Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gone mechanical

I love sewing machines...yes, I do.  I truly do.  This has been one of the discoveries of the past 3 years, as sewing & quilting have become a major part of my life!

This week I made a big change.

I sold my Janome Horizon.

Now I certainly don't want to bad-mouth this machine: it served me really well for 2.5 years, I learned a lot while making 30+ quilts and lots of little girl clothes on it.  It has a million and one features.  It is loved by many.

But I had the sudden revelation that one machine cannot do it all -- piece, free motion quilt, hem, topstitch -- without being a wee bit...fussy.  I asked a lot of the Janome Horizon, making it switch tasks repeatedly, and all she wanted in return was exactly the right thread, exactly the right needle, a perfectly wound bobbin...or else!

It dawned on me that what I really needed were two machines (try explaining that to your family, squeezed into a small urban house): one for quilting and another for garment sewing.

It also dawned on me that I had had it with computerized machines.  What I really love are sturdy, heavy, metal, mechanical machines (I spend quite enough time on computers), ones that purr when you oil and clean them, and that aren't mystifying.  My 1947 Singer Featherweight taught me that.

And I think it's important that you love your machine(s)!

And now I do, I really do!  

I found a new home for the Horizon (wow, there'a ton of kijiji interest in that machine!), and now I have two machines that together cost a lot less than a new Horizon.  To some this would look like a step down, but for me it feels like a huge step UP! Here are the details.

Garment (general) sewing

Channelling my great aunt Lucy, who was a fabulous seamstress and used a very simple machine, I focused on finding myself a beautifully-made, tuned-up zig-zagger with at least one decorative stitch, manual buttonholes, needle position adjustment, and I chose a middle-aged Bernina as my all-purpose, garment sewing machine.

Meet the Nova 900, built in 1980.

Miss Nova, I love you!!!! 1/4" ties were almost impossible to stitch on my janome (the feed dogs were so wide set), they were do-able on the featherweight, but they're a pleasure on my new baby. Nova has adjustable needle position, like newer machines, th
stitching teeny tiny strips (ties for Frida's dress) was a breeze

My yellow-trim Bernina Nova 900 came with all her original bits and bobs, including a hard-shell case (lined in lime green!) and the manual.

I invested in two more of those fabulous Bernina feet: a 1/4" piecing foot and an invisible zipper foot.

I am a total Bernina convert! (If I were in a position to buy a new Bernina, I would definitely go to Karyn at the workroom: to my mind, the ideal sewing machine dealer is one that is local and who actually loves to sew!)

This is by far the best sewing machine I have ever worked on...and because it's an old machine, it also was far from the most expensive.

I made Frida's birthday dress yesterday and I couldn't be happier with this machine! As an experiment I used the Nova and only the Nova for the whole project -- including seam finishing, which I did with ease with the Overlock foot (470).  The Blindstitch foot (016) worked amazingly well for topstitching (who knew?!).  I may actually make more clothing simply because I enjoy this machine so much.

Getting ready to sew Frida's birthday dress: ModKids Gretchen

Frida's birthday dress with ribbon trim detail#modkids #berninanova900

Quilt making 

(piecing, straight-line quilting, free motion quilting)

For quilting, I went with a straight-stitch, metal, mechanical, semi-industrial workhorse bought from a (recently-discovered) awesome local dealer (Cloverdale Sewing Centre, if you're in the Toronto area!).

Meet the Juki TL-2010Q. 

I'm in love with this machine too!

I tested my Juki thoroughly before committing...free-motion quilting with everything from beautiful variegated Aurifil 12 wt to a nasty, twisty, miserable 50 wt thread I bought at Creativ Festival two years ago, and which made my Janome Horizon throw a fit.  I fmq'ed with tight crazy curves, swoops, twists, everything nutty you can imagine...and the stitching was PERFECT!  No eyelashes at all, perfectly balanced stitches.

Yes pleeeeaaase!

My new best quilting friend, juki 2010q!!!!! She's amazing. The Janome Horizon has found a new home and I am thrilled to have replaced it with the lovely 1980 Bernina nova 900 and this juki -- a less $$ combo than the Horizon and they're making me sososo

I finished quilting my version of "Scrappy Trips Around the World" as soon as I got the Juki out of her box (ummm, that would be yesterday!  I got right on it!).

Working meandering loops with Connecting Threads cotton thread in white, the quilting was an absolute pleasure! By this morning I was making and attaching the binding (using the Juki's included walking foot).  Ahhhhhhh!

Finally binding #scrappytripalong. Listening to CBC and getting mentally prepared to do some work-work

#scrappytripalong FINIS!!! Bound with Kona turquoise. Fmq loops in white.

#scrappytripalong is Ramone-approved

I am one happy woman today!

And I'm very happy to talk machines, so please let me know which ones make you a happy stitcher.


Lesly said...

I have a Pfaff that I bought second hand that has been doing yeoman's service for me, but I have always been tempted by the Berninas - they are just so pricy. I bought a Featherweight this summer and it is wonderful.

Four dogs and one quilter said...

Your post really struck a chord with me. Recently I had to send my Janome 6500 to the shop and had to use my Pfaff Grand Hobby quilter instead. What a difference in the quality of my free motion quilting. No tension problems, no pokies, no eyelashes. Have yet to go back to the 6500. I am just loving this machine. And it pieces like a dream too. Could never get the Janome to chain stitch but the Pfaff does it with no problems. Sticking with mechanical unless I need a fancy stitch.

Prof. S (the enchanted bobbin) said...

So interesting to read your comments! I love to talk sewing machines (I could *easily* morph into a collector, if not for lack of space!).

Annabella said...

Well good for you Jennifer!! Your Bernina must be called Billy after Billy Joel who was pretty big in 1980 and I don't know anything about Jukis except that Juki is a cute name and you may keep that name :-D

Nic said...

Sounds like a good idea. I don't think all the computerised machines are necessary, and I'd love a good solid metal one. Actully, I'd love an old Singer :)

LizA. said...

Good for you....I've been thinking about older machines more and more. I follow Bonnie Hunter's blog (Quiltville) and she has an amazing collection of older machines and is always adding to it. She also uses them. She will rotate through her collection. Once we move and I have that big house SOO, for my sewing studios might start hunting down older machines....

LizA. said...

P.S. love your scrappy trips.....I caved and started one too bulimia rotating working on that and some other projects that were "rediscovered" recently.....

Freda Love Smith said...

It's nice to know that your big switch is working out so well! And what a lovely birthday dress for Miss Frida!

Archie The Wonder Dog said...

It was a brave move that worked out perfectly! I love my Bernina (An Activa 220) as the one I had before that (my mam's) was a New Home and just couldn't deal with sewing through more than two layers of fabric (made piecing interesting!) or quilting. Your post makes me wonder what my mam's 'big' machine (an all metal Brother from about 1968) would be like at quilting, though!

Rebecca said...

I'm so intruiged by this post. I, too, have a Horizon. I love it, I really do - but my problem is that I don't use half the features available!! I am very much a quilter, and rarely need fancy stitches. I have been eyeing the Juki that you bought for some time and this post really might be the push I need to list the Horizon... I noticed that you don't have an email contact, but if you have a minute would you mind sharing some info. of your selling experience with me via email? rktunnell {at} gmail {dot} com

BendingPins.com said...

I'm with ya, I have a Bernina 550 and a Juki TL-2000 Qi and love both!

Sheila said...

Really interesting post as I am currently planning a new machine and am looking at both Juki and Bernina.
Looks like you got the best of both.

Rebecca Lynne said...

Helen (Archie the Wonder Dog) sent me to this post because I was just emailing her that I, an avid Bernina lover and owner of an Activa 130 which is a simple basic no frills machine, was looking at new machines and thinking instead of replacing my Activa 130 I really just want to supplement it. The Juki TL2010 is looking PERFECT for me - it is so nice to hear that you came to the same conclusion and are happy! Heh heh...now to convince my husband...