How time flies when you are swamped? I can’t believe it has been more than a week since I posted! Anyway, I’m here, well, but trying to get caught up and blog about a very busy past month-plus! One of this first things I want to tell you about is a new sewing machine, and YIPPEEEE SKIPPPY it looks like I’ll be getting one! It is the Horizon 7700 from Janome. If you click here you can learn more about it directly from Janome.
If you are familiar with the Janome 6600 (which is what I’ve been using since it came out in early 2005), you know that Janome makes great machines and sells them at a great price…you get many more features for your purchasing dollar than with other companies (whom I shall not name!).
I got to do a quick test drive at Maine-ly Sewing (in Nobleboro, Maine) not long ago, and I am in SERIOUS machine lust! I totally love my 6600, but they have taken the 6600 and made it better. They’ve added automatic tension, more harp space, more lighting (my aging eyes are joyful!), and some really fun decorative stitches. Here is one of my quickie test-drive pieces:
There is this awesome “straight stitch” throat plate thingie… if you use the programmed stitch for free-motion, it automatically moves this piece of the throat plate to make it single-stitch (a dot or small circle) opening instead of the usual rectangle (so you can stitch a zigzag). When you go back to regular stitches, the thingie retracts and you’re back to the rectangle, and thereby don’t slam your needle into throatplate…ingenious!
When I did my quickie test, I used the accu-feed (the built-in walking foot mechanism) to do some of the satin stitches and decorative satin stitches, then popped on the free-motion foot. The stitching was wonderful…
When checking out a new machine, I always try to make a machine do poor stitching, deliberately make “driver errors”. The easiest one to do (and common with beginning free-motion quilters) is to whip around curves, which usually leads to eyelashes on the back. I did several spirals and whip-around curves,
and I tell you the back was almost *perfect*! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Some of my stitches were really long…like 3/8 ” for each stitch, and still, the stitches were either just right or only the itsy bitsiest bit of needle thread showing like a little dot on the back. I am seriously impressed.
I was a bit hesitant before my test drive because of the 7700’s touchscreen and dial, as I am VERY visual and prefer buttons and knobs. Often, at least with the old touchpads, my fingers were too cold and somehow the things wouldn’t work for me (much muttering at the grocery store!). I sat down at this machine and was able to use the touchpad only to scroll through the screens (it was intuitive and easy) without even reading the manual (smacking my own knuckles, I know). I didn’t try to figure out the dial, as I had to meet someone and was short on time.
Anyway, I was very happy with what I saw and am looking forward to getting one and playing a lot!
PS…in the interest of full disclosure, Janome America has provided me with an artist/teacher loaner for the past six or seven years or so. In exchange I did a couple patterns for their now-defunct company magazine, and they used one of my quilts in their show brochure ads several years ago. I also sometimes send them suggestions I hear from the 6500/6600 yahoo group (with the permission of the authors or, in the case of multiple comments of the same variety, edited into non-attributable/generic suggestions by me). Anyway, about 18 months ago they actually wrote back to me and asked for clarifications on a couple of things–they were clearly in the planning stages on the 7700 and they were (WOW) listening to their customers!
Bottom line: I’d say the same things if I had a loaner or paid full price…the 6500, 6600 and 7700 are some of the best machines on the market, and at a good value for the price–and a fraction of the cost of some comparable machines from other companies.
PS—just discovered Janome has a really good set of introduction pages on their website to showcase the features of the Horizon 7700. Check it out here. Be sure to click on the various tabs (features, accessories, projects, etc).