I was visiting my LQS to pick up some accessories for my Bernina and was talking to the owner. She told me that she took exception to my comment in one of my videos that you didn't need a "fancy" machine with "all the bells and whistles" to quilt.
After some discussion I realized that she had a different slant on the "which machine should I buy" question than I did and as a sewing machine vendor, she had some interesting comments.
She advises her customers to "spend until it almost hurts": buy the best machine you can afford or you may soon outgrow it. Know what you want to do with your machine now and consider what you may want to do with it in the future.
If machine embroidery looks appealing to you, but you're not quite there yet, consider purchasing a machine that has the ability to add an embroidery module to it. If you don't want to purchase the embroidery module now, you can buy that component in the future without having to purchase a new machine.
Photo courtesy of Bernina.com
There's nothing more disappointing than to be on the hunt for a new machine six months after you had just purchased a new one. Think long term, rather than just your current needs.
Thinking of trading in your old machine for a new one? Might want to think again about this one. Always handy to have an extra machine in the house in case you have a problem with yours and it is in the shop for servicing. Can also set one machine up for piecing and another for machine embroidery or for quilting. May want to pass this machine on to a younger quilter just starting out or to a daughter or daughter-in-law. You probably won't get much on a trade-in so it's really more valuable to you. Think of it like an older vehicle that has low mileage: it's worth more to you than you would get for it if you sold it.
|Janome 8900 QCP|
Photo courtesy of Janome.com
I also think that there is a difference between "want" and "need". You "need" certain features to quilt efficiently, but there may be other options that you "want". If you've got the $$$, go for the "want" machine. You won't regret it.
I believe that you don't have to buy the top of the line machine when you're first entering the world of quilting, but… don't buy the cheapest model either. Remember, you get what you pay for, so if you don't pay much for a machine, you probably aren't getting a machine that you'll be happy with for quilting. Have a list of features you definitely want and consider what else may be on various machines. Quilting is different than sewing a garment and you need a machine that will be able to stand up under the repetitive stitching that is quilting. Buy a machine that you can grow into, rather than one that will just work for you now. It's a big decision, so take time to consider the machines you've looked at and make sure you try them out. Go back to the store and look at the machines again. Ask about the after purchase service available and make sure you're comfortable with those answers. Check reviews on-line and ask your friends what type of machine they have and why they like - or don't like - it. Educate yourself and consider your options before making the big decision.
I stick to my statement that "the best machine for you is one that has the features you need and fits within your budget". After all, you'll want to make sure there is some money left to buy fabric to use in that new machine!