QOD 11/3/09 - Machines

odessaquiltsNovember 3, 2009

What kind of sewing machine(s) do you have, and do you use it to piece your quilts?

Are you wanting to upgrade to something flashier?

Do you also use your standard sewing machine to quilt your finished piece? Or do you have a mid-arm or long-arm machine to quilt with?

The reason I ask this question today is that I am using a standard old Singer machine ... very few bells, no whistles, no electronic gizmos. It's pretty basic, but sews like a dream. I see lots of sewing programs on TV, but all those people have the latest and the greatest, and they talk about changing their settings, which might as well be in Greek because it means nothing to me. How I long for the days of watching a program where they use a basic machine to do their piecing and show ME how to adjust to complete a more complex pattern. Does anyone else feel this way?

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Yes, I treasure the old "mechanical" machines but I know others who like the newer computerized ones and I know they get a lot out of them like embroidery. My machines just fit my needs perfectly.

I use a Featherweight, Elna portable, and Kenmore all very old, for piecing. I have a new Baby Lock Quilters something or other that is mechanical and only straight stitch that I use for quilting only. It might be called a mid-arm. I love it.

But, no computerized for me, thanks. These I can fix anything that goes wrong with them myself and I like having that control.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 12:39PM
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I know what you mean w/settings & the like. Basic would be nice & the shows could still mention the xtra perks that some have. I have a Janome Memory Craft 3000 that I love - still pretty basic. It has a handful of decorative stitches, but I pretty much just use the buttonhole for applique, satin & zigzag some...I also have an OLD Singer in the cabinet that my mom had beforeI was born (I'm old but not ancient!lol!) The Singer sews like a dream, as does the Janome. I use both to piece & a longarm (Gammill) to quilt - unless it's something small & I'll do it on the J' with a walking foot. I have friends with $8,000.00 Berninas, but frankly I can't see it. Maybe if I HAD that kind of $, I'd see things differently:)
But you know, piecing only requires a basic straight stitch - which any machine, fancy or not can do. So my stance is this ----if it ain't broke, don't fix (or replace) it. If you have the $ for a pricey one & it won't mean failing to pay the electric bill & it makes you happy, go for it!!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 12:45PM
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I have a Singer that was my mothers. I learned to quilt on it when I first started quilting. I don't really use the Singer anymore.

In 2001 I bought a Juki. I love my Juki. I use it to piece some of the time and I always use it to quilt because it is so strong and it has a wide throat area. It has never broken or been in the shop for any reason.

Last year I bought a Brother. I bought it because my Juki doesn't zigzag and I wanted a few other decorative stitches. I use the Brother to piece with more often than the Juki because I have a 1/4 inch foot and the needle can be adjusted so I get better 1/4 seams.


    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 1:42PM
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I have a Brother PC8500 sewing/embroidery machine - one of their midrange machines. It has a zillion decorative/utility stitches in addition to the embroidery module. It's been a great machine, though it's starting to have a few issues - it's about 7 years old. I use it for everything except quilting. I've been very happy with it and would definitely buy another Brother machine, if we had a dealer in the area.

For quilting I have a Juki TL98Q (9" throat) on an original Hinterberg frame. I love, love, love the Juki! It is a mechanical straight-stitch only machine, but it is faster than lightning and does the BEST straight stitch! Much better than the Brother.


    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 1:47PM
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I have a question about Berninas. My LQS is also a Bernina dealership. When I started quilting all I ever heard about was how great Berninas were. I thought that if I kept up with this hobby and became a serious quilter that one day maybe I'd get a Bernina.

That was 8 years ago. In the past few years on this forum I really have rarely heard anyone talk about Berninas. Is that because they are so expensive? Or are they really not that great?

Based on the amount that people chat about machines, I think I should be looking at a Treadle!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 1:52PM
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I have eight sewing machines, more or less. LOL. None of them electronic. Some of them treadle or hand crank. All basic machines. There is very little one can't do on a basic machine if they have the attachments like the old machines used to come with. Even my treadle has a corder, gatherer, buttonholer.

My fav of all is the ninteen fifty something Necchi my father bought my Mama as a gift. She moaned and complained forever about that machine, because she thought it too fancy and complicated. LOL. It was an expensive machine for its time. I need to take it in to the shop and get it cleaned and tuned up so I can start using it again.

I am presently doing most of my quilting on a cheap little brother. It's pathetic compared to my old machines. The ram has little power and it strains to bite through thick material. I bought it when I was making my last wedding dress, in the middle of the night at a box store, because I was time crunched, needed a machine immediately to finish the dress and didn't want to spend any more money than I had to. It gets the job done, but I don't care for it. It would be more suited to a kid learning to sew.

I would like a more modern treadle. Mine sews, but it's very ancient. I learned to sew on a later model treadle but when my mother died, she left it to my daughter, who just 'looks at it'. LOL. To me, sewing on a nice early twentieth century Singer treadle is the ultimate pleasure.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 1:54PM
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I have a very basic Brother that I want to find space to use just for sewing. I agree you only need a straight stitch to piece. Or quilt for that matter!!
My Janome MC4400 I love, but I bought it new after several new models came out and saved $$$. I do use some of the decorative stitches but over half of them I prob will never use.
My Brother PE700 embroidery machine is so sensitive it can be a royal pain.
I watched a Fons and Porter TV show where they were testing a new model with all of the bells and whistles and I just can't justify spending that kind of money for a hobby. If I had a business that might change my mind!!
I just know the more expensive the machine the more money it costs for upkeep and repairs. And it does take a while to learn all the machine will do.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 2:00PM
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I used for YEARS a Sears 'BEST' machine, which came with cams for doing decorative stitching. When I began to do more quilting/sewing, I found that the machine did not have a 1/4 inch or walking foot - and this could not be bought for the machine. So maybe three or more years ago, I bought a Brother nx-450 to gain both feet I needed. Actually, the Sears machine has a nicer selection of decorative stitches VS the Brother that I have. I have learned to use the Brother to my advantage, and love it. Sure I could go and buy a more expensive machine, but this does what I need and is reliable for me.

Before buying the Brother, I took a long time to talk to others about the machines they had and find out what they liked/disliked about it. Frankly when asked,most did not seem to use but few of the many decorative stitches they had, so I went with what I felt would work for me and have not regretted it a bit!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 2:02PM
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I've only been quilting for just under a year now and I never sewed a stitch before that. I bought a basic brother before I knew what else was out there. I use it for everything and it works great, I guess being ignorant to what's out there has its advantages on the the wallet sometimes. Now that I've seen a lot of the bells and whistles and got to play on a long arm I would love to have one of my own, someday. For now I'm happy to rent time on one at the LQS and at least get my quilting done much faster.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 2:04PM
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My "main" machine is my Viking Quilt Designer; it does FM quilting, has a walking foot for straight line quilting, has many decorative stitches which I do use, has needle up/down feature, and the wonderful automatic lowering of the presser foot when you start sewing, plus other bells/whistles. I love it sooooo much and do not feel the need to ever upgrade.

My 1947 Featherweight and Mom's Singer from 1951 both sew very well and do straight stitch only. I love them for what they are. My own Singer FashionMate from 1969 is heavy as the dickens and doesn't sew as well as the other two Singers, but I keep it for sentimental reasons. I also have a Brother serger, but that's a different animal altogether. ;o)

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 3:26PM
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Lola, I can't speak from personal experience, but I think the majority of my quilt guild members have Berninas and would rather give up a child than their machines.

In my area we only have Viking & Bernina dealers (maybe a Janome or two).


    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 3:57PM
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I also have a Viking; it's my first (and only) machine. It's the Emerald 118 and only has 9 stitches. I bought a quarter inch foot and a FM foot for it. It has the needle up/down and for me it allowed me to learn from the ground up, by myself, without all the gizmos. I've only been quilting a year (this month) and this morning I was trying out all the stitches and seeing what they look like and if they would work to enhance my projects. I was so pleased to see how they all look and I started thinking about what machine would be next for me. I love this machine but after reading Teresa and how much she loves her Viking Quilt Designer...well we'll see what the future holds. ~LOL~ It won't be for awhile but I like to dream...

I love reading all about quilters machines and why they love them.


    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 4:33PM
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I'm up to 9 machines now. I have 2 Singers from the 40's, one other old machine, can't remember the name - maybe National? These were all given to me. Why? because neighbors were too lazy to sell them and didn't want to throw them out. They all work, but I only use one of the Singers as a back-up machine, just in case. That's happened once in 10 years.

I have an industrial Consew straight stitch walking foot machine which I used for upholstery, but it also does a wonderful job for straight line quilting. It's walking foot is much more powerful than any domestic sewing machine.

I have two sergers - one 4 thread mechanical, and a 5-thread computerized. I have a recently bought used Singer Touch and Sew, which I bought only because it has a true chain-stitch, which I use to sew quilt backings to the zipper leaders of my long arm machine.

Then there are my babies.

My main sewing machine is a Pfaff 7570. It has a plug-in embroidery module, which I used when I was in business. I wouldn't want to go back to the old Singers, because I love the needle up/down feature, and also the bobbin-empty feature. Those 2 things alone make my piecing life a pleasure. I could have those features on many machines, but I needed the embroidery to stay ahead of the competition. People could get their monograms on the back of their fancy pillows all in one place. It paid for itself 8 years ago, but I wouldn't pay for it now.

My second baby is my long-arm APQS Millennium. I have a 100" square quilt on right now. As much as I love the look of hand quilting, there is no way in hell I would ever do it. I don't have the patience. I also believe that good machine quilting is good quilting, even though I still need more practice at freehand, LOL.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 5:41PM
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Total count:6
I have 2 Pfaffs - an almost 40 year old 1222E that I bought with babysitting money and also sewed high school cheerleader and pom pom squads uniforms to pay for it. A very long time ago. Still my favorite. I bought a Pfaff 2048 a year ago when I took my 1222E in for service. I also have a cheap Brother that was my Mom's (she didn't sew)It winds a great bobbin for a Sailrite heavy duty machine for sail canvas. I have a serger that I seldom use. And my newest is a Featherweight that I bought a few weeks go. I haven't had a chance to really get this one stitching great yet, but we are bonding :)-I feel confident I will get her sewing beautifully when I have more time.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 6:25PM
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I do all my piecing and machine quilting on a ca. 1955 Japanese 15 class straight-stitch machine mounted in a treadle table. I have no desire for any bells and whistles--my machine is AWESOME.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 6:41PM
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I have 5 machines.
My old White treadle that I have forgotten how to use and really don't have the space to set up and learn again.

I have my 1955 Featherweight which is a great machine, it has lots of attachments and sews great. I don't have the room to keep it set up so don't use it often.

I have a My Lock serger which I would hate to be without but don't use it too often. It is great for sewing on clothing items and I use it to sew on borders of my quilts sometimes.

I have my Janome 9000. It is a good machine with lots of the bells and whisles people talk about and is an embroidery machine. I was my main machine until last year and I still uses it for embroidery. I keep it set up.

My current main machine is my Baby Locke Espire which is a luxuery with some great feature for quilting. eg. needle up/down, automatic thread cutting, bobbin low warning. push botton sewing (I have that on the Janome and would really miss it), many attachments and stitches. It also holds large cone spools of thread as well as the usual. Has a separate bobbin winder, a setting that permits you to pivit your fabric with out raising the presserfoot.

I would like to have a long arm set up like the Gammal but I am too old and don't have the room, only the desire.Jayne

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 7:38PM
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I love reading about all the different machines people use.

For myself, I learned to sew on my Mom's treadle and in 1979 when sewing classes were all the rage, I was able to purchase a Bernina 830 which was probably top of the line. At that time I loved sewing clothes, curtains, costumes....well almost anything. That machine served me well.

In 2007 I upgraded to a Bernina 153 Quilter's Edition. I am disappointed with it when it comes to FM; tension issues and it doesn't like mono filament thread . Last year I won the bid for a Singer FW and I just recently purchased a treadle. There is something very special about these older machines....slow your life down....appreciate where all the present day bells and whistles came from.

If I was 65 less 30yrs, I would certainly like to invest in a Hus. Designer and a longarm quilter. These machines will provide so many years of good service and if you love sewing as much as I do...well next to buying fabric, it is well worth the investment.

My Bernina is still #1 but I use my FW and treadle quite a bit. It is relaxing not to have to push 5 buttons before I ever begin to sew.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 8:17PM
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I guess I will count my machines as I write:2 featherweights, one was my MIL's, the other is a white one, had a third but gave it to an auction for a go od cause.
I have 2 old kenmore portables which are so cute, come in a little case that looks like a old hair dryer case! used to have 3 of these & gave one to a friend, they sew like a charm! Then I have a very old Pfaff that I bought at a rumage sale, it works great too.
My main machine is a 25 year old(maybe more) 1130 Bernina, it's my soulmate! It's not perfect by any means, but I just feel like it's a part of me! Maybe it's because I bought it at a time when we didn't really have that much money but my DH didn't hesitate when I found it used in the paper, I'd been looking for a used one for a long time.
I feel really drawn to the APQS machines when I go to a show, it's the same weird feeling I have for my bernina!I kind of doubt I'll ever have one though.....
Oh, I forgot, I also received a crank beauty from my DH one yr for Christmas, it's really pretty!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 8:48PM
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Did you have any idea what a great thread you started??! I've so enjoyed reading all the comments & high praises for our 'sewing soul mates'. If nothing else, we're all taking time to really appreciate these marvelous machines that make our fav hobby so much easier. I had to go into my sewing room to give mine a little hug - for real! The only 2 TV shows I watch were on tonight which means I sew during commercials & run back & forth a lot! Sorry, I digress - just wanted to thank you for starting this thread!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 11:18PM
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I'm glad everyone found this question so interesting. I have enjoyed reading how much you all love and appreciate your favorite machines. I love the Singer I am working with now, but also have an old treadle in a cabinet that I have only sewed with once or twice, but it is a beauty. I also have 2 other portables (one is a Montgomery Ward, and one is a White "jeans machine", both of which were purchased by DH for me) and a Kenmore in a cabinet that I recently acquired from a relative. I also have a serger, but since I never got a book with it, threading is tricky for me and I don't have any idea how to adjust the tensions, but that's okay by me. I'm managing.

(and that doesn't count the 3 I got rid of at our yard sale before we moved into this place! can you say "collection"????)

I love what my machine will do for me and while I would love to be able to do all the really fancy stuff like the rest of you guys with lots more $$ than I have, I am content to dream and enjoy your love for your own machines.

So glad you all appreciate your "tools"


    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 11:46PM
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My main machine is a Pfaff 2010, a great machine. I only wish it had the needle down feature since I am starting to do some machine quilting on it. I also have 1938 and 1956 Featherweights. I use the '56 Featherweight sometime to carry with me to classes. I also got an old Singer 500 "Rocketeer" which is super powerful and I hope to use it to machine quilt large quilts. It is in a cabinet and has more space under the arm to bunch up a quilt. And lets just say I have a few miscellaneous others.....
If I could upgrade I would want an upgraded Pfaff with a few more features such as needle down or more decorative stitches, or a Bernina, but I am pretty happy with what I have.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 7:09PM
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I'm trying to machine quilt with mono filament thread and the filament keeps breaking my stitch is set at 4.5 and tension 6 I have the motor slowed down and the thread in-between two pieces of felt and the spool is in a net sock. What am I doing wrong.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 9:09AM
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I would recommend you repost this as a new message so that people see it. If you do that and click the little box at the bottom of your new post, then all replies will automatically be emailed to you.

(sorry, I don't have an answer to your question, but I bet others here can help!)

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 10:16AM
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