Thursday, July 23, 2020

Lots of sewing

Since starting to sew bras, I’ve been motivated to sew more frequently. Then of course pandemic sewing hit me with a vengeance. I was giving up sleep to get scrub caps and masks done. I was looking at dream machines and prices in early June. “Too much,” I thought. I sent an email to a semi local dealer (my closest dealer is about 65 miles away). The machine I was eyeing (MOST harp space! FASTEST stitch speed!  BIGGEST DC brushless motor in a domestic, resulting in strongest needle punch strength! Blah, blah, blah!) was listing at $8,000. And I told her I’d buy it with all the listed accessories for $6,000. I never dreamed they would even reply, but she told me if I would buy in the next week, I could have it for $5,000.  I am a working woman who raised 5 kids without any support from anywhere or anyone, and I’m still recovering and don’t have money like that, but what was I supposed to do? I was unlikely to run into a deal that good ever again, and I just had my 60th birthday (can we say present folks?). If I was going to put that complex of a machine through it’s paces and get some good mileage, time is ticking. So I got a loan and bought it.

It’s a damn ocean liner. Here it is perched atop the cabinet for my singer 403A, where I formerly kept my kenmore and my serger side by side. I can (and do) take off the extension table, which gives it more room and a less ridiculous appearance. I did quilt a quilt (TOLD you I’ve been sewing!) with it on, and that was nice, but not as nice as having a machine dropped flat into a table. That’s a possibility down the road, but would require some contemplation and then machine eviction. I picked it up just a few days after George Floyd’s murder. Days later, the black lives and black makers matter movements were blowing up and I thought I might have to send it back.  Janome was dragging feet about offering support. Thankfully, it looks like they are trying to reach out to show some inclusiveness though they’ve got a long way to go.

So, thoughts on the machine. It is well engineered. I would expect so, and it is. It’s quiet, smooth, and fast, and so far amazingly not finicky. I had to slip some knit fabric in for a quick job and did not change the needle, it sailed through it. So, I applied elastic to a sports bra that I had been wearing without the bottom band done, and wow, not a skipped stitch in the knit or elastic with a Janome purple needle, their recommended for free motion quilting and heavier fabrics. I don't particularly love having to scroll through screens to do some things, for instance, the zipper choices. I can just adjust my basic straight and zig zag to do most things, like put in a zipper. However, I’m a little bit appreciative that the zipper application knows just where needle clearance around the zipper foot is. I got tired of the company bragging about the ease of popping in and out the needle plates, but there are three of them for use with different feet, and if they weren’t so easy to switch I might be inclined to do it less. The bobbin winder on first try did this:

I of course had already joined the Facebook group for M7 owners and they were all there to tell me it happens, and that disc takes some coercion but is removable, making the thread easy to remove. Whew. Has not reoccurred. I don’t like that they try to force me to buy Janome needles. I hear rumors that they are just different enough to cause the automatic needle threader not to work. Also, only Janome feet are stressed, I was told using a different ruler foot would void my warranty. I would very much prefer the clear view ruler foot and do wonder, how would Janome know. I’m not big on buying things for my things, and I really revolt on needing to buy specific brands of things. Last note, I found a supreme slider unnecessary on my vintage Singer 201, but there was serious drag with the surface of the ship. I put my old slider on and it helped but was of course too small.  So I bought a bigger one from sew steady that looks like a cutting mat as well as some Sullivan’s 946 silicone spray. Haven’t used them yet.

So, sewing! I’ve managed to get some bras, panties, and even a pair of swim shorts done, all without photos. The shorts are of supplex, probably not the best choice as I understand it doesn’t dry very fast. The comfort level is incredible though, I could walk, sit, bend, stretch, get up and down from sand, swim, get beat in surf and probably never need to tug them back into place once. I’d go so far as to say, having this style and this fabric available for my fat ass almost makes living in such a crazy time....nah. Not even. But, I love the shorts and I’ll do some in swim fabric hopefully soon. Then a grand baby was born a month early, and I had to hop into baby sewing because I should have already been doing it!

The pattern is The Storytime Quilt from made by Rae and is free. I had the charm squares in the stash, but not enough stash fabric for contrast and backing. I bought this tomato solid from a local quilt shop via internet photo and probably would have chosen something else had I been able to see the fabrics in person. I did have the fabric for the binding on hand and feel like it made a significant positive impact on the color scheme. I was about 6 charms short, can you spot them? I did free motion, rulers, in the ditch with Janome bragged about accuflex foot (a glorified walking foot), AND used some of the pretty decorative stitches you never get to use unless a grand baby shows up. I am not in love with this quilt, but I was thrilled with the turn around time. This grand is using cloth diapers so next I moved to diaper inserts with Zorb inside. I thought that would be quick and easy, WRONG!  Pre soaking was recommended to increase absorbency, so I washed and they twisted and bunched. Quilted them down and between the thread and the sackcloth covers, they seemed way too scratchy to put next to an infants butt. I added a flannel final cover, which my serger had trouble chewing all the way through. Washed those and changed the blade on the serger. FINALLY those were ready.

When I thought I was getting done the first time, hahaha.

Finally, I had not intended making an outfit to coordinate with the quilt. I’ve had that lovely octopi fabric for a couple years. This child is living one block from the ocean in Portland Maine and it seemed right. The pattern, Criss Cross Pinafore and Bloomers by Melly at Blank Slate Patterns is reversible and free if you subscribe to her newsletter. I didn’t make the bloomers because I think this child’s momma is having too much fun with her diapers and covers. I did add a wonderful and again, free! pattern for a reversible baby bonnet from Purlsoho. I’ve made several of these and just love them. Although my adult kids make snide comments about Amish and prairie bonnets, if you see how well they protect the head and eyes against sun and wind the function of these beauties can’t be beat.

The homemade piping and bonnet ties are made from the orange red contrast fabric of the quilt.  How nice of Janome to give me a new seamripper. Like they knew I would use it.

Now, maybe it’s time to sew for ME again! Though I’ve got more grands to sew for still.


  1. First time visit, but not my last time :-)

    What a beautiful quilt you made for your grandchild, and the sweet little dress, too. I have seen this sewing machine in my "customised ads", I wonder if this is a sign? I don't sew nearly enough to justify the expense at the moment but maybe when the kids have flown the nest, there will be something similar waiting for me. An absolute treat to own, I am sure you continue to have lots of fun with this machine.

    1. I am seeing DEEP discounts for it. It lists for $7999, but people are reporting lots of sales for $6000 and as good as $4000. If you decide to buy, make a low offer to the dealer and see what they come back with, or shop more than one source if you can. Lots of people on the Facebook group report little (and occasionally big!) issues that you would want your dealer to be within reasonable distance. There is a good warranty on it.
      Thank you for the kind words!