My first sewing machine was a basic mechanical model with two stitches and a four-step buttonhole. It took me surprisingly far, but eventually I needed more quilting features. The Janome JW8100 is a computerized sewing machine with an impressive range of quilting elements. Could it be your next step? Our Janome JW8100 review will help you decide.
The Janome JW8100: Review and History
The Janome Sewing Machine company began in 1921 as the Pine Sewing Machine Factory in Japan. In 1954 they changed their name to Janome, which means “snake eye” in Japanese. The name refers to the round bobbin, which Janome pioneered in the 1930s, when the elongated shuttle bobbin was the norm.
Since then, Janome has led the market in innovation. They established a research lab in Tokyo in 1964, and from there emerged several revolutionary products, including:
- The first programmable computerized sewing machine (1971)
- The first computerized machine for the domestic market (1979)
- The first high-level embroidery machine for home use (1990)
- The first long-arm quilting machine for home quilters (2003)
The Janome JW8100 sewing machine isn’t revolutionary in its class, but if you’re a quilter looking to upgrade from a more basic machine, it could be a revolution for you.
- 100 built-in stitches
- 7 automatic one-step buttonholes
- 1000 stitches per minute
- Start/Stop button
- Speed control
- Lock stitch button
- Built-in needle threader
- Extension table
- Assortment of useful presser feet and accessories
- Excellent value for money
- Stitch map is separate from the machine
- No thread cutter
- No included walking foot
- Some users report below-average handling of heavy work
Why Consider the Janome JW8100 Computerized Sewing Machine?
We can break this down into two different questions. First, why a computerized sewing machine? And second, why consider the Janome WJ8100 in specific?
One of the first differences you might notice between a mechanical sewing machine and even the most basic computerized one is the number of features.
Mechanical sewing machines tend to have a small number of useful stitch designs, which you can tweak using dials and sliders. This setup can be limiting for sewists stretching their wings in a new craft. At the same time, the manual controls allow you to fine-tune your stitch parameters in a way you just can’t with pre-programmed, push-button stitches.
By contrast, computerized sewing machines can have literally hundreds of stitch designs. Also, they commonly have useful controls like push-button start/stop, speed control, and more. Most importantly for quilters, computerized sewing machines that slant toward this craft often come with specific stitch designs and accessories that make quilting easier.
The Janome JW8100 is an entry-level computerized sewing machine. This means that it has quite a few more features than a basic mechanical model, but it doesn’t overwhelm with options and gadgets. Its design is intuitive and user-friendly. And, frankly, it’s unusual to find any sort of Janome sewing machine at this price point.
Janome sewing machines have a reputation for high quality construction and durability. They also tend to be pricey and light on accessories and features when compared to similar machines. The Janome JW8100 stands out in this regard. It’s relatively feature-rich and comes with lots of goodies for quilters. At the same time the price is very, very right.
What’s in the box?
Accessories that come with the Janome JW8100, include:
- Automatic buttonhole foot
- Even feed foot
- 1/4-inch seam foot
- Zig zag foot
- Zipper foot
- Satin stitch foot
- Extension table
- Horizontal spool holder
- Needle set
- Seam ripper
- Stitch card
- Hard cover
- A Janome JW8100 manual
Do You Want to Kick Your Quilting Up a Notch?
As sewing machines go, the Janome JW8100 is a good all-arounder. It could serve the general home sewist very well for mending, garment-making and housewares. At the same time, it has a lot of extras that could be very useful to intermediate sewists looking to expand their repertoire into quilting.
So, if you fall into that category, what should you look for?
A lot of quilting relies on the plain old straight stitch. And the truth is, you could use exclusively straight stitch and still turn out gorgeous quilts. But you can also use some of your machine’s other stitches to create some unique effects.
This quilter, for example, uses a variety of utility stitches to both bind and decorate.
You can also use decorative stitches to embellish your crazy quilt squares.
When Janome says that the JW8100 has 18 quilting stitches, 27 heirloom stitches, and 18 stitches for home decor, they’re referring to a combination of decorative and functional designs that you can use for a variety of crafts.
An extension table is a removable table that increases your available workspace. It’s great for times when you need to see a larger section of your work, for example during embroidery or free-motion quilting.
The Janome JW8100’s extension table fairly quadruples your original working space. It’s a really helpful extra for quilting and experimenting with embroidery design.
A knee lifter is a lever that slots into some sewing machines. It allows you to lift and lower the presser foot by moving your knee. This, in turn, allows you to keep your hands on your work while you’re sewing. It’s a very helpful feature for free-motion quilting and embroidery work. You can see it in action below.
Some sewing machines have a slot for a knee lifter. The Janome JW8100, unfortunately, does not.
Your sewing machine’s feed dogs sit below your work and move it through the machine. A walking foot has an additional set of feed dogs that simultaneously moves your work from the top. This is how it works.
When you’re quilting, a walking foot can help the layers of fabric and batting to move together through the machine. A walking foot isn’t expensive, but it’s always nice when one comes as part of a sewing machine’s accessory pack. Sadly, a walking foot is not part of the JW8100’s accessory pack.
A quilting bar, or quilting guide is a small, inexpensive device that can make a world of difference for a quilter. It’s an L-shaped metal lever that slots into your walking foot. When you’re sewing parallel rows, you line up the guide with the prior row. The guide helps you to sew perfectly evenly spaced rows. Check it out.
Some quilting-specific machines include a quilting guide. Sadly, the Janome JW8100 does not. However, like the walking foot, a quilting bar is easy to find and inexpensive.
Most of the time, we use the foot pedal to start and stop the sewing machine, and to control the speed. But there are times, like when making one-step buttonholes, that you might want more precise control over these functions. And for people who are unable to use the foot pedal, a start-stop button is an important accessibility option.
The Janome JW8100 has a start/stop button.
One of the main advantages of a computerized machine over a mechanical one is that computerized machines typically (though not always) have a speed control mechanism. A speed control mechanism allows you to set your machine’s maximum sewing speed. It’s like cruise control for your sewing machine.
This can come in handy when you’re doing delicate or tricky work. It’s also a good feature to have on a high-speed sewing machine like the Janome JW8100.
Ability to Do Heavy Work
Heavy work means sewing thick materials like denim, leather, and vinyl. Work involving multiple layers of fabric, like quilting and applique, also counts as heavy. Some sewing machines do better with heavy work than others.
Customer reviews of the Janome JW8100 suggest that it may not be the absolute best machine for heavy work. On the other hand, very few sewing machines at this price point could make that particular claim.
The Janome JW8100: Features
What impressed us about the Janome JW8100 sewing machine is the number and variety of features that you get for your money. It’s not only impressive for Janome machines, which, at the lower levels, tend to be fairly bare-bones. It also shows up some of the more expensive machines in this class.
Here are a few examples.
Impressive Stitch Speed
The average stitch speed for a home sewing machine is around 850 stitches per minute. The Janome JW8100 has a max stitch speed of 1,000 stitches per minute. This puts it at the very tail end of professional stitching speeds.
Stitch speed isn’t super-important for most home sewing. However, many quilting projects involve long, straight rows of stitching. And this is where a higher stitch speed can make a difference.
One-Step Automatic Buttonhole
Another upgrade you might notice when looking at computerized sewing machines is the buttonhole function. A lot of mechanical sewing machines have a four-step buttonhole, and they typically only have one or two buttonhole designs.
A four-step buttonhole requires a lot of stopping, changing stitches, adjusting parameters, and re-starting. There are tools to make the job easier, but in general, it’s a lot of work, and it can be difficult to get consistent results.
With a one-step buttonhole, you choose your design, press a button, and go. It starts, stops, changes stitches automatically, and produces the same buttonhole every time. An automatic buttonhole foot, like the one that comes with the Janome JW8100, makes it easy to fit each buttonhole to the size of whichever button you’re using.
Check it out.
The Janome JW8100 sewing machine comes with 7 one-step buttonhole designs and an included automatic buttonhole foot. And this, in our opinion, is a big deal.
Industrial sewing machines sit flush on the worktable. This means that you can see most or all of your work while you’re sewing. The table supports the work, and that prevents the weight of the fabric from distorting the project.
An extension table works in a similar way. It supports a larger part of your project than the sewing machine’s original work area. It’s a very nice extra for quilters, and makes free-motion quilting and embroidery a lot easier.
Lockstitching is a common way to secure thread at the beginning and end of a row of stitches. In sewing machines without a lockstitch button, you stitch a few stitches forward then reverse over them before continuing ahead. A lockstitch button accomplishes this with the press of a button.
It’s not a dealbreaker for us, but it sure is convenient.
As we mentioned before, a start/stop button is an important accessibility feature for people who can’t use the foot pedal. It also makes easy and precise work of a one-step buttonhole.
A lot of entry-level sewing machines come with a soft plastic dust cover. One rarely sees a hard shell case in lower-priced machines. And yet Janome has thoughtfully included one with the JW8100.
A hard cover is indispensable if you’re carting your machine to classes and meetups. And, as the Janome JW8100 weighs in at just over 12 pounds, it would be a terrific machine for exactly that. Even if your sewing machine stays at home, a hard cover can protect it from bumps, scratches, dings, and dust.
A Look at the Competition
We really like the Janome JW8100. But it’s one of many sewing machines in its class. It’s possible that a different machine might suit your needs better. Here are three possibilities.
Brother CS7000I Computerized Quilting and Sewing Machine
If you’re looking at machines in this price range, value for money is likely one of your primary concerns. Brother excels at producing reliable, feature-rich sewing machines at very affordable prices.
The Brother CS7000I is the successor to the immensely popular CS6000I. Like the Janome JW8100, it comes with a range of decorative stitches, a wide extension table, and a hard case.
One advantage of the CS7000I is that it has its stitch selections printed on the machine for easy reference, unlike the JW8100, which comes with a separate stitch card. Quilters will also like the included spring-action quilting foot, walking foot, and quilting guide.
Singer Fashion Mate 5560
If you like the range of features the Janome JW8100 has to offer, but you know you’ll need a machine that can consistently handle heavy work, the Singer Fashion Mate 5560 may be one to consider.
The Fashion Mate 5560 has the same number of built-in stitches — 100 — and many of the same features as the JW8100. It comes with an extension table and a hard case, too.
But what stands it apart from the JW8100 is its heavy duty metal frame, which makes it well suited to heavy work.
If features and options are what you’re after, the Brother HC1850 might tick all of your boxes, and then some. The price comes in at just under what you might expect to pay for the JW8100, which is kind of amazing, considering the features that come for that price. You get:
- 185 built-in stitches
- 8 automatic one-step buttonholes
- A monogram font
- An extended work table
- A spring-action quilting foot
User reviews suggest that this might not be the most durable sewing machine on the market. But if value for money is your first concern, the Brother HC1850 provides it.
The Janome JW8100 is a terrific quilting-slanted all-purpose sewing machine with an excellent array of features. It’s also an impressive value for the money. Although it doesn’t have everything on our quilter’s wish list, most of what it lacks can be bought easily and inexpensively.
If you’re an aspiring quilter, or a home sewist looking to upgrade from a more basic machine, then the Janome JW8100 should definitely be on your list.
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