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Picking a new sewing machine | The contestants

In a previous post I’ve told you about my decision to look for a new sewing machine. A sturdy model, with enough bells and whistles to to keep me happy for years to come. With my top 6 machines in mind I went to the local sewing machine store.

I told the vendor which machines I was interested in and he took the time to demonstrate them for me, so I could get a feel for each machine. And in the end that made all the difference. All the specs that I’ve been analyzing for weeks, months even came to live. And then it became remarkably easy to pick a machine.

janome skyline s3

Janome Skyline S3

The first machine I tried out was one by Janome. A relatively unkown brand here, compared to the others, but they have been making quality sewing machines for about a century. The Skyline S3 is one of there newest models, and is equipped with some nifty features like: automatic ……., needle up/down position, sewing without foot pedal, etc. But I was most impressed by the easy of which this machine went through the fabric. So quietly and supple, wow! The quality of the stitches and buttonholes was also amazing.


pfaff ambition

Pfaff Ambition

Then I wanted to try out the Pfaff Ambition 1.0 but they didn’t have it in store. They did have the Ambition Essential, which is basically the same machine, except that is doesn’t have the amibility to sew without a foot pedal, and there’s no manual speed adjustment. Pfaff is known for reliable German engineering, just like the Bernina’s, but a bit more affordable. Their unique selling point is the IDT system: a built in walking foot that makes sure the fabric feeds evenly, making seams nice and neat. But, think about it…all the industrial grade sewing machines, don’t have this system now do they? And those are the best machines around. So my guess is it’s a bit overrated.
The machine itself had a nice and clean design, which I love. But after having sewn with it for a while it became very clear to me that I didn’t like this one as much as the Janome. It was more noisy, and the quality of the buttonholes wasn’t quite as nice.


husqvarna viking opal 650

Husqvarna Viking

So, on to the next one. The vendor immediately pointed out that the Husqvarna Viking is the lesser brand in comparison to the others. For example, the pressure foot is made of plastic, which isn’t as durable as metal. And in other parts in the inside of the machine plastic is used as well, even in the more expensive models like the Saphire, which I tried out at the store. It was noisy, and the machine vibrated while sewing. Something none of the other machines did. So it was very clear to me that this wasn’t the machine for me.

brother innovis 55 and 100


Lastly, I looked at Brother machines. The Innovis 55 and 100 are sold for the same price, but they do have different specs. The Innovis 55 has 81 stitches, which can even be mirrored, and an alfabet is included as well. But the machine does have a plastic frame, as the Innovis 100 Prime Edition has a metal frame which makes is sturdier. But you do miss out on a lot of stitches, since it only has 30. If you’re not a quilter and only sew garments that shouldn’t be a problem though. The Brother Innoves 100 PE sews in the same noiseless manner as the Janome Skyline, and has the same sturdy build and excellent stitch quality.

Because I want to go all out this time and have as much stiches, bells and whistles as possible for my budget I picked the Janome Skyline S3. The Innovis 100 comes in as a close second. The Janome has more sewing space, which comes in handy when I might try my hand on quilting in the future. So, I’ve made my pick, Janome Skyline S3 it is!

me and my janome skyline s3


What is your favorite sewing machine brand?


With love, Brenda

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9 Responses to “Picking a new sewing machine | The contestants”

  1. Jana

    Hi Brenda, thank you for your helpful post! Can you, please, give us a feedback, whether you are satisfied with Skyline S3 machine or not? Would you recommend it for quilting big quilts or should I search for a machine with longer arm? Thanks a lot!

    • brenda

      Hi Jana! I am very satisfied with my Skyline. I love it to death! But, I am not a quilter, so I can’t comment about that, I’m afraid. I do know it has a large workspace of 8¼” or 210mm to the right of needle. And there are plenty of quilt accessories available. You can read up on it here: http://www.janome.com.au/sewing_machine_extras.php?mi=ope&muid=&cid=comp&mid=S3&gid= I hope this is of help to you.

      • Jana

        Thanks very much! It is very helpful for me. I had actually the same machines on my list, that you tested in a store (except I also considered Juki F400, but they stopped selling this line and they make Juki DX5 instead). Unfortunately, I have no opportunity to test them, because the closest store, that keeps these expensive machines, is like 300 km away. So I have to rely on the reviews and other testers. Actually, I am deciding between S3 and S5, that has a knee lifter (great for quilting) and quilting accessories like walking foot, free-motion-quilting foot, etc and a little stronger engine (this I am not sure I really need). Anyway, anything will be better than my 33 year-old Veritas machine, which is not able to sew through denim anymore. What do you think about S5? I can get it for 780 Euro.

        • brenda

          I’ve heard Juki’s are pretty good too. I didn’t find them in any local store, so that’s the reason they didn’t make the list.
          Oh, wow. That is an awesome price!! The S5 retails for 1000 euro here in Holland. So that would be a no-brainer for me!! Good luck. I’ll bet you’ll find an awesome machine 😉

  2. Debra Foland

    Hi, Brenda

    I enjoyed reading your comments about the S3. I purchased my S3 a couple of months ago and, like you, love the space, bells, and whistles. I do have an issue with the foot pedal connector. The plug port is very loose and my pedal will lose connection with my machine. I am taking it back to my vendor again tomorrow and hope he can either fix it or give me a new one.


    Debra Foland
    Greentown, Indiana. USA

    • brenda

      Hi Debra,

      Sorry to hear you ran into some trouble with you machine. Must have been an early monday morning model 😟 I hope you’ll be up and sewing again in no time.

      XO, Brenda

  3. Lisa

    Hi Brenda, I have similar machines on my shortlist. I tested the S3 yesterday and was very impressed. Just want to go see a Singer 9100 stylist next week, before making my decision. Online reviews seem ok for the Singer, but some local stores don’t rate Singer any more. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for this great summary, as you’ve tested machines I couldn’t get hold of and it’s good to cross them off the list! Thanks.

  4. Dianne Procopis

    Thank you for your review. I looked at the Janome Skyline S3 today as a replacement for my 30 year old Bernina, which has been a workhorse. I was very impressed with it and as I can no longer afford the top of the range Bernina I think the S3 will do.
    Here in Australia it is priced at $1,999 and a top of the range Bernina anywhere from $2,500-12,000.

    • brenda

      Yes, Bernina is very expensive. But I’m pretty sure you will very much enjoy the S3 😉


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