Friday, February 25, 2011

Hello Betty

Nope, not the fabric line. Betty is my sewing machine! :) I never properly introduced her, so I thought I do a little review today.
Last fall I sold my quilt frame and started to relearn quilting on my sewing machine. It was pretty easy to pick back up, and I was happily meandering in no time. I did feel limited by the 7.5" throat on my machine, though, so I started look at my options. I had tested the Horizon when it first came out, but it was a "just for fun" test drive. We were just starting to think about moving to Seattle and I was still hoping to bring my frame with. Not to mention, I was a die hard Bernina girl!
Now with the frame sold I was rethinking the Horizon.  I also took a visit to my Bernina dealer to see the 820. I quickly decided against the 820 based on price (or maybe I should say Matt made that decision for me, ha!). So back to the Horizon dealer I went, armed with questions. I played around with the free motion quilting and the acufeed, plus I tested out the thread cutter and other gadgets. I was really happy with the results, so the machine stay in my mind. I went back home and started negotiating with Matt. And the Saturday after Thanksgiving we bought the Horizon! I hadn't sold my Bernina yet, but I was working on it. I just couldn't pass up the deal that my dealer was offering. ;) (I did later sell my Bernina, phew!)

Here's my review:
Purchased: November 2010
What I like:
*It's so quiet!

*All of the stitches are printed on the machine lid, making it very easy to navigate the folders on the touchscreen
*Storage area under the lid
*Auto tension (small dial to the right of the take up lever in the photo above)
*11" harp

*Great even feed for piecing without having to use a walking foot or acufeed
*Acufeed system is great for quilting and sewing with stretchy or thick fabric
*Extra high lift!
 (Removing the bobbin cover)
*Easy drop in bobbin and clear window to monitor bobbin fullness
*Good lighting under the machine

*Automatic Plate Converter system - red arrow points to plate converter, which slides back and forth to change to and from single hole plate
*Thread cutter is very quiet
*Easy to clean bobbin case
 (Bobbin case removed for cleaning)
(Bobbin case back in place)
*Quilting feet. Open toe, clearview and standard. This foot system does not hop like a traditional darning foot does, but rather it skims the quilt top. I prefer this system.
*Easy to access machine head (for when the stray thread is stuck somewhere....)
g*Optional table - setting the machine down in the table makes sewing and quilting so much easier!
*User friendly (see more below)
*Many accessories come with the machine (15 feet!)
*Acrylic table is great for travel to classes and sew ins
*Accessories are reasonably priced

What I dislike:
*The accessory tray. This slides onto the free arm, but if you are using a table or the acrylic table it is just another piece that takes up space. Right now I keep it on the floor behind my table, but I think I'm going to find a better way to store the accessories and pack the tray away.
*The foot pedal seems cheap, but it does it's job.
*It's a bit tedious to switch to and from the acufeed or quilting foot, because they are not just snap on feet.
*Buttonholes seem to sew out a bit too long
*Manual is lacking in information
*Touchscreen is not high resolution

It definitely took me some getting used to, because I was transitioning from one brand to another. But overall I'm very happy with the switch. I think that Janome does a good job of spending money where it matters, and it shows in the products. They also include more accessories with their machines, which I appreciate. (For example, my machine came with a cording foot!)

I love the stitch quality and the size of the harp, but another thing that I really love about this machine is that it allows the user a lot more freedom to adjust settings. Such as:
presser foot presser
auto tension or manual tension
feed balancing (great for button holes and decorative stitches when not using acufeed)
dual feed balancing (to ensure that both layers are being fed evenly)
bobbin winder fullness adjustment

I know that my previous machine had some of these adjustment options, but they were hard to find and use, imo.

There are lots of other features on the machine, most of which I just don't use often. I very rarely use a decorative stitch. The machine has the great ability to customize stitches and program combinations, that's just not something that I use. It also has 3 monogram alphabets, which I use occasionally. I like that I have the choice of 3 styles.

To see more about the machine (and better pictures!):

(This is a review containing my opinions. I purchased the machine, and received nothing in return for this review.)

Oh, and about my machine's name! My husband used to drive a 1986 Chevy Celebrity stationwagon when we were in college. He claims that when it was brand new, the exterior was a maroon color. But by the time I knew him, it was decidedly a dusty rose color. I named her Betty, and it stuck. Before we graduated, we bought a new car and Betty was passed on to Matt's brother. And to this day the whole family refers to the late wagon as Betty! So when I saw the maroon faceplate on this machine, I knew what name I had to give her. ;)


felicity said...

Thanks for this review! I sew and quilt on my Bernina 145, and the harp is very limiting. Overall, I like it, but if I had to do it all over again, this baby would be on my list for sure.

Anonymous said...

Your review has come along at a good time. I am going to the Quilt Exhibition in Edinburgh tomorrow and I hope to buy a new machine there. I am toying with buying either a Janome Horizon or a Bernina Aurora 440 QE. I might be swayed to the Janome now!


Wowo...I so wish Emmy & Betty could play...Looks like fun....I'v been really happy with my new girl...the best thing is, she drives smooth, quilt & has the same big comfy drivng foot as her old 'Granny'. Our Emmy's & Betty's really are a very special contributing part to the family, with clothes, caft, & cuddly things!!!

Nima said...

wow...thanks for the review...i was looking out for reviews about horizon

Kath said...

Thanks, thats very helpful. I am looking to upgrade and Janome is my choice. I shall look out for this machine.