Quilters have an intimate relationship with their sewing machine. They learn what it needs and how to use it to create amazing works of art. Many quilters are experienced in using their machine to free motion quilt, use difficult metallic threads, and play with tension. Every machine is different, and knowing your machine and what it needs to do something amazing is part of the talent of each quilter.

A couple of years ago — 6 1/2 to be precise — my husband bought me my dream machine. A top of the line Viking — a Designer I. I had been sewing for a year on a Lilly — which I traded in — and I was ready to do more. It has embroidery capabilities and hundreds of stitches. I knew that it was a machine built to last because it was made by Husqvarna Viking. There was no point in considering a low end machine with plastic parts that would just break in a couple of years. Husqvarna Viking has a reputation for high quality products. Besides, I was given a 20 year warranty on the machine. What a wonderful investment.

Do I sound bitter? I’m getting rid of the last of it — bear with me. Because it isn’t a dream machine. After less than 7 years, the sensor on the motor head is breaking down. Because it is an electrical problem, it only has a 5 yr warranty — and thus is no longer covered. The repair costs $1,000. Right.

When I asked the repairman what caused this problem — he said that it was just age. It is like a computer that isn’t designed to last more than 5 years.

So I bought a 5 year machine. It isn’t a total paperweight — yet — so I suppose from their point of view, I’m lucky.

The new top of the line Viking is $9,000. The top of the line Bernina is $12,000. I thought that the sewing machine dealers were starting to listen to us — but I was wrong. At this point, they are catering to embroiderers that buy patterns to put on towels, clothes, burp cloths, etc. Interestingly, when the local Viking dealer told me the cost of the new machine & I gasped, she said that I needed to look at it like a car that only costs $200 a month. I would be very surprised if most home sewers are willing to equate their sewing machine with the expense of a car. The reason that longarm machines cost so much is that the buyers inevitably start a commercial business quilting for other people.

So rather than be negative, I think that there is a better way that I can spend $1,000. Interestingly, at this point in my quilting career, I don’t know if there is a dream machine, though. I would like a great straight stitch, at least a 9 harp (although more is always better), and a zigzag for machine applique. I used to love the sensor lift system on the Viking — no presser foot lever to constantly flip up & down — but it’s the electronics that won’t last over time.

I suppose even if I spend my $1,000 (and a little more) on something like the Janome 6600, the 5 yr limit on electronics (they have this limit too) won’t seem as bad as if I had spent $9,000.

I would love a long arm too (I even have a frame waiting for one)– but I still have to have something to piece & applique with.

My machine has been gone almost three weeks and I’m expecting it home on Friday. I think that it will be difficult for us to work together. “The thrill is gone baby.”