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Customer Discussions > Quilting forum

Best sewing machine for free-motion machine quilting

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Showing 1-25 of 134 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 30, 2008 6:06:51 PM PST
PM Quilter says:
This is pretty wide open at the moment. I have just decided to get a new sewing machine. Can't quite bring myself to get a long-arm just yet (don't really have the space for it right now). I am frustrated with the Viking Designer SE. It just isn't meant for machine quilting, no matter what they say. I have had constant problems with tension while doing free-motion on it. I have just got to get something that will make me happier when quilting but it really needs to have something on the designer to justify it - more space in the throat, a stitch regulator...etc. Is there a machine out there that is really designed for quilting and free-motion quilting other than the long-arms? I am looking at Janome, Bernina, and Pfaff. Of course, the issues with Viking are likely to be translated over to the Pfaff now since there is really no difference anymore (at least according to the people I talked to today) Made by Viking, at the Viking factory, using Viking parts. Anyway, I am open to suggestions

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2009 4:43:01 AM PST
Storyquilts says:
Check out the Janome 6500. I've had mine for 3 years, Free Motion quilting is almost all I do and it doesn't hesitate at whatever thread or fabric I want to use. The olny weakness I've found is sewing on knits. That can be tricky, but everything else is a snap. The newer 6600 is supposed to be great, but I've not used it so can't speak to that model.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2009 11:36:53 AM PST
Ralston says:
Hi, I read about your frustration with free motion quilting on the SE and I do agree, but even though Viking and Pfaff overlap in many areas, free motion quilting is not one of them. In October I purchased the Pfaff Creative Vision and have quilted three quilts on it so far and absolutely love it. The tension is perfect and the larger space to the right of the needle is a dream come true. Pfaff now has a new line of quilting machines which were very attractive to me, but I just decided to go for the top of the line and love it not only for the fantastic free motion but for the beautiful quality of all stitches, decorative, satin and plain old straight stitch. It is also very important to have a good dealer that will offer all the support you need, no matter what type of machine you decide on. Test drive any machine you look at and good luck.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2009 6:55:38 AM PST
Sandy says:
I'm a Janome lover myself, own 5 of them. When doing free motion quilting you have no tension that's why it's called free. Are you lowering the feed dogs? I don't know anything about Viking or any other machine except Janome. I hope you can find a machine that works for you soon.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2009 9:16:00 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 7, 2009 9:19:24 PM PST
Judi says:
I, too, am a Janome convert. I started off with the 3500 which was great for general sewing and with some quilting stitches but as I progressed I wanted someting more advanced. The 6500 is fantastic, more space under the arm and many quilting stitches as well as utility and also monogramming. I now "write" all my labels on the 6500 as I can personalise them. I still use my 3500 a lot as it is lighter and I can take it to classes for piecing and general sewing. Many in my Quilting Guild use the the same 6500 or 6600 also. Drop the feeddogs and keep up a reasonable speed. this makes your stitching more even. Hope this helps. Judi.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2009 9:31:03 PM PST
S. G. Bailey says:
Pfaff, Pfaff, Pfaff is all I can say. I have a 32 year old Pfaff that still sews like a champ, an 11 year old Pfaff that never fails me...and I am getting the new Pfaff 4.0. I do lots of free motion and they all work really well. Pfaff is not a Viking, no matter what. It's still a Pfaff, a German thoroughbred.

Posted on Feb 20, 2009 6:38:14 PM PST
Dear PM quilter,

I realize at this moment that you probably have already found the machine of your dreams but just in case...I went thru the same problem with the Viking Designer I that you did. It is a great machine but did not do a very good job on machine quilting at least with free motion work. Oh the tears that were shed. Then, THEN I found my Bernina 440 QE with the BSR foot. (stitch regulator) a little over a year ago. I have since quilted about 10 quilts on it since and absolutely love it. I would recommend this over any machine out there. She is my baby! If you have any questions on free motion quilting, feel free to e-mail me at

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2009 8:28:10 AM PST
Barb T says:
What model of 32 year old Pfaff do you use? I need to find a good machine for free motion. Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2009 10:15:43 AM PST
B. Anderson says:
I also have a Janome 6500 and like it better than any other sewing machine I have ever owned, and that's been a few. I find it wonderful for sewing anything from sheer fabrics to quilting quilts. If price is any issue at all, you will find it many dollars less than any Viking Designer or Bernina 440. I am definately a Janome convert after owning 2 Vikings. The new 6600 has a built in even feed foot. Sometimes I wish I had waited and purchased that one, but can honestly say I LOVE my Janome.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2009 5:46:33 PM PST
S. G. Bailey says:
It was a Pfaff 1222E, but I just sold it on eBay 'cause I recieved a brand new Pfaff! But look for one there. It was the best machine, and the woman who bought it LOVES it too! I did free motion with it all the time!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2009 8:57:15 PM PST
kp says:
I was quilting with a Viking Quilt Designer and had the same problem. Now I have a Bernina Aurora and there is a WORLD of difference. These machines really shine for machine quilting.

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 5:24:23 AM PST
Tess says:
I'm a Bernina fan all the way!! I tried the Janome and it was such a step back in time that I just couldn't stand it. Sold it and kept using my Bernina. I've now upgraded to the 830 with the extra space between needle and motor house and loving it! If you aren't interested in embroidery then the 820 will be coming in a few months and I have friends waiting on that machine. The tension was the main reason I switched to Bernina 30 years ago and everytime I check out the other machines I'm always back to Bernina. Seems we have fewer problems in classes and such as well. Wishing you luck!

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 9:44:06 AM PST
VIKING MEGA QUILTER!!! My mother who has never machine quilted before just did her first queen size quilt on my mega quilter with no trouble at all so easy to use even a beginner can do it.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2009 1:25:51 PM PST
Judi says:
Tess. I would love to know which model Janome you used. I'll bet it wasn't a 6500 or a 6600.I have tried many makes of machine in my sewing life and can honestly say "6500" for me. I have only tried out my friend's 6600 but still think my 6500 is just as good. However,you have obviously found which suits you best so...many hours of happy quilting. Judi.

Posted on Mar 14, 2009 1:47:01 PM PDT
Vicki says:
Yes, the husqvarna (viking) mega quilter is absolutely wonderful.
For smaller pieces I actually use one of my vintage Singer 221 (featherweight) machines.

Posted on Mar 15, 2009 10:51:30 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Mar 15, 2009 10:58:36 PM PDT]

Posted on Mar 15, 2009 10:57:29 PM PDT
Martha May says:
Hello PMQ...

You say:

"I have had constant problems with tension while doing free-motion on it."

1. Drop the feed dog?

2. Keep your machine clean of threads and fluff.("puff of air" in a tin is good and the vacuum cleaner)
3. Use a new needle when starting a new project.
If it continues get it serviced.
We can all dream of a professional long arm but I'm too old to start a business and cannot see the benefit of such expense if not think to go that way.
As for other machines ..I can only speak for myself.
I have 3 Janome machines. The one I use for my quilting be it free hand or in a frame (Happy Jack, Australia) is the 1600P. I think it is to kill for. Why...? It does only straight stitching and goes like a rabbit.
It has the best speed over a 1000 Stitches a minute, flat out but you can slow it down.
I must admit that I am a 'horses for courses' person. that's why I bought it, purely to quilt with.
It also has a longer throat for rolling the quilt up under.
I realise that not everyone can afford to have 1 machine for 1 job.
A Janome 6500MC is also a great machine, or the Janome 6600MC it is really cool and has a couple of other features on it. I am not sure the 6500MC are around now (not having any reason to go looking, so I don't know). These two machines were designed for the patchwor/quiltering in mind.

I also have the 10001MC which I do some embroidery on and digitizing but it is mainly for general sewing with heirloom. I bought a Janome 200E for most of the Embroideries I a great deal on eBay. (don't like the 300E or the 250E)

So I am biased towards Janome. Important to find a good dealer.

Lastly I suggest that you go to all the machine dealers and try their machines. take a quilt sandwich and the thread you use and ask them if you can try out their machines for free motion quilting. That way you can compare.

I hope I have help a little and not just waffled on.

If I can help further happy to do so.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 23, 2009 7:43:57 PM PDT
Snugs says:
I am a Bernina lover too...I have tried other machines but they just never compare..the stitch quality is amazing. I love the BSR need to try one before you make a decision! You won't be sorry!!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2009 10:55:34 AM PDT
Barb T says:
I have recently purchased a Pfaff 1222 electronic! Thank you for your reply! I asked the original question about what 32 year old machine you used for free motion quilting. I had been researching this particular Pfaff model prior to your post and your comment was all I needed to make the decision. I heard nothing but positive things about the 1222 and 1222e. I am somewhat new to quilting and not in the position to spend a lot of money so this machine was a perfect match for me. I really admire the way old machines are built. I am just ready to start my first quilting project. I've been playing with it and love it so far. I purchased a "big foot" and I like the way I can see well to do free motion work. My particular machine also doesn't run "too fast" which makes it easier to sew at a steady speed when I push the pedal to the floor. The best way to make a decision is to ask people who have experience. Thank you again for your help!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2009 11:50:48 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 29, 2012 4:04:37 PM PDT
S. G. Bailey says:
My Pfaff 1222e is now living with a couture sewer in Chicago, who loves it. I hope I don't regret replacing it and selling it. But at least it is another Pfaff I get to 'drive'. I know you will like your new-old 1222e machine!
3/29/2012 ~ I bought it back! It is the best and I just couldn't live without it. Better than my $2500 new Pfaff Expression 4.0, hands down. Now I am considering a Bernina 440 too.

Posted on Jun 25, 2009 6:02:25 AM PDT
I too own a viking and am disappointed with the free motion quilting, other stitching is perfect so I use an old singer EG model It runs smoothly and has a slightly bigger throat for winding your quilt, I couldnt get a darning foot so adapted a janome quilting foot for it, works great

Posted on Sep 21, 2009 5:34:01 AM PDT
My mom has had nothing but problems with the SE as well. My guess would be that the SE and the new one that came out last year are built for machine embroidery, not quilting. There is a world of tensions difference between embroidering and pushing around a queen sized quilt.

She bought a Juki last summer and uses it solely to free-motion. I have used it several times and it is fantastic. I think she bought it new for $899 - that beats the heck out of $16,000 for a long arm. It's designed to do one thing - sew a straight line stitch, and since it's built for industrial sewing it's gonna be hard to break. It doesn't look like much, but we both like it.

Posted on Sep 28, 2009 3:33:10 PM PDT
Peggy Horgan says:
I have both the Janome MC6500P (4 yrs old) and the Viking Designer SE (2 yrs old). I always opt for the Janome for free-motion quilting--it's so much easier and better. I bought the SE for embroidery, but use it for some piecing projects. But always do my own quilting on the Janome, from small wall hangings to full-sized quilts.

Posted on Sep 29, 2009 12:58:18 AM PDT
J. Margul says:
I have a Bernina Aurora 440QEE (I think the QEE stands for quilter's edition plus embroidery)... and the Bermina Stitch Regulator (BSR) is incredible. Takes a little practice (like anything) but what results! Now I admit I was stunned for a few days (okay, a few months) with the sticker shock, it wasn't cheap. Heck, it wasn't even affordable, I spent more on that sewing machine than I did on my first new car (1977 Honda Civic with all my extras on it was about $4,000), but it is my dream machine. At least go give the Berninas and that BSR a test spin. Maybe I shouldn't have, I am still paying for this, but I'm so glad I did, and glad I made the commitment to get exactly what I wanted.

Posted on Oct 4, 2009 1:31:08 PM PDT
Overfences says:
Absolutely adore my Janome 6600 for free motion, and every other type of sewing that I do as well!
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Discussion in:  Quilting forum
Participants:  87
Total posts:  134
Initial post:  Dec 30, 2008
Latest post:  10 days ago

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