When there was a much smaller selection of sewing machines available, making a decision about which sewing machine to buy wasn’t nearly as difficult as it is today due to the abundance of options.
Quilters of today have access to a variety of interesting and entertaining options that can make the process of quilting both more stimulating and more relaxing for them.
An LCD display, dial-a-stitch selector, automatic needle threader, convertible free arm, extension table, electronic speed control, drop-in bobbin, and computerized stitch selection are just some of the features that are included on many of the more popular brands of sewing machines. Some of these brands include Singer, Simplicity, Janome, Brother, White, and Necci.
These machines are capable of sewing a variety of stitches, including straight stitches, zigzag stitches, buttonhole stitches, and fancy embroidery stitches.
Several manufacturers of sewing machines cater to the quilting market by including speed adjustments that make it simpler to perform machine quilting.
The extra wide extension bed that comes with the White 1740 Quilter’s Machine helps to support your work and reduces the amount of pulling and stretching that is required. The snap-on presser foot and convertible free arm are two of the features that distinguish the Simplicity American Quilter sewing machine. In addition, because they are lightweight, you will have no trouble transporting your machine to your weekly quilting class.
There are regular sewing machines, as well as sergers and longarm quilting machines, which are both options to take into consideration.
The cost of sewing machines can range anywhere from close to one hundred dollars to well into the thousands.
All of these options are wonderful; the real question is, which one should I choose?
You should determine how you will use your machine before making your purchase, as well as whether or not you might want more than one machine. In addition to your commitment to quilting and the type of quilting you will be doing, these decisions can be made in the context of your budget and lifestyle choices.
If you are only going to be using your machine for machine piecing quilt tops and will not be doing any machine quilting or fancy stitching, then you can probably get away with a fairly simple sewing machine that will meet your requirements.
In the event that you are only going to buy one machine and intend to bring it along with you to your quilting classes, the machine’s weight and size should be taken into consideration.
In addition, it is possible that it is essential for the machine to come with a carrying case, and it is also possible that the carrying case should have space in it for some sewing supplies.
A heavier-duty machine that has the ability to glide through multiple layers of fabric and batting would be a better choice if you plan to piece your quilt tops on a machine and then machine-quilt the finished project on the same machine. If this is your plan, read on.
You might also want to look for a machine that has a “walking foot” or something else analogous, possibly even built into the machine itself. This function will feed the quilt top, batting, and quilt backing evenly through the machine as the quilt is being stitched, which will reduce puckering and folds that are not aesthetically pleasing.
Investing in a sewing machine that is well-suited for machine piecing and a separate longarm machine that is dedicated solely to machine quilting is something else you should think about doing if you anticipate doing a lot of machine quilting. In the past, these machines were conceived of and priced for the market that catered exclusively to professionals. Longarm quilting machines used to be prohibitively expensive for many amateur quilters, but thanks to advances in both technology and consumer demand, these machines are now more reasonably priced.
After determining how you will use your device and which features are most important to you, the next step is to consider the various brands that are on the market. It is not always the case that price is an indicator of quality; therefore, it is probably in your best interest to pay a visit to a local sewing machine store – whether it is the community Sew and Vac, a Walmart, Sears, or something else – where you can “test drive” the machines before making a final decision.
You can get a better idea of what you like best by testing out a number of different brands, each of which offers a unique set of features. If you have a chat with someone who fixes sewing machines, they’ll be able to give you some pointers about which brands require a lot of maintenance and which ones can go for years with just an annual tune-up.
When you have narrowed your options down to one or two specific brands and have determined which features are most important to you, the next step is to conduct some research on the prices of those brands and the availability of those products. There are many excellent opportunities to save money that can be found on the internet, such as eBay, Overstock.com, PriceGrabber.com, and many others. Although these sources offer good savings, there is no guarantee that you will receive the service or support that you require for your machine from them.
If your neighborhood Sew and Vac store will continue to service the machine after you purchase it, the price difference might be worth it.
There is also the possibility of considering using sewing machines. A few of the more ancient machines are in pristine condition and come equipped with functions that are absent from more modern machines. Quilters continue to show a strong preference for using Singer Featherweight sewing machines from the 1940s and 1950s.
These tiny machines are like the Energizer Bunny in that they just keep going and going and going without stopping. They are uncomplicated and don’t weigh much. Some of them have attachments, but the majority of them simply sew forward and backward, making them ideal for machine piecing. If you maintain them by oiling them, they will last for many lifetimes.
When you have chosen a sewing machine, the next thing you should think about is whether or not you want a cabinet to go with it.
When I was a kid, my mother had a cabinet in our home that was used exclusively for the sewing machine. She sewed a few items of clothing and did some mending, so the cabinet was pretty fancy, it didn’t take up much space, and everything worked out just fine with it.
However, if you have a cabinet that is full-size, quilting will be much simpler for you. In addition, professional quilter Pepper Cory recommends positioning your machine so that it is at the same level as your sewing table. Doing so will allow you to achieve more accurate stitches.
If you are anything like I am, you will be willing to go for just about anything that will ensure that the quilt blocks you make end up being the correct size.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the decision were simpler, and all you had to do to order the machine was “call Sears”? On the other hand, isn’t it fantastic that the days of quilting that took place 75 years ago are behind us, and that we can now create quilts by using technology that encourages our creativity?
Here Is An Interview With Ricky Tims On Machine Quilting Secrets
Penny: Do you mark your quilts so that you can machine quilt them, or do you just mentally keep that in mind?
Ricky: You could say that. I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret… It is true that I never always do anything, but it is also true that I never, never do anything, which is itself an oxymoron. I ensure that every project receives the attention and completion that it requires.
Even if it’s just feathers, I enjoy doing improvisational quilting very much. I’ve made a few quilts in which I’ve scattered little feather plumes in a random pattern over the border, and then I’ve just let them do whatever they wanted to. The appearance of this border is different from that of that border, and this plume will merge with that plume.
It makes no difference because I am able to draw them. I always tell people that if they can draw something, they can learn how to quilt it. You have no idea where you are going if you try to quilt them without first learning how to draw them.
You have to plan out your route before you get behind the wheel. My ability to know what I’m doing is directly correlated to the amount of practice I get on paper. After that, I begin working on it on a quilt.
Penny: Yes, it all comes down to having good hand-eye coordination.
Ricky: Absolutely. Although it is difficult to explain, this technique can be found on the DVD titled “Grand Finale Machine Quilting” which can be purchased from my website. I use a polyester tear-away stabilizer whenever I need to have a perfect mirror image on an L-shaped border and really want that to be symmetrical.
Ricky Tim’s Stable Stuff is the name of my company and brand. It is available both on a roll and in sheets measuring 8.5 inches by 11 inches. I used to take a different product and slice it up into 8.5 x 11 sheets, which is why I now have it available to me in sheet form instead. That chopping step is not necessary anymore.
In most cases, I will draft my design on templates made of freezer paper for the larger sections. After that, I will use this tear-away stabilizer to make copies of that design in any number that I deem necessary. After that, I attached it to the reverse side of my quilt top.
That is very significant. It is not included on the top of the quilt. The majority of quilters prefer to make their markings directly on the surface of the quilt top. This was stitched onto the reverse side of the quilt top. After that, I use thread, top, and bobbin which are all water-soluble. On top of that pattern that I copied, I do some free-motion stitching.
This pattern is not very noticeable. I don’t need a big, black design. I only need to be able to make out the words, so I usually put the copier on the lowest, most subtle setting possible.
After that, I simply stitch on it. It gives me the opportunity to get used to the quilting design before I actually start working on it. My quilt top is currently being marked by the bobbin. This bobbin water-soluble thread is visible on any fabric, whether it be navy, black, printed, or whatever else you choose to do.
I worked on my design without actually tracing it first. When people ask me about it, I always tell them, “You don’t need to learn how to trace. You do not need to work on improving your tracing ability. The majority of quilters want to become more proficient in their craft.
Quilting your quilt will leave a mark on it. If this is the case, then you have already practiced the entire quilt. You completed it in the same amount of time that it would have taken you to trace all of the steps using the alternative method.
Now, when you are putting together your sandwich, you should follow those lines that are water-soluble thread. After that, you submerge the quilt in water when it is finished being made. After that, there won’t be any threads left, and it will be quilted. That is the current marking I use. I make use of this Ricky Tims Stable Stuff product whenever I am required to mark.
Penny thought that was an excellent idea.
Ricky: No, it doesn’t break up into smaller pieces. The material used to make the product is polyester. The component that makes it have the texture of the paper is the one that dissolves. This Stable Stuff product transforms into a spider web of dusty polyester filling inside the quilt when it becomes wet, as the water-soluble thread disappears as a result of the wetting process.
Because it is so much thinner than your batting, you won’t even be able to tell that it’s there. You haven’t even added any extra batting or trapunto at this point. It’s right underneath your quilt, and it’s incredibly plush.
With contributions from Ricky Tims and Penny Halgren of the website How-To-Quilt.com
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