Getting a sewing machine upgrade is so exciting! I plan to get it, then it’s on my desk, I open the box, sit down at it and (always) I’m stumped as to what to do first – it happens every time. There are so many new things to do! Should you start with a straight stitch? Test the automatic buttonhole on random fabric? Make a zillion tiny labels with words on them? This is where I usually start to sew a new project and find out – Wow, everything is so much simpler than it was on my last machine!

Sewing does not require a fancy machine, you can sew amazing things on a budget machine, it’s 100% possible. What this professional level machine will do is help you sew the same things – just in a better way! Like I said in my last post – the Janome Skyline S5 makes your life sew much easier! They have seriously thought of everything. Every button is where I want it to be, it has a huge number of stitches, needle positions, loads of storage, cutters everywhere – the list goes on.

As a disclaimer before I begin,  Janome has kindly allowed me to borrow this loaner machine on a 1 year contract and I am so grateful to them!  I want to say again, as with all the products I write about – I always tell you my own honest opinion. I have bought and worked with Janome products for 90% of my sewing life and used their products long before they contacted me. I am so happy to give them a great review because I already love and support this product. They’re my favorite and I’d love for them to be your favorite too!

On with the review. There is no way to write a comprehensive review of the Skyline S5 after only two weeks of using it, but here’s a first go at it! (This machine does so many things I would recommend heading over to check out the list of features, because I won’t be able to cover all of them here.)

I was stumped when sorting out which Janome machine might be best to work with. I’m not exclusively a quilter, garment sewer, or a bag maker… I sew a bit of everything. In the end the Janome Skyline S5 was the best fit. When prepping to write this review, I chose lots of different types of projects to make. The goal was to use many different settings and types of fabric. It even got me excited about trying to empty my mending pile! I’ve worked on knit leggings, sewn a woven cotton shirt, hemmed heavier weight shorts and pieced a few quilt blocks.

Body of the Machine:

  • It is hefty, light enough to carry, but don’t plan to go far! I like the weight – you can sew super fast and there’s very little vibration, if any. My last machine was lighter and would move around some at higher speeds.
  • Storage! I love to be organized and everything that came in the box (except the instructions and knee lift lever) fit inside the machine.
  • The presser foot lever is wide and easy to find on the back of the machine.
  • It came with a soft cover, with pockets for your rulers, scissors etc.
Bobbins, Threading, Tension:
  • The bobbin winder has 5 built in cutters underneath to use before you wind it! And a separate one for when you have filled the bobbin. This is what I mean when I say Janome has thought of everything!
  • While we are on the topic, there is another cutter where you install the (easy access drop-in) bobbin, and the usual one on the side of the machine for when you don’t use the thread cutter button.
  • Threading the machine is similar in all Janome machines and I am so thankful for that! It has an automatic needle threader that works every time. I may soon forget how to get thread through the eye of a needle by hand!
  • The tension is set with a simple dial on top of the machine. I LOVE that it has an Auto Tension setting. I haven’t had change it at all yet!
  • As an aside, one thing I cannot do on any of my Janome machines is turn up the tension to gather fabric. On lots of machines if the tension is set higher the fabric will naturally gather as you sew. Not sure why, but it is easily fixed. If you hold the thread lightly as it comes off the spool it gives it enough tension that it gathers “automatically”.
Stitch Settings:
  • The 170 built in stitches are likely more than I’ll ever be able to use!
  • It has a 9mm stitch width (just less than 3/8″) allowing for amazing use of the 91 stitch positions. Craziness!
  • My kids had lots of fun thinking of things I should spell/draw with the monogram and decorative stitches. Cars, hearts, stars, scissors, thread anyone?
  • The machine allows you to memorize stitches and will stitch them in order by itself, just press the Start/Stop button to run the programmed stitches!
How it Sews:
  • Smooth and quiet! I had a friend over the other day and that was her first comment.
  • The 6 built-in LED lights help you brightly see every detail in what you are doing.
  • Super responsive foot pedal. I can stop and start this machine quickly whenever I want. It is more responsive than my 2030QDC.
  • It has an automatic thread cutter button. I’ll admit it, I still grin whenever I press it – a lovely little mechanical noise – lift the presser foot and pull your fabric away. No scissors necessary!
  • It is possible to run the machine without using the foot pedal – just by pressing the Start/Stop button. I’ve tried it and so far failed miserably, but lots of sewers swear by it! Practice?!
  • I love the wide general sewing foot. The edge of the foot is at the 3/8″ mark as opposed to the 1/4″ mark on my 2030QDC. I think this extra width likely helps feed the fabric through more evenly, especially good when sewing knits!
  • I used the 1/4″ quilting foot to piece a few quilt blocks. I was familiar with this from my other machine. The difference (sew much easier!) with the Skyline S5 is the 1/4″ stitch setting. Clip on the foot, set your stitch and sew, always knowing your needle is exactly 1/4″ from the edge! With my other Janome I kept a sticky note with the stitch position on it so I wouldn’t forget.
  • A walking foot and free motion foot are included as well. I haven’t had a chance to use them yet, but they come with the machine.
  • Raising and lowering the feed dogs is so easy. Just flip the switch on the side of the machine.
Sewing Knits:
I use this as a bit of a gauge for a sewing machine. Knits can be a bit trickier to sew because they stretch under the presser foot. Simpler knit sewing makes me happy!
  • Sewing knits just works better with a 7-piece feed dog. I have one on my other machine as well and it pulls the fabric through a lot smoother – it helps eliminate some of the extra stretching you tend to get when sewing knit fabric. Hemming is not so scary anymore!
  • Double-needle stitching is fun on this machine as well. I used an extra long stitch of 4 or so to hem a pile of holey-kneed leggings into bike shorts for the summer. This machine even has a setting for a double needle! I assume this setting makes it impossible to choose a stitch that will cause the needles to break?
More Things:
  • One of my favorite things about the Janome machines I’ve owned is that they arrived with tons of extra feet. I have never had to buy a foot for any of my machines! Walking feet, free motion, rolled hem foot, zipper foot… the list goes on!
  • I am excited that the presser foot pressure is easily changed. It’s adjustable with a dial on the top of the machine. I would love to take some time to play with it and see what difference it makes.
  • Though I’ve never used a straight stitch needle plate, the instructions say it is great for lightweight fabrics and piecing. I’ll have to give it a shot. This machine comes with this extra needle plate and it only requires pulling an easily accessed lever to remove the current one before switching. They go on by pressing a specially marked dot on the plate. My youngest was fascinated that she could see the insides of the machine, so we had fun with that one! It also allows for easy cleaning – one less reason to procrastinate.
  • I found the Video and Booklet Instructions to be really helpful. Watching a video helps with things like winding the bobbin and installing it properly.

Argh – I never even got to talk about the locking stitch, needle up/down, knee lift bar, digital LCD screen, angled markings on the needle plate… the Start/Stop button even reacts to how you press it, allowing you to speed up and slow down. I could go on and on….

As a way of finishing up this review, it’s important to say that never in my life would I have thought I’d be sewing on a machine like this long-term. I’m being spoiled rotten over here! I know some of you cannot imagine ever owning a professional caliber machine, do not be discouraged! You can sew almost anything on a budget machine that has a straight stitch and a zig-zag. I hacked my budget machine for many years before I upgraded last summer. Find the tricks you can use to make it work for you! And, if you can – upgrade a little at a time – you never know how far you will get! (Oh, and get a Janome!)

What would you like to see this machine do? I’d love to know if you have a project idea for me. Something I could try and then review for you?

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