Okay, as I said I want to replace my Riccar so I can use some different feet. After going boss-eyed reading up on Elna, Bernina, Janome, Babylock and Juki (yes I know there are more but they were all recommended by someone!) I have decided that on my budget (max £500, about $796) I would go with Janome. My sewing machine is a Janome DC3050 and it was supplied by my local service engineer. I had a chat with him and he said I would get everything I want from the new 9300DX and the money I saved would pay for the extra feet and attachments I want.
So my new baby will be delivered and demonstated on Monday, so watch this space for my review!
Background - Before I start on the new 9300DX let me explain I come to it from a Riccar 924DX that had been gathering dust for 15 years. The instruction manual was pretty useless, especially for a newbie so I booked myself on a couple of local 'How to use an Overlocker' courses. These were excellent, but used Juki machines (which were brilliant) so I then had to come home and fiddle with the Riccar until I could get the settings right. After 2 years I feel ready to move to something more up to date, so consulted my regular Engineer/Supplier who recommended the 9300DX. It could do everything I required at a price I could afford. So here is my review.
1. Threading - it came pre-threaded and worked straight from the box. Colour coded and quite simple to follow with a diagram inside the front cover. I usually knot my new thread and pull it through (avoiding the tension control so as not to damage it with the knot) but it's good to know I could thread it from scratch.
It's a shame the instruction manuals can't use colour for their illustrations - it would be especially useful trying to understand their 'correct/incorrect tension' illustrations. Anyway I successfully re-threaded in the colours to match the colour coding.
2. Straightforward Sewing - I found the footpedal rather cheap and plastic. The Riccar's was much more solid, and my Janome DC3050 has a nice metal one. It seemed a little stiff and hard to control, but I did the Tension Map exercise (on the video "The Secret to taming your serger" added Feb 17 2012) and this had the added benefit of getting me used to the foot. Did straight seam, inside and outside corners and a curved seam, all fine and easy to identify in colour.
3. Rolled Hem conversion - my god this was sooo much better than the Riccar! Love the fact the dials are easy to get to and 'R' marks the spot. On top of this the handy instructions and charts in the manual meant I got the right results straight away. The manual could have done with a reference back to the pages giving the instructions for changing the needle plate setting etc but I managed. I went on and sampled the Picot Edging and Narrow Hemming. Much simpler being given the settings.
4. Decorative Overedging - not sure what this was about but I guess I need to buy some decorative threads to get the full effect! All worked fine otherwise.
5. Gathering - I never really tried this on the Riccar, messing with the Diff was too scary, but this was pretty straightforward. The machine came with a free Gathering Attachment which I will try later.
6. Pintucks - again, simple to achieve with the settings given to you.
7. Flatlock - NOT EVEN MENTIONED! Can't understand why not, I have used it several times. Tried the settings I use on the Riccar and the results were okay. Will need to fine tune it and then write them into the manual.
8. Accessories - a large and small screwdriver, tweezers and a packet of needles plus a Gathering Attachment. I will be making a new cover and one for the sewing machine too. I already bought myself a big floppy lint brush and a Two Needle Installer and my local guy gave me a big bottle of oil so I am well equipped!
In General -it sounds a little tinny compared to the Riccar, but not bad or loud. Neither of them vibrate or move about, in fact the Janome seems to grip the table top rather well. It drops bits all over the table though - I made a catch tray for the old machine from a Chinese takeaway box, but it doesn't fit the Janome so I am treating myself to one (www.jaycotts.co.uk my favourite suppliers of bits and pieces). I love the splash of colour and am looking forward to years of creativity!
NEXT TIME - I have several feet and attachments to try out -