I bought my Janome 525S last year and have been so happy with it. I have wanted to review it for you for a long time, and now that I have tried and tested quite a lot of the functions I feel like I’m in a much better position to do it! I was hoping to get it done before 2014 was out, but never mind…here goes!
Why did I choose this machine?
I did a LOT of research before settling on this one. I wanted a machine that was a bit more advanced than a basic machine, but I didn’t want to get one that was too fancy. My budget was £200-300, so that ruled out a lot anyway, but there was also the fact that I love doing embroidery by hand so there was no point in getting one that could do that if I wasn’t going to use it! But I did want to find one that could do buttonholes and freehand embroidery using a darning foot (this is sold separately – see later section of my review!). This machine does have consistently good reviews (at least it did when I was looking into it) and it is also used on The Great British Sewing Bee. I paid £249 for this machine and it was worth every penny.
What do you get?
The machine comes with a plastic cover and machine plug. It has accessory storage underneath the extension table and comes with the following bits and bobs:
Blind hemming foot
Automatic buttonhole foot
Bobbins (I think I got 5, but I bought some extras so not sure now!)
Small and large spool holders and an additional spool pin
Tools for care (screwdriver/lint brush/felt cushion)
The machine comes with a 2-year warranty, which can be registered online.
This machine is perfect if you’ve had some experience of sewing already, or you’re a beginner who is determined to have this as a long-term hobby. It’s so easy to use! The instructions are clear for the basic functions of the machine, although I did have to read one or two things a few times (but that could just be me!). It does come with a needle threader but I must admit that this is one of the features that I have not yet tried out, as I usually just thread it myself. However, my friend Daria has the same machine and she says that it is super easy to use and she uses it all the time! The machine is a top loader so it is very easy to load and you can see when you’re running out of thread. I didn’t have this on my last machine, so found myself sewing with no thread rather frequently – argh!
You can see the stitching guides on the cover here too – these are really helpful! I made a sample of the basic stitches for your here too – a bit wobbly, but you’ll get the idea. They cover pretty much everything I need so that’s useful.
One thing that I did find quite awkward was the reverse stitch button. It didn’t seem to work at first, and given that I had spent a lot of money on it I didn’t want to be too firm with it. But I realised that it actually moves down part of the way without doing anything, but you have to press more firmly to push it right down for it to work. It isn’t a problem once you know this, but the instructions don’t point it out and I thought that the function was broken, when it was fine all along! So that was a bit embarrassing after I sent it back…at least I can pass this bit of important information on to you now 🙂
In addition to the basic stitches, you can also do overcasting (which is like overlocking, but without the need for an overlocker), blind hems and insert a zip. The machine comes with the right feet to do all of these things too (the invisible zip foot is sold separately – see the ‘extras’ section), and it is really handy to be able to do overcasting when making clothes for a neater, more professional finish. I used all of these functions when I made Tom’s trousers and after a couple of practice attempts on some fabric scraps (which is always advisable) I was able to do them no problem. The zip foot is easy to sew with, but you just need to make sure you have things the right way around! I found the instructions to be clear here, which is good.
Another stitch that comes under this heading is buttonhole stitch, and (thankfully!) this machine does automatic buttonholes. When I made the waistcoats for our wedding I did them all manually so this function is amazing to me! All you have to do is pop the button in the end of the buttonhole foot and place your fabric in the right place and the machine will do the rest. Great stuff! But make sure you practice on some scraps first to get the hang of this, as you wouldn’t want to ruin a garment by getting it wrong. You also need to remember that when stitching the second side of the buttonhole, you need to keep an eye on when to stop as the machine doesn’t stop automatically at the end like some machines do!
This is my practice attempt the first time I used it – you can see that it produces lovely buttonholes! Then you just need to rip them open with a seam ripper (provided). You just need to remember that when stitching the second side of the buttonhole, you need to keep an eye on when to stop as the machine doesn’t stop automatically at the end
I have since made another waistcoat for Tom – click here if you want to see how that turned out. Some of the stitches that I am yet to try out include the straight and zigzag stretch stitches and the button sewing stitch. I haven’t really made anything with stretch fabric yet, but I’ll update this when I do! I also stitch buttons on by hand, and will probably continue to do so.
The instructions cover several stitches which they refer to as ‘decorative stitches’, which include decorative satin and stretch stiches, smocking, quilting, pin and shell tucking, fagoting, patchwork and applique. The only one of these that I have tried out is quilting using the quilting guide, and this is very easy to do. If you’re new to quilting then it’s really good to have a guide as you go along – to try this out I made a fabric cover for my machine using the guide, and it meant that the quilting was evenly spaced. Click here to see the tutorial to make a cover.
I bought a few extra things for my machine that have come in handy (to varying degrees). If you want to have different feet for this machine, each one costs about £15, so you’ll need to bear this in mind. I chose to get an invisible zip foot and a darning foot for freehand embroidery. The zip foot is really easy to use, but I would suggest a practice run first. It does come with its own instructions in the packet, and they are easy to follow.
The darning foot is a bit more tricky to use, to be honest! This is definitely something that will need lots of practice. It was also a little bit awkward to set up the first time, but I think it will be easier next time. I made this when I was playing around with this foot, and it’s something that I’d love to master.
I also bought a bias tape foot for attaching bias binding to quilts. However, there is obviously a knack for this foot and I don’t have it – I cannot get it to work at all! I’m going to try to persevere with it, but you may find it easier to use your standard foot for binding and stitch the back of your binding by hand.
Ok, I think that’s about it! Oh, I did read about this little computer keyboard hoover on Tilly and the Buttons a while back, and it is really useful for cleaning out the machine. I should also say that I recommended this machine to a couple of my friends, and they love it too. I hope that you have found this review helpful! And no matter which machine you choose, happy sewing 🙂
***Please note that this is not a sponsored post – I bought this with my own money and wanted to give you a genuine review of this Janome machine.***
Post updated 14th August 2016.