Embroidery Sewing Machines for Quilting in a Hoop
What do you think is the most important feature that embroidery sewing machines MUST have. I only want the machine for quilting.
This is a good question. We do not yet have any embroidery machine reviews by and for quilters in our 'Sewing Machine Reviews' page
. So I will offer my personal opinion.
I do have three sewing machines with embroidery modules on them, but I do not use any of them for quilting my quilts.
My personal preference is to machine quilt them myself on my sewing machine. I do not have a stitch regulator nor a machine with an extra long arm, but have spent many hours practicing to increase my skill level. That is my personal bias and I wanted to state that up front.
Now to answer to your question...
Bigger Is Better
A bigger hoop, that is. That way you can quilt the largest number of block sizes with your machine. This will minimize re-hooping and matching up design stitches.
My first Viking, a #1+, came with a hoop for 4 inch designs. Not really very helpful for quilting unless I was stitching small blocks.
My most recent acquisition, a Designer SC, has a hoop that is huge.
This hoop is for continuous embroidery so it's easy to re-hoop. There are a lot of different sized hoops in between. So my recommendation is to check what hoop sizes are available for the models you are considering. Then check the 'Hoop-it-All' website
for other hoops that will work on it.
Finally, analyze the types of quilts you like to make. Will the embroidery be used solely for machine quilting, or do you anticipate using it for piecing in the hoop or perhaps for appliques? How you use the machine will guide you towards the maximum hoop size you'll need.
Don't forget to test drive any machine---regular sewing or embroidery--with real life samples of what you do. The machine MUST have a good straight stitch, be easy to adjust, and have a good dealer to work with for regular maintenance and any problems that may arise.
The other thing to remember is there is a learning curve to becoming good at hooping. You'll want to practice it just like any other skill.
Drawbacks to Quilting in a Hoop
Your quilt back won't look as nice when you quilt in the hoop because of both thread changes and tie-offs. The 'fix' is to use the same exact thread in both the needle and bobbin. Use a patterned or busy backing fabric to camouflage your machine quilting threads and no one will be the wiser.
You'll still want to learn some basic free motion quilting to fill in the areas around the beautiful machine quilting designs you can buy. Quilted feathers, for instance, look even more dramatic when the area around them has been densely quilted. With a wool batting, they will give your finished quilt a wonderful dimension.
Piecing in the Hoop
Did you know that you can piece in your embroidery hoop?
Several companies offer pieced designs for stitching in the hoop. Lindee G Embroidery (that would be Lindee Goodall, the creator of Cactus Punch embroidery designs) has a nice grouping called "Cabin Fever"
Basically, any design that can be paper pieced can be stitched in a hoop. You'll need either a design pack or your own digitizing software to create the stitching patterns.
The final piece of advice I can give is the result of a recent sewing machine review that recently came into the Generations Quilt Patterns website.
The gal had purchased a sewing machine at a show for a very good price, but it turned out the machine was an older model and isn't very well supported by current computers.
I have purchased several versions of software and designs through the years...some I can no longer use, because the computer needed to transfer them to the correct sewing machine card finally died.
You'll want to keep close control of the designs you buy, so that you know exactly how to transfer them to new devices when needed to maintain the value of your purchase.
And now to our helpful readers...
If you use your embroidery sewing machine for quilting your quilts, please do add a review for it to the 'Sewing Machine Reviews' page and tell us about your experiences with your particular embroidery/sewing machine.
Or add your opinion below (with the 'Comment' link) about the most important feature for this kind of a machine when your plan is to use is exclusively for quilting. We'd all appreciate it!
Thank you for your question. I hope this information has aided you in your decision about a new sewing machine/embroidery machine.