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.
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!!