Can you recommend a sewing machine? It's a question I hear often and one for which I've wished I had a good answer. I currently sew on the Juki TL2010Q. I adore this machine, but it's a pretty high price point for a beginner. If you're getting started with sewing or quilting, you should be looking for something simple and reliable. You don't need a million stitches or a fancy touch screen readout. In fact, more complex computerized features are actually a liability - if you don't need them, they're just something else that can break and get in the way of real sewing.
So what do you need and what won't you use? I think those shopping for their first machine are asking for help precisely because they don't know. Of course! Now I don't really know what you personally will need, but I can make some general informed guesses.
I told my sponsor Sew Vac Direct what I'd be looking for in a solid, basic sewing machine and they sent me some ideas. I picked out the Janome HD3000 to test drive for you. Today I'm sharing a review of that machine and giving my test model away!
My first rule of thumb is to avoid buying a computerized machine. Just as computers need replacing fairly option and are prone to silly malfunctions, a computerized machine will need more repairs and maintenance than a non-computerized machine.
The Janome HD3000 has just 18 stitches (plenty!), including the 2 that you really need = straight stitch and zigzag stitch. Unlike a computerized machine, you'll control stitch selections, stitch length and stitch width with manual nobs. No biggie. They work and they don't break!
To sew in reverse, which is vital for locking stitches, you use that big lever below the HD-3000 label. I much prefer a physical lever to a computerized button that must be touched to activate and to deactivate. You see I used to sew on a highly computerized Pfaff. I feel like the lever increases precision.
Up here the thread rests in an internal cavity. At right is a spot to store sewing feet, so that they're quite handy, and farther right is the bobbin winder. I had no trouble at all winding bobbins.
After threading the HD3000, you can close the door at the top so that the thread cavity is contained. Seems like a neat way to keep out the dust!
I received this machine to test in November and made several projects with it. I made kids pajamas to test sewing with flannel and making buttonholes. I pieced most of my sawtooth stars on this machine. It chain-pieced without "eating" fabric. I did notice two inconveniences.
1. the needle stops in all sorts of positions (not always up or down). Sometimes you'll have to turn the hand wheel before taking out your project. This machine does not have a needle up/down setting. Such a setting is definitely helpful for sewing curves, but one can get on without it.
2. the machine will unthread itself at the needle if you do not leave a generous thread tail. I am used to my Juki, which almost never unthreads itself, even with a very short tail. Pulling the thread a little longer is just a habit I'd have to acquire with this machine.
I also straight-stitch quilted on the Janome HD3000, with the stitch length set at maximum. The stitch quality was nice. My husband asked me if I like this one as well as my Juki... and I laughed! No, of course not! Seriously, the Juki is like a super-machine. But this one is a third of the price. And one needs a machine like this to accompany the Juki anyways, for the zigzag and buttonhole functions. Yes, I did use the Janome to sew some zigzag binding. Went beautifully!
Another features this machine does not have is speed control, which is great for allowing children to sew. So the two features it "lacks" are needle up/down and speed control. Those are truly helpful, but not essential. If faced with the choice of buying a computerized machine or skipping these features, I truly think you are better off skipping them.
Oh, one more thing - the cover! I usually throw away the vinyl covers that come with machines, but this one comes with a hard plastic cover. The foot peddle/power cord can be wrapped up and placed into the harp space, then you put on the cover. The carry handle pops up through the cover, making this machine SO convenient for traveling. Everything is contained and safe!
If you're interested in buyin your first machine or moving on from a high-maintenance, frustrating experience, I do recommend the Janome HD3000. Right now it comes with an extended 5 Year Warranty from Sew Vac Direct. They have great customer service for handling your repairs. You pay the shipping to them for warrantied service and they pay the shipping back to you. It doesn't take long either, in my experience!
The folks at Sew Vac Direct
are giving away the machine I tested and signed.
Since we'll be shipping this machine to your door, only U.S. addresses
please. I'm hoping someone will find themselves sewing a lot more in
the new year thanks to a new, reliable machine! Add your comment to enter, now through January 1st. I draw a winner on January 2nd.
And our very lucky winner is #22 - Carla Lowe. I'm trying to reach you, Carla, via Google Hangouts. Enjoy your new Janome!