My husband bought me this machine just over two years ago for my birthday. I had never touched a sewing machine in my life before, but, if you know me in real life you’d know that I live by my curiosity and I was so curious about sewing. I knew I had to get a machine. I didn’t want to buy online, though I did a lot of research online, as I wanted to have dependable after-sales service, and in-person help to get me started considering I knew next to nothing about sewing and sewing machines. So we went to John Lewis, and after a long chat with a very nice and knowledgeable sales lady, we decided on this one.
The Janome 5030 currently sells for £279 and exclusively in John Lewis. Being exclusive means there were not that many reviews available outside the John Lewis website, if any, at least not when we bought it. As they are still selling this model, I thought a review would be of help for those thinking of buying it or looking to get their first sewing machine. Obviously, this being my first and only machine, I can’t really say how she performs compared to others. I will however share my two-years experience with mine that I christened Lola.
I was told that this model is perfect for beginners who want to have a machine to start their sewing journey and grow with it, or those who want to try computerised sewing machines. This model comes with a handful of accessories:
- regular foot for zigzag and straight stitches,
- satin foot,
- regular zipper foot,
- automatic buttonhole foot,
- lint brush,
- mini screwdriver,
- mini seam ripper (a sewist’s best friend!),
- some extra Organ universal needles,
- extra bobbins, spool pin and spool holders that you can use for double-needle topstitching,
- soft cover,
- foot pedal,
- power cable,
- a very concise instruction booklet.
I don’t like reading manuals, but I keep this booklet handy and I do refer to it often. It has a lot of information about the machine including how to clean it, stitches – basic and decorative, guides to errors and how to troubleshoot them.
As you can see from the image, she has a start and stop button that you can only use when the foot pedal is unplugged. I don’t use this feature other than to wind bobbins and sew buttonholes. I love the LCD monitor and buttons for selecting stitches and changing the length and/or width of the stitches, rather than dials on non-computerised machines. There’s a needle-down button, and right next to it is the locking stitch button – it forms a stitch like french knot. When you’re going to work on curves or when pivoting is required often, you can program the machine to stop stitching with the needle down automatically instead of pressing the needle-down button each time you stop, because sometimes we (and by we, I mean I) forget to press the button, lift the presser foot and move the fabric. Oops! 😳
She has an integrated needle threader and 30 different stitches, including 3 very handy one-step buttonholes; square, round end, and keyhole. When I sew buttonholes, I just run it in auto (unplug the pedal), it will stop when it’s done. So from the beginning of my sewing journey, I never had that “fear of buttonhole” feeling, Lola really does make it easy for me. Yeah sometimes she’d misbehave but it’s usually because of either the fussiness of the fabric or the awkward position of the buttonhole – like on a collar. You can customise the density of the stitches, and you can also do a double layer buttonhole when extra strength is needed.
My favourite stitch to use is the #01 which is the auto back-stitch. It’s only automatic at the beginning, so when you come to the end of your sewing/seam, you still need to press the reverse button and the machine will do back-stitch and stop automatically. I always forget to back-stitch at the beginning, this is why I love this stitch so much.
People always say you don’t need many decorative stitches on your machine, as long as you have straight and zigzag, you’re golden. It is true. Of the 30 stitches on Lola, I’ve only used the basic ones. But, I find decorative stitches can be helpful for marking the back of your garment for those that have similar front and back like the Ogden cami – I just do decorative stitches on the facing so it won’t be visible on the right side. Of course attaching a label or ribbon would be another great solution.
Lola is a drop-in bobbin or top-loading kind of machine with transparent cover, so it is easier for you to see how much thread you have left in your bobbin when sewing. Another plus is that she isn’t heavy but she feels quite sturdy. I have never attended a class or a sewing meet-up so I’ve never travelled with her, but I don’t think she’s too heavy for an excursion.
I have sewn both knit and woven fabric without much of a problem. From what I’ve learned so far, IMHO, the most important things to remember are:
- to know what needle to use,
- to know what stitch to use including the length or width (for example, thicker fabric = longer stitch length), and
- to use the proper presser foot.
The truth is, when we bought this machine the lady demonstrated sewing on multiple layers of fabric – she folded a medium weight calico fabric at least 4 times and the machine sewed it just fine, the stitches were still neat. In the Stretch! book review that I did, when I was sewing the Joni dress I didn’t have a walking/even feed foot so I lined the lightweight single-knit viscose fabric with baking paper as without it the fabric and stitches warped under the presser foot. It worked wonders. A few months later I was given the proper Janome walking foot as a gift and I couldn’t be happier, no more cutting strips of baking paper for sewing knits. Absolutely brilliant gadget.
Speaking of gadgets, I have purchased and been given a few more must-haves to help making my sewing a more enjoyable process. They are:
- Janome concealed zip foot. This thing is made of magic! Nuff said.
- Extra plastic bobbins and their own storage box. You can never have enough bobbins.
- Pins, obviously. I went with glass headed ones so they won’t melt under my iron, and if you’re sewing with knits, use ballpoint pins.
- Magnetic pin dish. If you’re like me, prone to dropping the pins on the floor, get this. Trust me.
- Proper dressmaking scissors and rotary cutter that you ONLY use for fabrics.
- Janome walking foot for sewing knits.
- Seam gauge and tape measure.
- Tracing wheel and dressmaker carbon for marking the darts on fabric.
- Tailor’s chalk or water-erasable fabric pen for marking.
- Tracing paper to trace your sewing patterns. I got mine in from Amazon for about £16 for 20m in a roll, and 84cm wide.
- Janome ditch quilting foot that helps making stitching in the ditch a breeze.
- Hump jumper (see image below). Mine is called Jean-a-majig and I got it from Amazon. You can get by without one, but once you tried this gadget, you’d be wondering why you didn’t get one sooner.
- Copious mugs of tea or coffee. 😉
In my two years of sewing with Lola, I’ve never had serious problems. I don’t get skipping stitches when I use the correct needle and/or presser foot. Also, I always clean my machine after I have finished a project, it takes less than 10 mins for me to do that. All in all, I am happy with her and I don’t regret buying this model at all. The lady at the shop was right, this machine is great to begin the journey and grow with it. I admit I haven’t explored everything that this machine has to offer, such as the blind-hemming feature, corded buttonhole, sewing eyelets (like for belt holes), or even sewing on buttons – I just hand-sew my buttons. But Lola has served me well so far and I couldn’t be happier with her.
Would I recommend this machine? A b s o l u t e l y ! If you have a John Lewis near you, I’d suggest you go in and try it out yourself. I’m sure they’d be more than happy to help.
If you are thinking of getting your first sewing machine and starting your sewing journey, I started only with this machine and Tilly’s book Love at First Stitch, and it took me far in my sewing journey. The additional gadgets I acquired very much later on.
So I hope this post helps you deciding which sewing machine is best for your needs. There’s a like button down below if you enjoyed this post and would like to show some love 😉 You can also subscribe to my blog to see more posts from me. Thank you so much for hanging out with me today. Have a wonderful day, you lovely peeps 😀