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Apr 1, 2016

My First Brand New Sewing Machine or "Hello, Kitty!"



Readers, say hello to the first brand new sewing machine I've ever purchased!

It's a Janome, model 14412, a lipstick pink Hello Kitty.

You may recall from an earlier post that I was curious about what kind of new sewing machine I could get for approximately $100 or less.  I chose the Janome 14412 because she is virtually identical to the Janome 2212, a somewhat more expensive model that has gotten excellent reviews around the internet.

I don't know if the Janome 14412 is exclusively a Target model, but the name Target does appear on the box.  I purchased my machine through Ken's Sewing Center in Alabama, via eBay, for just $99.99, with no additional tax or shipping costs.

I have no relationship with Janome and this isn't a sponsored post.  (It's also not an April Fools joke.)  I wanted to perform an experiment.  I interact with many different kinds of sewers, and I've come to realize that many are not open to vintage machines -- especially not at the beginning.  I want to be able to recommend, from first-hand experience, a model you can find at a Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond (in the USA).    It takes time to hunt for an old machine and not everybody has the time or the inclination.  New machines have their allure. They don't need rewiring or constant oiling and they don't smell like burning dust.







Like any machine, the Janome 14412 has its pros and cons.  Let's start with the pros.

PROS

The Janome is a relatively quiet, relatively smooth, fully mechanical zigzagger.  The 14412 has a somewhat hollow mechanical sound compared to my Bernina 930, but it weighs half as much -- about 13 lbs -- and it's not engineered and manufactured in Switzerland.  It starts and stops smoothly and I find its pedal responsive.  It has a .6 amp motor.  You won't mistake it for a Singer 201, but it provides a pleasant sewing experience.

The 14412 has metal casting, which I understand to mean that the inner frame is metal.  It does not bounce or shake at all.  It feels solid despite being mostly plastic.  Pink plastic.

It stitches beautifully.  I did side-by-side comparisons with my Bernina 930 and there was virtually no difference in stitch quality.  The stitches are extremely straight (as opposed to somewhat angled).  It performs straight stitch, zig zag, as well as a few utility and stretch stitches -- all the basics.







I am extremely fussy when it comes to thread tension.  I usually calibrate tension by stitching the longest stitch length down a single layer of my most fragile fabric.  There should be no gathering and stitches should look balanced (I generally use different colored thread above and below to help test this).  Even after adjusting the top tension, I found the bobbin tension to be slightly tight, so I loosened the screw on the bobbin case.  That was the only adjustment I needed.   Naturally, if I'm sewing through something very thick, I might raise the top tension to pull the bobbin threads up through many layers.  But the bobbin thread should not have to be adjusted.

In the pic below, the three lines of stitches on the right are the Janome; the line on the left is my Bernina 930.



You can see me sew on it here.

I didn't buy this machine because it is cute but, let's face it, it is cute.  (Though honestly, Hello Kitty means nothing to me.)   It's also lightweight and easy to carry (it has a handle).  Since my machines are always out, I didn't need a hard case and it doesn't come with one.

The Janome comes with a handful of snap-on presser feet.  If you're getting this machine, I recommend treating yourself to a larger selection of snap-on feet, as well as an all-metal short shank adapter (the Janome's is partially plastic).  You can find a set on eBay here.

The manual is clear.  Mine was English-only.



If you're a devoted straight-stitcher like me, you'll be happy to learn that on the Janome you can also use the vintage Singer straight-stitch presser foot -- my favorite due to its narrow toes and open design.  Just make sure you take it off if you switch to zigzag or you'll break a needle.



Overall, the pedal works well.  It starts the machine easily (without having to turn the handwheel, which I tend to do out of habit anyway) and relatively smoothly, and slows the machine when necessary.

The Janome winds bobbins beautifully -- balanced and very full.    It's also a cinch to thread.

Apparently this machine doesn't require oiling; we'll see. (Oiling isn't mentioned in the manual.)

CONS

Having owned this only one day but tested it thoroughly, I cannot identify any cons.  That's right: NO cons.  The feed dogs don't drop, but it comes with a nifty, easy-to-use feed-dog cover.

Remember, this is a $100 machine though it's mechanically identical to a machine that sells for a bit more (the 2212).  Despite its Kitty cuteness, it's not a toy.  It's ideal for the casual sewer, a beginner-level sewer, and especially, a (supervised) child.   But it has everything I need too.  Even a decent buttonhole, though I prefer the ones I make with my Singer buttonholer.





It hasn't struggled with anything I've put under the presser foot so far -- including 8 layers of wool flannel.  That said, I wouldn't use it for automobile upholstery.

If you demand the Mercedes-of-sewing-machines, this may not meet your expectations.   But if you're fine with a Ford, you'll be quite contented.

Finally, would a boy feel comfortable sewing on a pink Hello Kitty sewing machine?  This boy did.

Here it is next to my Bernina 930.  The Janome is a full-sized machine.



I'm keeping my Janome 14412 for now.   I want to see how it handles shirtmaking.  My hunch is that it will do just fine.

In closing, I know many (most) of my readers think $100 is better spent on an all-metal vintage machine and maybe they're right.  But for a first-time sewer who just wants to plug it in and sew (after reading the manual first, of course), I think this Janome  model is an excellent choice.  I'll keep you posted if anything happens to change my mind.

More about the 14412 on the Janome website (PS - nobody sells this model for the MSRP of $249).

Have a great day, everybody!



41 comments:

  1. Ummm...I'm really tempted to get a second machine - just so I don't have to rethread a zillion times when making jeans. Maybe this is it. I mean, no need to pay through the nose. The only thing I wonder...if any parts out quickly, it probably isn't worth the cost to fix?

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    1. No, I don't think it would be worth it, frankly. There's the rub!

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  2. Glad to see the review. I had considered this machine, or some version of it, for my younger brother. As an 8 year old, I don't think he would have liked the pinkness much. (I don't think I could tolerate pink myself for that matter). Since then he seems to have lost interest in sewing, but I have always wondered about this range of machines. Given the hit-or-miss of vintage, and the necessary research, I'd recommend a new machine like this for beginners.

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    1. Depending on where you are, you can also get the Janome New Home in Graceful Grey. It's the same size and type as the hello kitty version, but in a soft grey.

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    2. I had been looking for an option for an 11 year old granddaughter when this post came into my feed. We got one for her in May. Very quickly she started having problems with the motor heating up and the machine would seize up until she allowed it to cool. Now, I'm trying to find out how to follow up through Janome. We made the purchase from an ebay store so I hope all goes well. We ordered the turq one - still says Hello Kitty but it's not quite as princessy looking and she adored it - lightweight, easy to understand, all the gadgets right there in the box, cute, great instructions. Then she stayed up late sewing in her cloud of creativity and it couldn't keep up!

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  3. Glad you found something you like.

    There are Hello Kitty models in other colors and with various stitch selections if glaring pink plastic isn't your style. I think the prices vary but most I've seen are around $100, perhaps a bit more. I saw the two-tone teal 3/4 sized machine at Goodwill today for $9.99.

    For myself, computerized machines are the only moderns that offer the very real advantage of convenience. I believe Janome's machines in this segment start around $250 - $300.

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  4. Thank-you. This is a great public service.

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  5. I have a Janome Gem, forget the number, but it is a very basic manual straight, zigzag, 3-step buttonhole machine with three stitch lengths. I take it to quilting classes. My guild has several 660s, and they are good loaner machines for light use. They do NOT stand up to heavy use. For someone learning and not sure if they're into sewing, they provide a nice experience with little to no difficulty. Someone who sews a lot will just burn them up. We(the guild) have had ours tuned up, but it's now costing about $79 per machine for servicing, and I suspect they won't last too many more years. Even with very limited (2-4x per year) use.

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  6. Peter, when you take the bobbin case out and throat plate off, to clean the machine, is there a little hole with a cotton "wick" in it? That is for oiling... just a couple of drops. Don't pull the wick out thinking it's some lint, I tried that with my first Janome and soon realized that it wasn't lint! I oil my Janomes every other bobbin change or so.

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    1. I will have to look, Kathy. Thanks for the heads up!

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  7. I love and sew on vintage machines, especially for top stitching, I insist on a couple of certain models. However, I confess, I've been eyeing on the pastel green Janome Hello Kitty machine for no apparent good reason except for its cuteness and portability! Every time I browse on the internet for one of those, my Singer Genie looks at me as if to say, "Am I not cute enough for you?"

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    1. That made me laugh! I owned a Singer Genie and I sold it: It was loud and grindy, not particularly lightweight, and I hated slipping it out of its case. The flower decals were cute though.

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  8. I've been sewing on Janome/New Home for 47 years or so. I have 3 now. I would recommend this Hello Kitty machine without having sewn on it. Janome does small inexpensive machines very well. And I bought one of my machines from Ken's and would do so again. Welcome to the club.

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  9. I bought a Janome 712 T a few years ago. It is a modern drop in bobbin basic machine. It is meant to be used in a treadle base ( no motor ) . I set it up in an old Singer treadle base. I am very satisfied with it far. . It is my main machine now., after getting sick of electronics. It serves my garment sewing needs very well. Sometimes I think people believe they need expensive complicted machines to do good work. Enjoy your new machine . It certainly brings on a happy mood just looking at it.
    Best Wishes,
    Gail

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  10. Well I said something by Janome or Toyota is what I would choose......now did you do the mother of all tests.........that being, hemming a pair of jeans!! That's where the "backbone" of the machine comes into play and separates the boys from the men!!

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    1. Does this mean you're going plastic any time soon???

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    2. I've reached my machine limit! My Kenmore has a heavy gauge plastic shell, much heavier than the junk on Walmart's shelf.......but I wouldn't try hemming jeans with it, I leave that to my cast iron Singer 99k (I've named her Susanne after the friend who gifted it to me). I have a niece who expressed an interest in sewing and I wouldn't hesitate giving Hello Kitty to her, looks like Peter has found a winner!

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  11. I got a second machine for just under 130 bucks to haul around when quilting. I purchased a Brother XR770 (despite a previous Costco/Brother Sewing Machine disaster) because it had greta reviews from quilters and came with a table and allowed for drop feed dogs and free motion. WOW! I am devoted to my ancient Bernina 830, but this little machine has put in years of quilting, denim sewing, and even worked for soft leather projects. I have always been puzzled by people who don't like vintage machines (I still use my Singer that I got for Christmas age 6). And I am far too frugal to be covetous of machines with the price tags of cars. This relatively low cost addition to my machine family has given huge bang for the bucks. Long live the well-made, modestly priced sewing machine!

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  12. Janome is a good brand, but they is no photo beetween 930 bernina and this janome.!! the 930 is the rools (sorry for my english)!!

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  13. My parents bought me a Janome Sewist 521 for my birthday seven years ago and it started my interest in sewing. It's a great little machine, I've sewn both heavy and lightweight fabrics on it and never had any problems. I sometimes hear people yap about how you can't get a decent sewing machine for less than 1000 euros and just cast them a pitying look!

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  14. This has been my experience too. It is hard to beat an entry level Janome. I gave each of my nieces machines like this. One of them never did much with it, the other one is now sewing complex cosplay. I upgraded her by giving her my Pfaff 2042. And yes that meant I had a reason to buy myself a new sewing machine. heh heh heh

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  15. My first machine was a low-end Janome, and it soldiered along surprisingly well through all kinds of jeans making and other shenanigans. BUT, when it did use up al the oil in the built in reservoirs, it seized completely and had to be serviced, (it was fine after service, but the service cost as much as your little machine here) and after about four years of heavy service it was pretty much worn out. I think that's the biggest difference in the lower end machines---how long they will (or won't) hold up.

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  16. I have bought the Janome Jem for my children and there is also a Kenmore (Sears) version that uses the same feet. I use mine for taking to class and traveling and it is perfect. Quilters love them...just wishing I had waited to buy the pink Kitty version...a drop of oil on the wick is all I ever do after 10 years of sewing and teaching and never had a servicing.

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  17. Careful with oiling. A lot of modern machines have oil impregnated cogs. If you oil over them it creates a film which makes them useless. If the instructions don't mention oiling, I wouldn't oil it.

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    1. Well, my Janome dealer did tell me to oil the wick in the bobbin area. I don't know anything about other brands of sewing machines, so absolutely it's a good idea to check with a dealer about one's own machine.

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  18. I have to chime in here. Years ago, my husband decided to sew a tipi. Not a dinky little kids tipi, but a real lodge from canvas. I helped him get started and this is really how I got back in to sewing. We started on a hand me down vintage machine and promptly burned it out ( looking back, we could have replaced some parts but we didn't know). So we went to k-mart and bought the cheapest machine we could find-- a singer with the same functions as this Janome. It was on sale for $75. And he sewed the whole damn tipi on it!! A 16 ft traditional Sioux tipi. At certain points he was sewing through multiple, multiple layers of canvas. It may have just been a fluke, but who knows. I still have it but don't sew in it anymore, although I sewed on it for a long time. I like vintage machines, too, but don't ever turn my nose up at a new machine.

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  19. I pulled out my newer Brother i received as a gift a few years ready to practice on it and it decided It didnt like me to day and i had tension and stitch problems through just two layers of cotton! UGH I pulled out the Neechi (80s Japanese made) that I bought on a whim online and after learning it for a bit sewed like a dream! realizing I enjoy the simpler mechanical metal machines they are better for me will use the brother for the bobbin winder till I have that part of the Neechi looked at

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  20. My daughter has been sewing on the equivalent of this machine for about 6 years now. It works well enough, but when I let her use my mid-range Janome, she is impressed at how smoothly my machine glides along.

    My local Spotlight is selling a Pfaff 160 this week for under $100. I don't need another machine, but I have never heard of a pfaff going so cheaply, so I was tempted...if anyone has anything to say about the pfaff 160 I would love to hear it.

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  21. This is so useful, thank you for taking the time and effort to post this information! I just might dip my toes into buying a sewing machine! :)

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  22. I can't help but do what I always do when I see a rice like this - the math. Shipping say $10, profit for the retailer say $20, Janome need to turn profit too so if that left $35-$40 to make all the parts, assemble the machine, test, pack and ship to the US, many people through that process are being underpaid and exploited. I don't think this is justifiable.

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    1. Dirt poor countries -- many of them -- actively seek out industrial jobs their massively unemployed people can do for hard cash, people grateful to be working for pennies. A hundred jobs here, a thousand jobs there. After a bit, enough jobs so wages rise, and rise yet again, and still more. Inside of twenty years, the teenage citizens of formerly dirt poor countries are riding Honda motorcycles like teenagers everywhere. FWIW, the grandfather of a high school buddy of mine was born in a wigwam, in Wisconsin.

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    2. @Martin Frederick, this is excuse making. The fact of the matter is that someone is making a killing and it's not the people making these things. The same argument of 'development' as an explanation for poor wages was made in the west until people saw they were being gypped and then the operations moved on to where people are less aware (and less supported).

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  23. (in a Micheal Caine voice): Peter, no...NO!

    These things are good for a few years, but they go wrong.

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  24. When my middle child started her journey towards becoming a fashion designer, I bought her an inexpensive Singer at Target. They had discontinued the Hello Kitty models in stores.

    The model I chose was the Singer Esteem II. While it issn't strictly under $100 right now, the day I bought it, it was on sale for $99.99 and I had a magical 10% off coupon. So at the time of purchase, it deed meet the challenge.

    I've owned a plethora of what I like to call "cheap" machines. One thing they all had in common was the noise factor. This little Singer doesn't have that issue. Like your delightful Hello Kitty machine, the Singer Esteem II is fairly solid and does a decent job. The first thing it got to make fresh from the box was a layered fleece pillow thingy. It handled that masterfully with decent stitching. We also loaned it do a seamstree friend of ours who was travelling through our town and didn't bring her machines with her. She was doing bridal alterations for family and borrowed the machine and pronounced it good.

    For a beginner sewist, all that is *needed* is straight stitch and zig zag stitch. This "little" machine has those but the OTHER thing it has that made it my choice for my daughter was FULLY adjustable stitch WIDTH and LENGTH. If the needle doesn't go all the way to the left and all the way to the right for straight stitching, I don't want to know it. Which is why I opted for the Singer rather than the more expensive (yet I could've gotten a discount on it) Viking Emerald 116. It even does "automatic" buttonholes.

    I'm under no delusion that it will last forever. But it will be sufficient.

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  25. Those mechanical Janomes are what made me fall truly in love with Home Ec in the 90's in New Zealand. I had sewn on Bernina's in Home Ec Middle School (830's) and they were always a little fussy and abused. I now have a Bernina of my own and many vintage sewing machines but I think to really get started having a simple no fuss machine really helps.

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  26. I was expecting you to purchase a Brother sewing machine because of your July 26, 2010 post..."Oh Brother (LS-2125), not again!" post.

    You wrote...
    "This machine is not vintage and it's really interesting to compare it to my older ones. I actually like the fact that it's so lightweight. It sits firmly on my sewing table and doesn't vibrate. And I find the foot pedal to be very responsive -- it can go slow or fast but doesn't race. For $50 or so, which is what you can get one of these for these days, it's a great value. It threads intuitively and fast. It feels powerful. Sure plastic is plastic and I doubt anyone's going to be sewing with it fifty years hence, but you know, it is not junk. Good needles and thread and you're good to go."

    Btw the Brother LS-2125 in your July 26, 2010 post cleaned up nicely! What an excellent find. I purchased a Brother LS 2125 from goodwill for $20. Mine also cleaned up nicely and I'm very happy with it. For the price, these machines are great machines. You can always find them on eBay for a low price.

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  27. I love your Janome. As long as you're not using this machine to sew denim on a regular basis I'm sure it will last a while.

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  28. Your machine looks exactly like my little Babylock BL9. This was the first machine I bought when I started sewing at home a few years ago. http://www.babylock.com/sewing/bl9/ There was a Kenmore version of it as well. This basic designed machine has been around for over 20 years now. It is a good basic machine that will handle all the basic needs of the home sewer. I make a roman shade with mine and it handled some very thick seams of home dec fabric with a bit of encouragement.

    I also used it in one of my Youtube videos on how to hem a heavy pair of jeans on a home machine.

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  29. Apparently, I read somewhere, that this machine is the same as a lot of the entry level machines with different badges. In the UK it is the John Lewis machine (also made by Janome), Elna Fun Sew... They all look the same. Glad it's OK though. Wouldn't buy one personally.

    I've just bought 2 almost vintage sewing machines from eBay, as my first machines. I'm bonkers really! Both are Frister and Rossmans, the Beaver 4 I bought first and then I fell in love after the auction and winning the thing with a 503. That I also won on an auction. The Beaver 4 looks like plastic casing but it comes with its bits (bobbins, brushes, feet etc) but no manual. The 503 comes with no bits but a manual and apparently is aluminium casing. It looks sturdy.

    I'm awaiting arrival via the courier. I hope it arrives in one piece. As soon as they're out of their boxes and cases a good cleaning and oiling.

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