OK all, I have the first question.

 

What kind of sewing machine do you use for your quilting? I have a basic Brother sewing machine, which limits the size quilts I can make. I am thinking of getting a "real" quilting machine.

 

What do you use and do you like it?

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I machine quilt on a Bernina 1080, a standard domestic machine.  On this machine I've quilted up to king size quilts.  I've taught quilters on various Brothers with success.   Are you considering something like the Bernina 830, Bernina 820, AQPS George?

 

Teri

I have two machines that I own which are: a Pfaff 2046 and a Babylock Ellegeo Plus. I also use the Janome Horizion at the quilt shop where I work and hang out. I have quilted all sizes of quilts. I prefer the Horizion when I am quilting bigger quilts.

The Babylock works well for everything I have thrown at it so far, only owned it for about 10 months and still playing with all the things it can do. This is my favorite machine I have created some really nice embroidered quilts on it and have several more on the drawing board.

The Horizon has a larger area to the right of the needle and makes for really easy movement of the quilt when you are quilting it.

The Pfaff has quilted up to a queen size using the decorative stitches on my machine, with are amazing especially when I used variegated thread.

I find any machine will work as long as you think out before hand how you are going to do the quilting and moving it threw the machine. It also helps to have a large table behind, to the left and a smaller one in front to support the quilt as you are quilting or piecing any quilt. It is easier on you and the machine as there is no pulling on the machine from the weight of the quilt.
I use a Bernina.  I find it a struggle to quilt anything bigger than a lap quilt with it though.  It has me pining for a long arm!  But perhaps I need to change how I think about the kinds of quilting suited to a small machine.  I read a book recently called "Free Motion Quilting Made Easy" that suggests sticking with smaller quilting designs.   But still, sometimes I feel like I'm wrestling an alligator in my attempt to quilt a larger quilt in such a small machine.  

Marti Michell has a book called "Machine Quilting in Sections." Fascinating. See her website at http://www.frommarti.com/

I heard Marti lecture at the Des Moines quilt show last year--she was terrific and has quilted king-size quilts on her regular machine. I have some larger quilts that are awaiting quilting (I have been putting them off to work on other projects, and then there was Christmas, etc., etc.....), and I am going to use her methods.

Cynthia I have used a similar technique on a couple of quilts using sashing to cover the raw edges in the back.  I am not wild about it because you can feel the join of the two quilted areas on the front of the quilt.  You also have a ridge that is noticeable on the front.  I machine quilted and pieced this particular quilt years ago and I still can see the ridge.  I would have to see what other techniques she shows before I would do the quilting like this again.  I am keeping an open mind. :)
Donna I do agree the larger throat of the quilting machines does make it easier to quilt a larger one. I have been looking at the long arms also, but some of the regular sewing machines can be used on a quilt frame. It might be something for you to look into. I like the Grace quilting frames.
I've decided to give myself a year to research the different options - and there really are so-o many options:  long arm on a frame, sit-down long arm, standard sewing machine on a frame.  And each category has tons of possibilities.  I really do want a long arm, so am starting my research there.  I'd be happy to hear anything anyone has to say about the different makes and models.  I am limiting myself to looking at those with an 18" throat size.  i think that's the smallest long arm.   I think 11-17 is considered a midarm.   Marian, what do you like about the Grace quilting frames?   Years ago I bought one of the first frames out for home sewing machines and ended up giving it away.   The setup was cumbersome and I was frustrated by the small throat size of my machine.   Anyway, anything anyone wants to offer about their experience with longarms, frames, midarms, or quilting with a regular machine - I'm all ears.  

Love the Pinnacle\Juki 2000QI that my dh got for our 45th Anniversary.  Going to take a lot of practice to learn how to use it well.  Check out KathyQuilts they have some good advice.

 

If you like your current domestic and have a good working relationship with it then it's possible to quilt a very large quilt on the machine.  I use a combination of tips from Paula Reid & Ricky Tims to accomplish good quilting on larger quilts.

From Paula, it's fluff & stuff - by gathering the quilt around the area of the throat and fluffing it up I can easily get the quilt into the machine to quilt it.  

From Ricky, I quilt in an area the size of a pot holder - smoothing that area around the needle as I stitch. 

From me, I've played with frames (at shows) and have tried a variety of long arms at shows.  I like the freedom of stitching where ever I want to move that I, personally, don't get at the long arms.  

If I ever "upgrade" from my current machine(s) I would head toward either the 820, George or something similar as it's more in keeping with how I think through the quilting process and the learning curve would not be so great.

Oh Viking Husqvarna has a machine with a rather large throat.

Teri

Thanks,  Teri.  It sounds like I could learn more about quilting with my Bernina that might make the experience less frustrating.  And thanks for pointing out the  Viking Husqvarna machine.  That one hadn't come across my radar, so I'll add it to my list to research.  I briefly checked it out on-line just now.  it's called the Mega Quilter and has a 18" x 8" throat space.
You're very welcome.  If you're going to be in Knoxville at the AQS show I'm teaching machine quilting.  I'd love to have you as a student.

I wish I could be there to take your class.   I don't suppose you'll be at the AQS show in Lancaster, PA, next week?  

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