Another addition

Viking Opal 690Q

Viking Opal 690Q

When I posted photos of my new studio, I mentioned that I purchased a Viking Opal 690Q machine. I also sold the Janome 8900 that I purchased two years ago. The truth is, while the 8900 is a perfectly wonderful machine for some people, it just wasn’t the machine for me. I never bonded with it, and while it did fine work, I was never really satisfied with it. So when the Opal caught my eye at the dealership a few months ago, I was really leery for many reasons.

First and foremost, I was concerned about some of the reviews I’ve seen about Viking quality in the last couple of years. They were bought out by a holding group that also purchased Singer and Pfaff. Anyone in the sewing world knows that the Singers of today can not hold a candle to the Singer machines our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers used, and the biggest issue is the lack of quality. Having lived with a mother who sewed extensively, I know that the problems with modern Singer machines started in the late 1970’s. While she was away visiting her family one year, my dad decided to surprise her with a new Singer electronic machine when she came home. He was really trying to do a nice thing, but that machine turned out to be a major lemon. It was constantly in the shop, and it forced my mother to buy a mechanical machine so she could continue to sew while the Singer was unusable. After that, my mom never owned another Singer machine.

I have read some reviews about Viking machines in the last couple of ¬†years that suggested the quality of the machines was about on par with the Singers of the late 1970’s forward. And I am certain that these people have told the truth about their experiences, because what possible reason would they have to lie about things like problems with thread tension, motors burning out, and other mishaps that have been reported? So I had very real concerns about what I might be getting in to if I purchased a Viking machine.

I also was a bit worried that maybe I was so much of a Brother machine junkie, I would never be happy with another sewing machine brand. I mean, there are people who are so in love with their Janomes, they sound like an advertisement when they talk about them, and I clearly just never really liked the Janome. Would I end up in the same place if I were to buy a non-Brother sewing machine again? Well, after owning this machine for more than two months, I can answer that with a resounding, NO!

I know it’s not been very long since I bought the machine, but so far, it’s been a dream to use. And I love it. I have found myself using it more frequently than I do George, because the piecing is just so great on the Viking. It is a bit noisier than George is, but not nearly so loud as the Janome was, and it’s not an unpleasant sound. The stitching on the Viking is just beautiful, and the decorative stitches are adorable. In fact, I already have plans to use some of those decorative stitches on an upcoming quilt I have in the queue. And I’ve had no problems at all with this machine, knock on wood. It’s been lovely to work with ever since I took it out of the box!

I will be doing a full review of the Opal 690Q after I’ve had it and used it a bit more extensively, but I can say that the projects I’ve used it for so far – some quilt piecing, and a knit t-shirt – both turned out lovely, and the machine did a bang up job on everything I’ve used it for so far. It’s quickly becoming my “go to” machine for many things, which is a good thing because I want to put George to work on finishing up quilts by using him to do in the hoop quilting.

Check this space in a few months for a comprehensive review on Opal!

March Update

It’s been a crazy month in the studio. First off, I bought a new machine, a Brother DreamCreator VM 5100 which I named George. He’s a beauty. I’m really happy with the stitch quality, and the extra space in the harp is just so great. That makes two machines that I now have with a harp that’s at least 11″ and I doubt that I can ever go back to a “regular” sized machine because they all seem so small.

Secondly, I am still working on the Green Eggs & Ham quilt, and there is progress. The top is completely put together, the quilt is sandwiched and I started the “quilting” late last week. I’m using George to put stars on the quilt, both in the blocks and on the sashing.

Star Overload

Quilting detail

Green Eggs and Hame 1

 

I’ve also started another quilt, one that cannot currently be discussed because it’s a gift for someone. I wasn’t really pleased with it at first, but I’ve worked out a better plan for it, so I’ll get that going this evening.

The great thing about having George and Ricco (my Janome 8900) is that I can have George putting stars on the GE&H quilt and I can piece on Ricco. I’m VERY happy with this set up, though Ricco needs to go into the shop for a cleaning. When that happens, I’ll use either the Viking #1+ or one of the other Brother machines I have. See, having multiple machines is a great thing, and progress doesn’t stop when one has to go to the shop!

Ricco

Ricco

 

A couple of weeks ago, Chris and I attended QuiltCon in Austin, which was held by the Modern Quilt Guild. Since this was their inaugural year, there was only a small turnout of vendors, but there were some truly great quilts. And there were some quilts I wasn’t so crazy about. There were also a few vendors there, and we had a good time strolling through, looking at quilts and chatting about some of the things that were for sale.

See, I have the most wonderful husband in the world, and no one can tell me differently. How many 30-something men would be willing to spend an afternoon with their wives walking through a quilt show?? And if he hadn’t gone with me, I never would have found Ricco. What or who, you ask, is Ricco? Why, he’s my new, shiny Janome MC8900. And he took up residence in my studio shortly after QuiltCon, because that’s where we bought him.

Janome was a platinum sponsor of QuiltCon, so they provided machines for classes. Of course, that meant there was a bunch of very gently used machines for sale … for a really fabulous price. At first, I was a bit bummed because I planned to buy a new machine when I get my bonus on March 15th, and there was another three weeks between QuiltCon and bonus time. But after walking away and looking at more quilts, Chris brought up how it was such a good deal. Before I knew what was happening, we were buying a machine! Since there were still a couple of days of QuiltCon left, we didn’t get to bring the machine home with us, but the dealer who sold it to us is only about an hour and a half from our home, so we picked it up the following week. After learning how to wind a bobbin (a more complicated thread path than my Brothers), and then changing the needle (which eliminated some noise the machine was making – I think because the assembly was loose), I put Ricco to the test by dragging out the churn dash quilt I’ve been trying to get made for Chris since we got married nearly four years ago. After just a little bit of time working on it, I can honestly say that I am in love with Ricco! I love the huge throat (11″ to the right of the needle) and the stitching is beautiful. I couldn’t ask for a better machine.

As for George, my trusty Brother PC-8500, I’m keeping him. He works well – his only problem is that the thread cutter messes up stitches after use during sewing. But he still does beautiful embroidery, and I can’t bear to get rid of him. I’m ordering the PED-Basic software so I can download designs from the internet and use them with him. About the only thing I cannot do with him is to use the Brother website ibroidery.com. He’s just too old to be supported there. And that’s why I’m ordering the Brother PE-500 embroidery only machine. I know it only has a 4″ x 4″ embroidery area, but I rarely do anything bigger than that. And in a year or so, I can re-assess and buy a really nice machine with a bigger embroidery area – I also intend to keep my eye out on Craigslist for a really good price on a machine – but for now, George and the new embroidery machine will work just fine for my needs.