I purchased a Janome MC6650 in May, a pretty major upgrade from the Janome Magnolia 7330 I had been using almost daily for the last five years. (I still have the 7330 as a backup, and I deeply love it. It’s a workhorse and I highly recommend this model for newer sewists.)
Janome is my preferred brand, and I know lots of people with happy Janome experiences, so I was confident in this purchase, especially because I wasn’t ready to invest the money into something like the Continental M7 Professional.
Before purchasing, I didn’t find a lot of comprehensive reviews, so now that it’s been a few months and I’ve put the instruction manual through its paces, here’s an extensive review with the good, the bad, and the highlights.
Note: I was proud and excited to make this purchase with grant money I received through Assets For Artists’ North Adams Project! This is a completely honest review and I have not received money for posting about this machine from any manufacturer or retailer. None of the links on this post are affiliate links. I am not profiting in any way from this review.
- This is a big, heavy machine with a beautiful, spacious throat area.
- Comes with around 170 stitches, plus alphabets, and a computerized screen with dials that are easy to use, but not particularly intuitive.
- Can sew up to 1,000 stitches per minute.
- The needle plate opens with a push button on the side, which is way easier than unscrewing it for cleaning.
- Lighting is excellent, with multiple LEDs throughout.
- Has a push button option and a foot pedal option, and not all stitches are compatible with both.
- Comes with 12 feet and tons of accessories, including a double needle. Mine also came with a free motion quilting foot set but I haven’t used it yet because I am a big fan of walking foot quilting.
- Adjustable tension wheel AND presser foot tension–cool.
- Ability to program favorite stitch settings.
- This is a premier quilting machine. I have had only delightful experiences quilting with this–after I ordered the $59 walking foot for it. Without the foot, I did not have a good time, but it’s normal to use a walking foot for top-notch quilting anyway. The wavy stitch is wonderful and adds so much whimsy and dimension with little effort. The stitch length and width adjustments are easy to use and understand. It’s fast and smooth and the wide throat is a game-changer compared to my 7330.
- Tension adjustments are simple and foolproof. The 6650 has an easygoing tension wheel; my last machine was pretty finicky, but I can move this around with little worry and I’ve found you can keep the tension at about 4 for almost all purposes.
- It has an AUTOMATIC BOBBIN WINDER. YO. So much easier and friendlier.
- It won’t let you sew with the presser foot up. It will beep at you and not move forward. I appreciate this so much.
- It has a lockout key, which freezes everything so you can thread the machine or troubleshoot (more on that below).
- The embroidery stitches are well worth the price for this machine—they’re also easy to adjust and customize, and you can make all sorts of crazy embroidered screeds with the alphabet options. The manual is easy to follow and programming stitches and stitch combinations is easy. I will note that doing a lot of embroidery at once will eat up your needle, and a dull needle will produce subpar stitches.
- It comes with a lot of extra stuff, including bobbins and lots of fun feet to play with. It also comes with a proper small screwdriver, instead of an IKEA-style flat piece of metal. I appreciated that for the price.
- The push button release for the needle plate makes it really easy to clean or check into any potential issues.
- I really like the auto thread cutter–it creates less thread waste, but of course, it’s not practical for all purposes, like gathering stitches.
- My top criticism of this machine is it EATS FABRIC. It does not feed smoothly, which is basically unacceptable for a machine of its price. You have to start super slow and feed very carefully for it not to eat your fabric. Everything needs to be perfect, and one little thing moving out of alignment can ruin your entire experience. I find myself re-inserting the bobbin while sewing and re-threading pretty regularly to solve this issue. I will eventually get it to a tech to see if it can be improved. I find it’s worse when fabric is really starched, which would make sense because it’s a bit sticky from the starch. It makes chain piecing harder and it just sucks when it happens, but it doesn’t always happen. You really need to pace yourself when you start sewing…this is not a machine you can just quickly feed fabric into, at least not with the standard foot.
- The standard stitch setting is too long, which makes piecing quilts tougher. It’s impractical to backstitch at the beginning and end of every seam when you are piecing, but I’ve pieced several quilts on this now, and the ends of seams unravel every time, which can cause structural issues through the quilt. This could be remedied by using a smaller stitch to fix it or lessen the impact. I like to pin my seams together when sewing matched seams, and that exacerbated the problem, so I don’t recommend this machine if that is your preference.
- The “superior needle threader” Janome advertises as a feature of this machine broke immediately. Like on day one. Needle threaders are very delicate, with a tiny metal hook that grabs the thread and feeds it through the needle, and the instruction manual says to press the needle threader level down hard. But pressing too hard throws the needle threader out of alignment. So it doesn’t work for me anymore. I have to thread the needle myself, which is not a big deal, but worth mentioning in this review. A tech can certainly fix it when I go get it serviced.
- This machine MUST be threaded with the lockout key on. I began by threading it just like I always had my 7330–but just threading it like my 7330 was causing all kinds of problems. The lockout key really does ensure nothing moves around as you thread, which is very important for this model. Not threading it correctly–even threading correctly without the lockout key on–can cause the thread to be thrown from the thread hook while sewing, which prompts the emergency stop and tangles the thread in the bobbin. It’s a really jarring and abrupt thing that was REALLY frustrating until I did some deep research and learned that I absolutely had to always use the lockout key.
Overall, this is a fine machine. I’m happy with it, although in darker moments I do refer to it as a $1,700 brick. The stitch variety and the way it quilts are huge assets and have upped my game considerably. I was able to embroider the name of a friend’s new baby on the back of a baby quilt, which made it so special! And I was able to quilt that quilt in only a couple of hours.
I’ve also used this machine to make several garments, and all have looked at least as professional and nice as the ones I made with the 7330. I began sewing knits once I got the 6650, and it’s great with knit fabrics as well as wovens. The ability to adjust the presser foot tension really helps with knits. I appreciate the way it works when installing zippers and maneuvering small items like bags around the presser foot area. And the wide throat is just awesome.
I do NOT like that this machine is super finicky when it comes to threading and feeding. I want a magic machine that will happily take whatever beating I give it. I may have to adjust my expectations, I’m definitely a “use a hammer to kill a bug and accidentally pound a hole in the wall” kind of person. But sewing has already taught me so much about patience; this is another part of that journey. I do resent that a sewing machine more than three times the price of my old one seems to be more delicate in this area.
I hope this review has helped you or given you some solid info about the 6650! If you got all the way to the end and still have questions, please leave them in the comments and I will answer to the best of my ability.