I've been ogling the It's A Cinch Tote from the moment Lisa walked into the office with it, so I was super excited to get started with this project. My old sewing machine had seen me through my A levels and uni days, and would have withered at the sight of the layers involved in this bag, so I had high hopes for the CXL301.
First off, a small but significant feature for me is the 'Start/Stop' button on the machine. This button allows you to sew without the need for a foot pedal. Er, what!? Crazy talk I thought to myself upon discovering it, and yet just a few projects later I am a convert. I'll admit that for a good while to start with I was still subconsciously tapping my foot on an invisible pedal, but now that I'm used to it I think it's great. Combined with the adjustable speed setting (Are you a tortoise or a hare!?) I found this a really easy way to sew and be able to concentrate 100% on what was in front of me. Oh, and not have to worry about a naughty foot cramp setting the pedal off...or more likely a cheeky cat!
So, with my fabric all cut and ready to go, I set to work. Working on the It's A Cinch Tote provided me with enough challenges for the machine - namely inserting zips and working with tons of layers. No matter what sewing machine you're using I would recommend a Walking Foot without a doubt. This guy makes sewing through layers a breeze and I wouldn't be without it now.
The extension table also detaches for free arm sewing which means that this machine is not only a great all round crafters machine, but will also be great for dressmaking - yay!
The CXL301 handles beautifully, and I instantly felt at ease using it. I'd always been a little wary of digital sewing machines, but my use of this machine so far has changed my mind. It's a breeze to change the settings to your needs, and there are tons of stitches to experiment with - I think you can even program two to work together and create a unique stitch which is something I can't wait to try.
The stitches and feet are labelled which makes life easier, and there are 5 different types of buttonhole which are satisfyingly easy to whip up with the buttonhole foot. I was so excited by this machine that I sat down and read the entire instruction booklet front to back, and it's full of helpful and easy to read instructions and tips to help you make the most of what the machine has to offer.
Corrr, look at those layers! I actually stepped away from the sewing machine with nothing but these corners of the bag to sew as I was slightly nervous, but I needn't have worried! Set the speed down to tortoise, use as many Wonder Clips as possible, and it'll all be fine - this sewing machine can hold its own!
With a few projects now under its belt, the Janome CXL301 has firmly found a place on the U-Handbag love list. We were looking for a sewing machine that is not too high tech, but also offers more than a beginners machine would, and we definitely think that this fits the bill.
P.s. One of my favourite parts of working at U-Handbag is seeing all of the amazing makes that you guys create - it really is awe-inspiring! The colour blocking on this bag was inspired by Stitching & Bacon whose bag is simply gorgeous, so if you fancy mixing up your It's A Cinch Tote, check out her modifications!