My Review of the John Lewis Mini

John Lewis Mini Review Header

Alexandra's Quick Notes

The John Lewis Mini is an introductory sewing machine which is suitable for younger sewers and those who require a small, portable machine for use with lightweight materials.

It lacks some of the functionality you would expect from a standard machine, such as an LED light, a buttonhole stitch, and stitch length and width control dials.

The Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Comes in a selection of colours
  • Good for younger sewers

The Cons

  • Only suitable for light materials
  • Lacks some "standard" functionality
 
John Lewis has discontinued the John Lewis Mini sewing machine. For similar machines, check out my guide to sewing machines for beginners!

John Lewis Mini Overview

The Mini is a low-priced introductory machine, which it perfect for those who want a lightweight machine which can be moved around at a moment's notice for quick repairs and simple projects.

It is also a great machine for children learning to sew, as it is fitted with finger guards around the needle and is not too powerful.

And as you can see from the photo below, it's a cute little thing!

John Lewis Mini Accessories and Box
The John Lewis Mini with its foot pedal and packaging (photo: _laura.eliza_)

Feature Comparison

ModelJohn Lewis Mini
John Lewis Mini
Singer Promise 1409 Sewing Machine
Singer Promise 1409
Singer Model 1507 Sewing Machine
Singer Model 1507
Brother LS14 Sewing Machine
Brother LS14
John Lewis JL110 Sewing Machine
John Lewis JL110
Price - Check Price
on Amazon.co.uk
Check Price
on Amazon.co.uk
Check Price
on Amazon.co.uk
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Stitches 10 9 8 14 14
Buttonhole None 4-step 4-step 4-step 4-step
Bobbin Type Top Load Front Load Front Load Top Load Front Load
Weight 2.6 kg 4.9 kg 7.5 kg 6.0 kg 6.0 kg
Motor Power 12 W 70 W 85 W 50 W 85 W
Presser Feet Included All Purpose Foot All Purpose Foot
Buttonhole Foot
Zipper Foot
Button Sewing Foot
All Purpose Foot
Buttonhole Foot
Zipper Foot
Button Sewing Foot
All Purpose Foot
Buttonhole Foot
Zipper Foot
All Purpose Foot
Buttonhole Foot
Other Accessories Included - Seam Ripper
Seam Guide
Darning Plate
Seam Ripper
Edge/Quilting Guide
Darning Plate
- Seam Ripper
Darning Plate

Features

The John Lewis Mini sewing machine has the following main features:

  • 10 Stitches (no buttonhole)
  • Top Load Bobbin
  • 12W Motor

The Details

The Motor

It features a 12W motor, which is far less powerful than a standard sewing machine - in fact the John Lewis JL110 which is less than twice the price has a motor which is 7 times more powerful, at 85W. The 12W motor means that the Mini will struggle to cope with anything other than lightweight materials. This prohibits using the machine for quilting, for example, where you are generally working with several layers of fabric.

Presser Feet

The Mini is also fairly limiting in terms of presser feet. Although it is possible to change the presser foot on the machine, this is a cumbersome task which involves removing a screw. If you intend to use different types of presser feet regularly you may prefer a machine with clip-on presser feet. If you are quilting you will normally use a walking foot, which cannot be done with this machine.

Needle Guard and Bobbin

One of the main appeals of the Mini for me is the finger guards on the side of the needle shaft. This makes the machine a great choice for young children, and parents won't have to worry about tiny little fingers around a sharp needle. You can see the guards in the image below. Most sewing machines don't have this feature, so this is a win for the parents!

John Lewis Mini Needle Finger Guard
The John Lewis Mini needle finger guard - great for kids!

Sewing Speed

The machine has a free arm and sews at a constant speed of 450 stitches per minute. It's a shame that the sewing speed cannot be adjusted by the foot pedal, which has on/off control only. The power cable is pretty short as well, so you can't be too far from a plug!

Lighting

The machine also lacks an LED light and as such can only really be used in well lit environments. I imagine this would be a bit of a deal breaker for a lot of people, and if you plan on using a sewing machine regularly a machine with a light would definitely be more suitable.

Design

The Mini has a relatively aesthetically pleasing appearance, and is available in a range of colours, which will appeal to many. Three colours are currently available – Dusty Pink, Peppermint and Cornflower Blue. The rear of the machine is rather less elegant that the front, with several visible large screw holes.

The bobbin system is top-loading, as opposed to the JL110 which has a front load bobbin, and the spool holder is mounted diagonally to the rear of the machine, which is rather unusual.

John Lewis machines are made by Janome, and as such build quality of this machine is good. In fact the John Lewis Mini appears to be identical to the Janome Basic 10-stitch machines, such as the Janome Purple Thunder.

Portability

This thing is tiny! The Mini really stands out from most other machines by its small size and weight. Weighing in at just 2.6kg, it is far lighter than most more fully-featured machines, which are typically in the 5kg to 7kg range.

Its dimensions are 28.8cm x 16cm x 34cm. The portability and small stature of the machine make it a good buy for those who move around a lot and who are short on storage place, such as students. In fact Laura from Sewing With Sweet has told me that one of the main reasons she is particularly fond of the JL Mini machine because it is so portable! The Mini is also surprisingly stable given its small size.

Pricing

The Mini currently retails for £59 at John Lewis. The needle safety guard and portability of the machine make it a good choice for younger sewers, but for adults who intend to take on a wide range of sewing tasks at this price the Brother LS14 or Tesco Ej09 may be better choices. However the machine is occasionally discounted, sometimes down to £35, in which case it can be an appealing buy for those are in the market for a very cheap machine.

Stitches

The Mini does not have dials for adjusting stitch width and length, and as such the user is restricted to the 10 pre-set stitches, which are shown in the image below. 5 of the 10 available stitches are variations of straight stitches.

It also does not offer a buttonhole stitch, and as such it will not be possible to sew buttonholes with this machine.

John Lewis Mini Stitches
The John Lewis Mini stitches

This is a fairly limited range of stitches, which will be suitable for simple tasks such as repairs and taking up trousers, but not for any more advanced tasks, particularly due to the lack of control over stitch width.

Accessories

The Mini comes with a needle and bobbins, but no other accessories such as a seam ripper or additional presser feet are included.

2 thoughts on “My Review of the John Lewis Mini

  1. Please may I have an instruction book for my granddaughter to use. She’s 10 going on 11. It was a gift that came with no box and most importantly no instructions.

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