What Do You Sew With?


Let’s talk sewing machines…..  there a slew of brands, models, sizes and colors out there today on the market, but what exactly is the best one to use?  Is there a best?  If you ask 10 different quilters what features are a must for someone buying a  machine for quilting, I’m sure you would get 10 different answers.  But what exactly do we need?

As a backdrop I’d like to give you some history of my sewing machine adventures throughout the years.  Some of you might know I also run a t-shirt quilt business.  We have 2 computerized longarm machines (was a dealer for 10 years).   Over the 20 years we’ve operated that business, plus the 50 years I’ve been sewing overall,  I’ve had just about every brand of machine out there.  Okay, maybe not EVERY brand, but almost.  In our t-shirt business, speed is about the most important feature needed in our shop.  I have (2) Janome 1600p’s, a Janome Memory Craft 6300 for its fast zig zag stitch, a Brother high speed (for sewing zippers to the leaders for the longarm machines) and a Janome (MC400e)stand alone embroidery machine for stitching names only.    These are workhorses.  I’m not really sure why I have so many Janome machines.  We don’t really have many issues with them, so when we need a new machine for the business,  I tend to lean toward Janome.  I’m really not picky at all about brand.  I am dumbfounded to all the hype about one brand over another brand,  but I do favor the Janome 1600p over the Brother high speed (can’t remember the model) just because I think it runs smoother.  The Janomes were more expensive so I do think you get what you pay for most of the time.   That being said, I’ve have had issues with all them throughout the years, but like any machine that is worked in a high production setting, problems will arise.

When I come home to sew in my cozy studio the switch is flipped on what I want to sew on.  Gone are the florescent lights, the noise of the longarm machines and the rush to get the work out.   At home is where I want to relax, turn on some music or an audio book  and just mindlessly stitch.   This is where I’m at today, but over the years my favorite features for a home sewing machine have been different.   There have been times I really cared about speed and to some extent I still do.  There have also been times when I’ve cared about decorative stitches and embroidery attachments.  Other times, I’ve cared about the look or brand of a machine.  When I was 14 I started on a Kenmore and probably owned that machine longer than any other, but over the years I have  owned/own brands such as  Janome, Bernina,  Viking, Pfaff, Singer, Brother and Baby Lock machines.  All had their strengths and weaknesses.  Nowadays, I mostly come home  and settle down with my all time FAVORITE machine…..a 1940 Singer Featherweight.

I can’t really describe the feeling when I’m sewing with my beloved machine.  Is it because it’s so old and it gives me the feeling of an era my grandmother might have sewn her quilts in?    Is it the fact that it actually purrs when in motion and this smooth, quiet sound is mesmerizing?  Or maybe it’s the fact that I have it tuned up so well that it’s almost as fast as my Janome 1600p …okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but it is faster than most of my other machines.  I’m not really sure what the lure is, but even though it does not have an up and down stitch button, a reverse button, no decorative stitches or a fancy thread cutter, I guess I’m just so attracted to the beauty and simplicity of it. 

Featherweight machines are not for everyone  because modern machines have so much more to offer.  But if all you are wanting to do with a machine is to unwind and piece quilts,  a Featherweight just might be for you.  I’m not a collector, I bought mine to use.  It runs like a champ and there’s rarely a time when I’ll sew on anything else.  If you ever run across one grab it up and try one yourself.  Give yourself some time with it.  Sew with it, bond with it and you might just catch the Featherweight bug like I did.  

This if course is my humble opinion.,  I’d love to hear what your favorite machines are….