Thursday, March 8, 2012

Janome 4120 Update

After working with the Janome 4120 for a few months, I'd like to share my pros and cons based upon the completion of a few projects—a tote, a felted envelope, and the repair of a broken shoulder strap.

On my initial "test drive" of the Janome at the dealer, I noticed that the motor was relatively quiet compared with competing models. This was important to me because I tend to sew late at night, post bedtime for the kids. Another point of reference was a vintage White sewing machine I previously owned that mimicked the penetrating sound and vibration of a jack-hammer. I was always afraid to wake up the kids at night when I used this machine. So, if noise is an issue, the Janome earns high marks here. Another great feature of the 4120 is that it boasts over a hundred decorative stitches, something I find very useful in card making, sewing kid's projects, and other applications. I used several of the decorative stitches for a felted envelope and the stitching was beautiful. Best of all, a button on the machine allows you to stop at the end of each decorative stitch to eliminate any guesswork in knowing when to stop. Other command buttons include the automatic thread cutter, reverse, up-and-down, and start-and-stop in addition to the traditional foot pedal.  In fact, transitioning to the start-and-stop button required only about 10 minutes, after which I was hooked! Now my five-year-old sews with me and I don't have to worry about teaching her how to work the foot control. I only wish they had these wonderful features twenty years ago when I first started sewing. Overall, I found the control panel very user-friendly and appreciate the instructional cd that came along with the machine. The thirty minute video clearly demonstrates how to operate and use many of the applications on the 4120 from threading, changing the bobbin, cleaning, changing the foot petal, to using the touch screen pad. Nothing is more annoying than buying a new toy and then not knowing how to use it. With the Janome, it is highly unlikely you will have that problem after watching the video.

A few areas I think the Janome 4120 could improve are: stronger lighting in the sewing area, better stitching quality in the letters, and increasing the space between the sewing foot and platform. On several occasions while I was sewing, I never felt that the light on the Janome was bright enough. This might be a simple solution as changing the bulb to a higher wattage, but right now the brightness is less than satisfactory in my opinion. Another area where the Janome receives low marks is in the stitching quality of the letters. A few weeks ago, I tried sewing my daughters name on a piece of felted material and the letters were hard to read. The maximum size that the machine will allow is 1/4 inch. Unless you have super-hero vision, the letters are rather difficult to read and the stitching quality is so-so. I did not have this problem, however with the rest of the decorative stitches. It seems this problem only happens with the letters. Last, if you plan on sewing really thick material or many layers of fabric, you might encounter a few problems with the 4120.  While I was sewing my felted purse (4 layers), I had a real tough time sliding the material through the feed dogs. I was afraid I was putting too much pressure on the foot and was nervous something might break. Ultimately, the fabric glided through but it took much tugging on my end. So if you plan on sewing really thick material or many layers of fabric, you might want to bring your heaviest material to the dealer to see if it will go through effortlessly.

All in all, I give the Janome 4120 a seven out of ten at this point. Maybe with more mileage and completed projects, I can give you a better testimonial, but so far this has been my experience with the machine. If you own a Janome 4120 and want to leave your opinion, I would love to hear about it.

Janome 4120 Demo Part I
Janome 4120 Demo Part II

1 comment:

  1. I own this same machine and I really like it. I got mine on sale, slightly, so it was less than the 899. The only problem I had was when I was sewing through a thick dog vest (neoprene) it threw the tension off. I think it was a bit too much for the machine. But, it is not meant to be an 'industrial' machine, so it was my own fault! I do a lot of knit-fabric sewing and I don't own a serger--this machine does all I need in that regard. It's great. And, I do agree with the letters--it'd be nice if they came out a bit clearer! (seeing as that was one of the selling points of the machine for me compared to the machine one 'step' down..) overall, I would recommend this machine!