Good morning, everyone! I have a review post today (if you’re not into reviews, no worries – I will have a ~normal~ post later this week, too! So much catching up on projects before the year ends!) – for a sewing machine! NGL, I am pretty excited about this little machine.
As you may or may not know, I started working for Craft South earlier this year. Craft South is an adorable little fabric/yarn/crafty store, located in the seriously hip 12 South neighborhood in Nashville, TN, and owned by our fearless leader, Anna Maria Horner. In addition to our sewing, fiber and other craft supplies, we also sell Janome sewing machines. Now, I am not particularly attached to any one brand of sewing machine – I have several different brands that I use at home myself – and I strongly believe that all brands are good brands, it’s just a matter of what fits best with your budget and needs. Whenever I have the opportunity to try out a new machine – especially one that’s perhaps a little more budget-minded than whatever I have on my sewing table at home (sorry, guys, but I LURVE me some expensive-ass sewing machine hahahaha) – I am ALL about that! This particular machine is especially delightful to me, cos it’s a branded Anna Maria Horner machine *and* it’s our future classroom machine for Craft South.
I will lead with a stock photo from the Janome website, because it’s much prettier than the pile of trash photos you’ll see in the rest of this post, lolz
This is the AMH M100 – designed by Anna Maria Horner, and manufactured by Janome sewing machines. It’s a reasonably basic machine – no crazy embroidery functions, a few decorative stitches – that is easy to use, has some fun features, and is just plan adorable! It’s a fairly small machine, and I think the floral design is so beautiful! There’s also a big honkin’ space that is perfect for having signed by Anna herself, and yes, speaking from experience here.
There are a lot of features about this machine – too many to put in a blog post (well, without making this post insanely boring), so I am just going to touch on the ones that I think are really cool, as a sewist and also a sewing teacher. You can always go to the website and get the full run-down, or, if you’re local – come in our shop and play with the machine.
The machine has 99 stitch designs – ranging from your basic utility stitches (straight, zigzag, button hole, etc) to some crazy looking embroidery stitches that are perfect for quilting and applique projects. They’re all based on Anna Maria Horner designs – so lots of hearts, swirls, girly things like that. I admit, I don’t ever use stitches like this in my projects, but they are REALLY fun to just sew samples on and ooh and ahh over.
As a sewer of garments, the stitches I use most are 00, 01, 04, 06, 07 & 18. That’s your basic straight stitch, the Lock-O-Matic stitch (it will automatically backstitch at the beginning and end of your seam, which I find especially useful for bra making), the triple stitch (which is what I use now for topstitching, instead of topstitching thread + straight stitch), zigzag stitches, and the button hole stitch. There is also a locking stitch (02, it’s the same idea as the lock-o-matic, except it locks the stitches by stitching in one place instead of backstitching), stretch stitches, overcasting stitches, darning stitches, blind hem stitches, the triple zigzag, and all those applique stitches. One thing I do appreciate is that there isn’t a mass overload of decorative stitches – just a handful. It’s not overwhelming, but there are a few cute options to play around with.
The little stitch card fits in a piece that clips to the machine, so you can keep it attached to your machine if you want to reference it. The clip also folds down, so you don’t have to stare at it if you don’t want to. Or you can take it off completely and lose it somewhere in your sewing space, which is generally what I do.
There are several feet and accessories included with the machine – a straight stitch foot (not shown in this photo, but it’s attached to the machine), a clear satin stitch foot, a 1/4″ foot (PRAISE), an overcasting foot, a blind hem foot (which I use as an edgestitching foot), a zipper foot, a button hole foot, *and* an Even-Feed Foot. The Even-Feed foot is similar to a walking foot, except instead of “walking”, it clamps down on the fabric and moves it. I am told this is more precise than a walking foot, since the pieces are held together when they are moved. At any rate, that alone is a pretty sweet add-on! Those feet tend to be pretty expensive on their own.
The machine also comes with boring but useful things, like extra bobbins, spool caps, a seam ripper, etc. The Organ needles included are a new thing for me – I’d never heard of this brand before I started working at Craft South, but they are just as nice as Schmetz and soooooo much cheaper. I can get a pack of 10 Organ needles for like $2.30, WTF. Janome machines are made to work specifically with Organ needles – they will work with other brands, including Schmetz, but the needle-threader is calibrated to work with the eye placement of an Organ needle. So you can sew on the machine with any brand of needle, but you may or may not be able to use the needle threader if it’s not an Organ brand. I haven’t tested this theory bc Organ is all I keep in my sewing room now (and it’s all we have at Craft South, too).
The front box opens up so you can store all your feet and accessories in one handy spot. This piece can also be removed so that the machine has a free arm – useful for sewing stuff with a small circumference, such as sleeves and pants hems.
Threading is super easy. For the needle, there are numbers and arrows to direct you the thread path (if you’ve ever threaded ANY sewing machine before, just know that they are all mostly the same in this regard), and then there is an automatic needle threader to pull the thread through the eye if you have trouble seeing / are lazy.
The bobbin winder also has a clear diagram. One thing I really love that about this machine is that the bobbin can be wound without the foot pedal – just unplug it and press the Start/Stop button on the machine. This is incredibly handy when I am setting up for class – sometimes I’ll have all 10 machines winding bobbins simultaneously and I feel like a little Sewing Machine Goddess hahahaha
The AMH M100 has a drop-in bobbin, which makes it incredibly easy to thread. There is a little diagram on the case cover to show you how it is threaded – just a head’s up, 9 out of 10 of my students always thread it backwards the first time (actually, on my old Janome – I had it threaded backwards for like the first 6 months of use haha). The threading feels counterintuitive to what you’d think, but it’s necessary for proper tension. At any rate, you’ll know if you thread it backwards because your stitches will pull out very easily.
Then you pull it under the metal piece and up the channel, toward the 1…
And pull the thread down toward the 2…
Where there’s a built-in thread cutter that will clip the tail to the correct length. Then you just put the cover on. That’s it! No need to pull up the bobbin threads, it’s ready to sew.
A word about drop-in bobbins: I’ve used both drop-in and front-loading, and both have their merits. The front-loading bobbins will give you a more even, precise stitch. However, they are also prone to tangling and creating thread needs on the underside of your work. The drop-in bobbins don’t give you quite as beautiful of a stitch (I think this is negotiable, though, since very few people are going to be able to tell the difference just by glancing), but they are a lot more user-error-proof. These bobbins in particular are known for being really really hard to mess up. We rarely have problems with the bobbin in our classes, unless something else is wrong (such as a dull needle, or incorrect threading). Our Janome rep loves to do this trick where she throws a big thread nest in the bobbin and sews a seam – the nest just shoots out of the back and doesn’t affect the stitching. It’s kind of weird and also really amazing haha. I think this sort of bobbin is really ideal for the beginner sewer, or someone who buys a machine for their kid and doesn’t want to mess with fixing it when they inevitably screw something up. Like I said, it’s really hard to jam it up, even if you intentionally shove a thread nest in it.
Here are the buttons on this machine. The Start/Stop can control the machine without the foot pedal – you just have to unplug it first. I will admit I’ve never personally used this button except to wind the bobbin, but kids whose feet don’t quite reach the floor love it. ha. There is also a backstitch, locking stitch (again, same as the backstitch except it stitches in one place to lock. This is really useful for those embroidery stitches), needle up/down, aaaaand my favorite button – the scissors! Press that little dude after you finish sewing, and it will raise the needle and clip your threads! Argh I love that feature so much! There is also a slider to control the machine speed.
The stitch buttons are in the green section. From here you can select your stitch, move the needle position, adjust length/width, make a button hole, and there’s also a “memory” feature for the scissors button.
The throat plate has a ton of markings for measurements, which are especially useful for quilting and applique. This is my only beef with the machine, actually – I absolutely hate the guide markings. I find them really confusing to see which one you’re using, and I don’t like that they are only on one side of the needle. This is easily solved by slapping a piece of tape on the machine along the markings, which is what I do for my classes.
The machine also comes with this giant (removeable) tabletop, which is ideal for quilting.
Finally, here are some stitch samples:
Just your basic straight stitch. The top fold is the bobbin stitching.
Here is the straight stitch with a triple stitch underneath. These stitches used the exact same thread – just basic polyester Gutterman, the stuff you use to sew a garment. This is why I love that triple stitch – it’s sooo much thicker than the straight stitch, but doesn’t require a special thread or needle.
I also played around with some of the embroidery stitches.
And a few of the utility stitches (zigzag, triple zigzag, and stretch/lightning bolt stitch). Sorry the angles are so weird and artsy, it was really hard to take a photo without a huge shadow over it.
Here are some more photos of the machine working her glorious angles:
In conclusion, this is a fantastic little machine and I’m excited to bring these into the Craft South classroom! It’s very easy to use (as in, intuitive and user-friendly) and a solid little machine that doesn’t bounce around the table when you’ve got it on a high speed. It’s very similar to our current classroom machines, the Janome 4120 – the main differences that I have noticed thus far is that the AMH M-100 has less decorative stitches (and doesn’t have the stitch alphabet – which, let’s be honest, rarely gets used). However, the AMH M-100 does come with that Even-Feed foot. I love those 4120s and think they are wonderful machines, but I can’t wait to make our classroom just a little bit prettier 🙂
Note: I was not compensated in any way for this post (no, I did not get a free machine either). However, if you come to Craft South and buy a machine from me, I *do* get a commission. If you’re not local and are interested in this machine, visit your local Janome dealer!