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What I love about my Baby Lock sewing machines

It’s time to talk sewing machines! One of the primary tools in any sewing room is a sewing machine, and I get asked often about which one I use and recommend. Last year I switched manufacturers/brands, and today I’ll share what I love about my Baby Lock sewing machines.

I recently purchased two new sewing machines.  Check out what I love about my Baby Lock sewing machines (and a few things I don't love).

Before going any further, I want you know this is NOT a sponsored blog post. I have not been asked to review any sewing machines by anyone. I just want you to know what machine(s) I’m working with and why.

When we renovated our house last year, my sewing room got moved and upgraded. I did some major purging and consolidating which included my sewing machines. I wanted everything that was sewing or quilting related to fit inside my new space, and I knew I was ready for a change in my main sewing machine. To make this all work, I had to part with three sewing machines: my Bernina 770 QE, my Juki TL2010 Q and my Eversewn Sparrow 25. I kept my Bernina 440 QE and my Singer 401A which belonged to my Mom, and it’s the one I learned to sew on in 7th grade.

Bernina 440 QE and Singer 401A

I had been disenchanted with my Bernina 770 for a while. You can read more about this machine and what I loved and didn’t love about it in my blog post, What is the perfect sewing machine? I still think Bernina puts out a great product, and I’m so glad I have my Bernina 440 QE. It’s a solid machine and I’ll never get rid of it. The 770 just wasn’t the right fit for me, and knowing that I still had the 440 made it bearable to give up the 770.

What is the perfect sewing machine @ The Crafty Quilter

At the same time, I had been wanting a machine that had a guide beam which can be used in place of drawing diagonal lines for HST’s and stitch and flip squares. It can also be moved to create a specific seam allowance or to guide a stitching line for quilting. The Baby Lock Crescendo is one of the few machines on the market that has a built-in guide beam.

After doing some research and some test-driving, I purchased a Baby Lock Crescendo and a Baby Lock Soprano in October of 2019. This is when the Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) comes to Santa Clara, California, and it’s a great time to buy a sewing machine because many of the local dealerships run sales in conjunction with the quilt show. At that time, Meissner Sewing & Vacuum Center in San Jose had some good deals on their Baby Locks and I took advantage of the savings.

The Baby Lock Crescendo is now my main sewing machine. It’s a big and heavy machine that stays put in my sewing room. I use it for piecing, applique and free motion quilting – basically everything. It’s very user-friendly, so I feel comfortable with the different functions (even though I haven’t tried them all yet).

It has a large harp (throat) space, it has a user-friendly touch screen, a one-button automatic needle threader that never misses, a great digital dual feed system, 573 built-in stitches, a large extension table, automatic presser foot lift as well as a manual presser foot lever (I like having both), an independent bobbin winder (so I don’t have to re-thread my machine when I run out), a sensor pen (that I haven’t even played with yet), and the built-in guide beam. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of bang for my buck with this machine.

Free motion quilting on the Crescendo has been very sweet. There are two different FMQ feet, one has an open toe that hops or bounces across the top and the other one has a small circle toe that just hovers over the top. This later foot is very smooth and great for quilts that don’t have bulky seams. I’m just finding this out on my current project above. I have to be careful when I get to a seam intersection and help guide it across because the clearance isn’t quite great enough. But otherwise, I like the FMQ experience on this machine.

The guide beam is a handy feature to have. I’ve found that it’s useful when I’m inserting a zipper and need a 1/4″ guideline that my zipper foot can’t provide. Below, I’m inserting a zipper in the seam, so you can’t see the zipper underneath.

You can adjust the guide beam to the right or left of center position so you can make it guide a scant 1/4″ to the left of the needle or the right. It also guides my quilting stitches for short stretches so I don’t have to mark them first.

Even though the guide beam is a useful tool, it’s not without limitations. If I’m making large HST’s, the guide beam doesn’t extend far enough to get to the other corner of my square. I often use Diagonal Seam Tape in conjunction with the guide beam when this happens. I also wish it extended behind the needle as well as the front.

The Baby Lock Crescendo also comes with a digital dual feed system that is like a walking foot on steroids. It does a great job of evenly feeding the layers of a quilt or thick fabrics through the machine so the stitches are even.

The Baby Lock Soprano is a smaller and lighter-weight sewing machine. It doesn’t have all of the same features of the larger Crescendo machine, but it has some important ones. It has an automatic pivot function, automatic needle threader and thread cutter, a large extension table, knee lift, a decent throat space and 300 built-in stitches.

The Soprano is my teaching/travel machine. I also keep it set up as a secondary machine in my sewing room. It’s nice to have two machines to go back and forth between. Right now my big machine is being used to free motion quilt, so I have the Soprano to use for piecing. I’m very thankful and fortunate to have both options.

The other nice thing about having two sewing machines from the same manufacturer is that they share the same bobbins and presser feet; most everything is interchangeable. I don’t have to buy two of everything and I don’t have to learn a new system. If I start an applique project on one machine, I can finish it on the other knowing that the blanket stitch (or other stitch) will look the same.

With all of that being said, I will tell you a few things that I don’t like about the Baby Lock machines. Changing presser feet is fairly easy, but going between a walking foot and a regular foot is a hassle to me. You have to entirely unscrew and remove one to put on the other. I think this is true for many if not most machines, except Bernina which has a great system for changing feet regardless of the type. And I miss their 1/4″ patchwork foot (but I still have it on my Bernina 440 QE).

I also find that the strength of the motor doesn’t quite live up to my expectations. When I have a bulky seam intersection to stitch, the Baby Locks will sometimes smoosh and swerve around it. Bernina machines are like a mini tractor. They go over anything.

After sewing on a Bernina for 15 years, I’m used to being able to micro-adjust any stitch setting. For applique this is really handy. Baby Locks and most other brands have parameters and default settings that don’t let you do that. It’s just something I wish all manufactures would change so that you have full control over every stitch.

Invisible machine applique on Bernina 770 QE @ The Crafty Quilter

Overall, I’m happy with my recent sewing machine choices. I wish I had space to hold onto all of them, but I really only need and use two machines. I know there are a lot of options when it comes to buying a sewing machine. Everyone has their own needs, budget, and preferences that will affect their own choices. My experiences are unique to me, and I only share them to help guide others.

If you want more information and guidance, check out my Sewing Machine Advice Part 2, and Sewing Machine Recommendations (Part 1). Read the comments, too! You guys are great at sharing your machine experiences.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my thoughts. If you want to share your own sewing machine story, leave a comment. I’d love to listen and learn! Happy Quilting!

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  1. This was a thorough review of the author’s Baby Lock sewing machines. Her observations on useful features as well as opportunities for improvement provide insightful perspective. Sharing personal experiences is helpful for others considering these options. Wishing continued creativity with her reliable machine companions.

  2. Amazing information. I really enjoyed to reading this thread and discussion by the people. As someone who is in voled in this niche for many years I would like to refer http://www.time2sew.com. It is not only focused on discussing the topic inside out But also benefits. Hope everybody enjoy to reading the blog.

  3. I am new to piecing quilts and sewing. I did purchase the BabyLock Aria (just like Crescendo without red laser light). I have trouble with the thickness of seams when sewing over them and the thickness of the quilt binding. Everything gets stuck. Am I doing something wrong? Please help!

  4. Love your review. I am torn between the new Baby Lock Chorus and the Janome M7. Any thoughts here? Thank you!

  5. Ron here , My lady friend has a 2 yr old baby lock sewing machine , She is left handed and needs the very very start up , Ie, take it out of the box and then …. she is in Sumner, Washington, Any help would be extremely helpful

  6. I’ve been sewing for a few years, my husband told me about the idea to try a new sewing machine, he suggested one from the Baby Lock brand, as this brand is new to me, I wanted to get more information about these sewing machines, after reading your article, it sounds like I’m getting one!

  7. I am new to this but have been sewing for years. I am torn between the Baby Lock Aventura II and the Bernina 570 QE. Which one is the one for me? I have compared them online but not found a good comparison between the two. Please help….

  8. I see this was posted in June. I. Made over a hundred masks and suddenly my 1950s viking quit and my old baby lock quit. I need to sew!
    Can’t find a baby lock brilliant in the whole country. Even when I order and pay for one it’ll be months to receive it.

  9. Okay Quilting Ladies! Thank you Julie for a personal response to my machine dilemma!!! How kind of you. I am looking at a Bernina and the one that seems to have my “must haves” is the 570QE. It is very pricey! But, it has dual feed and a few other things that I have come used to on my Pfaff, I don’t want to give up them up. I wish I had kept my old Kenmore and Singer – but no use crying over spilt milk. Here are two questions: does anyone have any experience with the 570 QE……and do mechanical machines “break down” at some point? Both my old Pfaffs seem to be ‘balling up” the bobbin thread when I begin sewing…….one worse than the other. They were serviced recently. My one Pfaff (1157) I will always keep. Despite the plastic housing falling apart, I love it. But it is time for something newer. Now, I always thought I’d check out a Baby Lock, and may do that. Trying to find a dealer is a difficult here in BC — we have very few shops left!

    1. I have quilted on a Crescendo when teaching FMQ classes at a Baby Lock dealer shop. It is a great machine with a beautiful stitch. Have you tried adjusting the pressure of your presser foot when FMQ? I sometimes like there to be less pressure when FMQ. I wonder if that would give a little more room when using one of the feet.

    2. Im not an experienced seamstress but I see quite a bit. I have only ever owned vintage machines like my old Morse. Recently, after the pandemic started I first purchased a singer, it was awful!!
      My first brand new machine and I couldn’t stand it 5 mins after I got it. It was supposed to be heavy duty, lol.
      It wouldn’t sew anything. Broke needles constantly, wouldn’t stay threaded if you sewed very fast.. I was heartbroken.
      I put it under my desk and got out my trusty Morse.
      I couldn’t return it because they were closed and by the time they reopened it was past the window to return.
      But I was so mad I threw a fit, drove to Muskogee and went into the only sewing place they had determined to buy a Bernina.
      They don’t carry Berninas …
      So again I’m disappointed but the lady points me to a Babylock. I see on it a minute and she points to the Babylock Presto ll and says that’s my favorite but I’m no expert..
      So I move over to the Presto ll and one seam later I’m telling her I’ll take it.
      It doesn’t do heavy duty like my Morse but it makes up for it threading my needle and ohh I now can’t live without the automatic thread cutter.
      My only complaint is I can’t make the font larger but I can definitely live with that.
      I love my Babylock !!

    3. I have 2 babylocks the serger and the old espree. When they break down no one but babylocks will fix them. So unless you have a store close by don’t.

  10. My mom had the same Singer machine. She taught my sister and I, and my daughter on it. I’ve had it about a year, and she passed away in March, so it is extra special to me.

  11. I have a BL Symphony and love, love, love the pivot feature the most! Dislike the mechanical sounds, also have Bernina 1031 and Janomes (2) …
    Please tell me more about the quilt under your needle now-blues with sawtooth stars?? Thank you!

  12. I have a Crescendo and do love it. I have not been so great with quilting on it and wonder which foot you recommend the most. I need to do more quilting so any tips you have would be great. It’s the last machine I will likely ever buy so I went for all the bells and whistles. I tell people that my Babylock Crescendo does everything except make coffee!!

  13. I enjoyed this as I am thinking of ditching the Janome 3160 that I have. I have a Bernina 440 that I love but cringe at the new prices. Also, the dealers near me (or lack thereof) play into this decision too. So, I am interested in what you said, and like the idea of a bean/integrated walking foot, etc. But I love the way my Bernina sews….and the isolation time makes this process even harder!

  14. I love my Babylock Crescendo! I purchased mine at PIQF too! I’d always been a Pffaf fan but changed my ways!

  15. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this post for your thoughts on your new Crescendo. I also changed machine brands and bought a Crescendo about the same time you did. Then things shut down because of COVID-19 so I could not go into the shop for my free class. I have to admit that at first, when everything about the Crescendo was so foreign to me, I asked myself “why, did I change brands?” Then I took a deep breath and told myself “It’s good for your old brain to learn new things.” With the help of the book that came with it and on line classes I’ve been able to figure out enough to sew. I still haven’t set up the light beam which is one of the things that attracted me to this machine in the first place. I have a quilt I need to finish so must work up the courage to try the Digital Dual Feed foot.

  16. I love the Baby Lock machines also. I have the Crescendo and Journey machines. My complaints are the same as yours, yes truly. But I just move past that and know that I will get good results from both.

    I have taken up digitizing since the pandemic and have enjoyed learning a new skill. When I make something, I try to incorporate all my newly acquired skills in my quilt blocks or pillows, etc. That includes accuquilting, ruler work, digitizing, embroidering, designing, such fun.

    Thank you for all your helpful hints and creativity. Have a great day! Cathy

  17. I have a Soprano (after my Kemore which was a high school graduation gift couldn’t be fixed after several decades of sewing). I haven’t figured out the markings on the bed yet for seam allowances. I piece and also sew garments but am constantly measuring from the needle to find where the 1/4, 3/8, and 5/8 are. Any suggestions? Thanks

    1. I’m not sure what it looks like but can you not color code them in some way? Maybe with sharpie ? Tape lines in different colors?

  18. I have a Crescendo as well and use it every single day. What a workhorse. Please tell me more about the two FMQ feet that I didn’t even realize I had. What is the difference and when do I use each? Great article. I also have the Tiara II which is wonderful.

  19. Julie, thanks so much for your machine review. I had a Viking for twelve years and wanted a bigger throat machine and really was impressed with Baby Lock Jazz so when I retired and moved out to the country and finally have a designated sewing room I purchased Jazz. Major disappointment and I wish the store where I bought it had shared the features of other Baby Locks with large throat area. Forget seams with four layers this machine skirts around or just stops and balls up a pile of thread! I’m so wishing I hadn’t donated my old Viking as it was a trooper!! I’m machine shopping and now that we are quarantined it will be awhile before I can actually sample machines so your comments were great. This is a large investment and now that I’m retired investment funds are very limited; wish me luck. I have my Mom’s Featherweight; she made my baby clothes and my wedding dress on it! I have finished seven quilt tops and a number of wallhangings on it during the quarantine; lifesaver machine!!
    Best regards,
    Dawn Lunn

  20. Hi Julie,

    I had a marvelous laugh over your comment, “walking foot on steroids”! That was priceless and I can relate because I own a Brother VQ3000 Dreamweaver, which if you put side by side with the Baby Lock Crescendo, they are exactly the same machine, except the Crescendo is prettier and costs more than the Brother version. (I visited a dealer once where I was able to make such a comparison) The features have different names but if you can operate the Crescendo, you can operate the VQ3000. I understand that Brother and Baby Lock have had a long term relationship anyway and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the machines are made in the same factories. Some sewists I know claim they are really different branches of the same company. Who knows, not that it really matters.
    I love my machine and use it virtually the same way you do yours. I’ve also experienced the minor drawback of the laser line, and sometimes the motor doesn’t quite want to go through something thick, but it WILL handle 4 layers of denim pretty well – are you using the little “lift” button on the “J” foot? And don’t you just love that totally automatic threading system?
    I use the massive walking foot quite a bit. I find it works very nicely for basting quilts – those 5 to 20 mm stitches are great and the walking foot prevents puckers as long as you don’t try to sew the way Mario Andretti drives. I don’t like breathing in aerosols but I DO use a little basting spray first just to anchor things a bit .
    My favorite feature of the VQ3000 is that BIG harp space. You can get a lot of fabric under there.
    And also like you, I have a small Brother model (SC3000) which I use for my quilting group gatherings. It doesn’t have so many bells and whistles, but it IS perfect for piecing and general sewing.

    Interesting coincidence isn’t it?

    I love reading your blog postings, they are always inspiring. I hope everyone in your family is still happy and healthy.

    Be well and God bless,

  21. Julie, what a great post. I have a Bernina 1090 I bought in 1992, a big investment at that time (from a Harriet Hargrave who was teaching where I lived at that time – wonderful!). I have 2 Featherweights (one inherited from an aunt), a Pfaff embroidery/sewing, Brother embroidery/sewing, Janome Gem (great for classes), Babylock Crafters Choice, and a Babylock Serger.

    I used to be wed to Bernina’s only, but having worked in a few quilt shops and one vacuum/sewing machine shop, I learned to sew on other brands. Each has features I like, compared to another brand. I’ve always suggested to new buyers, or those wanting to upgrade or add to their machines, go into a dealer, sit down, try out a machine. It may take a few dealers to find the right fit for one’s needs. Personally I love the knee lever option, needle down sewing position, thread cutter, and automatic threader, and an optional sewing tray/table.

  22. I love this post. I have been looking for a new machine. I have a Janome 9500 memory craft qcp or something like that it has a lot of great features but I lost the use of my right hand 3 1/2 years ago and I need more out of my machine I to have been looking for a machine with the light beam could you tell me if it secures the seam with reverse stitch and at the end of the seam you push reverse button and it take 3 stitches than cuts it. I bought a very inexpensive juki and it has that function and I love it . I like you want one machine to do it all

  23. Hi Julie…nice discussion about machines and glad you have found ones that work for you. However, I am truly shocked that you gave up a Juki 2010, but you don’t say why. I have been wanting one and wondering about your experience.

  24. I appreciate your sharing advice on sewing machines I have used Viking machines for many years, have been happy with them. I’ve never been able to use the automatic needle threader, which I would like to use! It seems to be “operator error,” as well as I can determine. I am learning machine quilting and my machine is cooperative and easy. I would love an automatic thread cutter, but cannot justify a new machine for that option. Have heard good things about the Baby Lock and Bernina. But we have a Bernina dealer in our area that I would not patronize, unfortunately, so would not consider that machine. Dealers and their service are EVERYTHING when buying a new machine. Just my opinion. Maybe dealers will see and read this comment. Thank you for your blog post. I found it very interesting.

  25. Congrats on your new additions. They sure sound like a dream machines to use. Right now I love to piece and quilt on my 16-year old Juki TL-98E with the walking foot on all the time. I like that, when I piece, the top layer fabric doesn’t get pushed and the two layers stay even till the end. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Thanks for your insights, Julie. I recently had the new machine “bug,” and was torn between a Bernina and Baby Lock. I decided I couldn’t justify a brand new one, so I looked for used machines with low stitch counts, I found a great deal on a Bernina 770qe! So far I absolutely LOVE it. I had only ever owned a Singer and two Brothers. I have a friend who had a Viking and after a year (and going to the quilt show in Houston), she sold the Viking and bought a Baby Lock which she swears by.
    Wish I could have both!

  27. Enjoyed reading this blog post, the Crescendo looks to be a beautiful machine! How did you part with your machines? By trade in or on line sales? I have several machines that I am no longer using & want to sell but not sure where the best place is these days to advertise. Do you have any recommendations?

    1. Hi Chris,
      I was lucky enough to have several ladies I work with (at a quilt shop) who purchased my machines. It was a win win for all of us. I would see if you could post something in a local guild newsletter. Craig’s list is also an option if you’re careful. I wish you luck!

  28. Your Crescendo sounds like the perfect machine!
    Question….do you like your white sewing chair? I am in need of a new one, but I am not wanting to venture out to stores to sit in them! Thanks!

  29. Hi Julie, I have the same Juki you had. I bought it before my 770 for machine quilting, not knowing that I would buy the 770 but it’s nice to have it for piecing while quilting with the other one.
    I’m embarrassed to tell you how many machines I have- at least 12!!! But I use only 3, one being a FW. I will never part with my old Kenmore my Dad bought me and I still have my Bernina 150 QE. That machine hasn’t been in the shop once! I really do need to thin out my vintage collection though. Enough is enough lol.
    Your Babylock is gorgeous!!!!!! Glad you found the one you want.
    I sure hope I don’t have the problems you had with the 770. So far so good!

    1. You are not alone! I have a refurbished Kenmore just like the one Mom gave me in 1969 so she could get the use of her own machine again! I adore that machine and will never part with it. I also have three other vintage “Kennie” models, a vintage White Rotary 77 (plus a spare 77 for parts), a Brother version of both Julie’s Crescendo and her smaller travel machine, a 1980’s electronic Babylock, and a Euro Pro serger. AND I have another model vintage Kenmore that I’m negotiating for now (can you tell I love Kenmores?) My husband just rolls his eyes at me. I DO use my vintage machines though, and I believe each one has it’s own “personality”. I needed to shorten a knit t-shirt for my hubby and was testing out a ball point double needle on three different machines. My big quilting machine like Julie’s Crescendo said, “meh!”, my Kenmore 158-14000 HATED it, but my itty-bitty Kennie 158-1040 LOVED the double needle and performed flawlessly. Go figure.

    1. Hi Barbara,

      I loved the Juki, and selling it is the only regret I have. I just don’t have the luxury of that much space to hang onto an extra, extra sewing machine. It was a great work horse; just a little limited in its functions.

  30. Isn’t it funny how you know when a machine is just right? And if you happen to purchase one and it’s not quite right, there is really no fixing that–except to return it!
    I got my first Bernina in the 90’s and have used it exclusively until recently when I got a Bernette B-38.
    I am pretty sentimental about that first machine!
    Thanks for your post!

  31. I learned to sew on a Singer 401A in Home Ec class in 7th grade. My mum bought me one and I still have it. I use it to sew charity quilts. It’s such a work horse and stitches beautifully.. Thanks for the memories. I enjoy reading your blog. Blessings!

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