Machine Musings

Happy Friday, Friends!  I hope you have had a good week.  One question I frequently receive from quilters is about the machine (make and model) with which I sew/quilt.  I have, at various times, indicated that I sew and quilt on a Bernina Artista 640 machine.  I had purchased this machine new back in 2006. And with this particular machine, I made 99.9% of the quilts in this list.  I loved this particular machine so much I eventually bought a second one.

I really like the precise stitches I can get with my machines.  Precision is quite important to me, coming from my research background.  The last I checked (around this time last year), this very machine (seen below) had logged about 21 million stitches, and yet the precision aspect of the machine stays strong.  So, you can see why I like and love my machines so much.

bernina 640

The Bernina Artista 640 is no longer, and I think (!) the closest successor nowadays would be the B 560.  I have sewn on the B 560, and I love it just as much.  In fact, the B 560 was what I used on set for filming my Machine Quilting Level 2 class. You can read more about the B 560 machine here, and my class here.

Image Credit: Bernina

My quilting journey is going to be spiced up a notch…. as I just unpacked a rather large box.  In it is what I have lovingly called “the sewing machine that could and can”, because I think this machine can and will bring me additional quilting joy!  Come back next week for my first official posting on “the sewing machine that could and can”.  Until then, have a great weekend!

Now, I would love to hear about machine(s) with which you sew and quilt…. care to share?

40 thoughts on “Machine Musings

  1. I love my Janome 6600 and my “new” Black Singer 301. Wow, does it sew fast – 1500 stitches per minute with a wonderful very straight stitch. I also give a hug to my Featherweights now and then. :-)

    • Me too I sew on a Janome 6600P and love it, it was a great buy, It is fast for piecing and quilting, with his larger throat I can quilt a double size bed quilt. I have to put a timer to take breaks as I do not see the time past by. Yeah!

    • The Janome 6600 is a great machine. I have made a lot of projects using the different decorative stitches included on the machine! Great topstitching designs. I also use the Singer 150th Anniversary machine for on the go sewing & piecing. A match made in quilting heaven!

  2. My newest machine is a Bernina 830 LE, the BIG one. I love the extra room for quilting. I also have a 21 year old Bernina 1530, which I still use on occasion. I love both machines, and they have both seen a lot of use.

  3. I have a Janome Horizon and I love it. I also free motion quilt with it and the large throat is certainly a terrific feature.

  4. I piece on a variety of machines: 1910 Singer 66 treadle, 1923 Singer 99, 1955 15-x clone, and Janome 4900. I’m very lucky that I get to do my quilting on a Nolting Pro.

    • Hi Karin, I have the same machine, I love it but – free motion work is tricky with thread breaks especialy when moving to the left I’m using So Fine by superior threads – would love to know what works best for you if you have the time to drop me a line? Lou :)

      • Hi Lou,
        We’d love to help find a solution for So Fine breakage. Two things can help with breakage: using the right needle and adjusting tensions. So Fine! #50 works best with a size 80/12 needle and lowering your top tension to a 3.0-4.0. Most machines can be tricky when moving left, so your machine isn’t the only one. If you aren’t experiencing any breakage except when going this direction, we recommend slowing down. Hopefully this will help make your quilting experience better!
        Celeste @ Superior Threads

  5. I still love my Bernina 1630, which is 21 years old. My traveling machine is a Bernina Activa 210. I usually quilt happily with my APQS George.

  6. I use a 26 year old Bernina 1030 for piecing and a 2 year old Bernina 830 for quilting and embroidery. I have a 1947 Singer Featherweight at my quilting buddy’s house and 3 Bernina sergers for my home dec and garment sewing. I love my Berninas and my Bernina Dealer in Omaha Nebraska!

  7. During winter months when I sew in a spare bedroom in my house, I use the Bernina 153, quilter’s edition. The rest of the year I use a 3160 QDC Janome for sewing. I don’t do the quilting part. I have a long arm quilter that does it for me. There is no heat in the other building where I do the majority of my sewing and also where all my fabrics are in 4 large 6′ tall cabinets.

  8. Hi Wendy!
    I have never seen on a Bernina.
    I tried out a Pfaff at the quilt expo at Dulles, at The Quilters Studio booth. It was nice.
    I have old crusty machines. My moms 316g Singer, a 301A, and a Featherweight. I also have a White mechanical that I do all of my hard sewing on with a walking foot.
    I would love a fancy machine, but I would have to sell my husbands car :-D
    Have a fun week-end <3

  9. I have a Brother Innovis, but right now I can’t remember the model number; I know it says Quilt Club under the model number. It’s the most expensive machine I have ever owned and my husband gave me half the cost of the machine as a Christmas gift! And now I have finally brought to my home the Singer treadle that I learned to sew on. Used to be my grandmother’s, a pre-1920 Red Eye back clamper. And I just acquired, from a flea market, a Singer featherweight born in 1933! So with that, my collection is complete, mostly because I don’t have room for anymore machines!!

  10. Love my machines: my first was a Pfaff 2044. My Mom now has it, as I wasn’t that happy with its quilting. Then I bought a Bernina B820. It was a large learning curve for me, but now we are very happy together. I bought a light Bernina 330 for classes, but soon traded it in for a used Bernina 730e. She was a bit heavier, but I love her! She sits near my 820 and I hop back and forth between them. It’s great! So much so, in fact, that I disliked breaking my system down to drag the 730e to classes, so I decided to get a little used Bernina Activa 145 for classes. I found one on eBay that looked like a great deal. I won’t buy a machine off of eBay again. The stitch quality was lacking and it needed to be serviced. While getting serviced, the L board died. Long story short, it cost more to resurrect her than the purchase price off of eBay. She seems to work wonderfully now though, dear little thing that she is, so hopefully we will be happy together for 10 or more years with her two new brain boards. I also have a new-to-me Old 730 Record that my mom just picked up for me. I haven’t got to try her out yet, but my mom said she seems perfect. The Record is mechanical, so when my computerized machines all die and I can no longer get upgrades or parts for them, that Record will keep me quilting!

  11. I started on a 40+yr old New Home and literally burned her motor out with the amount of use. Then I got a Juki HZL series and 2 yrs, she is in the shop and sure they are going to tell me the same. I picked up a low end Brother for now, just so I can get some piecing done. If I need to replace the Juki, it will probably be with a Juki. But I would love to have a treadle.

  12. Hi Wendy, I have a Janome Horizon which is a great quilting machine. I also have a new Bernina 550 QE that’s great as well; Love piecing with it.

  13. Happy August, Calendar Girl!!
    I have a few vintage machines I love to piece on, a Viking Sapphire 850 that I use for everything else.

  14. I love piecing on my 17 year old Pfaff. I used to FMQ on a Janome 6500, but have upgraded to a Baby Lock a Tiara for FMQ. I love my sit down quilting machine. Sometimes I quilt on my mom’s Handi Quilter Fusion.

  15. My first machine was a New Home (Pfaff) bought in 1974, and its still going strong. Then 13 years ago I got a Toyota which is great but i needed more room for FMQ. My husband recently bought me a Pfaff quilt expression 4.2. Its fantastic and does the most amazing things. I sold the Toyota to a friend in my quilting group so I hope it behaves itself!

  16. I also have a Bernina 640. I love it now but had a rough start with it, which led to a Bernina 780. I use both now. The 640 had a bad stepping motor which was replaced by the company. These machines feel so solid and sew so beautifully. Can’t wait to see what your new machine is. I am guessing it will be a Bernina 790.

  17. I love my B780 it is such a precise machine and does far more than you can think or imagine. The peicing stitch 1326 is my favorite for sewing my pieces and blocks together. With a Bernina you can sew one stitch at a time. I happen to live in the same city as Rogers Sewing Center where customer service is second to none. Dan and his staff are the best that’s just as important as the machine you just can’t live without. I have my eye on a B580 to take to classes. Wendy, we are happy Bernina owners!!!

  18. Oh boy! Now look what you’ve started! I can’t wait to see what you’ve unpacked. I’m hoping its a Q20 but thinking more of an 830? Inquiring minds can’t wait to hear! I FMQ on a Janome Horizon 7700 right now but I learned on a Bernina 230. I love my 230 and still take it with me when I travel. I say FMQ is fun no matter what machine you use – some just make it more precise than others. Don’t you LOVE to hear what others use? Have a blessed day my friend ❤️

  19. I started sewing on my grandmother’s singer featherweight, got a Kenmore in high school, realized how fantastic the stitch quality was on Bernina and finally goy a 1630 in 1992. Two years ago it died so I replaced it with a 580. I have loved them all!

  20. Enjoy your new machine.. I love my Husqvarna SE its old like me LOL I also have a Janome 1500 straight stitch it’s great for quilting too. Oh yes have a 1954 Featherweight. Love them all.
    Would love a wide bed machine but I really don’t need one.
    Hugs Bunny

  21. Wow! What an IMPRESSIVE list when you see everything in one place. My admiration for you (which you know is rather great–lol) just increased exponentially! I hope the new machine is everything you hope it will be. Honestly, though, I don’t see how there could be much room for improvement—near perfection is just what it is! Blessings….give Miss Baby a hug.

    • Oops…I forgot about your question….I do most of my piecing on a Bernina 1080 I bought in 1994 or 1995. It’s been a workhorse…and was, for me at the time, the best I could afford. In the years since I’ve had a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 830 which I started machine quilting on, and just recently bought a Brother 1500 straight stitch machine to give the old Bernina a rest, and a Juki HZL-600 to quilt on. I also bought a Handi-Quilter Avante 18 longarm machine last year. There’s just not enough time left for me to hand-quilt every project I have started or want to start. I used to be a hand-quilting snob….thinking machine quilting wasn’t really quilting…but honestly, your beautiful machine stitching was one of the things that changed my mind 2 years ago. Thank you, Wendy.

  22. I piece on multiple machines, my Husqvarna Ruby, or SE but have in the past used my 1952 Featherweight and have started using my new Janome 8900. I’ve started using my Janome for my machine quilting. I have been gifted my Grandmother’s treadle machine which I have just had serviced and hope to make a wall hanging with my recently passed Dad’s shirts on his Mother’s treadle.

  23. Wow, this is so exciting! I sewed for years on a Kenmore and then in 2003 my sweet hubby surprised me with a Bernina Virtuosa 155. I have been sewing and quilting on that machine ever since. I love it! It doesn’t have bells and whistles but it has a great straight stitch, a variety of computer stitches but mostly I just love the feel of the Bernina. Nothing really compares to it in my opinion.

  24. I continue to love my 30 year old Viking which is a real workhorse for slip covers and draperies. About ten years ago I bought a Janome Gem Gold to use on our boat. It has only a few stitches but does them beautifully. Based on this my husband bought me two Janomes – a 6600 and a sophisticated embroidery machine. I seldom use the embroidery machine, and do most of my piecing and FMQ on the 6600. The 6600 has been in the shop several times and continually gives me fits. The latest is that the thread ‘jumps’ out of the no. 6 spot which grinds the sewing to a halt. It’s very frustrating but I continue to use for FMQ because of the generous bed area. I also have a Babylock serger and a semi-industrial machine for canvas and sail repair. Happy stitching!

  25. I bought a Bernina 750QE three years ago and love it. My old one is Pfaff 1475 which I bought second-hand 12years ago but I still love using it. It is such a good little workhorse :))

  26. Wendy, I am very excited about what your new machine will be!!! I remember when my mother got her Touch and Sew Singer, the joy permeated thru out the house! She had been sewing on a Singer that was one model after the Featherweight!

    I have her machines and a Bernina Quilter’s Edition that I got back in 2001. The Singers were giving me tension problems that wouldn’t resolve and I was on a deadline for a Christmas present. My husband said, “Why don’t you just go out and get you a new machine?” Well, duh!

    Then for our 30th anniversary, he wanted to get me my “dream” machine. I now have a Bernina 880! With all the bells and whistles! I have so much to learn about this machine; it will be a very exciting journey! Hugs.

  27. In that top picture is that a computer hooked up to your machine? If it’s not part of the sewing machine, where is that frame holding the computer from?

  28. Hi Wendy. It is so exciting to receive a new machine. I’d just received my HQ Avante 18 about a month ago! When I started quilting, I bought a second hand Bernina 1130. I really love this machine. It is such a workhorse. 10 years later, I got a second Bernina, the 630. Very precise stitches is what I love about this machine. And now a long arm machine. Can’t wait for you to unveil your machine next week. :)
    Sandra from Singapore

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