Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Darth Vader's Guide To The Janome 6600

Sigh. I've figured out that must be related to Darth Vader. I'm not evil though. At least not evil enough to try to take over the Empire. I just breathe like he does. Really. I do.

I do find Darth Vader a fascinating character. For me, "Star Wars" is truly about him and not Luke Skywalker. It's about the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker. Without him turning into Darth Vader, the Emperor could never be defeated. I digress..sorry.

Why do I say this about my breathing? I tried THREE times to make a video about my Janome 6600 and all you could hear between my talking was this crazy breathing in and out sound. Is there such a thing as movie making asthma?

Here's my review on the Janome 6600 in print form.

DH bought this for me about 3-4 years ago. I paid 1800 for it brand new. I don't know what they cost now but I know they haven't lost value as Janome did a great job with it. Everyone that I know loves theirs. I've had a love/hate relationship with it.


* It's heavy and sturdy. It's not going to slide across the table on you. I have put this machine through tons of fabric and it keeps going. I'm rough on machines and it's taken every bit of it with ease.

* It's not picky. I've never had a problem with different threads, even while FMQ. It's never jammed on me, shredded thread, eaten it, or come out of the take-up lever.

* It's super quiet. My Viking machines sound like a 747 on a runway taking off. You can barely hear my 6600 humming away.

* It's easy to use. The screen is well lit with large, easy to read numbers.

From Quilted with Love
The buttons are large and well thought out. You don't have to go looking for what you need. Everything is right at your fingertips. The tension dial is manual making for precise tension adjustments.

I don't like the speed settings. For me it's worse than snail slow, slow and so fast you can't work with it. There are no other speeds between those.

From Quilted with Love
* You have the stitch numbers/pictures on top for easy viewing. Janome has "modes" that help you navigate through the stitch menus. The only thing Janome didn't do was label the stitches in the book. Some of these stitches I have no clue what to use them for or what they are called.

From Quilted with Love
*The dual feed system. Attach the built-in walking feet behind and you are good to go. You have a 1/4 foot, an open-toe foot and a regular foot. Just unscrew the front foot section, add the foot you need, pull down the back feed dog and you off you go. It's a little bulky, but it works.

From Quilted with Love
* It FMQ beautifully and with ease. I've done some incredible work with it. The Janome 6600 comes with an open toe spring foot. The foot sucks as I hate the bouncing. The idea is that it grabs the fabric for stability and then bounces back up for movement. If you can coordinate between the two movements..great. I can't.

Janome finally came out with a much better foot that lets you adjust the spring and gives better visability. The foot is worth investing in and makes this machine even better for FMQ.

Visibility is limited because of the walking foot. You learn to work around it, but it can be a pain for intricate work.

From Quilted with Love
* The knee lift. Finally, with the push of your leg, you can move the pressure foot up/down for hands free sewing. However; it's very loose. I have to push my leg extremely to the right to get the foot to move up. That really needs to be fixed.
From Quilted with Love
I LOVE the table that Janome made for this machine. GET ONE. I put a board over the opening for my Topaz and use it that way.

The stitch quality is great. You can adjust many of the stitches with both width/length. It does a beautiful straight stitch and a nice satin stitch. I don't like the extra stitches in the blanket stitch, but it's still beautiful.

My biggest problem I've had with this machine is piecing. For some reason my machine feeds to the upper left. I'm constantly fighting it to keep the fabric to stay straight and feed through correctly. I've had it looked at, had other people use it with no problems, changed how I've sat, everything. I've spent 3 years cursing it. No one else I know who own one has this problem.

It hates going over bulky seams. It goes up, moves the fabric to the left and gets stuck in place. I have to lift the foot and gently move the fabric until it gets over the bulk. Even with the walking foot, it does this.

It hates pins. When the front of 1/4 guide hits a pin, instead of going over, it jams up, moves the fabric to the left, and messes up all accuracy. A lot of times, I need to get much closer to the pin (not put the needle over it) and I hate having to move a little at a time to get that accuracy. Same with the walking foot.

The foot pedal is way too small and moves across the floor. It's very precise and responsive, I just have to keep moving it back in place.

The manual is pathetic. Don't bother opening it. Janome makes terrible manuals. My Janome 350e manual is terrible too.

Is it worth getting? YES. As with any machine, test it out. Make sure it's what you want. Give it a work out to see the stitches and how it pieces and FMQ. If I could figure out the crazy piecing issue, it would be one of my favorite machines.


punkin said...

Ok..So I was researching on how to use my Janome 6600...just bought it last week and want to start quiliting with it. I have just started quilting and have only made two but want to try to finish one myself. I love to make garment mostly. Anyways, your blog came up in my google search and i saw the Star Wars refrence (Huge Star Wars fan) and thought I would take a look. So any suggestions on doing my first quilt with the Janome 6600. I think i just want staright lines...nothing fancy. Thanks.

Bethany said...

Congrats on your machine and starting to quilt.

First..make sure you baste your quilt. Otherwise your layers will shift making it that much harder to quilt.

Drawing visible straight lines on your quilt for your machine to follow will be the easiest. You can "guess" straight lines while quilting but it won't look as nice.

A great marking pencil is from BOHIN. It uses lead pieces instead of chalk that smears/breaks. You can use a chalk pencil as well. You'll just sharpen it a lot.

Use an acrylic ruler to help guide the pencil. Mark from one block corner to the next if you are doing it on the diagonal. If you just draw a straight line without matching points, it will be off.

If you are quilting in the ditch (where you quilt between the seams) carefully open between the seams as you go.

If you have more questions or get stuck, email me.

Good luck!

Becca said...

Well if you are darth vader while quilting, I am shrek. I make TERRIBLE faces. It's quite embarrasing.

Anyhoo... I found your blog by googling "janome 6600 adjusting knee lift" because I hate the knee lift on this beast. I just bought it and have been over all happy with, but it's like the knee lift is backwards. It angles already to the right, so i have to really lift my leg and toe to even lift it. Not at all convenient.

If you've figured out how to adjust it, PLEASE share!


Bethany said...


You aren't the only one with the knee lift probem. Janome did a terrible job with that design.

A lot of people bought one of those pool "noodles", cut a piece the length they neededed, made a slit and wrapped it around.

Or you could a piece of foam and tape it around.

My legs are long enough that I'm good. Great lift, badly designed.

Becca said...

Bummer! I also just discovered that there is a special bobbin case for FMQ... rrrr.

I'm also having a tension issue on the bottom when FMQing. Hoping the bobbin case will rectify. At least I was just practicing and not doing anything I cared about yet.

Again, rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Thanks for your help.

Bethany said...


I never used the special bobbin case so I don't know if it will work.

Tension issues on the bottom means your tension isn't right on the top. Keep adjusting your top tension. It also means that you just need more practice to keep the right speed consistant.

If you just bought the machine like I read, you are going through the tempermental stage of a new machine. It can be extremely frustrating as you learn the quirks and endlessly adjust the settings that don't seem to help.

Keep playing with it as you FMQ. You'll get the feel of the machine and it it will soon respond to your every needs. I cried for the first couple of days because I couldn't get the machine to FMQ. It just took practice. You'll get it.

Becca said...

Thanks for the encouragement. It's good to know there are stages. Ha!

Yes, I have been playing with the tension. My speed is definitely a factor! Luckily I've got several scraps of fabric to practice on.

Carolyn said...

I just rec'd a 6600p for christmas...I left it in the box...learning a new machine hubby took it out of the box and is putting it together for me. The knee lifter seems you put it on and off or use it all the time?

Latebloomerar said...

Hi I am shopping for a machine and have been really looking at the 6600p and 6500p and I've read that there have been issues with the upper tension slipping. Have you had any issues with this?


Kellie said...

Just browsing the net and came across your review of the MC6600P. I bought mine in 2005 and I love my machine, but I have the same problem with the pulling of the fabric to the upper left. Also trying to do piecing work with this machine without having leader fabric is impossible. I usually use my Featherweight for this. You can buy the plate with a single whole in it but then you have to switch it back again for anything other than strait stitching. I also have the same problem when I come to a thick layer of fabric. It will get stuck and stitch in place and I have to lift the foot slightly and pull and guide it through. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE my Janome 6600 and know that I will love it for many years to come. It does FMQ great (buy the FMQ foot and bobbin holder) and you wont be sorry. If your looking to buy a Janome MC6600P I would test drive it first (it is a large machine) but I would buy this machine again if given the choice. I really can't say how much I do love it. Like all machines they all have their little quirks and nothing is going to be perfect we just learn to work around it. Thanks so much for this artical I now know that I am not alone with my machines little quirks.


Anonymous said...

Ok, I used to sell Janome. Love them but .....
They feed to the left, yep, many new models do. The feed dogs are not adjusted properly and you sacrifice straight stitch ability for width of stitch. Only solution is a straight stitch foot and plate which essentially give you a straight stitch machine.
Knee lifts on any brand are made for ... I don't know whose body! Not mine either.
They have combined an industrial with a domestic, some cross breeding problems will occur .... which is why I have a few machines, each do something better but most people can't do that.
This is still for the price a good machine. The table is essential! And it is faster than domestics.
Never had a problem with any regarding speed, in fact love the variance which other brands don't have. Great teaching tool.
Other pros is Janome have WAY less problems than other brands.
Service regularly, change needles every 5-10 hours, and clean out the lint.
Sewing Snippets.

Anonymous said...

I came across this post via a Google search :-) this is my dream machine and I have never sewn on a machine in my life. Do you think I'm crazy if I bought this as my very first machine? Many who own it tell me that even if it is an advanced machine, it is very user friendly and is suitable for a beginner. Some was in the exact same situation as myself.

I tried convincing myself to get a different one but every time I look at others, I compare them to this.