Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Stitch Sampler

My new Janome 8200 and I are getting to be good friends. It's been great to free motion quilt on, smooth and quiet. The newly enlarged spot for it in my home made sewing table is working so very well. I've got to give thanks to the hubby for that!

Decorative stitches on the Janome 8200

But the first sewing I did on this machine is what I suggest to every new sewing machine owner. A stitch sampler. Nothing fancy, but I go all the way through every stitch pattern, even some of the different setting for straight stitches. As you can see from the letters below, I just stitched back and forth across my fabric, switching stitches as I stitched enough of each one for a good sample and turning when I got close to the edge.

Since I want to try out all the decorative stitches and this machine can stitch up to 9mm wide, I used a layer of embroidery stabilizer behind the fabric to keep the stitches from puckering or drawing up. I used a medium weight tear away for this.

Once you stitch them all out, you'll see that the image given on the stitch chart can look very different from what is actually stitched out.

This helps you learn your new machine too. I do the first sampler with default settings and eventually will go back through and do more stitches at my preferred settings and also experiment with combining or elongating stitches. I make sure to label the stitches, both for the default settings and especially for my preferred settings.

This is exceptionally handy when it comes to the blanket stitches! Most of the mid-grade computerized machines and up have several blanket stitches to choose from and they can look very different from each other and from what's printed on the machine. It was also a great test of the automatic thread tension on this machine.

I hear many people say they never use their fancy decorative stitches, and while I don't use all of mine a whole lot, when you can actually see what they look like, you're more likely to use them.

Are you snowed in? We are on the third snow day for this week. The kids are enjoying sledding and playing in the snow and I'm doing a ton of picking up of wet things and cooking up hot chocolate.


  1. This is a great idea Amy. I did it on my last machine but haven't yet done it for this machine and I've had it a couple of years. :( I think that will be on my to-do list for tomorrow. blessings, marlene

  2. I did it, too, for my last machine (which I'm keeping!), and I plan to do it for my new one. It's a bit overwhelming, though, when I realize how many stitches there actually are. LOL!

  3. Aha! I have done samples of my own machine's different stitches but not all in order on one piece like this.

    I do use a couple extra stitches. I think mostly people don't think about it.

    Somewhat snowed in up here in Canada. My sewing room is in the basement and we keep having to dig out the windows so it's not a complete cave experience downstairs.

  4. I love my 8200 as well. Something to add, you can do most of the decorative stitches using your walking foot too (accufeed foot) when quilting so that you can use some of those fancy stitches for around your binding for instance.
    Must admit I didn't do all my stitches on a sampler, but when I want to try one out nd get a scrap I leave near the machine for that purpose and trial it first some are quite a suprise as you said!!

    1. Stephanie- You are right in that you *can* use the accufeed foot for that, I have to point out that the manual clearly states which stitches that the accufeed foot should be used with and they are mostly all straight stitches. Walking feet and integrated feed systems like our accufeed are made to feed the fabric on the top through the machine from front to back, they don't do as well with the reverse direction as needed by the best decorative stitches.

  5. Amy, have you tried bobbin work or "bobbin play" with your decorative stitches? When you sew those decorative stitches on the reverse side of your project with heavier threads like embroidery floss in the bobbin, it looks like hand embroidery on the top side when you flip it over. Then if you want to get really fancy you can hand-embellish the machine stitches with a smattering of beads or French knots in a contrasting thread color. Lots of fun for a crazy quilt project!

    1. Rebecca,

      I haven’t yet, but I’ve always intended to do so. In fact decorative stitches that look like the traditional crazy quilt stitches are what first tempted me to upgrade from my first basic machine. I did a lot of crazy quilting in the 90’s. The sew and flip of making crazy quilt blocks was the improvisational piecing of that time!

      I have used bobbin work with free motion quilting and have a project I’m working on that will combine bobbin work with ruler work. Fun!

  6. Here's a coincidence--I just got a new 8200 too! About 2weeks ago, and I love it! I asked about the ruler toe foot earlier today. I have it on order. I was also trying to figure out how to make the SSlider work with the top loading bobbin. Thanks for all the awesome tips. Jan

  7. I really should do this! I guess I need to get my hands on some stabilizer and then will play and see what I come up with. Thanks for the suggestion.