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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Consumer Product Review- Janome 300E Embroidery Machine, pt. II.

After a year of using the Janome 300E Embroidery machine, Miss Ginger is ready to give you her Consumer Product Review® on this miracle machine! She will share what she knows, what she doesn't know, and what she is still trying to figure out- so pour yourself a glass of wine, honey, 'cause she has a lot coming at you!

First, let her say that the Janome machine is not unique- there are many embroidery machines on the market, and at least 2 are simply repackaged versions of the Janome.  While Elna and Bernina both make exquisite sewing machines in Switzerland, they leave the manufacture of their embroidery-only machines to the electronic geniuses in Japan. The Elna 8300 and the Bernette 340 Deco are essentially the same machine as the Janome, and are built in the same factory; the differences are cosmetic and electronic, but the mechanics are all pretty much the same. They all connect the hoop to a post at the back of the machine, which can be seen in the Bernette image below.

The other set of brandmates you will find are manufactured by Brother, and include their nameplate, plus Necchi and BabyLock. They can be recognized by the bar that runs from the front to the back of the machine.

The top-of-the-line embroidery/sewing combo machines are typically made in any given brand's factories, but these embroidery-only machines are all manufactured in Japan.  Other than cosmetic differences, the various brands will be programmed to use their brand-specific file type, and may have a proprietary hooping configuration, as well.

So, back to the Janome!  One of the first variables one wants to consider when choosing an embroidery machine is the embroidery size.  The Janome 300E offers a 5.5" by 7.9" embroidery field. While this is not the largest embroidery field available, it is pretty large for a machine at this price.  Please note the "hoop size" and "embroidery size" is not the same.  You can buy a "mega-hoop" for this machine, and many others, but the embroidery capacity of the machine does not change.  "Mega" hoops allow you to combine designs, or pieces of designs, without re-hooping, so a larger design can be created with perfect alignment. 

The Janome comes with 100 designs built in to the machine, a menagerie of floral baskets, teddy bears, and other inane designs.  Built-in designs should really be your last consideration when choosing a machine, because you can download millions of designs from the internet, at a cost of anywhere from free to about 20 bucks. Most designs Miss Ginger has downloaded have cost about $6-7. 

The machine is designed to take PC cards, and Janome offers a number of pre-programmed cards for purchase. 

Since PC cards have pretty much gone the way of the floppy disc, they also offer a PC card adapter, that allows you to use a Compact Flash card to carry  designs downloaded from the internet from your PC to your machine.  Compact Flash memory is cheap, so you can maintain your files on CF memory and load them into the machine when you need them.  The machine also has a built-in memory, so your most often used designed can be stored directly on the machine to be called up whenever you need them.  BTW, PC card adapters are commonplace; you don't need one specific to this machine. PC card adapters are available anywhere office supplies are sold.

This machine has 3 on-board fonts that can be used to create 2 and 3 letter monograms without a computer, but with your PC card and the appropriate software, you can create monograms from any TrueType font installed on your PC.

Embroidery thread for these machines is made by several different companies, and each one has it's own numbering scheme to define the colors.  The Janome machine allows you to select among the most common thread brands, and will prompt you with the brand-specific thread number when it's time to change the thread.

There are a number of convenient features built into the Janome that allow it to do some image manipulation without a computer.  It can flip designs horizontally and vertically, as well as rotate them 360 degrees, in 45 degree increments.  Designs can be resized from 90 percent to 120 percent right on the screen, and you can move designs on the screen to change their relative position within the hoop. 

The hoops come with drop-in templates to help you place your design on the fabric, and once the machine is set up, you can have it trace the design area within the hoop to ensure your design fits within the bounds of your project.

One worthwhile accessory that is only available for the Janome, as best as Miss G can tell, the the Janome Clothsetter.  This simple, yet unique device, allows you to ensure your embroidery design with appear exactly where you want it on the fabric.  

The Janome hoop connects to the Clothsetter the same way it connects to the machine. 

With the bottom of the hoop attached to the Clothsetter, the stabilizer and fabric are set on top, the top of the hoop is laid in place, and the arm of the Clothsetter is lowered.  Align the crosshairs on the Clothsetter with the centerpoint on your fabric, press the top of the hoop into place, and you are guaranteed perfect alignment.  This accessory alone would lead me to choose a Janome machine above all others!

The stitch quality of the Janome machine is exquisite... it creates a beautiful satin stitch, a consistent running stitch, and perfect pattern replication, time after time. 
The control panel shows the time left to stitch out, the color progression, hoop size, and machine condition.  In the rare case of a thread break, or the more common occurrence of bobbin depletion, the machine allows you to back up the design in 10 stitch increments, to restitch an pattern areas that were not completely stitched.

Miss Ginger has completed quite a few projects using the machine, the most recent of which was to create "coordinated" sheets to accompany a duvet she bought on clearance, with no matching sheets available!  

The Janome 300E gets Miss Ginger's coveted 5 lipsticks!!

For the money, this machine is a knockout!!


Beth said...

Wow, that's amazing! The extent of my sewing skills consists pretty much of sewing on buttons and stitching hems. And I have no plans for expanding my knowledge in this area. LOL It IS amazing what this machine does, though!

mrs.missalaineus said...

it is pretty neat. i love the old fashioned cross stitch too!


darla said...

Miss Grant you are so awesome! I wanna make skirts for the summer! Lets have a wine and sewing party!

LynM said...

Miss Grant, will this machine work on Windows 8, I've heard that it doesn't. Would appreciate your comments

Miss Ginger Grant said...

LynM: This particular machine will work with any operating system... the machine doesn't attach directly to the computer. You download .jef files onto your computer from the internet, and use a memory card to move the file to the machine. There are a lot of different programs available to manipulate the file if you want to resize it, recolor it, etc... and I'm sure those are available in the Windows 8 environment, but to simply download a file and move it to the machine, any operating system should work!

Ri Torres said...

Thank you for an informative review! I notice you made a circle monogram. How did you achieve that with this machine?

Miss Ginger Grant said...

Ri: The monogram was created on a computer using Embird Embroidery Software. The software has a function that can turn any windows font into an embroidery design for a monogram. There are also programs available specifically designed to create monograms, which are easier to use and less expensive than a full software package. Monogram It! by Amazing Designs is reasonably priced, and is also included in some of their design bundles!

Jean Wicks said...

will the machine work from a apple computer?

Miss Ginger Grant said...

It will work with an Apple computer to download and load files from the internet, but if you want to create your own designs from scratch, the selection of available software is mostly in Windows/PC format. If your Apple doesn't have a slot for a Compact Flash card, you can get an adapter that plugs into a USB slot.

d mc said...

I have had a lot of trouble getting mine to transfer correctly from my Mac Book Pro. It just seems to be pulling the bobbin thread through the front and does not always line back up properly when changing positions. Do you think it is a compatibility problem or a machine malfunction?


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