I am writing this review of my recent purchase because I noticed there were only 2 reviews for the machine when I was looking.
If you like to piece quilts this machine is for you. It has a 1/4″ quilting foot and in the ditch in regular feet. The 1/4″ and in the ditch foot can be purchased for the AcuFeed Flex walking foot that comes with purchase. There are stitch settings on the machine for 1/4″ and 7mm seams. The GREAT part is the machine will not let you sew if you have switched out the straight stitch plate. Yes, the machine comes with a straight stitch plate. I use them for piecing. NO SCREWS. push a button to release the plate makes switching out a breeze. I was able to use the straight stitch bobbin holder from my 6500 with this machine.
The machine also comes with a set of adjustable FMQ feet. Three to be exact. Open, closed, and a echo foot. The stitches are consistant and the machine has no problem stitching through the layers of batting and fabric. Its large throat give you plenty of extra room to move your fabric around without having to bunch it up into a ball. I purchased a ruler foot and have been practicing ruler work on the machine. (These comes in a set from Janome for the 8900 and 8200. The ruler foot and an angled open toe foot that allows you to turn your machine 90 degrees so the throat of the machine is behind your work. (NICE) It can be purchased for other brands of machines and other models of Janome.
You need to determine if your machine is a low or high shank model. Research to find out how these feet work with your brand and model of machine. If you attempt to do this your machine needs to be recessed so that you can work on a flat surface. The same applies to free motion quilting. (A concern is whether or not the needle bar hits the top of the ruler foot when lowered.)
I believe this machine loves to FMQ. Very smooth. You are able to adjust the speed of the machine, lower the feed dogs, and choose between using a foot controller or on/off switch on the front panel to help control speed. Being new to free motion quilting I love these features. It comes with a separate AccuFeed walking foot that you can purchase additional feet for as well as the standard feet that come with the machine. Both are 9mm. It is my understanding that an additional throat can be purchased so that you can use your 7mm feet from your other Janome machines.
This machine is a high shank machine. Your can also purchase magnifiers that can be added to your machine as needed. This is great when threading your machine but takes a little getting use to, but these old eyes love it. I also purchased the larger foot pedal. The foot pedal seemed cheap that was orginal with the machine and was very narrow. The accessories for the 8900 model can be used with the 8200. As stated in another posts it may be cheaper to purchase the 8200 with extra accessories than purchase the 8900 that has these accessories included. The main difference between the these two machines as far as I can tell is the speed. The 8900 model is a much faster machine speed. 1000 spm for the 8900 and 860 for the 820. If your an experienced FMQ you may need additional speed. Additional embroidery stitches are on the 8900 plus more accessories are included.
I just saw on the Janome web site that they have came out with a clear 1/4″ quilting foot like I used on my 6500. Whoop Whoop, thank you Janome.
Tell us about your first impression when you used this machine.
My first superficial impressions were, “That’s an enormous machine,” and, “Yay, it’s not covered in weird colors or decals!” ^___^
Once I sat down to try it, I was really impressed with its strength and functionality. I brought my own scraps to test with–heavy cotton webbing and canvas left over from the bag-making project that proved to be too much for my Magnolia 7330–and this machine chewed through 3 layers of the webbing and the webbing/canvas “sandwich” I threw together to be a jerk. =) (I did test the Pfaff the same way–fair is fair!)
I really liked the on-board storage spots for certain feet, which is not something I have on my Magnolia. And the lighting is AMAZING. What a difference that makes! And it’s a small thing, but I loved that I could just use all my current Janome bobbins in this machine, too. And of course, there’s the Auto Tension, thread cutter, AccuFeed, the ability to drop the feed dogs, adjustable presser foot pressure…you get the idea. 😉
Was the machine manual sufficient?
I haven’t really used it yet–I looked up which feet were which so I could pick the right one for a project, but otherwise I’ve just been rolling along. I do need to read the bobbin winding section though, because I didn’t do something right when I attempted that the first time! (The 8200 has a slightly different thread guide setup for this than my Magnolia.)
Did you buy any accessories? Do you use them?
I did not have to–this machine came with so many feet (and more)! I have a 1/4″ foot, several FMQ feet, and several others that go beyond what I have had on my previous machine. (And my sewing friends even bought me a new pack of bobbins as a “Welcome Home” gift for the machine!!) The 8200 also came with a straight-stitch plate, which will be very handy when I get around to making a planned silk maxi dress, and a knee lift, which I’ve never had before now. I haven’t used that yet but I am sure I will love it. (And the stitch plates snap on and off! I had looked up reviews for the Pfaff I demo’d and it didn’t have that benefit.)
I will probably look into other available feet for this model, just to see if any of them might be useful to me. But in terms of what I like to sew and what I have planned, this machine came with everything I could possibly need to achieve my goals.
Is this your primary machine?
It is now! I am working on my first-ever jeans pattern now, and I am glad I waited until I had a more capable machine before starting–I am not at all worried about chewing through the seam intersections with the 8200. My Magnolia is a great little machine, but I learned the hard way that I would be limited by its relative lack of power vs. a machine like the 8200.
In addition to working on jeans, I have completed a small paper piecing project on this machine, which was delightful. (Mostly because I could set the stitch length to below 2.0mm!!!) I have also done a small craft project with the machine–an OSU applique for one of my husband’s t-shirts. So far, I haven’t had any issues adjusting myself to a 9mm vs. my Magnolia’s 7mm.
Did you take any classes specifically for this machine?
Yes, it came with an introductory class at the dealer. Since they gave me a class with my Magnolia as well, my instructor knew that I didn’t need the very basics. We went over the new functionalities of the machine–the touchscreen, modes, feet, new stitches, presser foot pressure, etc.–and I found it to be worth my time. I have to say that the touchscreen is really wonderful on this machine: I barely have to touch it with my finger and it responds. It’s also easy to read.
How often do you use it?
Every time I sew, which is usually a few times per week.
Would you recommend this machine to others?
Most definitely! You can click the button below to see it on amazon.
I know I’ve written a very glowing, honeymoon-period review here, and I definitely have lots more to learn as I get acquainted with all that this machine can do, but this is truly a great machine and will help me get to the next level with my sewing. I felt it was important to write this review because, once I put my down-payment on it, I went straight home and started scouring the internet for reviews of this machine and found very, very little about it; I wanted to share my fantastic experience with the 8200 in hopes of putting it on someone else’s radar if they are looking for similar capabilities in their next machine. I suppose it gets overlooked easily, since there are so many machines out there, but give it a test drive if you’re in the market!
Have you had any trouble with this machine? Please elaborate.
I tried winding my first bobbin on the machine the other day and something wasn’t right–I haven’t had a chance to look into that yet (I got lazy and dug out a bobbin with a “close enough” thread color on it), but I am sure it’s user error.
Do you do regular maintenance on this machine? How?
All I need to do, according to my dealer, is keep it clean and have the annual maintenance done on it. I was told I didn’t need to oil it. I take a set of makeup brushes and clean it up after each project, getting under the bobbin case and through the tension guides, needle bar/clamp, etc.