Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Best Sewing Machine - for you

Hi everyone:

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. 
Bernina 830
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
Do your homework. Shop around and look at various models and what they have to offer. If machines have similar features and the price points are comparable, consider after-sales service. Sure, you can save some money up front, but are you buying from a reputable dealer? Someone who is able to service the machine after purchase and will help you should you have any warranty issues or after-warranty issues? Does the vendor offer classes for new owners? You'll definitely want to take advantage of these to get the most out of your machine. After purchase service is invaluable and should also be a consideration when purchasing a sewing machine.
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!


Colleen said...

Good points. I think it depends on where you are in your sewing experience. If you are just trying it out, I would say to buy a basic machine. You're right - don't buy the cheapest one, but you can get a good solid machine from, say, Sears, that will only cost about $200. Then, if you don't like sewing, you're not out a lot. And if you do, your basic machine will work well for you for a few years while you check out all the fancy machines, and decide what you like.

Then, when you know that this is going to be a hobby you'll do longterm, the store owner is absolutely right - buy the best you can afford, and keep in mind what you might want to do in the future. A good machine can last easily 20 years, so you want one that will keep you content.

My hubby talked me into buying a good machine. He said that when he buys a tool for him to use, he buys the best quality he can afford, and I should do the same with my machine. (He's a keeper!)

Chatterbox Quilts said...

Yes, Colleen, it sounds like your hubby is a keeper! My hubby always has quality tools too (the yellow ones :) In thinking more on this issue it did occur to me that you may need to be quilting for awhile before you do realize what type of machine you might need, so I appreciate your point about having a basic machine first. I did start out with a Singer, which I still have, but once I became addicted, I realized the need for a "quilting" sewing machine and bought my Bernina; a purchase I haven't regretted. Of course after the sewing machine comes the hankering for a mid-arm or a long-arm or … never a shortage of things to spend $$ on when you're a quilter :)