Pink Christmas, all sewn up

It’s done, and I LOVE IT!

The tree is finished, quilted, bound and baubled. I made 20 or so yoyos from scrap. I had 6 little silver baubles from a Secret Santa gift. I also had a long, thin gold-coloured wire of tiny ‘grain’ sized lights on a battery pack, which looks perfect.

It’s hanging in front of one of our living room bookcases (steel ruler through a rod pocket on the back, sitting in a couple of Command hooks on the bookcase. It looks so sweet, twinkling away in the corner.

And let me just tell you, the quilting was a breeze! Aretha came up trumps. While I’m on the subject, can I just give you some pros and cons after a day’s use?

The yellow thimble gives you an idea of scale…

She’s a Quilter’s Choice 300E, which is an Australian rebrand of the BabyLock Jazz. I was a bit dubious about a non-computerised machine at first, but I must say, I’m beginning to appreciate the benefits.

First, the cons: No pedal speed regulator; speed is entirely down to how hard you press. The dials and knobs are a bit chunky-clunky. There’s no knot-off button to finish off your thread. There are fewer settings for tension, stitch length and stitch width. Threading the needle is a fraction harder. Threading the machine is definitely very different and it’s going to take a while to get really comfortable with that. Pulling up the bobbin thread is a little harder. The knee lift for the presser foot is very firm (but may ease off a bit in time).

And now, the pros: Very powerful. Much quieter. The LED light is much brighter and better positioned. The stitch quality and consistency is very good. There is no on board computer to go wrong or be vulnerable to power surges or cuts. LOADS of work space in the 30cm (12 inch) throat. Lots of storage space at front and back. All the stitches I wanted, plus a few more I’m looking forward to trying. Knee lifter means I can keep both hands on the work if necessary. The bobbin winder is very smooth and less prone to tangles than my Janome. Most of the knobs and dials are on top and disappear tidily under the cover when in use, so fabric doesn’t get caught on stuff. And best of all, the presser foot has adjustable pressure; I quilted the entire Christmas tree hanging in half an hour without having to shove the quilt about by force in order to prevent puckering.

In all, I’d say it was a bit of a revelation. This machine would be worth its original $1,000 price tag. The fact that I got it for just over half price is a wonder and a blessing.

Can’t wait to give her a run on something really challenging!


I’m still feeling a bit breathless.

I’ve been quilting for many years. About 18 years ago, when I was still a well-paid executive, I bought myself a good sewing machine. My Janome DC3018 is still going strong and Ariadne, as she’s called, is a faithful friend. However, she has two design issues which matter to a quilter. The throat/harp space is only average-sized, and she does not have adjustable pressure to the presser foot. The first means that getting a large amount of quilt under the machine is hard and demanding on the back and shoulders. The second means that the machine uses the same pressure to feed fabric through the machine, whether it’s a triple layer of denim or a single layer of chiffon. Not ideal.

Yesterday, I went to Spotlight for some thread and other small bits and pieces. I was wandering back down the aisle towards checkout, when I saw this.

Say what??!! $400 off?

I read the box. Yes, it has adjustable presser-foot pressure. And you can see for yourself how wide the throat is. I took a photo. I thought about it a lot.

This morning I told the Husband about it. 5 minutes later, I was ordering it online to Click & Collect in the next 24 hours. Have I mentioned recently that I love my Husband A LOT? A machine that originally cost $1000 is now mine for $600. His view was that it was the cost of a new set of tyres, which would wear out and be gone. Anything that made things easier for me to sew was a Good Idea.

This machine will hopefully last me the rest of my quilting life. In addition to the two obvious benefits, it has a bunch of other features and accessories.

I’ve also come up with a name for the new girl. She’s going to be called Aretha. Why, you ask? She’s one helluva girl and she has a BIG throat on her, of course! Also, what I want? Baby, she got it! One thought strikes me, though. I’d better get my sewing room straightened out pronto and the work tables cleared and tidied in preparation for her arrival.

This baby is going to need a lot more room than Ariadne.