Be sure to follow the sewing machine link to her blog at www.13woodhouseroad.com ,answer a question about my post tomorrow, and be in on some great prizes.
1. What machines do you have – brand and model?
2. When and where did you buy them? What were the reasons for selecting these particular models? What was the approximate cost?
When two friends – one a seamstress, told me that I HAD to get a new machine – that the old 1967 Singer wasn’t cutting the mustard any more, I scouted out all the nearby dealers in and around Grande Prairie, Alberta, where I lived. After trying out about a dozen, I narrowed the choice to either this Janome or a very similar Kenmore, also made by Janome. The Janome won because of the extras it came with – all the quilting feet and a huge extension table. I think it was about $1500 – it was a brand new model, replacing the 4800.
I bought a table-top quilting frame to use my machine on, and, frustrated with the narrow quilting area available in the 6″ harp, I scoured the internet for recommendations on a larger machine. The Bailey seemed to have a lot of very happy owners, so when we were home in Calgary one summer and a local member of a Yahoo quilting group advertised one, I jumped at the chance. It was $800.00, and light enough that I could take it home to Kuwait in my suitcase. Because the Bailey is similar to the Janome, it was easy to get used to.
3. What do you like about your machines? Have you names them? Have you made covers for them?
Both of my machine have been solid workhorses…….. dependable and simple enough that nothing major has gone wrong with them. My Janome has remained nameless, but the Bailey Home quilter was christened “Betty”, after a guild member in Cochrane, Alberta, who led a mystery quilt project and taught me a lot with her detailed instructions. I have made a cover for Betty Bailey, but not for my Janome. She has a hard slip-over case that I use when she’s off duty for a while.
4. Do your machines give you any problems? Could you tell us a few?
When I first got the Janome, I had problems with it seizing up and refusing to reset itself when shut off. It was very fussy about small bits of thread getting into the bobbin area. After our get-aquainted period, however, we have been working harmoniously together, with only the occasional hissy fit from my trusted companion. (I try not to throw hissy fits – and my machine will never tell if I do).
Betty Bailey has been a gem and a great teacher. I have learned a great deal about tension with her, as she is a bit fussy about changes in thread weight. She has no speed control, so I have learned to be steady and precise. To better carry her 29 pounds, I traded up to a Bernina quilting frame which I bought from Sew Much More in Austin, Texas, and had shipped to Kuwait. I would love to have a needle-up setting on her, but we manage. I still have a lot to learn before I need to move up to a larger machine.
5. What do you sew on them mainly? Quilts, clothes, bags, etc? How much time do you spend sewing on them? What are the features of these machines that help you to improve your work?
I sew mainly quilts – paper piecing, piecing, machine applique, and quilting. Under protest, I do a bit of mending as well. I quilt small items on the Janome, but do all other work on the Bailey. I can spend anywhere from one hour to 20 or more a week sewing – depending on circumstances. Lately it seems that I have been doing far too much sorting and organizing, and far too little sewing. I love the 1/4″ foot on the Janome, and the new interchangeable quilting feet. The wide range of other feet available for precision work is a bonus as well. And I love the freedom of quilting on a frame instead of a sit-down machine. It’s like writing your name by moving the pen instead of the paper.
6. What advice would you give others when deciding about which machine to buy?
Try them all out. Make a list of what you can’t live without, and then carry sandwiches and applique bits around and try every machine that fits your requirements. You will soon find that some great machines just don’t feel right for you, and some feel like you’ve had them all your life.
The other thing is to make sure you get a machine that comes with easy access to good service – and lessons to get you started.
7. Will you share with us a particular memory associated with your machines?
Because my machines are from North America, in Europe and the Middle East, I have had to use a step-down transformer to change the power from 220 to 110. When I first arrived a in Kuwait, I didn’t realize that, and Zap! Janome was toast. I was horrified. It was like murdering your best friend!
I somehow found a sewing machine repairman in downtown Kuwait City who understood the problem, and several days later I had my machine back – and the directions to a shop where I could buy a heavy-duty transformer. Heavy being the operative word, I now travel with my “portable” sewing machine in a bag on wheels. It is actually a picnic bag from Kuwait, but fits my needs exactly. I can even carry my extension table on the handle.
8. If you had unlimited resources in the world, which machine would you choose to buy and why?
I don’t think I wouldn’t trade my Janome in right now. She is doing everything I want, and we are very comfortable together. If I had the money, I would probably invest in a larger, more sophisticated quilting machine, though.
As my mother does not sew any more, I am hoping to get her Singer Featherweight machine – the one I first learned to sew on. It must be the most versatile machine ever made, even if it does only do a straight stitch. It really is a portable machine, and comes with the widest range of strange attachments I’ve ever seen.
I’m all sorted out in the sewing room, and have a mystery quilt just dying to be put together. Thanks for dropping by my blog – and don’t forget to check in with Shruti tomorrow to win great prizes, and find out what another quilter is sewing on.