After a week getting acquainted with my new machine - Janome 8900.....here are some further impressions. This may be of zero interest to most of you......but I so appreciated the reviews I read when hunting for a new machine...perhaps my experiences will be valuable to somebody.
It's fairly detailed.....so hover over your delete button and feel free to press it!
It seemed like a good idea to make a small quilt - start to finish, to see how the experience/quality compares to my dead as a doornail Pfaff.
The pre-programed 1/4" patchwork setting, along with the 1/4" foot proved to be quite accurate. The setting shortens the stitch length to 1.8 but I prefer 2.0, so I changed that setting. I mentioned this in a previous post, but it's worth saying again.....the presser foot's metal guide really helped me to keep the fabric feeding evenly. Though I expected to have to use the Accufeed foot for this purpose, I found it wasn't necessary.
Also......I LOVE that this machine still has a presser foot lever (and a button as well).....most new machines seem to have eliminated them in favor of a foot controller and/or button that raises and lowers the foot. After 40 years of sewing.....just give me the darn lever!!
AND, now some thoughts about the Accufeed system. I found attaching it to be a hassle...though with more experience it probably won't be. I was truly spoiled with the Pfaff's one click - on/off option.
The straight line quilting was done using the smaller of the two Accufeed attachments. It was necessary to move the needle when stitching to the right of the seam to obtain a 1/4" distance....but this machine has like 91 needle positions so that wasn't a problem....the only problem was remembering to make that change when I went to that side of the seam!
The finished piece was pucker-free with no distortions of the patchwork or backing. However, I'm not completely satisfied with the quality of the top thread stitches. This may seem overly picky to some.....but when passing over seams, I found the presser foot to jump a bit, causing some slanted or crooked stitches and the inability to keep the presser foot right on the seam line. It was almost as if the foot didn't grab the fabric enough allowing it to wobble. I changed that setting to increase the foot pressure, but then I got puckering. I also reduced the speed which helped some but didn't eliminate the problem. Again, this might be an issue of practice on my part.
Another thought I had later....isn't that always the case "later"......I was using Aurifil 50 Wt. in both top and bobbin. However, the spool was fitted horizontally, instead of vertically which I always did with my Pfaff. The quality of stitches when sewing the patchwork was just fine, but perhaps when machine quilting....using the Accufeed system....I need to try the spool in the vertical position.Okay....so next came the binding. I was unable to get the bulk of the quilt/binding under the narrow Accufeed foot.....I'll try it again another time.....but that day, I couldn't. Instead I had to take the darn thing off, and put on the larger one, and fitted it with the optional 1/4" foot (doesn't come with the machine but the dealer threw in it....Yeah).
Again, the metal guide was so helpful.....BUT.....when I came to the bulky mitered corner....yikes....I had a lot of trouble getting it to start when I turned the corner.......the stitches tended to pile up. This may be operator inexperience using such a bulky foot??
Another issue.....when the two ends of the binding were to be joined on the bias, I could not for the life of me do it with this foot attached. It would not grab the fabric....instead.....stitches piled up. Nor could I see....the foot is BIG and here the metal guide was a hinderance. So, off it came. I gave up on the Accufeed system and used the regular 1/4" foot instead to complete the job. This was very annoying...and I found myself cursing Pfaff for ruining their once great sewing machines!!!
Perhaps now that I know this is the case.....I'll simply switch out the Accufeed system at this point, which means unscrewing the shank and putting the regular one back on.....and accept that will be the process and it won't honk me off (so much) anymore.
And then.....once the binding was on, I planned to quilt one more final line around the quilt....1/4" to the left of the binding seam line. Well......this too was a problem....since I was actually quilting I felt I should use Accufeed....so out came the screw driver again to put it back on. (Yes, perhaps I should have done that step before the binding was on....BUT, I wanted it to be very accurate and figured doing it afterwards would give me the best chance!)
Geesh.....again, I could NOT get it started at the top of the quilt....stitches piled up...but when I tugged it....it seemed to grab and stitched fine. However, a good 1/4" of ugly stitches remained at the top. I tried and tried, got sick of ripping out the tiny stitches. So, I changed back to the regular 1/4" foot - minus Accufeed - and stitched the lines. (as seen above)
I'm fairly certain I'd never actually quilt this way...though these stitches look lovely (better than the Accufeed ones when going over seams). However, I had to be really careful as it had a tendency to pucker/pleat where the blocks met.
Happily, another machine feature: the speed control - allowed me to reduce the speed, making it easier to control the stitching.
As soon as the binding is hand stitched to the back......I'll post a photo...it's simply a fun little piece, nothing more, nothing less.