My Review of the Janome 525S

Janome Sewist 525S

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!

The Pros

  • Fully featured machine
  • 1-step buttonhole
  • Good selection of stitches

The Cons

  • Needle threader can be fiddly
  • Some flimsy components
 

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!

Main Features

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.

The Stitches

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.

Janome 525S Stitches
The 24 Janome 525S stitches

The maximum stitch width is 5 mm and the maximum stitch length is 4 mm.

The Details

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.

Janome 525S Bobbin and Needle Plate
The top loading bobbin system and needle plate

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!

Needle Threading

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.

Design

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.

Portability

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.

Accessories

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!

Conclusion

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!

Similar Sewing Machines

Janome 7025
Janome 7025
Janome 423S
Janome 423S
Bernina 1008
Bernina 1008

10 thoughts on “My Review of the Janome 525S

  1. Hi there. My Janome 525s is running really slowly. It’s fine for the first half hour, then I filled another bobbin – I filled it right up, possibly overfilled it? The. Started on a throw, not that heavy. Then the machine gradually got slower until it’s not really stiff.
    The machine has been serviced once for the same problem and has had the motor changed for the same problem. It’s really heavy to turn the handle on the machine when it’s like this.

    Any other ideas as to the fault. Is it possible I’m burned out the motor or something when I filled the bobbin – I ran it for maybe 10seconds after it looked full.
    I don’t think the material is too heavy, it’s similar to denim and there’s only two layers of it. (The machine’s running stiff with thin material and also no thread and no material when it’s like this.

    I’m gutted as it was just in warranty when this started happening but after the service that was supposed to fix it it was out of warranty.
    Is this a known problem for this machine? I can’t find any other evidence of this online.
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Claire. I don’t believe this is a known problem for this machine. I would be very surprised if it was winding the bobbin which caused a problem – the 525S should automatically stop winding when the bobbin is full. If turning the handwheel is stiff I would also be surprised if it was an issue with the motor. I would suggest taking the machine back to where you got it serviced, as it sounds like they didn’t get it right the first time.
      Sorry I can’t be of more assistance! – Alexandra

    2. Hi Claire. Just saw your post. I have exactly the same problem as yourself. Today my Janome 525s started running slowly until it eventually stopped and the handle wouldn’t budge. I was wondering did you manage to eventually get your machine sorted out.

  2. I am so frustrated by this machine. I wanted it for free machine embroidery, and bought it because it was on the sewing bee programme. It is so fiddly, removing the base to get at the switch to lower the feed dog, and then having to unscrew the presser foot and replace it! This takes me five minutes! Am so regtretting this purchase! My old Bernina changed from straight stitch to free in the touch of a button. I miss it so much.

  3. I would like to do free embroidery and quilting with this machine – but noticed the comment above from Glenys – could someone explain what is meant by unscrewing the presser foot and replacing it please? Many thanks!

    1. Hi Jo. I believe Glenys is referring to the process of switching between a normal stitching foot and a free motion foot. This involves unscrewing the bolt holding the foot holder shank in place, removing the foot holder shank, and screwing the free motion foot in its place. You then need to repeat the process in reverse to go back to normal stitching.
      This page is a good resource which illustrates the process: https://www.sewingbeefabrics.co.uk/free-motion-darning-foot

  4. I have a Janone 525s and have accidentally pressed the lever that changes the presser foit, the wrong way. Co sequent it has come apart into 3 pieces. I’m not sure if the whole thing is broken. Also I inserted the large piece (the lever itself) back in and cannot get it out. The repair man that I’d speak to is on holiday until 30 April! Can I do anything myself? Many thanks.

  5. I have one of these in my sewing studio where I teach workshops. I bought it specifically so I can teach freemotion quilting and freehand embroidery/fibre art workshops. It’s brilliant – a real little workhorse. It takes me approx 30 seconds to swap the foot over to the open toed embroidery foot. The bed of the machine slips off to reveal the switch to drop the feed dogs – really simple. Admittedly not quite as simple as flicking a switch on my other Janome Horizon machines, but it copes with freehand stitching way better than the computerised models. I highly recommend this machine and many of my students have gone on to buy one and are all delighted. It’s fairly basic, but has a needle threader and drop in bobbin which are my 2 must haves.

    1. Hi Adaliza – I am being persuaded to opt for the Janome 725s by a shop instead. Do you know anything about this model?
      Donna

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