I often get asked what kind of machine I use to sew with. Well I have four different ones...that's right four! I've been promising to do a review on my machines so here goes!
I'm not going to give a super detailed review of each machine. This is really just to let you all know what kind of machines I have and what I like or dislike about them. If possible I'll try to link up to possible buying options.
First up is my regular old sewing machine:
I have a Janome DC2012 and I've had this machine for just over four years. I LOVE this machine. Before this I had a middle of the line Baby Lock and I hated it. I would literally hold my breath every time I sewed with it...it could barely sew through anything thick, the thread was always snapping, the bobbin was always getting tangled etc....So far I have not had any problems with this machine. I've never even taken it in for a tune up (yikes!). The things I like about it:
-The bobbin is top loading and has a clear cover so you can see if it's running out.
-The speed control option is awesome...I can set it really fast if I'm just gathering or doing an easy straight stitch or slow it down if I need more control for something complicated. The speed control also makes it really easy for my 10 year old daughter to use.
-Automatic up/down needle button..you just press a button to lower or raise it
-It can sew through very thick layers.
-Overall it's pretty quiet and it also has a really good detailed manual.
I would say the only negative about this machine is the automatic needle threader doesn't work really well. But honestly I'm not the type of person who has a problem with threading a needle so that just doesn't bother me. I believe I bought this machine for just over $400. It's a really great middle of the line machine and has been really dependable so far.
Next up is my Serger #1:
This is the Janome 8002d and like my sewing machine I love this one too. I was really torn between this one and the Basic Brother serger that you'll find a ton of people in the sewing world also have. The janome was just under $300 and I think the Brother is about 100 cheaper. I can't speak from experience about the Brother but I have heard good things about it which is why I'm mentioning it here. I think in the end I went with the Janome because that is the brand of my sewing machine and I loved that so I went with the same brand.
I bought this machine basically to use for sewing my seams (those professional looking seams you see on the inside of all of your clothing) and to do hems. It can't do a cover hem (the regular looking hem with two straight lines on the front and the herringbone type pattern on the back-that's a different machine) but it can do a rolled hem which I do a lot.
I have also had this machine for about four years now and it has been great. Sews through thick layers, very detailed and easy to read manual and has pretty much been a work horse.
One thing to mention is that the threading of sergers can be complicated. There 4 needles to thread not just 1. And to thread the lower looper you have to go through the inside of the machine. So if you go into a sewing store they will always try to convince you to buy the self threading pricey machines. That's not really necessary. It does take time to thread...but this has a great color coded chart right on the inside of the machine so you can follow as you thread. Once you've done it two or three times you get the hang of it and it's really not that bad. I'm pretty speedy at it.
Switching from a 3 or 4 thread overlock to a rolled hem isn't hard but also isn't super quick. Over all this is a great entry level or even intermediate machine. Because I sew so very much...5-6 hours a day, and often have to switch to a rolled hem or switch thread colors, I decided to get a second serger to make my process more efficient.
So...enter serger # 2:
Remember when I said the people at sewing stores will try and convince you of the fancy self threading machines that cost a fortune?! Well somehow I got suckered into that for my second machine! I shouldn't say it cost a fortune...they tried to get me to buy the super fancy baby lock Diana which is a cover hem and serger all in one...that baby is priced at well over $3,000.00! I wasn't about to spend that much so I went with a refurbished Baby Lock Imagine which if I'm remembering correctly cost me about $900.00 (new probably costs about 2,000 at least). They totally sold me on the whole self threading thing and the fact that you can easily switch from a rolled hem to an overlock etc...
Was it worth it? Yes and no. The self threading is pretty great...but it's only for the upper and lower loopers...but it's not like it's automatic...it still takes a few minutes to rethread the whole thing. But threading those upper and lower loopers quickly with the press of a button (once you get it set up for that) makes a difference. And switching from one function to another is pretty quick but still involves a few steps. And overall this is a well working machine...I haven't had any trouble with it...it's got a great manual and is pretty easy to figure out. I've been very happy with how this machine works.
But again...I sew a lot....and when I'm sewing up to 6 or 7 dresses in one day it really doesn't matter if I have one machine that does it all because in the end, it still takes an extra 5-10 minutes to switch out thread, switch to a different function etc...And if you have to do that once or twice per dress and I'm sewing 7 dresses in a day...well there's at least an hour of my time wasted. So really the best set up for me is to have one machine that performs your average sewing tasks, a serger that I use for seams and a serger that I have set for a rolled hem for my hems and sleeve finishings. I literally just roll my wheely chair from machine to machine when I need a different function instead of stopping everything, swtiching thread, unscrewing plates to switch a setting, etc...only to have to do that again in 5 minutes when I need a different function. So in the end I just keep this set at a rolled hem and use it for that...so I could have gone with a less expensive model. But again I do really like it and I figure if the other serger ever goes south or needs repairs, I have this great one that can do both my rolled hems and my seams. And because it's already refurbished once, trying to resell and get a less expensive machine would probably just be a wash.
So that is the system that works for me. But I sew professionally for a living and like I said, I sew a lot. If you just sew the occasional project that you need a serger for and you have the money to spend than it may be worth getting the imagine. Likewise, if you sew occasional projects and want a serger but don't want to spend a ton of money than I think the Janome is great option as well.
Next up...the Coverstich machine:
Enter machine #4...the Janome CoverPro 1000 CPX. What is a Cover Stitch machine you ask? It really performs just one thing and that's to make those nice little hems on the sleeves and bottoms of garments with the two straight lines on the front and the herringbone type pattern on the back. It's really the type of machine that only professionals use...there are many ways to do hems but when you sew professionally it's kind of ideal to have one of these. And even though they only do one thing they are way more expensive than a serger or sewing machine. Of course the sewing store people tried to sell me on the fancy Babylock Diana that cost well over 3K and does everything...but I already have 2 other sergers that do everything else so all I wanted was a basic coverstitch.
I waited a long time to get one of these and just purchased mine a few months ago. And I have to say that the verdict is still out on this one. I haven't sewn enough projects to get completely comfortable with it but as I figure it out I'm starting to like it more.
I was choosing between this and the similar version by Brother. This was little more pricey but overall got better reviews and I've had such good luck with my other two Janomes that it was kind of a no brainer for me.
Unfortunately I had a rough start with this one. First of all the manual is awful which is surprising because my other two manuals I have with this brand are so detailed and great. This one flat out sucks...vague, little detail, bad pictures, etc...But I'm a very experienced sewer and I'm pretty good at figuring stuff like this out on my own. Not the case here. I could not get a good stitch...thred was snapping, stitches were skipping...it sucked. I tried different needles, I watched multiple online tutorials...it literally took like 2 full days of trouble shooting. I was about to pack it back up and send it back but then I stumbled upon a very helpful blog post that someone wrote about giving tips for the settings for what type of fabric you are using. This random blog post was a game changer. Furthermore...there is a setting for the presser foot tension...a little knob at the top of the machine. This is a very important setting and there is absolutely NO mention of it anywhere in the manual.
I stupidly did not save the link for that blog post. But I was smart enough to take a picture of the settings that she recommended and I refer to that every time I use it and it makes a huge difference. Here is that handy little chart:
So again the verdict is still out on this one. I think I will like it. I'm about to start a new batch of dresses where I will need to use the cover stitch a lot so I'll find out soon!
Okay...that's ALOT of info! Possibly the longest blog post I've ever written. But hopefully helpful! And I probably won't proof it so apologies for bad grammar!