Friday, January 8, 2010

New Sewing Machine Splurge

After a two- or three-year hiatus from serious sewing quilts, my life finally has allowed me to get back into one of my favorite hobbies -- sewing quilts. I have wanted to learn how to machine applique because some of my favorite quilts combine piecing with applique.  Check out Kim Diehl's designs and you'll know what I mean.

The sewing machine I've been using is an 8-year-old Pfaff Tiptronic 2040. (I remember exactly when I bought it -- the Saturday following 9/11!) It's been a good machine, and is light-weight, so I'll continue to use it as the machine I take to seminars and retreats -- such as the one coming up at the end of January (the Heritage Quilt  and Needlework Association Winterfest at Daniel's Summit).

So, anyway, I decided I needed a machine that had more stitches and more options for doing a machine applique stitch. I settled on the Baby Lock Espire.  In the month or so I've been using my new Espire, I absolutely have loved it. It is a very efficient sewing machine. Bobbins are a cinch to wind because they have a separate thread source (no unthreading the machine to wind a bobbin). The automatic thread cutter is a fabulous time saver -- less time lost reaching for scissors. And what's more, I no longer need to start  my sewing with scrap of fabric (although I am no longer creating leaders and enders -- see Bonnie Hunter's description of how to create quilts just from the leaders and enders). The machine also has a pivot function that people rave about, but I haven't taken  the time to learn  how to use it yet.

I am also hoping to finally learn how to free-motion quilt with my new machine. I've tried it out on scraps and it seems  do-able. But I haven't attempted anything bigger -- or that I want to eventually give to someone. I could  never get the tension set correctly on my Pfaff in order to free-motion quilt -- there were always loops on the bottom of the quilt. (Could have been user error, although I certainly  thought  I was adjusting the bobbin tension correctly.)

For anyone who is considering the Espire, I highly recommend it. It  is a computerized machine -- so I do not expect to take it to classes. My guess is that the electronics aren't designed for being carried around like a laptop computer. So the Pfaff will continue to suffice for classes.

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