Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Meet Red.

It's always a bit strange getting back into 'normal' blogging after a tragedy. And a sewing machine review? It feels a bit crass. A bit shallow. But really, there's only so much depth one can take all the time. And in real life, I'm going well and thinking about normal, mundane things like quilt making and tidying and whether I'll plant winter veges in the garden this year, most of the time. And there are still other moments of remembering and reflecting and feeling sad or getting cranky at the kids. And this is my blog about real life. So sometimes I'll tell you how I'm feeling and sometimes I'll show you what I've made. And one doesn't devalue the other. (I'm talking to myself more than to you.)

And buying a new sewing machine at time like this? I questioned that too. (Can you tell I think way too much about the 'right' way of doing things?) Part of this whole experience has been learning to free myself of unexamined expectations and just be myself. And when you're in limbo for 2 weeks, waiting for final scan results, and after the bad news, you wait for 2 weeks before 'It happens' and then that takes another few weeks, you end up online a bit, filling in the time, planning for when you feel well again, dreaming, and shopping. So my new machine has felt like a wonderful gift, like a "Welcome Back!"

So this is my Janome Horizon MC7700QCP. Or "Red." I got her second hand, locally for a great price. I spent a lot of time reading about the kinds of things people liked and didn't like, found out about warranties on second hand machines (Janome doesn't honour them!) and asked questions on the Janome 7700 Yahoo group before I went and looked at her.

I was very, very tempted by the Janome 1600d, a straight stitch only semi-industrial machine (I would have loved a Juki, known for their reliability, and these Janomes are apparently made in the same factory, but easier to buy in Australia), but in the end, I decided that my old machine, my first ever given to us by my mum as a wedding gift (thanks Mum!), was so past it (constant tension issues, a buttonholer that has never made a button hole longer than half an inch, etc, etc) was just no longer enough to use as my back-up machine when I wanted to stitch something other than a straight line. And so far, I've only used the fancy stitches to play, but I really wanted to machine I could grow into, to learn to sew with textiles other than quilting cotton.

What I like:
I like the big plastic table that give me extra room for hiding fabric scraps and pins. (a dumping ground that doesn't impinge on the sewing!)
I like, like, LIKE the inbuilt walking foot. I couldn't ever get a walking foot that fit my old machine. In the photo above, it's sewing through about 12 layers of fabric and it didn't think twice. In the photo below, this was my first ever experience of not having to constantly pull and flatten and guide and unpick. Even with my hasty basting, I didn't get one pucker. And it was so fast!

So far the auto tension has been near perfect.
I don't use the thread cutter all the time, but I especially appreciate it when I stop sewing mid quilt.

What disappoints me:

I have had no problem with patchwork piecing or quilting, but rolling under an edge? It just did not like it! I changed feet 3 times to see if that would make a difference, but it kept eating the fabric and pulling it off to the side. I feel a bit sad about this seeing as these drawstring quilts are one of the things I make most often. There's about 12 of these little hems! The first to feed through were always the worst, and then if I chain pieced, it improved, so maybe I'll need to resort to feeding through a scrap? I hope not!

So overall, I'm about 85% happy, effected mostly by my experience making this quilt. I'm really enjoying my making being so much faster. (Especially with a head so full of ideas!) I'm loving the option to machine quilt well. I look forward to decorating little pockets and hems with the pretty leaves and funky helicopter stitches! And I hope there's someone out there that can advise me about my hems.
I can't tell you all how much it's meant to me to have this place to share, and you to share with. It's been so important for me to process and express in writing. From that first day in the scan room, I was forming words and sentences in my head. It's helped me make sense of it all.
There's sometimes talk in the online crafty world about how much to share. If you're interested, and have time, I recommend this TED talk about vulnerability. It's helped give me courage to care for myself and share as I need to.
So glad to be here,
Jodi. xx


  1. My Horizon is a pig for eating fabric and yes it's the only thing I dislike about him :( using a leader scrap of fabric was the only way I've found to get around it unfortunately. also I want to give you a big hug and let you know there is no "right way of doing things" just the best way for us at the time.

  2. Hey Jodi, I have no advice for you on your machine but I do want to tell you that sometimes using a craft to get through the hardest parts of life is maybe why the good Lord gave us them. You will find that your quilts will express your inner self for a bit but eventually they will be bright and light again. I love the new ocean quilt..I wrote Jen a letter and told her how my new normal was without her and what my hopes and dreams were for her. I felt a bit strange doing it but after a line or two I was on a roll. It helped a lot to tell her about all my sadness, anger, helplessness, and just plain grief that I know will never leave me. You might want to try it..God's speed in finding your JOY again..

  3. Just be you Jodi! And enjoy your new machine x

  4. Ditto the fabric-eating experience. Sorry to hear that. But, wow, the quilting looks great! And, I do love the color of that machine =)

  5. I find sewing helps my mind drift to where it needs to go. Sometimes to sad places and memories, other times to thoughts of the future and what it may hold. Maybe your new machine is just what was meant to be? I'm not sure what you mean by turning under an edge but aside from a leader, have you tried holding your threads for the first coupe of stitches?

  6. Yup... both my Janome's eat fabric. I use the scrap. It's a little better with a new needle and using the single conversion, but still has the ugly start due to using the thread cutter.

  7. I love my 7700! The only time it "eats" the fabric at the beginning of a seam is when my needle is getting dull. You may want to try changing your needle if you haven't already done that.


I so love your comments! I read all of them and reply when I can. If you don't hear back, I'm lost under a mound of scraps or outside jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Jodi. xx