Old versus New

It’s funny, but when, I started to think about writing a blog..all of this technology was new to me, so I figured I would be writing quite a bit about my quilting projects as a newbie to quilting and sewing. Of course I am going to do this as well, and decided to document some of my disasters as well with my new friend the stitch ripper!

However, I have been on one of the sewing machine forums for the Janome 7700- a machine I bought last year and absolutely love. Anyway the consensus is that now, Janome are to bring out an upgrade for the 7700 with all new bells and whistles. I don’t have much detail on it yet, I think its in the ‘to be announced’ category for the Autumn/Fall.

Well this got me to thinking about all the technological advances in sewing machines and I am wondering what you all thought of the leaps there have been in technology for machines. The first machine I remember is my grandmothers Singer Treadle machine which I grew up with in the 50’s and 60’s. They are now called Antique! Anyway picture on the right is what I remember. My gran could make anything from curtains to quilts on it and all the clothes  in between . I would often remember seeing her sit for hours making things, hearing the whirr of the treadle as she pushed it to its limits. She could make it hum! And wherever we lived, it came with her, it was her most prized possession and always occupied a seat of honour in our house.

I can remember when the first electric machines became mainstream into stores in England too..this picture   holds quite a lot of memories for me as when i was 19 I got a job working for Jones in London, demonstrating their machines. It was crazy-I had left school, working my way towards college, and I literally walked in off the street with no prior experience of selling anything, and a very rudimentary knowledge of sewing. Certainly never seen an electric machine in my life. So I started demonstrating machines like the one in the picture..and they were cutting edge (pardon the pun) at the time. The machines were very brightly coloured, especially the hard carrying case of the Jones, Britain was just coming out of post-war austerity, everything before the mid sixties almost looked grey as far as I can remember it anyway, and then there were these huge splashes of colours in everything. Not just clothes and decor but in products as well. Design was becoming not just functional but appealing to the eye as well.

Jones was an interesting company to work for..originally british, were bought out by Brother in the late 60’s I think, but as there was quite a lot of negative press regarding Japanese made goods at the time, they kept the British name for a couple of years.So I started work in London. Hire Purchase was also a new construct then as well, but if ladies wanted a machine, they had to bring their husbands into the store to sign the loan agreement. Can you imagine that happening now??

Customer service was also good too – I remember selling a machine to a couple who were staying in London for a few days and the company made me take the machine to their hotel in Kensington, I had to travel on the underground with the machine and all the other bits, to their hotel after I had finished work and set it up for them and show them how it worked.They were so pleased, I even got tea and cake from them in the hotel!

So now I have to roll forward to 2011!! It’s been that long since I used a machine! I decided to buy one last year and the first one I bought for just basic stitching was the Janome CXL 301- which is this fellow on the right. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw it. The only thing I recognised was the foot pedal!! I didn’t know how to thread it or use the controls, it seemed more like using a computer accessory with all the buttons. But I loved it. The  manual was Ok and I managed to work it out eventually. I even made my first quilt on it using Alex Andersons quilt book for beginners. I wasn’t easy, just a rail fence design but I was so pleased to complete it.

So now I am fast forwarding 3 months from my original purchase. Hubby decided I should have a really neat Birthday/Christmas present and I phoned my dealer up to ask about quilting machines…more bells and whistles! So it was a choice between the 6600 and the 7700. I picked the latter because of the wider throat plate and when i tried them both out I just fell in love with it somehow. Of course she is not an ‘it’ anymore. My dealer was great and I had to put in my beloved 301 as a trade in and he gave me the purchase price of her off the 7700, which was great. This is one amazing machine. I found she quilts superbly,makes my free motion  quilting look far better.

There are a couple of things I don’t care for but that could be just a personal preference.  I don’t like the fact there is no low bobbin reminder, which would be a really good idea, there is no built-in or optional magnifier ( I hear the new Janome will have this). But have to say, that for increasing and decreasing stitch length, I find the touch screen not at all intuitive, I would prefer a wheel or button! What does that say about me I wonder, is that just an age thing or do other folk with this machine find it hard as well. Do you get used to the touch screen eventually?

I love the automatic thread cutter button, the lights, the zillion stitches that I havent even got to grips with yet. Oh yes and all the feet that come with it as standard.The power and graduation of speed is flawless as well all the other things.Regular home maintenance seems to be key here also, I really have to clean out the are around the bobbin regularly. I have got to listen to the sound of my machine now and when she starts to sound a bit ‘throaty’ I know its time to clean, if I haven’t done so before.

It seems to me that technology have really taken over in every area of life, even our machines.I often wonder what our grandmother’s would have thought of the new machines like the  Janome 7700. Not just an electric machine ,but stitches that are fully programmable and automated  at the press of a button. I know we have machines nowadays that do so much more than plain straight stitch but what do you think about the way technology is adding to the functionality of sewing machines? How far can manufacturers refine our machines to make them better. Will they be lighter machines in the future that can do so many things, rather like computers now that are lighter and smaller and have limitless capabilities. I for one will be very interested to see the new Janome this Autumn and what is being offered in way of improvements, functionality and design. They are amazing machines!

Phew!! I didnt expect to write as much as that!!