Sewing machines buying guide

We examined three machines at different price points to see what you get.
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04.Stitches and controls

Stitch selection controls

Decision guide

The way in which stitches are selected really sets the price points apart — the more you pay, the more intuitive the machine becomes, which means less trial and error. Our experts found all three machines easy to navigate, though one commented that the high-end machine was a little more complex to use than the mid-range one. This may reflect the increasing specialisation of the more expensive models. It does, however, come with an instructional CD, which the others don’t.

Janome 525SJanome Sewist 525S

To change the stitches on this machine you turn a series of dials. The experts advised checking that the stitches and dials are clearly labelled, which makes selecting the stitches simple. The dials include:

  • Stitch length dial.
  • Pattern selector dial.



Janome Memory Craft 4900 QC Janome 4900

The stitches are displayed on a small LCD screen and can be selected via buttons on the machine’s body. The screen displays include:

  • Pattern number and image of stitch.
  • Recommended thread tension.
  • Recommended presser foot.
  • Stitch width and length.
  • Recommended foot pressure.


Janome Memory Craft 9700Janome 9700

Stitch selections are made via the touch LCD screen, which is like a mini computer. The colour screen displays/selections are vast and include:

  • Selected mode: sewing or embroidery.
  • Name of stitch and image.
  • Recommended foot pressure.
  • Recommended tension setting.
  • Adjusting the stitch width and length.


Decision guide

For clothing repairs, hemming and making simple clothes following a pattern, the range of basic stitches available on the low-end machine is all you’ll need, but for more complex tasks such as creating your own clothing, a mid-range machine with a good range of stitches is a better option. More experienced sewers interested in crafts and quilting will need a much wider range of stitches/patterns, which the mid to high-end machines deliver.

Janome 525SJanome Sewist 525S

This machine has a limited number of basic stitches, which you’d expect on a lower-end machine — though you may find more on other machines around the same price.

  • 24 stitches and one buttonhole.
  • Six sewing feet .




Janome Memory Craft 4900 QCJanome 4900

The mid-range machine gives a lot more variety of stitches and buttonholes — and this one had more than our experts expected at this price range.

  • 188 stitches and 10 buttonholes.
  • Three alphabets for monograms.
  • The ability to customise your own stitches, which can be saved to the memory.
  • 11 sewing feet.
  • Quilter guide.


Janome Memory Craft 9700Janome 9700

For this price you can expect a specialised machine for quilting and embroidery, with a large number of stitches and designs.

  • 98 stitches and seven buttonholes.
  • 95 embroidery designs.
  • Three alphabets, two and three-letter monogramming and 15 borders.
  • Design-editing feature.
  • 10 sewing feet.
  • Quilter guide.
  • PC memory card slot to download images and software updates.

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