My best tips for buying a sewing machine

Looking for a new sewing machine but don’t know where to begin? Start by reading this blog!

Integrated dual feed systmen on the PFAFF creative icon

I regularly receive emails seeking advice on the purchase of a sewing machine to make quilts. I always take the time to answer as best as I can in private, however I see that this is becoming quite a regular question. That’s why I have decided to write a blog featuring my best tips for buying a sewing machine so that I can help more quilt enthusiasts with this great purchase!

Tips for buying a sewing machine

I contacted several sewing machine vendors as I wanted to get some help when giving advice reflecting what’s available on the market today. I was really happy to have two businesses interested in collaborating on my project. You might wonder why I reached out to vendors? Because the first thing you should do when purchasing a sewing machine for quilting IS to find a store specializing in the sale of sewing machines in order to ensure that you receive adequate assistance following your purchase.

Many times I’ve compared buying a sewing machine to buying a car. You have to trust the vendor as you will continue to need them for the after-sales service. It is often forgotten, but a sewing machine will need maintenance regularly (once a year) by a skilled technician. You will also find it helpful to receive demos and classes to familiarize yourself with your machine. You can even arrange for hours of instruction and maintenance  when purchasing your machine.

I know you can buy sewing machines at Costco, Wal-Mart and Amazon. But I strongly advise you not to buy them. Opt for a local business that will help you pursue your passion. Excelle and Pénélope have taken the time to present me with models ranging from entry-level to top-of-the-line in order to help more knowledgeable about your options.

Basic equipment on a sewing machine

If you want to buy a new sewing machine for quilting, you will have these basic non-negotiable criteria:

  • Automatic needle threader
  • Automatic thread cutter
  • Automatic needle positioning (up – down)
  • Speed slider (to adjust the sewing speed)
  • ¼” Foot 
  • Walking foot
  • Free motion foot
  • Needle plate for straight stitch 
  • Automatic tension control
  • Ability to hold large thread cones on top

If you are planning to buy a machine that doesn’t include the above accessories, my answer is simple: don’t buy it. It will not be able to meet the expectations of your cherished hobby.

Desired equipment for quilting

You will also want to choose a machine that allows for precision work, as quilting is much more demanding in terms of sewing. Whether it’s stitching or quilting, every stitch is crucial. That’s why you’ll have to pay a little more to ensure good performance.

When we pay more for a sewing machine, we have better needle piercing power, up to 1000 stitches per minute. This ensures that we can sew with precision, every time.

But you will also want a machine with more space on the right side of the needle. And many manufacturers have also realized that it’s important to increase the clearance height to help you see your work clearly. And let’s not forget the lighting. This is really practical when stitching your quilts.

An integrated dual feed foot is a good choice when purchasing a new sewing machine.

A significant feature is the integrated dual feet. It’s really handy and allows you to quilt using your ¼ foot. Simply lower the system to the back of the foot and it will feed your top fabric at the same rate as the bottom one. Once you have this tool, you simply can’t do without! You’ll even use it for piecing since it allows more stability… and precision.

Finally, I also recommend getting an extension table for your sewing machine to help you stitch and quilt your projects. It’s a good idea to talk about it during your negotiation, as it could be included in your package. Otherwise, you may have to pay $60 or more to get it.

Embroidery equipment

You will notice that some machines are really more expensive than others, for they also have embroidery systems. This is really an interesting idea to consider if the price doesn’t frighten you. I have to admit that I have long been against the idea of having an embroidery machine. It wasn’t until 2018 that I decided to get out of my comfort zone and try embroidery… yes, it was my challenge of the year!

Surprisingly, I loved this new tool! I tamed the beast by making personalized cushions and towels for family and friends. But then I quickly realized that I could embroider my own project labels and even stitch my quilts with embroidered designs. Honestly… I caved in … and bought the sewing machine. I just couldn’t live without it anymore.

6 Sewing machine models recommended for your quilting projects.

All machines listed below have the basic accessories as mentioned above. I have only listed the extra features to make it easier to compare them. But I want to make it clear that nothing beats a trial in store, whenever you can. Don’t forget to bring a small quilt to put under the needle to visualize the workspace and the lighting you will be getting. Bring also two squares to sew if you want to live the experience… as you must also compare the noise. Some of these machines are unbelievably quiet… and others less so.

Penelope’s choices, located in St-Hubert, Sherbrooke and Laval:

The owner confessed that she had a lot of trouble choosing only 3 machines for my blog since she distributes several brands: Husqvarna, Pfaff, Brother, Babylock, Bernina, Janome and Elna. But for the sake of my blog, she opted for brands that are not available at Excelle.

Here are 2 entry-level models:

Pfaff Ambition 630
  • 7.9 inch clearance with LED lighting
  • Integrated IDT system (dual drive)
  • 3-inch touch screen
Brother NQ1300 or PQ1500s

I kept both of these models in my blog to accommodate tight budgets. But be aware that they do not have the same needle piercing power. I advise you to test this machine and carefully compare it to the others. Sometimes it’s better to wait a year to save a little more than to buy a machine that doesn’t help us progress.

  • 8.3 inch clearance with LED lighting
  • 2.9-inch touch screen

Here are 2 mid-range models:

Pfaff Quilt Expression 720
  • Espace de dégagement de 10 pouces avec éclairage DEL
  • Système IDT intégré (double entraînement)
  • Écran tactile de 3,5 pouces
Brother BQ3050
  • 11.25 inch clearance with LED lighting
  • MuVit digital dual drive system
  • 3.6-inch touch screen

Here are 2 state-of-the-art models:

Pfaff Creative Icon

It’s my favorite! I have been sewing with this machine for 3 years and I have no regrets. I haven’t found any flaws to date… Maybe its price :-)… But we quickly forget when we start creating our projects. It manages to stitch through multiple layers while maintaining perfect tension. It also allows me to sew even on the tips of the points without ”eating” my fabrics …. In short… It has allowed me to improve the quality of my work significantly. And with its integrated tutorials, I even learned how to sew zippers!

  • 12.2 inch clearance with LED lighting
  • Integrated IDT system (dual drive)
  • 10.1″ touch screen (tutorial and instructions included)
  • Bobbins allow 30% more thread than standard bobbins.
  • Embroidery system

If you want to pay less, the same model is available without the embroidery system: Pfaff Performance Icon.

Ma machine à coudre de prédilection
Brother XP2

It’ s the favorite machine of the owners of Penelope sewing machine.

  • 13 inches of clearance with LED lighting
  • MuVit digital dual drive system
  • 10.1 inch touch screen
  • Embroidery system

Excelle‘s choices, located in Laval and Saint-Jérôme:

The Laval store also had a little trouble choosing only 3 of the brands they sell: Husqvarna Viking, Janome, Bernina, Reliable and Elna. Here is their choice for specialized quilting machines.

Janome: Modèle MC9450QCP

It is designed specifically for quilt enthusiasts and offers:

  • 11 inches of clearance with LED lighting
  • Several useful quilting feet and accessories including the AcuFeed Flex foot for easy quilting in thicker layers. 
  • 4.4 inch touch screen
Janone MC9450QCP
Husqvarna Viking Epic 2

The EPIC 2 sewing machine is for the most passionate people, whatever their level. Designed to add creativity to all your quilting projects, it offers:

  • 12″ clearance and 5.5″ height with LED lighting
  • Integrated dual drive technology
  • 10.1-inch touch screen (tutorial and built-in instructions)
  • An adjustable laser sewing guide
  • Embroidery system
Husquvarna Vicking Epic 2
Bernina B770QE

This is the ultimate! The fact that it’s a Bernina is already a guarantee of superior construction quality. It is also the machine promoted by the popular Tula Pink!

  • 10 inch clearance with LED lighting
  • Has several useful feet that clip on rather than screw on:
    • Foot ¼” #97D
    • Bernina’s exclusive Stitch Regulator (BSR) that regulates your stitches in free stitching.
  • 4.3 inch touch screen
  • Has an integrated two-sided stitching drive capable of stitching any thickness of fabric and fleece.
  • 13 inch extension table
  • Bobbins have 70% more thread than standard bobbins.
  • Embroidery system
Bernina B770QE

I hope you’ve found my best tips for buying a sewing machine usefulI. Do not hesitate to leave comments if you have recently purchased a machine to give us your opinion. And also if you have ideas for my future blogs!

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