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....