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  • Janome DC4030P

  • Bernette 37

  • Brother HC1850

  • Bernette 35

  • Brother CS6000I

Product image of Janome DC4030P
Janome DC4030P

The Janome DC4030 offers smooth sewing thanks to the SFS Intelligent Feed System, which features a seven-piece feed-dog. Located underneath the presser foot and plate, the feed-dog's prickly teeth move the fabric through the machine as the needle goes up and down. Applying pressure to the adjustable foot keeps the fabric moving, making for consistent stitch-lines.

The controls are intuitive and easy to use. After winding the bobbin and threading the machine, you can choose your stitch type with a simple press of the button. The machine's stitch selection interface is great: the red and green indicator lights help to highlight which stitch you're working with. Another set of arrows control stitch length and zigzag width. I also love the convenience of the needle position button and the auto-lock button, which enables you to repeat a patterned stitch.

Both beginners and advanced sewers alike will love the pedal sensitivity. You don't have to press down very hard to get the motor going. There's also a speed control lever on the body of the machine, which lets you set your most comfortable maximum speed. The pedal's retractable cord is nice for uncluttered storage, too.

As for durability, this machine is built to last thanks to its metal frame. Some of the working parts inside the machine are made of automotive-grade nylon, which helps reduce noise. The Janome also comes with a number of useful accessories such as a screwdriver, a small spool holder, a needle case, and more. That said, the drawer that holds these accessories is a bit undersized.

Pros

  • Smooth and quiet

  • Fun to use

Cons

  • Heavy

  • Small accessories drawer

Product image of Bernette 37
Bernette 37

This Bernette makes a strong first impression thanks to its attractive design. However, this machine is more than just a pretty face. It comes with presser feet, an accessories holder, and a second spool pin (for holding more thread). It also has a 7mm stitch width, which is the widest I've seen.

That said, I have one minor nitpick: the machine doesn't come with a blind hem foot, which means you'll need to order it separately. If you're a novice, you'll really need this foot in your toolbox. Aside from this drawback, this is a great machine for beginners.

Pros

  • Great design

  • 7mm stitch width

Cons

  • Expensive

Product image of Brother HC1850
Brother HC1850

The Brother HC1850 comes with a number of helpful accessories and is super portable thanks to its compact size and built-in handle. This computerized machine is great for specifically making buttonholes, as it has eight different buttonhole styles. It also comes with several presser feet and needles for different thicknesses of fabric.

It's worth noting that the user manual is for many different Brother machines. Although you'll find the Brother HC1850 in there, it's not dedicated to the specific model on your table, which is a little annoying. This is a minuscule nitpick but the winding post is made of plastic, which could be a clue to what you might find inside the machine (more plastic parts than needed). Minor drawbacks aside, it's a good entry-level machine, as it's both reliable and affordable.

Pros

  • Includes a variety of feet

  • Has a control slider

Cons

  • Not great for heavy fabric

Related content

Product image of Bernette 35
Bernette 35

The Bernette 35 is nicely designed. My favorite thing about it is its hinged accessories drawer, which is easy to access. The machine also comes with seven presser feet, three bobbins, a needle set, and so on. While I like the number of accessories and the drawer that holds them, the sewing experience is a little rough.

Unfortunately, its foot pedal sensitivity is weak. To get the machine to move the fabric across the plate, you have to press down pretty hard. When it comes to thick fabrics, a slower speed must be maintained for even stitch-lengths. A fast stitch held at full throttle puts out uneven stitch-lengths, which results in an inconsistent look. This machine also struggles to pass over thick spots where layers of fabric are folded into seams.

Pros

  • Nice design

  • Big accessories drawer

Cons

  • Struggles with thick fabric

  • Expensive

  • Pedal control is miminal

Product image of Brother CS6000I
Brother CS6000I

The Brother CS6000I comes with nine presser feet, several needles for different types of fabrics, and a roomy drawer to store everything in. It's lightweight and portable, but the plastic exterior feels a little flimsy. It's also a computerized machine, so you'll be using the LCD display to select your stitch length and width. While I like working with computerized machines because they simplify blind-hem stitches, the operating menu on this specific machine takes some getting used to. That said, I was still able to complete all of the projects outlined in this guide's section.

If you're looking for an inexpensive machine to practice on, look no further than the Brother CS6000I.

Pros

  • Has a speed control slider

  • Includes a variety of feet

Cons

  • Cheaper feel

Meet the tester

Lisa Lawrence

Lisa Lawrence

Contributor / Photographer

Passionate about art and anything hand-made, Lisa Lawrence is a mother, photographer, & writer in Los Angeles. After graduating from UCLA with a Bachelor’s in English she worked at a middle school for two years helping kids to find their voice.

See all of Lisa Lawrence's reviews

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