::: The Back Story :::
Sewing and sewing machines have been a feature in my life since I was 11 years old. At times my life and sleep revolves around my sewing for days and weeks on end, other times a year (or more, sadly) goes by before my sewing machine sees light of day.
I have used and owned several different brands in my life. The first machines I used regularly were my mother's 1960s Singer and her early 1980s Bernina. Currently I have a mid-level Janome in the UK and a basic function Singer in the USA.
Side note: the word "Janome" is Japanese for "eye of the snake", a reference to the appearance of the round metal bobbin that this company was the first to use commercially.
While I love to sew, I am certainly no expert. I create clothes for myself from commercial patterns, and soft furnishings such as curtains and London blinds for our home. It's probable that nearly all sewing machines would be capable of doing this, but this machine has a heavy-duty engine suitable for use in quilt making.
::: This Product :::
I decided to celebrate returning to work after maternity leave by buying a new sewing machine. I chose this particular Janome model for several reasons, and have found it to be easy to use and reliable; it has never given me reason to doubt it in the three years I've owned it.
Specific features of this Janome sewing machine include:
* A computerized visual display screen
* Stitch varieties - there are 60 stitch types.....I wish I had time to sample them all.
* Threading and bobbin winding is very easy and intuitive. I love the automatic needle threader!
* Feed dogs: there are seven, ensuring that the user has good control of the fabric when feeding it.
Modern day machines are so much lighter than the old style. This portability is important for me, as I love to have sewing bees with my friends at their houses when time allows. The machine's supplied hardcover is helpful in this regard.
In use, the machine does sometimes seem to slowly relocate itself, which is something my mother's heavy machines never did. However I only guess at the reason why this happens (ie due to being lightweight) and I could be completely wrong.
In use, this machine emits a mild "humming" sound. The built-in light works well and doesn't seem to get too hot. However I am quite particular about the levels of light in which I sew, so I always also have a desk lamp in use to provide additional lighting.
I am very happy with this machine. I am hoping to get many years' use out of it, and at some stage in the near future I may finally get to use it for quilting.
Finally, for all you true sewists out there, may I take this opportunity to share one of my favourite past-times. When in a foreign country, and particularly one in which little English is spoken, I really enjoy exploring the local fabric purveyors. One that I can definitely recommend is La Montana De Telas Y Retazos (Mountain of Fabric) in Ensenada, Mexico where my sister and I spent almost three hours and not very much money for a bin bag filled with a wide variety of fabrics including silk, taffeta and cotton.
::: Recommended? :::
Currently available for £399 on Amazon, I highly recommend this machine.
*** NB I was forced to include the performance data - please ignore that relating to battery life.
I was looking for a new machine for some time and did some research online before attending a sewing show at the NEC. I had narrowed it down to a Janome model.
This model has everything a beginner or experienced sewer needs.
It has 60 different stitch options, zig zags, flowers, stars, simple running stitch. There really are a great range of different choices. It is easy to select which one you want from the computerised panel.
With my previous sewing machine, I had real problems wth the bobbin jamming, this machine has a
Jam proof, top loading bobbin system which is fantastic and I haven't had any problems with it jamming atall.
It is a lightweight machine with a handle and a hard case, so is easily portable if you want to take to sewing classes etc.
It has a foot control, or you can control with a switch on the actual machine. The light is bright and means you can easily see what you are doing.
It is easy to load the thread and thread the needle with the automatic threader.
I purchased an add on quilting pack which gives you a separate foot so you can quilt in the ditch and a table section you can slot on to give a bigger surface for sewing large items such as patchwork quilts.
You can also do free arm sewing, free motion quilting. I wanted to make some poppy tree free type pictures and cards and have been able to achieve this with relative ease, as the machine is so simple to use.
Janome are also really helpful with after sales service or even queries about how to use or do something.
I would highly recommend this machine and have done to several friends who have purchased.
I do a lot of sewing, and love sewing machines. I must say the newer machines like this are easier to lift than my hefty metal Berninas of yesterday.
However, Janome will never sew like a Bernina, it is like comparing a Longines with a Seiko.
This machine is nice and easy to use, with plenty of features. I did not find the buttonhole produced a very close bead and it was a little narrow and difficult to snip through.
I also found the machine sewed quite slowly, but then I am used to near-industrial machines.
Most importantly, does the machine sew through a bump when it reaches a triple seam? Mmmm almost, with a little help.
I would say, this is a good value for money machine, with lots to recommend it, mostly ease of use.
The motor is pleasantly quiet and threading up was a cinch. Bobbin winding was a little uneven.
This would be ideal for a proficent sewer or a newbie, it's great for the money.
Having recently rediscovered the pleasure of sewing (especially patchwork and quilting) I also discovered that my twenty year old machine was no longer able to keep up with the pace.
It took a little umming and ahhing but I eventually decided to replace my old faithful machine with a Janome DXL 603, a machine that I had been using a my local sewing classes. These machines appear to be widely available both online and in local sewing shops.
The first thing I noticed about the machine was that it was noticeably lighter than my previous machine, not as painful to carry back and forth to classes. The machine has a hard plastic case and looks squat but well built. One of the websites I'd researched it on said it had a metal body but this is not the case the machine body is predominatly plastic - it wouldn't be light otherwise. There is a minor downside to this lightness, the machine can wander across the table when sewing if you give it a nudge, there's not quite enough weight in the machine to make the rubber feet completely non-slip.
It comes with a comprehensive insrtruction book with clear pictures and instructions which I keep to hand to refer to, it's not that the machine is particularly complicated but everything is done differently to how I'm used to but actually it's all fairly simple.
* Features *
Along with a good range of stitches available, speel control slider, tension adjuster, stitch length varier and a backstitch function this machine has a range of features that I have never seen before.
As well as controlling the machine with a conventional (if little small) presser foot yoou can also use a start and stop button. As of yet I haven't used this function as I like the variable speed and control offered by the presser foot.
There is a needle down function, this places the needle into the material and then ensures that when you stop stitching the needle remains down, ideal if you need to turn your work and keep going, I use this constantly when quilting.
There is a built in thread cutter (no requirement to find those scissors anymore) and a automatic needle threader, fiddly at first but ideal in order to avoid needle threading frustration.
There is also a facility to vary the pressure of the machine's foot, to allow for manipulation of the fabric or to allow thicker fabric to pass through.
One feature that is annoyingly lacking is a settings memory, if you turn the machine off after setting electronically the stitch length, the machine reverts back to it's default settings, very annoying if you don't notice and not something I'm used to after my push button and dial machine.
Generally I feel that the features are actually useful and not gimmicky and in the short time I've owned this machine I've put many of them to good use - yet to try out all the various stitches.
The machine comes with a range of feet for zips, satin stitching etc. As yet I have not tried all these but at least when I require them i won't have to buy them. If you are someone who is keen on patchwork or quilting then there are various quilting accessories available available as a complete kit, including walking foot, darning foot and extension table (sometimes available as part of a deal with the machine), or as individual items. There are also several bobbins, upright spool, useful screwdriver to remove feet and the ever useful quick unpick/seam ripper. Replacement items are widely available and I understand that it is possible to interchange Elna accessories, but make sure it's the right item.
So now that I've had this machine for a while has it lived up to my expectations? Well yes, I wanted a good all round machine useful for various types of sewing which would not break the bank and this is definitely that. I can see me using this machine for years to come, hopefully the fact that they are the machine of choice for a local sewing class indicates that they will stand up to everyday usage. I think I've even persuaded my mum to buy one and she knows her machines.
Features: computerised sewing / 60 pre-programmed stitches / 7 fully automatic buttonholes / LCD display