I finished the one border of burgundy hexagons that I was working on when I was at the First Slow Stitching Movement Getaway last month. I have since put the Batik Flower Garden Quilt aside so I could focus on my new Janome Skyline S5 sewing machine.

You may recall that I was experiencing some significant stash envy as I was preparing to go to the stitching retreat. I call it a stitching retreat because the Slow Stitching Movement embraces those who knit and embroider, not just those who quilt and piece. It would be wrong to call it a quilting retreat.

Above are the strips that I cut to take with me to the retreat for the daily sewing activity. It turned out that we used the one inch strips to do log cabin blocks. I can’t do justice to the activity by trying to describe it. You kind of had to be there, but it was meditative, and there was a different emphasis on the thought process each day. Our log cabin stitching work occurred in the morning following our morning writing, which is an exercise taken from the book “The Artist’s Way”.

I completed about two and a half blocks while I was at the retreat during the stitching exercise segments and also while I was using the machine trying to decide if I wanted to buy it or not. When my machine was delivered last Wednesday I set it up on my dining room table and continued to work on the log cabin blocks in an effort to familiarize myself with the machine.

Below you can see the state that my dark and light strip collections were in after I finished four blocks. I didn’t cut any new strips while I was creating those blocks.


I have to admit that I am quite intimidated by the machine. I have not yet scheduled my class with Pocono Sew and Vac, and I will do that soon. Until then I am getting to know the most basic features of the machine. I have not tried any fancy stitches, nor have I tried any feet other than the one that was installed on the machine when I got it. I haven’t even threaded the machine or loaded the bobbin since I am still working with the thread installed on the machine as a demo unit.

I love the needle up/down feature.

I love the thread cutter.

I have used the knee lift, but don’t really feel the need to use it. I think maybe I need to adjust the angle to get the best use out of it, and if I were doing free motion quilting I bet it would come in handy. At first I used the foot pedal to control the speed, but decided to give the “Start/Stop” button a try. You have to unplug the foot pedal to use the button to start and stop the machine. It took some getting used to, but I think I like using the button instead of the pedal. I set the speed relatively slow because once you activate stitching with the button it speeds up to the maximum speed you have it set for. In the photo below you can see that I have it set fairly slow. When you first touch the button as long as you keep your finger on it, it goes quite slowly. When you take your finger off the button it speeds up to what you have set. You can slow the machine down when you decide to stop stitching by holding the button and releasing it on the last stitch.

Using the “Stop/Start” button would allow me to place the machine on a counter and sew standing up, which would be a great benefit in terms of fitness.

I watched the DVD that came with the machine, but taking the class is really going to make a big difference for me. I will be able to ask some questions about free motion quilting. I have no idea how to get started with free motion, or even with a walking foot. I definitely want to know whether I should be purchasing add-on feet for quilting or using the provided feet for quilting. The machine comes with a basic darning foot that looks like it could be used for free motion, and with an even feed foot, but Janome makes add-on feet as well. There must be a reason for that.

I made four blocks and decided to add them together with the darker portions in the center. It is my goal to bat and back this unit, and to do some machine quilting on it, perhaps with the provided even feed (walking) foot.

The one design decision that I did make when piecing was to be sure that I included some crimson on all four squares. I also ended two of the squares with the very dark blue fabric. That paid off as a unifying element when it came time to join the blocks, especially since the two other squares used the crimson fabric along the edge.

I sure did sort my strips well by value. Look at the way that dark section pops! I can’t say I am in love with this piece as an aesthetic object. However, I am really enjoying the process, and I am enjoying learning about the machine too. I want to learn how to do new things.

I showed this piece to my husband after I was done putting the four units together. He had seen me working on it. His comment was, “You really did put that together quickly with the machine.” He is used to observing me sitting on the couch with English Paper Piecing for hours with little result. I must say that the speed with which this came together gives me pause. Where is the money going to come from for all the fabric I would consume if I were to get serious about using the machine?

Hmmmmmm. I knew there was a reason I liked paper piecing. One of the reasons I chose to work with hexagons is that I knew they would not break the bank. Speaking of breaking the bank, I made a serious investment in new fabrics at the retreat and at the Pennington Quilt Works on the way home. I bought them specifically to expand my horizons in hexagon work. I may be showing those fabrics off soon.

Is there anyone reading this from the Slow Stitching Movement Retreat who also purchased the Skyline S5?