I've been thinking about this every day and am getting more and more excited about it. It's not just about getting to play with so many different machines (which is my idea of heaven), it's also the joy of learning more about each company and more about sewing machines themselves.
But I'm also realizing the titanic nature of this task. Last weekend I launched the Sewing Machine Survey to start pulling in your reviews of machines and I've been overwhelmed by the response.
Unfortunately though, most of the machines posted cost way more than $500, most reported at double that price. To keep this simple (and me sane) I'm going to have to prioritize posting the under $500 machines first. In a few months we may get around to posting the rest of the reviews, but for now this is all that's going to be listed on a new area of the site I'm still working on.
So without further ado, here's the Under $500 Sewing Machine Review Introduction:
The first thing we have to do is cover the rules of this new program! Machines must be...
- Under $500 - This is pretty simple: no machine will be reviewed in this program unless it costs under $500. And lucky, used buys on Ebay can't count.
Example: on an extremely lucky day I might be able to get my hands on Janome 6600 or an OLD Bernina Record 830 (both machines that can easily costs over $1000) for less than $500, but it's extremely unlikely that YOU could find this machine for this price. So the machines must cost under $500 brand new, straight from the factory.
- Most Must be New (but see the RULE BREAK below) - I know many of you with awesome Singer Featherweights are shaking your hands at this one, but there's a very good reason for this. Brand new, straight out of the box is how most machines are purchased, and how most reviewers from the survey reported purchasing their machines.
It's simply the most reliable way I know of making sure you get all the standard parts from the company - all the feet, bobbins, and especially the manual that come with the machine from the beginning.
Used, it's hard to say if these items would come with your machine, and it's almost impossible to guarantee that you could find your machine for less than $500. Demand for that particular used model might increase causing prices to rise.
- Easy to Find - It would be pointless to review machines that you can't get unless you have a Viking or Elna dealer in town. The fact is, most people don't have access to local dealers covering every brand.
My goal is to find new machines that are either sold online or found easily at Walmart, Joann's, or Sears.
It was commented that machines purchased from these places just come in a box with no support, classes, or information. That's what I aim to change. By reviewing these machines and teaching you how to get them ready for piecing and free motion quilting, I hope to show you that $500 can buy you just as much as $2000 if you know what to do with it.
RULE BREAK - Looking at the last 2 rules, I know I won't be able to resist reviewing a handful of older machines that are out of production, especially if they are readily available and easy to find on Ebay for less than $100. So I'm going to review 1 older, used machine for every 5-10 new machines, but again it has to be an older machine that is easy to find.
- Multiple brands - Reading through the reviews I've been struck by how many quilters pick one brand and stick with it. My own tendency has been to go with Janome since I've had such terrific experiences with that company recently.
But there are many more brands, and judging from the reviews, many brands I've never even heard of! It's going to be fun hunting down some new brands and shedding light on machines you might never have seen otherwise.
- Take it Slow - It's would be utterly pointless to purchase a new machine and rush through the review before I'm even comfortable using the machine. I need to take a few days or weeks to get used to each new machine.
I also plan to shoot multiple videos for each machine. Here's what I have planned for each machine so far:
Video #1 - Unpacking and Initial Impressions
Video #2 - Walkthrough of Basic Features and Functions
Video #3 - Piecing on the Machine
Video #4 - Free Motion Quilting On the Machine
Video #5 - Overall review and short project tutorial (optional depending on the machine).
This means, at most, we will have 12 Under $500 machine reviews each year. This will not only keep the program reasonable and affordable for us to run, it will also ensure that each new machine is thoroughly tested and played with before making a final judgment on it.
Still, I know your thirst for knowledge probably can't keep up with my slow speed, so hopefully the Sewing Machine Survey will take up the slack. I'm working on a new area of my website to house all the machine reviews in one place so it's easy to find the right machine for you.
Now that this new program has launched, and you understand the rules, let's check out the first machine!
The first machine to be reviewed is the Janome HD-1000.
Let's watch the very first video created on this machine. I show you how it looked literally straight out of the box! I unpack the machine, set it up on my table, and share my initial impressions of how it looks and feels.
This is a longer video, so click "play" then "pause" and let the little red bar fill up completely so the video fully loads before hitting "play" again to watch the whole thing all the way through:
I purchased this machine online from Ebay from an obvious dealer of machines (you can tell because they usually carry 10 or more of that particular model for a set "buy it now" price). If you aim to purchase this machine from Ebay, just make sure the seller you get it from has at least 99% positive feedback.
I paid $299.00 for this machine and shipping was free.
It arrived in 3 days in a sturdy box and came with the following bits and pieces:
- Standard Sewing (zig zag) foot (this was installed on the machine straight out of the box)
- Zipper Foot
- Buttonhole Foot
- Rolled Hem Foot
- 4 Bobbins
- 2 Screwdrivers
- Oil Container
- 2 felts
- Pack of needles
- Power cord and foot pedal combined
- Machine Manual
Setting up the HD-1000 on my table, my immediate impression is that this is a solid machine. It's not just that the body is made of metal instead of plastic. It's the finer details: the knobs are very secure and don't wiggle, they make an audible CLICK when you change stitches.
The quick change foot really impressed me. You might have noticed when I touched the piecing foot in the Janome Horizon video, the foot wiggled. This can definitely effect your precision when piecing because if the foot moves in relation to the needle, your 1/4" seam is obviously changing.
But on the HD-1000, the quick change is actually better quality and feels more stable. This machine also has the same bobbins as the Janome Horizon, so it would make for a great machine to take with you to classes if you already own the 7700.
The machine itself doesn't feel very heavy, but it does feel sturdy, do you know what I mean? It honestly reminds me a lot of my old Bernina Record 830, a solid, sturdy workhorse.
So that's it for my very first impressions of the Janome HD-1000! Straight out of the box I really like this machine, and I can't wait to get started piecing and quilting on it.
Next week I'm going to share Video #2 - Basic Functions and Features of this machine: how to wind a bobbin and stitch through a few stitches that comes standard on the machine.
Did you like this new tutorial? Make sure to share it with your friends!
Let's go quilt!