Janome Jem Gold 660 preset stitch length and width measurements

The Janome Jem Gold 660 is a wonderful sewing machine. However, it features stitches that come with preset stitch length and width. I could not find stitch length and width measurements anywhere for the straight and plain zigag stitches. I even called Janome. Their USA customer service didn’t have the info either.

Some experts recommend disregarding any sewing machine without adjustable stitch length and width. For most sewists, preset stitches are really not that big of a deal unless you are taking a class that requires decorative stitches and uses heirloom sewing techniques.  The Jem Gold 660 is perfectly fine for quilting classes, raw edge & Lori Holt appliqué projects, plus most garment sewing applications.  It also makes a great travel machine.

Following is my best approximation of the actual stitch length and width for the preset straight and zigzag stitches only:

Straight stitch length

Small  1.7 mm – 15 stitches per inch (anything where foundation paper is torn away after stitching)

Medium 2.5 mm   – 10 stitches per inch (95% of your sewing will be done with this stitch)

Large 4.0 mm  – 6 stitches per inch (basting and gathering)

Zigzag stitch width x length

Small  1.5 mm x 1.5 mm (appliqué  – most of your appliqué will probably use this stitch)

Medium   3.0 x 3.5 mm (appliqué, decorative, seam finish)

Large  5.0 x 2.5 mm  (seam finish, decorative)

(I measured actual zigzag stitch samples with a metric ruler.)

* In a pinch, you could probably use the narrow and wide stitches in the 4 step buttonhole for a satin stitch!


Why I keep a sewing kit @ work

Sometimes I feel like the company clerk on MASH – you know the guy who had or could find you almost anything?  Even with sewing studio B dismantled because we no longer do clubs at school, I keep a super stocked sewing kit in my office.  That plastic bin probably knows the school’s layout as well as I do because so many people have borrowed it!

Today, the new music teacher came to discuss a small hole in her daughter’s leotard.  Fortunately, I had polyester thread and appropriate hand sewing needles in the box. What she really needed, though, was a 2″ square of black, fusible knit interfacing to reinforce the hole prior to stitching it. My coworker showed me her handiwork as we left school for the day.  She did a nice job. I hope the repair held through her daughter’s competition this evening.

You can easily make your own mini-sewing kit by repurposing a small hinged metal or plastic box (like an Altoids tin).  Wind bobbins of white, medium tan and black polyester thread.  Include thread conditioner, a thimble and some hand sewing needles. A small pair of stork scissors adds a nice touch.  A needle threader is a necessity for me.  Place your needles and a few straight pins on a small piece of felt.  Add a few wonder clips,  safety pins and translucent shirt buttons – you’re all set. Some folks like to add a small magnet (needle minder) or a tape measure. Add whatever items you need – it’s your sewing box.

The value of another perspective

I forgot my lunch today.  😦

Picture this: leftover Zaxby’s House Zalad with fried chicken and extra tomatoes from my garden, plus just a drizzle of Newman’s Own honey mustard dressing (my fave).

Sound good?

Well, my mid-day feast turned out to be chicken nuggets, raw veggies and unsweetened applesauce from the school cafeteria.  As I sat in the library “feasting” on chicken nuggets, one of the custodians came by to say hello and asked what was for lunch. I recounted my tale of woe about having left my delicious salad at home. She laughed with me and then went on to point out that “the Lord provided the food now, so I should look forward to having dinner already prepared when I get home.”  WOW!  I love her wisdom and insight. She always has a sunny disposition and tries to look on the bright side – even though her personal circumstances are difficult at best. My mood improved and the normal daily irritations rolled right off my back.  All because she brought a different perspective to my situation.

As I scroll through my Facebook quilting feed, I can’t help but marvel at the willingness of strangers to give their opinions when asked and the fact that some groups have developed such a feeling of nonjudgmental closeness (if there is such a thing) that members feel comfortable putting their projects and questions out there for feedback from the group. It’s like getting feedback on your project from staff at the local quilt shop when you can’t get to the shop in person.  This new perspective may provide you with motivation to keep going, permission to toss the project in the garbage (gasp!), or awareness about a different technique/colorway to make your project event better.

Of course, you have to keep an open mind when you ask for feedback. It may not be what you wanted to hear, but do graciously thank (and “like”) the comment that the person took the time to write.  It’s only fair.  Oh, and take the time to share your perspective when asked. 


What’s your why?

What motivates you? Why do you do the things you do?  If you drill down deep enough, you’ll eventually uncover your true why.  It may/may not be pretty, but at least be honest with yourself, so you can do what needs to be done to move in the direction you really want to go.

My school handed out copies of Simon Sinek’s book, “Start with Why” as our welcome back to school gift. Then, we were told that we are expected to recite the “why” for everything we do in relation to our jobs this year.

So here goes:

Why is my day job that of a librarian? I love libraries. They were my safe place growing up. I’m a voracious reader, tinkerer, maker and want to know all the things. I like to share information/resources with others.  I feel most at home behind a reference desk or sharing a great story for a read aloud. Although I’ve worked in a public library, school libraries allow me to do the same thing, but on M-F schedule that better suits my family.

Why am I still at my current school?  1. Relationships with coworkers and students. 2a. Administration finally listened and pulled the library out of the specials rotation. 2b. Now the opportunity is there to truly makeover the library, possibly leading toward state recognition as an Exemplary Library Media Program. 3. It’s close to home, which is important because Atlanta traffic can be a nightmare. 4. I’m not ashamed to say there is a financial incentive for staying with my current school district – we’re set to receive a really nice raise which will help with retirement and potentially afford me the option to retire three years sooner.

Why do I have a sewing business? 1. I love to teach sewing to newbies. Kids are a lot of fun, but much more work is involved than with teaching teens/adults. 2. I am a technical editor for sewing/quilting designers because I am tired of spending money on patterns full of mistakes. It’s also a good ROI for time spent. I deliberately keep my hourly rates on the affordable side and work efficiently so my clients get value for their hard earned money. 3.  It serves as an outlet to sell my samples, voluminous stash and other vintage treasures. The thrill of making a sale is very real (kind of like when a reluctant reader  adamant about getting a Wimpy Kid book actually checks out the other book you recommended) 4. It provides a way to indulge my inner entrepreneurial streak while making a few extra bucks. 5. I’m building something that will continue after I leave public education. 6. As the business evolves, I’m finding more ways to tie quilting/sewing with library work (Atlanta Quilt Study Symposium in late September).

These were the relatively easy “whys” that I feel comfortable sharing in public. Some of the whys in the more personal areas of my life are definitely messier and took some effort to unpack. However, this exercise does inform what needs to be done to move me toward the place where my actions are more congruent with my beliefs in all areas of my life.

Again, what’s your why?

Ready to rejoin this thing called LIFE

When the doctor told me to take the summer off, I did exactly that – no work, no side hustle, no summer sewing camps, no therapy dog visits – no nothing except travel, play with the dog and attend to some summer household chores. While bathing the dog this afternoon, I actually wished we had a CHOA visit scheduled for tomorrow.  My itch to stitch has also returned. I’ve been in my sewing room this evening trying out a darning foot on Crystal. She’s been overly fussy, so she’s going in timeout while I pull out Juliette.  Yep, after nearly 2-1/2 months, I’d say I’m ready to rejoin this thing called LIFE.

The first 3 days of teacher preplanning have been exciting. A new school year always brings the usual can of crazy, but not having to perform the first day of school at 8:00 a.m. (for specials classes) has removed much of the stress I encountered the past two school years. I’ve been able to actually do librarian stuff, which I have sorely missed. The teachers are so excited and some have already reached out to collaborate on lessons. My new parapro has come around to her new work assignment. I think I have figured out a way to divvy up the necessary tasks to make everyone happy!

So glad I already re-homed several sewing machines we used in sewing club.  Looks like sewing club will not be a reality this year.  A bit of a bummer, but it’s time to move in a different direction. This means I am going to re-home/dispose of at least 2 more sewing machines.  My goal is to have only 2 sewing machines (1 grant funded and one loaned) at school for Maker Space activities and uniform repairs.

Now back to experimenting with the new darning foot on Juliette!

Have a great week!


Here we go (again)!

Tonight marks the last night of summer vacation.  Bittersweet, as the summer flew by.

Tomorrow, teacher preplanning week begins (yet again) for another school year.  This year I actually get to flaunt my librarian hat. I’ll proudly wear my ILA Literacy t-shirt knowing that I WILL be able to put into motion the ideas I was unable to implement last year. I haven’t been this excited to start a new school year for some time!  It’s so nice.

I’m also slowly easing my way back into the sewing side of things. Purchased a Cricut Maker for the Maker Space at school (and home). I’ll be experimenting with a couple of smaller projects over the next few days before I try my hand at baby quilt.  🙂

Clothes are laid out, laptop tote and purse are by door. All I have to do is make lunch.

Now, to try and make this night owl get to bed before midnight!

Golden (Tumeric) Milk Recipe

This is my go-to version. Tumeric and cinnamon are reported to have anti-inflammatory properties.  These days, I’m all about reducing inflammation. Eczema-like flares on my arms and torso have been a constant since taking all those meds back in May for Bell’s Palsy.  Once the itching starts, it’s almost impossible to stop it without a Benadryl.  I cut my beloved Diet Coke completely out over a week ago. Definite improvement, but the dry-out stage for the dermatitis involves lots of scaling and that is REALLY itchy.

Recipe yields enough to fill a regular coffee mug.

1 c. milk of your choice (I use regular 2% milk, but use nondairy milk, if desired)
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
pinch of black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 tbsp maple syrup

Mix all ingredients in 1 quart saucepan.  Bring to a slow boil on medium heat.  Turn down lowest heat setting and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Pour into mug and enjoy.

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