One of the questions I get asked the most often is whether or not a heavy duty and/or all mechanical machine is better than a standard sewing machine. Many people find the concept of a heavy duty (HD) machine very appealing, but aren’t sure if it’s necessary for their style of sewing. Here’s a few points to help guide you in the decision making process!
Janome’s definition of heavy duty (HD) sewing machines
For Janome, heavy duty is defined as sewing machines capable of sewing through thick and/or dense materials with the same quality stitches as lighter fabrics. This is usually achieved by making the inner workings of the machine mechanical, meaning there are no computerized parts. This can mean HD machines need to be oiled more often, but are less prone to glitches and electronic problems.
That said, not all HD machines are completely mechanical, such as the 6700p, and the high quality engineering on all Janome HD models means you can confidently purchase based on the features the machines offer and not worry about whether the HD machine is all mechanical or not.
Reasons you might want a heavy duty machine
For many people, the appeal of a heavy duty machine is twofold: the potential of being able to sew thick and dense materials, and the simplicity of a mechanical machine engine. All of Janome’s HD models are able to handle regular quilting cotton and other light fabrics just as well as standard machines, so the added bonus of sewing heavier, thicker materials makes a HD machine a great option for the sewist with diverse projects. Beyond this, each HD model has its own unique benefits, so let’s take an in-depth look at each one.
The most basic of all the HD models from Janome, the HD1000 is a mechanical machine, with a front-loading bobbin, 14 basic stitches (straight, zig zag, over edge, etc.) and that’s about it. It’s a very sturdy, small machine with no bells and whistles, and has a standard amount of throat space (which could pose a challenge for large projects) but for less than $350 might be a good choice if you want to occasionally sew on heavy fabrics.
The HD3000 is the next step up from the HD1000, and while it has a similar mechanical structure, offers a few key upgrades. A drop-in bobbin is faster and more convenient, four more stitch options have been added, and a 5-piece feed dog system makes for smoother stitching.
The Janome 1600p is a straight stitch only, mechanical machine. It’s the fastest Janome has to offer at 1,600 stitches per minute, and with a guide-less 1/4″ foot it makes chain piecing quilts a breeze. An automatic thread cutter, my favorite feature from Janome, means you can clip your threads at the end of a seam with the push of a button. 9″ of throat space means lots of room for quilting and sewing large items. This machine cruises along like a champ for hours, though it needs to be oiled frequently due to the all mechanical and mostly metal insides. This means it’s also a little noisy, and heavy to lift. This machine also has a side-loading bobbin–a mechanical feat that allows for fast sewing speed, but can be a little more time consuming to change than a drop-in. The fact that it literally only sews straight stitches means you may need an alternate sewing machine for zig zag, over edge, or other stitches, but if you’re looking for a really speedy, sturdy, basic workhorse, the 1600p is good option for you.
If you only want to buy one all-purpose HD sewing machine, the 6700p is the answer. With a slightly slower speed (1,200 stitches per minute) than the 1600p, this machine can transform into a high performance straight-stitch only machine in seconds. With some computerization, it’s very user friendly, with a large enough selection of stitches (such as over edge, zig zag, and blind hem) to make it versatile enough for sewing every project. It also has 9″ of throat space, as well as an extension table perfect for free motion quilting. This machine also has some of our favorite Janome features–an easy drop-in bobbin, automatic thread cutter, and separate bobbin-winding motor. A somewhat pricier model than the 1600p, it’s the only sewing machine you really need, and great for the serious sewist.