Hello Kitty Sewing Machine by Janome: Tool Review

A Great Machine

But Like Any Cat It Does Have Claws

 

My machine is in the shop after a savage encounter with some sweater fabric.  Unable to stitch through so much thickness the handwheel locked and the timing messed up.  

Hello Kitty Sewing Machine by Janome. Real cat not included.

Months previous I bought the Hello Kitty machine for my daughter who, it turns out is much too young to use it, but that is another story.  I had hoped to teach her some very basic sewing using those replica Singer machines they sell for kids.  But those machines do not work and are so disheartening to young would-be seamstresses.  I wanted her to enjoy sewing so I looked for a very basic real machine.  I found this one online.  It is a Janome like my own machine and it had great reviews.

Okay, I’ll tell you the story.

The day it came was so exciting and after successfully sewing scraps all day my daughter was showing off to her father that night.  I was right beside her every time she used it.  While she was showing off sewing that night something fell off of the coffee table and I turned my head for just a second to pick it up. 

That is when she did a crazy kid thing that no adult would do.  Trying to point out her stitching she stuck her finger between the needle and feed dog. 

The needle went through her finger!  Through the top of her nail and out the bottom fleshy side bit of her finger. She is sitting there with her finger completely stuck to the machine.

Aahhh!

She bore up better than I would have.  She was crying and moaning “Mommy it really hurts!” but not raving like a lunatic.  That she left to me. 

As it was brand new out of the box I had no time to really get a hard look at the needle plate so I didn’t have any firsthand experience with the mechanics of this particular machine. 

The first thing I tried was to back the needle out but the handwheel was locked solid.   

That is when I started to cuss like a sailor even as I was taking care of the emergency.  I pulled the electric so it wouldn’t just start up on us and grabbed my screwdriver that I keep in my own sewing cabinet.  Then I had to unscrew the needle plate, unscrew the needle, hit the machine foot release , unscrew the post that holds the needle mechanism  and dissemble the entire thing as it was still attached to my daughter.  Once I had torn everything to bits the whole assembly came free of the machine and we were able to pull the needle from her finger.

My daughter said, “It’s okay now Mommy.”  At which point I stopped cussing. 

I’ll say this, Janome makes a fine needle.  I have sewn my own finger to material before and I know that the machine works so fast that the wound is clean.  Also the needles bend a bit and deflects off bone – I know this from experience also.   My daughter had only a tiny puncture at the bottom of her finger and you couldn’t even see the one in her nail.

We took her to a nearby children’s urgent care and got her checked but there was no damage.  It turns out both nails and bone are pretty soft on small kids so they resist injury better. After the needle was out she didn’t show any signs of pain at all, though she did milk getting new bandages wrapped around her finger for days.

My daughter decided she wasn’t quite ready to sew yet and I felt like a heel for even buying her the thing.  Really she had sewn dozens of strips at my machine while sitting on my lap. “But I thought she was ready,” I keep moaning to myself, racked with mommy-guilt.  I just hope I haven’t scarred her for life and turned her against sewing.

But the thing has been sitting around.  As my machine is in the shop I thought Hello Kitty could make herself useful.   (My daughter still won’t have anything to do with it.) 

Overall I am impressed with the little thing.

Pros

  • It really sews.  Hello Kitty decals notwithstanding, this machine actually works!
  • Unlike most beginning sewing machines with use chainstitch, the Janome makes real straight and zigzag stitches.  That means whatever a young sewer makes will stay together if her tension is correct, or even nearly correct.
  • It offers good basic stitches, straight, zigzag,interlock , blindstitch and most surprisingly, a halfway decent buttonhole stitch.
  • It’s cute.
  • It is lightweight and easy to carry.
  • You could indeed learn or teach basic sewing on this machine.
  • It topstitches better than any machine I have ever used.  I am considering using it alongside of my regular machine for those projects that require tons of topstitching.   It would save me having to rethread my machine constantly.  The Hello Kitty’s machines foot pressure is just a bit tight and that seems to make for a better topstitch.
  • Speed is at a nice clip but it doesn’t go superfast, the slower speed is better for new sewers I think.

Cons

  • Sideloader bobbin not the easiest for newbies.
  • If you don’t hold the thread at the beginning it comes out of the needle as you begin to stitch. Then you have to release the foot, remove your seam and rethread.  I know sewing wisdom says you should always hold the threads behind you as you begin your seam, but sometimes when you are sewing something complicated you need both hands to hold the material in place.   It seems like the thread abandons you when you most need it.  This one thing could be a pain for new sewers. 
  • No needle down or needle up.  It pretty much stops at needle up.
  • A bit noisy.
  • Even though I find the appearance kind of spunky and fun, Hello Kitty decals on a sewing machine might not be for everyone.
  • No carrying case.  Since it is smaller than the average machine it will need a special case and I wonder that the manufacturer did not provide one with the machine.
  • The arm is small so forget quilting anything larger than a placemat.
  • No way to drop the feed dogs for freehand as far as I can see.

Would I Recommend It?  Absolutely.  The price is comparable to other basic machines yet I trust the Janome name more than those brands I see at mass merchandisers.  I have used it like I would any other basic machine and it has held up to all-day sewing sessions continually giving a consistent stitch quality. I think this is a very good machine to learn on and is handy if you go to sewing seminars that ask you to bring a machine.

Next Post: Saturday, July 17, 2010: Maybe I will have completed that organizer for my kitchen by then.

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