sewing, embroidery, quilting machines
I am warming up to the idea of buying a new machine even though I manage to get most from my geriatric Brother XL-4011. I would, however, like to eke the wisdom from this forum: when does a sewing machine become an embroidery or a quilting machine? Common sense dictates that the embroidery machine probably facilitates manipulation of stitch style and structure and the quilting machine must have good needle penetrating power. So, what sewing machine in the present day cost-effectively generates all these functions?
Mind this is my opinion only, but these are the guidelines I use when
determining which machine does what.
Sewing - basics, must do the basics well. A good straight and zigzag
stitch, buttonholes that are neat and tidy, zipper foot, ability to
sew in reverse. Special & fancy stitches if prone to using them.
Free arm ability for small circles, sleeves, tight spaces.
Quilting - Exact, excellent quarter inch straight stitch. I prefer ####large harp (the area to the right of the needle, between the needle and
the body of the machine), a large sewing surface - either from the
machine itself, or from the addition of an add-on sewing table.
Heirloom stitches, like blanket stitch if prefered.
Embroidery - This is either a dedicated machine, or an add-on unit to
an existing sewing machine. The add-on units, in general provide ####larger overall embroidery field, whereas the dedicated machines are
limited to 4x4 or 5x7 designs, unless you step up to commercial
systems. Ease of use and a nice stitch out are paramount. All
systems come with some built-in designs. Each manufacturer has their
own design format, some of which are proprietary, some not.
Keep in mind embroidery can quickly become both a passionate and
pricey hobby. Each manufacturer has their own set of software they
will want to sell, which can be quite costly. I have found better
going with the independant software providers, like Embird.
Each system also has it's own way of transferring designs - again
some proprietary, some not. If you want to get into creating your
own, as opposed to using already created designs, some computer
literacy is required.
Whew! Quite the ramble, this.
A sewing machine becomes an embroidery machine when it actually embroiders. With a sewing/embroidery machine, there will be an arm that attaches to the machine, and hoops that range in size from 100x100 mm to 150x360mm, depending on the machine choice. A sewing machine becomes a quilting machine when the manufacturer says it is a quilting machine. White, for example has what they call a "quilting" machine that won't easily penetrate fabric, batting and backing. It is also smaller than most sewing machines, which makes it very difficult to sew on a full size quilt, and the area between the needle and the right hand side of the machine is too small. Viking, on the other hand, has the "Quilt Designer II," much pricier than the White (by around $3000). It comes with an embroidery arm, can embroider designs up to 150x360mm, has unbelievable penetration power, comes with 4 cards which include a card with specific quilting stitches, 1 for embroidery designs, a card with utility stitches, and one with lettering. It has Viking's sensor system, which senses the thickness of the fabric, and adjusts the pressure foot pressure accordingly, and automatically. I could go on forever, but my point is: with sewing machines, and most other things, you get what you pay for. The 3 top machines in the U.S. today are Viking (#1), Bernina (#2) and Pfaff (#3). You'll notice they are all 3 European machines. Every other home sewing machine is made somewhere in the far East -- Japan (a couple), China (lots), and Taiwan (lots).
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