Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Janome Threadbanger TB-30 review

I am heading into month 2 with my Janome TB-30 and recently wrote a review on Pattern Review on this machine. My dress form arrived yesterday, still awaiting the other toy... along with the cutting mat and some new patterns. I plan to be very productive this summer, with Korean heat and humidity combo, I am essentially locking myself in the apartment in a few weeks.

What I like about this machine

This is my first computerized machine and it took a couple of weeks for me to get used to another brain thinking for me when I sew. I am a garment sewer and purchased this machine after lots of research online/on the PR forum threads.

I went with this machine because it offered adjustable presser foot pressure as well as 6 different one-step buttonholes. I have a friend who is purchasing another Janome with similar features except her model does not offer the adjustable presser foot pressure. I have yet to use this feature on my TB-30 so I hope the feature is worth the extra money.

I have tried a couple different styles of buttonholes on scrap fabric and found that the stitch density isn't as close together as I can get with my previous White Jeans Denim machine (only one style of buttonhole vs. the six styles on the TB-30). The density issue is probably more personal preference than function though, the buttonholes I have made so far are quite nice and professional looking.

I haven't sewn on difficult fabric yet (velvet, slippery silks, heavy denim, etc) with this machine, most of my projects have been quilting cottons. I did repair a nylon back pack strap the other night and the layers slid through the machine without a hiccup.

The machine is quiet and has a nice hum. This is my first full size Janome (I have a Janome Sew-Mini) and it feels like the machine and I are off to a nice start.

This is a low shank machine and comes with a few snap on presser feet out of the box. I have access to cheap low shank metal presser feet and will work on expanding my collection. It's nice to have interchangeable feet with this machine and my White.

You can control the stitch speed at various settings, I had a hard time at the fastest setting when I first started (always used to full control using the pedal) but I'm used to the feel of the machine now. The automatic needle up/down feature is very convenient.

What I do not like about this machine
I did have some bobbin tension issues when I first started working on this machine that have since been fixed. I was having the hardest time tightening up the bobbin tension, even when the needle pressure dial was at "0" my bottom thread was still poking through at the end/beginning of the top thread. I played around with all the possible settings such as presser foot pressure, needle pressure and higher-end thread. When none of these showed significant changes, I was

This was my first machine with a horizontal bobbin and it finally occurred to me last week to take the cover plate off to tighten the bobbin casing. I don't know why I didn't make the connection to tighten the casing to fix the tension issues, I guess if I don't actually see and hold the bobbin casing in my hand like I do with my horizontal bobbin machines, in my mind it didn't seem "real" (if that makes sense). My straight stitches are now evenly looped on the top and the bottom.

The quality of the straight stitch is still not what I consider perfection but they are even and nice looking. Maybe with some more tweaking it will look a little better, this is probably an issue specific to my particular machine. I played around with some of the decorative stitches and nothing really impressed me. The star/asterisk stitch didn't look very polished and the functions where it did a satin stitch (continuous half moons and diamonds) weren't all that tight. I do want to note that these stitches were tested when I was having the straight stitch tension problems and I'll need to re-test them. Truthfully I don't have a lot of confidence that it will be significantly improved, but these decorative stitches are pretty useless to me as a garment sewer. I suppose if I want fancier machine stitching I can get an embroidery machine.

I've had the machine beep at me for doing a couple of "off limit" things by accident, guess I have to get used to these computerized warnings.

I unplug the 220V/110V transformer from the outlet every time I am finished using this machine (I live in Asia and have a regular 110V machine). I am pretty sure just the act of shutting down the machine re-sets the settings (i.e. straight stitch length goes back to a default 2.2 while I usually set it to 3) and I thought I read online that we can set our own defaults on this machine, but I don't remember seeing it in the manual. This is perhaps the most annoying thing after the tension crisis, and it is very minor in the grand scheme of things since it's easy to set the stitch length.

Overall now that my tension issues are fixed, I am starting to work more in harmony with my new toy. I think this machine would be a nice beginner to advanced sewing machine for someone who does primarily garment sewing. The additional 30 stitch variations are functional, but I really plan to use the straight stitch, zig zag, and buttonhole stitches for my sewing needs.

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