Go…….make many………post pics……..and have a fabulous Christmas everyone !
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Whilst preparing and filming my Craftsy class I was lucky enough to have on loan the Janome Atelier 7 (Janome Skyline in the US). I was very impressed, and I got so comfortable with it, I thought I would review the big beauty before it disappeared out of my life.
I usually work on a Janome TXL607 at home for bag making, which is a mid range domestic sewing machine, and I have been happy with it for the few years since I traded up from my 25 year old Bernina Sport (which has had an amazing innings and still going strong despite years of overwork and misuse).
I think it is important that I don’t move to an industrial machine as I need to be sure my patterns are all ‘do-able’ (is that a word??) on a domestic machine, as that is what most of my customers work on.
While still a domestic machine, the Atelier 7 is a range up from the old TXL models, and she is an amazing beast.
I didn’t think there would be a huge difference, but trust me, I really don’t know how I am going to go back.
Given that the Atelier is all singing, all dancing with amazing features I have never seen before, I still did what all of us do when we get a new machine, and went straight to the pretty decorative stitches to have a go at a few sewing symbols and handmade logos. It has 240 built-in stitches so it took me a while!
One of the main selling points of the Atelier range is the AcuFeed system, which the supplied walking foot, or dual feed foot, is specially designed to engage with. This moves the top layer of fabric in sync with the bottom layer. I’m going to bang on for a bit about this because it is a marvellous tool, especially when you are sewing multiple thick (and often a bit sticky) layers as we do in bag making.
The mechanism is built into the back of the machine rather than dependant on your needle just going up and down as I have used previously, so there is much more control, there is even a twiddly nob to adjust the differential between upper and lower feed.
The Dual Feed foot is a much wider foot than a normal straight stitch foot, and although I wanted to use it for nearly all my stitch work, I couldn’t because it is too wide to get into some of the tight corners I often find myself in. Whilst ruminating with another bag maker about how fantastic it would be to have a narrower version or one with a stitch guide, I decided to ask Janome if there were plans to make such a thing. To my surprise, I found they were already available and the supplied foot just slips off like a shoe, and can be replaced with the other feet – well blow me! Obviously I ordered them immediately and am waiting very patiently (yes that’s me, patient) for their arrival so I can play some more.
I swear this beast sews straighter than any machine I have owned previously too, but it does have 7 feed dogs, and I guess with the AcuFeed that could possibly be true.
There are a host of other useful features of which I will list but a few:
The Atelier 7 has a large full colour screen that you may question when you get it out of the box if you are ever going to be able to understand it, but it’s very owner friendly and I was creating and programming stitch pattern combinations within the day via the USB connection.
Some very useful features are a fully lit machine with a number of LED lights at various spots around the body to give a really well lit work area – they can be turned off individually too – so if you are a chronic migraine sufferer like myself, this is always a prerequisite of a machine (although unscrewing the bulb has always worked technically very well for me in the past)
The automatic thread cutter and presser foot lift functions are brilliant. I am still getting used to the foot lift and keep reaching around to raise it manually, but it’s getting more natural. The machine is also supplied with a knee lift control for the presser foot, which I am trying to use on a regular basis as I feel it could be useful, if I could only stop feeling like I’m dancing to a Rhianna track every time I give it a nudge.
There are many improvements on previous machines I have encountered –
an additional straight stitch needle plate for fine fabrics, improved alphabets and size control, the zipper foot is a dream compared to my last one, (which ended up sat in a jar next to my machine so I could glare daggers at it every time I thought I might have to use it – in fact I didn’t use it, I just kept my straight stitch foot on and moved my needle far left!)
The foot pedal is a gentle giant – it is HUGE – and I love it, much more easy to control, and you don’t end up with dancing feet chasing it all around under the table.
The Atelier also features Sewing application buttons – so rather than choosing what stitch you want to use, you can just tell the machine what you want to do, for example zipper sewing or gathering, and it will automatically select the stitch and tell you when to stitch where. I think this feature is probably suited to more novice sewers, or maybe it is just that I am a control freak and can’t let it choose anything for me.
If you are an avid bag maker like me – and boy do we know the problems with bulky fabrics, vinyls and numerous layers – and you are looking to upgrade your current machine, I can heartily recommend the Atelier 7, it has handled everything I have thrown at it so far, even 8 layers of vinyl !
The only improvements I could suggest are, that the machine should also be available in bright pink, and should have an option of a prescription glass protruding at right angles from the front so I don’t have to take my glasses on and off every time I sit down.
Thanks for the lend Janome, any chance I can keep it??
Watch the ad for my new Craftsy bag making class here
If you have unlimited membership you can watch the whole thing. If you haven’t, don’t worry, you can get a free 7 day trial of Unlimited here
I’m so looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks of the class, and at last I can tell you what I am making!
I’m making 2 items in the class, the first is the Harris Tote which a few of you will already know, and The Harris Clutch Wallet which is new and exclusive to Craftsy.
The Harris Tote is a lovely roomy tote bag with inside facings and classic leather handles. It has a huge zipped security pocket on the inside to keep your valuables safe. We all love the look of an open tote – but we still need somewhere safe for wallets and phones.
I show you how to make the bag in beautiful Harris Tweed with lots of tips on how to work with wool tweed, but the bag is suitable to just about any type of fabric.
Lots of tips on using rivets, attaching zips, stabilisers, top stitching, easy box corners and more
The second item is new and exclusive to Craftsy, it is the Harris Clutch Wallet. It’s a beautiful soft co-ordinating clutch wallet that you can pop in your tote or use on its own on a night out with it’s cute removable wrist strap.
Use my ingenious flap creation method to make the sharpest and most accurate flap in town!
I’ll walk you through a really easy zipper method that you may not have used before, create credit card pockets and attach magnetic fasteners.
These wallets are really quick to construct and make great gifts
I hope you enjoy the class, why not leave a comment and tell me what you think, I’d love to hear.
So…..my first bag making Craftsy Class is going live this week. I am sooo excited.
I finally got to see the finished class a couple of days ago whilst on holiday – (sat in the sun on our sunbeds under a towel so we could see the screen!)
It has come out really well, I am so pleased with the finished class. The editing is fantastic, all my slip ups and tripping over the carpet have magically disappeared, along with the odd ‘oooch’ face whenever I stuck myself with a pin.
I can’t disclose what I am making until it actually goes live, but I am demonstrating two items, one of which you will know, and one which was completely new and exclusive to Craftsy.
I used a Janome Skyline (Atelier 7 in the UK) in the class which is a superb sewing machine, and I will be reviewing it later in the week.
I so hope you are going to enjoy the class, I will upload the links as soon as it goes live – I can’t wait to hear what you think!
And remember – This weekend on Craftsy, you can stream 10 free classes specially made for the junior chefs, fashion designers, cartoon artists, and crafters in your house. Just click below:
Fashion dictates – and what better than to update the The Flip Clutch Wallet with a bang on trend saddle shaped flap.
I’ve made these in faux leather, but you can make in quilting cottons, cork, wool, leather, in fact virtually anything, just like the original.
If you already have the pattern for The Flip Clutch Wallet, all you need to do is print the 2 new PDF sheets below and exchange them for pattern pieces D and F (The flap outer and interfacing) in your original pattern
If you don’t already have the pattern for The Flip, you can get it here
Everything makes up exactly the same, just follow the pattern instructions as normal – and place the magnetic clasp in it’s new position on the flap as shown on the new pattern piece. (If you are using leather or faux, I reduced the weight of the flap interfacing to Decovil Light or similar)
If you would like to really go wild with the Dior look, you could give your wallet a stirrup too.
Simply cut a strip of leather (or faux) 3/4″x 6″ – thread a 3/4″ D-ring onto the middle of the leather strip and fold in half, tack in place at the top, close to the raw edges.
When you place the flap pieces right sides together ready to sew, slip the little strap between the two flap pieces centrally on the curved edge, parallel to the flap sides, as shown here – you can use a bit of sticky tape to hold it in place, then just carry on as normal. When you turn the flap through your little stirrup will pop right out!
Don’t forget to follow the blog as I will be issuing another new flap shape soon
What an exciting week in Denver filming my new bag making class with Craftsy. Wow.. I was hoping to blog daily about my Craftsy adventure, but there has hardly been time to sleep.
The whole thing has been a whirlwind since I started filming, what a fantastic experience.
I have seen everything this week – blue trees, men going to work on hover-boards, the largest plates of food imaginable, even the Grim Reaper crossing the road and heading into a coffee shop, and the biggest, most impressive fabric shop I have ever seen in my life.
The Craftsy crew were amazing, so friendly and helpful, and they welcomed me with open arms, showed me the ropes and helped me settle in straight away. Thank goodness, because I was so nervous the first day not knowing what to expect, I was shaking in my size 5 trainers.
We were filming on location at this beautiful house in the ‘burbs of Denver.
You wouldn’t believe how much goes into filming a class and the work everyone puts in to achieve a slick production.
It was a three day shoot. Day one was really geared to getting me used to the camera and filming the shorts, taking stills, and filling me with a false sense of security etc, the hard graft kicked in on the following days (particularly for the film crew).
It was pretty hot by day two, we were filming in a sun room with numerous windows, and no air-con because of the noise it generated. I had to film in the same shirt for a couple of days for continuity so you can imagine how happy I was to finally change into a new top on day 3.
I suffered with a bit of altitude sickness on day 2, (Denver is such a dry place, you need to drink at least 4 litres of water a day not to suffer with it) so think I might look a bit shiny (sweaty bint) on camera half way thru. Hopefully it won’t be too obvious or someone will Photoshop the green out of my face a bit.
I was pleased to get home each night to unstick and wash off the gaffa tape down between the old boobs where I had been miked up all day. (And thank you Bob for uncoupling me every time I needed a comfort break!)
Think I have eaten my own body weight in food this week – huge American breakfasts at the hotel, and buffet lunches delivered to the set daily from every corner of the globe.
By the time I was dragging myself back to the hotel at night, it was all I could do to call into the 7/11 for my usual order of 2 litres of water, a boiled egg and yoghurt, and fall into bed. (One night I didn’t even eat the yoghurt!)
We filmed in living rooms, sun rooms and even out in the garden. Interesting to find how the film industry works, and it really isn’t as easy as just point and shoot! Everything is set up and covered in great detail, often with numerous takes (particularly when my ageing brain wouldn’t co-operate and I fluffed my lines!) There must be hours of film that now has to be edited down for the final product, it really is a huge job.
Luckily the sewing itself all went to plan, I hadn’t forgotten to bring a whole section of something with me, and manage not to swear or stitch over my finger at any point – though there were a couple of nasty pin incidents where I jabbed myself but couldn’t say anything as we were in the middle of shooting a scene – you might be able to spot the odd wince here and there!
It will be a couple of months before the class is ready to launch and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. – I made a point of not looking at any footage while we were filming so it will be a surprise to me too – hopefully my wrinkles will not show too much.
Thanks to my wonderful film crew Nancy, Rob, Joe, Josh, Danika and Bob, and everyone else who cycled in and out over the shoot, what a professional and fabulous team you are, and thank you for making my experience such a fantastic memorable adventure