A general-purpose sewing machine can take a home quilter far. But there may come a time when you want something faster, more powerful, and with more quilting-specific features. The Janome Memory Craft 6600 is a professional quilting machine. In our Janome 6600 review, we’ll help you to decide whether it’s the right one for you.
Janome 6600 Review: Overview
In its more than 100 years of existence, the Janome Sewing Machine Company has built its reputation on two things: innovation and quality. It’s known for hardworking, often expensive sewing machines that break boundaries in design and function.
Janome’s history is one of firsts: the first computerized home sewing machine, the first programmable sewing machine, the first professional quality home embroidery machine, and the first consumer longarm quilting machine — to name a few.
Even its name is a nod to the company’s revolutionary history. Janome means “snake’s eye” in Japanese. It refers to the round bobbin that looks like a snake’s eye, and which was an improvement over the shuttle-style bobbin that was the norm at the time the company came into existence.
If you’re making the leap from an all-purpose domestic sewing machine to a dedicated quilting machine, you’ll find the MC 6600 a revolution on a personal level. But that can be said of most major upgrades. Is the Janome MC 6600 the upgrade you need? Let’s have a look.
Who is the Janome Memory Craft 6600P for?
The first thing you might notice about the MC 6000 is the price. Depending on your retailer, you could pay as much as ten times the price of a mid-range general-purpose home sewing machine. That difference might give you pause, but this price jump is par for the course when you go from a home sewing machine to a professional machine.
Do you need a professional sewing machine? If you’re happy with the quality and versatility of your general home sewing machine, then probably not. However, if you’re feeling constraints and limitations every time you sit down to sew, it could be that you’ve outgrown your current machine. And if your sewing machine is holding you back, it may be time to go pro.
Like most Janome machines, the MC 6600 organizes the breadth and diversity of its functions with an intuitive, user-friendly interface. That means that most people should be able to operate it right out of the box. At the same time, the target market for this machine is the advanced sewist, specifically the advanced quilter.
What quilters will love
Janome has packed the Memory Craft 6600 with innovative quilting features. One of the best, in our opinion, is the Accu-Feed system. This is a proprietary mechanism similar to a walking foot, which moves the work through from the top and the bottom. It’s particularly suited to multiple layers, but also does a great job with slippery and thick materials.
In addition to the Accu-Feed system, quilters will appreciate the extra-high presser foot lift, which is super convenient for inserting and extracting thick work.
Another impressive feature is stitch speed. Most home sewing machines max out at around 850 stitches per minute. The Janome 6600 sewing machine can get up to 1000 stitches per minute, which can make a huge difference when you’re sewing those long, straight quilting rows.
Quilters will also love the knee lifter that comes standard. A knee lifter is a lever that allows you to raise and lower the presser foot with your knee. A knee lifter isn’t a common accessory, and many machines aren’t built to accommodate them. But they’re a boon for machine quilting, free motion work, and machine applique, as you never have to take your hands off your work.
The Janome 6600 also comes with an extra-wide work table, which is helpful for both quilting and embroidery.
And speaking of quilting and embroidery, the MC 6600 is built to accommodate cone thread. Why is this important? Well, quilting uses a lot of thread. Regular thread spools may hold 500 yards of thread, but a cone can hold up to 3,000. And yard for yard, cone thread is cheaper. So it’s good for your craft and good for your wallet.
At the same time, quilters making the jump from home sewing to a professional quilting machine may notice a few missing features. The Memory Craft 6600 has no free arm, for example. You can use it for mending and garment making, but you’ll have a difficult time maneuvering small, round pieces like collars and cuffs.
Also, those of us who have grown to depend on an automatic thread tension function may find the MC 6600’s manual thread tension inconvenient. Remember, though, that manual adjustment means finer control over the results.
But let’s get to the good stuff.
What’s in the box?
Accessories that come with the Janome MC6600P, include:
- Your Janome Memory Craft 6600 sewing machine
- A Janome 6600 manual
- Specialized quilting accessories, including:
- Knee lifter
- Quilting guide
- Quilting guide bar
- Extended table
- An assortment of presser feet, including:
- 3-way Cording Foot
- Blind Hem Foot
- Darning foot
- Open toe satin stitch foot
- Overedge foot
- Rolled hem foot
- Satin stitch foot open toe
- A specialized bobbin
- Seam Ripper
In short, a lot of what a quilter needs, and not much in the way of bloat.
The long and short of it
The Janome Memory Craft 6600 has a lot to recommend it. At the same time, no machine suits all users. Here are the highlights and the lowlights.
- Included knee lifter
- Extended work table
- Accu-feed system
- Fast stitch speed
- Can accommodate cone thread
- User-friendly LED control panel
- Edit stitches and stitch sequences on the machine
- Memory bank to save stitches and sequences for later
- A modest selection of useful presser feet
- No free arm
- Some might find the manual tension knob fiddly
- Heavy and difficult to transport
Thinking of Buying a Professional Quilting Machine?
Are you thinking of buying a professional quilting and sewing machine? Here are a few things to consider.
What’s your budget?
Your budget isn’t simply how much money you care to spend. A professional sewing machine is an investment, whether to take your hobby to the next level, or to start your own business.
How much should you spend? Let’s do a bit of quick math.
If a sewing machine costs $2,000, how many hours of sewing per week would make it a worthwhile investment?
For someone who sews or quilts occasionally, that’s quite a chunk of change. But if you’re sewing regularly, it’s really not.
At the time of this writing, sewing machine rentals average around $10 per hour. For professional longarm quilting machines, you can double or even triple that. But assuming $10 an hour, if you were to spend ten hours per week behind the sewing table, you’d hit that $2,000 mark in 20 weeks, or five months.
Considering the fact that many people keep a sewing machine for decades, that big price tag isn’t really all that big. Especially if you’re getting a lot of regular use out of your machine.
How will you be using this machine?
The Janome Memory Craft 6600 is a professional quilting machine. It’s an advanced appliance for advanced sewists.
This doesn’t mean that beginners can’t use this device. To the contrary, the interface is intuitive and easy to use. What it does mean, though, is that a beginner may not be ready to take advantage of many of the features that make this such a spectacular machine.
The same goes for general sewists. The Janome MC 6600 will do an excellent job with most general-purpose tasks. However, the real selling point — the reason many people are willing to spend so much on this particular machine — is the quilting-specific features. And if you’re not planning to use those, then you’d be better off with a less expensive general purpose machine.
Hands down, we think this is a terrific sewing machine. And we’re not alone. The question is, though, is it the best machine for the next step in your sewing journey? If you’re an avid quilter looking to grow in your craft, then the Janome Memory Craft 6600 could be a worthy companion. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a first sewing machine, it might not be the best choice.
What So Great About the Janome Memory Craft 6600?
A lot! Especially if you’re a devoted quilter.
Let’s take a detailed look at some of its unique features.
The Accu-Feed System
Janome’s proprietary Accu-Feed system moves your work simultaneously from the top and bottom. This keeps multiple layers together. If you’re a quilter, you already know how important that is.
But layers are only the beginning. The Accu-feed system allows you to sew slippery fabrics without the dreaded pucker. It goes from delicate fabrics to thick ones with aplomb. And for making sure your matching plaids stay in place, it’s second to none.
You can see the Accu-Feed system in action in the video below.
As we mentioned before, a knee lifter is a bar that allows you to raise the presser foot without using your hands. It’s a very useful feature for quilters.
A knee lifter attaches to a sewing machine by means of a built-in port. Few general-purpose sewing machines can accommodate a knee lifter, though numerous quilting machines can. Even if a machine comes with a knee lifter port, though, you often have to buy the bar separately.
The Janome MC 6600 comes with a knee lifter standard. And for a quilter, that’s important.
You can see how a knee lifter can make your work easier in the video below.
A quilting guide is another small, simple tool that can make a world of difference to your quilting. The bar is about the size of a thin alan wrench, and slides into a hole at the back of your quilting foot.
After quilting your first row, line up the bar with your line of stitches. Keeping the bar lined up with the stitches will allow you to maintain consistent distance between subsequent lines.
It’s not an expensive or complicated tool, but for a quilter, it’s invaluable. And it’s a joy to find that it comes standard with the MC 6600.
An extended work table is another quilter’s friend. You’ll also be glad for it if you’re planning to use your machine for embroidery. An extra-wide work table allows you to see more of your work in progress. This, in turn, can help you to make those crucial last-minute design decisions.
Stitch Editing and Memory
The Janome MC 6600 is a computerized sewing machine. One of the features you’ll find on any number of high-end computerized machines is the ability to edit stitches and stitch sequences right on the machine. What do we mean by that? Well, once you’ve selected one of this machine’s 163 stitches, you can change its dimensions.
Yes, you can do that on most sewing machines. But on the MC 6600, you can also combine your stitches into bespoke patterns. Not only that, but you can use this machine’s five memory banks to save your stitches and stitch combinations for later.
This might not immediately seem like a feature a quilter would use. But if you enjoy applique or crazy quilting, then the applications are endless.
Twin needle guard
Another nifty feature of the Janome Memory Craft 6600 is its twin needle guard. A twin needle has two separate needles coming off of a single shaft.
You can use a twin needle to simultaneously sew two rows of parallel stitches. You might use this for sewing a hem on a garment made from knit fabric. You might also use it for different kinds of decorative stitching.
You can learn more about using a twin needle below.
Janome 6600P alternatives
We love the Janome Memory Craft 6600, but not every machine is the best fit for every user. If you’re not sure whether the MC 6600 is the best sewing machine for the next step in your sewing journey, here are a few alternatives to consider.
A more powerful all-purpose sewing machine
The Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 is a powerful, computerized sewing machine with some excellent quilting features, including a quilting guide bar and a detachable extension table.
At the same time, it has more of the features that a general home sewist might use, including a 600-stitch library and 13 one-step buttonholes. It also has that free arm that the Janome MC 6600 sewing machine lacks.
Like the Janome MC 6600, the Quantum Stylist does allow you to save your stitch selections. It also has a nifty feature that allows you to preview your stitch combinations, and even see them in mirror image.
If you’re looking to level up your all-purpose sewing machine, but aren’t ready to go all-in with quilting, the Singer Quantum Stylist is a terrific crossover machine. And it’s less expensive, as well.
A less expensive quilting option
If you’re a beginning or intermediate quilter, or an experienced sewist dipping their foot into quilting, you might not want to shell out a month’s salary for a quilting machine.
The Brother Innovis 1800Q has many of the features that the Janome MC 6600 boasts, including stitch memory, an extended table, and a port for a knee lifter (sold separately). At the same time, it’s a bit less expensive.
This is a good mid-range quilting machine.
No-holds barred quilting
Faster. Longer. Sleeker. Stronger. The Janome MC 6700P picks up where the MC6600P leaves off: with an impressive 1200 stitches per minute, a ten-inch seamless flatbed, and a stitch library that includes 200 stitches and five alphanumeric fonts.
This is a serious sewing machine for a serious crafter. And, as you might expect, you’ll pay for those extras. But if you’re a competitive quilter, or a professional one, it could well be worth it.
If money is a secondary concern, you might have a look at the Janome Memory Craft 6700P.
We love the Janome Memory Craft 6600. It’s objectively an excellent quilting machine. In addition, it’s well-suited to a variety of users.
Beginning and intermediate quilters will have plenty of room to grow. Semi-pro and professional users will find a high-quality machine well matched to their needs.
If you’re looking to take your quilting to the next level, the Janome Memory Craft 6600 can provide a worthy companion for your journey.