Saturday, 13 June 2015

My New Sewing Machine: Janome DKS30


Despite the obviously main topic of this blog, I never though to write about my new sewing machine. I don't tend to talk about sewing equipment here, partly because I'm not a tech-head of any kind, and partly because I try not to perpetuate the idea that being into sewing requires buying loads of 'stuff'. However, I was talking to a bunch of lovely students whilst teaching a class recently, and most of them commented that they found reading reviews of sewing machines on sewing blogs had been really useful to them when they started getting into sewing and were looking for advice. So I'm going to briefly talk about mine. 


Secondhand Vs. New

Now, as you probably know, I am ALL about buying and using secondhand stuff where possible. I'm not going to pretend that by living in a developed nation like the UK I don't have a large carbon footprint, but by consuming stuff that already exists rather than generating more 'need' for new products, that footprint can undoubtedly be reduced. And trying to reduce our carbon footprint is something that we all should be in the business of where we can. So why the hell have I bought a brand spanking new sewing machine then? Well, lemme tell you. 

I've been sewing in some form or another since my A-levels (about 18 years ago, wha?!). I've always had secondhand sewing machines that whole time but in about the last five years I've gone through them at a pretty alarming rate. Despite getting them serviced regularly, recently they've been lasting me only about 18 months on average, probably because I tend to sew more often than domestic sewing machines are really designed for (like, daily). When my most recent machine died and couldn't be resurrected by the local sewing machine guy, I thought about contacting my usual secondhand sewing machine purveyor who I totally trust and would recommend in a heart beat. But then I thought about it some more and decided this time I would move to level 4 of how I consume: buy the best new version I can afford, and take bloody good care of it! I've spent the same amount of money on secondhand sewing machines in recent years as I did on this Janome DKS30, and I'm hoping that with regular servicing I can make it last a longgggg time. 

I'm kind of in the in-between position where I don't sew quite enough (or have the space or money) for an industrial sewing machine, but probably sew a bit too regularly for most domestics. And I like the different stitch settings and buttonhole functions on a domestic, as well as being able to move it about with ease. Fingers crossed stretching my budget for a decent domestic sewing machine will prove the right choice, but I would (and usually do) recommend that people think about getting a serviced secondhand sewing machine, especially if they are just starting out and sewing hasn't taken over their lives (yet) like it has mine! 



Why the Janome DKS30?

I've used the Janome DKS100 at Tilly's HQ whilst teaching the Coco and Zips and Buttonholes classes, and was really impressed. I've tried a number of different Janome models as all the sewing schools I've worked for use them, but the DKS100 felt a bit more solid and reliable, and was generally more of a joy to use. The DKS30 (the one I bought) is pretty much the same but with fewer pre-set pattern stitches and is orange rather than blue. Oh, and fifty quid cheaper. It was still pretty expensive though, £450 to be precise. It was a stretch, financially, but everyone I spoke to about my dilemma  seemed to think that buying a decent machine was a no-brainer considering it is such a big part of how I make money and use my spare time. I could easily have opted for a more pared down model, but  enjoyable features like an auto thread cutter felt like justifiable extras if I was shelling out for a new machine anyhow. Plus, my sewing area is in the corner of our downstairs (which is just one big room) so my machine is always on view, therefore I wanted one that is nice to look at. Plus the orange matches the cushions on our sofa!  

So far I've been super pleased with it. It is light-weight enough to take it on and off my sewing table with ease when I want to change to using my overlocker, but doesn't feel flimsy or plastic-y. The auto thread cutter is awesome, and I use the needle up/down button all the time as well. My previous sewing machine didn't have an automatic one-step buttonhole function, so it's great to have one of those back in my life again, and I've had my most successful twin-needle attempts so far on it as well! Here's hoping that all these functions continue to work for many many years to come....

15 comments:

Frankie Carson said...

I was lucky enough to have a new sewing machine for my 21st! But seen as my old one was still basically working (just a bit tired from all the art textiles projects I shoved through it!) I gave it too my sister!
That didn't stop me from expecting two more sewing machines for free when people where getting rid of them! I figure this way I won't have to buy a machine for ages! Xxx

Marilla Walker said...

Well timed post! My parents bought me a basic Toyota for Christmas one year when I was at school,and it's lasted forever and is the only sewing machine I've ever owned. I fear it is getting a little ropey however as it has definitely bedn put through it's paces so an upgrade may be in order VERY soon. In fact I was worried it was going to conk out just last night!!! Love using industrials best of all, but the space and weight of the things is not practical for my house. A janome sounds good, but I worry about high tech machines being more likely to fail so may go basic model again, but I'm easily talked into things to be honest! ;-)

tialys said...

I have a more basic Janome which I'm very happy with - it also has a one step buttonhole function and up/down needle button but no automatic thread cutter and, sadly, it doesn't match my cushions. I bought the model I have after reading a review by Lisa on UHandblog which helped me make my mind up so these sorts of reviews are definitely useful.

Mother of Reinvention said...

This looks like a nice machine and I always find machine reviews helpful. I will probably be in the market for a new machine in the next year or so, I have lots of vintage machines though that sew beautifuly and two newer ones; one quite high end and the other a basic Brother. You can never have too many machines though. Xx

katherine h said...

I have been working part time in a sewing machine repair shop for a few months. I am amazed at how many machines come in and the owners don't know how to clean out the bobbin case area themselves. I'm sure you already do this, but on the slightest chance that you don't...get somebody to show you how to do this and your machine can go much longer between services and may even last longer. I sew almost daily and I clean out my bobbin case every every week or two. It only takes a couple of minutes.

Enjoy your new machine. I have been sewing on my current mechanical machine for 13 years now, but am thinking of upgrading soon. I have been teaching sewing classes and have found that almost every single one of my students has a fancier machine than I do. So I have been reading lots of sewing machine reviews lately. Thanks for your review and happy sewing.

Zoey Dowell said...

I really want an upgrade, only because I've been sewing almost everyday on my pretty basic janome for 18months. I imagine I will have problems soon. I wished I'd spent more on my first machine but I had no idea I would fall in love with sewing like I have. It's a Big Part of my life now. Surely I 'deserve' one like yours. Seriously !!!
But really there's nothing wrong with my current machine, I'm just unhappy with it and want a shiny new one. Thanks for the review

Jeanette Archer said...

My very first sewing machine was a 70's Singer that my Dad bought me when I was 15. That machine had a LOT of use, but I finally upgraded 12 years ago to a Husqvarna which I thought would last me the rest of my life, and it's still going strong, but I very fortunately was given a Janome Atelier recently and I adore it!I'm like you, I sew a lot and I teach, and ideally I'd have a semi industrial at the very least, but no space. I'm hopeful of my Husky and Janome lasting me now. :)

Knitlass said...

Oooh. Looks nice :-)

I was given a new singer for my 21st. I have sewn quite a lot with it over the years, and I have tried to look after it. Let's just say I've now had my machine more than 21 years. I suspect it might not last many more - but I'm going to keep it until it conks out!

Laura said...

I've got the same model and I am so happy with it! I recently thought the needle threading thing had broken but discovered yesterday that it had repaired itself, so I am now convinced it's also a magic machine :)

sewcialwarrior said...

I recently upgraded to the DKS100 and love it for all of the reasons you mentioned. Automatic one-step buttonholes, where have u been all my life?? I'be also found it's great for teaching my 6yr old to sew- she doesn't have to be able to reach the foot control, she uses the start/stop butting and I control the speed control. Plus no fiddling round for the thread cutter and hand wheel. I had come into a small amount of money and figured I would not get another opportunity to in grade my very basic Brother LS14. I considered it an investment in the craft I love and my future happiness. Great machines and I would 100% recommend it. P.s. I recently posted about this on my blog

Catherine said...

You get to work at Tilly Towers!!!!!! ????? The things one finds out from the internet, all the way in California! I still sew on my Viking 6430 that I bought used when I was 15 and I'm now 53. I do have a newer (15 years old) computerized Viking that needs a service, but I tend to just sew on old faithful.... Those one step buttonholes sound like perfection to me. As far as spending $ on a new machine.... I learned a long time ago, that sometimes, you gotta TREAT YO SELF, especially if it's something you're going to use on a regular basis. Also, better to spend money on a finer product that will last. Congrats on your new ride!!!

margaret said...

Thank you for the review! I'm just starting to cast about for a new machine. I got my Husqvarna Viking 230 slightly used back in 1997. I have pushed it hard on a daily basis and it's still going, but clearly quite on the downswing. I feel I've got my money out of it without doubt. Although I am skeptical of electronic/computerized machines, the prospect of a one-step auto buttonholer is really enticing!

Machine Reviews said...

Nice information about machine, Thank's for sharing. I like it....

iReviewable said...

Thanks for the reviews on sewing machine, it was helpful to me as well.

Cadi said...

Hello there
Buying a new sewing machine is really very difficult. There are so many to choose from !!!
I am not a dressmaker and I do a lot of free motion work Both quilting and embroidery.
Would this machine be suitable for this ?
Thanks
Cadi

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