Quilting Tips on Sewing Machines

Quilting Sewing Machines good bad and the old

Quilting Tips on Sewing Machines

 

If you are ready to buy a sewing machine you will need to know these quilting tips on use for quilting and piecing, you must think of it as an investment. Sewing machine prices can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, so before you even set foot inside a sewing machine shop, set a budget. Chances are good you will own your machine for years, so make sure you buy the best machine within the budget you have. If you can afford to, get a model with a few extra features you might need as you learn new skills.

Research, Research, Research

Buying a sewing machine can seem overwhelming at first. Do some research on your own. Ask other quilt makers or check Internet forums for reviews of popular quilting sewing machines. Don’t be surprised to learn that you will get many conflicting opinions, but this research will help you to become familiar with major manufacturers and models that other quilters love.

If at all possible, don’t buy your machine from a box or chain store. Go to an authorized dealer instead, because a chain store won’t offer classes or service your machine if problems arise during the life of your quilting machine.

What to Ask

It is also helpful to have a list of features you want to have and questions to ask the salesperson at the dealership or quilt shop:

-Does it sew a good, straight and strong straight stitch? A straight stitch is all that’s needed to both do quilting and piecing. Check to see if the machine makes a sturdy, straight stitch with good tension balance.

-Is the thread tension easy to adjust on both the upper and lower threads?

-Can the stitch length and width be adjusted easily?

-Is it easy to thread?

-How are the bobbins filled? Can a bobbin be filled without having to remove it from the bobbin case?

-Can the feed dogs be lowered? If they can’t be, can they be covered? Sewing machine feed dogs need to be lowered when doing free motion quilting.

-Is the motor strong enough to handle hours of sewing? It is important when quilting a large quilt to have enough power to keep the machine’s motor from overheating.

-Does it have variable speeds? It is a useful when machine piecing and doing appliqué to be able to switch to a slower speed if you are doing detailed work.

-Does the machine a needle down feature?

-What stitches aside from the straight stitch can it sew? If you plan on using your quilting machine to do appliqué, you will need a machine capable of stitching a zigzag and a blind hemstitch. Decorative stitches are nice, but not really a necessary feature if you plan on mainly piecing and quilting.

-How many attachments are included with the machine? You will need a quarter inch pressing foot and an open toed foot for piecing and appliqué. A walking foot and a darning foot are needed to quilt straight lines and for free-motion quilting. How expensive are these attachments if you need to buy them separately? How about a straight stitch throat plate? A straight stitch throat plate has a small, round hole that makes a more accurate straight stitch. Most machines have an oval opening in the throat plate to accommodate the zigzag and decorative stitches, but a straight plate needs to be bought separately.

-What maintenance is needed to keep the machine in good shape? Is it easy to do on your own? What tools will you need in order to do maintenance? How often do you need to do basic maintenance?

Other Features
Some extra features are useful but not always a consideration, such as the weight of the machine. It is only important if you need to move and store it, or if you plan on taking quilting classes and carrying the machine with you.

An extension table is handy if you plan on doing machine quilting. Some of the most expensive models include a feature called “stitch regulator”. It allows the stitches to be evenly sized when doing free-motion quilting on your machine. It is a very useful feature, but expect to pay quite a bit for it.

Customer Service

You also need to know if the shop offers free classes to teach you to use the machine. It is the best way to learn to use all the stitches and features included with the machine. Are they willing to answer your questions at any moment after you take the machine home?

Also, remember to ask if they service the machine locally. Don’t forget to ask about the warranty. Are they willing to exchange it if you don’t like it after you take it home and sew on it for a few days?

Make Sure It’s the Fit for You

Once you have narrowed down your choices, bring samples of fabric, thread and batting to test on the machine. Let the salesperson explain the basics and then sew on the samples you’ve brought with the threads you have. Test all the features before making a decision on each and every machine you try. Hopefully you will be able to pick the best machine for all your quilting and sewing needs.

For more information on making a quilt click here!

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