Janome 4120QDC Review: A Computerized Sewing Machine For All?

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At first glance, the Janome 4120QDC looks like a sweetheart of a deal. It does a lot, but not too much. It comes with a pleasingly complete accessories pack (Janome accessories packs tend to be a bit stingy). And if you choose your retailer carefully, you can get it for a lot less than you might expect from this pricey brand.

Is the Janome 4120QDC computerized sewing machine a Goldilocks machine with a fairy tale price tag? Or is it too good to be true?

About the Janome 4120QDC

janome 4120 qdc

Janome makes expensive sewing machines. Their machines tend to be focussed and no-nonsense, with few bells and whistles. Accessories packs are typically minimal. 

What you get for that money, however, is exceptionally high quality craftsmanship and materials. Janome’s enormous following will tell you that those alone are worth the price.

So what kind of sewing machine is the 4120QDC, and what’s with the surprisingly low price?

  • Excellent value for money
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Intuitive, user-friendly design
  • Three alphanumeric fonts
  • Seven one-step automatic buttonhole designs
  • 120 pre-programmed stitch designs
  • Sequence up to 50 stitches
  • Mirror stitching capabilities
  • Twin needle
  • Stitch pattern memory capability
  • Very good Janome 4120QDC accessories pack
  • Hard protective case
  • Some customer issues with thread tension
  • Some reviews suggest this machine isn’t the best for heavy work

A High Quality Computerized Sewing Machine

janome 4120qdc control panel

When I say that Janome’s machines tend to be focussed, I mean that they do a few important tasks well, without cluttering up the experience with inessential features. You won’t find a lot of Janomes with thousands of decorative stitch designs or puffed-up accessories packs filled with things you’ll never use.

That said, the Janome 4120QDC has quite a lot of features for an intermediate-level computerized sewing machine, including:

  • 120 stitch designs
  • 7 one-step buttonholes
  • American, European and Cyrillic alphanumeric fonts
  • 50-stitch combination capability
  • Mirror stitching capability

If you’ve done enough research, you’ll recognize that features like stitch combinations, stitch editing, and alphanumeric fonts are pretty exclusive to high end machines. A machine at this price point with these features is a real find.

There’s also a remarkably complete accessories pack that includes numerous useful presser feet and an extended work table for larger projects.

And, in typical Janome fashion, it’s all organized behind a clean, intuitive, user-friendly interface. 

Who is This Machine For?

janome 4120 qdc with extension table

The Janome 4120QDC sewing machine is an intermediate-level computerized sewing machine. That’s not to say that beginners won’t be able to use it. In fact, this could be a terrific investment for a serious learner.

But behind the simple interface is a powerful, versatile range of functions that will take most general purpose sewists far, regardless of their level.

There are a few features, like the extension table and extra-high presser foot lift, that will appeal to quilters. Also, crafters of all types will love the alphanumeric fonts and decent selection of decorative and utility stitches. At 14.3 pounds, it’s also light enough to take to classes and meetups.

It’s a high-quality all-rounder in our opinion.

What’s in the box? 

Accessories that come with the Janome 4120QDC, include:

  • Specialized bobbin
  • Blind hem foot
  • Buttonhole foot
  • Sliding buttonhole foot
  • Satin stitch foot F
  • Zigzag foot
  • Zipper foot
  • Overedge foot
  • Seam ripper
  • 14-inch extension table
  • 5-Needle set

Technical Specifications

What to Look for in a Multipurpose Computerized Sewing Machine

So you’re looking to upgrade from a simpler sewing machine. Or perhaps you’re buying your first machine and want one that will grow with you. How do you tell which features you need, and which are just there to jack up the price?

Here are a few things to look for.

Ease of Use

The best sewing machine is the one that you’re going to use. You want something with a lot of functionality, of course. At the same time, if your machine is complicated to the point of being intimidating, you may end up not using it at all. 

Your sewing machine’s interface should be clearly labeled and self-explanatory. A well-organized stitch map will tell you what each stitch design looks like, and often what kind of sewing that stitch is meant for. You should be able to tell from a glance what each button does.

In short, a well designed sewing machine will make it obvious what it can do, and how to do it. You shouldn’t have to constantly go back and forth between your machine and the manual.

Good Value for Money

We all want to get our money’s worth, especially when making a large purchase like a sewing machine. A sewing machine should do everything that’s on your must-have list, and it’s nice if it does a bit more on top of that.

One-Step Buttonhole

Most computerized sewing machines have a one-step buttonhole, and it’s a wonderful thing. The four-step buttonhole is fiddly, and it can be difficult to get consistent results when you’re making more than one. But a one-step buttonhole does everything with a single push of the button. And if you’re using a buttonhole foot, it will size the hole to your needs, as well.

Automatic Needle Threader

An automatic needle threader isn’t a deal breaker for us, but it sure is handy. If you’ve ever had to shove a fuzzy thread end through a teeny, tiny needle eye, you’ll know what we mean.

Programmable Needle

A programmable needle allows you to set the default needle position to “up” or “down.” Although it’s not difficult to set the needle position manually, it does make things convenient when the machine default aligns with your needs for a given project.

Start/Stop Button

janome 4120qdc close up

A start/stop button is one of the features that typically comes with an upgrade from a mechanical to a computerized sewing machine. It’s an important accessibility feature that allows you to operate your sewing machine even if you’re not able to operate the foot pedal. Most computerized sewing machines have them. Some, however, do not.

Locking Stitch Button

When you come to the end of a row of stitches, there are a few ways to bind off the end. You can tie it off — and some sewing machines have an automatic tie-off function — or you can lock it off.

Locking off your stitches is pretty simple. You reverse-stitch over your last few stitches, then sew forward over them again. If your sewing machine has a lockstitch button, however, you simply press the button and the machine automatically makes the lockstitch. It’s pretty neat.

Features and Benefits of the Janome 4120QDC

So, what do you get for your money? All of the above, plus quite a bit more. Have a look.

120 Stitch Designs

stitch library for janome 4120qdc

One of the first things that catches a buyer’s eye is the number of stitch designs. Simpler mechanical machines may have between one and ten stitches. High-end computerized sewing machines may have as many as a thousand. Stitches designs are fun to play with and explore. But they can also be a great way to bulk up the price.

Realistically, most sewists will only use a handful of stitches regularly, including:

  • Straight stitch
  • Zigzag stitch
  • Overlock stitch
  • Stretch stitch

One might also settle on a few favorite decorative stitches.

The Janome 4120QDC has 120 stitch designs, which is extensive enough for most sewists to have some fun with, but isn’t overwhelming. You get all of the stitches sewists use most, along with a decent selection of decorative and buttonhole designs. It’s a nice balance.

Seven One-Step Buttonholes

We’ve already extolled the virtue of the one-step automatic buttonhole. But what about buttonhole designs? You might think that a buttonhole is a buttonhole. For the most part it’s true. You don’t need 25 different buttonhole designs. But seven is enough variety to pick a favorite and have a few alternates, as well.

Want to see how an automatic buttonholer works? Check this out.

Three Alphanumeric Fonts

Alphabet fonts aren’t often found on all-purpose sewing machines. One generally has to step up to an embroidery machine to find this feature. But the Janome 4120QDC has three fonts: English, European, and Cyrillic. It’s a fun way to add a personal touch to garments and household items.

Check out modes 4, 5, and 6 in the stitch library image above to see how they look.

Stitch Sequencing

What does that mean? If you have a favorite combination of decorative stitches, you can program your Janome 4120QDC to sew up to 50 of them all in one go. This, again, is typically a feature of more expensive machines. It’s a really cool thing to have, especially if, like me, you enjoy crazy quilting or other decorative stitching.

janome stitch sequence

Mirror Image Stitching

Do you have a favorite decorative stitch? Do you think it would look even better in mirror image? Your Janome 4120QDC can do that. You can even combine this with the stitch sequencing function to alternate the same stitch facing different directions, as in the image below.

Janome Mirror Stitch

High(er) Speed Stitching

The average stitching speed for a domestic sewing machine is 750 stitches per minute. The Janome 4120QDC stitches at 820 stitches per minute. If you’re sewing long, straight rows of stitching, such as for quilting or some kinds of garments, the extra speed might make a difference for you.

Automatic Thread Cutter

The little scissors icon on a sewing machine marks the automatic thread cutter. This function snips your thread for you. It’s not a deal breaker for us, but it’s a pretty nifty thing to have, nonetheless.

Extension Table

Some multipurpose sewing machines aimed at quilters will come with a snap-on extension table. This table attaches to the base of the machine, sometimes to the free arm, and creates an extra-long and extra-wide work area.

This can be a real bonus for free motion quilting as well as decorative stitching. It supports larger work and allows you to see your stitches in the context of a larger part of the work.

The table that comes with the Janome 4120QDC is a generous 14 inches long. 

Hard Case

Some sewing machines come with a hard plastic storage case. Others come with a plastic dust cover. Some come with no protection at all. The Janome 4120QDC comes with a hard plastic storage case. 

This is a real positive in our eyes. A hard plastic case can protect your machine from dust, scratches, bumps, dents, and more, whether your machine stays in one place or travels with you.

Some Worthy Janome 4120QDC alternatives

No review would be fair without a look at the competition. Here are a few sewing machines that we think are worthwhile alternatives to the Janome 4120QDC.

Singer Quantum Stylist 9960

singer quantum stylist 9960 sewing machine

The Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 is a similar machine at a similar price point. This is a higher-end computerized sewing machine that comes with a quilter’s extension table. Here’s what you get:

  • 600 stitch designs
  • 13 one-step buttonholes
  • 5 alphanumeric fonts
  • Mirror imaging
  • Stitch elongation capabilities
  • Slightly faster stitch speed of 850 stitches per minute

If you don’t have your heart set on a Janome, this is actually a more fully-featured sewing machine, and, in our opinion, better value for money.

Brother PQ1500SL

Brother PQ1500SL

The Janome 4120QDC is an all-purpose computerized sewing machine aimed at quilters. But if you’re specifically looking for a quilting machine, you might want to check out the Brother PQ1500SL

The PQ1500SL doesn’t have decorative stitches, it doesn’t have alphabet fonts, and it doesn’t have a single buttonhole. But it does sew 1500 stitches per minute, which is at the lower end of industrial speed. It also comes with some professional quilting features, including:

  • A knee lifter
  • Four feed dog settings
  • An adjustable pin-feed mechanism that you can use instead of feed dogs
  • And that handy quilting extension table

Why did we include this model when it’s so different from the Janome 4120QDC? Because a semi-professional quilting machine with these features typically costs a lot more than the Brother 1500SQL. But if you do your research, you can find it for about the same price as the Janome 4120QDC. 

And if you’re looking primarily for a straight stitch quilting machine, this is definitely one to consider.

What About the Janome 4300QDC?

janome 4300qdc image

The 4300QDC is the successor to the 4120QDC. But in our estimation, newer isn’t necessarily better. 

Why not?

Well, if you look at the company’s own comparison chart you’ll find that the only difference between the 4120QDC and the 4300QDC is that the 4300 has more stitch designs. That, and a higher price tag. Remember what we said about excessive numbers of stitch designs? The 4300 is still a fine machine, but the 4120QDC is better value for money, in our opinion.

janome comparison chart
Chart courtesy of janome.com

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a similar sewing machine with even more quilting features, then check out the Janome 5300QDC. It, too, has 300 stitches plus alphabet stitches. But it also comes with a knee lifter, Janome’s proprietary Superior Plus Feed System, an optic magnifier set, and a quilter’s accessory kit.

It also costs nearly the same as the 4300QDC.

The Final Verdict

No two ways about it, the Janome 4120QDC is terrific value for money. It has all of the features that an all-purpose home sewist needs, a few extras that are rare in a machine at this price point, and a nice set of quilters’ extras, too. And buyers are overwhelmingly pleased with their purchase. 

It may be an older model, but for our money, it’s a better deal than its closest successor, the 4300QDC. And, if you purchase it new, from an authorized dealer, you’ll still get Janome’s same 25-year limited warranty. Win-win-win.

janome 4120qdc reviews

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