I finally got down to the nitty-gritty of buying my new sewing machine. After 17 years with my trusty New Home My Excel, it was a daunting task to find her replacement.
I started by doing research online and by asking my Yahoo group mates at Stashbusters and Mystery Quilters. They helped narrow down the field to Janome, Pfaff, and Bernina. Unfortunately, none of these brands allow dealers to advertise prices online, so I had no way of comparing machines in my price range without driving all over Hell's Half Acre to see them. The good news is that I got to touch and sew on each machine before making my choice.
My first stop was Ashby Sewing Center. They represent Janome and Pfaff, among other lines. They were incredibly helpful and informative! They let me sew on several machines, and even let Gracie try out the variety of decorative stitches on the Janome. Although I really love the Janome machine, the Pfaff has some incredible features for a very similar price, so that moved up to the top of my list.
Right around the corner is the Atlanta Sewing Center where I could see the Bernina. Although the Bernina is a fabulous machine and the hands down favorite in my guild, they are much more expensive. To stay within the budget I had established - which covered the top of the line quilting machines by both Janome and Pfaff - I would have to go to the most basic Bernina with the knee lift option and the least number of stitches. It was missing several key features I was looking for. To get the same features I was looking at in the Janome and Pfaff would cost me more than DOUBLE in the Bernina. I just couldn't do it.
This morning I decided to call around to other dealers to see if the prices were pretty standard across the board. Imagine my shock when I found a Discover Sewing almost 30 minutes closer to my home (I didn't even know they sold Pfaffs until I went online.) who had the same machine for almost $400 less! It was too great of a bargain to pass up, so I got right in my car and drove down to get it. Even better, they matched the deal offered by Ashby to throw in the Fab-u-Motion kit. With her 10" throat, I foresee lots of free motion quilting on this machine.
So without further ado, I'd like to introduce Rene, my new Pfaff Quilt Expressions 4.0, named in honor of my late grandmother.
Gram didn't have a creative, quilty or stitchin' bone in her body - I don't ever remember her knitting or crocheting or doing anything even remotely crafty. No, she was a party girl who loved to celebrate and be with her family and friends. She was famous for demanding a second drink (well into her 90s) with the classic line, "A girl can't fly on one wing!"
When she died in November, she left her grandchildren a small inheritance to be used for something fun. While a sewing machine might not have been fun in her book, this Pfaff with all of her bells and whistles is the ultimate indulgence as far as I'm concerned. So here's to you, Gram. I miss you and love you so much. Thanks for the memories, and all the ones yet to be made.