Using My Hobby to Pay for My Hobby

A while ago my dad asked me what I have been doing with my time, sort of implying that I have been abusing my recently graduated status laze about and eat bon-bons all day.  I gave him a look and told him I had been sewing.  A lot.  Mostly for skating people who have been paying me for my services.  After having this conversation and talking numbers my dad paused for a moment and questioned if I shouldn’t be investing in a second sewing machine?  To be fair he was recalling the time last year when a broken sewing machine sent me into a panicked midnight shopping trip to a WalMart, but honestly when my dad thinks I need a new sewing machine you know I have been sewing like fiend.  I have been sewing enough, in fact, to be able to actually afford a new machine using the profits from my completed orders.  And when I say a new sewing machine I don’t mean a cheap minimal WalMart back up machine.  No, sewing world, I have upgraded to an honest-to-goodness legit sewing machine from an actual dealer/repair shop:

My new baby!

Yup, I ended up with a Janome.  To be completely honest, before the start of this year I had really been craving and saving for a Bernina.  But during my awesome San Diego blogger meet-up in January, talking to a machine repair man at The National City Yardage Town got me starting to think about Janome as a much more affordable possibility that I had never really considered before.  Then one of my favorite sewing bloggers was showing off her new beauty and got me thinking about it even more seriously.

The box… and I got some bobbins and a walking foot in the deal.

So when my dad brought up the secondary machine idea… well, it was definitely something I had considered.  But I also knew if I was going to get another machine it was going to be an upgrade, not a downgrade.  So I saved for a few months and after pondering options online I decided it might be worth taking the time to check things out at a dealership if I was going to be investing that much money in a machine.  So I dragged my mom along to two of the dealerships in the area (she doesn’t sew, but I usually feel like I need an adult with me when I try to make a large purchase.  Mostly because the people at the hardware store are still unconvinced that I am old enough to buy spray paint…).  The first place pretty much blew us off.  We weren’t there for a Pfaff or a high-end Brother embroidery machine, so they weren’t much interested in dealing with us.  Not to mention that their prices were double what I would pay online for lower quality machines.  So, no go.  The second place was much nicer.  It was clear to them I was the seamstress, and they were interested in selling to me, not my mom.  First time that has ever happened.  They were also quite conscious of my budget, so they focused on the machines in my price point, not too pushy about upgrading to things I couldn’t afford.  They spent time showing me features and let me play with some fabric scraps I had brought with me.  Despite getting the royal treatment, the real thing that sold me – the machine itself.  It is so smooth!  I mean, yes, I got lots of fancy features I haven’t had before (Adjustable presser foot pressure!  Eyelet stitch!  Automatic thread cutter!!!), but really in the end the best feature of the machine is the machine itself.

Yes, it has an automatic thread cutter.
No, I don’t need it, but oh man do I like it.

I have been using the machine for just over a week now.  I love it so much I can’t even describe.  It just feels so solid and smooth and wonderful.  It is one of those things where I didn’t really realize how problematic things were with my old machine until I got to try things on my new one.  Simple things like the fact that it stitches in a straight line still amaze me.  Really, I was always fighting with feeding the fabric through my Brothers, but the Janome just sucks it along without a problem at all.

60 stitch options, including several buttonholes and an eyelet!

The machine came with free classes at the dealership (haven’t had any yet, but the store is one light away from the rink I skate at, so it won’t be a problem to go), and they threw in a free walking foot and extra bobbins.  The walking foot is something I use constantly, and I find this foot mildly more difficult to attach than on my old machine, but I have to say the difference between using the Brother foot and the Janome foot is like night and day!  I always had problems with fabrics bunching or snagging on the Brother foot, but the Janome foot has had none of these problems.  I have even been rather mean to the machine and used the walking foot over snap tape (twill tape with the metal snaps attached) without any problems.  This machine is a beast.

Stitch samples – I think I am going to have top stitching fun with some of the options!

Aside from how smoothly it feeds fabric, I love how solid the machine feels.  Before if I used heavy fabric on the Brother machines it would move the machines across the table (or flip them off the table in the case of a few wool coats I have made).  Now if I shake my machine the whole table moves but the machine is solid.  Amazing.  And (this will probably sound really weird) but I love how the bobbin winder feels. There is something satisfying about the solid click of moving the bobbin winder that I never had on the Brother machines.  And because of the way this machine is set up I can wind a bobbin without un-threading the needle.  The Brother was set up with the ability to use a twin needle, but using the secondary spool stand to wind the bobbin never worked well for me.  The ability to use a second spool to wind the bobbin, and the use of the automatic thread cutter might be fancy but unnecessary time savers, but I appreciate them anyway.  I also like the stitch plate on the Janome – it has the makings for seam allowances, but it also has common angles printed on the plates as well.  Which is totally awesome for creating perfectly pointed v-necks.  Oh, and I have been using the automatic needles threader – a feature I had on the Brother, but it never worked well, so I was always better off threading by hand.  The bobbin is also super easy to thread, so I can have the machine ready to go in mere moments.  So awesome.

I am still getting use to some of the differences between this machine and the Brother.  For example, this machine has a needle up/down, so the needle will stop up if you start with it up, or stop down if you start with it down.  This machine will also sew even if the presser foot is not lowered, whereas the Brother would always flag an error if that were the case.  Which would be fine, except the foot pedal is much more sensitive than the Brother.  This is actually a good thing (the pedal is also much more solid and doesn’t seem to travel around the floor under the table either), but I am not quite used to it yet, so I have had a few unexpected bouts of stitching when I was trying to pivot or position the fabric.  I do have to admit that I really like that I can position the needle for the straight stitches, and that there are a few stitches that have automatic knots to start/finish a seam.  And I can sew backwards at full speed!  Before I had to make each backstitch with a press of a button, but now I can press the button to backstitch or finish a seam at full speed.  This is so lovely.  It is amazing the things we can live without, but now that I know what I have been missing I don’t know if I can do without these things again in the future.  I do like that this has many of my favorite features from my Brother machines, like variable speed control, so I don’t feel like I am missing anything by switching brands.

I haven’t had much chance to use this on anything other than stretch velvet thus far, but I hope to be able to use it on different fabric types soon.  Especially since I have a few non-skating dresses to make by the end of the month.  In the meantime I am going to be enjoying using my new baby to produce more skating costumes for all the big events this summer.

Sewing machine love!

My only complaint is that the manual seems a bit lacking in detail.  Which is ok if you know how to sew, but would have been daunting if this were my first machine.  Either way, I am enjoying my new machine and look forward to using it extensively in the months and years to come.

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8 thoughts on “Using My Hobby to Pay for My Hobby

  1. Oh, how wonderful! I can't wait to hear how much easier it is to sew the lovely costumes. This looks like it's a great machine, and it's good to hear that you found a dealer who really cared about what they were selling to you.

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  2. My mother keeps calling it “Jerome” because she can't remember that it is a “Janome” and so in my head it has become Jerome the Janome, even though I didn't really want to name it that. But it might stick. The color scheme is rather masculine, especially in comparison to my pink and swirly Brother machine, so I suppose it is ok…

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  3. What a treat. I went from a Brother to a Janome as well. I have found the adjustable foot pressure brilliant when using a twin needle on jersey – I no longer get the ridge that sometimes used to form between the rows of stitching on the Brother. I also love the thread cutter. It was one of those things I thought I'd probably never use and now I'd hate to be without it.

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