Thursday, September 29, 2011

J is for... Janome

I don't think I've talked a lot about sewing and embroidery here, mainly because I was coming out of my embroidery phase somewhat when I started this blog. But embroidery used to be a huge part of my life, in particular while I was doing my City and Guilds certificate and diploma, and also from around 2003-2005 while I was teaching embroidery classes for the county adult education service.

I was reminded of this while on holiday this week, because I remembered how much I love my sewing machine. Here it is.

While I have the compulsion to name things with wheels (Tallulah the trolley, for instance, and Louis the Lou√ęt spinning wheel; my bike's called Helga), for some reason my Janome XC 33 has neither a name nor a gender. I went into the shop with a couple of requirements - not too much complication in the computerised line (I didn't need one which scanned in pictures, but I did want one with 30 or 40 stitch patterns to play with), and a strong and sturdy motor. A friend had this one and really loved it, having had a hate-hate relationship with her previous machine, so I was already somewhat biased in its favour. When I found out that it was a model sold to schools because of its relative indestructibility, I was even more sold.

Here's the usual view from the sewing machine - the hanging in the background to the right was also largely embroidered with this machine.

I think I've had this machine for 9 or so years; it took me through Part II of the City and Guilds, and through three years of membership of the Fibrefusion experimental textiles group (and I'm glad I found that link - they have a new book out!), and then beyond. It's not elegant, and it doesn't have the beautiful lines of an old-fashioned machine; it just does everything well and without complaining about it, and that includes up to 6 hours of free machine embroidery in the course of a session, where the motor is being absolutely hammered. (Maybe this is the reason I've never had occasion to name it; it has absolutely no quirks, unlike anything I've owned with wheels.)

One of the things I love about all needlecrafts is the prettiness of the stash - this is part of one side of my double-sided thread box shown in the top picture. I think this box now has all my threads in it - at one stage I had an overflow box but free machining takes up quite an astonishing amount of thread!

This little device for holding bobbins is wonderful - it's rubberised so the bobbins hold in there, but you can remove them easily with one hand, and they don't unwind, and if you drop it, they all just stay there. I chuck it in the same drawer in the chest as my ball-winder.

So anyway; what massively exciting thing was I embroidering?

Nothing at all so far (that comes later in the week/month) - I cut out and made 4 pairs of trousers this week because the machine also works really well for dressmaking. The top one is for daytime-type casual trousers, the bottom three pyjama trousers...


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