For a quilter, getting a new sewing machine is like starting a new relationship. There’s the initial infatuation, a time of adjustment and then hopefully, a long period of mutual satisfaction. I’m not overstating this am I??!
I am breaking in my new Straight Stitch Only (SSO) machine, a Baby Lock “Jane” , as I work a queen-sized quilt that will eventually be donated to the Sutter Breast Cancer Quilt Auction. I rarely do bed quilts so this is a little out of my league.
My quilting is really off in some areas on this quilt and I really have to get over myself as I learn this machine. You can see in the detail shots that I my stitching is not the best, but I just have to forge ahead and make this my learning curve.
I have only one complaint about the Jane, but it’s a big one: the free motion foot is awful. The foot makes it impossible to see exactly where your needle is landing. I like heirloom quality, precise work with small stitches. I frequently backtrack over my stitching line. Guess what-when you can’t see your previous stitching line, it’s hard to hit it!
So I thought I was so clever when I drilled the offending plastic out of the middle of the foot. Seemed to work for awhile, then it began to skip stitches like crazy and I knew that “flagging” was the cause. I tried a few other things using wire cutters and drills as weapons but that didn’t work either.
IF anyone ever figures out how to make an adapter to use Bernina feet on any other machine, CALL ME! I love my Bernina feet and the whole time I’m sewing on the Jane, I’m thinking, why can’t Baby Lock design good feet like Bernina????
There are some things I love about the Jane and SSO’s in general:
–speed. Oh my is that nice! It goes twice as fast as my regular machine.
–control. The foot pedal is very responsive and I can easily go from very slow stitching to blazing fast with plenty of control along the way.
–the larger harp. There is 70% more room under the arm of the machine. That makes quilting a queen-sized quilt a breeze.
–the stitch. Because it is essentially an industrial machine and it’s only made to do one thing-a straight stitch-it does that stitch really well. The stitches are even, tight and perfectly aligned.
–simplicity. It’s a ridiculously easy machine to learn. You don’t need five 2 1/2 hour classes to learn how to use these machines.
–no bird’s nests-EVER! You know that pesky mess ‘o thread that happens on the bobbin side of the material when you start out a line of stitching? That never ever happens with the Jane.
–it’s quiet. Compared to my clonking Bernina’s, it’s whisper quiet.
I have had a learning curve though: I was getting skipped stitches and thread breaks like crazy. I tried changing needles, tension, checked my thread path, cleaned the machine, checked my bobbin, ate some chocolate-none of that seemed to work.
Finally I took it in and found two errors: I had the presser foot adjustment lifted too high causing it to flag, and I needed to use a special needle. The manual says you can use regular needles but apparently sometimes you need to use the “HLX5” needles appropriate for these machines. Once I changed those two things, life was good.
Meanwhile, I went back to my Bernina 180 to play with the hand dyed wool that I did in the Linda Waddle dying class. I have no idea where I am heading with it but I like my start and it’s just fun to play.