When I bought my mechanical Brother sewing machine in 2010 I wasn’t sure how this sewing thing was going to work out. I don’t think I even set up the machine for about two months. It cost me $80 and has 25 stitches.
I only used about 5 stitches, and I still don’t know what the others are for. It was a great value, easy to use, and is still running despite never having been serviced.
I have had some tension problems for a while. When I tried to finish my pretty blouse with flat felled seams where I was stitching from the wrong side and turned it over, I was disappointed. Yikes! I had test sewed beforehand on a scrap of fabric, and the stitches had seemed ok. It feels bad and frustrating when you’re fighting against your machine and aren’t able to make a satisfactory stitch.
So I decided it was time to upgrade. I looked at the major brands in the $200-$600 range, and thought about what features I wanted. Did I want or need fonts? A huge number of stitches? The same brand or a different brand? I also read reviews and downloaded manuals.
I bought the Janome JW8100 when it went on sale on Amazon. This machine is also sold at WalMart and is very economically priced. I paid less than $300. Janome machines are higher priced compared to Brother machines, even when the Janome has many less stitches. The JW8100 has 100 stitches, comes with an extension table, multiple feet including a walking foot, and is computerized.
When I turned it on for the first time, and it jerked to life, it felt like I was sitting at someone else’s machine. At first I thought the pedal would only go very slow, but realized I needed to adjust the speed control even though I wasn’t using the start/stop button. The machine sounds different. There are some things I miss about my mechanical machine, including moving the needle position and the stitch staying where I set it. I have to write down the settings I’m using because when I turn the machine off and back on it always starts with the same numbers on the computerized screen.
When I was considering buying this machine, about the only thing I didn’t like about it was not having the stitches printed on the machine. It has a paisley design. There is a cardboard card with the stitches that attaches to the back, but I decided to tape it to the front instead inside a plastic sleeve.
I tried out some stitches, and later realized I had the wrong foot for some of the stitches, and the appearance of the stitch changed when I altered the stitch width settings. You can see I had some trouble with the cross stitch. It was strange how many front and back motions the machine makes in forming the more elaborate decorative stitches.
I saw a top with rows of decorative stitches on the yoke, and like the idea. I would also like to work on some quilted projects in the future using some of these stitches. Of course, I expect to use the straight stitch the most. The straight stitch looks a little crooked in the sample above.
I tried a few buttonholes. I had to yank the fabric back and forth to make the buttonhole on the Brother. The foot is a little higher on the Janome so the fabric moved easier.
I’m glad I can use other low shank feet I already have on this machine.
I can understand why sewists have multiple machines for different functions, but I don’t have room for that, and had to pack my old Brother away. I think the most important features of a sewing machine are stitch quality and the ability to sew smoothly through multiple layers. I hope the Janome 8100 will pass this test.
These are my first impressions of my new machine. Now I’m ready to get sewing!