Consultation, Anyone?

As I continue to try to cope with the Lemons I was gifted a few weeks ago, i.e., the unwelcome news that my job will end in June of this year, I have good days and bad days. I've not yet found a Lemonade recipe to suit, but perhaps that is as it should be. These things take time.

One of the things I think about is the direction my sewing and quilting will take. I reached the conclusion a short time ago that as wonderful as it is to see the finished quilts when the machinist does them, I simply can't spend the money to get every quilt professionally machined. So I've been doing a little more tying of quilts. And attempting to do some machine quilting myself. Which is where this post is going.

I have a Bernina 1031 and I am very fond of this machine. True, she lacks a buttonhole stitch which I would like to have. But she has been reliable and can do nearly everything I would like her to do. Nearly. If I'm going to do more machine quilting myself, I have been thinking that I would like to get another sewing machine, one that has dual-feed (IDT? Accufeed?) -- because I find the use of the walking foot for 1031 to be awkward. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to machine quilt and have clear vision of where I am sewing? To not have to struggle with putting that foot on? To have fabric line up beautifully when piecing?

Marsha has sworn by her Pfaff(s) which have IDT (integrated dual transportation, or "built in walking foot"). Now I've learned that some other makers have the same feature and call it Accufeed. And Bernina herself has "dual feed." So I spent some time recently looking at the Berninas with "built-in walking foot" and it appears that their 750QE would meet my wish list. But, golly, is she pricey! She lists at over $5,000! Which may or may not be a horrific price to pay for a machine since I bought my 1031 more than fifteen years ago.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Any recommendations? Essentially, I want a good quality machine with a "built-in walking foot," buttonhole stitch would be nice, and I don't need embroidery function.


Linda said…
Nancy, I'm a dedicated "older" Pfaff user. If you can put your hands on a Pfaff 1221 or 1222 (with or without the e), you'll be golden. It has a slightly larger harp, goes faster than most machines, includes a darning foot (the precursor to the quilting foot) and has a wonderful easy to use buttonhole. I've quilted many a quilt on mine and buy them wherever I can find them!! Lurking Linda
Brenda said…
I'm in love with my Juki TL98q.the later model TL2000q.It has a bigger throat, sews like the wind. It doesn't have the integrated walking foot or the button hole stitch, since this is a lockstitch machine only. but it is a mechanical machine, and you can get it for under a thousand bucks. try one before you decide.
Lori said…
I'm no help, other then to say I could take a vacation to Hawaii with $5000 and have beautiful memories!! I would absolutely NEVER pay that for a machine.
Janet O. said…
Lori's comment made me smile. : )
Are you wanting to do straight line quilting only or do you plan to do free motion stuff, too?
I have a Pfaff without all of the bells and whistles--just mechanical, not computerized. It, of course, has the IDT (which I love), but when you say buttonhole stitch are you meaning the "blanket stitch" style of stitch? Mine does not have that, which I would have liked, but can live without. Paid around $700 about 7 years ago. If I was looking at a $5000 price tag I would want it to be on a midarm machine that would allow me to quilt large quilts more easily, but you don't get a walking foot on those.
KQ Sue said…
I love my "older" Pfaff 7570. They can be picked up on Ebay for a fraction of the price. I wanted a machine with a bobbin case, not a wind in place bobbin. More power and strength sewing. Would love to buy a 2nd one, but we are on a fixed income. Soooo, I have to share it with my DH, when he does embroidery jobs for a few random customers. My Singer 2010 is still my "Buttonhole Baby"! Best buttonhole of any machine I own or have ever sewn on professionally.
Char said…
I really don't have any machine advice although I have a Bernina 1080 QE, I quilt on a Juki TL98Q. The Juki is not computerized.
My only advice is practice, practice, practice. When I first started I remember telling my husband that I'd never be able to machine quilt. I didn't think any amount of practice would help. Now my quilting looks good enough to sell.
howdidIgethere said…
I have two Pfaffs now. My "workhorse" Tiptronic that I have used for over a decade and that you have seen me use to piece many a top. I absolutely LOVE the IDF (Integrated Dual Feed) which is, in essence, a full-time walking foot for standard stitching. My newer machine (just over a year) is the Quilt Expressions 4.0 (QE4/aka "Lizzie"), which is larger and, therefore, will not leave my sewing room. It has a larger harp/space so I, too, can do more of my own quilting. Also has a couple of other "bells and whistles" that I've grown quite fond of! While on the pricey side (to me), it was no where NEAR $5,000! I think you can buy a lower end longarm machine and frame for that!

I'm taking "Lizzie" to the "spa" for a cleaning and adjustment so will need my Tiptronic for now. (I have done this about once a year and have NEVER had a problem of any sort with However, you are welcome to borrow her after White Oak if you want to play around with a Pfaff, check out the buttonhole stitch (never used it), etc.
Donna said…
I have a friend who quilts with a Juki and really likes it. I have never used one so I can't make a recommendation from experience. I can say that I have a Gammill Premier that my quilts are quilted on. I found it on for $5000.00 a few years ago. Used machines are usually discounted by at least 50%. It is the smallest machine Gammill makes but it will do large quilts. The quilt on it right now is 108 x 111.
LoieJ said…
Test drive some machines that your quilting buddies use. Take your own quilt sandwich sample along to stores or friend's homes or retreats to try out machines.
If you have a good sewing machine store, tell them that you might be in the market for a used machine that does quilting. There could be a trade in.
Maybe find a good used machine from a person who is downsizing after you get some recommendations from your quilting buddies. Put the word out.
Computerized is nice because of needle up or down, among other uses.
You mention a walking foot type thing. But if you want free motion quilting, you wouldn't be using that anyway.
The larger throat area on some of the straight stitch only sewing machines might be ideal. Also these machines are cheaper.

LizA. said…
I bought a Pfaff 6.5 years ago and have had several problems with it in the last couple years. I'm not in love with it anymore. Last year I won an entry level Bernina which I upgraded to a 530 and I can say I Love this machine. I also have an older model HandiQuilter 16 (about 7 years old). If you're looking at spending $5000 you can buy a used HQ for that. That's the route I'd go. It takes a bit of learning, but it would allow you to do pantographs fairly easily right from the beginning while taking your time to learn custom quilting.
Karendianne said…
I have a Pfaff 1472 and the newer model 2056. Both have walking feet (sounds cute) but the newer model has a larger bed and throat - good for machine quilting. I can't speak to the price - they were given to me but if I had to replace I'd buy a used Pfaff in a heartbeat! The 1472 has a bazillion miles on it and I love it. As an aside, the built in walking foot does wonders for your fine piecing IMHO, BTW.
Gretchen said…
A friend of mine recently shopped for a new machine. She ended up going with the Bernina after trying all the brands. Another thing to think about is the dealers/service in your area. That can make a big difference in the long run too. If you want to check out her blog post it's at

I have an older Bernina 440QE and love it.
I use a Bernina 1080qe to FMCG and a treadle for my straight line quilting. Lately, I have been tying quilts too. I am about halfway to having snuff $$ for an HQ16.
Barbara Anne said…
I have a Bernina 153 Quilter's Edition and what I wish for is a Stitch Regulator but that requires a computerized machine (or did the last time I checked). That feature means all of your machine quilting stitches are even and regularly spaced despite what your foot does in speeding up or slowing down.

Happy hunting!

Quayquilter said…
I have a Pfaff Quilt Expression 4 which I love for both general stitching and quilting walking foot style. I haven't really attempted the free machining aspect of it yet. I have read about the Bernina 750 series and think it sounds wonderful and has taken on board popular features from other machines. I find athreadcutter useful. Suggest you really try before you buy and take quilt sandwiches to the shop with you. I always envied your ready access to longarmers. Here they are really quite expensive and I feel I can only use them for special quilts
KatB said…
I have a Janome 6600 QE with the built in dual feed. I've down quite a bit of free motion quilting and really like it for the price. It also has a nice harp area and I've been able to do double size quilts without much of a struggle. Hope this helps you.
I have a Janome 6600 with dual feed. It has all the features you mentioned and a good sized harp for quilting along with needle up and down and thread cutter which I love. I paid $1,700 for it new and got a sew table thrown in. I love this machine it has improved my piecing no end. Like you I just can't spend for machine quilting by others anymore so I just have to get better at it.
AnnieO said…
I don't know if you previously shared your Lemon news about your job--shocking end to a long career for sure! Sorry to hear of it but I think you'll do your best to move forward as you always have.

Sounds like you're getting lots of great advice about machines. I have none to offer since mine is 11 years old :)