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How To Choose A Sewing Machine for Machine Quilting

Tips to Help you Select a Sewing Machine


How To Choose A Sewing Machine for Machine Quilting

Get your sewing machine ready and gather the fabric strips and other materials you'll need to test your seam allowance.

©Janet Wickell

Choosing a sewing machine that will perform well when machine quilting can be a confusing experience. When you begin to shop, you will discover that there are many brands of sewing machines, all with slightly different features. The number of machines on the market, along with their features, can be a bit overwhelming.

To successfully machine quilt, you must be able to adjust the stitch length, thread the bobbins with ease, change presser feet and needles efficiently, know when the bobbin thread is low, sew in reverse, and perform straight as well as zigzag stitches.

Determining the answers to the following questions might help you decide which sewing machine will work best for your needs.

  • Will I need to set up the machine and put it away each time I use it? If so, I should consider the weight of the machine.
  • Must the sewing machine fit into a defined space?
  • Do I already have a table or sewing machine cabinet for the machine to sit on, or in?
  • How much money do I want to spend on the sewing machine? What is the highest price I am willing to pay?
  • Do I want a new sewing machine or am I willing to purchase a used machine?

A Few More Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What are the best places in my area to shop for a sewing machine?
  • What are the most popular brands of sewing machines?
  • What are the basic features I need in a sewing machine in order to use it for machine quilting?
  • Do I know someone who already machine quilts who is willing to answer questions or shop with me when I am close to making a decision?
  • What do friends like best about their sewing machines?
  • What are the features they like the least?
  • Which features would other quilters add to their sewing machines if they could?
  • Would they eliminate features that aren't useful?

Questions to Ask About Specific Sewing Machines

  • Can I lower the feed dogs if I choose? If yes, how? If no, is there something that comes with the sewing machine to cover them, so that free motion quilting is possible?
  • Can I adjust the stitch-length easily?
  • Can I adjust the tension easily?
  • Is it possible to set the machine to stop in the needle-down position?
  • Does the machine sew in reverse?
  • Does it do basic zigzag stitches? How easy is it to set up for zigzag stitching?
  • Is the sewing machine capable of doing basic embroidery stitches that can be used for machine applique?
  • What kinds of presser feet come with the machine? (such as a walking foot, darning or free motion quilting foot)
  • How easy is it to change from one presser foot to the next?
  • Are there additional presser feet available for the machine? What are they and where would I buy them?
  • What type of manufacturer's warranty comes with the machine?
  • Can I get feedback about dependable sewing machine repair shops in my area?
  • How often do I need to have the machine serviced? What work is performed during a regular service?
  • How expensive is it to have a typical sewing machine service?
  • Does the shop selling the brand I choose have a good reputation for service repairs?
  • What shouldn't I do to the machine?
  • How do I get accumulated dust out of the machine?
  • How easy is it to change the light bulb on the sewing machine, and where can I buy a new light bulb? Are the light bulbs expensive?

More questions will occur to you as you research sewing machines -- ask them all. A sewing machine is a large investment and the end result of your purchase should be a machine that will perform for many, many years.

Read what other members of the quilting community have to say about their most and least favorite sewing machines.

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