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Our Sources : Choosing the Right Sewing Machine

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Today's post is written by Ashley Little, a web producer for marthastewart.com.

When I began working at marthastewart.com as a web producer, I was an avid knitter and never devoted much time to sewing.  After taking a few Martha Stewart employee sewing classes, I was hooked. One pillow, two aprons, and three tote bags later, I knew I wanted a sewing machine of my own.

Singer; Education Manager Becky Hanson, who teaches sewing classes here at MSLO, encouraged me to choose a machine that I can grow into as my skills (hopefully!) improve.

After narrowing my choices to the Husqvarna Viking brand, I spoke with Roxanne and Stuart Lasky at Quilter’s Alley, MSLO’s authorized Viking dealer. Roxanne and I discussed what I would be making with my machine, my budget, and my experience.

Roxanne stressed the importance of buying the machine from an authorized dealer so that I not only choose the right machine, but also receive training and support even after I take the machine home.

Check out the photos from my visit to Quilter’s Alley to see which machine I finally chose!

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Quilter’s Alley recently relocated to this great space in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

1 Quilter’s Alley recently relocated to this great space in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I opened the box.

2 I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I opened the box.

I purchased a Viking Emerald 183. It has enough bells and whistles to bump me up to an intermediate sewer.

3 I purchased a Viking Emerald 183. It has enough bells and whistles to bump me up to an intermediate sewer.

I was excited to try all the decorative stitches. There’s even a bicycle!

4 I was excited to try all the decorative stitches. There’s even a bicycle!

I can’t wait to learn how to use the different types of feet. Buttonholes, anyone?

5 I can’t wait to learn how to use the different types of feet. Buttonholes, anyone?

Roxanne gave me some time to test the machine on my own.

6 Roxanne gave me some time to test the machine on my own.

IThen she trained me to thread the machine and use all the accessories.

7 IThen she trained me to thread the machine and use all the accessories.

I spent some time drooling over the fabric and Amy Butler patterns at Quilter’s Alley.

8 I spent some time drooling over the fabric and Amy Butler patterns at Quilter’s Alley.

Quilter’s Alley uses this machine for long-arm quilting.

9 Quilter’s Alley uses this machine for long-arm quilting.

They had every color of thread you can imagine.

10 They had every color of thread you can imagine.

A few other Viking machines at Quilter’s Alley, plus some beautiful quilts on display.

11 A few other Viking machines at Quilter’s Alley, plus some beautiful quilts on display.

How many quilts do you think I could make with all this fabric?

12 How many quilts do you think I could make with all this fabric?

Roxanne told me to call her about any questions I had, even after I took the machine home.

13 Roxanne told me to call her about any questions I had, even after I took the machine home.

Quilter’s Alley photos by Heidi Richter

Thinking about buying a sewing machine?  Get more tips on choosing the right one.

Comments (31)

  • Thanks for the tips. I have been thinking about buying a sewing machine just haven't really had the time to do the research. Maybe, I will stop by Quilter's Alley on my way home from work :)

  • Excellent article! Thanks for sharing!

  • I've been wanting to purchase a sewing machine for months but it's so overwhelming! Thanks for writing this article and pointing me in the right direction. :)

  • Sounds like a great experience! I didn't have any help choosing my sewing machine and I definitely didn't choose the right one. I ended up with a lightweight machine that is very functional but I definitely won't "grow into" it. In fact, I think it is holding me back!

  • Love the pic of you opening the box...you do look like a kid at Christmas!!!!

  • Great tips! Thanks Ashley.

  • Great article! I look forward to reading more about the "Crafty Adventures of the Fiesty Redhead!"

  • Oooops...How about "Feisty."

  • Thanks for renewing my interest in sewing. I had forgot how fun sewing can be!

  • What an adventure! I have never considered myself much of a domestic goddess when it comes to sewing but this has inspired me that with the right tools, I can rule the fabric! =)

  • i completely agree about the advice to buy from an authorized dealer. the people are so much more knowledgeable about the machines-- and patient, too!

    my sister runs that husqvarna/viking machine and loves it. take care, though! there is a special foot you have to put on to get a 1/4" seam-- it's not automatic!

  • And here I thought Husqvarna only made chainsaws and tractors!

  • I am in love with the bicycle stitch! Never knew a sewing machine could do that. I am inspired to try sewing myself!

  • This makes me want to go buy a new sewing machine! Those stitches are so fancy! Much more advanced than my zig-zag stitch (the most complex stitch on my mom's old Kenmore).

  • Hmmm, I never considered the importance of choosing the right machine. Maybe I’ll dig out my mom’s 1980’s Sears purchase and give it another try. Bernina’s are all the rage in my quilting corner of Ohio.

  • Roxanne and Stu are very knowledgeable..I received my new machine as a Christmas gift last year after many years of fondling the machines in their store. Great purchase - great store - great customer service!

  • Thanks for sharing! I've been thinking about purchasing a sewing machine for some time now, and this might just seal the deal!

  • Thanks Ashley - I've been thinking about getting one myself, and these are great tips!

  • Dear Roxanne and Stuart,
    Congratulations on your new space and your well deserved notoriety. It's so great to see such hardworking, nice, knowledgeable people have a successful business and get kudos, too.

    My Husqvarna Sapphire 830 that you sold and trained me on is doing such a wonderful job and has helped make my home decorating sewing business more successful. (Thanks to you both!) What a difference the right tools, education, and your support make!

    I am so glad I purchased from you and did not make the mistake of buying my machine on eBay!

  • Great article! I would love to be able to quilt!! Love the quilts in the picture!

  • Hey girls!

    Kirby here! Any chance you could sew me up a nifty star-spangled collar for the holidays? Looks like you've got the tools you need to get to work!

    Catch ya later!
    -Kirbs

  • You're so crazy maddy. That sewing machine is awesome!

  • [...] 29, 2010 My parents are rockstars! Take a look at Martha’s ‘The Craft’s Dept.’ Posted by Shara Filed in Uncategorized Tags: Family, Martha Stewart, Sewing, The [...]

  • Interesting article! Thanks.

  • Lately, before I buy something, I put in the model number with the word reviews in my Google search. You might try that and see what comes up for this model if it is not too late. Sewing machine Reviewer had some things posted.

  • So glad you posted your comments about sewing. Quiltmaking is a wonderful craft! I belong to 2 guilds -- one in Greenwich, CT, and one in Somers, NY....there are lots of us quiltmakers out there. The Quilter's Alley in Ridgefield, CT, carries terrific contemporary fabrics, Roxanne is a creative teacher to both adults & teens, & Stuart is very involved with their machine sales. The restaurant next door also serves good food, so combine a stop at The QA with breakfast or lunch.

  • Wow what a great article. So informative and very well written. I also enjoyed the pictures. Kudos!

  • I've been to that shop a number of times. Roxanne is an artist and she has such a keen eye for color and pattern. She is a wonderful advisor for any project and she has a great selection. It's not just your standard stuff and it's definitely worth the miles you may need to travel to visit her shop. Ultimately, you will go back just to see her, regardless of what project you are working on because she is so warm and knowledgeable.

  • I think it would be great if martha could do a show on quilting for the beginner.

  • I, too, have a Husqvarna Viking machine and absolutely love it! I purchased the Anna (a base-model machine) almost 10 years ago while I was in college. I have used it just about every day during that time, and it has made so many different projects. The only thing ever needed on it was a new light bulb!

  • There is so much information available on the internet when trying to decide the best machine to buy that it can become overwhelming. These comments assisted me in my decision making for the perfect machine. Thanks!

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