Meet my new machine! I've named her Rose, named after Eleanor Roosevelt, because I am a history nerd and I really admire her. Rose is a Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900 QCP. That's a mouthful, and most of the time I just refer to her as a Janome 8900.
I purchased my Janome from Sew Vac City of College Station, TX at QuiltCon this year. I'll admit it was mostly an impulse buy. They were running a great special, and because I had been considering a new machine since Fall Quilt Market, I just went for it.
I'm not going to go into all the specs because that's available all over the internet. But I do want to compare it to my previous machine, a starter Brother XR-9000 (which I believe is now called Brother XR-9500PRW - Project Runway edition). Which I still totally recommend to anyone that asks me what machine they should get for their first one. Seriously, that machine is a workhorse. Had I not wanted to work on my free motion quilting skills and start making large quilts, I probably never would have upgraded.
I was always hesitant to get a "fancy" machine because they seemed very complicated to me, like a rocket ship. I think this Janome is a good blend of the features I wanted in a fancy machine, and the simplicity I loved with my starter machine.
After using Rose for about a month, I'm ready to share my preliminary list of things I like about this machine:
- I like that the bobbin is just a drop in plastic bobbin. No intimidating metal bobbin case. Yes, those intimidate me!
- Although I haven't quilted anything very large yet, I really like the large harp space. This thing boasts 11 inches. That's huge!
- I like the automatic thread cutter. I am finally starting to get used to the motion of pushing the little scissors instead of picking up my snips to cut thread.
- I love the Start/Stop button alternative to the foot pedal. I am finally teaching my 4 year old son to sew and he's loving it. I am too.
- I'm obsessed with all the storage. Like embarrassingly obsessed. What can I say, I love organization!
In this past month, I've found some things that I'm not sure of yet. It might be a feature I am not impressed with or just an area where I need more practice with a more complicated machine:
- I have a lot of trouble winding bobbins. I waste a lot of thread trying to get it right. I follow all the steps in the manual, but I'm still getting loosely wound bobbins that sometimes get pretty tangled up. I'll eventually get a bobbin wound that works, but it's a little frustrating.
- I cannot chain piece without breaking thread. This is by far the most frustrating thing I'm trying to figure out with this machine. Every single time I try to feed fabric under the foot while chain-piecing, the top thread breaks. I've figured out that it happens when the edge of the fabric grazes the needle while it's still down. So I to combat the problem, I have to slow down and make sure the needle is all the way up before the fabric gets near it. I didn't have to do anything like this with my Brother, so I am just at a loss.
- I'm not sold on the knee bar thing. It's not positioned right to be useful for me. It's like I can't reach it or something. I do have really short legs so maybe it's just not for me. I've tried it a few times but I just don't get it. I'm not mad at it though.
- It's really super heavy. The table I sew on is also my desk. I keep the machine on an oldrotary mat so I can easily slide it back to fit my laptop down for work. In my old house, I sewed on the dining table where we ate dinner every night. This machine would not be practical for having to move it every time I wanted to sew before dinner the way my little Brother was.
So far I'm happy with my purchase, despite my current issues. I would definitely purchase again if I could go back in time. But I'd love to be able to figure the things I'm having trouble with. I'm certain most are due to user-error, because I'm so used to using a lower-end machine.
Do you have any tips for me to help me where I'm struggling with this machine? Please tell me!