Dear Brother PQ1500,
I don’t know where to start. I suppose it should be with how we met. I can’t recall the exact details of how I discovered your existence, some on-line search I’m sure for a sewing machine that I could use for free-motion quilting (FMQ). What lead me to that search was the desire to try my hand at FMQ, not break the bank, and have a throat or harp space big enough to better accommodate queen size quilts, which I knew would be a frequently used size.
I recall, at the time, Amazon said you were available at a very reasonable price – considering the fact that getting one queen size quilt quilted by the local quilt shop on a long arm was about $200 just for a simple stipple or meander pattern, I figured you would have paid for yourself in three quilts, and I had many more than that to do.
I remember telling my family and friends about you, how I had my eye on you. Still at $560, I searched a little further, tried my hand at FMQ on my small Kenmore sewing machine, and posted interest on a Yahoo group of your name. Alas, I had quite a few offers for a used machine, and so I chose someone in Michigan as her price was right and included additional feet, needles, bobbins, and even an accessory box.
The deal was struck, and several days later, you arrived on my doorstep. Naturally, I carefully unpackaged you, immediately, and proceeded to try you out. Now, some of your downfalls, I had read, were tension problems, skipped stitches, and broken threads; however, I was hopeful I would be spared these issues.
Well, I wasn’t spared. For a couple days and going through a few quilt sandwich swatches, I played around with thread and tension, needles and quilting feet until I was fairly breakage free.
Still, you being a new machine (to me), I wanted to test you out with “real” work, but nothing fancy or treasured just yet, something small before attempting a large quilt.
Luckily, I had some old cutter quilts that I intended to make old quilt throws out of, but add some extra quilting. It took me a whole weekend just to cut out to the good parts to those old quilts. I cut them in to 11” squares. Now, I had a stack of over 150 squares to give you a solid trial run. I had been visiting Leah Day’s site, the Free-Motion Quilting Project, so I also had a myriad of quilting designs to try out. I had also found a local dealer who carried the thread Leah recommended for less breakage. Isacord. I was now ready to sit down and start quilting.
This is when I fell in love with you. Winding bobbins was faster and the thread wound evenly. Your quilting foot was nice, but the Juki foot seemed to be made for you. I learned how much you like to be cleaned and oiled. I enjoyed your extension table which gave me added work space. I found your sweet spot, the perfect speed at which you and I seemed to hum and purr along quilting together. You and I together made beautiful music, beautiful designs. All I wanted to do every night when I got home from work was to spend more time with you.
Eventually, I had enough blocks for a throw size and that’s when I discovered what a great straight stitch machine you are. Yes, it’s your only stitch, but, you do it so very well. I experimented with your stitch lengths, all the way from 1mm to 7mm, a wonderful basting size. Your pin-feed mechanism was an interesting feature I’d never heard of before, so I had to try that out. All of these features amazed me.
Oh, but I’m leaving out your best features. The easy flip of a dial on the “outside” of the machine to drop the feed dogs. A push of a button to cut the thread. With the needle in the right position, an automatic needle threader (Yes, even though your’s was broken when I got you, someday it will be great!) And later, that 9” throat provided a much better space for large quilts. Your ¼ inch marks for sewing seams and the horizontal mark for knowing where to stop for binding corners.
But, the pièce de résistance – the needle down feature! One push of a button, and now, no matter where the needle is when I take my foot off the pedal, you move till the needle is down in the fabric. Now, I can lift my hands off the quilt, and the quilt stays where I stopped. I can reposition my hands and go again. No turning the hand wheel. No little bit of slippage when I remove my hand. Just perfection!
Now, as we have worked together this past year and a half, I have discovered more things about you and have come to know you so much better. I learned the nuances of adjusting tension for different thread types, pressure feet adjustments for different fabrics, differences in threading for differing threads, and did I say how much you love to be oiled? I’ve taken your bottom off when I lost a screw, saw your metal underworkings, and gave you a good cleaning. I’ve experimented with different needles, tried out your walking foot and even your rolled hem foot. I’ve taken apart the tension dial a couple times when thread was breaking and all other adjustments had failed. I’ve even downloaded your service manual so I could get a better understanding of your anatomy.
Together, we have made a few baby quilts, kid quilts, old quilt throws, Christmas throws, t-shirt throws, several queen size quilts, and so much more to come.
Our time together is far from over. As my skills increase, you remain stable, steady, a constant work horse. And, even if someday, I should come into enough money to obtain a 16” sit down or a long arm (either of which is a small fortune), I shall keep you by my side for piecing, something you do very well.
Oh, I’ve seen other machines that can do 200 stitches and embroidery, too, but they don’t compare to you with your solid design and simple, but extremely useful features.
Yes, my love will last a long time to come. Without you, I’m not sure I’d be the quilter I am today. You complete me.
Q-Tip #12: Your sewing machine is your most important tool for quality quilting.