I was supposed to go to Puerto Rico for a vacation, but my sister bailed on me, so I decided to use the vacation money for a new machine. I love my Pfaff Grandquilter, and it will still be my primary one, but I need a machine that can do the zig zag stitch for machine appliquing. At first I thought I would buy a cheap machine since I only need that simple stitch, but then I decided that I need more features in case I decide to try out some new things in the future.
Working out how much I'm willing to spend on a machine is always iffy - do I want to go high end and buy one of those machines that can embroider anything, including scanned pictures, or do I get one with fewer embroidery options? I tried to think of all the ways I could use the embroidery function and realized that it is highly unlikely that I would put any kind of embroidery on my clothes or quilts. In fact, it is extremely rare for me to wear any printed patterns!
Since I didn't have a clue about what machine to buy, I went to visit my favorite sewing machine store and told them all the things that I wasn't looking for, and they came up with the recommendation of the Pfaff Smarter C1100 Pro machine. It's similar to the Grandquilter, very sturdy and quiet. It has a built-in walking foot and there's a promotion now in which the quilting kit is free (comes with an extended work space for the machine and various quilting feet).
I really liked it when I tried it out, but I've been reading the reviews and they're mixed. Either people love it or hate it. I'm going to try it out again, but this time bring some sample quilts and fabrics with me and see if I have the same problems that the people who didn't like it did.
Unfortunately, when you buy a machine, you won't really know whether it is a good fit or not until you've used it for a while. But the people at this store have always been on target with their recommendations, so I trust them to help me find the right machine. Still, fingers are crossed with the next visit ...