This is not a review in the traditional sense, I have only used a few sewing machines so am not qualified for that. It's more of a comparison of computerised versus mechanical sewing machines from a beginners perspective. For those that do not know I started sewing in February this year and the dress I made on the Janome 3300* for this blog post is my 64th dress. I only ever use one stitch (it's all I need) and I prefer to sew woven cotton fabrics. My computerised Janome is a SMD3000 and cost £249. The mechanical Janome is a 3300, exclusive to Hobby Craft, and retails at £80. They are pretty similar in size and weight with the 3300 being the lighter of the two machines.
I spent the weekend sewing before getting the 3300 out of it's box to give it a test run. My SMD3000 has a top loading bobbin so I had to refer to the manual to remind myself how to thread a front loading bobbin. Once that was done I was away. I missed a couple of the features of my computerised machine, the needle up and down button is one of my most used features along with the speed limiter. I think the speed limiter had made me a bit lazy though, always foot to the floor on the foot pedal! I really enjoyed having to vary the pressure and gaining back a bit of control. I did notice that when on full speed the 3300 slipped away from me across the table which the SMD3000 doesn't do, guess there is a downside to being lighter. I didn't like the position and ease of use of the thread cutter on the 3300 but that's just personal preference.
One big plus for me of the mechanical machine over my computerised machine is zipper insertion. I use regular dress zippers over invisible zippers as I just don't get on with invisible zippers. They were the bane of my ready to wear dress wearing - always getting stuck and generally being a pain to zip up even in the loosest of dresses so I decided I wouldn't ever use them. I don't mind the stitches either especially when sewn using the 3300.
The zipper foot is narrower than the one on my computerised machine so it glides past the pins holding the zip in place with no issues at all. I pin right on the edge of the zip ribbon and sew my lining down at the same time and occasionally the zipper foot on the computerised machine would knock into one of those pin heads and throw a little wobble. Sometimes it would annoy me enough to need to unpick the zip and do it again, other times I would just think hey I can't see it when I am wearing it anyway!
I also preferred hemming on the mechanical machine. Not sure why as it is pretty much the same thing but I found it easier to keep it under control and ended up with a perfectly straight seam. Below is the finished dress. I can't tell any difference between the construction of this dress and one of the ones made on a machine more than twice the price. If you want to sew pretty dresses in non stretch fabrics and make things like cushions and iPad cases then the Janome 3300 is the perfect starter machine for the price. I am keeping them both set up in my sewing area and will be using the 3300 for all zips and hems from now on.
Dress: Made by me using Arrows from the Mustang collection by Cotton and Steel
Pattern: Emery by Christine Haynes