A Study in Grey

It always surprises me with quilt-making that you will cut a huge chunk of squares, sew, cut, press, for what seems like forever, lay out your pieces, and end up with only about half a metre (2 feet) square of patchwork. Tell me I'm not the only one! I had plans for this quilt to end up much bigger, but as it turns out, I have only about 150 half-square-triangle squares' worth of motivation before I start twitching. :)

It was also only going to have one shade of that middle grey. But I ran out after only about 80 triangles. So I added the darker grey (sorry! I haven't recorded the names!) and the lighter bone colour, and I'm so glad I was forced to make that choice! I think it would have sat quite flat otherwise. My very favourite little bit is that hourglass (or bowtie?) in dark grey up the top, towards the middle. Can you see it? That makes me think I will be cutting triangles again soon!

I did intend all along to use this print by Lotta Jansdotter, which I bought especially, for the back (and now I have more leftover than I anticipated!) I do love how it matches the colour-simplicity but adds feminine curves. I love how it looks like it's pattern has been shaped by the random straight-line quilting. I love how the quilting only took me AN HOUR on my new machine! Maybe now that I know that, I'll give the next one a bit more time in the piecing department. But for now, this one can just enjoy being a baby quilt.

Meet Red.

It's always a bit strange getting back into 'normal' blogging after a tragedy. And a sewing machine review? It feels a bit crass. A bit shallow. But really, there's only so much depth one can take all the time. And in real life, I'm going well and thinking about normal, mundane things like quilt making and tidying and whether I'll plant winter veges in the garden this year, most of the time. And there are still other moments of remembering and reflecting and feeling sad or getting cranky at the kids. And this is my blog about real life. So sometimes I'll tell you how I'm feeling and sometimes I'll show you what I've made. And one doesn't devalue the other. (I'm talking to myself more than to you.)

And buying a new sewing machine at time like this? I questioned that too. (Can you tell I think way too much about the 'right' way of doing things?) Part of this whole experience has been learning to free myself of unexamined expectations and just be myself. And when you're in limbo for 2 weeks, waiting for final scan results, and after the bad news, you wait for 2 weeks before 'It happens' and then that takes another few weeks, you end up online a bit, filling in the time, planning for when you feel well again, dreaming, and shopping. So my new machine has felt like a wonderful gift, like a "Welcome Back!"

So this is my Janome Horizon MC7700QCP. Or "Red." I got her second hand, locally for a great price. I spent a lot of time reading about the kinds of things people liked and didn't like, found out about warranties on second hand machines (Janome doesn't honour them!) and asked questions on the Janome 7700 Yahoo group before I went and looked at her.

I was very, very tempted by the Janome 1600d, a straight stitch only semi-industrial machine (I would have loved a Juki, known for their reliability, and these Janomes are apparently made in the same factory, but easier to buy in Australia), but in the end, I decided that my old machine, my first ever given to us by my mum as a wedding gift (thanks Mum!), was so past it (constant tension issues, a buttonholer that has never made a button hole longer than half an inch, etc, etc) was just no longer enough to use as my back-up machine when I wanted to stitch something other than a straight line. And so far, I've only used the fancy stitches to play, but I really wanted to machine I could grow into, to learn to sew with textiles other than quilting cotton.

What I like:
I like the big plastic table that give me extra room for hiding fabric scraps and pins. (a dumping ground that doesn't impinge on the sewing!)
I like, like, LIKE the inbuilt walking foot. I couldn't ever get a walking foot that fit my old machine. In the photo above, it's sewing through about 12 layers of fabric and it didn't think twice. In the photo below, this was my first ever experience of not having to constantly pull and flatten and guide and unpick. Even with my hasty basting, I didn't get one pucker. And it was so fast!

So far the auto tension has been near perfect.
I don't use the thread cutter all the time, but I especially appreciate it when I stop sewing mid quilt.

What disappoints me:

I have had no problem with patchwork piecing or quilting, but rolling under an edge? It just did not like it! I changed feet 3 times to see if that would make a difference, but it kept eating the fabric and pulling it off to the side. I feel a bit sad about this seeing as these drawstring quilts are one of the things I make most often. There's about 12 of these little hems! The first to feed through were always the worst, and then if I chain pieced, it improved, so maybe I'll need to resort to feeding through a scrap? I hope not!

So overall, I'm about 85% happy, effected mostly by my experience making this quilt. I'm really enjoying my making being so much faster. (Especially with a head so full of ideas!) I'm loving the option to machine quilt well. I look forward to decorating little pockets and hems with the pretty leaves and funky helicopter stitches! And I hope there's someone out there that can advise me about my hems.
I can't tell you all how much it's meant to me to have this place to share, and you to share with. It's been so important for me to process and express in writing. From that first day in the scan room, I was forming words and sentences in my head. It's helped me make sense of it all.
There's sometimes talk in the online crafty world about how much to share. If you're interested, and have time, I recommend this TED talk about vulnerability. It's helped give me courage to care for myself and share as I need to.
So glad to be here,
Jodi. xx