Saturday, July 25, 2009

What Do I Need? What Do I Want?

Normally those are simple questions? Right now I'm not so sure I could answer either of them. This weekend I started my research for a future sewing machine purchase. My head is now whirling. I'm going to keep on with my research and hopefully some of these answers will become more clear. I'm also going to QuiltFest in September and will be testing everything I can get my hands on. I've spent time this weekend on Pattern Review and Sew Mama Sew. Loads of information there which contributes to the head whirl too!

What type of sewing will I be doing? I think I can answer this one at least partially.

Quilting and hopefully some garment sewing. I'd like to make knit tops for me and some cute dresses for my nieces. I'm trying to determine whether or not I'm interested in embroidery and if so, just how much I think I'd use this feature. I saw some cute dish towels that were embroidered and I think I could use this feature for the girls. Is this going to be enough to justify the expense? I'm not sure of that. I might also do some home dec.

What features do I like and must have? I'll give this one somewhat of a stab.

Needle up/Needle down - must have
Knee Lift - must have
I'd like to know if my bobbin was getting low but not a deal breaker.
Feet that easily change. My Pfaff has the screw in feet. I'd like something easier.
I want a machine that will accommodate me as I grow as a sewer/quilter.
Stretch stitches if I'm going to be sewing knits.

Questions for my blogging friends (I need all the help I can get; I'll even send my email address):
1. Has anyone bought a demo machine? Good experience? Bad?
2. Stitch - 5mm or 9mm? What would I use 9mm for?
3. Will embroidery software work well with Windows Vista? I saw something online that suggested otherwise.
4. Will I need/use a variable stitch width? What for?
5. Do you have an embroidery machine? How often do you use it? Do you feel you use it enough compared to the cost (including software upgrades, materials, etc)
6. What feature were you surprised about and now cannot live without?

I'll be posting more about my experiences as time goes on. Thank you all for any and all suggestions or personal experiences (whether they be positive or negative).

Today I bought some of this. Guess what for?
Not applique....but look, it was an advertised use on the box which I thought was awesome!
It even had applique directions on the back of the box. So unexpected!
But I digress....As I've mentioned before, this is my third quilt and quite a challenge for me. When I went to square up the blocks, some of them were a bit short in places. which would not give me a smooth edge. Wonky in, wonky out. I don't want wonky so these blocks have been sitting. This morning while cruising through the Quilters Knitting Forum on Ravelry, the author of the Knotty Knits blog mentioned that she learned a great deal from following the Mod Sampler Quilt A Long from Oh, Fransson! It's a beautifully presented blog, one I visit frequently. But I didn't catch the importance of this post when I saw it. In it, she shows you how to use freezer paper and give your block a nice sharp edge for piecing it to the next block. I've now squared up all 12 blocks and I'm ready to figure out how to add the frames to these and get them moving along!
I hate ironing. In Florida. In July.
Ok...I hate it anytime!


Jean in Georgia said...

I believe Reynolds tried to discontinue the freezer paper a few years ago and there was such an uproar from the quilt community that they kept it!

Pat said...

I love using freezer paper! Good luck with the machine searching. I have a Janome...not super-fancy but more than their simple, basic machine....and I am very happy with it. Since I don't do much embroidery, I didn't get one that could embroider, too. My friend got one that does both but has to sit and NOT sew when the machine is set to embroider. She now wishes she'd gotten TWO that just embroiders and another that just sews so she could use THAT one when the embroidery machine is "working".

Beth said...

I love that tip, too!

I have a Janome 6600P and I love it. I got a good deal after a quilt show, my dealer had machines left and sold them at the "show price."

We Six Nasons said...

I appreciate your sewing machine research. I have a sewing machine that also does embroidery. It is an older model so it doesn't hook up as easily to the computer as newer models do. I would probably use the embroidery more if it did. My FIL uses his constantly and loves it. I bought mine from a Joann's and it was a floor model. I have had it for almost 8 years now and I love it still. No problems because it was used. I hope you find the perfect one!

Cathy said...

I bought a new Bernina 440QE in March and I love it. It replaced by 35 year old Kenmore machine and does so much more. Has lots of the features on your list - needle up/down, lots of different stitches, foot is very easy to change, has knee lift, bobbins are easy to wind but no indicator the bobbin is running out (only dislike so far). Mine does not embroider (not an interest I have) but there is some way to upgrade later with a card or something. Good luck on the hunt!

raederle said...

My mother has and embroidery machine and loves it. I think it's a simpler model, but she uses it to put names on quilts when she gifts them.

Tammy said...

What a great tip for freezer paper, thank you for providing the link so that I can follow and learn more myself. I have only used it for applique, but it really has a lot of applications. I have a Viking Designer I which has embroidery. I have used the embroidery for quilting and other things and while I enjoy it, I don't use it as much as I thought I would. For the expense of the machine, next time I guess for myelf I'd get one that was strictly a work horse for quilting needs. One thing I dearly love is the button that cuts my thread when I'm done sewing. Good luck with your research and I can't wait to see what you settle on.

woolwoman said...

Hi Jackie - my friend Nancy knows quite a lot about sewing and machines - she has several and just bought a Viking last year with the embroidery program - she would be a good local resource to talk to about needs/wants/machines - she also has an older Bernina for sale if you decide you don't need the embroidery program. Good to see you Fri night - Mel PS - email me if you want her email address or she will be at the OGC on Sat when you come to visit us.

Teresa said...

So many questions - but I have few answers. I don't have an embroidery machine. and really don't want one - just not enough time to learn everything. I love my auto up and down, and the blanket stitch.

Reynolds freezer paper - one of my favorite things, but getting hard to find.

Micki said...

I have a Janome 350E that was a demo, and it is wonderful, and I got a great deal on it.

Julia said...

Good luck with your sewing machine shopping. I have never put lots of thought into the machine I was buying. I always go, look, and buy the one that feels right. That shounds like I've bought lots of machines and I haven't, but I have bought 4 I think. I only have one that I use, I'm not counting the old ones that I posted about today or the other old one that I have from my husband's other grandmother. Each time I've traded in the one I've been using. I've gone up a step each time. I thought I was where I wanted to be with this pfaff. I do like it, but want more.

Sew Create It - Jane said...

That's a top tip about the freezer paper and the odd block. I'll have to remember that.

awaytome said...

I am interested in following your sewing machine research. I have a Bernina 1130 that I got about 18 years ago. It has been FANTASTIC and I've never had a problem with it, but now that I've started quilting, I do wish I had the BSR and a bigger opening in the throat area to feed big quilts through. Other than that, I wouldn't trade my machine in.

I would not get one with embroidery since I don't even use most of the decorative stitches that are on the machine I have.

I didn't buy a demo, but my Mom bought a used Bernina 1130 and has had no problems with it.

Feature that I can't live without would be the knee lift, I guess.