Well-made model with a straightforward control panel and vivid LCD screen. Offers 120 built-in stitches for accomplishing a wide variety of sewing tasks and projects. Top-loading bobbin system is easy to use and resists jams. Comes with a generous collection of useful accessories.
The machine is typically an impressive performer, but a few owners gripe about occasional malfunctions.
This neat sewing machine is great for the beginner. It includes 12 stitch settings to choose from and a vertical oscillating hook bobbin. We love how easy this machine is to use. Includes all the sewing accessories you need to get started.
On some machines, the bobbin case can come loose after a few sessions.
Features a heavy-duty, well-built aluminum body. Operation is straightforward and doesn't have too much of a learning curve. Offers a selection of 18 stitches. The motor is highly durable and breezes over thick materials like vinyl. Includes a carrying case.
Snap-on presser foot holder is delicate and can break easily. Occasional jamming and skipping reported.
Oversized LED panel is easy to read. Convenient start/stop buttons allow you to sew without a foot control. Stitch selection is simple with the diagram on the base. Has 40 stitches and a variety of applications, which makes it appealing to intermediate sewing enthusiasts.
Some malfunctioning issues from internal components noted.
Easy to use yet rugged enough to stitch through most types of fabrics. Controls are simple and include 18 built-in stitches. Aluminum construction feels durable, yet the machine is lightweight enough to transport with ease. Lots of accessories included.
Bobbin is prone to jamming. Some longevity concerns, as various issues have resulted in the need for repairs.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Janome builds sewing machines that inspire the beginner’s dream and make the pros drool. Their most advanced machines can do almost everything but make your Thanksgiving dinner, while their entry-level models are reliable, sturdy, and durable.
Before you buy, you’ll need to consider the type of sewing you want to do, how often you’ll be doing it, and what extra features are worth a few more of your hard-earned dollars. Your first big decision is deciding between a mechanical and computerized machine. From there, the possibilities will spark ideas for endless sewing projects.
You’re going to find basic conveniences on Janome machines like automatic threading and tension adjustment and advanced options like a knee lift, extra-wide tables, and advanced feed systems. As you sift through the options, look for features that will make your sewing life easier and more efficient while staying within your budget. Be sure to check out our top recommended machines, too.
Mechanical: Mechanical sewing machines keep things simple, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create advanced projects with them. They have many of the same capabilities and features of computerized machines except you control the thread tension, stitch length and width, and stitch choices by manually adjusting dials. These machines are easier to maintain, and they keep the sewing process as uncomplicated as possible. One is a great option for the beginner or casual hobbyist because you’ll save money and still get a great machine that will last for years.
Computerized: Like everything else, technology has revolutionized the sewing world. And Janome is using sewing technology to the fullest. While you get a longer list of features with a computerized machine, things can get complicated, which can make the sewing process more difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s easy to get caught up in all the fancy features and pay for an expensive machine with more stitches and needle positions than you’ll ever use. Have a good idea of what features you’ll use before you shop.
Stitches: Where you’ll see the biggest difference between mechanical and computerized machines is in the number of stitches available. Mechanical machines might have anywhere from 15 to 80, but computerized machines are capable of an impressive 300 or more, depending on the model.
Speed: Computerized machines are also faster when it comes to adjusting stitch length and width.
Embroidery: Sewing machines that also have embroidery capabilities can store several alphabets for monogramming.
Quilting: Quilting combo machines are capable of free-motion sewing as well as a wide range of quilting stitches.
Sewing machine frames are made of either metal, plastic, or a combination of both. Janome makes both plastic and metal frames, although some of their metal frames are aluminum, cutting down on weight. Size and weight really come into play if you travel with your machine to retreats, classes, or sewing groups. It’ll be much easier if your machine is smaller and lighter. Plus, with a smaller machine, you’ll have more room in your storage closet for fabric.
Beginners might be tempted by a machine with hundreds of stitches, but most people rarely venture away from the basic five: straight, zigzag, triple-step zigzag, blind hem, and overlock. Take a good look at the number of extra stitches and what those stitches are for. Generally, they’re decorative in nature. If you like adding machine lace or interesting textures to your garments, then extra stitches are a good investment for you. You can also find machines with preloaded alphabets for embroidery and stitches for quilting if these are your specialty. However, if you’re just starting out or you’ve never used a decorative stitch on the machine you already have, opt for a solid machine with fewer stitches.
Thread tension: Thread tension is the bane of many a tailor’s existence. Machines with an automatic thread tension feature can take some of the headache out of sewing. However, more often than not, you’ll still need to make additional tension adjustments, but the auto adjustment at least gives you a head start.
Janome has some impressive feed systems that provide increased control over the fabric as it moves through the sewing machine.
Feed dogs: Janome has machines with three-, four-, five-, and seven-piece feed dogs. More feed dog pieces mean more fabric gets gripped for better control under the needle.
Acufeed: Janome also has an Acufeed system that has feed dogs on the bottom and top of the fabric. This system allows you to sew thicker, heavier fabrics and materials without slowing down your sewing speed, but it also smoothes the way for delicate fabrics, too.
Drop feed: You can lower the feed dogs so they don’t pull the fabric through the machine. Once the feed dogs are dropped, you can do free-motion quilting.
A knee lift allows you to lift the presser foot with your knee so both hands can stay on the fabric. This premium feature can be difficult to master even for the experienced, but it does add to the precision of your work, especially when quilting.
A free arm allows you to sew cylindrical pieces and circular shapes like those found on garment arms and legs. Models with this feature have a storage compartment that can be removed from the table of the sewing machine to reveal the free arm.
Janome makes some impressive sewing machines that also quilt or embroider. However, some of these machines cost well over $5,000, so they represent a serious investment. Some of their features include preloaded alphabets, free-motion quilting, USB ports for loading additional or custom patterns, and a touchscreen to control it all.
Different Janome sewing machines come with a long list of extra features. Here are a few of our favorites:
Extra-high (double-lift) presser foot lift: Whether you’re quilting or sewing denim, extra lift on the presser foot can help you clear those thick, heavy projects with no problem.
Extra-wide stitch widths: Extra width (up to 9 mm) for those specialty projects can make all the difference in getting professional-looking results.
Extra-wide work area: Some of the larger Janome machines have an extra-wide work area that reduces tugging when doing big projects, especially handy if you quilt, craft, or embroider.
Inexpensive: Entry-level Janome sewing machines start at $50 to $125. These mechanical machines have up to 15 stitches and a free arm and come with several extra presser feet. Some are compact and lightweight, while others have a metal internal frame.
Mid-range: The Janome machines with the best balance of features for the price fall in the $125 to $500 range. These include both mechanical and computerized machines, some with industrial strength internal frames meant to tackle heavy, thick fabrics. Computerized models may have over 100 stitches, an extension table, and a one- or four-step buttonhole feature.
Expensive: In the $500 to $1,500 range are the sewing machines with embroidery and quilting capabilities with preloaded alphabets and hundreds of decorative stitches. A few at the top of this price range also have the ability to download new patterns or custom designs. You’ll also find some with the Acufeed system.
Premium: Machines that cost over $1,500 and some that are well over $5,000 have pretty much everything: extra-wide sewing table, touchscreen, 300 stitches, free-motion sewing, and tons of preloaded embroidery patterns.
Only pay extra for features you know you’ll use. Bells and whistles can be exciting, but they add dollars to the price tag. Two hundred stitches might sound fun, but most people don’t use more than five, so don’t splurge on more stitches, needle positions, or advanced feed systems unless you know they’ll make a difference in your sewing projects.
Learn how to sew a straight line. Sewing in a straight line is akin to driving in a straight line – you can’t stare at the point right in front of the car and expect to drive straight. To keep your stitches straight, pick a guide point on the foot or sewing machine and keep your eyes on it while you sew rather than staring at the needle. Your seams will be truer and straighter by sticking with the guide.
Q. Are there Janome machines that come with more than three needle positions?
A. Left, right, and middle – do you really need more than that? Yes, you do if you’re quilting or taking your garment sewing seriously. There are Janome machines with nearly 100 needle positions. You can’t help but get the needle in the perfect place with that many options.
Q. Can I download Janome instruction manuals online?
A. The sewing machine should come with an instruction manual, and we recommend reading through it completely so you know what your machine can do. However, Janome also provides downloadable versions of all of their manuals on its website.
Q. Do Janome sewing machines come with a cover?
A. Some machines include a cover. It can be hard, semi-hard, or soft. However, you can always buy a separate case or cover if the one that comes with the machine doesn’t meet your needs.