Three of the Best Mechanical Sewing Machines

A side-by-side comparison of three top selling mechanical sewing machines from Janome. Learn more about the basics of a mechanical sewing machine and understand the features and prices to see which is best for your needs.

A mechanical sewing machine doesn’t have all the fancy bells and whistles that its computerized counterpart does, but that doesn’t stop it from being a preferred choice among beginner and advanced sewers.

So what’s the difference between a mechanical machine and a computerized machine? The mechanical machine does not have a built-in computer with pre-programmed settings. It has dials and knobs that you turn by hand to select the stitch, the stitch length, and the stitch width.

This makes it simple, but it also gives you a lot of freedom when it comes to sewing.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Mechanical Sewing Machine

Plastic or Metal Parts?

One way to compare the quality and longevity of a mechanical sewing machine is whether it has plastic or metal parts. Back in the day, all machines were mechanical and were made of all metal so they were heavy duty and long lasting. You can easily find these types of machines that are 100+ years old. Fast forward to today, there are lots of machines that are made of mostly plastic parts.

How can you tell? One way to tell is to see if the bobbin hook is plastic or not. Most lower end (cheaper) machines have a bobbin hook made of plastic, while machines that cost a bit more and are of higher quality have a metal bobbin hook. Plastic bobbin hooks break much easier, leaving you without a machine while it gets repaired and costing you unnecessary money.

Another way to tell is by checking the weight of the machine. Many machines in the under $150 price range have a lot of plastic parts, which makes them very light. This can be ok for beginners but overall as your sewing projects grow it is actually not a good thing because you end up with a machine that scoots around when you try to sew anything of substance. Most heavy duty sewing machines will have metal parts, but you always have to do your research and check.

Side-by-Side Comparison of Three Top Selling Mechanical Machines

 Janome 660Janome 2212Janome Magnolia 7318
Built-In Stitches81218
Presser Feet Included344
Easy Buttonholes4 Step4 Step4 Step
Needle ThreaderAutomaticManualManual
Slider Speed ControlNoNoNo
Thread TensionManualManualManual
Thread CutterYesYesYes
Max Speed660 spm860 spm830 spm
Quilting FeetYesYesYes
Weight12.0 lbs13.22 lbs16.8 lbs
Average Rating (out of 5)
Current PriceCheck today's deal at AmazonCheck today's deal at AmazonCheck today's deal at Amazon

In Depth Review

Janome Jem Gold 660 Lightweight Sewing Machine

With 8 built-in stitches and an easy turn dial to select your stitch, the Janome Jem Gold 660 is a simple, yet durable machine from the trusted Janome brand. This little machine It sews amazingly straight and accurate lines and is very user friendly.

Features of the Janome 660:

  • It is a 3/4 sewing machine, which makes it extremely compact, lightweight and portable.
  • Automatic needle threader so you can thread your needle in seconds and there is no eye strain.
  • Easy to use reverse lever to reinforce your stitches.
  • Free arm for sewing pants, cuffs, and collars easily.

Overall, the Janome 660 is a great mechanical sewing machine for beginners and easy on the wallet. At 12 lbs it is extremely portable and a great choice to take to and from sewing classes. If I could take anything away from this machine, I’ll say that it does not have a drop feed mechanism, so if you are looking to do free motion quilting or embroidery, then look at the two models below for this capability.

Janome 2212 Sewing Machine

If you’re looking for an affordable mechanical sewing machine for beginners or entry-level sewers, then the Janome 2212 might be perfect for you. Janome sewing machines are known to be very dependable workhorses that last for years, and this machine is no exception.

Additional features of the Janome 2212:

  • 12 built-in stitches and an easy 4-step buttonhole.
  • Drop feed for free motion sewing and quilting.
  • Front loading bobbin
  • Stitch density and width adjustment

Weighing at just 15.6 pounds, it is easy to carry around, although it is a bit heavier compared to other sewing machines in the same category.

Janome Magnolia 7318 Sewing Machine

The sturdy and dependable mechanical Janome Magnolia 7318 is my top pick for affordable mechanical sewing machines (it is also a great choice for a beginner sewing machine). It has 18 decorative and utility stitches along with the convenience of some electronic features,

It has a drop feed system and a solid combination of utility and decorative stitches, making it a good all around machine for all of your sewing projects, whether you make or repair clothes, do home décor, quilting, or free motion embroidery.

Additional features of the Janome 7318:

  • You can ustomize your stitch length and width. Stitch width maximum is 5mm and length is 4 mm.
  • Simple 4-step buttonhole.
  • Easy drop-in bobbin.
  • Locking stitches is easy with the easy to reach reverse lever.

Overall, this machine has a great combination of value and features for beginning or advanced sewers. It sews smoothly and the machine offers a generous sewing surface. Don’t let the flowers on front fool you – this is a powerful machine that will last for years.

Final Verdict on Mechanical Sewing Machines

As you can see I chose to review and compare three models from Janome. I did this because from my research the Janome brand seems to have the best quality mechanical machines that are reasonably priced.

With these three machines, they are in three different price ranges with the Janome 660 being the least expensive and the Janome 7318 being the most expensive but my overall choice for best mechanical sewing machine is the Janome 7318. It sews beautifully and easily makes it through several layers of heavy material.

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6 Responses to “Three of the Best Mechanical Sewing Machines”

  1. Nan says:

    What do you think of babylock. I never see them in reviews. I want a machine with a long throat, the Jane, jazz, and crescendo have this (9, 12, 11″).
    Thank you, nan

    • Savvy Seamstress says:

      Hi, Babylock machines are phenomenal and pricey as well 🙂 They might be out of budget for many, which may be why you don’t see a lot of reviews on them. The Jane, Jazz, and Crescendo machines are all great. Babylock machines can only be purchased from authorized dealers so you may want to find a local authorized dealer to get more info and sew on each.

  2. Brett says:

    Hi Savvy Seamstress,
    Is the bobbin on Janome 7318 metal?
    How can one tell from photos?

  3. Maria says:

    Hi, I´m looking for a mechanical sewing machine for beginners and I think the Singer Heavy Duty would be a good option, but I´m not sure if I should get the 4411 or 4423. Which one is best for beginners?

    Thank You,


    • Savvy Seamstress says:

      Hi Maria – Both are great machines. I would go with the 4411 because it is a little cheaper but you still get 11 built-in stitches, which is plenty for even an advanced seamstress.