I mentioned that I was in the market for a new, better sewing machine.
I was thinking about a Juki 600, but Alli put me off, suggesting I “keep looking”.
Mrs Mole suggested I had a look at Patternreview.com as they have a lot of sewing machine reviews on there. I also read Artisanssquare.com and posted my own question (and got lots of helpful replies). Mrs M proposed that I try the Elna 720 and I found a shop near my mother’s home that purportedly stocked them, at £1099.
So on a very wet Saturday we visited the Hobkirk Sewing Machines Ltd shop in Blackburn, Lancashire, where we were given tea and coffee and an appointment with Mr Marcus Gannon, the Manager.
It is an amazing shop, with an overwhelming number of machines to try.
Even more exciting is that they have a sewing machine museum with some wonderful old machines – well worth a look if you are in the area.
Unfortunately they didn’t have the Elna 720 in stock so I was unable to have a go on Mrs Mole’s favourite machine. Marcus suggested two other machines for me, in my price range (of approximately £1000). I was comparing these two machines with the Juki which I had already tried previously.
The Janome Memory Craft 6600 Professional at £1199 was a good machine. I liked the walking foot, but when we changed to a button-hole foot it was quite a palaver. I liked the “handy short cuts” although all three machines have these – the ability to stop, cut, back-stitch, automatic threading, knee lift etc. These might seem like small details, and inessential, but I think those seconds saved, or the ability to use your hands more easily would make a difference.
After the messing around with the foot change, Marcus suggested I tried the Pfaff Performance 5.0. This was on special offer at £1299 and I think it was probably well worth the extra £100. The “IDT” walking foot arrangement was much better than the Janome which seemed a bit “cheap” by comparison. I liked the Pfaff and was soon using it with confidence. There were some nice features with the computer screen showing you graphically what you are doing and allowing customisation. I think this is a good machine at a great price.
But, maybe my mind is playing tricks on me, but I think I still prefered the Juki. Judith (on Artisans Square) kindly commented:
I have the Juki Exceed F600. Juki is mostly an industrial machine maker. Their domestic machines are exceptionally well made. Their customer service is not so good – perhaps because their experience is not with a consumer base. On the other hand, the machine is of sufficient quality that customer service isn’t an issue, except of course for the manual and for extra help in using the various features. For that, there’s Facebook and Yahoo. I don’t use the decorative stitches much, so can’t say much. The few times I’ve used one, I’ve been happy. And the button holes are very good. I have used it a lot for knits, and like that I can adjust the pressure of the presser foot. One perhaps silly point: This machine sounds the way I think a sewing machine should sound. Hard to explain that. I’ve had my F600 about 5 years and I would buy it again.
Ambimom also had some sage advice:
I don’t envy you. This is the decision we all anguish over isn’t it! I have a mechanical Juki (27Z) which I really like because of the stitch quality — which is the best. You’re definitely right about the customer service from Juki; it doesn’t exist, but I did explore the F600 myself, except I had just invested in a Janome 6600P and could not justify the switch. These are both good machines. In the end, you just bite the bullet. Given that you’ve got two good choices, if it were me, I’d pick based on price. But then there’s always something, isn’t there? Good luck!
I really wanted to buy a machine from Hobkirks – and I still might. I think the four options
- Janome 6600P
- Juki F600
- Elna 720
- Pfaff performance 5.0
all have followers and it is probably just as difficult as choosing a car – so much comes down to personal choice.