Picking The Perfect Sewing Machine
Are you trying to pick the perfect sewing machine? I am sharing my sewing machine journey, what machine I use now, and how YOU can pick the perfect sewing machine for YOU.
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My Sewing Machine Journey
My First Sewing Machine
When I started sewing, I had NO idea what to look for in a sewing machine. My budget felt huge at the time ($300.00). I went to me local JoAnn Fabric store and got what the sales lady recommended. It was a an H Class 100Q Husqvarna and I loved it! It had everything I needed as a beginning quilter.
The more I pieced and quilted, and the more I learned about sewing machines I learned of a few features my machine did not have that I desperately wanted. Namely:
- Automatic thread cutter
- A warning when my bobbin was running low
- A larger throat space to make quilting easier.
It was time to upgrade, but I had NO IDEA what machine to get. Everyone was telling me, “Try this one! I love it!” or “No, this one! It’s amazing!” I’ll be honest, I kept hearing people say Bernina’s were the standard in sewing machines and I saw a quilter I love being advertised as a Bernina Brand Ambassador. So . . . I got a Bernina.
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My Bernina Sewing Machine
This was the Bernina that I purchased. It is a special Quilters Edition 570 and the cost was a whopping $5,000.00. I got a bit of a discount from a local quilt shop at the time. It runs for $5,399.00. I was THRILLED, and wanted to love it because everyone said I should. And dang, it was not cheap. It DID have some of the bells and whistles I wanted. But I’ll admit, when I sewed on it, it wasn’t smooth. I purchased some add-ons and the prices were pretty high. The machine was fine, but it was not the love story I dreamed of.
Why I Switched
One day I had a friend over who is a quilter. When she saw my sewing machine, she commented on the throat size. I don’t remember the words exactly, but it made me look into similar priced sewing machines and what I could get for the price. I had also heard another friend talk about her sewing machine and how it sewed “like butter.” I knew I wanted a machine that was a better fit for me. DISCLAIMER: I know a LOT of people who love Bernina. There is nothing wrong with the company or machine. It is a matter of personal preference. And it turns out my preference is not for Bernina.
But what machine DID I want? I looked heavily at Juki, Janome, and Baby Lock. All three had great reviews, so I went to some local quilt shops (and some not so local – hello road trip!). It was important to me to sit down and try some machines to see what I liked. What felt good. How would it be to use the machine? What was included? How much would is cost to add extras in the future?
Having purchased a machine before, I knew what I wanted. And I found it all PLUS some in the Baby Lock Crescendo Machine.
My Perfect Machine – Baby Lock Crescendo
- The first thing I noticed about the Crescendo is how smooth it sewed. I finally could say, “It’s as smooth as butter.” That was an odd thing I really wanted.
- It is SO easy to thread the needle of the Crescendo. My Bernina had an automatic needle threader but I honestly found it so tricky I always threaded my needle myself.
- The throat space was noticeably bigger than my Bernina. I have my two machines next to each other here. You can see the difference. But to get technical, the measurements are as follows:
- Bernina – 8.5 inches from needle to machine.
- Baby Lock – 11.25 inches from needle to machine.
- The Crescendo has this amazing technology. No need to worry about sewing a straight line or marking your fabric. I even have used Cluck Cluck Sew’s washi tape to help with straight lines. However, the Baby Lock Crescendo makes using any of these no longer needed. I can simply hit the Laser Button and a red laser light appears and shows me where to sew for a perfect straight line. I can even adjust where the line goes if I want to to be ¼”, for example.
- Sound. The Crescendo is super quiet. It is smooth and silent and I love that.
- Digital Dual Feed System. This means my fabric is being evenly ‘fed’ to my sewing machine. No long and short stitches. There’s no slippage and you get perfect control of your stitches.
- Separate Bobbin Threader. Have you ever been sewing and you need to unthread your machine to wind a new bobbin? No need with the Baby Lock Crescendo. There is a separate spool of thread and winder so you never need to unwind your machine to wind a bobbin. Game changer!
- The Baby Lock has these cute sad faces when something isn’t working. They pop up and tell you what you need to fix. Sometimes it’s the small things. And I absolutely love this about the Crescendo.
- Included accessories. The Crescendo included some of the presser feet I had to purchase at an additional cost for the Bernina QE570, namely the 1/4″ foot that I use every time I piece.
- Cost. I knew I could sell my Bernina and pay for the Baby Lock Crescendo. Here are the two suggested retail prices from each company’s website:
- Bernina QE 570 – $5,399.00.
- Baby Lock Crescendo – Around $5,000.00
- For the same cost, I felt like I was getting a much moue user friendly, bigger machine, plus it had cooler features. I was sold.
What Is Your Perfect Machine?
This is my story, but we each look for different things in a sewing machine. What’s important to you in a sewing machine?
I created a checklist that you can download for free. Look over the features I listed. Mark the ones that are important to you. There’s also a place for notes. Take notes when you look for a sewing machine. And if possible, try them out first. CLICK HERE to get the free Sewing Machine Checklist guide.
Check Out These Other Tutorials and Posts
Be sure to take a look at my other most popular blog posts and tutorials.
- How To Make Quilt Binding In Record Time!
- How To Make A Rag Quilt – Free Tutorial
- The Perfect Turned Edge Applique Circles
I have owned or used Elna, Pfaff, and now 2 Berninas in the last 50 years. Latest, Bernina 570QE. I have loved all these machines but as sewing techniques have improved, so have the machines. I really like how my Bernina has a presser foot pressure adjustment so it makes it easier to glide through thick, heavy fabrics and seams or very fine fabrics. The newer features of these machines to streamline your sewing are something to get used to like the automatic raising and lowering of the presser foot. For me, Bernina has great support but I have found YouTube has been better for trouble shooting issues that the Bernina dealer could not figure out. I think you have to sit in front of the machine, not purchase from the internet, and get a feel. Does it have the features you will need, features you didn’t know how useful they are and is it easy to thread and wind the bobbin? The sewing machines available are all terrific and there is a price for every budget. But another to consider is the quality thread you use and a new needle frequently of the correct size and function. I keep my machine clean and oiled between projects. The machine just hums away and the stitches are perfect.
I feel like the Bernina dealer did not provide the education they should have. Bernina also has the independent bobbin winder on every machine they sell . The Bernina with the Bernina hook is very quiet and stitches lick between the layers of the fabric instead of just laying thread the way the NQ based baby locks do . I own both and like both the 530, the 770, 350, the Suprano and the crescendo. Are the Bernina models are more of a commercial type quality and that they will so through almost anything. My baby locks make a thumping noise when they go over seams. They still go over the seams, but it is with a thumping noise, when I make curtains draperies or bags.. the sound does not change on the Bernina‘s. They are also buttery, smooth and quiet, the entire time, the sound, nor the power changes when sewing on the Bernina. Both machines are decent machines baby lock provides exceptional education, and Bernina typically provides exceptional education. The brother machines and the babylock machines are almost identical, in fact when packaged for baby lock, they actually remove features that are included on the brother however, I have yet to find a brother dealer that has education, experience or customer first service. This is why I believe the Babylock and Bernina are top choices for machines and education in the United States.
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My Favorite Things About Using a Baby Lock Crescendo - Quilters Candy
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Choosing a Sewing Machine for Quilting - Diary of a Quilter - a quilt blog
[…] can read more about a Crescendo machine in this review by Elizabeth Chappell of Quilter’s Candy. (We had very similar experiences switching […]
I was using my Bernina 440qe as my travel machine bc that’s all I had in 2018. After seeing how well the Janome 3160 (that I bought my daughter) worked, I bought one for myself in 2019. The weight was more manageable & I loved the thread cutter. In 2020, I discovered the Brother XR3340 & LOVE it more (even w/out thread cutter) than any previous machine I’ve ever owned. At 11 lbs., it became my travel machine. I recently took it in to a dealer to be serviced. He dissuaded me with a $200 service fee & started showing me different Brother & Babylock machines. They have a Crescendo priced at $3500/closeout. I absolutely love it, however I hesitate buying it because of the other perfectly good machines I already own. And btw, earlier this year, I got a Brother se1900 embroidery machine that I wish I hadn’t.
Your post has me almost over the edge. I want to get it & sell all except the XR3340. If so, the Crescendo will absolutely be my last machine. I’m excited!
Elizabeth ChappellLee Mireles
Wow! You’ve definitely done your research and tried lots of options! I love my BabyLock!
Thank you for this thoughtful review. Did you look at Brother as well? I am in a similar situation and was curious to learn more. Many think BabyLock and Brother are the same, that is not exactly accurate. I am always eagarThanks again for your insights.
Elizabeth ChappellSusan Vickers
Hi Susan, I’m so glad you found this helpful! And to answer your question, I have not tried any Brother sewing machines. If you can, I would go to a local quilt shop and try some out before buying. or if you have a friend with a Brother machine, see if you could sew something on it? Good luck finding your dream machine – you’ll have to share what you decide to go with!
You totally inspired me to go out and buy the Crescendo! I’ve had the Baby Lock Sofia for 10 years and it was a perfect machine when I started quilting. When I started I was mostly making baby quilts, but now that my kids are older I’ve started making larger quilts and the throat space on my little Sofia made quilting my larger quilts a challenge. I brought my new Crescendo home yesterday and I cannot wait to start using it! All of the features you talked about in your post were the exact features I wanted…thanks for the inspiration!
Oh this is so exciting! I’d love to hear what you think of it! Congratulations and enjoy xoxo
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Thank you so much for this thoughtful post, and the comments. I like so many during the pandemic pulled out my old machine (Pfaff Tiptronic 1171, I think with the first IDT dual feed) and began making masks from autoclave material with a local charity, donating them to local hospitals. That led thru a series of events with my Pfaff going in for repairs along with a newfound interest in learning to quilt I was a weaver and fiber artist in my prior life) which then led to my purchase of a Bernina. I was so disappointed in the machine, it did not have a dual feed and I struggled to sew good 1/4 inch seam, and it did not have some of the basic features I came to depend upon, like a bobbin thread warning light. Once my Pfaff was finally repaired, I realized it wasn’t me, I just was not happy with the Bernina. So I’ve sold it and am looking for one that has all the features important to me. You certainly have boosted my confidence as a novice quilter and pointed me in the right direction!
Oh I’m glad this was helpful! Finding the right machine is definitely a personal thing, so I hope you find one that’s just right for you!
Thank you so much for this post! I am on the hunt and appreciated your detailed
investigation. I have a Babylock Katherine which I love when I’m not having issues, and I would
love to have a Babylock without issues and with some of the features you mentioned…like the bigger throat area and the laser light!
Elizabeth ChappellAnn Conrad
I’m glad you found the post helpful! And yes – I sure am happy with my Baby Lock.
Jo A Tejeda
Just an FYI, you reversed the BabyLock and Bernina in the throat space breakdown. I knew what you meant though.
Thanks for a very useful guide!
AnonymousJo A Tejeda
Thank you! Just went and changed that. ?
Does the Babylock machine have dual feed to regulate the stitching? I need nice even stitches when I’m sewing thick pouches on machine quilting.
Elizabeth ChappellCynthia Gottlieb
It DOES have that! I just want and added that feature to my blog post, because it’s a big one!
So, does having the dual feed mean you don’t have to use a walking foot? Do you like this dual feed better than the Bernina’s dual feed?