Quilting Blog

6 Features You’ll Want In A Free-Motion Quilting Sewing Machine

When shopping for a sewing machine that will also be used for free-motion quilting, it’s important to get the best bang for your buck.

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Here are 6 things to look for to get the best sewing machine for free-motion quilting.

1. A large throat space for quilting

Also called the “harp” space, this is the distance between the needle and the edge of the machine. Having more space in this area allows you to move the bulk of your quilt through the machine quickly and easily.

Most standard machines, also called “short arms,” only have about 5-6 inches of space. As sewing enthusiasts have gotten more creative with their machine quilting skills, savvy sewing machine manufacturers have responded to the demand. Many of the newer machines offer up to 10″ or 11″ of open space.

2. An open-toe darning foot for better visibility

Sewing with an open darning foot

Any darning or free-motion foot made specifically for free-motion quilting will give good results. However, if you can purchase an open-toe foot, it will make for better stitching visibility. By getting a better view of the stitches directly in front of you, it will be easier to follow a line or designated stitching path.

3. Feet that snap on and off easily

While free-motion quilting is done with a darning foot, there are times when you may also want to quilt with your walking foot. Being able to quickly and easily change between feet is a plus when quilting your own quilts. Look for a machine where it’s quick and easy to change the presser foot without any additional tools.

4. Easy access to the bobbin

If you like to change thread often, look for a machine that offers easy access to the bobbin. You don’t want to have to take the quilt off the machine while quilting when it’s time for a thread change. If you can adjust the bobbin tension separately, that is an added bonus! Some newer sewing machine models offer a larger sized bobbin. That is a great thing to choose if available.

5. Needle up/down position

Sewing with needle up

For best results, you want the needle to rest in the quilt whenever you have to stop stitching. Although many free-motion quilting designs can be stitched continuously, you will need to stop and adjust your quilt periodically to deal with the bulk. Some quilting motifs may also require starts and stops, so having the ability to control where the needle lands is very important for successful free-motion quilting.

6. Ability to drop or cover the machine feed dogs

The little “teeth” that are underneath the presser foot control the fabric moving through the quit when stitching normally. However, when free-motion quilting, you will be the one in charge of pushing the quilt through the machine.

So as not to fight the machine, you want the ability to lower the feed dogs out of the way. If that’s not possible, the next best thing to do is to cover them with a silicon mat such as a Supreme Slider.

Bonus tip

Buy the best machine you can afford. Although you can free-motion quilt on any machine, quiltmaking is an investment and better tools can make for better results.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2015 and was updated in December 2017.

137 Comments

JudyK

Helpful article. I bought a Bernina 560 and i am so happy with it. Your advice about spending as much as you can afford has paid off for me. I resisted buying the machine until there was 0% financing offered. It was a hard wait!

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Irene

I bought the same machine 4 months ago. Absolutely love it !!!!

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P Streby

Really like my Bernina 750.

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Lynn

Me too, love it so much!

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Kate

I have the 560. My stitches are not even like with my old pfaff. I like the bsr but I’m not happy with the regular piecing stitching. Anyone else have this issue?

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Susan

Check your manual for a different stitch. I checked with the store I bought mine from and found I was using the wrong stitch number. The default stitch is not the correct one for piecing quilts– on my machine it tends to pucker the fabric . Now that I am using the right stats number the stitching is beautiful .

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Patrice

Do you remember what stitch you’re using to piece quilts? I have a bernina 560.

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Rita Shields

one feature not mentioned, which I wish I have, is the ability to run the machine without using the foot pedal. I know that’s a bit more money but now I’m wishing I had spent it. If you get tense, its hard to keep threads consistent

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Judy Manning

I have brother sewing machine has a button to push for sewing. I am so used to it that it is hard for me to sew with a foot pedal.

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Sandy

I am beginner and my Brother machine has that feature. I love it.

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Flynn Gentry-Taylor

which brother machine do you have Sandy with the button to push for sewing rather than the foot petal?

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Margaret Green Kluk

love to quilt

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Jean Usner

I agree with Rita – having the option to use start and stop independent of the foot pedal,is wonderful, like anything though – there is a learning time to adjust to this feature.

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karen eggers

Can someone reccomend good machine?

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Gerry

I’ve had a Viking for 20 years, clean myself & have never had a problem

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Barb

The newer Vikings may not be as good as the older models. Have heard of people having difficulty with them. I have 2 Brothers and a Baby Lock and love them all.

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Sarah Ebner

My Viking 875 quilt is pure crap. Have had about eight years. Second machine as first one was a lemon and so was given new one. It stinks too. Stay away from Viking.

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Carmen Berrios

I have a Viking also, a Saphire 875 quilt and I love it. I can sew without the foot pedal, change the feet easy and it basically needs no maintenance except to keep it clean.

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Sarah

My viking 875 quilt jams constantly. It is the second machine, the first was a lemon. I am ready to trade this in. I think it is total junk.

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Fi

How do you sew without the foot pedal? How is the stitch regulated?

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Edna Brown

I have the “Rose” by Viking. I purchase the machine back in 2000: I had it cleaned November 2017. I never had a problem with the machine, I use it for all my sewing and quilting. Recently, I purchase an open toe and a walking foot for the Rose. I also have a Singer I purchased back in 1995. I use both of the machines when I am sewing my quilts (Brown et al, 2018). Also I purchased a light duty “Singer” that was on sale three weeks ago, I use it for quilting along with the other machines. I don’t like changing my thread and different feet when i am sewing.

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Karen K. at FireballQuilts.com

I have a Janome 8900 and love it for FMQ; it really quilts like a dream.

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Dee Raymond

Ditto

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Ivy

Juki TL-2010Q. Love it!

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Lynn

I got rid of my fancy Pfaff and replaced with a Juki TL-2010Q…straight stitch only and awesome for FMQ, AND a Juki f600 for zig-zag and decorative stitches. The f600 feeds much better without the walking foot than my Pfaff with Integrated Dual Feed did. Each is less than $1,000. I’m really happy!

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Gladys

I have the Pfaff expression 4 and it works very well for FMQ

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Celia

1,000 for JUKI F600…. where, I’m in San Francisco and that machine goes for 1,200… and it’s true, BERNINA es way to expensive, yesterday I been in Lafayette, Ca. and they show me a good Bernina with a good space for quilting, but the price goes over $5500.-

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Maria Valencia

I like

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Dianna

wait until quilt shows or yrly intro. After the big show many women traid up and there huge discounts ..if it’s a true fabric store many offer financing up to 4 yrs 0 down and 0% but you have to ask… Make them want to sell it to you and get your busness …I have a baby lock and loveeeeee it!

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Patti

I have a Babylock too with 11 inch throat space with great lighting which is so important. I just love it I just started quilting and my favorite part is the free motion quilting. I love my machine.

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Karen M.

I just went to a three day sewing expo and all the major manufacturers and their newest machines were there. All of them offered 0% financing and all of them were eager to sell the machines they’d been demonstrating at extraordinary discounts (i.e., 33%-50% off!!!). If you’re going to buy a very expensive machine and you can wait, go to one of those sewing shows. We’ve got one about an hour away from us that comes every year. It’ll be hard to wait, but I need the time to study up on which machine I want, plus save my dollars!

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Terry S.

There are so many good machines out there…it is a matter of preference for you. Make a list of the features and feet you must have. Go to as many shops as you can and sew on their machines, as often as possible. Ask questions about warranties, costs of accessories, whether it comes with a 1/4″ foot or walking foot (both essential for quilters!), and TAKE CLASSES!

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Terry Sheldon

I happen to think Pfaff is the best brand…I had a 7550 and loved it, but wanted to upgrade. After a friend finally convinced me, I went with the top of the line Bernina, used it for a couple of years, but never liked it as much as the Pfaffs, and the Bernina accessories are SO expensive…finally traded the Bernina for a Pfaff 2058. A real workhorse, it’s been through a lot of trials and came out like a champ. Plus with the Integrated Dual Feed you don’t need a walking foot. Very happy with my machine.

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Catharina

If ever I leave my husband the first thing that comes with me is my Pfaff, hahahaha, told him when I married him. I started with a Bernette, what a disaster that was and graduated to my mother in laws offcaste, an Elna, best thing since sliced bread. But always wanted a top machine so went into my sewing shop and she had the ones I had been looking for, Bernina, Pfaff, Elna etc but my heart went out to the fabulous Pfaff, Intergrated Dual Feed is amazing, you can use any foot that fits on the machine so no lumpy unit at the back and only one foot! I tried them all but the work horse with 148 stitches won me over and have not regretted it since I bought it! Sorry Bernina, but you missed out to a much better machine

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Irene

Bernina !!!! the best made.

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Ellen Hoel

I have had a Viking Q960 for a year and a half now and I love it . It has all the features listed above and runs like a dream. I would recommend the walking foot also I use that for perfect piecing and then use the open toe for the free motion quilting.
I still have my Viking Lily 545 from 20 years ago and it is also a work horse. I have only had it in to be cleaned twice (bad girl) but it still sews perfectly I still use it when I travel.

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Vicki

I just got a new Viking 960q last week so I’m still trying it out wanted a simple machine for FMQ I have a pfaff creative sensation that is great and a Bernina 630. I would love a Bernina top of the line but can’t afford the huge amount of money. Hope I love my Viking I’ve wanted one for a long time. I like the way they look. Call me crazy.

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Vicki

I just bought a Bernina 740 on Monday, I traded in my pfaff creative performance because I have 2 other machines that embroidery and wanted a BIG machine that didn’t embroidery and I can use my stitch regulator on. It sews like a dream and I got a great deal on it.

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Reba

I highly recommend the pfaff quilt expression 4.0, the best feature that the pfaff machines have is the built in walking foot and I love having it.

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Doris Carbert

good suggestions, I just picked up a Janome Horizon 7700. It has 11″ of harp space, am looking forward to getting 2 queen quilts done. It should be quite an improvement from the 7″ space I had for previous quilts. Leah day’s review help

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Mar Huska

My mom passed away. I have her quilting stuff. Is there a good site to advertise is for some one who would really make use of it. It’s not moving at craigs or facebook. I want a fair price for the stuff. I was charging about half of new prices and giving away the fabrics.

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Janet

do you have a sewing machine ? and your location.

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Lisa Ciufo

Please let me know what you have. I may be interested in purchasing it.

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Diane

Facebook has Quilter’s Classified

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Deborah Nay

I have always heard the Jamon were the best. You get what you pay for.

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rosanna

ho intenzione di acquistare una bernina qe 550 con bsr , va bene per trapuntare .grazie

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Nancy

I’m starting to sew easy clothes items for my grand children. I don’t have a serger. How do you finish off your seams. Any information on this would be very helpful. Thank You.

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Leslie

Use a serging or zig-zag stitch with a side-cutter foot. The serging stitch is represented in the pictures as a solid line of stitches with either half-circle or “v” shapes on the left or right. The side-cutter foot is a separate purchase, but is pretty cheap when you compare it to buying a surger. Mine cost $10-ish, but that has been several years ago.

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Nancy

Thank You Leslie for your reply. I will check it out.

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Lynn

Side cutters are pretty Mickey mouse. Nothing compares to a Serger and no Serger is better than Babylock Imagine, enlighten or Evolution.

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Leteeshya

Yeah, well… that’s just like your opinion man.

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Kate

I agree. I owned an Elna, a singer and a pfaff. The baby locks are sooooo much easier to thread and use. Loved the Evolution but recently upgraded to the Ovation. Wouldn’t buy anything but a baby lock!

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Julia Stanger

Lynn, I have an old Simplicity serger and it does fine. The lower looper drives me a little nuts but it still does fine. Got to use a Babylock serger at an event and it was so user friendly. on bucket list.

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Catharina

No problem, I just used the overlock stitch on my machine! If you do not have one I use the zig zag, looks neat and tidy and does not fray!

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Sandra

I think both of my mathines are great choices: ELNA (top of line) & Janome 15000 (adds elaborate embroidery ability). Both of these offer everything mentioned along with the options covered in comments section. While I didn’t use the payment plans, that IS important- typically, a good sewing center also includes service support in the longterm & typically lessons are included.

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Diana

I have a Baby Lock Elizabeth and would NOT recommend it. I bought it new and it has had to be serviced multiple times. A true lemon. I free motion quilt on a cheap Brother, purchased for less than $200. I like the Baby Lock for piecing but the Brother for FMQ.

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Lynn

Side cutters are pretty Mickey mouse. Nothing compares to a Serger and no Serger is better than Babylock Imagine, enlighten or Evolution.

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Patricia

I have a cheap Brother that has many features that I love EXCEPT, I have constant tension issues whether piecing, straight line or free motion quilting. Suggestions?

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Valerie

Always make certain that your pressure foot is in the up position when threading your machine – that should take care of the tension problem. The tension disks open when the pressure foot is up, so the thread feeds through properly.

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Lauri

I found that it was my thread. My Brother Quatro 111 has an automatic tension control, but I had terrible issues with thread breakage when free motion quilting. After much frustration and trial and error, and lots of wasted money on thread, I came across Superior Threads on line. I was a clueless beginner. I use only cotton thread, Masterpiece for the top and bobbin when piecing and King TuT for the top, Masterpiece for the bobbin when free motion quilting. They also have a chart that helps you choose which threads work best for what, interchangeably.

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Edna

Is it the brother XL2600?

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Kay Wilson

I agree on the Elizabeth being a lemon. My is in the shop for repairs more than at my home sewing. Going to see if I can trade it in on something else.

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Kay Wilson

The Elizabeth is a Baby Lock product.

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Sandra W.

I think both of my machines are great choices: ELNA (top of line) & Janome 15000 (adds elaborate embroidery ability). Both of these offer everything mentioned along with the options covered in comments section. While I didn’t use the payment plans, that IS important to be available. Typically, any good sewing center also includes service support in the longterm & typically lessons are included.

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Maria Laurence

It’s Bernina for me, all the way. I have an 830LE, 1080, 1008. The 380 is on my list for the near future. It’s much lighter to take to classes. They are all used for different jobs. Love them All.

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Irene

I agree , Bernina is for me too. I have a 560. love it

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Diane

I have 3 machines: Bernina 820 that I bought many years ago, a Viking and another Bernina 440 QE I basically wore the Viking out making quilts. I bought it used and it had many issues. Very touchy. I then bought the Bernina 440 for the quilting attachment that allowed you to quilt without using the foot petal and I rarely use it. I am sorry I didn’t wait and try out more machines because this machine has a very small harp space and I usually quilt queen size quilts. Just thought I would let you know my experiences.

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zerlene woodward

I have Brothers Dream Creator innovis VQ2400. One awesome machine w/an 11.5harp or throat. I would luv luv the new templates for FMQ…..keep thm coming. THANK YOU for informing us about these!!! So Appreciate. It!!!

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Gail

Zerlene, I just purchased the Brother Dream Weaver VQ3000. I am with you! LOVE IT. It is a great machine.

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Bre Mahaney

Gosh, I’m so jealous! One day I hope to get a Dream Weaver!

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Elin

I just purchased this machine, too. Haven’t really had the opportunity to try it out yet (just purchased it yesterday) but it seems like a solid machine. Hoping to get many years of use out of it.

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Granny Suzy

I’m with you. I have a Brother Dreamweaver too and it truly is a “dream”!!

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Doreen

It has been mentioned (above) that being able to activate the machine independently of the foot control would be a “plus”, well, in lieu of that, how about a max speed control that may be set so that you can press the foot control “to the floor” without speeding out of control. All my machines have that feature and I have appreciated it especially when I’m auditioning a new motif and want to focus on the stitching process. I set the control for a slower speed and then forget it.

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Sandi P

This article is great. I have a Janome 3160QDC which I love except for the harp space as I am making larger quilts and I am doing more FMQ. I am looking, trying to justify the cost. Enjoy your blogs very much.

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Naomi

Supreme slider sheet most useful, also gripper gloves help a lot for FMQ – saves aches and pains in hands/shoulders. Invest in good thread, extra lamp or light and good needles. When starting out prepare a test quilting piece with offcuts and write the machine settings that work well for you – tension, type of thread, needle, etc. Improvise or set up a larger surrounding table space at height of machine work area to support large quilt or make a recessed table top for machine to sit flush so large quilt can easily move where you want it to go. Write when you change the needle on piece of masking tape, attach to machine and change needles when worn.

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Shirley

viking diamond deluxe , does everything, it is the most incredible machine on the market. It is expensive, but the best investment you can make if you see.

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Elaine

I have a Viking Diamond Deluxe. It may just be my machine but I am having big issues with free motion quilting. Every time I try fmq, the machine tensions go crazy. The top threads pull through to the bottom and no amount of adjusting makes it right. The first time, it was believed the mother board needed to be replaced. That was done – thankfully, under warranty. It was quite a few months before I tried fmq again. I didn’t relate the first round of problems to fmq until it all happened again. The machine is back in for repair and I am still waiting on the verdict. I have been told by other quilters that the problems are due to the drop-in bobbin. I’m not sure if that is really the issue or that I just have a very temperamental machine.

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Sharon

I quilt with a Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2. I really like it, has 10″ of throat space, IDT(built in walking foot). I have also quilted with a Bernina 930 and 1031, both are very good machines.

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Lori

what table is being used with the Bernina in the pictures?

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Dottie

Did you get an answer about where to get the table shown?
I have a Bernina & space problems. Looks like it would solve my problem.

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Felisa Cino

Questo articolo è grande. Ci sono molte cose quilters intelligenti dovrebbero cercare quando l’acquisto di una macchina da cucire. Ma io QUILT con un’espressione Pfaff Quilt 4.2. Grazie per aver condiviso questo. Se siete interessati a saperne di più la tecnica del quilting, poi passare attraverso qui: https://www.sewshop.eu/blog/un-nuovo-quilt-le-barche-a-vela/

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phyllis

I have a machine but don’t no how to do desine’s on it.

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LINDA

LOVE MY BROTHER! IT HAS ALL OF THE ABOVE PLUS THE BUTTON FOR AUTO STITCHING WITHOUT THE PEDAL, AND THE KNEE LIFT. I LOVE MY BROTHER!!

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Jacque

I quilt on my Husqvarna Viking Mega Quilter, I bought it used (barely) for $550. It’s a strong and very fast straight stitch machine and it has all the important stuff listed and a knee lift, automatic thread cutter and threader. I learned how to FMQ on it , it’s a super great machine.

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Patti

Oh yes the thread cutter on my Baby Lock saves so much time.

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Laura

This is my first post because I just joined the community. Does any one use a mid arm for FEW?

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Minha Proteína

oi gente
Oi gente
Alguém ja omprou da marc Minha Proteína? Estava
querendo comrar Quinoa e vi que eles também tem Creatina

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Lori

does anyone know what table is being used with the Bernina in the pictures?

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Barb

You might try going to Christa Quilts and ask her directly. For me, any table that has a cutout and a pneumatic lift would work. I had a plexiglass surround cut at a glass shop to fit my machine and the table my husband made.

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Judy

I bought a new very expensive Bernina 820 with the Grace quilting frame. It is absolutely horrible – missed stitches, constantly breaking thread- impossible to thread bobbin, can’t even change the bobbin without letting the computer open the bobbin compartment. It cost me almost $10,000 and was the biggest mistake of my life. I thought Bernina would be a good company because I had the old Bernina 830 that I bought in 1975 but the company has changed hands and the quality just isn’t there any more.

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Bette

I bought a Bernina 440QE to use to quilt my projects. I love it’s many features for sewing and piecing, but it was so uncomfortable for me to use for free motion quilting. Last year, I bought a Handi-Quilter Avante thru a local dealer. I told her it was a “cash deal” and wanted her best price. It was late fall and the company offered free shipping. The price was right for me, actually not much difference from a high end sewing machine. Fortunately I had the space available in my basement and bought the 12 foot table. I love it! It is a pleasure to use and so easy to move around. My dealer is a gem and takes care of any issues I have.

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Louise Johnson

I have the same problems with my Bernina 820. What a mistake.

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Susan Teets

Love the posts and the tips. Looking into buying a new machine. I am using a brother and a Husqvarna at this time.

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Judi B

I’ve always seen in a Pfaff. Easy to maintain, reasonable cost. I now use the Expression 4.0

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Ritva

My 35 yr old Pfaff still works without any extra maintenance. My Pfaff Expression 2.0 is a lemon. Spent hundreds of dollars getting it maintained, parts replaced (free thank goodness). Decorative stitches stop working after about 12″. Never again. Now looking for other brands. Interestingly, the sites that talk about the best quilting machines, NEVER even mention Pfaff.

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Jayne Z

I think the best improvement has been the stitch regulator offered on some of the Bernina models. That way beginners won’t feel intimidated if their stitches aren’t consistent! That will be money well spent for me.

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IRENE

DOES ONE NEED A STITCH REGULATOR I CANT KEEP THE STITCH LENGTH EVEN

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Barb

I quilt using both. Since I have quilted more without a stitch regulator, I am better without using one, it just takes practice (with both).

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IRENE

Alsowitch machine has this feature

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Sue

Great advice ladies thank you all. I have janome quilters companion which my daughter can’t wait to inherit when I upgrade next year.

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Cathy Colman

I agree with all of these features – but you say nothing about which machines do the best job managing tension and thread breakage….what are people’s experiences with that? I know all the tips…clean your machine, use good thread, change your needle etc..but sometimes tension seems to go wacko for no good reason…and I clean, and change needles and I am using good thread and will either have tension issues or thread breakage. Which machines seem to be the best in those regards?

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Scbarns

I use a Pfaff quilt expression 4.2. For FMQ (after a lot of trial and error), I use Aurofil 50/2 cotton mako thread, tension dropped down to 1.8 with pivot height to -3. Since then, I haven’t broken a thread, and I’m a learner, trying to practice a lot..

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Judy Oram

I have a Janome 6600 and I love it .

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Linda

You fail to tell us what machine)s) meets the above criteria?
And, what is the approximate price range?

I have a Pfaff that is perhaps 20 years old and a Juki that is about 15 years old. I can afford a new machine, but don’t need all the embroidery stuff which seems to add a lot of $$$. But then again, so does the greater harp space, which I want for sure.

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Kim

I have a good old Kenmore. Have had it for 6 years. Absolutely love it. I can do fmo and all kinds of stitches. Who says you have to spend alot of money to get a good machine. I have made over 100 quilts on it.

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Michele

I have a Kenmore that is 33 years old can’t do FMQ on it – how are you able to ? Would love to continue to use mine it’s old but solid – made well .

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Kathy

I quilted for 10 years on a small Kenmore (maybe 28 stitches).

I could also do FMQ (even micro-quilting) on mine since the head popped open easily to expose the dial for the pressure foot Pressure. (0 to 3 or 1 to 3, don’t remember exactly). That was my solution for dropping the feed dogs. No special foot, just the regular sewing foot.

I could do soft curves with the foot pressure dial just lessened some (between 1-2). With the feed dogs grabbing slightly, I could maintain even stitches even though I didn’t have a walking foot).

I could quilt a twin XL on that 1/2″ throat.

Just see if you can adjust your dial.

Current machines: Brother Innovis QC-1000 ( 8 1/4″ throat;, though it claims to be 9″; computerized); Juki TL-2000qi (same throats size) manual…bought it new, online on eBay the same day Sharon Schamber taught at our guild & said she loves a straight-stitch machine for quilting since it produces the best stitch since the needle can’t move side to side).

Love both machines for piecing and FMQ walking foot quilting. I am thinking of a midarm sit down machine now, though I am being advised to just go straight to a frame since 1/2 the sit down customers end up buying a Longarm with a frame).

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Kathy

Correction: Kenmore throat was 4 1/2″

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Loretta

For those who have trouble with thread be
reakage and cannot fix it with tension changes….just a hint (if something can go wrong it will in my experience). wind your bobbin a little loose…slowly. I have a Janome 11000, a Brother Quatro2, and
a Pfaff creative sensation Pro as well as a treadle singer. They all sew very well. I am very rough on these machines…and they are still working! Lik them all. Have almost burned up 2 of them. Am afraid the Brother will be the next to go through a major repair. Don’t treat it as badly as the others. I sew everything on the Pfaff and Janome. They all have a large throat area and can handle kind size quilts with free motion. Good luck with your sewing!

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Dale Glass

I have been a Singer fan since I was 9 years old. I am now 63. I think I’m too old to change. I have had 2 brand new singer sewing machines in my lifetime. They both have outlasted one that was given to me about 30 years ago. It was a Bernina. I didn’t like it one bit. My mother had a Singer when I was little and she allowed me to start using it to make doll quilts on the year I turned 9. My Grandmother had a Singer Treadle machine. I used to sit at her feet and rock the foot pedal for her. Then she let me use it and I was hooked.

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Gloria

I just bought a Singer, I’m happy to hear you like them.

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Elizabeth

I have just purchased a Bernina 770 with the BSR and love it. Since Xmas 2015 I have completed 7 quilts all with free motion using this machine. The additional harp space is wonderful and each time I do a quilt it gets better. So glad I made the investment.

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Rene Russell

Bernina is a good machine until it needs servicing. For the amount of repair you could buy a new machine. I regret buying a Bernina.

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Barb

Wow, is it repair or service? I don’t know what it costs in other places. Where I live in Oregon, the cost for a service runs anywhere from $95 to $109. I have my machine serviced every couple of years and don’t feel that is out of line, but don’t know about other states. I have a Bernina 440QE.

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Sally Becker

Trust me I have tried them all – from Brother to Bernina. I know have a Janome Memory Craft 6300 Professional. This is the workhorse of the Janome line (my second Janome) and I love it. I work it like a horse too, just ask my dealer. One last tip I offer is to lift the machine. The heavier the better. This means in guts are probably metal vs the lighter weight ones being plastic. I was most displeased by the Bernina – way to pricey & too many things on it that aren’t really useful.

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Michele

True the plastic gears are lighter but they don’t last

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Jennifer Paetkau

HELP!!!! I have been using a Kenmore for the past 30 years and looking for a new machine. I do some clothing but mostly quilt piecing but would like to start FMQ as I take my pieced quilt tops to be prodessonally quilted ( gets a little expensive!!!) Everything I look at seems amazing!!! Any suggestion??? Been looking at Janome skyline s5 and a Janome Horizon mc 7700 and 8900

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Sharon Weaver

I quilt with a Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2., has a 10″ throat and is very easy to FMQ with. I’ve had it for 2 years and it was the best machine for me. I have quilted with a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 875, it was okay, but I like my Pfaff better. I make lots of quilts and some garments.

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Sharlene Sivertson

Wonderful post….interesting to read the comments. Thank you!

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Sofia

Hi there! Anyone recommending the Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist?? Is it any good compared to the ones mentioned here? I’m hoping to find a sewing machine mostly for quilting for my mom.
Thanks in advance!

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Bonita Bader

Hi Sofia….the Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist is a great quilting machine that comes with all the extras and is very afforadable.

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Janet cutler

Dose anyone have a John flyn. Quilt fram the works with your home machine. I have a babylock jane

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Connie Miller

I have my Jan on a Grace Frame.

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Meri

I am looking at a used Bernina 215 Activa as it is hardly used and comes with many feet.
Does anyone know anything about the machine. Im a little apprehend about buying a used machine even though it will carry 1 year warrant I want a machine that I can take to classes thats a little better then my Jamome Gold.

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Becky

I have a table similar to the one in the picture. I got it at Joann’s. Then ordered the plexiglass based on my machine. Love it. So much better having a flat surface.

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Bre Mahaney

Thanks for everyone’s input! I’m a quilting newbie & bought a Brother PQ1500sl because it was the least expensive with a really large throat, but I have arthritis in my hands & the bobbin takes me forever to change (and no warning that the thread is low). However, other than that it’s great. I would add one thing to the list above – the knee controlled presser foot lifter. Once I got used to it, I don’t know if I can do without it. It lifts the presser foot real high & I still have my hands free to manipulate all the layers for quilting. At some point I’ll buy a better machine, so everyone’s input is appreciated.

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Rose

I ave a new Babylock Katherine and have had so much trouble trying to do FMQ. I just can’t get the tension right and the bobbin thread pulls, leaving ‘eyelashes’. I have to check with store I bought machine at for help. Does anyone have suggestions?

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Lynn

Has anyone used the Babylock Jazz?

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GTB

I love how everyone is so passionate abt their machines!
I agree with Bre in that i could never go back to free motion quilting without a knee-control for the presser foot & a large throat!
I disagree abt spending a lot on a machine that’s smarter than you are. I mean, does anyone really use 200 different types of stitches?

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Graham

I have always used Bernina as that is what we had at college. Now on third machine started with 1110, then got a 440QE which is still going strong but wanted/needed larger sewing arm just got a 720. Loving the larger bobbins, had no issues with free motion or using walking foot. Found great tension on threads and more stable and better thread tension than my mum’s Viking Saphire. Personally do not like drop in bobbins. Ian just so jealous of the interest free deals you get in the USA. These are not available in the UK. You save and pay the whole lot. Or take our a bank loan!

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Melissa Johnson

I bought a Pfaff Performance 5.0 about a year ago after a professional long arm quilter told me she had recently bought one and loved it. She had always been a Bernina fan until she got this one, so I went with her opinion since I really was overwhelmed with the choices. I haven’t actually tried FMQ yet, but do piece a lot of quilts on it and it’s a gem. There are so many stitches and features that I haven’t even tried yet. It has buttons to do everything – lift the needle, lift the presser foot to two different levels, cut both the bobbin thread and needle thread, set the beginning and ending of the stitch, a bobbin low warning and an LED display and stylus for it. It also has a knee control that you can use instead of the foot pedal or button on the machine. Plus the DTI feature to eliminate the need for a walking foot. It really does have it all. Probably way more machine than I will ever need, but it’s a gem.

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Granny Suzy

Earlier this year, my husband bought me a Brother VQ3000 Dream Weaver that was on sale from a dealer. I’ve been sewing for over 45 years and had many machines but I absolutely LOVE this one! It has all the features mentioned above and is very easy to learn and use. It also makes little knots and cuts the threads for you when a color change is necessary. Not appropriate for competition of course, but fine for gifts and charity sewing. It has a motor -driven walking foot called the MuVit , which is superb for straight line quilting or basting. Unless you’ve done a terrible job sandwiching your quilt, it’s almost impossible to get puckers when using the MuVit. I spray my quilts lightly, press them, then use the MuVit to baste from the center out. It’s easy and quick because the basting setting gives you stitches of 5, 10, 15 or 20 mm in length. I can also program it to leave the needle down and automatically lift the presser foot every time I pause to shift the quilt. The 11.25″ throat helps with this too. I can set a speed that’s just right for me when doing FMQ so I don’t get “eyelashes”. I’ve purchased a specialty foot for use with pro-type 1/4″ rulers and I can easily use them to create gorgeous, perfect designs. Threading is automatic (yes! my old eyes love this!) and you can wind a bobbin while continuing to sew. It will also tell you when your bobbin thread is getting low. It’s heavy, about 45 lbs, and solid with lots of metal on the inside. I comes with a wheeled case for transport, but because it uses electronics, I choose not to drag it around anywhere so I take it’s 13 lb little Brother (literally!) with me when I go to my quilting group.
Everyone has their favorites and you shouldn’t buy a machine that you don’t like, but this one is terrific so if you’re out there looking, it’s worth checking out the DreamWeaver. By the way, it’s essentially the exact same machine as the Babylock Crescendo, only less expensive. It’s my understanding – I could be wrong here – that the Brother and Babylock are produced by the same parent company, it’s just that the the Babylock machines are marketed as the top of the line. Good luck finding the right machine for you.

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Kerry Davidson

I shouted myself a new machine a little while back when I came into some money. I would have liked a separate “sewing” machine and embroidery machine, but the cost then was just too high, so I went for a sewing/Embroidery machine.
I went to thee Craft Show in Sydney and looked at all the machines. I was in love with the big Bernina which also does embroidery – costs as much as a small car though.
However, when I thought about it some more I thought that I should get advice from my trusty repairman. I figured that he was the one who would have to look after it. He recommended either Janome or Brother. So I ended up with a Janome 12000 and it’s been excellent. It has all the features mentioned in the article and more.
I was very lucky getting a table for it from my local second hand shop. It was a drafting table – it’s huge and the little drop down area at the front of the table is exactly the right size for the machine. It makes such a difference.

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KC

I have a Brother 1500SQ straight stitch and love it. Same as the Babylock Jane. Has a 11″ throat and sews with a perfect stitch. Bought new on Amazon for $256.00 in 2010. Made and quilted many quilts on it. Also have a Bernia 820QE and it is easy to use for piecing and free motion. Purchased it used on eBay for $2,600 and it came with a BSR, walking foot and several feet. Love it. The later year models had no problems. Suggest going to Hinkletown Sewing in PA to purchase a machine or for service. Great people to meet.
Just my thoughts and opinions about sewing and Quilting.

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Trisha

As many opinions as there are sewers, so will add my views into the mix, both as general dressmaker, curtain maker, quilt maker since age 7 (now 64) and former tutor on Textiles degree course, still producing textile art. Started like many on an oldSinger treadle, worked up to a Brother manual, then a Frister and Rossman electric age about 30. These were fine in their day, were workhorses, rarely if ever needed servicing, but you did have to fiddle with tensions galore, and tangled threads, something we generally don’t have to do these days. Then my Pfaff bought in 1993, long before they sold out the name, was a brilliant machine, superb tension, only replaced two years ago as no longer can get the parts. Used through all my art school years and on to MA etc plus using at home for everyday stuff. Bought a Janome 7700 about 5 years ago as thought this was a good modern manufacturer, hated it from the beginning, plasticy, poor stitching, very tempremental, like a toy machine I used as a kid before the old treadle! Sold it on ebay at half price after 18 months, this had felt like a grown up toy, not a real machine at all. Invested in a Bernina 570 QE which has been brilliant. OK, not the wide throat plate of the Janome I had had, but have sewn many queen size quilts on the old Pfaff with normal size gap, you can do it if experienced and patient enough, most additions are just a bit of a help, but strictly necessary if you a good machinist. A friend went for a Bernina 710 with wide plate and hates it, I have sewn on it and feel, like the Janome, this has too many features, it seems people often think they are getting the best if they go top of range, but often they are just getting more complication. Remember a professor at art school telling me this, and this is what it feels like to me too. A mid range or even low price Bernina is better than a top of range lesser brand any time.

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