Getting into quilting can be scary, and some of the tools you need to have can be spendy. The most expensive and important tool being your sewing machine. Here’s the story on how I purchased my very first sewing machine. (It’s a long story, so bear with me.)
When I first decided I wanted to start quilting I found my local quilt shop (Pine Needles Sewing Center) and set out to investigate what I needed. I invited my friend Joann to come with me. Joann worked with me at the school district, and thought quilting would also be fun. So we go into the quilt shop for the first time. What was my first impression? OVERWHELMING, my local quilt shop has SO much stuff. Fabric for days, all kinds of notions and thread, and machines everywhere. It’s like stepping into the Candyland in Willy Wonka, but for quilters.
We were greeted warmly and inquired about quilting lessons. It was $60 for 3 months of lessons and “Start Quilting” was a part of those lessons. So we both sign-up for the class. Then my friend Joann decided she wants to look at their machines. (Now please keep in mind the only sewing machines I have seen were at garage sales, and the craft isle at Wal-Mart. The highest priced one I had seen up to this point was probably $400).
We start looking at different Bernina machines, the first one was called a Bernette and around $200, not so bad right? So I’m feeling fancy because I have $500 saved up to buy a machine, so I ask about the Aurora 440 “Quilter’s Edition” thinking it might be a few hundred more. Well that machine ranked in the thousands…THOUSANDS!! (I chuckle now, but at that moment I was GOBSMACKED).
I politely smile and try not to look shocked, I have a used Kenmore at home, and decide for now, it will be fine. We go about picking out fabric for our “Start Quilting” class, a few rulers we need, a book. And then go to check out. I ring up around $100 and pay. My friend Joann goes to check out and her total is well, it’s a LOT more than mine. I look at her and then the cashier, there MUST be some mistake, well there was no mistake Joann had purchased a new machine to go along with her class. I think I almost fell over, I believe my exact words were, “You are crazy!” Joann had purchased a sewing machine before, this wasn’t her first sewing machine rodeo, so she knew what to expect. Gotta love Joann she keeps you on your toes!
At our first “Start Quilting” class we cut out our project, and have some time to sew on their classroom machines. They sew nicely, then I take my project home to work on. My Kenmore, was older, and sounded like all the nuts and bolts were loose. Clickity-Clackity, rattling it’s little heart out, but hey it’s what I had and I was just excited to quilt. The class progressed and as I worked more on the classroom machine, I realized how easy their machine was to work with. It had a THREADER, and a beautiful hum to it, and stitching on it with the 1/4 inch foot was nice and easy.
Well I finished my quilt with that Kenmore, and then through saving and the generosity of friends and family (via gift cards) I walked into Pine Needles Sewing Center and asked them for an Aurora 430. It was an exciting day because I had used this machine, and KNEW it was the right fit for me. The first quilt I made on this machine was called “Cheese & Crackers” and I used dog themed fabric. While making my “Cheese & Crackers” quilt I watched Designing Women (I like to watch old TV shows while I quilt) And the name for my new machine came to me….Bernice.
Do you remember Designing Women? Bernice was played by Alice Ghostley and was my FAVORITE character on the show. (Below is one of my all time favorite clips)
So when choosing a machine, make sure you USE it. Ask to use a floor model, bring some things to sew. Your machine is a large investment and you should LOVE it. So don’t be shy to ask questions, get demos and feedback. I personally would recommend a Bernina. 🙂
P.S. – I feel like I should also disclose that I do not work for Bernina or get compensated to talk about their machines. I’m simply a fan of their machine and have had a wonderful experience sewing on them.