Have you heard? Today is National Sewing Machine Day! Break out the bubbly and let’s hear it for these marvelous machines! Honestly, we would be lost without our beloved sewing machines. To commemorate this special day we’ve compiled a list of all of our favorite machines – the workhorses, the splurges, the machine sent from heaven, and those that we could never replace because of the memories that they conjure with each and every stitch. And we want to know – what is your favorite sewing machine?
Vivika DeNegre, Director of Content
Ah, my trusty Bernina! I do love this machine – it is a workhorse and nearly 20 years old, but still going strong. I will never part with it because it has become a trusted partner in my studio.
In addition to this gem, I also have a Bernina B770 that I use frequently for machine quilting (it has a super-wide throat) and most of my piecing. I test drove this machine on the set of Quilting Arts TV and was impressed with the beautiful stitch, the bright lighting, and the built-in dual feed.
Kristine Lundblad, Managing Editor of Quilting Arts and QuiltCon Magazine
My sewing machine died in the middle of a project. Has that ever happened to you? Sheer panic, right?! I was about halfway through quilting a baby quilt—a group project with my colleagues for a co-worker having her first baby—when my machine went CLUNK and would not take even one more stitch. After a minute or two of rapid breathing, I called a few local quilting friends and one came through with a loaner within a few hours. Gosh, I love my quilting buds!
The immediate problem was solved but … what to do about my trusty but elderly Bernina 1090QE? Long story short, the necessary parts are no longer available so it was time to decide my next steps.
First, I assessed my needs and wants. Then, I came up with a budget. Finally, I did some research—online, talked to friends and guildmates, and reached out to others. It was the latter that did the trick for me. Maria Shell to the rescue!
I met Maria years ago when she was a guest on “Quilting Arts TV.” We also worked together on Quilting Arts and QuiltCon magazines and I had the pleasure of taking a Zoom class with her during the pandemic. And I video-interviewed her last year when her quilt, “Jökulhlaup,” was on the cover of the Summer 2021 issue of Quilting Arts. She is warm, smart, resourceful, and very giving—not to mention being a world-class quilter! For some reason, I thought to reach out to her; maybe because she is so easy to talk to. I told her my tale of woe. I don’t know what I was expecting—I mean, what would you do if someone randomly emailed you about her broken sewing machine conundrum?
But Maria had a lot of sympathy—and a solution! She had a few machines from a woman who had too many purchased. It was sort of on impulse; She didn’t really need them, particularly, but she was rescuing them from an uncertain fate. And one of them was a Bernina 1090—almost identical to my beloved 1090QE! Yes, it is an older machine and I could face similar repair problems down the road but I had such a good feeling about it—and Maria did, too. It was kismet! We agreed on a price, she wrapped and packaged it perfectly, and it arrived a few days later—from Alaska to Massachusetts without a scratch! I named her Peggy after the woman who sold her to Maria. I love Peggy so much!
So now I have a fairy godmother as well as a lovely, new-to-me sewing machine and I couldn’t be more grateful for both! I love happy endings, don’t you?
Eileen Fowler, Associate Editorr
In my lifetime, I’ve owned three sewing machines (a Kenmore, an Elna Quilter’s Dream, and a Pfaff Creative Vision). Love quilting on my Elna and Pfaff, but nothing compares to the fond memories and countless hours of stitching on my mother’s White. Isn’t it ironic that the White was turquoise? Anyway, I was only six when this marvelous machine and its cabinet were delivered to our home. Watching the White sew fabric pieces together was mesmerizing! After countless hours of patient observation, my mother finally caved and allowed me to sit at the helm. I learned how to oil it, wind bobbins, adjust tension, and stitch (almost) perfect, straight seams. My first project ever—a flannel nightgown—and many others were sewn on that White. No fancy “bells and whistles” included—just the basics. Sometimes a simple workhorse is all you need.
Valerie Uland, Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting editor
I have quite a few sewing machines, including my great grandmother’s Necchi, a Baby Lock embroidery machine, a couple of older Berninas, Singer Featherweights, and even a Singer treadle machine. It’s hard for me to pass up any vintage machine, too, especially those that are painted turquoise! But my go-to sewing machine for efficient piecing and quilting is my Juki TL-98Q. Its long and narrow feed dogs that fully engage ¼” patchwork seam allowances combined with its single-hole needle plate make for beautiful straight stitches. When chain piecing, I can rev it up to 1500 rpm for some fast and furious deadline sewing! The needle stop up-down button keeps my fabric from budging while stopping for unpinning, pivoting, or adding the next patches to my chain. The knee lift lever is invaluable for finessing patchwork (like curves!), and I can cut the threads from the foot pedal. The size L bobbin holds more thread than my other sewing machines for less-frequent winding, too! And lastly, I love its generous harp space for visibility while piecing or free-motion quilting with dropped feed dogs. I added an LED light strip—and a little zebra friend!
Gigi Levsen, McCall’s Quilting editor
I was lucky enough to pick up this old Bernina for just a few dollars and it was my main sewing machine for many years. It does only straight stitch and zigzag. It’s missing the case it came in so I had to tape a box onto the table next to it to create a larger sewing surface for quilting. But it worked very well for a long time (and it still does, even though I don’t use it regularly anymore) and I will never part with this machine.
I was fortunate to be able to replace my old Bernina with a new(er) one which I love just as much. It’s got a lot more features and works beautifully. After doing a bit of quilting with my walking foot, shown above, I’ll do some free motion quilting with the BSR (Bernina Stitch Regulator), which keeps the stitches a consistent length no matter the speed at which I move the quilt under the foot.
Happy National Sewing Machine Day from us to you, and Happy Quilting, too!