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.