Buying your first sewing machine can be sort of intimidating. You want something easy to use, reliable and versatile, yet not too expensive or complicated. There are loads of machines that have zillions of features, and many are undoubtedly great. But how do you know which to choose?

The Janome 2212 is a mechanical machine that covers the basics and a little bit more with ease and simplicity. Its small size and light weight make it perfect for tiny spaces or for accompanying you to sewing classes or retreats.

The Janome 2212 is also great for young sewers as its simple-to-use features are displayed and accessed with dials on the front of the machine.

Janome 2212 Sewing Machine
  • Easy turn dial pattern selection
  • 12 built-in stitches including a four-step buttonhole
  • Stitch width adjustment and length adjustment ensures ease of use
  • Drop feed for free motion sewing and quilting
  • 110-volt machine, for use in US only

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Key Features

The manual for the Janome 2212 instructs that the machine should be oiled once a year in two places – behind the faceplate and behind the shuttle hook (bobbin) area. Many modern machines don’t require oil, but this is an exception to the rule. It’s a small responsibility, but one that should be considered as part of the care and feeding of your machine.

Stitches on the Janome 2212

With simple dials to modify the settings, it’s easy to change the machine functions: Tension, stitch style and stitch length adjustments are right in front of you.

Although it’s a small machine with few bells and whistles, the free arm and the raise/lower feed dog option gives the Janome 2212 added versatility. The free arm extension table slides off easily, revealing a storage area for extra small supplies and notions.

The small number of stitches gives the seamstress the ability to go a bit beyond regular straight and zigzag stitch, but not a lot. However, most sewers find that over time, they use mainly basic straight and zigzag stitches far more often than any decorative or special utility stitch. The machine does offer a blind hemming stitch, a stretch stitch, tricot stitch and a satin stitch as well as the typical zigzag and straight stitches.

The Janome 2212 has a low-shank with press-on presser feet and uses standard size Class 15 A-style bobbins. Both features are common on many, many machines, so they’re widely available. It also uses standard flat-back needles: The manual highlights various needle types for specific sewing needs.

• Front-loading bobbin
• Feed dogs lower/raise
• Free arm
• Maximum speed: 1000 spm
• Twelve stitches and four-step buttonhole
• Maximum stitch length 4mm
• Maximum stitch width 5mm
• Dimensions: 14″x17”x9”
• Weight: 13 lbs.
• Throat space 6.5”x4.7”

Pros And Cons

Pros

An easy-to-understand manual with lots of diagrams and illustrations makes learning how your machine operates a snap. It has examples of how to remove and re-assemble components for safe and simple cleaning and maintenance. It also has a section to illustrate and show how to use the various stitches to their best advantage, including which presser foot and style/size of needle to use.

Simple dials on the front of the machine allow for easy adjustments. Spin the dial to choose your stitch, move the tension dial to reduce or increase the tension on your spool and change your stitch length with the flick of your wrist.

The automatic push-pull bobbin winder is easy to use. The bobbin winding spool is simply moved to the right to engage the winding mechanism to the motor, and to fill the bobbin, one presses down the foot pedal until the bobbin is full. The gear automatically disengages and stops when it’s full.

With feed dogs that lower, you can do free-motion quilting, thread painting and darning. This feature gives a very basic machine more versatility.

A built-in handle makes it easy to tote this machine, and the light weight adds to its portability.

Cons

The front-loading bobbin takes some getting used to. There’s more of a chance for improper insertion than with a drop-in bobbin machine.

Although the feed dogs lower for free motion quilting, the throat of this little machine is quite small, so it precludes quilting anything of any size or bulk.

The Janome 2212’s light weight makes it prone to move or ‘walk.’ Depending on the type of fabric you’re sewing and speed at which you sew, you may find your machine inching away from you as you stitch.

With the front-loading bobbin system, you get to play “chicken” with your bobbin thread. Will you have enough thread to finish a seam/project? Will you be just a few inches or feet short? Many modern home sewing machines now feature a drop-in bobbin system. The plate under which you place the bobbin is usually clear plastic, so you can easily monitor how much bobbin thread you have left. Unfortunately, the Janome 2212 has that anxiety-instigating front-loading bobbin setup, so it’s always a mystery as to whether you have enough thread left in your bobbin.

The buttonhole function is a 4-step process, while many machines at this price point have a 1-step buttonhole function.

The incandescent bulb lighting is minimal at best. Many modern machines use bright LED lighting, which illuminates the sewing area much better than a standard incandescent bulb.

The manufacturer elected not to include a thread cutter, which is a very minor but very handy feature.

User Feedback

One feature many sewists remark upon is that the machine is quiet, compared to other machines they have used. Conversely, another group complains that the Janome 2212 is louder than others they’ve owned.

Many users also praise the fact that even though the Janome 2212 is quite light, it seems to be very sturdy and durable.

The simple threading procedure is a plus that both experienced and inexperienced users value. However, the lack of a needle threading mechanism is also a common complaint.

Some owners comment that the spool holders are plastic, so there is concern they can easily be damaged or broken. Similarly, the spool holders are not long enough to accommodate large, oversize spools, which many use for economy and convenience. To use large spools with this or other similar machines, one needs a free-standing thread holder.

A few reviewers complained that the foot pedal cord is too short and barely reaches the floor. This is an all-too-common complaint about many other machines as well. It seems to be an industry-wide error in judgment that an extra foot or two of electric cord would solve a common problem for the entire home sewing community.

There seems to be a common complaint that the bobbin thread makes bird nests under the stitching and often jams. However, it’s also common for user error to cause this because the bobbin is improperly seated.

A number of sewers also complain that the machine breaks needles for no apparent reason or jams up. Often, this problem is caused by trying to sew too quickly through too heavy or dense fabric layers or pulling on the fabric as the machine is stitching. A lightweight machine such as the Janome 2212 doesn’t have a motor built for heavy-duty use, and an inexperienced sewer could be expecting too much from the unit.

Several people have noted that they had feed dog problems. This could be true, or it could be the fact that novice users were unaware that the feed dogs raise or lower and had them set incorrectly.

Tension seems to be a common problem with sewers. Thread breaking appears to plague some users regularly.

Vibration and the machine moving when sewing comes up in customer reviews: Vibration can be caused because the table on which the machine sits is too lightweight or the top of the table is thin. The sewing machine ‘walking’ as it sews is due to the fact that the machine is light. Using a rubber mat will prevent walking.

A minor but consistent criticism is that in order to see how much thread is left on the bobbin, one must remove the bobbin case from the machine to see the bobbin thread: This is the case with all front-mounted bobbin machines and is a common complaint about this style.

A small number of sewers found it difficult to depress the foot pedal and maintain a slow, steady pace. It appears that it tends to lurch to a fast speed very quickly.

Summary

If you’re thinking about getting your feet wet in the fun and creative world of sewing and want a machine that’s both inexpensive and easy to use, the Janome 2212 just might be the machine for you.

However, like any machine, you need to understand what it’s capable of and not expect it to do things outside its comfort range. For instance, this lightweight machine does not have the beefiest of motors, so don’t expect it to sail through many layers of heavy denim or leather. An occasional jeans hem is one thing, but significant heavy-duty use is not what this machine is to do.

That’s not to say this little machine isn’t sturdy: it’s sturdy but light-weight. Typical, everyday sewing projects are precisely why this machine was created. A mechanical machine is a perfect choice for the casual or occasional user who doesn’t want to worry about computer chips or circuit boards or software malfunctions. The Janome 2212 – it’s ready to sew whenever you are.