Tagged with " sewing"
Jul 13, 2015 - life    No Comments

Sewing update

Over the winter, I did even more sewing, and in the late fall, I decided that a new machine would be a great way to mark my 40th birthday, in July. I had researched several machines, and had decided initially on a Juki F600, because it met all the requirements I was looking for (I had a spreadsheet. Of course.) but then I tried a Viking at the local dealer, which is inside a Joann Fabrics, and that was pretty nice – and I would not be able to test drive the Juki, but just go on what the internet reviews said. I had looked at Janomes, but their basic models were too basic, and their next step up was a giant leap up and too much machine and way out of my price range. BUT THEN. Janome introduced a new machine in late fall, that seemed exactly what I wanted. My $150 Brother had served me well as I learned, but I also knew exactly what I wanted in my next machine – a bigger harp space, better lighting, thread cutters, and a knee lift (or other hands free ability). I also wanted it to be solid and sturdy, and quiet – my Brother was prone to having to be chased across the table when I worked on bigger projects, and that could get annoying.

I loved the hover foot on the Viking, but dealer reviews left me a little leery. Janome had a fantastic dealer at the Fabric Garden, a LQS that was on my way to the mountain, so a place I passed and stopped at pretty often , and they were always a great place to visit, and after a couple of missed opportunities, in February I FINALLY got time to stop in and test drive the Skyline S5. It was exactly what I wanted, in all ways. I went to the mountain and told my parents, and Dave, that all I wanted for the next few occasions were gift cards to the Fabric Garden, so that I could buy the Skyline. I was sold.

Later in February, less than a week later, actually, an email came through from Janome about a contest – I read the details: submit a picture, unlimited entries, winner chosen from a random drawing. It sounds a little woo, but I read that and had a feeling wash over me of “I am going to win this.” I immediately found one of my pictures on Flickr and uploaded, and shared the contest with my sewing group. I decided I’d make an entry for each day. The contest ended March 31, and I missed some days in the middle, so I did a big push at the end, but in the end I think I had posted 35 pictures. It seemed like the other entrants thought it was a ‘get the most likes/comments/shares’ contest, but it wasn’t – the terms and conditions clearly said it was a random drawing, with unlimited entries, so odds are better when you enter more. The terms also said that the winner would be notified by 10 am on April 1.

All month as I took pictures, Ingrid was excited to help, and she knew that I was entering a contest, and on the morning of April 1, when I left for work she knew that was the day of the drawing and she was very excited, gave me a big hug and said “I’m crossing EVERYTHING hoping you win!!” I went to work, and watched the clock. 10 am came…. and went. Oh well, I figured, there were still 85% OTHER entries, so I did what I could, and would keep entering contests if they showed up. And then, at 10:06, an email popped into my inbox. Subject: Congratulations on winning a Janome Skyline S5 Sewing Machine!


I was floored. I went back to that day I first entered, and how I’d just had this sense that this was going to be mine, and couldn’t believe I was RIGHT! A flurry of emails, and the machine was backordered from the company, so I FINALLY managed to get it on April 24…. from the Fabric Garden! Not only did I win the exact machine I wanted, I was able to get it from the exact dealer I wanted, so I get those dealer benefits, too. Kala and her staff there were so great, and almost as excited as I was that I won. We took photos for the company, and I got a lesson and bought some accessories, and since it was the month of the Maine Quilt Shop Hop, Ingrid and I spent the rest of the day driving through Maine to get our stamps and spend the day together. She inherited my old machine, which was just as exciting for her.



Fall is when I usually get the sewing itch, but with the new machine I have been trying to scratch it earlier. The very first thing I made was a weighted blanket for Willa – we had picked out the material on March 31, HOURS before being notified I’d won, and once I knew my dream machine was on its way, I couldn’t bear to use my old one, so she got her birthday blanket almost a month late. It was a simple project to start with, but also a good one to start with, because I found that when I accidentally hit a bead, the machine just basically stopped feeding until I noticed, and cleared the bead, and then it would go on. No loud noises or error codes or broken needles, just a “hey there, something in the road, mind checking it out for me?” pause in the action.


When Willa’s dance pants needed to be hemmed (by a LOT), the Skyline handled the stretchy lycra with no problems. And I made my first Hour Basket, and the thick seams didn’t slow down the Skyline for a second. I LOVE this machine.



One of the things I felt bad about was that by my winning a machine, the Fabric Garden ‘lost’ an actual sale – but the week after I got my machine, I took it to my sewing group and a week after THAT, a member of the group went to the Fabric Garden and bought one for herself!

I plan on doing a full review (and comparison to my Brother, which was a great machine to learn on) but I also wanted to get the story of winning my machine written down. I know that so many contest winners smile for the pictures and then turn around to sell their prize for money, which is fine, but this was a prize I REALLY wanted, and am so thrilled to have received.

Janome has hit the sweet spot for a sewist like me – someone who has learned some, but wants to go farther, with a quality machine. Before the Skyline, there was a big gap between the 4160 and the Horizons, and this machine bridges that gap PERFECTLY. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to go a little farther with their sewing – the convenience features mean I spend more time sewing and less time doing maintenance, and that is just amazing to me – I feel so lucky to have won.


Feb 27, 2014 - life    No Comments

Sewing Stuff

I posted about my sewing club a little while ago, and I’m still having fun with my projects. In fact, last week I’d mentioned to Dave that I was keeping my eyes open for something to use a sewing table in the dining room, because the situation was that I had the table extended to it’s full length with all of my stuff on it, and to eat dinner, everything had to be cleaned up, and then I had a pile in the corner of all my STUFF.  I had been pinning examples of what I wanted — something that could hide the machine and be a surface if I needed it for a party or something, but I wanted it to put the machine at surface level, and I wanted drawers on the left so that I could have space on the left. I don’t need much on the right of my machine, but I do on the left, and MOST sewing tables seem to orient the drawers on the right which makes no sense to me. I knew what I wanted, and I knew that even ugly sewing tables cost an arm and a leg, so I was hoping to find something in other ways.

Last week, on Thursday, our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore posted a sewing table on Facebook. It had drawers on the left! And appeared to not be made of laminate/pressboard! And they were asking — not kidding — $34.99. It was the end of my workday, so I grabbed my keys and started to leave to lay claim to it, but I paused — that was a steal. I turned around and called them. “Will you hold that sewing table? I am on my way.” (FTR, they will hold an item for 2 hours!) When I got there, I checked it out — solid wood, even the back! (so many pieces that go against a wall have cardboard backs these days, but this would look great facing out, even.) It was originally made to hide away the machine by swinging it down, and then there was a panel that went into the top to make it a flat surface. Because I take my machine to my sewing club, I decided I didn’t care about it swinging down, if I ever need to use the surface I can pop it out and put in the panel. But other than that, it met my needs! I plan on sanding and painting it when the weather warms.



My sewing kit is a set of 3 little trays that snap together with a cover with a handle, and it’s great – I’ve been spreading it across the dining room table as I work. But with the new table, I have put the layers into the drawers. They are now keeping the drawers organized, and when it’s time to go to my meeting, I can snap them back together! The drawer stack is three drawers, with the bottom being the double deep one, where I’ve stashed a bunch of fabric.






The other thing I did (before the table) was make this awesome ironing/cutting mat, and bought a small travel iron, so that I don’t need to set up the ironing board and big iron.

IMG_0932 IMG_0933 IMG_1029That is the current state of my sewing space!


Jan 16, 2014 - life    No Comments

Social Sewing

A few months ago, I hauled out my sewing machine to work on some projects for a few new babies that were due in my world. I posted on social media a photo of Ingrid learning on my machine, which led to this series of comments from some friends:

Sewing pic

(If it’s hard to read, it’s a friend asking if she could have lessons with Ingrid, and others chiming in.)

Now, I am NOT an expert seamstress/quilter/anything,  but I have dabbled in sewing for years. I actually got a machine when I was a kid that never worked right, ever, so I gave up, and then when I quit smoking over a decade ago, I invested maybe $100 in a very, very basic mechanical Brother machine at Walmart, and with that and fabric from Marden’s, I channeled all of that “oh my god, I want to smoke” energy into making quilts, which I gave away as I made them. (And it worked, by the way, so if you are looking for a distraction to quit smoking, I highly recommend it.) When I was expecting Ingrid, I made her a quilt using flannel in a citrus theme, because I craved citrus with her, and because orange and lime are good gender neutral colors, as we didn’t find out before delivery what we were having. Then it sat dormant for about 4 years, when I was expecting baby #2, and wanted to make a quilt for the new arrival. I started with the Brother I’d had all along, but was becoming frustrated, and I ended up buying a new machine on Amazon when I was about 36 weeks pregnant – the Brother CS6000i. At the time, it was $200 (which was what I had just earned from a blogging gig), but now I see it for under $150 regularly (and see that the XR9500PRW is basically the same machine with a few more stitches, so if I were buying now, It would be worth the extra $10 or so, I think.) It was such a huge leap forward from the basic machine I started with. Anyway, I made the blanket for the baby that ended up being Willa, and now I had TWO kids, and, yeah, the sewing machine went back to the basement, for, oh, about 3.5 years. So when I pulled it out, and shared this pic, it started a conversation!

Pretty quickly, people were chiming in that they had a machine but didn’t know how to use it, and we’d all run into there being a lack of classes or events that worked with any schedule other than “retired grandma.” I suggested we try to form our own sewing club and crowdsource what we were trying to learn, and the idea took off.

Our first meeting was in November, at a friend’s home — she had a big enough space and enough outlets to accommodate us, and I brought a box of wine and some cheese and crackers, and the Social Sewing club was born. It was great! We laughed, and we chatted, and most importantly, we got people actually using their machines! Note: If you are having a problem with your machine, we’ve learned that It’s Always the Bobbin.


We’ve met twice more since then, and have meeting number four next month. In addition to getting others sewing, I’ve rekindled my love of sewing as well. I made some projects for those new babies, and have one in progress and one on deck for myself. My dining room has been taken over, which just makes me long for a dedicated space even more, but… someday. And even better, I have no babies in my future to stall me for another four years! In fact, now the babies want to help me with my projects, which sometimes works.

I know that social media so often gets a bad rap, but it’s important to remember what good can come from it. I had NO IDEA that any of these people were trying to figure out their machine, or had given up on figuring out their machine, until I posted that photo. And others may not have had any idea that I liked to sew until I posted.