“Sewing Machine.” It’s a funny term, isn’t it? We used to have “flying machines,” but they later became known as airplanes. There’s a term for a “time machine,” but so far, those don’t actually exist. We have “vending machines,” “riveting machines,” “check-weighing machines” (who knew?), and “molecular machines” (aka nanomachines), but for the most part, most machines seem to be named something sans the “machine” designation. So do you wonder why the term “sewing machine” hasn’t evolved into some other term, without the word “machine” as part of the name? I do. Kind of makes me go, “Hmmmm.”
Anyway, my use of sewing machines, both the term and the machine, goes back at least to my early teens, when I first learned to sew. I’m not an avid seamstress, but I used to make clothes as a teen, including a lovely outfit that my homemaking teacher submitted to the Texas State Fair, which won first prize! I still have the trophy. 🙂 I also was tasked with making two sets of bridesmaid dresses for a slew of folks — very complicated dresses with both sheer and satiny fabrics and many, many little covered buttons. But for the past couple of decades, I’ve only used my sewing machine to make curtains, pillow covers, and other home decor projects, and for repairs.
After my parents passed on, I inherited the 1939 Singer from my mom, but it needs to be rewired, which I’ve been putting off for no good reason, except perhaps the cost. I did sell the cabinet, sadly, as I had no place to put it, and it was just physically impossible to move it into the space where I now sew. Sigh!
A few weeks ago, just as I was ready to finally make the 11 pillow covers for our daybed, my 1975 Singer Stylist broke down. One of the nylon gears inside broke into little pieces, so I found a recommended repair person, and that machine is in the shop now, hopefully to be delivered back to me in the next week or so.
But in the meantime, I was hot to make the 11 pillow covers that would complete the daybed project we started mid-2013, so I decided to see if I might want a new machine — sewing machine, that is — I assumed there have been many improvements in sewing machine technology since 1975.
I found what seemed like a great Singer with all kinds of very desirable bells and whistles available at Amazon for what appears to be a great price. The majority of reviews were very good, but I find it useful to read the 1- and 2-star reviews before purchasing technology online. You can learn a lot from many of the negative reviews, and I learned some very negative stuff about Singer, the company, and that machine in particular. Specifically, I learned that Singer is no longer your mother’s Singer, as the Sewing Machine Division was sold in 1989 to Semi-Tech Microelectronics by the corporate raider, Paul Bilzerian, who had purchased the company in 1987. It is currently owned by “SVP Worldwide, which also owns the Pfaff and Husqvarna Viking brands, which is in turn owned by Kohlberg & Company.” (source: Wikipedia)
At this writing, there are 55 1-star reviews for this machine on Amazon, most of which report problems with the machine quitting working in a short period of time, terrible customer service, and very expensive repairs. OK, that’s just too bad, but…moving on.
So, I started looking at Brother machines, which had been recommended, but found reviews that also worried me about investing in something that might break down quickly, and perhaps might never even work properly.
One of my favorite local sewing shops, the Stitch Lab (which also offers lots of sewing classes), highly recommends Janome machines, so I started looking at those. OMG, what a huge array of choices there are — nearly 100 machines to choose from! I spent what seemed like weeks — but probably wasn’t but days — trying to research all the options, decide what I really wanted and/or needed, figure what I was willing to pay, etc., but in the end what got me was a great deal at — of all places — the Home Shopping Network! OK, even saying their name makes me squirm a little, as I have never watched the shows, would never watch the shows, and we don’t even have either broadcast or cable TV anymore, plus I’m constitutionally opposed to shopping, especially as a pastime.
Sometimes, however, shopping IS necessary, and the Janome website sent me to the Home Shopping Network — the only place that sells the particular machine I was falling in love with from afar. The machine itself, a “49360,” was priced at about half the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, which is not too surprising, really; these days, everything seems to have a suggested retail price much higher than it actually sells for. But what got me, besides the beauty of the machine, was that it came with 16 Janome presser feet — 10 extra presser feet, about $200 worth — for no extra bucks. And it was one of very few Janomes that had almost all of the features I really wanted. It is in fact, basically the same machine as the 3160QDC, with the added incentive that the 49360 matches my sewing room’s colors. Woo-hoo! It is also very similar to the less expensive 2030DC, and the more expensive 4120QDC. It also seems that the DC1050 is a little sister to the rest of this group.
What I really wanted was a computerized sewing machine, with manually adjustable tension, adjustable pressure dial, drop feed dog, at least 50 stitches, an automatic needle threader, thread cutter, free arm, extension table, and a hard cover. This machine has all of that except the extension table, which I think I can buy somewhere online (I hope!).
It comes with:
- Spool pin felt
- Needle set
- Additional spool pin
- Satin stitch foot
- Zipper foot
- Automatic buttonhole foot
- Overedge foot
- Blind hem foot
- 1/4″ seam foot
- Custom crafted zig zag foot
- Seam ripper/buttonhole opener
- Screwdriver key
- Lint brush
- Small spool holder
- Large spool holder
- Spool stand
- Foot control
- Fringe foot
- Gathering foot
- Open toe darning foot
- Ribbon/sequin foot
- 3-way cording foot
- Ditch quilting foot
- Even feed walking foot
- Ultraglide foot
- Binder foot
- Concealed zipper foot
The majority of reviews of this machine were truly stellar, so I took the plunge, signed up at HSN for a $50 credit off the price of the machine, and paid my monies. The 49360 (what a name! – not) arrived a couple days later, days earlier than I even expected it. Cool! I have since found some negative reviews which state that the bobbin case may fail and need to be replaced. I hope not. I plan to take especially good care of this machine, and do my best to avoid any and all practices which may lead to bobbin-case failure.
Anyhoo, I set my beautiful new machine up in my lovely new sewing space, and proceeded to work through the manual, learning how to use this new-fangled sewing machine. In the past couple weeks, I have made 11 pillow covers, all of which have invisible zippers, 3 of which include piping, and two of which combine two fabrics and some ribbon trim. I haven’t really put it through its paces yet, or even tried all the 60 available stitches, but so far, this machine is a dream!
Here’s what I love about it:
- very smooth operation
- easy to thread (with numbered threading path)
- easy to manually insert thread through needle (not sure why it seems easier on this machine than my old Singer, but it does)
- easy to use auto-threader (I’ve used it, and it is easy, but it’s even easier to manually thread the needle. That may change if my eyesight goes downhill)
- easy to wind bobbin
- easy to see amount of bobbin thread remaining (through a clear bobbin window)
- free arm
- accessory storage in arm
- choice of adjustable auto-speed or manual speed via foot control
- reverse stitch button for backtacking, aka backstitching)
- drop needle button (memorized needle up/down)
- very easy to change presser feet
- great thread cutter behind needle area
- easy to use on-screen stitch width and length adjustments
- auto settings for stitches when changing presser feet
- easy to use hard case; handle on machine
- great number and usefulness of included accessories!
- physical design and colors 🙂
- it’s lightweight (only about 12 lbs.)
Here are a few things I wish were different:
- as I prefer to sew using the foot control pedal, I wish you could use the reverse stitch button without having to unplug the foot control pedal. That’s kind of a
- for the first week or two, the tension adjustment was out of whack with the suggested tension settings. In other words, the tension needed to be set at about 6 or 7 to achieve even tension between the top thread and the bobbin thread, when the instruction book called for a tension setting of 3 or 4. I thought it was perhaps defective, but it has since relaxed into the proper tension at recommended settings. So, actually, just a slight worry period while the machine was breaking in, I guess, but it’s fine now.
- very poor lighting! I added an Ott lamp to one side of the machine, and placed a little Ikea led lamp behind it to improve the amount of light, which really is just pathetic without the additional lights. I’m going to add more.
- I’m trying to think of something else…tap, tap…anything? Nope. I guess not. 🙂
Here are a few features that I could live without:
- the auto-needle threader. It’s really just easier to manually thread the needle.
- the auto-thread cutter. It leaves very short threads on the machine, and the top thread can sometimes pull out of the needle, thus requiring me to re-thread the top thread. Eh.
- the auto-lockstitch button. Well, I haven’t used it much, and I don’t know if I will. OK, I’ll try, and report back if I change my mind.
So, all-in-all, I’m very pleased with this beautiful sewing machine! I would recommend it without reservations if I hadn’t read those negative reviews regarding the bobbin case failure. Also, I hate to send anyone to shop at HSN, though, in truth, that went flawlessly, and saved me a lot of money, or to put it another way, I got a lot more machine and accessories for my bucks than I think I could have anywhere else!
Finally, I’m putting this list here for my own use. Optional available accessories, according to the Janome website (which in many ways usually seems to have incomplete information, but this info seems good):
OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES (some of these I have, some I want, and some, I think, are not meant for my machine):
- 1/4 Inch Seam Foot
- 3 way Cording Foot
- Applique Foot
- Beading Foot
- Binder Foot
- Blind Hem Foot
- Blue Tip Needles
- Bobbin (specialized)
- Bobbin Holder for free motion quilting
- Bobbins (plastic)
- Border Guide Foot
- Button Sewing Foot
- Buttonhole Stabilizer Plate
- Circular Sewing Attachment
- Circular Sewing Attachment
- Concealed Zipper Foot
- Darning Foot
- Edge Guide Foot
- Even Feed Foot
- Extra Large Foot Controller
- Fringing Foot
- Gathering Foot
- Hemmer Feet set
- Horizontal Spool Holder
- Needle (universal)
- Needle Set
- Needle Threader
- Overcast Foot
- Overedge Foot
- Pintucking Cord Guide
- Pintucking Foot
- Piping Foot
- Purple Tip Needle
- Quilting Attachment Kit
- Quilting Guide
- Red Tip needle
- Ribbon Sequin Foot
- Ribbon Sewing Guide
- Rolled Hem Foot
- Roller Foot
- Rotary Even Foot
- Satin Stitch Foot
- Seam Ripper
- Sliding Buttonhole Foot
- Sliding Guide Foot 7mm models
- Straight Stitch Foot
- UltraGlide Foot
- Zig Zag Foot
- Zipper Foot (screw on)