I get a LOT of people asking me to recommend a sewing machine and I never really feel like I can answer that.
Before I recommended a fusible adhesive – I tested a bunch of different brands.
Before I recommended fabric paints or markers for eyes, I tested a bunch of different brands.
I just haven’t sewn on enough different sewing machines to recommend one. Plus – a machine that’s perfect for me might not be perfect for you. It all depends on what you like to sew!
What I CAN do is tell you what I sew on and why it’s perfect for me. 🙂
My current machine is a Bernina 710.
Before that I had a Pfaff Lifestyle (no longer made) that I really liked, but I went shopping for a new brand when we moved to the mountains and I was suddenly 3 hours from the nearest place that would service Pfaffs. So – number one – make sure whatever brand you buy is one you can easily get serviced. You should take your machine in once a year for a deep clean and you don’t want to have to drive for hours. 🙂
So – back to my Bernina.
I LOVE HER!
Here’s why. . .
I mostly sew quilts – and mostly applique – so these features knock my socks off:
- I can set my machine to stop with the needle down and it automatically raises the presser foot halfway so I can pivot my work. This is my favorite feature!
- My machine ties knots for me at the beginning and end of my stitching. And at the end of my stitching it also pulls the threads to the back and clips them. Magic!
- I can adjust the amount of pressure on my presser foot – which is handy when I’m quilting really wavy lines without basting the layers first. This is also nice when I’m sewing softies and sometimes need to sew through 6 layers of cuddle fleece. 🙂
- I love the built-in walking foot. I basically keep it engaged all the time.
- It has a supersized bobbin which is great for quilting. Not as much running out of bobbin thread in the middle of a long line of stitching! (The next level up has an alarm that lets you know when you’re about to run out of thread – but I wasn’t willing to pay extra for that.)
It’s got a lot of general features that I really love too – not specific to quilting:
- It’s quiet (for a sewing machine) and doesn’t shake the table too much.
- It’s easy to change the needle and the feet.
- It has a nice big slide-on table (not shown in the photo).
- I don’t sew much clothing, but the free arm is great for sewing softie heads. (Most people use it for hemming pants and sleeves.)
- It’s got a good strong light.
- The controls are easy to use. (Though – honestly – it has a LOT of features that I never use.)
- It handles any fabric I throw at it with no problems.
It does NOT have the built-in Bernina Stitch Regulator. I’ve tried it and think it’s pretty awesome, but I don’t do free motion quilting so I didn’t want to spring for that expense. I might try free motion in the future, though, so I made sure to get a model I could add that to at a later date.
My advice if you’re shopping for a machine is to test sew – a LOT. Do not be afraid to take up the people’s time at the sewing machine store! It’s a big investment and you should make sure you’re getting something that will work for you.
Bring in swatches of any specialty fabrics you like to sew with and make sure the machine you’re considering can handle them. I’ve heard several reports of Brother machines simply not feeding cuddle fleece through. We think maybe their feed dogs are less grippy than other brands? I LOVE using cuddle fleece for quilt backs so that would be a deal breaker for me – but it might not matter at all to you.
My last bit of advice is to ask other sewists. Nobody can recommend one machine above all others, but we can all tell you what we like and don’t like about what we use. The Shiny Happy People group is a great resource and I’ve seen many helpful discussions of different machines there. Hop in and ask about a machine you’re considering!
A few more helpful links. . .
If you’re choosing a sewing machine for a child, take a look at this post – How to Choose a Sewing Machine for a Beginner.
If you want to know how to clan and take care of your new machine, here’s a post that will help – Basic Sewing Machine Maintenance.
If you want a bit more info about what feet you might want to get for your machine, this post is helpful – Sewing Machine Feet.
You make yourBernina sound tempting!
Great ideas to consider for sewing machines. Thank you for sharing! I have several Janomes and love them. My LQS is a Janome dealer, although I had made the decision to buy Janome without considering nearby servicing. Good point to consider this! I regularly clean my sewing machines and use Aurufil thread. This thread has so little lint and keeps my machine so much cleaner.
I am a beginner at quilting and I had a Brother – then I had a chance to buy a Pfaff with a longer arm that handled my king size quilting. It also has IDT which means NO walking foot. I love it and use it for quilting, but still use my Brother for blocks and baby quilts, plus I take my ‘little’ Brother to classes as it is light enough to transport, whereas the Pfaff is heavy, (I have taken it to classes a couple of times though, but decided it is too heavy for me to lift into the car so I do all my quilting at home and just do the smaller work in class.
My absolute favorite is Bernina 530!
Reliability, functionality and thoughtful design at the right price.
A few years ago I inherited a vintage ’80s Bernina, 930e Record mechanical, and it is a lovely machine, stitches are very nice. I’ve considered moving to a newer Bernina but always consider how much I love my current main machine, a Baby Lock QuestPlus2 with built in walking mechanism – the same feature as a previous Pfaff I had, the IDT – I cannot live without that feature, it is the bomb! So many machines to ponder when looking for one, it can be quite the task! I work for my LQS which sells Brother and Viking, we sell a lot of each!
I have the same sewing machine—got it fit my birthday a few months ago so I haven’t even begun to really tap into all of the bells and whistles! It I LOVE it for all the same reasons. The larger bobbins are the bomb! And I don’t know how I ever sewed before with the automatic knots and the needle staying down when needed!!! It’s life-changing in the sewing world. The only thing I’d like is to better understand all the features in that computer and how to navigate the screen better. I bought my Bernina because if your recommendation and I’m thrilled with it!