Sewing Machine Review: Janome Atelier 7
Whilst preparing and filming my Craftsy class I was lucky enough to have on loan the Janome Atelier 7 (Janome Skyline in the US). I was very impressed, and I got so comfortable with it, I thought I would review the big beauty before it disappeared out of my life.
I usually work on a Janome TXL607 at home for bag making, which is a mid range domestic sewing machine, and I have been happy with it for the few years since I traded up from my 25 year old Bernina Sport (which has had an amazing innings and still going strong despite years of overwork and misuse).
I think it is important that I don’t move to an industrial machine as I need to be sure my patterns are all ‘do-able’ (is that a word??) on a domestic machine, as that is what most of my customers work on.
While still a domestic machine, the Atelier 7 is a range up from the old TXL models, and she is an amazing beast.
I didn’t think there would be a huge difference, but trust me, I really don’t know how I am going to go back.
Given that the Atelier is all singing, all dancing with amazing features I have never seen before, I still did what all of us do when we get a new machine, and went straight to the pretty decorative stitches to have a go at a few sewing symbols and handmade logos. It has 240 built-in stitches so it took me a while!
One of the main selling points of the Atelier range is the AcuFeed system, which the supplied walking foot, or dual feed foot, is specially designed to engage with. This moves the top layer of fabric in sync with the bottom layer. I’m going to bang on for a bit about this because it is a marvellous tool, especially when you are sewing multiple thick (and often a bit sticky) layers as we do in bag making.
The mechanism is built into the back of the machine rather than dependant on your needle just going up and down as I have used previously, so there is much more control, there is even a twiddly nob to adjust the differential between upper and lower feed.
The Dual Feed foot is a much wider foot than a normal straight stitch foot, and although I wanted to use it for nearly all my stitch work, I couldn’t because it is too wide to get into some of the tight corners I often find myself in. Whilst ruminating with another bag maker about how fantastic it would be to have a narrower version or one with a stitch guide, I decided to ask Janome if there were plans to make such a thing. To my surprise, I found they were already available and the supplied foot just slips off like a shoe, and can be replaced with the other feet – well blow me! Obviously I ordered them immediately and am waiting very patiently (yes that’s me, patient) for their arrival so I can play some more.
I swear this beast sews straighter than any machine I have owned previously too, but it does have 7 feed dogs, and I guess with the AcuFeed that could possibly be true.
There are a host of other useful features of which I will list but a few:
The Atelier 7 has a large full colour screen that you may question when you get it out of the box if you are ever going to be able to understand it, but it’s very owner friendly and I was creating and programming stitch pattern combinations within the day via the USB connection.
Some very useful features are a fully lit machine with a number of LED lights at various spots around the body to give a really well lit work area – they can be turned off individually too – so if you are a chronic migraine sufferer like myself, this is always a prerequisite of a machine (although unscrewing the bulb has always worked technically very well for me in the past)
The automatic thread cutter and presser foot lift functions are brilliant. I am still getting used to the foot lift and keep reaching around to raise it manually, but it’s getting more natural. The machine is also supplied with a knee lift control for the presser foot, which I am trying to use on a regular basis as I feel it could be useful, if I could only stop feeling like I’m dancing to a Rhianna track every time I give it a nudge.
There are many improvements on previous machines I have encountered –
an additional straight stitch needle plate for fine fabrics, improved alphabets and size control, the zipper foot is a dream compared to my last one, (which ended up sat in a jar next to my machine so I could glare daggers at it every time I thought I might have to use it – in fact I didn’t use it, I just kept my straight stitch foot on and moved my needle far left!)
The foot pedal is a gentle giant – it is HUGE – and I love it, much more easy to control, and you don’t end up with dancing feet chasing it all around under the table.
The Atelier also features Sewing application buttons – so rather than choosing what stitch you want to use, you can just tell the machine what you want to do, for example zipper sewing or gathering, and it will automatically select the stitch and tell you when to stitch where. I think this feature is probably suited to more novice sewers, or maybe it is just that I am a control freak and can’t let it choose anything for me.
If you are an avid bag maker like me – and boy do we know the problems with bulky fabrics, vinyls and numerous layers – and you are looking to upgrade your current machine, I can heartily recommend the Atelier 7, it has handled everything I have thrown at it so far, even 8 layers of vinyl !
The only improvements I could suggest are, that the machine should also be available in bright pink, and should have an option of a prescription glass protruding at right angles from the front so I don’t have to take my glasses on and off every time I sit down.
Thanks for the lend Janome, any chance I can keep it??
Watch the ad for my new Craftsy bag making class here