Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All I want for Christmas is. . . a new sewing machine!

My mom came to visit over the weekend, and gave me the very special gift of picking out a new sewing machine.  It took some convincing to get me looking at new machines, because I have a strong sentimental attachment to Sally, the Singer 237 I learned to sew with.  But Sally has worked hard for years, and now her motor is on the way out. 
I also have Ethel, a lovely Singer 15-91 I bought from Craigslist last spring. I bought this machine because Internet research suggested it was the best vintage machine for freemotion quilting.  It is truly a sturdy workhorse with a very consistent stitch.  However, I have never been happy with FMQ on it.  Ethel has the old style foot pedal, or "button knob controller" to be precise, which I find uncomfortable and not responsive enough.  When I lift my foot, Ethel keeps going for 1 to 2 more stitches.  It doesn't show when I'm stippling, but in a pattern like Paisley, all those extra stitches look kinda messy.

So what I learned from buying Ethel is that reading reviews from other bloggers is only a first step, and there is no substitute for test driving a machine yourself.  I tested the Pfaff Ambition Essential, a few Janome models, and the Bernina 215.  I think that buying a machine is such a personal decision, because everybody has different preferences and does different types of sewing.  I know I will never make a buttonhole, I have no desire to do machine embroidery, and my ideal machine will do 3 stitches:  straight stitch, zigzag, and blind hem for invisible machine applique.  Sturdiness was the most important factor to me, and having grown accustomed to the all-metal innards of vintage machines, the plastic bobbin cases on the Pfaffs and Janomes just seemed like flimsy toys, at least for my needs.  So I decided that the slightly smaller harp size of the Bernina was easily outweighed by the metal bobbin case and sturdy vertical hook.  When I tried the floor model at the dealership, it made a beautiful stitch in free motion with no adjustment to the tension.  Yay!

So thanks again Mom!  I am very excited to roll up my sleeves and learn to use my new machine!


  1. LOL! I love hearing other quilter's takes on their machines. I mean - I think we're like men and their trucks!! Well I bought a janome 7700 18 mo ago and I'll tell you one thing - that large harp size changed my life - OMG! it makes my life soooo much easier. I immediately started doing bigger pieces. That said - for the last 13 years of my quilting life I used a machine about the size of yours - an Elna and it worked fine. Its still a great travel machine (although I take my horizon to conference) and its still running like a champ! You'll have to let us know how you like yours after a while!

  2. Oh no! You're joining Debbie! You are the rebels of Little Group, the Pfaff lovers! Hahaha.