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Babylock Jane, Model BL500A

Babylock 'Jane' Model BL500A

Babylock 'Jane' Model BL500A

The Babylock "Jane" is the renamed "Quilters Choice Professional". It appears to be a very strong heavy duty machine. It has a large "harp" or "throat" in which to roll up the quilt. One person says that she is able to stitch in the ditch without using a walking foot due to the machine's ability to lessen the foot pressure.


This machine is new to me so I have not actually quilted on it. I'd like to know your opinions.

Reply

I, too, have never actually quilted on this machine, so I needed to do a bit of research. Here is what I found...

This is a straight stitch sewing machine that can stitch at up to 1,500 stitches/minute with stitch lengths from 0.0mm to 7.0 mm.

Typically, sewing machines intended for use on a quilting frame include the stitching speed. If you are planning to use this machine on such a frame, the larger harp should come in handy for rolling the quilt sandwich. The bobbin case is on the side, which when the quilt is mounted on a frame, means the case is accessible from the front. Handy!

This machine includes the following features:
  • Precision Pin Feed System
  • Needle threader
  • Needle Up/Down
  • Thread cutter
  • Needle thread tension adjustment dial
  • Presser foot pressure adjustment
  • Adjustable feed dogs; four different heights
  • Hand-free presser foot lift (detachable)
  • Telescoping thread stand to accomodate cones

According to the Babylock website (www.babylock.com) the 'Jane' comes with 8 presser feet:
  • Flex-reaction for sewing on difficult fabrics
  • Free-motion Quilting: It has the offset shank that I prefer for free motion quilting. Good!
  • General Purpose
  • Invisible Zipper
  • Quarter Inch
  • Rolled Hem
  • Walking Foot
  • Zipper Foot

Note, the company DOES include a walking foot, as well as a quilting extension table (shown in the picture above).

Will you need a walking foot for ditch quilting with the 'Jane'?

I'm going to say 'Yes'.

A walking foot adds a set of feed dogs to the top of your quilt sandwich to help move the layers evenly through your sewing machine while stitching.

If your only adjustment is to reduce the presser foot pressure, there is no extra set of feed dogs on the top of your quilt sandwich. You may be able to ditch quilt without the walking foot on some quilts with no problem.

However, I believe there will be times when that extra set of feed dogs will be crucial to the quality of your quilting stitch, particularly quilts with "lumpy" seam joins...think flannel quilts, pinwheels and mariner's compass. Either the fabric is especially thick or there are many, many seams meetings at a point.

The Viking I quilt with has a Sensor Foot--meaning the machine automatically adjusts for the fabric thickness. Even with this feature, if I'm going to be ditch quilting, I use my walking foot.

In Babylock's instructions for installing the walking foot, they specifically state "...Do not use the Pin Feed mode with the walking foot...", as well as, remembering to stitch slower and possibly reduce the presser foot pressure.

In your case, since the walking foot appears to be included with the sewing machine, I'd use it regardless. Better safe than sorry. I hate to rip out quilting, don't you?

The feature that I'd miss most...

...is speed control.

Now I quilt in a sewing machine table and not on a frame, but I always use the speed control for quilting, both with my walking foot and for free motion. By limiting the maximum speed my sewing machine stitches, I feel I have more control and less ripping out. Furthermore, I use different speeds for different types of quilting...usually stitching the slowest when following a draw line for our 'Generations' feather quilting patterns.

Your need for speed control may be different when quilting on a frame.

My best advice...

...is to try out the machine before you buy.

Take samples of the kind of quilting you like to do to the dealer, and sit down and work for awhile. Your own personal preferences will ultimately decide which machine is best for you!

Thank you for your question!

Readers, if you've used either the Babylock Jane or it's predecessor, the Babylock Quilters Choice Professional, please add your experiences via the "Comment" link below.

Piecefully,

Julie Baird
Editor

Comments for Babylock Jane, Model BL500A

Click here to add your own comments

Nov 22, 2016
babylock jane
by: judy

just bought a "jane"!! I'm so excited to start, the dealer is 45 min. away-not bad. so, I'll use them; Seams Sew Easy in Fairfield, Oh. very helpful, and knew what I needed. since I already have a Viking 1+.....so, here I go this winter!!

the reviews are great so far, I may put a little block of some kind in the foot pedal as suggested.

thank you!! judy Kettering, Ohio

Jun 30, 2016
Quilting with Jane
by: Bill Boyd

I have used a Jane for free-motion, thread sketching and thread painting as well as in-the-ditch (on one occasion).

The deep throat is indeed helpful for rolling up the sandwich. It is a comfortable and friendly machine once you get your rhythm.

I used a home-made block on my foot pedal to keep from jumping to some outrageous speed resulting in tiny stitches. There is currently no stitch regulator to work with it, and I had some trouble finding special feet.

The free-motion foot leaves a lot to be desired as it is covered with clear plastic, with a hole only large enough for the needle and closed. I prefer an open foot.

I appreciated my Jane while I was using it, but there are better choices.

Jul 08, 2014
thick sewing
by: Cheryl

Looking for a machine to sew through 2-3 layers of thick felted wool. After making 400 pairs of mittens on my every day machine it has kicked the bucket. I was looking at the Babylock.

Any advise for me?

Aug 18, 2013
Liking my Jane...
by: Anonymous

I just purchased the Jane... and I don't know why I took so long to do this. Love it! Great Stitches... Great feed... lots of versitility with the feed dogs.

This machine is awesome.

I move my old work horse (Bernina 1230) to the shelf. And now the Jane has found a spot in my sewing room. The Jane is new for me but ... Definitely loving it!!!

Rochelle

Jul 08, 2013
Babylock Jane
by: Miss Barkey

I have had the Jane going on a year now and really like it. It has all the features I need.

I read in one review that it did not have needle down, however, mine has that feature. On the Jane it is called Needle Stop button located on the front of the machine. I would not have purchased the machine had it not had this feature.

It is a fast machine, but the foot pedal is easy to control.

I love, love the huge amount of thread the bobbins hold. So much more convenient not having to change bobbins so frequently.

It has four feed dog settings, something I had never seen before. I'm not sure what the pin setting does though. I need education in that area.

No computer with this baby, but don't miss it.

The only major complaint I have is the free-motion foot. It is very difficult to bring the bobbin thread to the top because the foot prevents easy maneuver of the thread. I wish Babylock would develop another foot to make it easier.

To sum it up, this is a great deal of machine for the price.

No regrets with this purchase!

Apr 10, 2013
Baby Lock Jane
by: Terry

I am thinking of purchasing a Baby Lock Jane, is there anything I should be aware of as to how the machine stitches, I am a new quilter but have sewn for years. Thanks for any information on this machine.

Apr 18, 2012
I love my Babylock Jane
by: Anonymous

Like the previous post, I also had a problem with thread tension in the very beginning, was constantly having to adjust the bobbin tension between straight stitching and FMQ and wasted a lot of time getting ready for the next step. But for some reason it managed to smooth itself out in a short while (or I found the magic spot), and I haven't had to touch the bobbin tension again.

Jane is a workhorse pure and simple, very dependable. Being mechanical, there won't ever be a computer to go out. The dealer said he never gets Janes back for repair, that there's really nothing to break down, and that about the only thing he's ever had to do was replace a tiny spring in front of the bobbin area.

It runs really quiet unless you go super fast, and the foot pedal does let you go super slow with no problem.

I don't ever use the walking foot for my ditch-stitching, instead I use the pin feed setting on the feed dogs and the lightest pressure setting. It has four feed dog settings - full, medium, drop, and pin-feed. I use medium for all piecing.

My favorite foot for piecing is the standard quilting foot that has a wide back and narrow left toe, I seem to have better control. With the super-narrow straight stitch foot, I find myself wavering back and forth from the edge of the fabric, maybe because I try to go too fast--haha. But it's my favorite for ditch-stitching because the needle is in the exact center and you can line up the inside edges of the toes on either side of a seam.

The large work area is wonderful, the extension table sturdy and solid. You will get spoiled really quick with the automatic thread cutter and knee lifter.

I know you aren't supposed to backstitch on a quilt (quilt police) but everything I make is for everyday use, and recipients won't care :o) I use the reverse button to backstitch a couple at the beginning of a quilting seam and the same at the end, and the thread cutter allows me to reposition to start another seam without having to reach underneath and clip the bobbin thread. And the knee lifter lets me keep going from one seam to the next without having to raise the presser foot.

I like to outline stitch so that's a zillion stops and starts. It's still hard to understand how it can start a new seam without having to pull back thread tails but you can't even see the bobbin thread.

The only thing I would wish for is needle-down, it only has needle-up and random.

I bought Jane on a whim, but have gotten so used to using it I don't think I could give it up even for a fancier machine like the Horizon.

Apr 17, 2012
Babylock Jane Model BL500A
by: Dawn Tonioli

i HAVE HAD MY "JANE" for a year now...I absolutely love it..I do a lot of free motion quilting and it is wonderful for that. All that space and the options that it offers are super. I hardly use my Bernina or Singer anymore unless I am looking for decorative stitches...I have friends that have used it wanting a key to my sewing room ....

Mar 28, 2012
Jane Feedback
by: John Loomis

I have recently purchased the Babylock Jane sewing machine as a replacement for my old Singer 247.

It is an incredible machine to sew with and 1/4 inch seams are effortless. As for speed control the foot pedal is VERY forgiving and I find that I have all the speed control that I need without having a speed limiting feature. It did take me a while to get the thread tensions equal and the correct foot pressure for my current project, but that is probably the result of having a machine that is more versatile than my old.

A very satisfactory purchase, and one that I do not regret making.

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