Coming up with original teachers’ gifts is far from easy. While some years I leave things too late and jump in with the class group gift certificate, I usually try my best to make something as a show of appreciation for all the hard work my kids’ teachers do on a daily basis. In years past, I have made hand warmers, zippered pouches and fabric buckets. For this Christmas, I found a great tutorial for fabric trays by Noodlehead and my search was done.
This was the perfect project to try machine embroidering some letters from my Nature Walk alphabet that has recently been digitized by OESD. I am very new to machine embroidery, so am learning as I go. Janome Canada generously loaned me a Memory Craft 450E to try my hand at it and, while I will tell you I love hand embroidery, watching this being done by machine is quite magical and the result is far more refined, interesting and textured than I had imagined. I love it! And, for those of you who haven’t tried one of these machines before, let me tell you the best part: the only work you have to do is change the spool of thread and press the start button! So excellent!
Here are a few progress shots of one of the letters being stitched. I really like that the “P” presser foot directs your eye to exactly what is being stitched while not hiding any of the action:
I could have just use the suggested colours that come with the embroidery files, but I had fun tailoring each letter to the recipient… trying to remember the colours she tends to use or wear most. Knowing the total number of colours needed to complete the design and where each colour would be used (the file gives you all this information), I created my own palette for each letter and thus ended up wth some truly personalized gifts.
Wanting a neutral exterior to the trays that would wear well, I opted to use “Pollen Burst” and “Hop, Skip & Jump” and the binding is either “Stepping Stones” or “Little World”, all from my Nature Walk collection.
I could see these being used to contain some jewellery on a dresser, keys and phone on a console in an entryway or if it were for me, some yarns and threads from my latest hand sewing project on a side table in the living room.
A few technical notes:
– To properly fit a letter in the bottom of the basket without possibly cutting off some details with the corner darts, I adjusted the size of the cut fabric for both the interior and exterior to 9″ x 12″ (starting with a larger piece all around to create the embroidered letter first, and then trimmed to the correct size).
– I switched the thick interfacing to the exterior fabric and the thinner one to the embroidered fabric (opposite to what Anna suggests in the pattern). This avoids too much bubbling on the interior.
Happiest of Holidays to you all!
Today Janome Canada is featuring the last of three blog posts I did to walk you through creating the Whatever the Weather Quilt. Day 1 was about quilt layout and picking colours, Day 2 tackled piecing the quilt top and dealing with all those angles (there really aren’t that many) and today, Day 3 talks about how I quilted it.
To wrap things up, I am offering 2 charm packs of all 72 coloured Tamara Kate fabrics I used in the quilt. You can enter on the Janome Canada blogpost for one and right here for the other.
To enter, leave a comment below telling me what colour fabrics are your favourite when you are making a quilt. Entries close next Wednesday, September 28th at 6pm EST. Contest open to Canadian residents only.
A new quilt, a Quilt-Along and a free pattern all in one!
The Whatever the Weather Quilt made its debut earlier this summer at Quilt Canada in Toronto in the Janome Canada booth. I created it to mark the launch of the Whatever the Weather Sewing Tote Collection that features this bicycle logo I designed (Those of you who know me from my early days on Spoonflower may recognize it as part of my very first fabric design that won the “rain” contest).
A little about my design thoughts: I wanted to design a quilt that was inspired by the bicycle in some way and the element that spoke to me the most was the fun wheels. The theme of “Whatever the Weather” played out in the rainbow of fabric choices that I chose to pull from each and every one of my collections with Michael Miller Fabrics, while the ground is made up of a number of low-volume black on white Michael Miller prints.
Come join me for a 3-part series Quilt-Along over on the Janome Canada blog starting today and make your very own Whatever the Weather Quilt! There is a link to the free downloadable pdf there too.
Psst… There just may be a co-ordinating fabric give-away at the end of the series.
Happy rainbow making!
As a Canadian designer it is a regular frustration that what I design is more readily available in the US and overseas than here in my own backyard. Finally I can say I had a hand in designing something specifically for the Canadian sewing market… a set of sewing luggage, manufactured by Blue Fig, available through Janome Canada.
This collaboration was one of those “dream come true” projects for me. I had the honour of having a design from my portfolio used as the embroidered logo for all the bags in the collection. We started with 4 different designs, tried a few colour options, presented options to a highly astute & educated focus group (i.e.. my fabulous quilt guild) and landed on this fun, light-hearted design.
I think it fitting that the design chosen is the first design I ever created for fabric when I was designing on Spoonflower (It won the first weekly Spoonflower contest I entered, which in turn gave me the encouragement to pursue fabric design with gusto). Feels like things coming full circle for me.
The bags are such great quality! They are so sturdy and the fabrics are soft, yet durable (we chose grey as a nice neutral ground, which I think quilters will approve of). They are all loaded with a multitude of handy zippered pockets for all those rulers, presser feet, scissors and other accessories we always need to have on hand.
Here’s the line-up: There is the wheeled sewing machine carrier that holds most large sewing machines (I use the Janome Memory Craft 8200 & it fits like a glove). It has super-smooth ballbearing wheels, steel frame, top- or front-load options, a stabilizer strap for machine safety & extra side handles for getting it in and out of your trunk. The shoulder bag, project tote can carry a small machine or current projects & has an adjustable strap and extra pockets. The notions bag has a total of 12 clear pockets in a range of sizes for anything & everything you may need for your project. And below, the mini carrier, touting a cute pillbox design, can be used with or without the handy thread trays (included) for stylish storage & travel.
The bags are available through Janome Canada dealers across the country. Click on the “find a dealer” button at the top right of this link, click on your province and scroll through the list for contact info. If they don’t yet have them in stock, just ask them to please bring some in.
In celebration of the launch, there will be a few giveaways of different bags over the next bit of time. I will do my best to direct you to the appropriate spots when they happen over on my Instagram feed, so stay tuned.
Hope you like them as much as I do!
Earlier this sumer I was asked to contribute a project to the 2015 Janome Institute gathering. The theme was Fall. I could’t get my mind beyond the obvious coloured leaves and pumpkins, which I wasn’t terribly inspired by. I pondered what Fall brings and landed on “back to school”. As last year I had created the Big & Juicy Quilt, I thought a companion piece would work well, and thus I had my colour pallet all worked out for me.
My version of a graphic, modern alphabet quilt seemed like a good balance to the big, bold apple (with a little something extra to keep it young and fun). Michael Miller Fabrics kindly provided me with a generous mountain of black & white and grey fabrics, with the odd hit of metallic thrown in for good measure (and there’s the occasional piece of fabric from my own stash in there too).
I mentioned bits of metallic… Isn’t this fabric great? It’s called Bow Ties and is soon-to-be-available from Michael Miller.
The letters are all paper pieced… yes, I finally focused on a good tutorial and got my head around the technique. Really pretty easy.
I have provided Janome with instructions for the quilt that were given out at Institute and once I get the ok from them, I will post them here as well.
For all you Institute attendees, the alphabet templates are available for download below. Enjoy! And if you have any questions, feel free to ask below.
I hear from a number of you pretty regularly that you’d love to make your first quilt, but don’t know where to start, or you’re intimidated. Well, this Railroad Quilt is the perfect first project. It is a quilt that is all about colour and fabrics. It involves easy cutting and piecing, but still has good graphic impact and you can have lots of fun playing with your favourite colour palette.
I’ve chosen throughout this post to highlight some of my favourite easy quilt sewing features of this fantastic Janome sewing machine I have the pleasure of using, as I had promised you that, from time to time, I would update you on what a joy it is to use.
I suggest reading through the whole post before diving in so that you understand the entire process.
The measurements given create a queen size quilt.
What I used:
– ¼ yard to ½ yard (based on your favourites) of fabrics from your 4 main groups listed below (½ yards for main fabrics in both “dark” and “light” categories)
– Queen size / 88″ x 92″ quilt batting
– Backing fabric totalling 88″ x 92″ (as discussed below)
– 1yd binding fabric
– thread, curved quilt pins, masking tape (or painter’s tape), rotary cutter, acrylic ruler, cutting mat (as discussed below)
What I did:
Let’s start with something fun… CHOOSING FABRICS:
For this quilt, I chose a mix of Michael Miller fabrics, mostly from my own Helen’s Garden and Flight Patterns collections, a few from fellow designer Patty Sloniger’s sweet Emma’s Garden collection and some yummy Cotton Couture solids. I stayed within 2 main colour groups, one a bit more dominant than the other (pink – dominant & yellow – secondary) along with a dark and a light (charcoal and cream). You can use whatever colours you like. Within all four of these groups, I used a combination of solid and patterned fabrics.
DOMINANT – PINKS: Keeping to the warm side of the pinks, verging on corals, I chose 4 solids, ranging from bright & bold to the palest shades, along with a slew of patterned fabrics that again run the gamut of vibrant to soft and everything in-between.
SECONDARY – YELLOWS: I used 1 solid and only 3 or 4 patterned fabrics, with only one being very vibrant (I know they all look pretty vibrant in the above photo, but scroll down a bit for something much closer to reality).
DARK – CHARCOAL: 2 solids & 1 patterned fabric
LIGHT – CREAM: 1 main patterned fabric (cream with dots). Sometimes a fabric can be used in multiple roles in a quilt. I used a bit of the softest pink solid to replace cream in some spots, as well as a few soft pinks or yellows on white grounds. An easy tip for choosing these: when you squint at this group of fabrics, you want them all to read as being around the same light value.
A few very brief TECHNICAL QUILTING TIPS:
CUTTING YOUR FABRICS: Consistency in cutting goes a very long way to having reliable, clean piecing results. The best 3 tools to achieve this are a rotary cutter, a generously sized cutting mat and a clear acrylic ruler. If you are only going to purchase one ruler to begin with, I strongly suggest a 6½” x 24″ one. This should have 45° & 30° markings on it, and you will be amazed at the number of types and sizes of quilt pieces you can cut with it. You can cut multiple pieces at a time using these tools, saving lots of time.
SCANT ¼” SEAMS: The “scant” part takes a bit of practice, but then it becomes automatic. It just means you want to have a seam that is always just shy of 1/4″ (to compensate for that tiny bit of extra fabric that gets taken up when you press your seams). There are easy tools to help you achieve a constant 1/4″ seam, the simplest of which is a 1/4″ presser foot.
Above is the 1/4″ foot that comes with the Janome MC8200 that I sew with. The black strip of metal along the right edge holds the fabric at exactly 1/4″ from the needle at all times.
If you don’t have a 1/4″ foot on your machine, you can still make it easy for yourself using the basic foot. Because the 1/4″ seam measurement will be under your presser foot (and thus hard to see), you can add a strip of masking tape to the machine surface along the 1/4″ measurement that will give you a strong visual line along which to run your fabric. Easy as that!
PRESSING YOUR SEAMS: The quilting community is divided in opinion of the best direction to press seams. Either in one direction or open. I use both methods depending on the project, but tend more toward pressing open, which is the method I use in the Railroad Quilt. I find it more efficient to avoid extra bulk where seams intersect and, for me, it’s easier to get seams to line up properly.
Now, on to LAYOUT, CUTTING & PIECING:
The Railroad Quilt is made up of 4½” x 12½” rectangles. When sewn together, they will be 4″ x 12″. Couldn’t be simpler!
The quilt is comprised of 7 columns of 22 rectangles as follows:
– The 2 exterior columns are made up of lots of the softer fabrics from the CREAM category, interspersed with the odd hit of something a bit stronger.
– Working from the left, columns 2, 3, 4 & 6 are a random mix of PINKS & YELLOWS, with the occasional CREAM and CHARCOAL piece stuck in.
– Column 5 alternates CHARCOAL & CREAM fabrics the entire length of the column.
Here is an example of fabrics I pulled for one of the PINKS & YELLOWS columns:
Just start cutting fabrics (aligning your ruler with the straight grain of your fabric) and laying them out in a large open space (I use my living room floor for larger projects like this). Don’t be afraid to move things around, insert a few pieces of something unexpected (keeps it dynamic) and even eliminate fabrics that just aren’t working, until you are happy with the overall look.
Gather pieces, one column at a time, keeping them in their correct order. Sew together along the long edges, respecting the 1/4″ seam. Press seams open.
When all columns have been sewn & pressed, stitch them together, trying your best to align seams throughout. You can pin them if that’s easier for you, but I find it works well to align each seam with its partner as I come to it. Press seams open.
Your quilt top is complete!
If you are lucky enough to find some extra wide fabric that co-ordinates with your top for backing your quilt, fantastic! You can use one whole piece (a friend of mine buys king sized flat sheets for this purpose). More likely than not, however, you will have to piece a few fabrics together. You could use all the same fabric, 2 or more co-ordinating ones, or you could even do something more creative and pull some element / elements from your quilt top that you’d like to highlight on the back. For this one, for example, you could create another long column of rectangles to place strategically where you wish on the back, or just a band of your favourite fabric between 2 other larger pieces. The possibilities are endless. Just be sure to make the back at least 3″ larger all the way around than the top and follow the same sewing & pressing tips as you did for the quilt top.
SANDWICHING & QUILTING:
Having made sure your back & top are perfectly pressed, find a clean floor space that’s large enough to accommodate the entire quilt. First lay out the back, wrong side up. Using masking tape (or painter’s tape), tape all 4 edges to the floor (one side at a time, then opposite side. Tug slightly to flatten out lumps, but don’t stretch), smoothing out your fabric as you go & keeping your sides straight. Next comes the layer of batting. Your batting should be slightly smaller than your backing and slightly larger than your quilt top. Again, smooth as you go so you have a perfectly flat layer (no need to tape here). Now the quilt top, right side up. Again, carefully smooth out this layer, keeping seems and sides straight with the quilt top centred on the other 2 layers. Pin with quilt pins every 3″ or 4″. Consistency here will help your layers from shifting as you quilt.
You can either hand quilt or machine quilt. Hand quilting (with hand quilting thread or size 8 pearl cotton for a more pronounced look) is the way I started and I still love it, but it’s not for everyone. I enjoy the slow, meditative process, but most quilters I’ve met want something speedier. Hand quilting results in a nice soft quilt.
Hand quilting with Pearl Cotton on my Rainbow Charm Quilt
If machine quilting, using a walking foot is the easier option. Free motion quilting (stitching fine curves, small circles or intricate shapes) takes practice, so you want to spend some quality time getting smooth results on scrap fabric and batting before jumping into your first project. Regardless of which method you choose, you will need a special foot for your machine, otherwise if you use a regular foot, your quilt layers will shift as you sew which will result in fabric bunching, lumps and bumps and endless frustration.
For a first quilt, I would suggest using a walking foot and doing straight-line quilting. This will get you used to the quilting process and then you can jump to something more adventurous for your next project.
Simple straight-line quilting on my Fiesta Lap Quilt.
The easiest option would be stitching in the ditch (stitching in the seam channel between 2 pieces of fabric), thus not having to measure or mark lines. You will simply follow the straight lines you have already sewn throughout the quilt. Start just off the quilt top on one side, continuing to just off the top on the opposite side & repeat at each seam. This results in “invisible” quilt lines, letting the fabrics and piecing shine. I used this technique (though I plan on adding some hand quilting over time to specific blocks for a bit of added texture) and the quilt is lovely and soft, perfect for cuddling up with.
Maneuvering the bulk of your quilt through the throat space (space to the right of your needle) of your machine is achieved by tightly rolling the quilt up to just beyond where you need to sew, then feeding the roll through (see above photo). This is made easier by sewing machines made especially for quilters that have a larger throat space, like the one I use, but I started on a regular domestic machine and it takes a bit of effort, but it’s doable.
If you would like to have your quilt lines show, the easiest way would be to use your presser foot as a guide. Start at the edge of one of the centre seams, running the outside edge of your foot along one of the seam lines all the way to the opposite edge, removing pins as you come to them. For the next line, align the edge of the foot with the previously sewn line and continue in this fashion for half the quilt, then flip it around and do the other half. This results in a much sturdier quilt that does not have the softness and drape of the previous technique.
If you would like your lines farther apart, the easiest way is to make use of an attachment like this one that fastens to the walking foot on my Janome. It glides across the top of the fabric over a previous stitch line, dictating where the next row will be stitched.
Each type of quilt batting (I like using a 80% cotton / 20% polyester blend) has different specs as to maximum space between quilting lines. Read what yours suggests and follow those guidelines. You don’t want to do all this work and end up with something that bunches or shifts when it’s washed.
SQUARING UP & BINDING YOUR QUILT:
Squaring up a quilt involves cutting off the excess batting & backing fabric around the edges and making sure your sides are straight and corners are right angles. Use your acrylic ruler and rotary cutter right all along the outer edge of the quilt top to accomplish this.
You’ve reached the last step. Again here, there are many different ways to bind a quilt, but the most often seen one is to do a thin binding that you first sew by machine to the front of your quilt, then flip to the back and hand stitch in place.
A – Sew these strips together, short end to short end, forming one long piece. Fold in half, lengthwise and press. B – Place the binding on top of the quilt, aligning the raw edges. Using a walking foot and a ¼” seam allowance, sew the binding to the quilt, starting about half way along the quilt bottom, leaving a tail of binding approx. 10″ unattached at the beginning. Sew to ¼” before the corner, stop with your needle down, raise the presser foot and turn 45º toward the corner. Sew off of quilt. C – Fold binding along the 45º angle just created. D – Refold so binding is now heading along adjacent edge, with fold at previous quilt’s edge. E – Continue sewing around quilt in this fashion until you are about 8″ from start point. Remove quilt from machine. Cut right end of binding straight, directly between where both sewing lines stopped. Lay left piece of binding on top of right. Measure exactly ½” from cut line of right piece and cut left piece. F – Open both ends of binding and place right sides together. Sew ends together with a ¼” seam. Press seam open. G – Refold binding closed and sew in place. Flip binding to back of quilt and sew in place with a needle and thread (matching binding colour) with an invisible stitch all the way around.
Your quilt is now finished. Congratulations! Toss it on your bed and enjoy!
Happy New Year, just a mere almost two weeks late! I hope you all enjoyed festive and relaxing holidays.
It seems like I have been quilting and quilting and quilting lately, and not much else (not necessarily a bad thing). I finished up the latest one on my list last week (more on that next week) and decided I needed a decidedly smaller sewing project that would be quick and fun.
My son has a bit of a fixation lately with carrying his money with him whenever we head out the door to a store. The only problem with that is that he does not have a proper wallet, so uses a coin purse or whatever small bag he can put his hands on at the moment. As his birthday is coming up in a few days, I decided to make him a real big boy wallet.
He is fascinated by all the stitch possibilities on the Janome machine I use (MC8200) and frequently asks me to stitch little airplanes or scissors on some scrap of fabric lying around to give to a friend at school, so I thought I’d do a mini embroidery sampler for the main wallet fabric.
As this machine is computerized, it’s as simple as pressing a button to choose your stitch and then adjusting the width as desired. I did a practice run of a number of stitches to choose the ones I thought would work best. I cut a rectangle of denim from an old pair of jeans of his that were ripped, penciled 1″ marks along one side edge and started a new line of stitching at each mark. Where there seemed to be a bit too much of a gap (after the waves), I inserted a line of tiny stars.
A few lines of orange really makes it pop.
Wanting to make it fun, with colourful compartments for most of what he might need, I made 2 gift card compartments, a velcro-closing change purse and a space for bills (and/or important drawings and notes). Interior fabrics are: Spot in Starfruit (yellow) and Scribble Cars in Clementine.
Wanting to make sure there would be no chance of anything sliding out, I positioned the card openings toward the centre fold of the wallet, the velcro on the change purse goes almost the whole width of the purse & the bills are held in by the centre fold.
I worked out all the kinks on this one, then made another to hone the pattern so I could offer you the following tutorial:
What I used:
For all following fabrics, the 1st measurement is the VERTICAL, the 2nd HORIZONTAL.
– A – 1 piece 2½” x 3½” (coin purse flap)
– B – 1 piece 7½” x 4″ (coin purse front)
– C – 1 piece 4½” x 13¾” (card panel)
– D – 1 piece 8½” x 7½” (bill fold)
– E – 1 piece 5″ x 7½” (external fabric)
– F – 1 piece 2½” x 2″ (snap tab)
– Mid-weight iron-on interfacing: Cut the same size of pieces C, E & F.
– 1 piece velcro 2″ x 1/2″
– 1 plastic snap (you will need snap pliers to attach this) OR you could use velcro.
What I did:
All seams are 1/4″.
Iron interfacing to back of C, E & F.
Refer to the following diagram where indicated.
Piece F: Fold in half , right sides together, so that piece measures 1¼” x 2″. Sew along long edge. Move seam to the centre of the tube & press seam open. Sew along 1 short edge. Clip corners & turn right side out. Press & set aside.
Piece A: Fold in half, right sides together, so that piece measures 1¼” x 3½”. Sew along 2 short sides. Clip corners & turn right side out. Top stitch along 2 short edges and folded edge. Securely sew velcro to the underside, centred, 1/4″ above folded edge.
Piece B: Wrong sides together, fold in half so piece measures 3¾” x 4″. Choose a front & a back.
Piece C: Measure and lightly mark along 1 long edge the following, starting at the right edge: 1¾”, 1½”, 2¼”, 1½”. Fold and press accordion style, as in fig 1.
Place piece B on piece C so that front of B is against right side of C, bottom edges align and left edge of B is 3¼” from left edge of C (as in fig 2). Sew 3½” from left edge of piece C. Sew velcro onto front of piece B (only B), 1/2″ from seam line and 1/8″ below fold.
With back of B against C, place A in position at top of B so that velcro lines up. Pin top of A onto C, then move B to the left, out of the way. Place the base of D, right sides together on top of C, aligning top edges. Stitch across top edge (fig 3).
Fold D to back of C along seam. Press flat. Measure down 3½” from seam on D and fold up, right sides together. Press (fig 4). This is the completed wallet interior (WI).
Place F, seam side down on top of WI so that raw edge of F is centred along & aligns with right edge of WI. Place E, right sides together on top of WI. Pin in place.
If available, I suggest using a walking foot to sew this next step: Starting 2″ in from right side at top edge, sew all the way around, stopping 2″ in from left of top edge (fig 5). Clip corners. Turn right side out. Close top opening by hand stitching with an invisible stitch. If desired, top stitch around exterior perimeter.
Attach one side of the snap to the snap tab and the other half to the wallet, through to the inside of the bill fold (2 layers of fabric).
I am a lucky girl. I have partnered with Janome Canada to sew with their MC8200 machine, which they have provided for my use over the next year. I will be creating some fun tutorials for you based on some of my favourite features that this machine has to offer (most of which you can do on any machine, but that are a dream to create with this one). In addition, I thought it may be beneficial to some of you who may be considering the purchase of such a machine if I, from time to time, give you an update about the benefits of this model (there are many).
Let’s start with a bit about my sewing history so you understand where I’m coming from when I discuss some of the perks the MC8200 has to offer.
I’ve been sewing since I was a little girl. I learned at my mom’s feet, rummaging through her sewing cabinet as she whipped up article after article of clothing for her three girls. I used to use her machine as an older teen on Friday afternoons, after having whipped by the fabric store on the way home from school, to create a new outfit to wear out that evening (there was no wanting to look like everyone else where I grew up. Individuality and personal style were applauded).
My grandmother gave me her old Singer Featherweight machine about twenty years ago, and while it remains a treasure I cannot part with, I tend to want to sew on something with more options these days. I purchased a department store basic machine when I was pregnant with our first child, in the desire to sew a few baby clothes and the like. It has been fine as a simple machine, but I can’t tell you the number of times I have wanted to throw it out the window in frustration over broken threads, constant tension problems, bobbin case issues, things jamming up, I could go on…. Since I have become more and more interested in quilting over the past two years, I have been wanting a machine with good machine quilting capabilities (mine has no walking foot). Enter the Janome MC8200. Now, for those of you who already use a super-duper comparable model, some of the perks I list below may not be big news for you, but I am working on the premise that there are individuals out there, like myself, who don’t even know some of these options exist.
For today, I wanted to share the most obvious benefits that hit me right away in the first few days of use:
– The length of the arm. It gives you 11″ of throat space to the right of the needle which is a great plus when trying to quilt just about anything larger than a baby built. I know it’s not really fair to compare it to a Featherweight, but for an idea of scale, this image says a lot.
– It is completely computerized, so it will not allow you to do anything that may damage the machine, unlike a mechanical model. There is a large screen and touch panel that spells everything out for you.
– There are 120 built in stitches. Yes, 120, including the complete alphabet, 7 buttonhole stitches and numerous embroidery stitches to please any decorative stitcher out there. But I have to say, my favourite stitch I have become addicted to in the past few weeks of sewing is the locking stitch. It creates an almost invisible locked beginning and end to your line of sewing (no more ugly backstitching to secure ends when the stitching is to be visible on a finished item).
– Storage, storage and more storage. There is a two-level flip open bin at the front of the removable extension table, one at the back and even extra presser foot storage up top in the flip open compartment.
– You can set the machine to either always stop with the needle in the up position or the down position. I love this!
– There is speed control. You know how sometimes we forget about the pressure we are applying with our foot and the machine spins into high gear, racing off where we don’t necessarily want it to go? Well, here we can set the maximum speed to have much greater control where we need it.
– You can sew traditionally with the foot pedal, or unplug it to use the one-touch start/stop button immediately above the sewing area. This takes a bit of initial coordination, but once you’ve got it, you’re set.
– There is an adjustable knee lifter for the presser foot which keeps your hands free to manipulate fabric. I used this continuously when piecing a new quilt top recently. Between it and the about-to-be-mentioned thread cutter, I pieced an almost-600-piece quilt top in just a few hours… A huge time saver!
– Automatic needle threader. Don’t know how I’ve lived without this feature in the past. Just pull the gizmo down & it does it all for you in a split second.
– And, yes, an automatic thread cutter. And no, I don’t mean the manual cutter on the side of the machine. A one touch activation that cuts both threads about 1/2″ from the fabric, underneath the needle plate. No more wastefully pulling out about 5″ of thread at the end of every seam, hoping that the next stitch doesn’t suck the needle thread right out of the needle.
– And, what I’ve been waiting for, it has the dual feed system, Accufeed Flex, for machine quilting (that’s using both top and bottom feed dogs so you don’t end up with your upper layer of fabric being pushed forward as you sew). I have heard so many quilters say a walking foot is really noisy when in use. Not this baby. It is easy to attach and works superbly. I’ve already done my first ever machine quilting with it, and it was so easy to handle.
Can you tell I’m excited? I can honestly say that this machine has taken sewing from being something I enjoyed doing, wanted to do, but was continuously frustrated with what my department store machine kept handing me, to being a complete joy. There are so many great features that it makes sewing both efficient and worry-free, and I definitely notice the difference on any projects I have completed on it thus far. Stitch length is more consistent, the tension is so dependable (no more fiddling with dials, it’s automatic), and my work generally looks cleaner. Even my constant sewing companion, the seam ripper and I have been spending much less time together of late. This is definitely a good thing.
I hope you’ll enjoy this journey with me. I will periodically update you with new features I discover along the way, in hopes that they might be of interest to you. And I will let you know when I create any projects for Janome Canada. Thanks for coming along for the ride.