Alexandra's Quick Notes
The Janome Sewist 525S is a great all rounder - easy to use for beginners, but with enough features to satisfy even the more experienced sewers, you will be able to take on a range of projects from the simple to the complex with this machine.
I don't have much bad to say about it, so if its within your budget and you aren't interested in a computerised machine it is definitely worth a look!
Janome Sewist 525S Overview
The Janome Sewist 525S is the sewing machine which was used for the BBC hit TV show The Great British Sewing Bee, and this has certainly boosted its popularity in recent years. And for good reason too! It is a reliable, machine offering 24 stitches, and a full range of features.
One of the best things about the 525S is that it will give you room to grow – that great range of features means you probably won't end up feeling limited by your machine once you improve and feel the urge to start taking on more complex and challenging projects.
I have also reviewed the Janome 423S, which is a similar machine. It is worth looking into both!
The Janome 525S sewing machine has the following main features:
- 24 Stitches
- 1-Step Automatic Buttonhole
- Drop-in Bobbin
- Needle Threader
Those are the main ones, but the nice thing about the 525S is that it has a bunch of other smaller features and details which make sewing with it a real pleasure! I'll talk more about them further down.
First things first, the stitches. There are 24 stitches available with the Janome 525S, including 16 decorative stitches and one 1-step automatic buttonhole. The 1-step buttonhole, which is a great time-saving feature which is a welcome addition as it is not always available for machines in this price range.
The full selection of stitches is shown in the picture below.
The maximum stitch width is 5 mm and the maximum stitch length is 4 mm.
Stitch Quality and Speed
The stitch quality with the 525S is what you would expect from a high quality machine. It can manage up to 820 stitches per minute, which isn't exceptionally fast but is fast enough for me most of the time. The machine has variable speed which can be easily controlled with the foot pedal.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 525S is quieter than most machines, even at high speed. No clunking or excessive vibration at all, which is great!
It is not a heavy duty machine, but will still be able to take on soft leathers and denims without too much trouble, so long as you don't have too many layers and you are using the appropriate needle. It should be able to handle at least 3 layers without too much difficulty.
Bobbin System and Needle Plate
The 525S has a drop-in top loading bobbin system, and a transparent cover. As such you can keep an eye on how much thread your bobbin has left. The picture below shows the needle plate, with the needle threader pulled down.
The feed dogs can be dropped using the lever which is located at the back of the machine underneath the free arm. It can only be accessed by removing the extension table. With the feed dogs dropped the 525S can be used for freehand embroidery.
Presser Foot System
Presser feet can be easily changed with the 525S as it uses standard clip-on feet. Presser foot pressure can be reduced using the foot pressure dial. This fine tuning of the foot pressure can be handy when working with fine fabrics, and the material is bunching. On the other hand if your fabrics are sliding about, make sure you haven't accidentally set the pressure to a lower setting.
For raising the presser foot, the machine has an "extra up" position which lifts the presser foot a bit higher than the standard up position. If you have ever struggled to squeeze thick layers of fabric under a presser foot you will understand why this is so useful!
As mentioned above, the 525S comes with a needle threader. This is a welcome addition to this machine, and sets it apart from a lot of its competition. I did find it to be quite difficult to get the hang of though - it was a bit fiddly. The video below from Koala Sewing will help show you how it is supposed to be done, so hopefully you won't struggle as much as I did.
The 525S is well built and sturdy. Some of the components aren't quite as robust as I would like them to be, including the presser foot release lever, but generally the machine is well constructed.
The machine has a free arm for cuffs, sleeves and hemming. Bear in mind thought that it is not the smallest free arm around, and may be too big for smaller items, like the cute tiny little sleeves on children’s clothing.
It is a relatively lightweight machine, weighing in at 6.8 kg. This means it is certainly portable enough to be taken to sewing classes, for example. The downside of this is that it means much of the machine body is made of plastic rather than metal. I found the machine to be pretty sturdy though despite its light weight.
In addition to standard accessories such as needles, bobbins and a quilting guide, the Janome Sewist 525S comes with the following presser feet:
- All Purpose Foot
- Zipper Foot
- Blind Hem Stitch Foot
- Overcast/Overedge Foot
- Buttonhole Foot
The overedge foot is a particularly welcome addition, especially for those of you who don't have an overlocker, as it will allow you to achieve a similar effect.
The machine also comes with a hard plastic cover which is handy for transporting the machine around and keeping dust off it when in storage.
Brand and Manufacturing
The Janome brand has a reputation for excellent quality, and this machine is no exception. To learn more about Janome and how it compares to other brands, take a look at my review of sewing machine brands. Like many of Janome’s machines, I believe the 525S is made in Taiwan.
Janome 525S Special Edition
Wondering what the difference is between the regular Janome 525S and the Special Edition version? The only actual difference is that the SE version includes 4 additional presser feet - an adjustable zipper foot, a darning foot, an appliqué foot, and an ultra glide foot. These can be bought separately anyway, so don't be fooled into paying much more for the Special Edition, especially if you don't think you will need them!
The Janome 525S is a fully featured machine suitable for beginner and experienced sewers alike! With a good range of stitches, there aren't really many bad things to say about it apart from minor issues with the needle threader.
Let me know what you think of it in the comments below!