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hello from newbie + which machine?

presserfoot | Posted in General Discussion on

Hello all,

Just discovered this site and wanted to say hi before I rush right in with a question.  Hi, I am an low-intermediate quilter who is interested in feedback about sewing machines.  I have a White which is maybe six years old and in okay condition, but is a low end model.  I have the opportunity to get a nicer machine because of a BIG birthday coming up.  In the vacinity of 5-7 hundred dollars, what do you guys think about Janome versus Juki versus Elna?  I want an electronic machine which will make free motion quilting easier.  I don’t care that much about speed and will rarely use embroidery and/or buttonhole features.

Have been searching the net and am pretty confused.  Also, I have found it difficult to see the reviews on the machines.

I’d be really grateful for any input?  This will be the last machine purchased for many a year/








  1. Crazy K | | #1

    I have had several Janome machines and they are good machines.  Get one that is computerized for good stitch quality and ease in using.  I recently purchased a Sew Precise model for my granddaughter in Texas, US.  She was using Grandma's very very old machine that kept jamming.  I ordered the Janome from a dealer near her (I live in Minnesota, US), she and her mom picked it up and she absolutely loves it.  It was well under $500 and is strictly sewing (no embroidery) but does an awesome one-step buttonhole if you should ever need it.  Janome has many models from very inexpensive up to the top-of-the-line sewing/embroidery machine that is several thousand dollars, plus the cost of the software.  I'm sure you can find something in their line.  I've used Janome MemoryCraft 3000, 3500, 4300 and 9000.......all superb machines for the money.....

    I'm sure you'll get other feedback and we all have different opinions!! ha  Anyway, hope this is helpful.  I have an Elna serger and it has been wonderful for the nearly 10 years of use........no repairs yet.......just one check up from a repairman but no repairs.  I've used it for many different projects and it has yet to fail me.  I am not familiar with the sewing machines, however, and have no experience at all with Juki.

    Good luck!

    1. presserfoot | | #4


      how exciting that you have a granddaughter to share your love of sewing!! that must be heaven.

      i appreciate your feedback on the janome.  i am leaning toward the mc 3000 model, but also like the elna's quilter's dream 600 (think that's it!)

      part of me wants to save up for a better machine, using the birthday gift as a base, but i'm afraid i will do something practical with it, like pay bills.  don't want to do that right now.  i have been very frustrated with sewing lately, so this machine could make a big difference in my quilts.  i am making a baby quilt for my first grandchild on the way. 

      thanks again for your feedback!!





      1. Crazy K | | #7

        Yes, it is fun having her share my love of sewing............but they live in Texas and me in Minnesota!  Not a good distance for 'day trips' to sew together!  The family is Army, Dad in Iraq and will retire soon.  They hope to move back to Alaska..........even further away!!!  Woe is me!

        I have 22 grands but so far Jess is the only sewist in the bunch.  She and some friends tackled some awesome pirate Halloween customes and did a splendid job......I got photos!  After seeing those I bought her a Janome serger for Christmas!! :)  No, I don't do those things for all the grandkids......can't afford that!  Jess has given up so much with Dad overseas so much.  He's flown the DMZ in Korea for 13 month stints twice and this is his 4th or 5th tour in Iraq or Afghanistan.......and I feel the family sacrifies a lot, too!  Just our way of saying 'thanks' to her for being a good girl and helping her mom.

        As a side note......when you buy, find out about 'trade-ups' with your dealership.  I bought a Designer I and when the SE came out, I was able to trade up within a certain period of time and I got my complete original purchase price as trade in.........not too shabby!  I don't think I could have managed  the cost otherwise.

        1. presserfoot | | #8


          i am deeply moved by the story of your army family and all of the sacrifices they have made.  it's something i haven't spent much time thinking about, but now i will add the servicemen to my prayers. 

          22 grandchildren?  can't even begin to imagine that.  the distance thingy is something i can relate to, unfortunately.  my two kids live in L.A. and are not back east, where i'm from (n.y.) that much.  my daughter and son-in-law are usually in for Christmas.  my son and daughter-in-law are the ones who are expecting.  i see them for about a week in the summer.

          what kind of stuff do you like to sew?  any quilting?






          1. Crazy K | | #9

            I just love to sew........period!  I've made tons of pjs and flannel pants, fleece robes, fleece bankets, generous (42X42") receiving blankets (rolled hem makes that a snap!), tote bags, flannel shirts, First Communion dress, lots of sweats, pants and shorts, t-shirts, etc.  I've done some home dec. stuff, too, such as valances, curtains, placemats, napkins, pillows (to coordinate with valances).  Now the fun thing is to make shirts and embroider on them for the little ones.  Many of the grandkids are getting older and unless its a 'logo' it isn't cool.......so much for that! 

            I started sewing at about age 9 and by junior high was making many of my clothes.  I grew up on a small family farm....not much money for a whole closetful like the girls have now.  I found that making things expanded my wardrobe......and they fit better, too!  I also sewed for my mom when she was living.  I tease my only daughter that she was the only kid in kindergarten that had undies that matched her turtlenecks!!  I even made lots of her jeans for a while.

            I am so blessed to be able to follow my dream and a husband who gives full approval.  When we retired and moved into our present home I took over most of the basement for my 'studio'..........and it's wonderful!  Lucky, huh?  I think so!

          2. presserfoot | | #10

            oh crazyk,

            sounds like you have a fun time with sewing.  although i have sewed since high school, it has not been my passion until the last few years.  even so, i don't know how much i love sewing, or is it that i LOVE, LOVE, LOVE fabrics and putting them together in quilts.  the most fun is bringing home a new yard (or more) of fabric and then seeing what i already have which will complement it.  the quilts patterns are chosen based on what i want to do color and pattern-wise.  lately i have been making quilts which have circles appliqued on half-square triangles.  that's a square cut in half diagonally two form two triangles. 

            this technique is great for cleaning out your stash of fabrics, but still ending up needing to fill in some missing fabrics through a trip to the store.  i am lucky to live in an area with four quilt stores (not including Joann's) in an area of 3/4 hour distance from my house.  each store has something a little different.

            the last large clothing project was 34 years ago when i was pregnant with my son.  i sewed a jacket and skirt.  everything else has been something small like a slouchy handbag or a quilt.

            i like the idea of sewing large receiving blankets with a rolled hem.  good idea.






          3. Crazy K | | #11

            I love looking at quilts and watch Simply Quilts most mornings but I am not a quilter myself.  I would like to tackle a basic one someday though.  For the present, I sew things that I can finish in this lifetime!! ha  I'm not so sure if that could happen with a quilt.  Lots and lots of time in those...........but I'm sure the feeling of accomplishment is awesome.  I did make a lap quilt for my mil's 90th birthday.  I cheated though and did a solid piece on which I embroidered different birds and then stippled it.  The back was a beautiful soft floral which I wrapped around the made the binding from that.  Not sure if that's the proper way of doing things but I did it and it worked for me!  Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention!

            I use my scraps by donating them to the quilters that do quilts for the homeless in our area.  That works for me.  They use anything they can get..........quilts are very utilitarian but the recipients are very grateful.


          4. presserfoot | | #15


            as far as i'm concerned, the quilt you described is totallly legit!  not all quilts are pieced.  you are correct, however, in estimating the long hours involved.  at some point in the process, it ceases to matter how long it is taking.  the best inspiration comes from looking at other quilts, and I, too, love to watch simply quilts whenever i can.  many's a day that i've been a minute or two late to work because i get caught up in watching it.  fortunately, i only live 4 minutes from work.

            well, i finally bit the bullett and purchased a janome 4400 from an online source.  i got a really good deal because this particular machine had been returned after Christmas.  i also was getting the machine without the extras like a children's sewing machine and a sewing cart/bag.  i get it next Tuesday!! can't wait!!

            i have 3 baby quilts to make as well as finishing up some other projects.  i just finished basting a quilt to ready it for machine sewing. 

            all the best and thanks for your help



          5. User avater
            Becky-book | | #22

            I got hooked on 'Scrappy String Quilts'. Google search will turn up instructions, very easy, and a personal size (crib size) doesn't take forever!


          6. kayrosie | | #12

            I have an Elna and love it.   This is my second one.  My parents had an Elna and I inheritated it when my mom passed away.  Some 30 years ago. I finally got a new one and I would not trade it. I know there are really good machines out there.  You have to do your homework and decide which one is best for you.


          7. presserfoot | | #13


            thanks for the reply!  that's some recommendation for Elna!  i'm thinking about an Elna.

            happy sewing!



  2. lovestosew | | #2

    Hello presserfoot,
    (Love your screen name, by the way) - Have you tried patternreview.com for reviews on the machines you mentioned? They've got lots of reviews. Good luck with your purchase.

    1. presserfoot | | #5

      thanks for letting me know about patternreview site!  i'll let you in on a secret about my username.  it contains my last name.



  3. spicegirl | | #3

    There is a very good review of all machines on the PatternReview website.

    1. presserfoot | | #6

      thanks spicegirl!!

  4. tanusa | | #14

    I really like my Kenmore machine from Sears. Got it as a graduation gift in 1994 and still use it constantly. I had a childrenswear business for a while and sewed all day every day for months and months. I just kept it clean and oiled and never had a problem. I've never even had to have it serviced. I've made everything from clothes to furniture slipcovers to roman shades to handbags on the machine. For $500 0r $600 you can get a great machine. My only advice is not to use the plastic bobbins they sell them with. Those are terrible. Use the metal ones. Also, many of the machines are reviewed on the Sears web site. Good luck making a decision!

    1. presserfoot | | #16


      thanks so much for the input!  i did look at the sears kenmor since i have gotten other mechanical things from sears and it makes servicing so easy.  i don't remember why i moved on. 

      i appreciate your well wishes on the purchase.  i have decided on a janome.  can't wait to get it and start sewing!

      thanks again.





      1. tanusa | | #17

        glad you found a machine you're happy with. enjoy your sewing!

        1. presserfoot | | #21

          hey tanusa,

          thanks for the good wishes!  happy sewing to you, too!  it's arriving tomorrow and i plan to get sewing by 5:30 since i get home by 5:05.  i figure to unpack and set it up for the basics, wont take too long.

          i'll let y'all know how i like it!


  5. Betakin | | #18

    Janome makes some of the Elna's and now Janome heads Elna USA. Janome also makes Kenmore and other machines like the Pfaff Grand Quilter and Viking Mega Quilter. BTW, Viking is introducing some new machines called the Sapphire's that have an added sewing area and a longer free arm than any machine. These machines have many features like dual sewing lights and a sensor foot that lowers the foot and adjusts pressure automatically for the type of fabric and a pivot feature. These machines are on the Husqvarna website showing 2 of the Sapphires but I heard there is also a 3rd model coming out. My dealer does not have any of them in as yet but they sure look like nice machines and I can't wait to see them in person.

  6. Lynnelle | | #19

    I still consider myself a newbie as I have been sewing for 3 years, but not very consistently each year.  I bought a Singer and am so-so about it.  It is not computerized and I find it very hard to work with.  I've sewed on Janomes and like them, but my eye is currently the Babylock Decorator's Choice.  It sews like butter...sweet soft butter...  It costs 800, so I have to do more research on reliability before I shell out that much money.  So far, each time that I've sewn on it, I end up liking it more and more.

    Does anyone else have experience with Babylock machines?

    1. Crazy K | | #20

      No but I have sewn on several of the computerized Janomes.........3000, 3500, 4300 and 9000.....and they're all good.  If you possibly can, go up to a computerized model.  it's worth the money.  I just bought a Sew Precise for a granddaughter.....its computerized and the kid loves it.  It was under $500.

      Just my humble opinon

      1. Betakin | | #23

        I have 26 grands and I also buy or pass down machines to some of them and their Mom's. Your list of sewing projects resembles mine too. It is fun when you love to sew to always have someone to sew for. I especially enjoy sewing kids clothes, pj's, robes, blankets and throws, and monogramming their swim towels etc.

  7. ctirish | | #24

    I just heard Bernina is coming out with a medium priced $600- 700 sewing machine in the month of April.  They have great sewing machines and they make one with a stitch regulator. I would check out the maunfacturers sites as well as other places just to get a feel for what is actually out there for machines. I know a couple of make machines geared for quilters. Good luck

    1. presserfoot | | #25


      thanks for letting me know about the cheaper bernina, however, i have purchased a janome.  i like it a lot except it really doesn't solve the free motion quilting issues.  i simply will have to practice doing free motion so that when i get to the real quilting, i will be able to go fast enougn not to screw up the thread tension.  that's what i've been doing, not going fast enough to produce even and proper stiches. 

       i do like the machine very much in all the other ways i have used it in the past few weeks.  it is very quiet and i haven't broken one needle, even going over thick fabric areas.  also, it is easy to wind the bobin and thread the machine.

      what kind of sewing do you do?




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