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Quilters… some advice please?

gingerbear | Posted in Quilting and Home Decor on

Hello everyone, I’m new here and would love some advice from some of you experienced quilters. I’ve always wanted to get more seriously into quilting. Up until now I have only done a few small things but I love it… and can see me getting very involved in it. I am trained as an artist, and this is a wonderful outlet for creativity. But I have no idea what machine to begin looking at. I’m working on a stinky little White that’s really old and I want to update to something that will make the experience more pleasant. I can probably spend up to $2K and I have Janome, Pfaff and Bernina dealers nearby, all well respected, they also sell used machines. I have no friends that sew or to help guide me. Can you suggest a place to begin looking? What features do you like most on your machines? Thanks very much for any and all advice! Ginnie


  1. gingerbear | | #1

    One thing I forgot to add... I can go higher in price if it's worth it to do so, but I thought about 2K would be a good place to get something that would keep me happy for a while. Also, all the dealers offer classes and support, they're all very nice.



    1. user-21371 | | #2

      You need to sit down and sew on each machine you are considering. For example, I use to have Pfaff. I have a hard time loading in the bobbin, my hands are a little larger than most-where a size 9 glove. However, I sewed on a viking and the bobbin is a drop in. I liked the way it sewed and did a trade-in on the spot. That was for my embriodery machine. I bought a Mega Quilter with the inspira frame and cruise control for the actual quilting, although I sometimes use my SE (Viking) for quilting.

      I have not sewn on a Berina or Janome. Many of my friends have those brands and bought them for different reasons. Everyone will swear by their brand. I highly suggest you try each one out. Janome, Bernina, Pfaff, and Viking are all high on my list!



      1. Toulouse | | #3

        You do not need an expensive machine to quilt, I have seen them made on an old treddle machine. I have a Viking +1 and D 1, love them both.  I use a quilting foot, it holds the fabic tight and does not cause ripples. Good luck, Bobby Ann.

      2. SewTruTerry | | #8

        How long have you had the mega quilter? I just got mine about 3-4 weeks ago and would love to trade any information/advice that you could give me.

      3. marijke | | #9

        Cruise control for quilting?  Tell me more!

        I'm just beginning to experiment with quilting.  So far, all the quilting I have done is using a walking foot.  I can do curves, if they are not too tight and the project isn't too big (too much fabric to manipulate). 

        I assume the cruise control has something to do with free motion?  I haven't mustered the courage to try that but would love to. 

        I've got a Viking also (a Platinum 770, not a quilting-oriented machine.

        1. user-21371 | | #12

          Hi Marijke,

          The cruise control is for the Inspira frame and Mega Quilter. You can't use it on another machine that isn't hooked up in a frame. At least I don't think so.


          1. marijke | | #13

            Thanks much!  I'll need to ask some questions at my dealer to find out more, it sounds like!

            Thanks again!


    2. meg | | #4

      The more money you spend on a machine usually buys you more embroidery stitches - something which the machine manufacturers thought quilters wanted.  What we want is a machine which will stitch a nice straight stitch.  You really need to test drive all sorts of machines because they each have attributes. 

      My preference is my old Pfaff 1222E because of the Integrated Dual Feed mechanism. 

  2. Quilter | | #5

    I sew on a Husqvarna/Viking Quilt Designer 1, a model that's been replaced by the Quilt Designer 2.  I love my machine (although I'm sometimes tempted to 'trade-up').

    Favorite feature on my machine?  Needle up, needle down! But it's loaded with features that make constructing my quilts easier.  But like everyone else will tell you, you need to 'test-drive' some machines and see which one 'fits you best'.  Husqvarna/Viking has great sales each fall/winter, so you can often get lots of extras by waiting until one of their sales.

    1. gingerbear | | #6

      Thanks so much for your input, everyone.  I didn't have the time to do a test drive today, but I went in to get literature and get an introduction to the Pfaffs today. I also took some time to explore this site and a few other sites, so now I have a selection of questions for the dealers and a better feel for what I'd like to have in a machine... I'm learning as I go! I appreciate the help and I can see I'll learn a lot from the group here.



      1. Kiley | | #7

        It is true that you don't need an expensive machine with many features to quilt but the new larger quilt machines seem so wonderful and have everything a quilter needs including size and speed and a knee lift for the pressure foot and separate motors for bobbin winding. Some of the machines with these features are the Pfaff Grand Quilter ( does not have the IDT) and the Viking Mega quilter which are only straigt stitch machines with a flat bed. There are more straight stitch models with a large flat bed made by Juki and Janome. Some machines that offer much more in features and stitches are the Janome 6500 and 6600 and Elna's 7200. I believe all of these machines including Elna, Viking and Pfaff are Janome made. Janomes 6600 has an Acufeed feature which is like the dual feed or IDT of the Pfaffs. I believe Elna also has a 6600 quilter but it is not the same as Janomes 6600 Pro. You can see these machines at the different websites by maker and name brand. I hope you can test many of them to find which is right for you. There are also some quilter forums you might wish to check out. One forum in Yahoo is the Pfaff Hobby Grand Quilter and other machines forum. Members post and compare machines, frames, feet, thread an show projects. Have fun shopping. I hope you end up with a nice machine that you will love for years to come.


  3. draperylady | | #10

    The best machine for machine quilting in my opinion is a Pffaf sp?  It has the double footed presser foot and will really holds material securely.  It works tremendous for free motion quilting.  What I did was tested each one, but you'll find out, they all say there's is best.  If you're interested in machine quilting as an art--go to:ellenanneeddy.com and view her work.  I took a workshop about 10 years ago, before she got famous.  her book Thread Art will give you a thrill!


    1. pathausen | | #16

      Thanks for the intro to Ellen Anne Eddy.  I'd love to take a class from her!  Hoping she'll have one in early 2007 at the studio.

    2. MaryinColorado | | #19

      I LOVE Ellen Anne Eddy's techniques!  I also have her book and hope to take some of her classes!  I bet it was wonderful to learn firsthand from such a talented artist!  What a blessing!

      I just learned how to do free motion work so am finally ready and have the time to do threadpainting.  I just need to go out and purchase some of the sheer fabrics, any suggestions on what to buy?  I was thinking small amounts of a large variety.  I have not used man made fabrics much so would appreciate any suggestions as I am more familiar with the naturals.   On the top of my list is the cheesecloth which I love to play with and will be practicing with some form of dyes and fabric painting too.  I do have netting in a variety of colors.

      I love fairies and nature.  This is my alltime favorite book in my collection!  Also love Kayla Kennington's work, Quilting Arts Magazine, and Bonnie Lynn McCaffery's digibobbe and facepainting techniques! 

      Would love to see photos of your work and would appreciate any tips you might like to pass along! 


  4. lilyrose | | #11

    The question about what kind of machine for a quilter has no answer really.  You might look for a quilt show someplace near you, every one participating will have a different machine that is her/his favorite. Or ask your question at a quilt guild/group. I sew on a portable singer from around 1955, I sew on an OLD featherweight from Singer too (back in the good old days). I also have a Bernina 1630. I have quilted by machine on all of them. I also have a treadle, and discovered there are actually groups that like those too-search around.  I did try a new Bernina recently (hands on, pretending I had $$ in my pocket. It does have "cruise control". It is part of the unit as opposed to being an attachment (darn) The machine does a bazillion things it would be hard to try them all, BUT the cruise button, when turned on, controls exactly how the machine will stitch (length) and speed- no matter how hard you push the peddle, it stays within the pre set request.  I pouted as I left the store because it cost $5000+.  Have fun~

  5. gingerbear | | #14

    I thought I'd give everyone an update since I've had some time to research and try a few machines. Bernina 440QE is tops on the list because of its Bernina Stitch Regulator (what a lot of you call "cruise control"), BUT I have since found out this technology will soon be available to many other machine manufacturers as well... go to http://www.accustitcher.com for more information. I haven't tried this gadget, but the idea is the same, I don't know yet whether it works as well as Bernina's stitch regulator... but for the price, I hope some of you will buy it and try it on your own machines and let us know how you like it.

    The Pfaff 2056 would be a favorite, I LOVE the decorative stitches, but my dealer is not very supportive and offers limited help. She's not offering a realistic price either, so I gave up on Pfaff.

    I haven't tried the Husqvarna Viking Quilt Designer II but hope to give it a try soon.

    I'm still strongly considering the Janome 6600P, although I'm worried about the lack of a free arm. I sew small doll and teddy bear things as well as quilt, so I want the power to get through the mohair fabrics as well as the gentleness needed for batiste. I have to give this machine a more thorough run-through before I make my decision.

    If I need to cheapen down, I'll probably go with the Janome Jem top of the line. It's a tiny machine with an amazing array of bells and whistles for the price. It's a small machine, I figure I could use this one until I can buy the fabulous, very expensive machine, and the Jem would then become my travel/class machine, and be used by my daughter, too. It'll at least get me away from the misery that has become synonymous with my yucky White machine. <sigh>



    1. SewTruTerry | | #15

      I hope that you will take the time to try the Quilt Designer ll.  It really is a fabulous machine and I think that you will be really happy with it. Also if you have a Viking Sewing Gallery not a dealer near you (they are in all of the bigger JoAnn Fabric stores) that is the place to purchase as you will have endless support and lots of classes if you need them.  Viking Sewing Galleries are corporate stores so they have lots more information on the machines and details that some dealers may not have.  Good Luck.

    2. user-82747 | | #18

      If you can't afford the more expensive Berninas - then stay with the brand, but go to one of their more basic machines.   Many of them have a lot of stitches, etc.

  6. user-82747 | | #17

    Go with Bernina - all the way.   They are still made in Switzerland. And the company has not been bought out by others corporations as the other Swedish & German machines have.   The customer support and warranty are absolutely the best.   The dealer provides classes for every machine you buy.   I don't think you will go wrong.  I bought my first new machine in 25 years.   I researched every brand and took my own fabric samples to try out the machines.  

    I had owned a Singer before and was always frustrated with some aspects of it and eventually quit sewing all together.   Since I've had the bernina, I sew several times each week. 

  7. MaryinColorado | | #20

    I agree that you should check out Ellen Anne Eddy's book and also the ones I posted in reply to that post.  As an artist, I think you will love the info you find at those websites.  There is so many ways to express yourself with fiber!  Enjoy your adventure!

    Try out several machines to find the best "fit" for you.

    Things I like are "specialty bobbin case" so I don't have to mess with the preset adjustments on my machine when I do bobbinwork with all those deliciouse yarns and threads and ribbons available.  They are too large to fit through needles so you wind them onto the bobbin instead and work upside down, very easy though it sounds complex at first.  see Bonnie Lynn McCaffery's website for this and her books and emb. designs.

    Ability to do "free Motion" stitching is at the top of my list now.  Also very easy once you practice a bit.  Lots of ability for self expression with this.  As in Ellen Anne Eddy's work.  Please check out her website, I am in awe of this extremely talented artist.  She has beautiful quilts, wallhangings, etc. 

    For art to wear, I like The Sewing Workshop site.  My favorite designer is Kayla Kennington, check out her website, she has several articles in Threads magazine archives, also the Bernina website has some of her work, she is an incredible fibre artist also and has won many awards from the Bernina fashiion show.

    Quilting Arts Magazine has a wealth of info and is well worth the price.  Also a website.

    This may help you decide what machine you want.  There are so many choices, take your time and don't rush in.  Test drive and go to the websites.  Look for a dealer who will offer you free classes. 

    I own a Designer 1 and just adore it, also the Viking Rose which is a wonderful little machine.  I can do everything imaginable on these machines but am not into making full sized quilts.  I also love my Viking Huskylock serger and do lots of artistic things with specialty threads in the loopers.  I make lace on all of them with water soluble stabilizer.  So you see.  It is all about research and personal preferance.  There are many machines that will do all of this and more.

    You might want to read the many posts and the ones in the archives about machine choices also.  Pattern Review also has info.

    The journey is half the fun.  Enjoy.  MaryL


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