Some of you asked in the comments whether I quilted on a longarm machine. Well the answer is sadly no - I'd love one, but quite apart from the snowball in hell's chance of getting something like that past the capital expenditure committee I'd have nowhere to put it - don't think it would appreciate our English rain in the garden :o(
As you can see from the photos I just use a common or garden bernina 1090.
I've had my machine since Christmas 1991 - I had some spare cash floating around and decided to replace my old New Home machine dating back to 1972 that I'd inherited from my mum - this was one of those with the cams that you could insert into the top of the machineto do different stitches - state of the art at the time I suppose. Mum had only used it about five times before going back to her hand machine because she never could get over her fear of how fast it went - bless her, her brain just could not get the hang of "less pressure on the pedal, less speed! - and so she'd press and close her eyes and let go of the fabric simultaneously - SCARY! - obviously I don't get my addiction to stitching from her.
I went into the shop intending to buy one of the 1200 series which at the time was THE top dog with an alphabet and several buttonholes etc but I think the guy must've had some of this one he needed to clear so persuaded me that this was the machine for me. At the beginning I did regret not getting the other one but now as I only use the straight stitch, the zig-zag occasionally and very rarely the pseudo 'overlocker' stitch when mending shouts so loud I can hear it over the quilting material :o) I don't regret my decision
For FMQ I use a straight stitch plate and the foot 29 that I've photographed. These were both good investments - the machine came with a darning foot but the ring was tiny (about a quarter inch) and you couldn't see that well - this is much bigger (almost an inch) and suits me fine. I then lower the feed dogs, set the stitch length to zero, make full use of the 'needle up/down' facility and away I go scribbling away to my hearts content.
My 1090 really doesn't owe me anything - it's stitched wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses, curtains, office suits, baby clothes, etc etc etc not to mention quilts and more quilts. However it did blot its copy book once right in the middle of making my brothers wedding quilt (the green and lilac celtic knotwork effort in one of my very first posts - sorry haven't got the hang of putting links in yet - you'll just have to search back to have a nosey if you like)
It completely died on me and cost over £200 to fix - I ended up borrowing a spare machine from an on line quilting friend who lived about an hour away (quilters are such lovely people) to finish the job.
I vowed I'd never be put in that position again so purchased a recon 1005 that would take all the same feet just in case. Maybe the threat was enough because it has behaved ever since but you never know!
I also purchased a little 1950's featherweight 221 - ostensibly for taking to workshops - as Berninas are sooo heavy, but as we don't have many workshops round here (Shame!) and finances are too limited to justify a residential it hasn't started to earn its keep yet.
I would love to have a go on the new Janome 6600 as I've heard such wonderful reports of it and the extra throat size would be very useful for large quilts - that wedding quilt measured 108" square and was something akin to wrestling with a blue whale trying to keep that in order whilst quilting it.
I used to always be a bit of a bernina snob and I still say the series/time that mine came from take some beating but I'm sure the quality and sturdiness isn't the same in the modern ones and lots of other manufacturers can give them a serious run for their money
If you're a bit of a FMQ virgin I'd say just get two ugly FQ's, slap them together with some wadding between and just scribble all over - a good one is to practice signing your name - after all it's something you do every day and don't even have to think what comes next - keep going 'til you've filled the whole space and then change thread colour and start over again - once you've done this several times you'll be able to draw a comparison between your first and later colours and see how you've improved already - just doodle and go for it!