock Jane for the bigger "harp" space for free motion. I love the space and it's great for free motion, but I'm much happier with the dual feed on my Pfaff for piecing. The shopping and try outs were really helpful. There were a couple I couldn't find to try so I didn't buy one of those.

It all came down to "harp" space for the money and the test drive with the quilting foot. Bring your own piecing or sandwich for the test drives. Although they both sit on the table I bought to get them lower, when I get down to quilting on larger quilts I put the Pfaff away.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 12:05PM
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Forgot to mention. First thing I did after buying the Pfaff years ago was buy a single hole plate (made those tiny triangle point starts 100% easier!) and a quarter inch foot, which didn't come standard at the time. Also order a second bobbin case for special thread adjustments, etc, but don't use that much.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 1:20PM
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Calliope, I did read the post you mentioned, and that is a concern. I would never trade in the Kenmore, OR my 1935 Singer Featherweight, which came in extremely handy when I had to have the Kenmore serviced this summer. Mom gave me the featherweight, which she had used for many years and I was SO impressed with it's performance. What a workhouse, albeit a bit slow. It still has the original black belt, which is crumbling and I know I'll have to have that replaced soon.

I would like to do my own free motion quilting rather than sending it out. Right now I am hand quilting the one I'm doing now, and even though it is only a crib quilt, it is taking a long time, especially since it echo quilting. I do have the foot for the Kenmore to do free motion, but haven't tried it yet. Who knows? Maybe I'll find that I don't really need a new machine, at least not yet.

Quiltnhen, thanks for the suggestion of bringing my own sandwich to do the test drives. I might not have thought of that.

I like the idea of some fancy stitches, but it's not necessarily a selling point. And 70 stitches? Who needs that many? That's what I saw touted for one machine.

I'm just so afraid that I'll be dazzled by a demonstration only to bring it home and find that it does not fit my needs.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 1:50PM
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A dear friend of mine was in the market for a new machine in 2012. She test drove several models at the local quilt stores, but really got a great cross section of try outs at a quilt show. I would recommend going to a show to see the greatest selection of machines. All in all, she settled on an Elna and loves it...got a great buy at the show. Janome was the second choice, but the one she favored was not available when she wanted it. have fun test driving!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 4:32PM
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Oooohhhh....... a quilt show! I've never heard of one in my area, but I never looked for one, either. Now I'm intrigued. Just checked online and there is one in two weeks only about 15 miles from me! Wonder who I can get to go with me? And if I miss that one, there is another one about 25 miles from me in September. Little Helen, you're to blame. But thank you.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 6:33PM
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Eleanor Burns uses the Elna for all her quilting,and I think that might not be as costly as some of the newer ones that do everything except wash the dishes,if you know what I mean.

I have the Husqvarna Viking rose and have had it for 16 years.It's a good machine for regular sewing,but I don't find it that great for quilting.

Forgot to say,Hi Donna,how are you these days?? I havn't been over here for awhile,don't make that many quilts anymore,just a few baby ones every now and again.

I just cut out a couple nitegowns for myself today,will sew them sometime next week.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 8:19PM
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