Perhaps MODIFYING would be a better term to use instead. 🙂
Why did I want to hack my sewing machine in the first place? Because I wasn’t getting an accurate scant 1/4″ seam with the zigzag plate – even with the walking foot and 1/4″ sole. To me, the straight stitch plate offers greater accuracy with piecing, so I searched for a solution.
ISSUE #1: Cannot adjust needle position for a scant 1/4″ when the straight stitch plate is installed.
HACK: Switch out the sensor on the back of the zigzag plate with the one on the straight stitch plate. Turn both needle plates over. See the white plastic thingie in the lower right corner of the photo? That’s the sensor that tells the computer which plate you have installed. If you unscrew the sensors and switch them correctly, your machine will think you have the zigzag plate installed when you really have the straight stitch plate on. Take a photo with your phone before removing them so you can remember which way to reinstall them later.
I could now adjust for my scant 1/4″ seam, but I still couldn’t use the walking foot with the 1/4″ sole because I didn’t have a hole in the needle plate to accommodate the “right needle” position that stitch D95 requires…
ISSUE #2: Lack of a 3 hole straight stitch needle plate for the base model 8900 so you can’t use the walking foot and stitch D95 on your “modified” straight stitch plate.
HACK: Order a modified plate from a sewing machine dealer who specializes in modifying needle plates for this very reason (several were recommended on the Janome 7700/8900 Yahoo Group). I contacted one dealer who informed me the plates he needed to make the modifications to were backordered. OR here’s my DIY solution:Take a 3/32″ high speed metal drill bit and drill yourself a hole on your existing straight stitch needle plate (or have hubby do it for you). You will also want to pick up some crocus cloth or super fine grit metal polishing sandpaper at the hardware store, if you don’t already have this on hand. That will smooth any rough edges on the underside of the needle plate. I can now get a perfect scant 1/4″ seam using my modified needle plate, walking foot with 1/4″ sole, with stitch D95 and an 8.8 stitch width. Sure, the front of the needle plate is a little scuffed from the drill, but it doesn’t affect usability. When you go to sell/trade the machine, you can pick up a new needle plate for $50.00 or less.
Before Christmas, a coworker asked me to finish a Grandmother’s Flower Garden Quilt that had been quilted at least three decades earlier, but had never been bound because the family didn’t know how to handle the hexie edges of the quilt. I was handed a rolled up quilt sandwich exactly as it was taken from the quilt rack or when it left the quilter ages ago. Neither the backing, nor the batting had been trimmed away. The story goes that the quilt top was a wedding gift to the current owner’s great grandmother. The quilt was quilted at a later date and stored away. The current owner remembers the bundle sitting on a shelf in the closet when she was a small child (owner is now in her 30’s). My AQS fabric dating books pegged the majority of the fabrics to be 1930’s-1940’s with a few from the 50-60’s perhaps. After binding the quilt, I have a strong suspicion that at least two different people made the blocks for the quilt. The “curves” of the quilt are noticeably deeper in some places than others.
Here’s a picture of the back with the finished facing:
My first task was to figure out how to bind the darned thing. I took it to a quilt guild meeting to garner the collective wisdom of those much more experienced than me. A quilt appraiser happened to be there that evening and STRONGLY urged me to maintain the integrity of the quilt, including leaving the stains and the hexie edges (if at all possible) since the quilt was in such good shape.
This meant doing a traditional bias binding on the edges, a facing or a knife edge finish.
The next option was to “round” the hexie edges on the inner curves and do a pseudo scallop binding.
The least desirable option was to trim whack the quilt to a rectangular shape and bind the edges the usual way.
I tried the traditional bias binding with inner and outer mitered corners. I dutifully cut the binding on the bias at 2″. I machine stitched and took that out. I hand stitched. It looked like $%^ awful. A quilting board suggested using this video as a guide to make a facing for the quilt. Thank goodness for YouTube. This is the method I used. I won’t kid you in that it was as tedious as all get out to pivot & turn every 1-1/2″ but I think the results were well worth it. It is simply a wider traditional French fold binding. You measure the depth from the outermost point to the innermost curve. Add 1-2″ to this measurement plus desired seam allowances. Double this measurement. Cut strips this width and prepare just as you would traditional 2-1/2″ binding strips. My strips were cut 8 1/2″ wide and folded in half. I sewed the wider strip exactly as I would a traditional binding strip, following the edges of the hexagons. I did not miter the corners the traditional way. I did a version of a mitered border (looks like a picture frame with 45 degree angles in the orders). Snip, trim, fold and poke out. Press lightly along the edge. Stitch by hand. The picture below shows the stitching process. It looks weird, yet you line up the raw edges with the outermost points and pin securely. Then stitch 1/4″ away from the raw edge of the quilt. I had to watch the video 3x before I finally understood. It does work and my friend was so happy to finally have her family heirloom in a usable condition.