Thursday, May 25, 2017

I'm Guilty of This, Are You?

I bought my Janome 8900QCP in January 2013 so I've had it four years. Since I went from a Janome 6600P to this version, I took the new sewing machine out of the box and pretty much started using it.


I upgraded my sewing machine because it was always my dream to sew on a TOL sewing machine. Now while I know other sewists prefer the older, vintage, or mechanical machines, I've been sewing since I was 11, and always on a cheaper, lower end machine. In the last decade, as my children got older, I was able to invest in a better sewing machine and serger.

Since I basically "knew" how to work my machine, I did not take the time to learn all of the machine's tricks. It is a TOL machine and has quite a few features. Lately, I've wanted to use some of the features that I was neglecting. This machine comes with 18 feet and the dealer threw in a teflon foot and extra bobbins...cause we always need extra bobbins!

My feet are:
  1. A Zigzag foot
  2. Rolled Hem foot
  3. Zipper foot
  4. Satin foot
  5. Open toe satin foot
  6. Blind hemming foot
  7. Overcast foot
  8. 1/4" seam foot
  9. Darning foot
  10. Convertible free motion quilting foot
  11. Close toe foot
  12. Open toe foot
  13. Clear view foot
  14. Automatic buttonhole foot with stabilizing plate
  15. Dual feed foot and holder
  16. Button Sewing foot
  17. Quilting guide bar
  18. Cloth guild
It has a knee lift and extra wide plastic table. There is also a straight throat plate and a zigzag throat plate.

Four years in, I've just started sewing buttons on using the button hole foot...probably because I normally sew on only a couple buttons, not 8, 10, 12 at a time. Now that I'm sewing more button downs and exploring shirtdresses this spring/summer, hand sewing on that many buttons is daunting.

The other thing I've recently started using is my straight stitch throat plate. No more lightweight fabrics getting caught in the wider opening. And my sewing machine is so calibrated that once you change stitch plates, the display on the side changes too.

My machine with the straight needle plate 

Side view showing info for straight stitching

Listing of stitches on sewing machine lid

Next up is putting my knee lift in and using it. I know, I know but I just didn't see the point of it when I first got the machine!

Which brings me to the Question of the Day.  Do you use ALL of the features on your sewing machine? Even middle of the line and lower range sewing machines have more features on them than they use to. So do you use them? If so, which features are your favorites? If not, why not?

This is the Question of the Day so talk back to me people!

Also, please note that I'm a guest blogger tomorrow on Fabric Mart's blog ~ "Fabric Mart Fabricistas!" I participated in their #sewcoolskirts challenge for May. So please hop on over and check out the blog post!

...as always more later!


54 comments:

  1. I always try to force myself to do learn the different feet when I have the need for them even though it takes longer to finish that one project, I figure it will save me time in the future. I can't believe you've never used the button foot! So much faster. I still can't say I use *all* the features because my machine has so many decorative stitches I have no use for. My machine is also on the low end. I used a friend's machine once with the knee lift and OMG it was fantastic! Get that going!

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  2. I have a TOL machine as well, and no, I don't use all of the features. Some I haven't found a use for because they are things which a quilter would use, and I don't quilt. But I've used the darning feature, for mending jeans. Haven't sewn buttons on with it yet....... that might be the next feature I investigate.

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  3. I went from a Janome MyExcel23X to a Janome Skyline S7. I think I over bought! I don't, as a rule, use decorative stitches. I don't sew anything groundbreaking. I was able to buy it at the time so I invested in it. I do like the knee lift, which will help later on if my arthritis continues to worsen. I called it future-proofing. (I still have the 23X, which could sew through almost anything. I'm keeping it.)

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  4. No. I don't even come close to using all of the features that my machine is capable of. My husband just surprised me and traded in my Bernini 740 for a Bernini 790. I wish that could have taken it out of the box and started seeing! I'm trying to get the instruction manual to download so I can figure out the bobbins!

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  5. I had a Singer Athena 2000 for 40 years. The electronic board started to go out, so my husband bought me a Singer XL 550, which sews and embroider. My family is a Singer family, I have my great grandmother's Singer, one of the first made. The same model is in the Smithsonian. Next is Grandma's, that traveled around Cape Horn from NY to California. She wrote about using it at sea to make warmer clothes for them. I still use this to do heavy sewing. Cast iron, and strong! Mom's is next, a beige cam driven. For each stitch, besides straight and zigzag zag, you put in a cam, and I still have them all. I still have my Athena out, but I do love my new one. Have I learned all of my new feet, well I have played. I use my cording foot a lot to zigzag zag over crochet thread, and pull up gathers. I love my multiple seam guide foot, and use that more than any other. I also like my foot that helps me use my fancy stitches and keep them even when I make a design. My great granddaughter loves the flower foot, she likes me to make flowers all over her night's. The only foot I don't use is the overcast foot, because my server is always set up with thread. I like my 5 pintuck foot better than the 7 or 9, unless I am sewing on heirloom voile. The elastic foot is fantastic, now with a lot of practice. I use it to make my own pantiesj, nothing like custom made to fit an older womans body! Also to make maternity ones for my granddaughters. Wow, I do think that I have used most of these besides when I made my sample sheet. I used a piece of cotton, and used each foot on it, and my embroidery machine to name it and number the square it is in. This is hanging by my sewing table, so I just look up, see wnhat I want and where that foot is in my goodie box. It also has all my decorative stitches and their number, so I just have to program my machine. Oh, my flat fell foot, use that on everything, yep, reading back over this I am not even close to covering the 45 or so feet that I have, so I guess I have to agree with my hubby, I have too many toys, but I will never let him know!

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  6. I don't use half the stitches on my machines. But I was glad to have a machine with stretch stitches when I was starting. I think my machines are fairly low end though; not computerised in any way!

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  7. I love to hear about other machines! I recently purchased the Bernina 570QE and I can't tell you the amount of pleasure I get fro this machine. I love everything about it but am just starting to spread my wings in terms of using some of its features. I especially love the seam fixing feature, how well the specials feet work, the perfect buttonholes and how intuitive the LCD display is. And yes, the button sew on foot is fantastic!

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  8. I use a lot of but not all if the features on my sewing machine. I love the knee lifter, use a straight foot plate and presser foot when needed etc. However, I am a long way away from using my overlocker to its best.

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  9. I've been wanting for a while to learn all the tricks my new Brother can do. Especially sewing on buttons as I've got a linen shirt dress up next. The problem is, if I've got time to be in my sewing room I want to sew!

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  10. I'm going to need another lifetime to explore all the features on my machine, but I try to crack open the manual at intervals and learn something new.

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    Replies
    1. ParisGirl,

      I use to say that all the time too but making these simple changes is giving me more time to sew!

      Delete
  11. Not even close! My machine is a sewing-embroidery combination and having owned this machine for 10 years (wow...it's been that long), I can count on one hand the number of times I've embroidered something - two of those times were the dealer showing me how to use it.

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  12. Quilting is most of my machine's work. Being the child of a Depression era Mom. I hate to waste anything.Those little scraps, when pieced together, make new recycled fabric :)The pieces are 6.5 inch squares. Since my Bernina Chicago, sewing/embroidery machine, has a lot of fancy stitches, I decided to make my squares look like crazy quilt squares with all of my fancy stitches.This is fun!!!

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  13. I have a Pfaff Tiptonic - one of those machines with a built in walking foot, which is fab.u.lous - that I have had since 2004. You can pick them up really cheaply now, well worth it. The only issue I've had with it is the reverse stitch, so I start and finish each seam with my triple straight stitch which I likely wouldn't use if the reverse stitch worked!

    I use about about a dozen stitches (of the 46) and at least half of these are for when I'm doing some embellishment work and want leaves or flowers. I rarely use the twin needle or any stitches associated with it. Of the feet, it came with about 10 including the auto buttonholer which I almost never use. I'd rather hook up my vintage Singer Featherweight and use a buttonholer from the '40's/'50's which is far superior. (Yep, I'm that person!) I don't mind sewing buttons on as I often sew two buttons at each location - one on the right side and one on the wrong side. I think it looks nicer and it is also stronger. Of the other feet, I use maybe 1 or 2 (regular foot for sure). I have then bought and regularly use an invisible zipper foot, 1/4" seam foot, edgestitching foot, another foot that has a quide that allows you to sew wider/narrower seams.

    In retrospect I would rather have had $200-$300 off the price of the machine and only had one or two feet, or would have preferred to have chosen 'X' feet to accompany my machine.

    Interesting post, thanks!

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  14. I have used a lot of the feet that came with my machine and bought a bunch more that I do use when I need them. Two of my favourites are the long line zipper foot and the Teflon foot. They are a dream to use. I have used some of the stitches on my machine but when I go through the screen there are so many I know I won't use. My machine has an embroidery component and I have used it a lot and made myself learn a lot of tricks to getting good placement on the items I have made. In all I am happy with my machine and how I use it.

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  15. I use most of the features on my machine -- it's fairly basic, and mechanical, not computerized.

    I hate and despise to sew on buttons with a machine. They don't stay on the garment as well as when I stitch them on by hand, with a properly wrapped thread shank. My husband has even asked me to secure buttons on brand-new dress shirts for him, since the buttons are hanging by a thread right off the shelf.

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  16. I have a lower end machine and think I push it to it's limits! LOL! This machine was an upgrade from my *very* beginner machine and I really appreciate things like needle up/down, auto buttonhole, and adjustable tension.

    I plan to buy a machine with more functionality in a few years. Like you, kids=expenses=no TOL machine happening over here any time soon!

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  17. For my anniversary this year my husband bought me the Elna Excellence 780 (an upgrade from my bought-used Elna 740 which I love) - this 780 is the sister twin to the Janome M9400 which I'd seen demonstrated at a Janome gathering last fall at our local store. There were features I never used on my 740 so I'm pretty confident I probably won't use all the features on this 780 either but that's okay - the features I do use I love and I think that's what counts. You don't really have to take advantage of all those features to get your money's worth - as long as it has all the ones you do find useful that's key. :)

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  18. In my opinion, the manual sucks. So every time I'm near a Pfaff dealer, I suck them dry. My favorites on this machine is the needle down button and the tie off and cut feature. I bought it for it's beautiful 9mm wide buttonhomw capability. Like you, I haven't used the knee lift but have been getting curiouser and curiouser.

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  19. I'm always interested to see how fancy the machines are that people buy - as I prefer a really simple machine. Perhaps because I learned to sew with no extras I just prefer my older Singer Slant Needle straight stitch machines. I would put that up against any machine for the beauty of the stitch. And the straight stitch throat plate is really helpful. The more modern machine are too "cluttered" to my eye, and the light seems harsh. All that being said I do have a fairly new machine I got at Costco, mostly because sewing students couldn't seem to get the hang of the older Singer where you have to turn the wheel in order to start the machine. That seems to flummox a lot of people (and makes me wonder if they can drive a manual transmission car to save their life, haha) but a BIG caveat in all this is that on the new machine it has the thread cut button and that feature is the one that I do adore! As for the various feet, I only use the standard foot, the regular zipper foot (for both invisible and regular zippers) and then once in a while I use the edge stitch foot and the gathering foot.

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  20. I used all of the feet I own in Bernina new owner orientation and Bernina club, but don't use them in my day to day sewing. Bernina calls my (2006) Aurora 440 an entry level machine but it's really a mid-line machine in most other brands.

    Maybe when my life is less crazy, I will have time to explore all the features. It was worth it to me just to have a machine that does the basics reliably. 10+ years of use w/ only 3 dealer routine servicing. I still have my Janome MC4000 and use it in LA.

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  21. Dream machine, one day, one day.

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  22. I'm an industrial machine convert so obviously I'm not much into all the fancy functions, but I do love the knee lift. Give it a go and I'm sure you'll get used/addicted to it in no time!!

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  23. I just came across a stitch I plan to use on a future project. I'm always dreaming about my dream machine (TOL) ... FIESTA :)

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  24. Not sure my machine would be considered TOL (HV Sapphire 850), but it does have a bunch of computerized bells and whistles. There are some features I use regularly like "fix" and "stop" which creates a little knot at the beginning and end of stitching. I also like setting it to always end with the needle down. I use a variety of stitches, but definitely nowhere close to the full 100+. I love that it has a bunch of different shaped button holes and I do sometimes use the button sewing function. Some of the feet I find helpful and others I forget what they are for.

    I also have my grandmother's old girl and she sews beautifully. If I really want beautiful top stitching that is the machine to use. But for day to day sewing, nothing beats my modern machine for ease of use.

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    Replies
    1. Clio, I also have a Sapphire. It is a TOL for their non-embroidery machines. I thought it was much more reasonably priced and had lots of useful features.

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  25. I just bought a Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2 and have my old Pfaff tiptronic that I love, but it was starting to make some very funny noises and the store was clearing out the Quilt Expression at a very good price, so I upgraded and bought way more machine than I need, but I will use it and learn to love it...I love the extra large throat on the new machine, but I wish I could have just bought a simple Pfaff with a bigger throat..no such luck, no such creature. I have tried a bunch of the decorative stitches while making tote bags and mug rugs, and then it started acting funny so now it is back in the shop and hopefully the issue will be resolved. Now, to answer the original question about the feet, I only use a few, but occasionally experiment with the machine, when I can't decide what I want to make next and I want to play in my sewing room. Love your blog, keep on sharing...

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  26. I used Elna and Viking in the past but when I got my first Bernina, there is no turning back. Yes, I use all its features and it is sheer delight to use it for bias binding or using its series of hemmer feet, or the circular sewing that it has. It is pricey but the amount of pleasure I have in doing all the things I want to do, is really worth the price. I like to do a lot of embellishments, doing pintucks just to add something different from the usual look and style of garment that I like to make. Did I mention embroidery? It does that too. And of course the built in decorative stitches let me play around and add a little more to a shirt dress or just a plain t-shirt. For my purposes and for my goals in sewing, I got the machine I need.

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  27. I definitely don't use all the features of my Bernina 430. It did come with two lessons on the features, which was really helpful. So I did learn to use it's features, it's just like a lot of people already commented, when do you use the decorative stitches?
    I do like the knee lift, and the buttonhole feet, some of the feet are not on heavy rotation, but do serve their purpose at times. Thinking of it, the feet are used, it's more the stitches and the more computerised parts that I don't need.

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  28. I got a new mid-line machine a few months ago and am still learning what she can do. She came with lots of feet and I love playing with them and learning different uses for them. The knee-lift and I don't get along as well. I'm just not co-ordinated enough I guess. The thread cutter has me thoroughly spoiled; it's a must have now.

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  29. I have a Janome 4800 that I bought new quite a few years ago. I probably don't use all of the features, but occasionally I do use different feet and some of the decorative stitches. I also made a stitch bible and keep it in my sewing room. I took a piece of summer weight wool pant fabric and fused some knit fusible interfacing on it and used polyester embroidery thread. It is useful from time to time and reminds me of what the stitches will do.

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    Replies
    1. I use to say I would make one of those stitch bibles but faced with the choice of sewing me a new dress or stitching out all the stitches, new dress won every time!

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    2. I wanted to stitch everything out but didn't want to have it "wasted". So I did my stitch directory in denim thread down the back panel of my jeans jacket. Now I can wear my stitches and people think I have expensive designs on my jacket.

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  30. I became a Bernina girl in 2007 & now have 3. I'm retired & lucky that I can take classes at my soooooooo supportive dealer!!!! Taking classes always teaches me a new trick with my machine . I'm working very hard to get back into garment sewing instead of sew much craft sewing . So for me the bells & whistles have been great .
    Love these questions of the day & reading everyone's responses

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  31. I have a pfaff and ❤️ ❤️ my in built walking foot. It also has things like a button for the needle to always finish down which is actually handy. The machine also warns me when the bobbin thread is low. I do use a few feet like the rolled hem and blind hem. I experiment sometimes with the embroidery stitches and have done embroidery attaching the computer . I haven't utilised enough of the machine though like the multiple buttonhole choices. A good reminder to experiment more with our machines. Thanks Carolyn.

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  32. I also bought a Janine 8900 (partly because my local Janine dealer is awesome, partly because an independent repair person recommended the brand, and partly because of your original review. Oh and a great sale price. Let's not forget the sale which made it affordable). Anyway, I feel like I don't use all the features of the machine, but looking back on it, I think I've at least played with a lot of them. I'm sure Ives used every foot I own (except the quilting feet) at least once, I've had the knee lift in since I bought it, and I've tried lots of new techniques with it (sewing on buttons, darning, etc.). Must say I really love this machine! I think partially because I consider myself a newer sewer (I guess I'm not, really, but, kind of), so I am constantly trying to learn new things, and that includes new machine techniques. The other thing that has really helped me is that when I first bought a Janome machine, I got the Foot Book app for the iPhone - it has video tutorials and stitch setting suggestions for ALL the Janome feet! It's amazing because if I want to see how to do something I open the app, watch a 2 minute video, and I'm good to go.

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    Replies
    1. Janome 8900 Dan you autocorrect!

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    2. That app sounds interesting. Do you have an android or an iPhone? And it's called the Foot Book App? I think I need to investigate this!

      Delete
  33. I definitely use my accessories and TOL extras. Now keep in mind this was TOL around 1992 or so. Do you have an edge stitching foot, Carolyn? Perhaps it is called something else by Janome. I use mine CONSTANTLY, with every single item I make. Stitch in the ditch, topstitch, just for general stitching accuracy and I would be lost without it. I also use my pintuck feet a lot. I like them for putting in invisible zips and all the piping I use. I make my own tiny piping for most things and the #5 pintuck foot is just right. So those are the two feet I use the most. I also utilize a lot of the stitches. I love the hemstitch and pinstitch functions. They can really add some pizazz to a blouse of natural fibers. I am pre knee lift but I sure wish I could have a knee pedal. That is the only thing I would have to improve my machine. I have no desire to upgrade as it really does all I need. I do guess we don't know what we need when we don't have it. Love this post!

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  34. Because I do home dec and alterations, I use more of my feet. But I certainly don't use all of them. My dealer had a series of classes to get you to use all the feet and features on your machine, showing you the possibilities. I took 3 of them and loved it. I used parts of my machine I had never used before. And I saw what it could really do. Then Viking closed the dealer. Why don't machine manufacturers do this online? I would pay a small fee to see a class and do the project.

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    Replies
    1. Have you looked on YouTube? I know bernina has lots of tutorials on their channel. Might be something you should look into?

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    2. So far, I think Viking just has pdfs of projects. But I will check. I would love a online class where I can watch them actually using the feet.

      Delete
  35. I got a TOL BABYLOCK Crescendo last year. I love their version of the walking foot and I really love the pivot feature, where it puts the needle down and lifts the presser foot every time you pause, if you want it to.

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  36. I recently upgraded to a Bernina TOL and I love my build in walking foot/dual feed the most. My machine came with a generous set of feet, but purchased the jeans, edge and invisible feet. I have a consultant on my machine. I love that I can select the fabric type and she gives me the foot, needle size, stitch and tension. Then she adjusts the machine accordingly. I just love that. There is a lot I can do with my machine and I plan to explore it all.

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  37. Help me people, what does TOL stand for? I can usually figure such things out, but not this time.
    I have five sewing/embroidery machines and sergers. I am always pulling out my manual trying to teach myself something new on them.

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    Replies
    1. TOL means Top of the Line. Just a tip, when I don't know what a set of letters mean, I google them. I usually get the answer that way.

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    2. Ahh, I've been twice educated. Thank you Carolyn!

      Delete
  38. I have the Janome 9500, sewing/embroidery. I've had it for quite some time, and I hardly ever use the embroidery part. Now presser feet, I utilize them all! 😀. Decorative stitches, I haven't used at all. I do know in the future, my next machine must have a auto thread cutter! I miss that feature from one of my Brother machines!

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  39. These comments have been a great read, and I thank you all. I invested in a Bernina in 1999 or so, and while it's never going to match my love for my old Elna (tiniest free arm in the universe), somehow I have acquired all the feet for it (including a couple blind hem feet. ?? How??). I finally got a walking foot for it (in a succession of complicated trades) which I should use more often for the effort I put into getting it.
    I confess: I gave Heather Lou of Closet Case my knee lift. It just never clicked with me, and things should go where they need to be.

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  40. I got a Pfaff Expression 2 in 2009. Love the machine, good stitch, loads of needles positions and a few buttonholes. Regrettably I only use about five stitches but I wouldn't part with it. The machine before was a Janome 7000, which I sold still working. Again I only used about three or four stitches and the buttonholes.

    Might be over the top for using few stitches but I don't care, the luxury of having them just in case along with a perfect machine that just works, far outweighs the extra cost. I also have small Bernina that does just seven stitches, lovely to use but no automatic buttonhole!

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  41. This may sound silly but I love my automatic thread cutter!

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  42. My absolute favorite two features are the presser foot knee lift and the automatic thread cutter. I use both EVERY SINGLE time I turn on my machine.

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