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My Treasure Chest Holds a Janome Jem
Aug 4, 2002 (Updated Nov 17, 2009)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:lightweight, portable, powerful, free-arm sewing
Cons:brief instructions, can't lower feed dogs
The Bottom Line: Review updated November 17, 2009. -- This is an excellent machine at a terrific price. It's a true gem!
A quilting friend told me about the Janome Jem sewing machine. I own a Bernina 1260QPE, which is a terrific machine ... but it’s heavy! The Janome Jem is lightweight at only 11 pounds and is easy to carry to sewing workshops. I’ve owned my Jem for over three years now and still love it.
Recommend this product?
What a Deal!
I purchased my Janome Jem from a local sewing machine store for $195, and the store threw in a Quilting Kit for free (valued at $40), and if that isn’t enough, it also came with a free tapestry sewing machine carrying bag.
The machine comes with:
Zig Zag Foot A
Sliding Buttonhole Foot
2 Plastic Bobbins
Additional Sewing Needles
Spool Pin Felt (for use with the Spool Pin atop the machine that holds the thread)
Quilting Kit includes:
The Janome Jem comes with ten built-in stitches. There are three lengths of straight stitches (short, normal, basting length) and three widths of zig zag stitches (narrow to wide). Included are four “utility” stitches: blind hem, tricot, stretch blind hem, and overcasting stitch. The buttonhole stitch is also included for use with the sliding buttonhole foot.
I couldn’t believe this bitty machine also allows free-arm sewing. The Janome Jem comes with a slide-off extension table. The extension table is located in front of the presser foot and offers a wider “table” for sewing. Slide the extension table off the machine, and ta-da there is now a narrow arm that allows free-arm sewing. A free-arm is handy for sewing in tight areas, such as sewing the cuff on a shirt sleeve. Also, the extension table is hollow to offer a place to store sewing accessories like extra bobbins, sewing needles, seam ripper and sewing feet.
How Does It Sew?
For a small machine, this baby is powerful! I’ve sewn clothing and have pieced quilt tops on it without problem. The stitches sew evenly, and it’s simple to choose stitches using the Stitch Selector Dial. There is a wide lever that when held down allows the machine to sew in reverse. I also found the buttonhole foot easy to use. The buttonhole instructions are step-by-step and simple to understand. I do recommend sewing test buttonholes before sewing them on a project to get the feel for how the buttonholer works.
When I prepared to free-hand machine quilt, I discovered no way to lower the feed dogs. Instead, the Quilting Kit comes with a Darning Plate that attaches to the top of the Presser Plate, covering the feed dogs. This works well, but I did miss the ease of being able to lower the feed dogs.
The Walking Foot works like a dream for sewing multiple fabric layers. However, I had one bad experience. I dragged out one of the first quilts I had made years-and-years-and-years ago and had only half-finished. It is a bulky affair. At the time I decided to create a gorgeous quilt top using the Magnolia Bud pattern. Instead of traditional batting, I decided to use an old comforter as the “batting” (what was I thinking!). This made a very heavy, bulky quilt. I had long ago surrendered the idea of finishing the hand quilting and decided to complete the quilting using the Janome Jem. Mistake. The sewing machine, though billed as being able to sew ten layers of fabric, nearly choked to death on this quilt. So I recommend caution in feeding fabric layers too thick through the Jem.
The sewing machine is easy to thread. The spool of thread sits at the back of the machine on the right-hand side, and the thread feeds from the spool through four guides and then through the needle hole.
To wind the bobbin, set an empty bobbin on the Bobbin Winder Spindle, which is located on the top right of the sewing machine. Pull the thread from the spool of thread and wrap it around the Bobbin Winder Threader Guide and through one of the holes in the bobbin. Hold down the sewing machine foot pedal to begin winding thread around the bobbin. Note that the sewing machine needle moves up and down while the bobbin is winding so keep your hands away from the sewing needle. Once the bobbin is wound, pop it into the bobbin case and insert into the machine. It’s easy to wind the bobbin (very similar to how my Bernina sewing machine works).
The instructions for this machine are on a glossy, white two-sided large piece of folded paper – no book. Operating instructions include:
List the parts of the machine
Describe the Extension Table & Free Arm
List the included accessories
Discuss the power connection and foot pedal
How to adjust the presser foot & needle replacement
How to replace the light bulb
The Spool Pin positioning
How to remove and replace the front-loading bobbin
Winding the bobbin & placing the bobbin in the bobbin case
Threading the sewing machine
Drawing up the bobbin thread in preparation for sewing
Stitch selection and how to use the Reverse Lever to sew backward
Briefly discusses straight-stitch and zig zag sewing
Mentions using the tricot stitch and blind hemming
How to sew buttonholes
Balancing the needle thread tension
How to clean and care for the sewing machine
Includes a Troubleshooting Chart
Includes a brief chart about matching fabric, thread and sewing needle types
A small sheet of flimsy tissue-type paper explains how to use the Quilting Kit accessories. The instructions show how to use the walking foot, darning foot, darning plate, zig zag foot, 1/4" seam foot and the foot holder/adapter for the zig zag and 1/4" feet.
Who Benefits from the Janome Jem?
I am an experienced sewer and take this lightweight machine to sewing classes. It’s also ideal to tote on vacations. It’s small and easily portable. For people living in RV’s or apartments where space is at a premium, the Janome Jem measures about 10" High x 10" Wide x 7 1/2" Deep in the case. Beginning sewers would also benefit from this machine if basic stitches are all that is required. This machine is straight-forward and simple to use. I also love this machine as a good second sewing machine that I can use when my Bernina goes in for its tune-up.
The Janome Jem originally sold for $300, and I purchased it for $195. The store also threw in the free Quilting Kit, which would have cost $40. Also included in the price is a beautiful floral tapestry bag (a $20 value) that easily fits the entire sewing machine, foot pedal, and various accessories. New machines come with a 5-year limited warranty.
This machine is a wonderful addition to my sewing room. I can move it anywhere with ease, and it’s a powerful sewer. This is an excellent machine at a terrific price. The Jem is truly a Gem!
I hope you have found this review useful.
Enjoy your day!
Update (June 19, 2004)
The Janome Jem still works great. When my Bernina went in for a tune-up, the Jem came in handy for finishing a sewing project. A friend bought a Janome Jem for her 10-year-old daughter as a beginner sewing machine. I brought my Jem to their house, and we had a sewing day. I taught her daughter how to sew a small quilt. Of course, then she wanted to sew a matching pillow. And the project list kept growing! We had a great day of sewing.
Update (October 15, 2009)
This Janome Jem is a jewel. I regularly bring it to quilting workshops, and it is a trooper. It performs beautifully. The machine is light enough so that I can carry it in one hand while the other hand holds a totebag full of sewing supplies. I was able to sew all the blocks for a baby quilt without having to change the bobbin. I have not given it any special attention either, so it is having its first tune-up this month. Our guild is having a sewing repair specialist in, and the price is right! I do love this machine and want it to last a lifetime.
Update (November 17, 2009)
This past weekend I had this Janome Jem serviced for the first time since owning it. This machine has been such a trooper that it works great all the time. However, my quilt guild ran a special on sewing machine tune-ups, so I brought the Jem. The tune-up technician said the machine was running great and in excellent condition. He praised the Janome Jem in general as a solid machine. Removing the plates and covers did reveal some lint build-up, so I'm glad I had the machine serviced. It's working even better now!
Please read my other reviews.
Olfa Self-Healing Rotary Cutting Mat
Olfa 18mm Rotary Cutter
Olfa 28mm Rotary Cutter
Olfa 45mm Rotary Cutter
Olfa Rotary Cutter Replacement Wheels – all sizes
Olfa 4-pack Mini Weights with Organizer
Fiskar's Pinking Shears & Tutorial
Fiskar's 8" SoftGrip Scissors
Quilter’s Dream Sewing Table
Horn of America Sewing Chair
Sewing & Quilt Expo
Copyright 2002 Dawn L. Stewart
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