From Bernina we went to Janome. Would you believe that they didn't have the machine I wanted to test drive? I wanted to look at the 1600P-QC. The only dedicated quilting machine they had at the show was the Memory Craft 6600. And then they gave me the brochure for the Memory Craft 6500 instead! So I still haven't driven the machine that was at the top of my list!
On to Janome's sister company - Elna. This time I did get to look at the machine which was number 2 on my list. Unfortunately, the demonstrator actually works for Janome so didn't appear to be super confident on the Elna machine.
I have been using mechanical machines all my sewing life - about 36 years; first a Singer Capri (bought in 1974) and most recently DD's Brother PS-53. I have also used very old Bernina machines. Sewing on these computer driven machines was like moving from an old 1960s car to a new car with power steering and ABS - no comparison! They all sewed beautifully and seemed much of a muchness to me!
Brain weary, we pushed on - this time to Husqvarna Viking. We looked at two machines - the Sapphire 875 and the Sapphire 885. D. gasped and her eyes opened wide. Her comment: "This machine was designed by someone who sews!" She was so impressed that I made up my mind right there and then that I would buy one of these two machines (although one was outside my budget).
One of the features of the Husqvarna machine that we both really liked (apart from its uncluttered looks) was that the computer screen showed the stitch I would get in real size! This is the only one of the six brands I tested that did that! The computer screen also "spoke" in English words - not symbols and numbers! However, I did feel that the Sapphire didn't drive as smoothly as the Janome, Elna or Pfaff. Apparently I felt that because it is actually a little noisier than the other machines.
Finally we went to Singer. Here we had the best demonstration of a machine we had had all day. I had to remind myself several times that I should concentrate on the features of the machine and not the ability of the demonstrator (who owned the same machine we were looking at). The Singer threaded up in much the same way my old Capri did (some things never change) but after that the similarities ended. I was impressed with the Singer machine - but no more so than many of the others.
After lunch D. and I looked at the quilt exhibition and then wandered back to some of the stands selling quilting and related goodies. D. bought some buttons and joined a "block of the month" club. I talked to my sewing teacher, Elizabeth, from Aussie Patches and she though all the machines I was considering were good choices.
We then went to HobbySew to talk to the machine salesperson there. Because HobbySew sells all of the brands I had tried (except Singer), there is no particular bias towards one company. In the end, I left feeling more confused than ever! If only Bernina made a machine with a wide throat I wouldn't have to make a decision! I'd know what I wanted to buy!
I am going back to the Show on Saturday to work on the Knitters' Guild stand in the morning so I think I'll be revisiting the sewing machines in the afternoon!
Thanks D. for taking the time to come to the Fair with me and to help me ask the "right" questions while we were there!