I just came back from AQS Des Moines. In addition to looking at a lot of amazing quilts, one of the goals from my trip was investigating a new sewing machine.
I'm on numerous Yahoo lists and fairly frequently I see posts that essentially say "I'm looking for a new machine. Which brand do you recommend?" This usually is followed by responses that often follow along the lines of "I love my Bernina." or "I love my Pfaff." etc. What I have learned from this is that most of the time we really do like our machines -- or at least we learn to like our machines regardless of brand.
What I have found more useful (at least for myself) is putting together a list of "must have features" for the machine that I will purchase. These are a combination of things that (1) I love about my current machine and couldn't live without, (2) I would fix about my current machine if I could meet with the powers that be that make sewing machines, and (3) I hated about my last machine that caused me to replace it.
Kari's list of must have for a new sewing machine
A few years ago, I had decided I was ready for a new machine and was very enamored with some of the new "features" detailed in the brochure of a leading sewing machine company. I spent almost two years trying to "love" my new machine. While it had many nifty new features, I found thread cutter would frequently cause the machine to unthread from the needle, the automatic threader only worked after a number of tries, and the most frustrating was the quality of the stitches and the fabric that would get caught under the presser plate at the beginning of sewing lines. My personal conclusion was that the last was partially do to feed dogs that were far apart to accommodate the fancy stitches on the machine did not allow for matching the bottom of the quarter inch foot with the feed dogs. I eventually decided to sell the machine and had somewhat resigned myself to purchasing older used machines without all the fancy features after learning that all new machines had the wider feed dog system.
So you are probably asking "what did I end up purchasing"?
I spent a fair amount of time in the booth testing the machine and matching it against my requirements. The blind hem stitch didn't do exactly what I wanted, but learned that there was a variable blanket stitch that will actually work better than what I requested. All the other must have requirements appear to have been met. The biggest "risk" from my perspective was giving up my oscillating bobbin and moving from metal bobbins to plastic. The booth personnel were very helpful during the whole evaluation.
I'm now looking forward to trying out my machine at home.
I am curious. What different "must haves" are on your list for a sewing machine? Post a reply if you would like to share this with others.
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