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I will start with the advantages of this product.
the machine, and the case it comes in, is small and concise, therefore it doesn't take up to much room, and is easily transported.
It is incredibly easy to set up, to thread the spool and to change the stitch settings.
The results are incredibly neat and professional looking. I am fairly new to sewing but managed to get results that looked almost as good as my mum's who is a professional seamtress.
However, this sewing machine is not ideal for beginers, and you must have an awful lot of patience.
The instructions that this machine came with were incredibly vague and may as well have been written in Chinese.
The pedal can be very temperamental; only a slight shift in pressure can make a huge difference in speed.
I am no sure if there was a problem with my machine or the model in general, but I always feel like my material is being pulled strongly to the right.
Also the spool needs threading everytime you change direction which gets very annoying. I have never had a machine that was this sensitive before.
However, all in all for the price, this isn't a bad machine. But if you can afford a little more, then go for something else.
I purchased the Janome 525S two years ago on the recommendation of my local independent sewing machine shop. Given the resurgence in crafting through programmes, magazines and the internet in recent years, I was full of enthusiasm for adding machine sewing to my craft repertoire. A second baby later and the subsequent loss of any spare time I might once have had, my sewing machine spends most of its life languishing in a cupboard, neglected and underutilised but I am very hopeful that this is the year that it is put to work in earnest.
What Do You Get?
The Janome 525S has previously been voted a 'Best Buy' by Which? in 2009 and I can see why it received that accolade. It is a lightweight (6.8kg) machine with a top loading bobbin system (i.e. the bobbin is inserted into a small compartment beneath the needle and presser foot, rather than into a compartment on the front of the machine) and is quickly convertible to free-arm use for easy sewing of cuffs, hems etc. by removing the extension table. The bobbin winder has an 'auto-declutch' feature which is simply a fancy way of saying that if you want to fully load the bobbin with a new thread, set the bobbin wind up, depress the foot controller and the machine will automatically stop winding the bobbin when it is full.
Along with the machine comes a hard plastic cover, which simply slides over the top for protection and storage, a two speed foot controller and a good set of standard accessories, which are sufficient to start with, but to which a more experienced seamstress will need to add. The supplied accessories can be stored in a handy compartment in the base of the machines extension table.
The accessories are:
- 6 presser feet (standard foot, zipper foot, automatic buttonhole foot, blind hem stitch foot, buttonhole foot and overcasting foot)
- a set of 6 needles (1 in the machine, plus 4 spare universal needles and a blue tipped needle for lighter fabrics in a little case)
- 4 spare clear plastic bobbins
- a seam ripper
- a quilting guide
- spare spool pin plus felt cushion for winding a bobbin without unthreading the machine
- large & small spool caps to hold the thread in place on the spool
- basic maintenance items (screwdriver, lint brush)
Add some threads, material, a good pair of scissors, some idea of what you want to make and you are good to start using it!
Before purchasing my machine, I had not touched a sewing machine since Textiles class in school (some 20 years ago). The Janome 525S comes with a good, clear and concise set of instructions for getting started, i.e. identifying the various parts are, how to thread it up, the basic stitching techniques and use of the various additional feet. I was able to get the machine out of the box, threaded up and practising some basic stitches in under 20 minutes.
The machine offers a fantastic number of different stitch options - 24 in all, of which I have currently tried possibly 7/8 either in a project or just on practise fabric. Both the length and width of the stiches can be adjusted independently of each other. The stitch selection and any length adjustment can be made by using the two large, clearly marked knobs on the front right of the machine. The stitch width is adjusted via a clearly marked dial on the right-hand side of the top of the machine. There is a separate dial for making any tension adjustments, which is located on the front left-hand side by the thread take-up mechanism to avoid any confusion.
Threading the machine is easy - there is a built-in needle threader, but I found it quicker to do it manually. The bobbin wind is fast (if occasionally a little uneven), and as mentioned previously the extension table can be quickly removed for free arm use (good for circular sewing, e.g. cuffs and hems, or any project where there maybe bunches of material to manipulate). Switching between presser feet is very easy, simply press a lever and the current foot drops off and the new foot can be clicked into place. Reverse stitching is controlled via the reverse stich lever on the front of the machine - this is one thing that I felt was slightly awkwardly located and it may feel more natural for this lever to be on the right side of the machine below the handwheel.
For anyone planning a project requiring buttonholes, the 525S has a fully automatic buttonhole capability, as well as the ability to sew a buttonhole manually. For the more advanced sewer there is the ability to drop the feed dog via one easy step (this simply means the teeth that work to pass the material under the presser foot and needle in a normal sewing action are disengaged), so the machine is capable of being used for both freehand embroidery and free motion quilting projects.
The foot control is a good size and easy to use, but has, in my view a relatively short power cord. This is not a problem if you are able to site the machine easily near a power socket, but if, like me, you are restricted to the kitchen table some distance from a handy socket you might need to use a short extension lead for additional reach.
The machine is sufficiently heavy that it does not move around during use yet is light enough to be easily portable, the light is nice and bright and the needle is easy to change when it inevitably breaks
Whilst I haven't explored every feature offered by the Janome 525S yet, I have been impressed with everything that I have tried to date. Although not as quiet and fast as the top end professional models, the 525S has plenty of good features, is easy to use and has plenty to recommend it. Any semi-professional or heavy user would probably find this not suited to their needs, but it is a good mid-price, reliable machine for hobby sewers. There are enough features and functions to satisfy an experienced user, yet the ease of use means that even a sewing machine novice should be using this machine confidently in a very short period of time.
Short name: Janome 525S