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The BRILLIANT new Janome M7Continental produces A York Pinafore for Christmas

Sewing machine companies are always coming out with new models, most of which are incrementally different from before. But every 10-15 years, Janome re-thinks the machine from all angles and comes up with something that is a major leap–and worth considering adding to your studio. The Janome 6600 was such a machine (circa 2004/5), and the new M7 Continental may well go down as one of The Best Sewing Machines Ever (in any brand!), and given the quality of Janome’s machines that is a high standard.

The Janome M7 Continental is a quantum leap in a sewing machine. Even if you aren’t in a market for a new machine, it is worth taking a look at this model. You might have something new on your wish list!

I have been dying to share with you the things I’ve been making, but most of them are Christmas gifts, so I can’t yet. But I made myself the York Pinafore from Helen’s Closet Patterns, so now I can finally tell you about this wonder with the dress as my example.

In my new “Pinafore” (which I would have called a jumper when I was a kid) in front of the Christmas tree. I’m particularly chuffed about how well the M7 and I worked as a team to get those pockets PERFECTLY placed to have the design flow.

When Janome comes out with a new machine, every single time I think “oh, I can’t give up the loaner I have” (I’m beyond fortunate to be a Janome Artisan so I get to try out their brilliant machines year after year), nothing can be better than this one. And then the new one is even better. Every single time they add new features that make me wonder “oh gosh why didn’t I realize that would be so wonderful.” The M7 is even MORE SO….read on!

The first thing I did, after cutting out the pattern, was to make a lining. I knew that using flannel that I intended to wear over leggings meant that the dress would stick like velcro. Fiddlehead Artisan Supply had a fabric I’ve not used before, Bemberg Rayon, for linings. The bolt end says dry clean, but we all know that can be ignored sometimes. I just bought an extra quarter yard to accommodate shrinkage and tossed it in a wash with hot water wash, cold water rinse, and hot dryer so it would do whatever shrinking it planned to do.

Then I cut, pinned, and started sewing. I probably should have used a thinner needle and the walking foot. I didn’t need to! The feed on this machine is so good that I had no issues going from thick flannel to silky thin rayon! Because rayon ravels, I used the quarter inch piecing foot to create a narrow seam that I turned into a French Seam.

A French seam is really a seam inside of another seam that completely encloses the raw edges. It is typically found in high end garments and used on fabrics that ravel.

Once you have sewn the first seam, you press it as stitched to set the seams. It helps the thread sink into the cloth. Then you press the seam *open* which facilitates turning.

Then you fold the seam right along the stitching to create a “knife edge.” The best way to get the line perfectly on the edge is by pressing open (photo above) and then pressing flat. You can see how crisp and clean the edge is.

I used the quarter-inch foot with the edge guide but moved the needle to the left to 3/8″ from the edge to achieve this perfect seam. In this photo you can see the quarter inch encased and perfect stitching. The rayon won’t ravel ever!

Here I’m matching the scraps and the front of the pinafore so I can cut the pocket pieces to exactly match!

Getting the design lined up perfectly to cut a matching piece for the pocket.

Here I’m stitching in the ditch for the opening of the pocket. I decided to outline the entire pocket with binding. I used the M foot and stitch 15 to overcast the edges as I did the gift bag in yesterday’s post. There are many ways to stitch in the ditch, including an edge-stitch foot that is included with most Janome machines, but personally I find I get my best results using the open-toe F-2 which offers the best visibility. I move the needle to the far right, set the right edge of the foot on the bias, and can get absolutely snug up next to the bias trim.

Now THAT is “stitching in the ditch.”

Throughout the process the M7 handled flawlessly–I mean FLAWLESSLY!

I can’t wait to show you more of what it can do.

Janome’s new slogan is Reliability by Design….I stopped to think about it: I have been sewing on Janome machines since 2003 and not once–let me repeat that, NOT ONCE– have I had an issue that was due to the machine. Once or twice due to operator error, but really, the machines have been utterly, totally and completely reliable. And each one gets better.

Lining done and waiting for the dress to be made.

For hemming, I use the same foot and process, just move the stitch to the far left and adjust the needle drop (the Janome’s have so many needle positions you can get it perfect!). Because I have the rayon lining tucked inside the hem of the flannel outside, and because flannel is loosely woven and really quite stretchy, I use a bamboo skewer to press down on the hem. This compresses the hem, keeps it from rolling up, and controls the stretch. I hold the skewer in place and let the fabric feed underneath it–the tip of the skewer never gets up near the needle. The outstanding feed mechanism on the M7 meant I didn’t need to put on the AcuFeed at all… I couldn’t believe how easy it was!
Here’s the inside: all seams contained between the lining and fashion (!) fabric/flannel. I tucked the lining dress inside the flannel dress and basted at the neckline and sleeves. The pattern calls for using bias a narrow facing, but I chose to go quilty and have the grey accent the edges. Then, very carefully because lining is so slippery, I measured the hem and tucked the lining inside (instead of having it hang loose as is more common) and hemmed the dress.
Dress from the back. If you are curious, put York Pinafore in the search box and Pinterest…SO many cute ideas, fabulous on a wide range of body types, and fast to make. I can see using a quilting cotton for a fun summer dress with tank or T underneath, and corduroy for winter.

This new M7 Continental Janome is really something else, and although I am a Janome Artisan and affiliated, I would say all this if I had bought this machine at full retail. I’ll take you through some of the other marvelous things it can do in January and February. In the meantime, another small but marvelous detail: the thread stand has a COLLAPSING antenna.

Here’s the machine again…it’s hard to see in the clutter of my room, but there is a thread antenna on the right rear of the machine.

The thread antenna is telescoping, meaning you can push it down and then cover up your machine with the very good quality included cover! WOOT! PS: It also comes with a great extension table with a drawer in it, but even with its vast size (more on that later), I wanted to set it into my table. I cut rigid foam core to fill in the gaps. The mother of invention!

18 Responses to “The BRILLIANT new Janome M7Continental produces A York Pinafore for Christmas”

  1. Kelly B. Says:

    Wow!Great jumper! I used to live in them early in my teaching career. Right away I noticed how nicely your pockets continued the fabric design. Well done.
    Where did you get your foam core?

  2. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    Kelly: thanks! I was delighted at how well the M7 sewed them on without distortion, even though flannel is so stretchy! The 2″ rigid foam insulation is from Home Depot. They have 24 x 24″ small panels for about $5-6, so you don’t have to buy an entire huge 4×8 foot sheet.

  3. Jeannie Says:

    I am really enjoying your demonstrations of the machine. I have been toying with getting a new machine. My two Berninas were both bought used. Nothing wrong with that, but machines have changed so much in the 20 years since. I love the huge harp on this one and all the needle positions! I’m looking forward to more of your posts. I won’t be purchasing anything for a bit, but to say I’m interested is beyond an understatement. Thanks for all the info!

  4. Beth H Says:

    I have been drooling over the machine… but as long as the 6600 does the job I’ll stay with it… but if a major windfall comes my way… the 6600 just might have a sister! I’ll be waiting to hear more about it!!! You might consider making a summer dress from a washable rayon or more French seams, it would be even lighter and cooler than cotton.

  5. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    I’d keep that 6600 forever, but yes…If a windfall happens, look at this one. I’ll think about rayon…the dress is sort of cocoon shaped, and that is lost in a soft flow-y fabric, but there are some hacks that have the skirt flaring or adding a waist and gathers, and that would be perfect! Of course, here in Maine we have *very few* days that are so hot all you want is rayon that touches you at the shoulders only. DC is in my past! No more mid-Atlantic summers! Have a great Christmas, Beth!

  6. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    So glad it is helping. I have been impressed with every single machine Janome has had me test drive and use, but this one really is a whole new thing. I’ve still got a 6600 as a back-up machine, but this one….amazing! Can’t wait to show the shirt I made my son!

  7. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    Thanks Jeannie! A machine like this isn’t an impulse purchase for most of us…. are either or your Berninas computerized? There was, for me, a bit of a learning curve going from my old mechanicals to computerized, but gosh it’s worth it. I remember thinking nothing could ever be as great as my Viking 135, which was entry level in 1983 when I got it new. It has gone around the world with me, still sews, but OMG it is so basic now…. There is also a good blog called Janome Life, put up by Janome Canada. You can subscribe to their posts (I do) and don’t even have to go to read it, it just shows up. I’ve sewn forever and still learn some things from it. An they will occasionally profile the M7 too. Another person to check is Kimberly Einmo…she is the Janome America spokesperson and is also sewing on one, but doing very different type of work on it than I do, which is good for a range of responses to the machine and how to use it. Kimberly is on FB and easy to follow there–she posts links to her blog. Stay tuned!

  8. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    Another thought…Got it that you’ve used computerized……. I had a 1630—but had moved to an island in Wash. state when the mother board bit the dust. It was replaced under warranty, but there was no Bernina dealer near by (!!!), so I switched to a Pfaff because that is what the good dealer sold. So, no need to worry about that learning curve. Suggestion: take a lap quilt or something the size you work on with you a Janome dealer and see how it fits inside the harp area… that area measures 13.5 x 5.5” tall. The table is about 26” wide, as is the overall machine. BIG! Then you can see how what you do fits in the machine and how manageable it is. The extra height in the harp area is really nice as well as the width.

    OK…must. go. cook! Must. wrap. first! Everyone is out of the house!

  9. Maureen mullen Says:

    It looks like a very nice machine. But annoying that i bought a 9450 WCAP just two months before this was released. Do love mine though i notice even with this nice new machine. The cover is so chintzy

  10. Donna S. Says:

    Hi Sarah, May I ask what table that is that you have modified to fit your M7 please?

    Thank you,


  11. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    Donna: it is a table I had custom made. I purchased a K-base (and industrial base that is very sturdy), then had a carpenter build the top for me with a 12 x 27″ opening, thinking nothing would ever get that large. Well, almost! Sorry it isn’t commercial, but if you can find a carpenter locally, it wouldn’t be hard for them to make a top with a shelf to fit.

  12. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    Maureen: the 9450 is also a brilliant machine…so much so that I was reluctant to let it go to try the M7. It has two things the M7 does not: a free-arm and the pull-out light. I learned to sew without a free-arm, so that is easy for me. I do miss the pull-out light at the top, but that is really the only minus to the new machine. However, the 9450 is also a phenomenal machine, but this one is more than the usual “new machine improvements.” It is, for me, better than the 9450 but not by a huge margin…..enjoy the 9450! I’ll be sharing a men’s shirt I made and my success with the buttonholes, and you have the same foot that should yield the same excellent results, for example. So congrats on the 9450…ENJOY IT!

  13. Pam Says:

    I love your table … can you tell me what brand and from where it came I’m looking for one to suit my M7
    and Jenone are still in design stage

  14. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    Thanks…I love it too. Alas, it isn’t a brand, but one I had made. I found a source locally to buy a “K-base”…those ugly gray bases used for industrial machines. I had an auto-body shop paint it bright green, so it is a durable finish (and not ugly gray). I bought mine from the man who used to own Tony’s Sewing Machines (Tony!) and designed and apparently still makes and sells (yeah!) the Sew Perfect Tables. I wanted a top larger than he makes, so he kindly sold me the base and I had a carpenter make a top that is 24 x 72 inches. I have two tables back-to-back, so a 4×6 foot surface. IF Tony had made them as large as I wanted, it would have been WAY easier to buy from him. . I see he has a new model, the Professional 2, that looks perfect, especially with an add-on drop-leaf at the back. BUT, you could also find someone (depending on where you live…I’m thinking it looks like you might be not in the US from your email address….) locally to buy the K-base and a carpenter to make a top that suits your space and needs. Good luck and let me know what you do!

  15. Pat Davies Says:

    Wow you have given me so many good ideas! I have been trying to use my drop tables but do not have the plexiglass surrounds for the machines, was about to spend a lot of money on a couple! But saw your post on 2 inch rigid foam insulation.. what stops it from falling through? Also I have two sewing tables that I want to put back to back, but they are different widths! It never occurred to me that I could add too the table to make it work! Am so excited! Going home from my xmas holidays and getting right at these projects, to make my sewing room more space efficient and welcoming to me! Thank you for twigging my brain!! Another quilter I follow is Pam Holland, in Australia who is also a Janome rep has the new M7 if you would like to follow what she us doing with the M7!

  16. Pat Davies Says:

    Here is her blog if you want to check it out too… hope its ik with you!
    I currently am sewing with a Huskvarna Epic which is a sewing/ embroidery machine! I love it and haven’t used it to its the extent it is capable to do!
    I also really enjoy following you on FB, and your newsletter! I feel like I know you! Lol!

  17. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    Thanks so much, Pat! I apologize for the delay in responding….I guess the new year arrived with a rush to things to do! I’m so glad you like the newsletter…if there is ever anything you’d like me to talk about (favorite threads and an iron review are coming up), let me know!

  18. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    I KNEW I’d seen a question about the pink foam insulation and not responded…. here it is! At the moment it is just held in by friction mostly, with one small piece cut to serve as a prop/leg underneath. I will warn you, pins are scratching it easily. I’m going to buy some white contact paper (are you in the US? if not, it is a shelf liner paper that is kinda plastic-y on top with adhesive on the bottom) and cover each of the three strips so it (a) looks better and (b) doesn’t get ripped by errant pins. As for two sewing tables back to back, my carpenter put some small strips of wood to the underside to allow me to screw the two together. I’m thinking one of those old fashioned slide bolts for the front door or a window latch might serve the same purpose. Thanks for the link to Pam’s blog…I have no idea how at her age she has so much energy. The talent is from a lifetime of desire and hard work! Keep in touch, and sorry to be so late, Sarah