Have I told you guys lately that I love my job? Barb sent me to Chicago this past week to take part in the very first session of the dealer training on the NEW BERNINA Longarm Quilting machines!
Some of you might be hopping up and down with excitement about these machines like I was, and some of you might be saying either A) what the heck is a “longarm quilting machine”? or B) BERNINA makes longarms? The short answer to question A) is this (via Wikipedia of course): Longarm quilting is the process by which a longarm sewing machine is used to sew together a quilt top, quilt batting and quilt backing into a finished quilt. The longarm sewing machine typically ranges from 10 to 14 feet in length. One typically consists of an industrial sewing machine, a 10 to 14-foot table, and several rollers on which the fabric layers are placed.
Question B’s answer is finally a very solid YES! BERNINA as many of you know makes fabulous sewing and embroidery machines, and has dabbled with putting machines on quilting frames, but has quietly been working on developing a very solid, industry changing line of Longarm Quilting machines! The line will eventually include a 24″ machine on a frame, a 20″ machine on a frame and a 20″ sit down model. (The frame models sit on a VERY sturdy 12.5′ frame designed and made for the Q24 and Q20 machines)
I was lucky enough to get to spend 2 days playing with the 24″ frame model, the “Q24”.
The machine has some really amazing key features, but one of the best is the 4.3″ display. The interface is very similar to the BERNINA 500, 700 and 800 series machines, so it’s very familiar and intuitive to use. You can set your stitches per inch, speed, and BSR (Bernina Stitch Regulator) settings all with the push of a button! There is also a whole library of tutorial videos imbedded into the help section of the machine. Check out this one on threading-
I was also really REALLY impressed with the tension system. They’ve developed a system where you can set your tension numerically, and then save it to a profile. So if you’ve got your tension set for use with Aurifil Thread, you can make a profile and call it “Aurifil” and with the click of the button bring back those settings every time! No more guess work when setting tension…amazing.
BERNINA has also integrated bobbin winding right onto the machine. There is a bobbin winder very similar to the bobbin winder on your sewing machine right on the side of the machine, front and center- with it’s own motor, so you can wind bobbins while quilting right on the same machine. (M class bobbins by the way). They’ve also moved the thread all up to the front of the machine, so you don’t have to walk all the way around your frame (or try to stretch that far) to thread.
BSR (Bernina Stitch Regulator) has also been given a super sized boost.
For those of you who don’t know, up to this point BSR was a stitch regulating “foot” that attached to many BERNINA sewing machines. Here’s what BERNINA has to say about BSR; With the aid of technology, the BSR system reads (similar to a wireless mouse) the surface of the fabric under the presser foot. A sensor transfers information to the sewing machine as the material is moved. The sewing machine calculates the necessary sewing speed in order to sew consistent stitches according to the set stitch length.. A slower needle movement and motor speed is required if the material is moved slowly. A faster needle movement and motor speed is needed for faster fabric movement. In The BSR in tandem with the sewing machine, automatically adjusts to the sewer’s speed for even and consistent stitching. With the introduction of the Q series machines the BSR has been integrated directly into the machine. As you can see above, there are two “eyes” on the stitch plate that read the movement of your project. This new version of BSR has the ability to regulate stitches while the machine is moving at a much faster rate than was ever possible before. (We were stitching at over 2000 stitches a minute…it was BLAZING fast). There is also a new BSR 3 mode which allows for a great basting stitch of 1, 2, or 3 stitches per inch.
One of my other favorite features is the programmable handles. I’m a lefty, which means that the world is sometimes set up backwards to me (any leftys out there will agree with me I’m sure). The handles on the Q series can be moved, elongated and programmed any which way to sunday!
You can set the toggle buttons on each handle to start/stop, bring your needle up/down, raise or lower your presser foot, speed up, slow down, or even do nothing at all! So being left handed, I like to start my machine with my left hand, and on many machines that option is defaulted onto the right handle, which makes me nuts! I think BERNINA should make the tag-line for this machine, “Lefty Approved”! (or maybe not…) You can also bring your handles up and out of the may for doing ruler work or right down close for micro stippling or super fine work. Options are ALWAYS good.
Ready for the really ground breaking features? YOU CAN USE YOUR DOMESTIC SEWING MACHINE NEEDLES!!! Yes, that means you don’t have to buy special longarm needles for your machine! Yes, that means you can’t accidentally put your needle in backwards, or sideways, or just a tiny bit off center (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…). YES, that means you can use a top-stitch needle, or a metallic needle, or a ballpoint needle (hello T-Shirt Quilts). And YES that means you can use a double needle(!!!!) with this machine! There will be a special stitch plate available that will accommodate double needle use. I can not WAIT to play with that feature. Imagine doing a meander with a double needle…the possibilities are endless. Oh, and also…needle threader (woot woot!).
Ground breaking feature #2…Interchangeable sewing feet! Any of your BERNINA quilting or free motion feet can be used on these machines.
So if you like to quilt with presser foot #15 which has a slight raised edge to the front, you can! Or perhaps you like to use Echo quilting and CutWork foot # 44C, you can do that too! There’s even a brand new foot just for the Q series!
Ruler foot #96 is for use with acrylic long arm rulers, and would be used in conjunction with the Q series ruler base.
I could go on and on..but I can only sit here and type for so long…and I need to give credit where it’s due. The team at the Creative Center was amazing.
Jennifer, Denise, and Judy from the BERNINA did a phenomenal job of making sure we all left educated, inspired, and prepared to answer questions from you all! Thanks again ladies.
I was also lucky enough to get to spend some time with John Kubiniec of “Big Rig Quilting”. John was part of the team that went to Switzerland to help test and develop the Q series machines. (I’ve told him that I hate him for getting to go on my dream trip.)
John will be with us at the East Aurora location on November 1st and 2nd demoing the Q24 for our BERNINA Bash event, so be sure to come see the machine and John. Out Q24 should arrive in the next few weeks, and the sit down Q20 will be available around April or May. It is so exciting to add a BERNINA longarm to our machine family- we hope you are excited as we are!
So, what do you think?