Way back in January, the folks at Janome sent me one of their sewing machines (on loan) to use and review. I’ve spent 6 months sewing on the Janome Memory Craft 6300, learning the ins and outs of this machine and becoming familiar with its features and functions.
Consistency in tension and stitch. I’ve used this machine several times a week during the past 6 months, and in that time I’ve seen nothing but consistent, pretty stitches. I’ve had no problems keeping the tension adjusted.
Size and weight. When I first cracked open the box and saw it sitting there, my first thought was , “Man, this is BIG!” That thought was immediately followed by “..and heavy!” as I pulled it out of the box and on to the table. While the size and weight of this machine mean that this isn’t the model that you’d pack up to take to a friend’s house or a sewing class, it does mean that it’s a pretty heavy duty machine. And 9” of sewing space accommodates larger projects (hey, quilters!).
Automatic thread cutter. Push the thread cutter button, and the machine snips your threads for you. Honestly, I don’t use this feature as much as I thought I would. Most of the time, I prefer to just cut the threads myself using the thread cutting blade at the back of the machine.
The auto thread cutter snips the thread close to the fabric, but not flush. The short little threads can get jumbled up into the stitching on the back on the fabric. It still looks nice and neat on the front, but it’s not as pretty on the back. Snipping the threads myself means I can snip flush to the fabric and avoid that. On the other hand, I do find that this feature is REALLY helpful when I’m doing a lot of stopping and starting in the middle of a large piece of fabric – like when I’m free motion stitching. Rather than having to remove the work from the machine each time I need to start a new line of stitching, I can just hit the thread cutter button and move to the next piece of stitching.
Adjustable pressure on the presser foot. (Try saying that 5 times fast!) This is a nice feature when sewing on stretch knits. Being able to lessen the pressure helps keep the knit from stretching as it goes under the presser foot. It’s not a make-or-break feature for sewing knits, but every extra bit of control over the stretch helps.
Clear window over the bobbin. No more wondering how much bobbin I have left!
Speed control. This is a nice feature. The speed control is like a governor for your sewing machine; it sets the maximum speed that your machine can go. I tend to sew fast, and sometimes I get cocky and think that I can stitch faster than I ought to. When I’m sewing long, straight seams you better believe that I have it set to all-out full speed. But on tricky curves or times when I need to be more careful, I can lower the max speed so my stitching stays neat.
All those feet! I was thrilled to see how many feet came with this machine. I use the standard foot most often, but I was sooo happy to see that it comes with a free motion foot and a walking foot as well. (These are just a couple of the feet/accessories included with this machine. Check the specs for a full list.)
Free motion stitching. I was pleased with how well this machine handles free motion stitching. This is important to me, as I do a lot of raw-edge appliqués with tight corners and curves.
Strong motor can sew through thick fabrics. Up until now, my experience has been that newer machines can’t handle thick fabrics as well as older ones. I’ve been proven wrong. At one point I had a project that required me sewing through 12 layers of quilting cotton. The machine didn’t so much as hesitate.
Stitch controls. There are more than 60 stitches and 4 buttonholes to choose from. Most of the time, I use either a standard straight stitch or a zig zag. I can appreciate that the process for choosing the stitch pattern and setting width/length is straightforward (no complicated menus and submenus), but on the other hand it does involve a lot of button pushing.
The pattern selection buttons increment through the stitches in ascending order only. They do divide them between four buttons (1-15, 16-33,etc.) but if you miss your stitch you have to go all the way through the sequence to get to it again. In order to change the stitch width, you push another button to increment either up or down. Same for the stitch width. And every time you switch between patterns or turn off your machine, the settings revert back to their defaults.
In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t really a big deal. In fact, I suppose if I set a timer, I’d see that it takes no more than 30 seconds to choose a stitch and adjust the length and width.
The manual. I know, I know. Who reads the manual, right? I DO!!! (Might have something to do with the fact that I used to write user manuals and online help systems for a living…) The manual is accurate, but seems a bit sparse. Specifically, I would have liked to have see more context about when or why to use special functions of the machine.
Now that I’ve given the long version of the review, let’s get to just the facts…
Sewing machine: Janome MC6300 Get the specs.
List price: $1399
Overall impression: Good machine! Sturdy, reliable, easy to use. Features and functions are ones that you’d want to use. Great set of accessories that accompany the machine.
Good machine for: Serious home sewists and professionals. The price tag makes this more appropriate as an investment in a serious hobby, rather than a “let’s see if I like sewing” machine.
[photos from Janome]