Today I decided to go to the sewing machine dealer in the town near where DH and I are staying. The cool thing is that they sell multiple brands including Babylock, Pfaff, Bernina, and Viking. After spending a little time talking to the salesperson, who was extremely helpful, we spent a lot of time looking at the Bernina 530 and 560. Both are beautiful machines, but I liked the 560 better. One feature that I really liked about the Bernina is the fact that you can adjust the pressure foot pressure to quite a few different settings. I know on my Ellageo, there are only 4. I also liked the fact that you can purchase separate needle plates for different widths. Most machines have the option of a single hole plate and the max width plate, but the Bernina has another option in between. With the narrower hole, your fabric will turn and behave better. Also, that 9mm stitch width is definitely seductive. I love how powerful the motor is too. BUT, I still did not fall in love with this machine. I liked it. I liked it a lot, but not sold.
Next I tried out the Pfaff. I was disappointed that they did not carry the Performance 5.0, but they don't carry it because they feel the screens are more cumbersome to use than some of the other machines. One of the things I have never liked about the Pfaff and some of the other brands are the push buttons. It's just an aesthetic thing, but still I don't like it. The Quilt Expression 4.2 was on my list to try, and they had a good price on it. However, I soon as I started sewing with it, I was disappointed. The machine is very noisy (compared to what I have now) I really must LOVE whatever machine I buy, and I couldn't believe I did not love this machine either. I have wanted to have a Pfaff for as long as I can remember, yet, I did not feel compelled to buy this machine. Sigh.
Toni (the sales lady) was very patient with me and asked me more questions about what I was liking and not liking. She took me over to see the Babylock Symphony. Of course, I already have a Babylock, and the Ellageo has a bigger screen than the Symphony. I do like that stadium lighting though. Well, guess what I ended up getting?
The Babylock Aria has all the features that I want and more. I love how quietly it sews and I am comfortable with the interface. I felt like the buttonholes and threading were complicated on the Bernina, although I'm sure I would learn it quickly enough. The Babylock just feels like home to me.
Also, Toni told me (after I had decided) that the Babylocks have far less issues and repairs than the Berninas or other brands they carry. Also, there is nothing extra that I need to buy, since I already have all the extra feet I needd (well, I DID buy a ruffler. I have been wanting one for a long time and they had all their feet 20% off) They matched my local dealers sale price and threw in the extended warranty, which is about $400. The only thing I want to get is a sew steady table. They are far less expensive than the optional table that the Babylock has, and I like that they are clear.
I'm really happy with my experience at Dublin Sewing Center. If I need anything, they will just drop it in the mail to me. I'm not too worried about getting "free classes" because I already know how to use most of the features of this machine. Now, the next time I am in the area I wouldn't mind going in and learning some sewing tips from someone who does garment sewing, like the lady who helped me. I know our local Babylock dealer has a quilting-only point of view.
I can hardly wait to get home and start checking out all the features of my new machine!