Brand: Janome / Model: J3-20 / Price point: £230
My beginner sewing machine (A Brother LS14) sadly stopped working at the start of September, and after researching the cost of repair I decided it was time to replace it and go for an upgraded option. I had a budget of around £200 – £250 and I was keen to try a Janome model as I have heard so many good things about them. The J3-20 model seemed to tick the right boxes – it was within my budget while still having more stitches and features than my last machine.
About the J3-20
The J3-20 is actually an upgraded version of Janome’s J3-18 and features 16 utility stitches, 4 decorative stitches and an automatic one step button hole. The machine has 2 dials for choosing your stitch and stitch length which is very simple to operate. Other features of this machine include a built in needle threader, quick foot conversion, drop feed for freehand embroidery and a convertible forearm for circular sewing. The J3-20 comes with a good selection of accessories – needles, screwdriver, seam ripper, bobbins and 6 feet (including zipper, blind hem, satin stitch and button hole). You get an A4 booklet with instructions on how to use all of the features and also a soft cover to keep your machine dust and debris free while not in use.
Setting up the machine
Setting up this machine was a breeze! The instruction booklet is really clear and it not only talks you through the initial set up, but also how to use each stitch, how to troubleshoot and a guide to machine maintenance. I think I had this machine set up and running within 20 minutes of unboxing.
Thoughts on the J3-20
I’ve been using this sewing machine for around 2 months now and it is a dream to sew with! It is definitely an upgrade from my last machine, whilst still being straightforward and easy to use, and still having lots of scope. I’ve been sewing most days since it arrived for both small crafts and dressmaking, and I’ve even sewn my first ever T-shirt with a stretch jersey fabric – I loved having such a good choice of stretch stitches to play with (the “straight stretch stitch” is fabulous for a really neat finish). The machine is also fairly quiet, responsive and it feels really “sturdy” to sew with. I would say it makes a great choice for those wanting a mid range machine.
The one step automatic button hole feature is simply amazing! I used to hate doing button holes because it was hard to get the correct tension on my old machine and they always used to come out looking really wonky. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen at all now!
The range of stretch stitches is also great! As I mentioned above, I’m just starting out with sewing jersey and knits, but I’ve loved having a wide range of stitches to try out. There really is one to suit every fabric or project I will make!
The ease of maintenance is an important feature for me, and this machine is super easy to keep clean. The bobbin is front loading, and it is easy to open up and brush out the dust that has gathered. As you get a small screwdriver with your accessories, you can easily open up the footplate and clean that area out as well. These are the important maintenance steps that will help keep a machine running smoothly and I’m trying to get into the habit of doing this after each project to really keep everything in tip top condition!
I’m thrilled with my purchase of the Janome J3-20 – it has ticked all of the right boxes for me – being an upgrade from my brother machine, straightforward to use and being within my budget whilst still having a lot of scope for improving my sewing and dressmaking skills. I would not hesitate the recommend this machine to anyone who is looking for that first step up in a sewing machine!