New Sewing Machine!

My good friend Anna moved to Hong Kong this weekend… how sad!

After the earthquake of March 11th most of my friends left Tokyo, and most of them without a return ticket.

BUT she made me very happy with selling her Janome Sewing Machine to me!

It is a Janome Monaze E4000 model for about ¥50.000.

The machine is 8,5 kg heavy and has 15 programs, such as elastic stitch, button hole, overlock zigzag

and decoration stitches.

Many Sewing Circle attendees ask me, what kind of sewing machine I’d recommend to buy.

Here are some hints that might make your decision easier:

A machine for a lifetime

Most of the new machines that you can buy today have an internal computer.

Similar to your laptop, those machines won’t last decades. It is commonly said that a computer run machine will work fine for about 4 years, then slowly but constantly program mistakes and faults will occur. This depends of course on the abundance of use and how you care for the machine (shield from dust, oil, yearly inspections, careful sewing)

If you want to buy a machine for a lifetime, better choose one without a computer and with simple skills (straight stitch, zigzag and button hole)

Computer aided machines

In case you don’t care about exchanging your machine after some years, enjoy the skills of computer aided machines! 

You switch it on and it will welcome you with a little lightshow, button holes can be made with one finger click and you can find bargains with up to 30 decoration programs!

I work with my old Singer from the 60’s and with a brand new computer aided Brother. I love both machines!
The Singer (no computer) for the absolutely correct straight stitch and the power  and the Brother (pure high tech) for the playful things that I can do with it.

My Singer can sew may layers of denim or coat fabric without any problem, the motor has an enormous power and will work in high speed! Different the brother: I have to choose a very slow speed and can sew 2 denim layers max. , if I want to make a button hole.  Also the decoration stitches have to be done in slow speed, otherwise there’s a possibility that the pattern won’t display correctly! 

The heavier the better

An unwritten rule for all machines is: the heavier the better!

machines get heavy because of the heavyness of the motor. And the heavier the motor is, the more power you’ll  get.  Definetely a heavier machine with the same skills will cost more than a lighter machine! Give it a try and lift up some machines in a store…

Basic Skills

I’m really sewing a lot. Almost every day.

I have my old Singer, a new Brother and an overlock machine. If I won’t use all of them professionally I could easily abandon the overlock and the Singer, the Brother would cover everything. And this is the keyword: if you won’t work professionally, get a machine that has at least the basic skills of a straight stitch, a zigzag and a button hole. With these 3 programs you can sew everything: all fabrics and all kind of garments! 

If you want to zigzag the edges of your cut pattern pieces similar to an overlock stitch, get a zigzag foot. It is a really handy tool to make flat and good looking edges that survive a washing machine as well!

A button hole foot comes usually with the machine, if not you can buy one. You might need to practice a bit until your button hole is perfect, but this is the same with everything when you talk about sewing.

Foot Controller

Your machine should have one!!!

This might be only useful for those who live in Japan. Western Machines usually have a foot controller, but Japanese machines sometimes don’t. Japanese often use a kneehigh table only and they sit on the floor while sewing. This makes it impossible to use a foot controller, so those machines have a start and stop button!

But please, if you buy a new or used machine: get a foot controller. It is much easier for sew if you can use both hands and start and stop with the foot. Both needs practice and with both techniques you can master everything. But as soon as you’ll sew in an elastic band one hand won’t be able to pull the band and push the button in the same time… If you want to establish an esthetic sewing without using your mouth and teeth… get a little pedal!

Elastic Stitch

In case you love to sew T-shirts, jersey or any other kind of elastic fabric you might want an elastic stitch program.

Most of the new machines have it, but if you want to buy a used machine that doesn’t, get a twin needle instead!

The twin needle needs two upper yarns and the bobbin yarn from below.

The bobbin yarn will zigzag around the two upper yarns and this technique keeps the seam elastic.

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