Sewing Machine Angst

I seriously DO NOT want to collect sewing machines. To me, sewing machines are a tool that I plan to use. That being said, I do have my great grandmother’s Necchi, which I had repaired, but only used a few times as a sewing machine. It is currently being used as a night table* in my bedroom. I don’t really have a place to set it up, so, for now, it is a night table.

Janome DC5100
Janome DC5100

I also have the DC5100, which I purchased as an upgrade to take to classes. I had the Janome Jem for awhile and really liked it. Great stitch quality, easy to use, a few more than basic stitches. Very workable for classes. Still, I wanted a little more, so I bought this one, which I used on and off as my main machine while struggling with problems with the 9k.

Janome 9K back from the shop - June 2016
Janome 9K back from the shop – June 2016

I also have a Janome 9000, which was the first Janome electronic machine. It is 20 years; I bought it the year before the YM was born thinking it would last me forever. I couldn’t even begin to conceive of the fabulous features new machines would come out with when I bought it. Also, I didn’t count on wear and tear. As you know from recent posts, it is showing its age.

Janome 6600
Janome 6600

My friend has moved to Scotland, mostly. She left last week, but will be back later this week to clear up a few things. She suggested that I buy her Janome 6600. I really wasn’t in the market for a new machine except that I sort of am. I need something that will go through multiple layers of bag construction (remember my fight with the Boxcar Tote?) and generally be a workhorse. It isn’t the fancy machine that is the Janome 15k, but it is a new machine (to me) and has a lot of good features I want. She also will give me a payment plan and is allowing me to try it out.

I brought it home and sat it on my floor for a week. When I realized I needed to decide in a week, I knew I needed to get on it. I started to prepare to sew after Sew Day on Saturday and decided that I wasn’t allowed to sew until I set up the machine. I put it into my table and started to use it. I had to read the book to thread and wind bobbins. It isn’t that different from other machines, but is a little different.

I really like it.

  • It is smooth running.
  • It fits in my table, though not super well.
  • Great stitch quality.
  • Not too loud.
  • Doesn’t eat triangle corners.

It has an integrated walking foot, which I haven’t tried, but plan to soon.

The bad part is that I got both of my other Janomes serviced recently. The 9k is running better than it ever has. Angie, from the Sewing Machine Place, noticed that the feed dogs were acting strange and now the machine is feeding and not acting up at all. Figures, right? It knew I was planning on replacing it.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*It is a truly awesome night table, as on it I can keep a big stack of magazines, a smaller stack of books, a small container of pens, post-it notes, etc, a small vase of flowers, a clock, a box of cough drops, a bottle of water and a few other things.

Yes, Please. I’ll Take One

Janome Labor Day Sale
Janome Labor Day Sale

As usual, Janome sent me an ad for their Labor Day Sale.

Janome Labor Day Sale
Janome Labor Day Sale

I don’t know that this is the machine that I actually want, because I haven’t done any real shopping, but if someone sent me one, I wouldn’t say no.

One of these days they won’t have a sale and that will be the time I decide it is time to buy a new machine.

Wearing Out Feet

Well, from the”you learn something new every day department” comes word that you CAN wear out sewing machine feet.

The 9k has been acting up. Not badly, but like an old lady who wants attention. First, something electrical with the light went wrong pretty soon after I brought it home. I know it wasn’t the bulb, because, for a time, if I tapped on it, the light would come on, stay on for a bit, then go out.

I also noticed that the machine would feed the fabric unevenly. I thought I noticed it because I was used to the DC5100, which uses newer technology.

I could live with these annoyances, but when the machine stopped working completely, I was had to do something. One day, I turned it on, the machine made a horrible noise, so I turned it off. Then it wouldn’t turn on again. I swapped it out for the DC5100 since I needed to progress with the Cargo Duffle prep.

Since the machine not turning on was major, I texted Angie at the Sewing Machine Place, though I had avoided it until then despite noting a few issues. She suggested a few things. A different cord worked for making the machine work but she needed to look at it to see what could be done about the feeding and the light. I continued sewing on the DC5100 since I was on a deadline.

The YM and I took it in on Tuesday. I needed him for lugging the 50 lb beast. We found a parking spot right by the door, so I really could have dealt with it myself. She checked everything while I waited. I may have to buy a new power cord, but the old one worked at the shop. The big news was that the feeding problem comes from 20 year old feet.

Wear on quarter inch foot
Wear on quarter inch foot

I wore out the two feet I use most frequently. I could not believe what I was hearing. Angie told me that the feet are rubbing up against the feeddogs some of the time, especially the quarter inch foot and that, over time, the metal wears through.

In the photo, you can see the discoloration (I know the photo could be better, but with the glare of the metal the camera had a hard time focusing). That is a spot where at least the first layer is gone.

The foot I use for zig zagging (Janome F) had strips of metal on the plastic bottom and had the same problem. Angie had an F foot so I bought it, but had to go to Always Quilting to get the quarter inch foot. I have been using the DC5100 as I work on the Cargo Duffle so I haven’t had a chance to try out the feeding on the 9k with the new feet. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you are having feeding problems, check the bottom of your feet.

Janome 9k Returns from the Dead

Yes, I thought the Janome 9000, my first machine and one of Janome’s first electronic machines, was dead. All the evidence pointed to it being dead. After talking to the Sewing Machine Place lady when she serviced my DC5100, as I may have mentioned, I decided to take the 9k in again and see if there was any way I could sew with it again.

Janome 9K back from the shop - June 2016
Janome 9K back from the shop – June 2016

Well, the Janome 9k is back and back in action. I sewed on it all day Saturday from the moment I started to sew until I went to watch Ghostbusters with the family. I know that movie is old, but there are some funny lines in it and we wanted to see it again before we go to see the new one. Also, the YM had never seen it, so it is a good excuse to get him to hang out with us.

Ghostbusters was hilarious. There is good and bad with the machine.

Good

  • I don’t have a machine sitting around that doesn’t work
  • It sews pretty well. It has a good stitch.
  • I have a knee lift to use again!
  • It is quieter than the DC5100
  • Embroidery should work fine. It was calibrated, etc, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Bad

  • $$$
  • It is still an older machine and some of the operations are a little smoother on the newer DC5100
  • The decorative stitches are a little squished
  • It doesn’t feed quite evenly, especially when I start out, but I think it did that before
  • I have to get used to it again
  • There is a strange whooshing sound when I sew. Not loud or annoying, just different.

She couldn’t repair the wear and tear on the machine and I didn’t expect her to. Having this machine back will keep me for awhile. I still want a new machine, though.

More on the Machines

Janome DC5100
Janome DC5100

I decided that being at Grand Parlor was a good time to send my sewing machine to the spa. I wouldn’t have a chance to even think about sewing, which means that it wouldn’t make me crazy to have it gone.

I am not sure it has been serviced since I bought it and I definitely did not buy it with every day use in mind. As you might recall, it was a replacement for the Janome Jem, which I took to classes. Then, I began having irredeemable problems with the Janome 9k and switched to this machine (Janome DC5100) on what I thought was a temporary basis. Here it is a year + later and I am still using it. It was definitely time for a service. I might have had it serviced before, but I don’t think so. Off it went.

No major problems, but when I was on the phone with Angi at the Sewing Machine Place store in Millbrae, she said that she remembered me. I told her about my 9k and she was horrified that she didn’t remember and more horrified that she couldn’t fix it. I didn’t really remember the details, but she asked me to bring it in and see what was up. They don’t charge to look, so I decided I would.

Janome 9000 (9k)
Janome 9000 (9k)

First, I checked the machine myself. It has been sitting since I had problems with it in 2014. Fortunately the cover was on (what do you think I am? A sewing machine torturer?? 😉   ), so there wasn’t much dust. Immediately the problems started. It ran on its own when I tried to thread it using the needle down button. I couldn’t stop it without turning it off. I didn’t do any further testing. I am not be a sewing machine torturer, but I am also not a sewing machine repair person and it has been a long time since I used the 9k. It simply wasn’t familiar to me anymore. 🙁

I finally had some spare time last Wednesday and took it in. I couldn’t find a parking place nearby and had to carry it over a block to get it to the store. I work out, but that baby is heavy.

Angi was selling a machine so her colleague helped me. We went through all the details of the issues I had found and she found that the machine wasn’t feeding either except when it ran by itself. Angi came over when she was done and we had the whole conversation over. She insisted that she would have remembered these problems, but I think I didn’t bring it back, because I thought it was irreparable and I had already been to 3 repair shops. I felt bad because I hadn’t looked up the exact details of what happened last before I went there. I know I took it to three shops including hers, but looked it up by tag later and got some clarity.

Angi looked at the machine and thought that wires had been crossed somewhere along the way, though the problem may stem from something called the step motor. No electronics, which is good since they are hard to come by, if not impossible for a Janome 9k. She thought 2 weeks and ~$300.

Janome 9400
Janome 9400

I really want a new machine and have my eye on the Janome 9400. However, if I get a new machine with a larger throat, I have to get a new table as well and that adds to the cost. There is really no point in hauling out heavy furniture and bringing new heavy furniture in without painting and generally giving my workroom a facelift. New machine, much less a new table and decor are just not in the cards right now. YM is in college, I am building my business. The finances just don’t work. The other thing is that I fall in love with new Janome machines all the time. Since I have been thinking about new machines, there have been at least 2 others I have wanted. If Angi and her team can get the 9k running again, that will keep me for awhile longer. Cross your fingers.

The Sewing Machine Place
239 Broadway
Millbrae, CA 94030
(650) 697-4739
10:00am-5:00pm (call as hours may vary)

Sewing Machine Final

Bulb burned out
Bulb burned out

You probably remember me bringing home the 9k. It worked and I was really happy except that the needle looked out of alignment and the light bulb was burned out.

I called the place that repaired my machine. I felt like an idiot when she, very kindly, told me I could move the needle position.

Oh.

I had never done that before.

Then she explained that she had had to do a factory reset when she re-soldered all of the connections. This meant that the machine was back to what it was like when I bought it. I didn’t remember ever changing the needle position but that was then and this is now. The machine works well. I don’t have to buy a new one; I am happy.

Except for the light bulb. I have an auxiliary bright light over the machine, but it does not shine on the needle. The little sewing I have been doing has been somewhat dark. I asked her about the bulb and she said she would send me one if I told her which one. I was at work; I had no idea.

Later that night I looked at the bulb, which I had to find first. I never had to change the bulb before. That may have been the original bulb! I took a photo and meant to call and tell her, but was too busy at work. My last days mean that projects are being heaped on my that nobody ever thought important before.

On Friday morning I decided I would drive down to the shop and pick up the bulb so I would be ready for sewing on Saturday. When I got there, I showed the photo. The nice lady, Angie, asked if the bulb had two prongs or a roundy sort of connection. I didn’t know. I just stared at her thinking I’d have to go home with no bulb and sew in the dark on Saturday. She gave me one with prongs.

I slotted it in when I got home and turned on the light. It worked and now everyone is happy(mostly me, but also my DH who is happy that I have stopped muttering to myself about incompetent machine repair people and damn light bulbs).

Update: sad news. The machine is on timeout again. I sewed on and off all day on Saturday with my new light bulb, my newly positioned needle and life was good. Sunday all hell broke loose. The machine started running super fast and then giving me an error message about a bent needle or something caught in the needle area.

I changed the needle. No help.

I rethreaded the machine. No improvement.

I rewound a new bobbin. Same problem.

I took off the sole place and cleaned the whole area. It was pretty clean already. Nothing.

I took out the bobbin case and cleaned out under there. The problem persisted, so I put the machine on timeout and took out the backup machine again (no knee lift- BAH).

I feel like I am in an abusive relationship and this might be the last straw. I am going to look and see if there are any contests at which I can win a new machine.

Good News on the Sewing Machine Front

Wednesday

I have a talked a lot about my sewing machine in the recent past and the news has been all bad. 🙁

Finally, last week I got some GOOD news. Finally!

My mom took my machine to Always Quilting for me. I really had nothing to lose since it had been deemed terminal and, perhaps though hope was slim, I could catch a break. I feel like the machine has been at the shop forever.

Anyway, Wednesday I got a call from the woman who was working on it. She wanted to hear the story of the machine.

Huh?

Why would someone want to know the story of my machine? Good idea, but it sounded weird. I think it just sounded weird, because nobody had ever asked me about that before. I told her my whole long sad tale of woe.

She asked if I had noticed skipped stitches or tension problems. I said that I could never get the tension right to free motion quilt, but other than that I wasn’t having any problems. She said that my needle bar was out of alignment. That was a new one on me! I now have a secret hope that I might be able to free motion quilt again sometime. Maybe? Perhaps?

She said that there had been too many hands on the machine and the connections were a mess. She said that a lot of the electronic connections had to be re-soldered, but no new screen was needed and I should have the 9K back by the weekend. I couldn’t believe it!

She said that the machine was NOT terminal!

I feel like I have won the lottery, a reprieve or something really good. I can’t wait to get my machine back.

Sunday

I went and got the machine today. I normally don’t leave, but I am in a weird place with various projects and needed some exercise.

I got the machine back and set it up. First thing I noticed was that the light doesn’t work. Sigh.

The second thing I noticed was that the screen DOES work. YAY!

The needle bar definitely is different. I hope it is straight, though it doesn’t look straight. The seams seem to be straight if a touch wider than a scant 1/4″.

It sounds better, too. I like the sound of my 9k. It is quieter than my other machine.

I will also have a knee lift available again. I haven’t used it yet, but it is set up and ready to go.

My fingers are crossed.

Sewing Machine Saga Continues

After Grand Parlor, I went back to Serge-a-Lot to get my 9k and brought it home, hopefully to use peacefully for the next 5 years.

Sigh.

I turned it on and it sewed great, but the screen was very faint. This machine uses a touch screen and you might remember that, a few years ago, the touch portion stopped working and I had the touch screen replaced. Looking up the dates made me realize that it was over 6 years ago and while the first screen lasted 14 years, perhaps 6 years isn’t too bad for the second screen.

It doesn’t really matter, though, because a new screen cannot be purchased. They are no longer available from Janome.

I am not sure what I am going to do. What I am not going to do is buy is a Janome 15K, which I covet. I have to face reality that I just don’t use the embroidery module. I admire Katie’s “in the hoop” projects, but just don’t think I will do them enough to justify the expense. After all, I don’t have an Etsy store or anything.

A friend had many problems with the Janome 7700 and the reviews have been scalding. That is the type of machine I am looking at, however, if I decide to buy a new machine. I saw a review of the Janome 8900 at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic that got my hopes up for that model. I don’t know if they still make it.

The part of the this whole saga that is really depressing is all the accessories I have for the 9K: Sew Steady table, sewing table insert, hoops, embroidery cards, templates, etc. Bleah!

I have to think about what I want to do.

  • Have you bought a machine recently? What kind?
  • What features do you like on your machine (new or not)
  • What do you really use on your machine?

Sewing Machines….Blergh

There is good and bad in my sewing world lately.

The Good:

  • plenty of fabric
  • good projects on which to work
  • finishes
  • more fabric
  • nice IRL quilt friends
  • #Twilters

The Bad:

  • #$%^&*(@## sewing machine

Yes, my 9K stopped sewing again last week.

“Really?”, you ask.

After a string of curses, not directed at you, “Yes,” I say.

What is the problem? I don’t know. I just stopped zigzagging in the middle of my ATCs a week ago. Since something was stuck under the feed dogs last time I had in the shop, I took off the sole plate and cleaned out everything that looked linty and like it didn’t belong. I didn’t see anything scary looking. I put it all back together and it sewed again.

Hooray, I thought, it was just a recommended stoppage to avoid permanent damage. I was happy.

For about 5 minutes, then it stopped again. I took off the sole plate again and nothing was in there. Well, the area I could see was clean.

I was done.

Backup Machine on top of cabinet
Backup Machine on top of cabinet

I got out the backup machine and put the 9K on the floor in timeout. Saturday I went and picked up the insert. Perfect timing, because I am thinking of quilting the Wonky Nine Patch.

Also, I have been waking up in the morning with tingly fingers and wrists (old injury that flares when I am naughty), which I know is from not having my machine flush with the table. I see a lot of people sewing without their machine flush and I envy them, because it makes for so much more versatility when they sew. They can go anywhere and sew. I can sew for a very limited time without the machine being flush with the table or I suffer.

Why have I been sewing like this, you ask? Denial? No, I MUST sew. I must get the creativity out of my body or I will probably explode.

Backup machine flush in cabinet
Backup machine flush in cabinet

My backup machine is ok. It is a good machine and it is working, which is a bonus, but it doesn’t have a knee lift. I don’t know it as well, so I always have to go hunting for various stitches and feet. It isn’t my 9K, which I do love.

The insert is nice, though it is a little strange to be able to see down under the machine. As of this writing, I haven’t sewn with it yet and I don’t know how that will be.

Raising the backup machine
Raising the backup machine

The bed of the the backup machine isn’t as tall as the 9K, so I had to boost it up to make it flush with the acrylic insert/table. I used the wooden closing insert (see picture above) and a magazine to get it to the right height. I might add some clamps to the whole assemblage if the slickness of the magazine makes the machine move around.

I took the 9K to Serge-a-Lot, my new best friend sewing store, after Sherri invited me to do so. She assured me that her man, Brad, could work on my machine. She came through with the insert and if Brad can’t fix the machine, then I am no worse off. She did see that the feed dogs weren’t advancing when she turned the fly wheel, so I didn’t come across like a complete lunatic. Of course, when we put thread in it in the store, the machine sewed fine.  WTF? I told her to service it if she thought it needed it.

I am thinking that a new machine is in my future sooner than I had hoped. I hope Serge-a-Lot can get it running and that it can give me a few more years of service. I don’t know, though. I better start saving my pennies.

All I can say is BLERGH!!!

Open Toe Walking Foot

clipped from www.janome.com

Walking Foot (Open Toe) for Embroidery models

The Open Toe Walking Foot offers precise control of fabric, and is especially helpful when working with layers of fabric, or those that may shift or pucker. Feed dogs are incorporated into the foot itself which work in conjunction with the machine feed dogs to feed fabric layers evenly. The open toe configuration allows for a clear view of your work. Use it for quilting, matching plaids, leatherwork, and any task that requires superior fabric control.
blog it

I have done several projects lately where I wished that I liked using my walking foot. It came with my machine and I tried it and I really couldn’t see where I was stitching and that was pretty much the end of my walking foot use.

Making Deirdre’s pencil roll last week, which actually calls for a walking foot in the directions,  rekindled my wish for a Janome ‘F’ Foot with clamp-on functionality like a walking foot. The Janome ‘F’ foot is clear and I can see exactly what is going on under the presser foot.

I am friends with Janome Sewing Machines on FB and those people are responsive (another reason to love my Janome). Periodically they talk about a new foot or provide a project to fans on their fan page. Something they said last week reminded me of my wish. I made a comment and they got back to me, also in a comment, and then they posted information about this new-to-me open toed walking foot. I called my dealer to find out the cost and if it works with my machine. It was just under $30 and does work with my machine.  Because I think I am at a point in my quilting where this foot would add to my technique when I quilt the Tarts, I bought one. They will mail it to me and I plant to quilt a table runner first. I’d like to try it out and practice before I ruin the Tarts.

I am curious to know if any of you have a similar foot and what you think about it. Do you use it? Is it as great as it sounds?

Janome Clear View Quilting Foot and Guide Set

I saw this in an email from Janome yesterday and was already drooling about he possibilities. I decided to quilt the Tarts Come to Tea myself, so I think this would come in handy. I am going to put it on my Christmas list!

One of the things I like about it is that it gives the sewist cornering markings. That might make me better at getting even lines when I have to turn.

I’d love to know your thoughts if you have used this!

Janome Clear View Quilting Foot
Janome Clear View Quilting Foot

Clipped from www.janome.com
Attach and remove the guides as needed to suit your task at hand- gives you three feet in one- 1/4 Inch Foot, Ditch Quilting and Clear foot.  Markings indicate 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch from center needle drop position with handy cornering markings for both 1/8 and 1/4 inch seams.  Oval-shaped needle hole allows needle adjustment for scant 1/4 inch piecing (computer models only).  Fits virtually all Janome top-loading models.  Please see your authorized Janome dealer for more information.

Back in the Saddle

I stayed away from the computer all day yesterday and sewed.

Janome 9000
Janome 9000

The 9000 is back and better than it has been in a long time. It is quieter. I can punch any button I want and the machine reacts instantly. It was a pleasure to sew.

I did a lot:

  • made a receiving blanket
  • finished the last bit of the Tarts
Tarts cups
Tarts cups
  • almost finished the machine quilting on Beach Town
  • made some Infinity blocks
  • worked on some FOTY 2009 blocks
FOTY detail pink
FOTY detail pink

Normally, I sew early in the morning and stop in the evening. I am a morning person and I have learned the hard way that when I sew tired I make mistakes. Last night, however, I stayed up late and sewed. It was wonderful.

Caring for Tools

I have been having problems with my machine recently. As I may have mentioned, I have a Janome 9000, which is a workhorse. It has a touch screen and the left half of the touch screen has not been working. This is a problem on a number of levels (needle down on the left, menu button on the left, etc), but the BIGGEST problem was that I wasn’t able to modify the width and density of the zigzag stitch. This is a problem because the Tarts require a zigzag to keep the cups and cakes on the background. I had it repaired last year for the same problem and it was okay for a while, but the problem has come back with a vengeance. I finally decided I couldn’t live with it anymore and took it in to another Janome dealeron Friday.

Those people ROCK! I talked with Patty at the Lafayette Sewing Center in Lafayette, Calif. First of all, she was not condescending. Second, she believed me even when the machine behaved perfectly (the machine and I will be talking about that later!). It did eventually start messing up and she knew afer a short time that I wasn’t lying. She thought that the machine may need a simple recalibration of the screen.

Simple = Not expensive, hopefully!

They are also going to do a regular service, which the machine surely needs. I use it all the time and don’t do much more than dust and clean the lint out of the bobbin area.

While I was there I asked about the tablecloth plastic I tried to sew a few months ago. She had worked with that material and recommended the roller foot. I bought one for only $7. One of the things I love about my Janome is the inexpensive price of the feet. And I have never broken one.  My quarter inch foot got bent once and I had to buy a new one. I think I stepped on it, which doesn’t count as breaking. 😉

I am excited to try it and, frankly, I feel like I am about to begin a 3 week sewing vacation where I can sew tote bags and take a break from some of my ongoing projects. I will miss the fact that I may not be able to work on my projects – will have to see what kind of adjustments I can make to the zigzag – but it might give me some perspective.