Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Manic Phase Quilt

I have to be on a manic phase.  It's the only thing that it could possibly be right now.

For those of you not familiar with the manic phase of manic-depression, the closest description I can give is to imagine yourself on an inflated high with a false hightened ability to do anything at the expense of everything and everyone else.

Mania is the most wonderful part of being manic-depressive.  Your creativity soars.  You believe you can do anything and no one is going to stand in your way.  You don't need sleep.  You don't need to eat or take time out for daily things as your mind becomes obsessed with whatever you are focused on.  It's the most amazing feeling until your body gives out because of exhaustion and you spiral out of control.

In this case, the focus has been on this quilt.  Normally I crash and burn after a couple of weeks, stuff the project into a bag and forget it until I have the courage to get back to it.  Not with this quilt.

I have been non-stop 12+ hours a day for several months now with no sign of exhaustion.  It's totally consumed me and it's impossible to stop for food and other important daily activities.  I've been obsessed over finding purple fabric when I wasn't able to sew.  I've burned through a 5 pack of rotary blades in two weeks.  I've gone through 6 yards of white fabric over the past couple of months.  I've been obsessed with perfection on this quilt.  I'm carefully drawing 1/4 inch lines on each white square and squaring up every block with precision.   I want each row to not have any of the same fabric and it's taken forever to get very far with this quilt.  Even while sleeping, I'm making this quilt.

Here's my progress so far on the design wall:

In my search for perfection I've gone down and across making sure I don't have the same fabric.  Then with the left edge of the quilt, I've put the same fabric squares across so that each vertical row will have that same fabric.  Later, I'll move the squares up/down within that row.  It keeps everything organized and I know how many squares of each fabric I have.  Maybe it's not about perfection and more about organization.

I had to force myself to quit tonight because I can feel the exhaustion coming.  If I force myself now, it won't be so bad later.  I have to remind myself that I have plenty of time for this quilt and that it's okay to stop working on it.

I know I bought the Janome 7700 out of a manic high.  I hope I don't regret the purchase later on.  I do love the machine and SO glad to get rid of my 6600, but buying something on a manic high isn't the same as making a calculated informed purchase.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Much Needed Boost

In frustration over this project, I went over to "Quilter Blogs" and started reading.  I enjoy the blogs and I came across a"Wish Upon A Quilt" blog with a Spring Cleaning Challenge 6 entry.  While not ready to tackle that challenge I went back a few entries to number 2.  Basically; clean off your desk and gather your sewing supplies from around your area.

I sat there staring at my huge mess and figured I'd go for it.  I cleaned off my table and set the strips aside.  Then I hit the other table and started folding fabric.  I found several rulers, two packages of rotary blades, rulers, a package of needles, and several of my scissors.  I put everything away and then found the courage to start on the fabric and strips.

Anything that was fat quarter sized was put in one pile.  Skinny pieces that had already been cut went into another pile.  The same with yardages.  I realized I had purchased two yards of the same fabric from two different stores.  I may use that as binding.

Then I tackled the strips.  I put fabric together with pins for sewing sets and found homes for the strip sets lying around.  I put those on the sewing machine for later sewing.

Suddenly this project isn't nearly as daunting.  I found several fat quarters that hadn't been cut up yet and put those on top.  I found other piles of squares that need trimmed and stuffed them in my plastic bag so they wouldn't get lost.

Tomorrow I will work again on this project.  Here's a much better organized picture:

Yardages, fat quarters and then strips

Thank you for so much for your challenge!

I'm Ready To Give Up Stripping

I'm tired of stripping.  I need a new night job.

If I cut one more strip of fabric, I'm going to lose it in my giant piles.  See this mess?

Even though I'm pinning sections together so the don't get lost, strips are missing.  I've truly tried to keep organized, but strips and 9-patches are exploding everywhere.

If I square up one more 9-patch I'm going to go insane and I don't even have a fourth of them done.  I lost count of my blocks awhile back but I know I'm not close to 1440 of them.

I finally got smart and used my shape cut template (duh) to do strips.  It helps, but all I see are endless piles of fabric.  I wish I could use it to trim down the 9-patches but it's too hard to be accurate with this small of a block.

After sewing several rows I got lost in keeping the fabric from not touching or being to close to one another.   I then realized I needed to lay out the quilt.  Sigh.  More work.  I started out on the bed laying out pieces and realizing I needed a more visual way to look at them.  Duh.  Use my hallway.

Here's the "design" wall, aka my hallway with my quilt:

Right now I'm working with 20 rows across and 20 rows down.  The diagonal strip is the 20 square diagonal mark.  I've spent all afternoon doing this.  You'd think it would be easy, but it's not as I have to trim blocks down.  I'm sure the tape will come off the wall leading to another mess.  It will be gorgeous once it's done and that's what keeps me going.

I'd put the project away out of my mind, but to pull it all out again several months later would result in a bigger disaster.

Anyone feel like coming over to help?  The only "help" I'm getting right now is from Bandit who thinks stealing tape from off the wall is a great idea.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quilt Sandwich Test Outs On The 7700

I can't seem to find my camera.  If you see it wandering out in cyberland, leave me an email and/or send it back.

*couple of minutes later* Ah.  I knew that would work.  I looked over and there it was.  Dang cat knocked it off between the desk and the birdcage.

There's been a discussion on FMQ on the 7700 Yahoo! Group.  I always feel terrible when several people can't get their machines to FMQ while the rest of ours works great.  They've tried everything and nothing works.  I wish I could cyberspace myself over to their house and help.

Then I realized I hadn't really done FMQ with the 7700 yet.  I had done it with the demo machine and once for a couple of seconds at home.  I made a quilt sandwich and made sure all the settings were from the factory.  Then I could play around to see what works best.

First test:
Needle: Janome 70 sharp
Thread: Aurifil
Bobbin: Aurifil 50wt
Dial: 7
Tension: Auto

No problems but it wasn't until I tried another setting that it was just "okay" for stitch quality.

2nd test:
Needle: Janome 70 sharp
Thread: Hemingworth Rayon 40wt
Bobbin: Aurifil
Dial: 7
Tension: zero

Huge nests under the quilt.  I knew that, but I wanted to see how much looping was there.  It gives me the "I'm pathetic" baseline.

The next sets of tests were adjusting the tension discs up one time.  My goal was to make sure that there wasn't any green Hemingworth underneath.  Tension at 7 worked perfectly.  White on bottom.  Green on top.

3rd test:
Needle: Schmetz 90/14 Topstitch
Thread: Sulky Blendables 12wt
Bobbin: Aurifil
Dial: 7
Tension: 7

I knew this wouldn't work for long given the setup, but before the thread broke, it made great stitches.

I did the same with a size 100 Inspira Needle (Viking) to see any needle issues.  The thread broke but stitches still looked great.

I made notes to myself so I would know which needles and settings I used.

  The top:

The bottom:

After two hours of playing, the perfect setup was the tension at 5.  Auto didn't make the stitches as pretty but was adequate.

Playing with the spring on the foot didn't make a difference in stitch quality.  It didn't break the thread or cause issues.  You just needed to to find the right level that works for you.  Do you want the foot to be level, float, or up higher than the quilt?  I like mine just gently riding over it.  I love that I can adjust this height.

I was never into make quilt sandwiches or test stitches until about a year ago.  I just wanted to start the project and "make it work" if something didn't fit.

My verdict on this machine for FMQ is that it's incredible.  Once I got the settings I needed, there wasn't any issues other than user error.  Even at high speed, I had control of the machine and the fabric.  So far this is one machine I won't be naming "Damn It".

If you are cursing your machine I really recommend putting everything back at factory settings and starting over with a quilt sandwich.  Take your time testing out each setting, write down your findings and keep it for further reference.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Much Needed Laugh

I had the best laugh today.  The missionaries showed up at my house a couple of hours ago.  One is a newbie and only been out a week.  He noticed my sewing machine and fell over with lust.  He said his mom was head of a quilt guild in Utah and would die for the Janome 7700.  He loved the 9-patch quilt I'm working on and thought purple was an awesome color to work with.

It's not often you get a 19-year-old boy know about sewing machines and quilting.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bear, Cinni And Charlotte

Wow.  When I uploaded the picture I realized that Bear has gotten bigger.  I renamed her Bear since she looks like a black bear.  I haven't posted pictures of my rabbits in awhile but thought you all might like to see them.

Cinni AKA Piddles (the brown one) and Charlotte are doing well.  Cinni gets called Piddles because she still pees, usually on me.

I caught them in the act of rearranging furniture for the pictures:

I guess switching rooms isn't an option.  It's taking the whole house with you.

The Dreaded Accurate 1/4 Inch Seam

I was watching YouTube yesterday on getting a perfect 1/4 seam allowance and getting a giggle out of all the ways we make this work.  Tape.  Moleskin.  Fancy gadgets and others.

Here's my secret and it works every time:  My acyrlic ruler and a mechanical pencil.

Your ruler dictates your 1/4 seam allowance.  The machine and it's feet are callibrated to fit the measurements that the manufacturer sets, not always to your specific ruler.  All rulers are not created equal which also makes for different "quarter" seams as well.  That's why it's reccomended to buy the same brand for all your rulers.

With your ruler, align your fabric with the 1/4 inch guide and draw your seam guides onto the fabric.  There's YOUR specialized quarter-inch seam allowance.  If you are lucky, your machine foot will work with that line.  Position the needle and foot to work together with that line and sew two pieces together and check your measurements.  Sometimes you have to move the needle over just a little to compensate for the fabric fold.

You don't have to draw lines on all your fabric during a project.  I do it for test samples on each project and then go from there.  Sometimes each project has a different 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Right now with the 9-patch blocks that finish at 1.5 inches, I've drawn lines on each block for more precise accuracy.  If the stitching line is off from that line, I redo it.  Now that I have it set up right, I don't neccesarily need that drawn line.  It's just there to make sure I didn't run off the road.

I hope that helps someone else find their true and accurate quarter inch seam allowance.    

Monday, May 17, 2010

Log Cabin Quilts

While I was purchasing purple fabric at my LQS I looked over at the wall and they had the most gorgeous quilt displayed.  I'm not a big fan of log cabin quilts as they are a redundant block, but I knew I wanted this kit.

The pattern is from Judy Martin's "Log Cabin Quilt Book" and it's called "Shoreline Log Cabin".  The lady had done the quilt in pinks/browns and it blew me away.

Here's the book:

Here's the pattern:

And here's the fabric:

All those yummy pinks and browns are just begging to be used, but it will be a later project.  I have 9-patches to do.  There's no more room on my table for another mess.

A Good Night's Sleep

It's amazing what a good night's sleep away from your project can do.

First off.  I know there are awesome sewing machine dealers out there.  They work hard and do a wonderful job.  They know/love their business and how to work will all kinds of people.  I just had a nosy lady that just wouldn't leave me alone about buying my machine from another store.  It just set me off that day.

Back to my project:

With a fresh look at this quilt I realized I had made this WAY harder than it should be.  I went through and realized the quilt was 36 blocks wide and 40 blocks down.  If I did my math right, all I needed to do was set up 36 sets with 40 fabrics in each one.  Sound about right?

I set up 3 rows of 12 and started putting my patches in the piles.  I only have a little over 300, but just tried to have at least one of each fabric in each set as I went.  I really only need enough fabric to give some variety.  If I wanted to be crazy, I'd need 40 blocks each of 36 different prints.

Here's what I set up:

I feel so much more confident after laying out piles.  The quilt doesn't seem nearly as intimidating and I can easily decide where I want the different blocks for their placement.  I went to another store and purchased some more half-yards of some purple fabric that I hadn't' seen.

This is going to be an awesome looking quilt!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Stay With Purple Fabric? Or Add Other Colors?

I finally sat down and organized my purple fabric for this quilt and realized that I need tons more of it.  The biggest problem with some of the online stores is that they all have jelly rolls, layer cakes, charm squares and collections of a specialty line.  Finding just fat quarters or half yards of purple fabric is really tough.  With needing 1440 9-patches, I had wanted a wide variety of shades.

This is my stash so far:  

This is proving to be one of the the most expensive quilts if I just stay with purple.  I just liked the look of a one-color quilt.

Do I just go for a scrappy look and add all kinds of colors?  This would make it easier and take out my stash big time.  It would probably make for a more interesting quilt.

What do you think?    

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Geesh. All I Wanted Is My Foot

I hate being relatively nice.  I try to avoid confrontation and if I do try, I screw it up.  It didn't help that my jaw was so far to the floor I couldn't do anything today.

I was reading on the 7700 Yahoo! list about a Clear View Quilting Foot And Guide Set for Janome and that everyone loved it.  I figured I'd head to a dealer and see if they have one.  Unfortunately I made the mistake of telling the lady that I had a 7700 and that the Yahoo! group loved this foot.  *The foot rocks as I bought one*

The next thing I know is that I'm getting scolded for not buying the machine at this dealer.  She went on and on about about it and demanded to know what I had paid for it.  Being stupid and nice I told her and about my trade-in of the 6600 and the price I paid.  She sniffed and said that I could have worked out a deal here.  I could tell by the look on her face that what I paid wasn't going to happen.

When she asked why I hadn't purchased at this store I told her bluntly that I was at the other place and they had one in the store.  I bought it.  It was nothing personal.  I just was there.

She then questioned me on if I got free lessons at the other place and I told her no.  I got another lecture on lessons and I told her that I lived too far away for lessons and didn't need them.  I've had lessons at this place and I knew more than they did or it wasn't in depth enough.

I should have just kept my mouth shut picked up the feet, the bobbins, the needles and walked out.  Or after the mistake of opening my mouth I should have just told her I didn't need her input and left without buying anything.  Ebetray has the foot, needles and the bobbins.

To dealers and your sales staff:

Grow up.  I can purchase any machine/supplies I want from any place I so desire.  Being confrontational gets you nowhere and makes you look pathetic.  I should have stood up for myself but I was too nice like my mom taught me to be.  I only tolerate your services because I don't really have a choice.  You didn't even have the 7700 machine in stock so quit whining.

This is why I buy online when I can.  It's a pleasure doing business with a computer that doesn't argue with me about my purchases.  I would love to shop at a brick store.  You people don't make it worth my time and effort anymore.

I know there are good dealers out there.  I just wish there were more of you.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Setting 9-Patch Blocks

It's been a busy day.  What you think shouldn't take very long usually does.

I figured I'd start putting 9-patch blocks and squares together and start working on this quilt.  Waiting until I get 1440 patches done will take forever.  It wouldn't be a problem getting lots of rows done.

I've spent the afternoon trimming blocks into 2 inch squares and then putting some of them into the set.

Here's what I've gotten done so far:

Making sure each row and block is exactly 1.5 inches finished has taken some time.  I've had to really play with the settings on the 7700 to get it working.  For some reason I have to piece with a setting of 4 and sew strips with a 3.5 setting.  I've also had to draw lines for even better accuracy.

I also discovered that it's hard to trim/work with fabric that is flimsy to piece rows and patches.  I bought some heavy spray starch and have been starching the fabric before I cut it.  I like the starch alternatives out there, but I really need the stiffness so the blocks stay at 2 inches.

Qualitee Inzpectur  sai seemz r purfict

Bandit has found sitting on the machine the perfect way to watch me sew.  

Thursday, May 13, 2010

To Those With Small Children

Dear Parent,

Please take your screaming kids out of the restaurant/store/church services before I grab you, the parent, and kick you out myself.  While we both belong in these premises, you are disturbing everyone around you with your kids.  If you are in Wally World and your kid is screaming that he needs to use the bathroom, take him.  No one is going to steal your cart unless you have ice cream in it.  It takes a few seconds out of your time and then you can finish up shopping.

Believe me, I get having a screaming kid.  I had 3 kids under 3 and it's hard being in public places when they are that young.  I know it's hard not to feel embarrassed while walking out with your kid but we are secretly applauding your parental duty and will respect you for it.  Don't be afraid to discipline your child in public.   My toddler kids knew that if they acted up we went out to the car and went home.  It only takes about 3 times and it's never a problem.  Even now my kids who are now teenagers know they will sit in the car while the rest of us eat or finish up in a store.

Kids belong in public places.  They need to go to a nice restaurant and enjoy the food.  They need to go grocery shopping or go to church.  I've had parents tell me they never go out because they don't want their kids to annoy people.  Kids love public places.  Please teach them how to behave in one.

No.  My kids aren't perfect and neither am I.  If you've been in a store with me, I'm sure I've annoyed you at some point.  I have a sulky 14-year-old son who thinks everyone is picking on him and takes great delight in being a pain in the store by annoying his sisters.  I have a 13 year-old-daughter who encourages it as she makes a bigger deal out of it than it really is.  My 11 year-old-daughter just sits back and stays out of the way since she's the "good" kid.  Her teenage moments will come in a year or so.  

I only post this because every day this week I've had to hear your screaming kids everywhere I go and I have a migraine because of it.  I just want to eat in peace.  I want to go grocery shopping in peace or spend a Sunday morning enjoying the services in peace.  I'd MUCH rather hear your child giggling and talking about their day in pure childish fun.

I like kids.  It hurts every day that I can no longer have more after my youngest for medical problems.  Seizures and seizure meds cause major issues while pregnant and the same with bipolar meds.   I get envious of your kids despite having 3 of my own because of it.  Being told at 21-22 to never have kids was one of the hardest days of my life.  I'm 34 now and my heart will always ache for the children I can never have.  Enjoy your kids.  They grow up so fast.  It's hard to believe mine are teenagers.

BTW if your kids call me a nasty name that I would have had my mouth washed out with soap as a kid, I will personally buy you two bars.  One for you and one for you kid.

I feel much better now.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thank You To Janome

I got an email from the marketing department of Janome the other day asking if they could publish my review and post a link from their site.  I about fell over backwards on that email.  Wow. That was the last thing I expected.  Especially since I griped about the price and didn't completely gush over the machine.  DH said I was really fair and honest about the 7700 and gave an accurate review.  I did go back and edit the review after using the machine for a couple of days to add more information.

I just wanted to say thank you to Janome for including me on your site.  I have truly enjoyed this machine even though I was really scared to buy it thinking it might act up like my 6600.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Making Rows

Still figuring out accuracy with the 1/4 foot on the 7700.  This time I know it's me instead of the machine.  I haven't tested out the problem on my Topaz since I can't carry it out of the bedroom.  I'll have DH bring out later tonight and see if my alignment problems are there.

It's feeding through perfectly but the middle gets lost on my drawn line and the seam allowance becomes too small.  I really have to butt the side right up to the guide and really hold the fabric to do this or turn it over and redo it despite pinning it.  It's a pain drawing the 1/4 inch line on each piece but with such small pieces everything must align properly.  It just may take this much work to get it done.  I was hoping I could just chain piece the white squares to the sides of the 9-patches.

I adjusted the pressure foot down from 7 to a 5 which has helped (It's sort of like the sewing advisor on the Topaz).  It's just a matter of fiddling with the settings.

I have part of a row done and it's looking really nice despite working so hard.

While thinking about the issue I forgot about the DVD I have on precision piecing by Sally Collins.  One of her solutions is to trim one of the seam allowances.  I'll try that and see what happens.

 I don't have to tie myself down on the driveway or the tree when the workers come to my yard.  I talked to one of them and he just needed the section where my sewer line connects to the main line.  It's a good thing I had my sewer line replaced recently and I knew the approximate place to dig.  They were extremely grateful as the city hadn't kept records of where each of the house lines connect to the main line.

Here's what my yard looks like now:

Sunday, May 09, 2010

It's Working!

I started piecing with the 7700 today to see if it hates me.  I did this while at the dealer, but we all know machines behave perfectly at the store.

It works!  I have a Janome machine that pieces fabric and doesn't choke up!  It went over pins!  It didn't slide up to the upper left corner!

The only thing it needs is to have the pressure foot lever go up/down when you press the foot pedal.  I kept pushing the pedal to make it do this as my Topaz does that.  I'll stop piecing and can't figure out why the pressure foot doesn't automatically go up.

I have had to fiddle with is the 1/4 inch seam allowance since what the machine has set up doesn't work with my Creative Grid rulers.  It has an automatic piecing stitch, but I think I can put a specialized stitch in the save feature.

The needle plate thingy is great.  It automatically shifts out of straight stitch when you move the needle over and slides up with the straight stitches.

I still need work with the piecing accuracy on this.  The 7700 has done a fabulous job considering the finished size of the 9-patches are 1.5 inch finished.

Trimming up the squares has been the hardest part as there's a bump in the middle making the ruler shift.  There has to be an easier way to do this.  Any ideas as it has to be trimmed down to 2 inches?  

Saturday, May 08, 2010

I Can't Do It But I Did

I'm a hypocrite.  I admit it.  My one post said that I couldn't do this.  Well.  I did.  The dealer gave me an offer I couldn't refuse as he took my 6600 as trade-in.  I am now the owner of this new baby:

So far I love her.  She FMQ beautifully and sews like a dream.  The automatic plate thingy is wonderful and you really can't mess it up.  You only use it on specific stitches.

The dial lets you move through the different modes with ease and then you select which stitch you want. You use both touch screen and buttons to adjust everything.

The storage section is really nice and holds everything on top and in the front of the machine:

As I use her more, I'll let you know how it all works.  I put the acrylic table back in the box.  This setup works just fine for me.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Not My Yard! Again!

I have this to look forward to next week:

You should see the destruction in her yard as they've put the new sewer line in.

And this:

Just what I need.  My yard dug up AGAIN for the 3rd year in a row.  If the utility company DARES to take up my brand new driveway I'll sit out on strike and bring the news media in for a protest.  If you see a news report that has some crazy lady tied down to her driveway screaming at the utility company, that'd be me.

All of this for a new sewer line.  That's why my water bill doubled last year.  You may have my money, but you aren't taking out my tree or my driveway.  Although they might be able to bribe me with that new Janome in payment for my mental and emotional distress over my yard.

To soothe my uneccesary desire for a machine I went up to the sewing store in the next town.  They had books 40% off and picked a couple up.  I had wanted the books a long time ago but couldn't afford them.

I haven't had a chance to sit down and read them yet.  I just flipped through the pages.  Having an acrylic template will be awesome to work on these projects.

I'm a terrible presser for quilts.  Nothing lies flat when I press.  The seams just come right back up.  I could scorch the fabric and the seams would still come back to haunt me.  Next to binding, pressing is the worst part of quilting.  I'd almost pay someone to press my blocks.

I picked up the fat quarters for my 9-patch quilt.  When I go somewhere I try to pick up purple fabric of various shades.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I Can't Do It

DH told me to think about the Janome Horizon.  He knows me too well.

I can't do it.  Even if the dealer gave me an incredible price, I can't justify the machine.  I love my Topaz and Sapphire way too much.

I wonder if they will sell the Horizon FMQ foot separately.  Or if the plate works with the 6600.  I bet it's computer automated just for the Horizon though.  That's the 500 dollar+ part right?  Just the like BSR for the Bernina runs a 1000+.

It would interesting to see if my Topaz fits in the new Janome table they have for the Horizon.

I never wanted to own several machines.  I just want one or two machines that I can run into the ground for years to come and I hope that's what my Topaz and Sapphire do.

I probably should sell the 6600 regardless of everything.  I feel bad that it sits in my bedroom just waiting to be used and loved.

The Horizon is a stunning machine and I still love it.  I just need my Viking machines more.


I checked the Janome website.  They make the new FMQ foot separately.  Hmm.  I'll have to call and ask my dealer tomorrow about availability.  That would make my 6600 worth keeping.

First Impressions On The Janome Horizon 7700

I've had my Janome 7700 Horizon since May and decided to update my review of the machine.  Like every Janome I've ever owned, it has it has some wonderful features and some annoying flaws.

No machine is perfect and everyone's machine experience is different.  If you are interested in the Horizon check out the machine for yourself.  Have fun and bring fabric you use and check out all the features for personal tastes or dislikes.  If you hate the machine, that's okay.  Keep searching for the machine that calls out to you.  You'll know it right away.

Always remember that you can haggle for machines.  If your dealer won't budge ask for some goodies like extra feet, threads or other notions.  I've read that people have gotten the 7700 table added in or some other nice items.  I traded in my 6600 for it and got a decent price for it.

MSRP: $3000

Overall Physical Appearance:

Visually the machine is gorgeous and it's easy to lust after it.  It's sleek and sexy with a beautiful red color.  It's doesn't have the ugly colors of the 6500 and 6600 and they've simplified the look and feel.  It calls to you from across the room and you can't resist it's beauty.  Even the plastic body feels luxurious.

The machine is HUGE.  It's not heavy but it is awkward to carry around.

The only thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is the silver colored dial.  I don't know why they didn't put a number system on the touch screen or just a number pad where the dial is.  It does flow smoothly and gets you to your stitches eventually.  It's just annoying.  Bernina tried this out with their 1630 machine roller ball years ago and it wasn't a hit either.

The touch screen is nice and very reponsive.  Everything is right there for easy use.  Janome has always had user friendly machines and this is no exception.

The lighting is wonderful.  I figured 5 lights, so what.  For 50 bucks I can buy one of those LED lights but I'm even too cheap to buy one of those.  They do need another light just behind the one next to the start/stop button to light up the walking foot area.

The lights do leave a yellowish cast to your fabric.  At first I thought I'd accidentally stained my quilt and panicked.      

The Horizon's claim to fame is the atomatic single plate.  When you press the APC (Automatic Plate Converter) button the machine slides the single hole plate into place.  This works beautifully if your 1/4 inch seam allowance is directly at 3.5 and for free motion quilting.  If it isn't, it's a waste of a really great idea.

There is great storage on top for feet and the thread goes through perfectly without hanging up on anything.  The bottom tray slides out with 2 storage cases attached.  It's all one piece so you don't have to worry about losing the cases.  It fits in nice and snug into the machine with no spaces/overlap.

The one flaw is that there isn't a handle to get the inner tray out and it drives me crazy.  I end up dumping the tray spilling feet and bobbins everywhere when I try to get feet or lift it out.

When you get your machine, several parts are under the tray of the first box.  I went mad looking for those feet and parts.

Speaking of feet, Janome has made a whole new FMQ foot part.  It is fully adjustable, no annoying bouncing and you have 3 feet to attach to it.  You get a small circular hole, an open toe foot, and a big plastic disc with guides on it.  I did some FMQ and it does it beautifully.  The options to customize the settings via that foot makes it even that much better.  The new FMQ rock.

If the circular disc had diagonal lines, it would be perfect.

The acrylic table is okay.   The positive thing is that it attaches to the machine instead of sliding around.   I hate acrylic tables.  My quilts get hung up on the corners and on the edges.  Only thing they are good for are light tables.  I haven't even bothered to put the one that comes with the machine together.

Same foot pedal as the 6600.  It works but Janome really needs to make it bigger.  At least the Horizon stops when I lift my foot off the pedal instead of taking an extra few stitches.

Decorative stitches:

They've divided up the stitches into more modes.  Heirloom, Utility, Quilting, and some others.  They are accessed through the dial and then subdivided into individual stitches.  The touch screen allows you to adjust further into length, width, and other subdivisions.  I just wish the stitch that is shown moves as you change the settings.  It can't be that hard to see your adjustments via the screen.

My stitches were OFF big time and had to use the +/- silver disc on the front to have them close or align properly.  Check that your stitches work beforehand.  My dealer checked her demo after I asked and hers were off as well.  Also make sure your buttonhole stitches work.  Several people have reported issues with those stitches.

Stitch quality is okay.  Viking and Pfaff make far superior dec stitches.  For as many stitches that you get, they should be a lot prettier.  Janome adds way too many "between" stitches making holes in your fabric and it distorts the stitch.  If you are going to be using the dec stitches please check to see if they meet your standards.

A lot of the stitches have R, L, M labeled so you'll know where the needle is centered.

It does ball up on me when starting as the top thread gets tangled up underneath.  I'm the person that hates bringing up my threads or having to use a starter piece of fabric to start sewing.  My Viking doesn't have this problem and I haven't figured out why this machine does.

Should you buy it?  Here's where I'm brutal.

3000 bucks is a lot of money in this economy.  I'm not familiar enough with pricing to know how the touch screens compare with each other.  I'm pathetically cheap..I'd pay 2500 for it.

For my 3000 dollars I'd like a bobbin low (that's accurate unlike my Janome 350e) or bobbin stop sensor.

Stitch changes while editing on screen and a number pad.

The ability to update the machine if there are computer flaws or to have new dec stitches downloaded via a USB port or computer cable.    

The arm needs deeper grooves for marking.  You can't see the horizontal line for alignment purposes.

My biggest issue after having it since May is that Janome hasn't truly mastered the seam allowance issues.  You'd think with a 3rd generation machine, that problem would be fixed.  It still veers to the left, gets hung up on bulky seams, and hates making a good 1/4 inch seam allowance.  With it being a 7mm feed dog width, the 1/4 inch foot only covers one feed dog when using the APC plate.   Even if you don't use the plate, the foot stays at 3.5 and only the needle moves.

I have spent months trying to figure out why this happens.  I put their 1/4 foot on my Viking and it works perfectly.  The only thing I can figure out is that while the needle is centered, the part where you snap the foot in isn't.  Everything else about this machine works but the feeding system for piecing.

I haven't bonded with this machine.  It will never be my favorite machine and while Janome has made this machine visibly beautiful, the main stitching flaw still exists.  It's not a user error issue either as I'm not new to sewing or to machines.

Edited Feb 19, 2011:

I just tried the new O2 foot for the Horizon today to give it another chance as I may have a possible buyer.  I went over seams with ease on blocks that are complex.  I was shocked.  I don't have a block as complex as a Lemoyne star where all the points meet up, but I was very impressed with the new foot.

Janome should have sent out a new foot if you have your machine registered.

I put the regular foot back on and immediately had problems with it mashing fabric and going over seams.  Janome may have solved the problem with their new foot.  If you are having problems, get the foot and see if it works for you.  

Edited Mar 13, 2011

Meh.  I tried.  I really did but I traded it in for a Viking Designer Ruby.  I give up on Janome.  Great machines, but I don't like them.  Hopefully she goes to a home that truly appreciates her.  She deserves better than me.  

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I Can Sew Again!

Doc said I could quilt but just take it easy!  So with "help" from Bandit I made a huge mess:

I reorganized all the strips for my 9-Patch quilt to see what I had and folded all my purple fabric together on the floor for easy storage later.  I went through and counted all my 10 stacks and pinned the stray ones together.

After finishing up the strips in the picture I now have 300 blocks done.  1100 more to go!

Doc said I needed to find a "back proof" method of cutting.  The table above also serves as the dinner table so raising it won't work.  It's also EXTREMELY heavy and I don't know if the riser thingies would handle the weight.  I don't have another table to work with.  Right now I've just been sitting on a chair and cutting up the strips next to the sewing machine so I'm not up/down all the time.

I heard rumors that Janome had a 6700 machine out and went to the website.  It looks beautiful but I can see several design flaws that Janome has yet to fix:

1.  The scissors position.  It's up way to high and that's the button I would use the most.  It needs to be where the stop/start button is.

2.  They have the same crappy extension table.  Give it up.  It's only good for a light table.

3.  I wonder if the knee lift is way to loose and goes up to the right.

4.  Looks like the same 3 speeds are still there.  More speeds would be nice.

5. Does it have the same "way to small" foot pedal?  And does the machine make extra stitches when you stop?

6.  Does it have a thread cutter on top for winding a bobbin?  Janome seems to be the only company that doesn't do this.

What I like:

The straight stitch hole option seems really cool and the touch screen looks nice.  The double storage boxes are a great idea.  They boast that the machine doesn't shift when you do your seams.  I'll have to test that one since that's my biggest gripe with the Janome machines.  My understanding is that it runs about 3000 dollars.  Ouch in this economy.

I've also heard rumors that Viking is coming out with a new machine that is between the Topaz and the Diamond.  I'd love to see that.

Before you think that I always knock Janome, my Viking has several design flaws as well.  The issues with the take-up lever shouldn't even be there.  My Topaz winds a crappy bobbin but my Sapphire does a beautiful one.  I don't like how stiff the buttons are on my Topaz.  I miss the foot lever in the back for more precise adjustments.  I don't like where my scissors are located as well.  Sometimes the foot lift when you stop is annoying.

I know no machine is perfect.  It's just finding the machine that works the best for you.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Dysons, EQ7 And

I'm broke as of this and last week..

Woo Hoo!  From reading around blogs I discovered that EQ7 is coming out.  I preordered my EQ7 upgrade today.  Then I can add the 7 box to my 5 and 6 set.  LOL.  Do we old-timers get a deeper discount?

It will probably be weeks after it comes out before I get it but I'm not about to shop around looking for the dang program in person.

My Dyson vacuum died yesterday.  May it rest in pieces.  It's been through a lot over the past few years and has served me well.  It's the only vacuum that had a handle tall enough for me to use w/o bending over.   I bought the allergy one several months ago and put this Dyson downstairs.

After the funeral, I bought a 140 dollar Hoover vacuum for the downstairs.  Spending 400 bucks on a vacuum for the TV room/rabbit area just isn't my thing.  I'll be honest, this little Hoover sucks up stuff way better than my Dyson and is quieter.  I love that it doesn't have the automatic floor lift like the Dyson.  I can change the height manually which makes for much easier usage for going over rabbit litter.  Biggest complaint is the usual, the lack of a handle long enough for me to use without breaking my back.

I renewed my subscription for last week and have spent time working through names again. I forgot that I accidentally tossed out the hard drive with thousands of names and information.  I've been going back and putting things on physical paper.  Unfortunately; there doesn't seem to be any programs out there for the Mac and for some reason I could only get PAF 4 to work on Windows XP.  This has been a mess as I don't know how to import/export information or get it into PAF w/o having to manually enter names.

Speaking of a mess, does your genealogy paperwork look like this?

Oh..and that isn't even all of it.  I just pulled out some of it from under the bed to show you.  I have several binders that have no organization whatsoever.  I figured since my back has limited my sewing, I'd clean it all up.  I just didn't know what a mess it was!

I'm going to go through alot of black ink, protectors and binders.

Told you I was broke.


Monday, May 03, 2010

"Sliders" And B-2 Bombers

If vacation posts make you writher in agony, skip this entry.

Woo Hoo!  DH told me a couple of weeks ago that he got our 16th anniversary off and his surprise was taking me back to Ohio.  We just got back last night and I loved every minute of it.

It's been YEARS since DH could go back to Ohio for any length of time.  Mostly because getting time off and the money part to work together hasn't worked.  My parents have driven out several times over summers to get the kids and I so this was a wonderful treat to have him.

We decided to take a "short cut" through the top of Missouri instead of heading down I-29 to I-70.  After a little bit, we realized we were only a couple of hours from Nauvoo and Carthage, Illinois and decided to make a detour.  We figured we'd have the place to ourselves since it wasn't the middle of summer and we could just make a quick look through the area.

I was right about having all of Nauvoo to ourselves.  To keep from making this a long post, it's a beautiful place.  If you ever get a chance to go despite your religious preferences, do it.  We didn't do any tours as everything was closed, but to drive around and read the signs made everything extraordinarily real.

We did stop off at the temple.  I wasn't expecting the breath taking view as we went around the corner and my jaw dropped.  It's even more beautiful than I could possibly describe.  I thought it would be full of people, but we were the only ones there.  I don't take the best pictures and my kids didn't quite get the two of us in right, but they will be cherished.


We stopped off at the Dayton Air Force Museum the next day and only had two hours before it closed.  Even if you don't know a thing about military aircraft, you will find yourself enjoying the sights and the best part is that it's FREE.  That's another place not to miss out.  DH grabbed a wheelchair and off we went to get as much in as we could.

None of my pictures came out right for the museum.  My camera doesn't like dark rooms.  They have the Stealth B-2 Bomber on display right now.  The funky one that looks like a bat wing.  I actually saw the first public appearance of the aircraft at a Dayton air show about 15 years ago.  You never heard it coming until it was over your head and it flew around gracefully and left.

I rarely get to spend time with the oldest of my brothers and I spent all weekend with him.  We were close as kids and it hasn't changed.  We went and got a case of "sliders" to bring back to my kids and I ate my new record of seven.  The last time I had "sliders" I made it to four and threw up.  They have BBQ ones now that aren't too bad.  My kids have never had them so it was a treat.

My mom still can't figure out why anyone would want to eat something that might possibly make you throw up.

A"slider" is a burger from White Castle in case you didn't know.  I bet you can figure out why.  You gotta do Skyline Chili if you've never tried it as well.

We took the kids to the cemetery were DH's mom is buried.  I thought they'd be sad but when my DS walked by the marker, my youngest DD said, "Hey!  That's grandma you're stepping on!  Get off!"  We all burst out laughing.  I know it meant a lot to DH to visit as he hadn't been there in 15 years.  My other daughter was sad when she realized that DH's mom had died Christmas Day and gave him a hug.

The hardest part about being in Ohio was how everything has deteriorated.  Empty shopping plazas.  Stores that once were booming are practically empty.  Homes for sale in all kinds of places.  It was being in a ghost town.  I grew up here and moved when I was 19.  It's totally different.

I saw my first 3D movie, "How To Train Your Dragon" there.  It was really good and while the visual effects made me dizzy, it was cool to see it this way.  Sneaking out for the 11pm showing cause grandma has your kids made everything that much more fun.  The last time we had a late night date was BK.  Before Kids.