Name: Janome Memory Craft 11000 Special Edition
Embroidery is a fun sport, but it is often inaccessible because it has traditionally been a commercial process. Over the past few years a few companies have come up with home machines that bring the creativity to your doorstep. We recently received an interesting machine from Janome to run through its paces.
When we received the box it was obvious that Janome means business. The inside looks like a sewing store with pretty much every accessory you can think of. You really need to buy a box to house it all because you WILL lose parts, otherwise. In theory it all fits inside the machine case, but don't do that to yourself; it doesn't have well-defined compartments.
Getting right into it:
The bobbin winder is pretty easy to get the hang of, just make sure you follow the directions because we tried to just wrap the bobbin a couple times before turning the machine on and it doesn't work that way. Hold the thread as it asks you to.
The automatic needle threader has a little problem with shredding your thread so that you have to do it a couple times to get it right. The issue is that when you need to do it again, your thread can be too short to pull some slack out so you need to pull it back from the spool side and completely rethread the machine. You know what? Thread the old fashioned way. Maybe it was just our machine.
It doesn't show this in the instructional video and doesn't mention it in the book, but it appears you have to remove the presserfoot every time you want to attach or remove the embroidery hoop. For a machine that does everything- really, everything- this seems a little archaic. *Holy Guacamole this is totally not true. There is a virtual army of presser feet that comes with the machine for all kinds of different purposes and we simply used the wrong foot. It looks very similar to the correct one but it has a spring on it. Silly us.*
Plan to not make any mistakes when choosing menu items on the LCD i-height screen (displays up to 65,536 colors at 640 x 480 resolution), as there is no "back" button to get you out of incorrect button pushing. You must return to the main menu. When editing, there is a trash can icon that allows you to remove an item you just keyed in, but overall, the menus are a bit tricky to navigate and sometimes the icons seem a bit quixotic in their design: the icon for "Folder" looks like a tote bag.
There is a little bit of crazy English in the directions' lexicon for this machine. Things like "Register" really mean "Save" and the books appear to have been translated by a non-native speaker of English. Most of the info is there if you are willing to take the time to decode it.
Another weird thing is the slideshow of screen savers they have chosen. On ours it was "Sunflowers" then "Grandma with two grandsons" then "Old Golden Retriever". Everyone likes flowers for the most part, but the Grandma scene is a bit strange when you are not quite in that demographic. The thing about dogs is that there are generally two kinds of people in this world; Dog and Cat people (only two). It would have been better if there were a caption that read "Oh, he's friendly!" This is not a real complaint except that you see this screen a lot.
Don't use this presser foot (in the vid) for embroidery or you will have incurred undue negative Karma.
Now what does it do well? It does a lot of things very well, including embroidery, strangely enough. You feel like you should just be able to speak to it and it will do your bidding. It is super powerful. Getting started can take a little while so set aside a little time to watch the videos that come with the machine and follow along to get yourself acclimated. The results are nothing less than professional and since home machines tend to work a little smaller, the detail can often be better than professional.
One thing we would like to see on this product is the ability to truly create your own designs. You can mix and match designs already in the machine- even take elements from those designs and reshape and kludge them together, take pre-digitized designs off the web and from external sources- all right from the screen. You will need a separate software package to generate a completely original image. If you want to embroider a logo you designed or just something naughty, there is not much internal support for such activity.
We tried a bit of stippling, which is basically a quilting function and found that it does it very well. This is a super convenient feature to have when you are trying to attach two pieces of fabric together on top of each other...you know, quilting. It can also produce some interesting designs for embroidery. The only thing is that you have to constantly be taking the fabric out of the hoop and moving it around- it's designed to do this reaonably quickly with the AcuFil hoop.
Hook it up to your computer or a key drive to load up some 3rd party images. We spent most of our time doing monograms because we like monochromatic, low complexity type stuff, but it is really easy to do multicolor- the machine stops every time you need to change the color and you just swap out a spool. No need to cut the thread or remember where you were- it takes care of all of that. It will even tell you how much time is left in each stage!
Overall this is a great machine that can do anything, and this is for serious sewers (love writing that word) who want a machine that can keep up with them. $7999 is a lot of money, but this is the premier machine if you can afford it. The Janome Memory Craft 11000 is a bit complex in how it works, but the results will inspire you to explore further reaches of its capabilities.