Monday, 29 June 2015

Monday Makers!#45 and my humble review of some quilting machines

Last week, I wrote briefly about my visit to the Sydney Quilt and Craft Fair. Today I want to share a little more about the quilting machines I tried. This will be a lengthy post; so, if you want to link up your projects, just scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Whenever I go to a quilt and craft fair, sewing and quilting machine booths are the ones I run to first. Before I get too confused among all the other booths selling all sorts of colourful fabrics, threads, craft supplies and etc, I go to every single sewing/quilting machine booth and try them if I can. I also try to go in early to make sure I have enough time for everything. This time, however, I only got to spend two hours;so, rather than checking out every machine brand, I went to the ones I had a particular interest in.

The first booth was Handi Quilter's and the machine was the beautiful Sweet Sixteen. My quilty friend Mon owns one and she introduced me to hers a few weeks ago. She taught me all the how-tos and let me play with it as long as I wanted. Because I wasn't new to it, I knew what to expect and it certainly didn't fail to deliver.
This machine is so easy and nice to quilt with. It does 1500 stitches per minute and the speed is fully adjustable. It has a beautiful, large space which makes small projects a breeze to quilt and larger projects very easy and manageable. It runs so smoothly with very little noise and you feel like your quilt underneath is just floating in the air!
Do you see the intricate design that I quilted???? Naaah, joking, I didn't do that. LOL
If you later want to move to a long arm machine, Sweet Sixteen can be converted into a long arm very easily. Since my first encounter with my friend's machine, I just can't get it out of my mind. If I had some disposable money, I wouldn't even think twice and would just buy it.

Then I moved to the Juki booth. 
Juki had its TL-2200QVP (Quilt Virtuoso Pro) on display (as well as TL 98). I had a little session with this machine too. I am not going into the technical features of it since you can find them on the internet. Here is my experience with it. 
I found the stitching quite noisy and also it didn't feel as smooth as the S16 either. It felt like the machine was somehow resisting me. There is a clear, hard plastic plate/shield just in front of the needle which I found quite distracting. It rather blurred my vision and hurt my eyes a little, which might be due to me being slightly longsighted. Having said that, this shield can be removed by unscrewing the screws. The booth also didn't provide me with a clean, unused piece of quilt sandwich even though they had many pieces (not because they were being nasty, they were very friendly indeed). It was stitched to death all over and I struggled to see what I was doing, where I was going... The machine was certainly strongly built and a very high quality but I didn't enjoy quilting with it.
I had to concentrate hard while quilting.
Then I tried the TL 98P. I won't say much much about it; it was a dream to sew with. I read probably every customer review available on the internet. I haven't come up with one single negative comment. After trying and seeing it myself, I can say with no doubt that this machine is a work horse. Being able to sew 8-9 layers of denim was quite impressive and the machine didn't even blink once.

I also wanted to try a couple of long arm quilting machines too. The first one I played was HQ Avante 18". 
I didn't ask much about its technical features; what you can't get is the experience and this was what I went for. 
I only tried quilting circles/pebbles because I was wondering how making circular movements were going to feel; smooth and easy or not quite circle but squarish and not very smooth. When I started quilting, it was difficult to have a perfectly round shape; the machine was kind of resisting. When the representative lady asked how I was doing, I told her exactly the same thing. She said that the machine was on stitch regulator and it might have been the issue. Surprisingly, it was the issue; as soon as she switched it off, that resistance disappeared and making circles was so fun and much easier! I loved it! The only thing that interfered with my performance was my belly LOL. I shared a short video on my instagram if you want to see me in action.
Quilting with a long arm is very different when compared to moving the fabric underneath the machine. It gives you a different kind of freedom. You certainly have a wider vision of the area you are quilting without the interruption of your project bunched up underneath the machine's throat or at the back or on your lap. But I can't say that I prefer a long arm to a sit-down or domestic machine or vice versa ; as I said, they are all different and the experience you gain is different too.

The last machine I tried was a Nolting. Unfortunately, I can't say much about this machine as I didn't spend enough time quilting with it. I also can't remember the model and don't have a photo of it. The only thing I can say is that neither was the poor machine nor the poor representative was a having a good day. The machine got stuck several times- that turned out that there was so much tangled bobbin thread underneath the fabric. The salesman tried to clean them crazily by pulling/tearing them. Then the bobbin thread ran out, and a few other things happened. I didn't want to push the poor guy too much as he already looked super tired; I thanked him and left. I hope he got a good rest on that night.

There you go! Here is my experience with the above mentioned machines. 
I also want to say that I am by no means a quilting or quilting/sewing machine expert. These are my personal views and your experience might be totally different. And it is totally fine.

Now to Monday Makers!
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1.Your project can be anything you start on that Monday as long as it makes you move and be active and creative: a new quilt, a knitting project, scrap booking, cross-stitching, baking-we don't mind yummy recipes!, a gardening project, painting your house!, tidying up the pantry!...This is your Monday and you are the maker of the day!
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  1. Interesting, I've not played with any of the larger throat machines but the next show I go to I'm going to give them a go!

  2. Very nice reviews - you take your time at shows seriously! :)

  3. I think it would be helpful to go right down the line to test out so many. I relied on word of mouth so much before settling on mine. I think cost is also an enormous factor when making a final decision. Although many manufacturers tout a deeper working area, higher speeds, etc., there is an optimal area of working space on most machines most of us are comfortable with. I'm glad you had the opportunity, and appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us.

    Julie @ Pink Doxies

  4. I could really do with a new machine , but I just want someone to say here's your machine, just use it


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