If you’ve been thinking about trying your hand at machine embroidery, you’ve no doubt already been checking out embroidery machines. As you’ll know by now, there are many different types, and the best one for you might not be immediately obvious. The Janome MC 230E is a compact, user friendly, entry level embroidery only machine.
Want to know more?
About Janome and the Janome MC230E
Janome was founded in the first quarter of the twentieth century. At that time it was known as the Pine Sewing Machine Company.
The innovation that put the company on the map was its revolutionary round bobbin, which most sewing machines use today. Before that, sewing machines used a shuttle shaped bobbin. The company adopted the name “Janome,” which means “snake eye” in Japanese, in 1935, in honor of this innovation.
Some of Janome’s other innovations include:
- A programmable computerized home sewing machine
- The first professional-quality home embroidery machine
- A consumer longarm quilting machine
Today Janome manufactures a wide variety of equipment for home sewing, embroidery, and quilting. Their machines have been sold under the names Janome, Necchi, New Home, and Elna.
The Janome MC230E is an entry level embroidery only machine.
Who is the Janome MC230E For?
The Janome MC230E is an entry level embroidery only machine. It’s affordable and easy to use, which makes it a good choice for machine embroidery novices and occasional users.
Why would you want an embroidery only machine when there are a number of sewing and embroidery machines on the market?
Well, simplicity, first of all. An embroidery only machine has fewer components and fewer features to learn. Also, some people might not want to put all their eggs in one basket, so to speak, and be without a sewing machine if their embroidery machine needs repairs.
If you have the space in your shop for two machines, and are interested in giving machine embroidery a whirl, the Janome MC230E could be a good choice.
How Does the Janome MC230E Stand Out?
The Janome MC230E has a lot going for it. At the same time, it’s not perfect. Here’s the lowdown.
Embroidery machines tend to be big and heavy. They need to be large enough to accommodate the work, and the embroidery unit can add quite a bit of extra weight.
Although the Janome MC230E is heavier than a regular sewing machine, it is compact and has a convenient carry handle. It’s made to be portable, which many embroidery machines are not.
This could be a very convenient feature for people who are interested in taking their machine to machine embroidery classes.
Value for money
The Janome MC230E is available at a startlingly wide range of prices, depending on your retailer. At the lower end of the range, this machine is a steal. Even at the upper end, it’s still pretty good value for money.
You might wonder if there are any downsides to this model. There are two, as far as we’re concerned.
First, the on-machine editing capabilities are pretty stripped down, even for this level of machine. You can rotate designs, resize them, and sew in mirror image. That’s it. That’s fine for getting started in the craft, and if machine embroidery is going to be an occasional activity. However, regular embroiderers will start to feel the limits of these capabilities pretty quickly.
Also, consumer reviews, while generally high, suggest that it might be both difficult and expensive to buy replacement hoops for this model. So keep these things in mind.
What’s in the box?
Accessories that come with the Janome MC230E, include:
- Four bobbins
- Lint brush
- Spool pin
- Spool pin felt
- Spool stand
- Large and small spool holders
- T-shaped screwdriver
- Embroidery hoop
- Template sheets
- Instruction manual
- Instructional CD
- Thread guide
- Dust cover
- Made to be portable
- 73 different built in embroidery designs
- Three monogramming fonts
- USB design transfer
- Suitable for two different sized hoops
- Good value for money
- Small maximum embroidery area
- Rudimentary on-machine editing capabilities
Embroidery Machines: The Basics
If you’ve been researching embroidery machines, you’ve no doubt come across a wide variety of equipment that fits this description. Some machines may look familiar with some subtle differences. Others may look complicated and confusing. Some are affordable, while others may cost as much as a small automobile.
What are the basic types, and what do you need?
We’re here to help you find out.
Sewing and Embroidery vs. Embroidery Only
The first division is between embroidery only machines and sewing and embroidery machines. As the names suggest, sewing and embroidery machines do both sewing and machine embroidery, while embroidery only machines do just that.
Which should you buy?
One reason to have separate machines is agility. If your embroidery machine needs to go in for repairs, and you have a separate sewing machine, then you can still sew while your embroidery machine is in the shop.
On the other hand, a combined sewing and embroidery machine can save you both money and space.
Consider your needs as a sewist. How much space do you have for equipment? How much of a budget do you have? And would your sewing suffer if your combined machine had to go in for repairs?
High End, Mid Range or Low End?
There are three basic levels of equipment for home machine embroidery.
A basic, entry level embroidery machine can give you an easy, affordable introduction to the craft. For a casual user, this may be the only embroidery machine you’ll ever need.
Entry level machines come with a library of around 50 to 100 built-in embroidery designs, and a handful of embroidery fonts. Most have a USB port so that you can import designs that you buy from third party vendors. Most also have rudimentary on-machine editing capabilities, such as rotate, add, move, and combine.
Entry level machines generally have a small embroidery area (four inches square is the standard) and come with one, or sometimes two hoops.
Mid-range embroidery machines cost a bit more, but in exchange have more and better features. You’ll often find a larger design library, with frame elements and more fonts, and more advanced editing functions. The maximum embroidery area will be larger, and the machine may come with several hoops.
Advanced embroidery machines come with all the toys. The design libraries are huge, with dedicated memory for more imported designs. The machine may also come with access to a streaming design service. There will be numerous frame and other design elements, as well as many fonts.
Many advanced embroidery machines have structural elements such as laser positioning and sensors to tell you when your thread breaks or tangles, when you’re about to run out of thread, or when it’s time to change colors. On-machine editing will be advanced, as well, and may include the ability to turn photographs into embroidery files.
The maximum embroidery area of advanced machines can be as large as 12 inches by 16 inches, and many come with a handful of different sized hoops. Often an advanced machine will have numerous USB ports as well as WiFi for transfer.
Entry Level Embroidery Machines: the Must Have Features
If you’ve never purchased an embroidery-only machine, you might be confused. Don’t be. Here are the must haves.
Built-in Embroidery Designs
At the entry level, the design library should contain between 50 and 100 built in embroidery designs. Some machines may also have lettering, frame elements, and other things.
Lettering can include different fonts, decorative letters, and two or three letter monogramming capabilities.
The on-machine editing for an entry level machine is often pretty rudimentary. Functions may include:
- Mirror Image
If you’re willing to pay a bit more, you can often find more advanced editing features, but these are pretty standard for a basic embroidery machine.
Most embroidery machines have memory available to store designs that you purchase or download from the manufacturer or from third party vendors.
Design Transfer Technology
Most embroidery machines allow you to import designs to your machine. To do this, you’ll need a transfer technology.
The most common design transfer method is USB. However, some machines have WiFi connectivity or use proprietary apps for editing and transfer.
Maximum Embroidery Area and Hoop Size
There are two measurements to look out for when considering embroidery machines: the maximum embroidery area and the hoop size.
The maximum embroidery area is the largest area size in which your machine can embroider. For an entry level machine, the standard is four inches square, though you may occasionally find a machine with a larger max embroidery area.
Hoops hold fabric taut for machine embroidery, just as they do for hand embroidery. Most entry level embroidery machines come with a single hoop.
Features and Benefits of the Janome MC230E
As far as entry level embroidery machines go, the Janome MC 230E is pretty par for the course. That said, it has some excellent features. Here are some of our favorites.
Made to be Portable
Embroidery machines tend to be large and heavy. The Janome MC230E isn’t particularly lightweight, but it is compact in size, and has a convenient carry handle so that you can move it about pretty easily.
The Janome MC230E has 73 built in designs and three fonts, with monogramming capabilities.
USB Design Transfer
If you want to import your own designs, the Janome MC230 has a USB port that makes it easy.
Maximum Embroidery Area
The Janome MC230E has a maximum design area of 5.5 inches by 5.5 inches. This is slightly larger than the max embroidery area of many comparable machines. This model comes with one hoop, and the option to buy a smaller one as well.
Good Value for Money
Depending on your retailer, the Janome MC230E can be a good deal or an excellent one. Either way, it pays to research the market carefully to find the best price.
Alternatives to the Janome MC230E
As we’ve mentioned, at the time of this writing, the Janome MC230E is available at a wide range of prices. There aren’t very many competitors at the lower end of the price spectrum. However, when it comes to the upper end of the range, there are quite a few other options. Perhaps one of these comparison models will have more of the features that you need.
EverSewn Sparrow X2
EverSewn is a twenty-first century company with ties to Bernina. Their goal is to spread the love of crafting through machinery that’s simultaneously powerful and accessible.The EverSewn Sparrow X2 is actually a sewing and embroidery machine, but, like all EverSewn machines, it’s designed for ease of use.
Its features include:
- 134 embroidery designs
- 120 built-in sewing stitches
- Two hoops
- Editing via app
- Large four inch by seven inch maximum embroidery area
- WiFi design transfer.
It doesn’t have an LCD touchscreen like most similar models, so you can’t edit designs on-machine. However, the app that comes with the machine allows for more and better edits than you could ordinarily do on a machine at this level. It also has WiFi for design transfer, which is usually a feature of higher end machines.
The EverSewn Sparrow X2 falls in the middle of the range of prices at which you can currently find the Janome MC230E.
The Brother PE535 is an entry level embroidery only machine that’s pretty similar to the Janome MC230E. Its features include:
- 80 built in designs
- 9 embroidery fonts, including Japanese
- USB design transport
- One included hoop
- Durable metal chassis
The Brother PE535 has a smaller design library and a smaller maximum embroidery area than the Janome MC230E. On the other hand, that library also includes frame designs and a larger selection of fonts, including Japanese.
The Brother PE535 costs about the same as the EverSewn Sparrow X2, which is to say, in the middle of the price range at which you’ll find the Janome MC230E.
Singer Superb EM200
The Superb EM200 is Singer’s entry into the field of embroidery only machines. The Singer Superb EM200 is put together a bit differently than many machines of this class, but some sewists may prefer its features, which include:
- 200 built-in embroidery designs
- 2 embroidery fonts
- Extra large 10.25 inch by 6.0 inch maximum embroidery area
- Two included hoops
- Downloadable embroidery software
- USB design transfer
- Independent bobbin winding motor
- Updateable software
- Upper thread sensor
The Singer Superb EM200 costs about the same as our other two comparison models. Its editing capabilities are a bit primitive, but for the right sewist, other features, such as the large embroidery area and thread sensors may be a fair exchange.
Should You Buy the Janome MC 230E?
The fact is, entry level embroidery only machines are pretty thin on the ground at the time of this writing. Budget priced ones are even harder to find. The Janome MC230E is not only well made with decent features, it’s also made to be portable, which the majority of embroidery machines are not.
Although the MC230E’s features are limited when compared to more expensive models, they’re quite standard for this class of embroidery machine. If you’re looking for an entry level embroidery only machine, this could be an excellent choice, and we’re happy to recommend it.
Have you used the Janome MC230E? What did you think? We’d love to hear about your experience!