My always-wonderful hubby bought me a sewing machine when we were still dating (I know, right? What a guy!) and I was sooo thrilled! What he didn't realize when he bought a floor model was that hundreds of people had played with it and, although the salesperson assured him it was in good shape, I have always had tension problems with 'Marge.' I have had her in to really good repair shops over the years and all have helped, but I cannot use polyester thread, or Microtex needles, or free-motion quilt at 45-degree angles, without the tension freaking out.
What's a freak out? Snap snap snap of the thread; bird-nests of bobbin thread; large loops of bobbin thread; no tension change when I try to dial it in; and hours of re-aligning 3 different tension points. I have taught myself to fix Marge after she freaks, but I want to JUST SEW and not have to perform major surgery!
So after 20+ years of sewing very carefully (or with reckless abandon & lots of repair time), I decided it was time to invest in a new machine. I started my research online and quickly discovered 3 things:
- The reviews of machines by those who are gifted one by the manufacturer should be avoided (they are, in a way, paid endorsements),
- All those wonderful, do-everything machines cost as much as a year in college, and
- I have 2 kids in college, so my investment should be modest until after the second graduation!
After a couple trips to local shops to try machines, a lunch with my fellow quilter & SIL Lynn to celebrate her birthday and discuss quilting & machines & manufacturers, I found a used machine at an (almost) local store. But between high school end-of-year activities, the last concerts for my son, and 2 jobs (excluding chauffeur and Mom), I didn't have the time to make the trip to the store for a full week. Augh! Will they still have it then? It was a week of anxiety for me.
My trip to the store included 2 wrong turns--the first I just turned around & continued, but the second one was iffy, & I'd gone far enough that I was sure was wrong so I stopped in at a pizza place (delivery people ALWAYS know the local area) and asked directions. It turned out I wasn't far off and got to Barnes Sewing Center within 10 minutes.
I sewed a bit, FMQ'd a bit and was ready to buy. I probably should have tried more of the features while I was there, but it was already mine in my head! They were so patient and walked me through until I had mastered all the basics (Thank you, M!) which was a good thing. Marge is a dinosaur compared to Jan (Yes, I named her Jan Janome). Just threading the machine took 4 more steps.
I've been practicing free-motion quilting with Jan since, and although I'm still not ready to put a quilt to it, I have some pillows I can practice on and will make a few mug rugs also.
Piecing has been so easy, too. My strip-piece, in-progress, gift-for-someone quilt has finally gotten to the stage of assembly of full blocks and Jan has been my go-to machine for them. It should go quickly from here on in.
Barnes Sewing Center