You'll have to forgive me. I spent a fun day playing with sewing machines AND FORGOT TO TAKE ANY PICTURES!!! I can't believe it! As I was walking out of the store I thought,
"Oh my gosh! And I especially brought my camera today and forgot to take it out of the bag!"
Too many other things on my mind.
I met my friends at the sewing machine dealer at 12:00 noon. I went equipped with an Omnigrid ruler, a couple handfuls of two inch squares, a practice quilting sandwich and my free motion foot. Whether anyone else is or not, I AM READY! The clerk was a little taken aback...
The first machine was brought out. And I insisted that my friend Mrs. Nakazawa thread the thing herself WITHOUT ANY INSTRUCTION FROM THE CLERK and without looking at the user manual. A sign of a good machine is one that is easy to thread and easy to figure out HOW to thread. Sure as anything, that user manual is going to get mislaid and if you can't thread a machine without it what are you going to do?
I may have gotten into people's way as I poked my head into the "driver's seat" watching how the needle threader worked.
"That's so cool! My machine doesn't do that!"
And we tried out winding the bobbin...
I mentioned that I really liked the bobbin thread cutter there, but my friends couldn't understand what was so neat about it. And the clerk seemed to think that most of the expensive machines have those nowadays.
Okay, Mrs. Nakazawa can thread the machine and the bobbin without too much trouble. Now take it all off and let Rumi-san try. So far so good.
Next machine. A bit more expensive. A quieter machine, more power. But the threading was more difficult and it was hard for my friends to get the thread in the last groove. Even with many demonstrations by the clerk and me... it was still a pain for a new-to-be sewing machine owner to master.
One more machine came out... The cheaper of the three, thus minus some of the little extras (the automatic needle threader.) That was quickly put back on the shelf as without the needle threader it took way too much time for my friends to get that thread through the needle.
Pretty soon the three of us were sewing my two inch squares together and I was measuring seam allowances. Why does this machine have a mark for 1/4 on it while this machine has a mark for 7?
Uh-hum. I know the answer to that. (The clerk didn't). This machine is showing the 1/4 inch seam line, and that machine is showing the same seam line in millimeters. (But I don't know why this machine would show it in inches as Japanese sewers usually use metric measurements.)
And lastly I pulled out my quilting sandwich and free motion foot... figured out how to lower the feed dogs and tried out free hand quilting. Feathers, flowers, leaves. The clerk got very excited about that as she had never seen free hand quilting before. (I'm afraid I showed off a bit...) Good. Both machines do a nice free motion stitch. I had my friends try to quilt their names and then we even let the clerk have a try. (I gave her a quick free hand quilting lesson... "Hold your hands like an embroidery hoop. Decide which direction you want to go. Coordinate the speed of your hands with the foot controller speed and go!"
So the bottom line? My friends both bought Brother Soleil 70 machines. (I don't know what the counterpart is on the American market.) I probably would have gone with the Juki just because of the bigger throat, more power, and quieter motor... but it WAS more difficult for my friends to thread. And more expensive. I was tempted.... but resisted.
I think my friends will be VERY happy with what they have bought... especially if I can get them making simpler things and gradually expand their expertise.
Actually, the machines were ORDERED yesterday, and will be paid for this Sunday because of Special Point Day at the store. Got to get all the points one can get! Then delivered to their homes the next Wednesday. And no time for us to play with the machines before I go off to America. Ah well... Maybe I can give them homework of making string blocks or something...
Oh such fun to play with those machines. Maybe I want to quit teaching English and work in a sewing machine store!