Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Meet: My Machine! BlogHop

Hello, all!   Today is my day for the Meet: My Machine BlogHop put on by Erin @ Sew at Home Mummy and Stacey @ The Tilted Quilt.  Whether this is you're visiting for the first time or you pop by all the time, welcome!

Sew at Home Mummy

Meet Oscar.

Oscar is my Janome 4120QDC.  I've had it just over a year now.  It was a gift from "Santa" that I was given a budget and allowed to "shop for" to make sure I got one that would meet my needs.  And then I had to wait. Which is fair. Not complaining.  But how in the world I made three quilts as gifts that year on my old machine, I'll never know.... (For the record, it was a Kenmore I had for fifteen years, made in the nineties so good enough to sew with but not good enough to last.  No amount of oil or servicing kept that one from squealing horribly.)

What was I looking for in a machine?

If you ever decide to use metal bobbins in your machine, don't let the lady at the sewing machine store know.  You WILL get a talking to.... Trust me.
  1. Free-motion capability. Check!! My old machine made it impossible to learn the technique and I had a couple of quilts waiting, basted, until I could.  Now, I have only myself to blame for any lack in that department. 
  2. Multiple needle positions. Check!! I have always had trouble with a scant 1/4" and wanted to be able to move that needle over just a smidgeon.  Scant 1/4" is now possible and very consistent!
  3. Drop-in bobbins.  Check!  My old machine, you had to remove the "storage/base" and then flip open the door, fiddle with the bobbin holder case thingy for a hour or so, swear until the air was blue, and then try to sew unsuccessfully before repeating the entire sequence... Not anymore!
  4. Versatility.  I don't just sew quilts and things with straight lines.  I needed a machine that I could do clothes, mending, bags, whatever, with and this machine doesn't disappoint.  However, I will confess that sometimes, really thick layers will cause some skipped stitches so I switch to a denim needle for heavy projects.  Though I was afraid of them, it handles knits beautifully.  Look at the Renfrew top I sewed last month (after having the fabric and pattern for two months...)  
Ah, stereotypical bathroom mirror photography.  Just what you were hoping for...!
It has a free-arm, great stretch stitches, seam finishing stitches, more embroidery stitches that I thought I could use ever (but it turns out that sometimes I want to write apple in both English and Russian. I can do that now.  Why? A whim. )

What are the bonuses?

  1. Automatic thread cutter.  Freakin' love it.  How did I ever sew without it?
  2. Needle up/down. Optional needle-down-at-stop settings.  A must for turning corners and having to stop during FMQ - no jogged stitches!
  3. Computerized settings.  Beautiful.  Makes it easy to ensure consistency in a project that happens over time, as opposed to all at once.
  4. Quilting kit.  It came with a walking foot, guide, extension table, 1/4" foot, stitch in the ditch foot and a couple of other doodads for quilters.  Nice perk.
  5. It's fairly quiet.  Compared to Squealy McKenmore, it's lovely, and a television or radio can be heard over it.  Very nice for a hockey fan.
  6. Lots of little bells and whistles. Stop/lock stitches. Variable speed control. Optional foot pedal. Wide variety of accessories available for it (love the border foot!) Eleventy billion stitches. 
That crazy one over the seam is ugly because of execution, not the stitch setting.  That one's all me.  

There's even an automatic threader but I rarely use it.

What would I change?
  1. The throat's a little small for quilting big stuff but I wrestle even large quilts through there.  Right now, I just consider it equivalent to weight lifting and skip the gym.
  2. When, oh, when are they going to invent little icons and alerts for things like empty bobbins and feed-dogs-down?  Better yet, have a voice that sounds like Redd Fox that says, "You're sewing with the feed dogs down, dummy!"  That would save me tons of frustration when I forget to raise them and create cumbersome thread knots, ruining fabric, and wondering why it's not going anywhere while simultaneously reminding me that I love Redd Fox. (God rest ye sir!)
  3. It's a little tricky to get even my tiny little lint brush into all the crannies that collect lint.  I wish there was a another layer or two of parts I could remove to get better access.  Every time I clean it out, I just know there's lint bunnies hiding in there laughing at me....  I need one of those vacuum kits, I guess.
Oh, and the thread spindle is a little short for things like Aurafil but I've managed to work around it by flipping the stopper around. But it works fine for Gutermann.

Would I recommend it? Yes, absolutely! but maybe not as your first sewing machine.  It's an excellent second machine/upgrade but I imagine it could be quite intimidating if you're just beginning.  Plus, so much stuff you don't necessarily need until you've practiced and gotten comfortable with the whole process.  That said, I've had no problems with mine; it does what I need it to, and then some.  It's given me a lot of confidence and room to grow and develop new skills.  
This is where I usually sew. Very untidy at the moment. And those fabric baskets are a bit of a fail but I'm not ready to talk about it yet. :-)
Plus, I've found I make sewing more of a priority since I got it.  The quieter machine means I'm not alienating people around me and I can use it more hours of the day, it's easier to take down and set up - though it stays out most of the time, and it's just nice to use.  So there you go!

Thanks for hanging out and reading about my machine!  There's lots more to get familiar with, if it tickles your fancy.  Go check them out!


  1. Thanks for the great review of your machine. It looks like you put it to use. Your thread painting is amazing, I never thought to do something like that before.

  2. Thanks for sharing Oscar with us.

  3. How lovely! I actually looked at these Janome's...but decided on a Bernina. It's nice to see another quality machine...thanks for sharing with us!

  4. Very nice!! it's interesting to hear about all the machines out there.

  5. I agree - a voice saying what the problem is would be nice!

  6. I have such machine envy at the moment! I agree about drop in bobbins, I learnt to sew on my mum's machine which has the front loading ones, what a pain! now, I was told off by the lady in my sewing shop for NOT using metal bobbins?! Wonder what that's all about?

  7. Thanks for the review. I love the top!

  8. Your fabric baskets look fine, what's wrong with them?

  9. Hmmm, I think this is one of the machines I considered when I was shopping last year!

  10. Nice post Carly! Your thread painting is looking amazing too!

  11. I wonder if my machine has some of the dodads yours does, I didn't get a stitch in the ditch foot I don't think, but I have trouble sifting through the 20 bajillion feet I do have, I also don't think my needle moves, and I often wish it did. Seems like something that should be a given on mine?

  12. Great post! I love how you included some stitch samples too, thanks for taking the time!

  13. Nice post. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Carly, what a fantastic post! I don't know what you were worried about, lol!
    Thank you SO much for participating in the hop, and I hope you had a lot of fun writing up about your baby (BTW love his name, lol)

  15. Great bathroom mirror shot, Carly. It's good to put a face with a name. :)

    I have a Janome also - but a lower line one. Your review is great. Makes me want to go shopping.

  16. THANK YOU!! I have been considering this machine but will likely just start out with the 2030 QDC, I think you are right this may have more than I need, but it is tempting :)

    1. Yes, tempting, but it'll make a great reward/incentive for yourself someday. :-) (I'd have emailed direct but you're set to "no-reply".

  17. Excellent post , if I was looking for a machine you would have me tempted . Thanks for the review .

  18. I'm totally jealous of your machine. When I upgrade my crappy Kenmore ill be going for a Janome, but hopefully the horizon because I want a bigger throat. Ps nice work on the renfrew! I have the pattern and the fabric but am totally chicken to try making one!

  19. Thanks for this fun review and I love your knit top, bathroom mirror photo and all. (How do you keep your machine from munching up knits? Mine likes to do that and it's annoying to say the least). But I do love my Jojo (Janome 7700QCP) for many/all the reasons you love yours. I wish mine had come with a stitch in the ditch foot. I treated myself to a 1/4" walking foot - love it. Awesome for attaching binding.

  20. I'm so happy that you have wonderful machine! I would love to get that same but I don't know if anyone here could give it service, so I'm stucked to my stupid singer. Enjoy and happy sewing! x Teje

  21. Nice to meet Oscar! Love your knit top! I used to use a 20 year old Kenmore and actually used it to free motion a couple of quilts. I use the term free motion loosely because I look at them now and think OMG what was I thinking!!!!! : )

  22. Thanks for sharing about Oscar! I think your suggestion of a voice reminder is AWESOME! I need one for when the bobbin is getting low. :)

  23. Interesting post - thanks for telling us about your machine. They apparently do make machines now that warn you when your bobbin is going to run out. I don't know about Redd Foxx though...

  24. Cool eval of your machine. I figure we're all about one hairy project away from getting a new machine once ours starts to hit double digit years (which mine has). So I'll bookmark these posts away to keep for reference. Thanks!

    Elizabeth E.

  25. Hello Oscar,
    what a Lovely chickadee you've made! ; )
    ps - tell your mom that I have a book for her. she can call me 306.979.3519 : )


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