Are you looking for an embroidery machine for home use, but with many of the advantages of an industrial machine? The Janome MB4 could be for you! Check out our in-depth Janome MB4 review, and see how this machine measures up.
Janome MB4: an overview
Janome revolutionized sewing machines when they introduced the metal bobbin system instead of the long shuttle that had traditionally been used in sewing machines. The brand has also long led the market for computerized and commercial embroidery machines for home use.
The Janome MB4 is a commercial-level embroidery machine that is also affordable.
Although designed for home use, at first glance this looks like an industrial embroidery machine, with four needles and eight thread spools. It is packed with features that make creating a wide range of embroidery designs, as well as lace and monogramming, quick and easy.
What we like:
- Versatile – the Janome MB4 can embroider, monogram and make lace.
- User-friendly – this commercial-level machine is easy to use, even for new embroiderers.
- Powerful – this machine delivers an impressive embroidery speed of 800 stitches per minute and can handle heavy-duty fabrics and multiple layers.
What we don’t like:
- No design preview – you’ll need to buy the optional PCR unit if you want to see the design you’re working with.
- Expensive – although offering good value for money, this is only worth the investment for people who do a lot of embroidery.
This is not an entry-level machine for complete novice sewists, but it is much easier to use than most commercial-level embroidery machines. It is designed for home use and can handle a plenty of diverse projects and almost any kind of fabric.
The Janome MB4 is a great choice for anyone – from sewists looking to pursue embroidery more seriously, to semi-professionals and small business owners.
Features & benefits of the Janome MB4
The Janome MB4 is a home embroidery machine with many features and functions normally only found in industrial-level models.
The most noteworthy features of this machine are:
- Fast stitching speed – the Janome MB4 has a maximum sewing speed of 800 stitches per minute, significantly higher than typical single-thread embroidery machines.
- Automatic thread cutter – automatically cuts jump threads, including between monogram letters.
- Start-stop button – push-button function to begin stitching a design, or restart after changing thread colors.
- Backlit LCD screen – use function buttons to select embroidery designs on the screen, as well as set thread color, sequence, and design dimensions.
- Independent bobbin motor – wind new bobbins at the same time as stitching a design.
- USB port – import limitless designs and fonts using a USB memory stick.
- Three included embroidery hoops – in different sizes, with snap-on arms for ease-of-use.
- Built-in designs – the machine comes with 50 embroidery designs, 10 fonts and six lace designs.
- Resizing – option to resize embroidery designs from 1% to 120%, rotate in one or 90 degree increments, or flip horizontally or vertically.
Let’s take a look at these features in more detail.
Ease of use
Although the Janome MB4 may look intimidating, it is actually very easy to use thanks to its intuitive design and range of user-friendly features.
Backlit LCD screen
The MB4 is a computerized embroidery machine with an LCD screen for navigating its functions. It is easy to use with its well-located function buttons. The screen is backlit, making it easy to read even in low light.
Although you can use the LCD screen to operate the machine, unlike some more advanced machines, you won’t get a preview of the design on the screen. Rather, you need to use the function buttons to scroll through the file names to find the design file you’re looking for and then select it.
You can also use the function buttons and the LCD screen to choose the thread color, color sequence, and dimensions, allowing you to customize the design to meet your requirements.
This is easy to use, but not being able to see the design is a bit of a disadvantage. However, there is an optional (but not included) RCS unit that you can attach, allowing you to see the design as you work.
Once you’ve selected the design, colors and dimensions for your work, you simply push the MB4’s start button and the machine will start to sew. If your design uses more than four colors, the machine will automatically stop so that you can change the threads.
Once you’ve changed your thread spools accordingly, you simply push the start button again and it will continue sewing the design.
Threading any sewing machine can be a hassle, and this is particularly true of embroidery machines with multiple needles and thread spools. The Janome MB4 is very easy to thread, thanks to its clear and color-coded thread guides.
This machine may look intimidating, but as long as you follow the guides, threading it is actually very simple! Loading a bobbin is also super easy: you just open the door beneath the work area and insert it.
Automatic thread cutter
This machine also has an automatic thread cutter that cuts jump threads automatically, including threads between letters when monogramming. This is a huge time saver, allowing you to continue working on designs without needing to pause to trim threads.
The machine comes with unique embroidery hoops that are quite different to built-in embroidery units on other home sewing and embroidery machines. The MB4’s hoops have metallic arms that snap into place on each side.
The Janome MB4 comes with hoops of three different sizes, letting you work on a wide range of designs:
- M1 – 9.46 inches by 7.88 inches
- M2 – five inches by 4.3 inches
- M3 – 1.96 inches by 1.96 inches
Each hoop keeps your fabric taught as you sew to ensure neat stitching. Once you’ve finished sewing your design, you simply snap the arms off again to remove your work.
Being so easy to use, this machine is perfect for sewists looking to learn machine embroidery, but is equally suited to more advanced embroiderers who want to be able to work quickly with as little hassle as possible.
Since this is a rather complicated machine – it is not really suitable for absolute beginners. However, it is a good option for sewists who know their way around a regular sewing machine and are looking to branch out and try a dedicated embroidery machine.
This home embroidery machine can sew an impressive range of designs on a large number of different fabrics, as well as monogramming and making lace.
The Janome MB4 is equipped with a storage device holding 3 MB of memory. This is sufficient to store up to 1,500,000 stitches or 100 designs.
There is a USB port on the machine that lets you easily import new designs and stitches. You can therefore use the machine to sew a very wide range of embroidery designs.
With such a large capacity for designs, the Janome MB4 is a great option for semi-professionals and enthusiastic amateurs who embroider lots of different designs.
Embroidery and lace
The Janome MB4 is well-suited to sewing traditional embroidery projects, allowing you to effortlessly sew limitless designs with the push of a button. The machine can embroider on a wide range of fabrics, including cotton, linen, silk, knits, leather, and synthetic fabrics.
This powerful machine can even handle very robust fabrics like canvas, upholstery, rubber, as well as multiple layers.
You can also use this machine to create lace projects, from very lightweight to heavy lace, depending on the stabilizer you use. The machine comes with 50 built-in embroidery designs and six in-built lace designs, and you can easily import more using its USB port.
There is also a monogramming feature for two or three letters and three distinct font sizes.
Machine embroidery can be time-consuming, but this machine makes the process fast and efficient. There are number couple of features that make the Janome MB4 an efficient machine; most notably its speed and its independent bobbin winders.
The Janome MB4 can sew up to an impressive 800 stitches per minute, putting it way ahead of most single-thread embroidery machines. This lets you work much more efficiently and complete your projects in no time.
With these kinds of stitching speeds, the MB4 is suitable for sewists with their own small business, as well as anyone who needs to embroider or monogram large numbers of items, such as group uniforms.
Independent bobbin winders
When you first look at the Janome MB4, you might be confused why it has eight thread spools on the top, but only has four needles. This is actually because of a fantastic time-saving feature that lets you wind bobbins while sewing at the same time.
With the bobbin winder located on the left side of the machine completely separate from the embroidery area and with its own motor, you can wind as many bobbins as you like while working on an embroidery design at the same time. Therefore, when one bobbin runs out, you will be able to switch to another and continue embroidering, instead of stopping to wind your bobbins.
The extra thread spools also mean that you can instantly switch to new colors, another feature that makes sewing more efficient. This is particularly handy if you like to embroider designs with lots of different colors.
While the MB4 is clearly great choice in embroidery machine, this wouldn’t be a very balanced review if we didn’t at least offer up a couple of alternatives for comparison. Janome offers a few home embroidery machines, so let’s compare the MB4 to another of their popular models, the MB7.
Janome MB4 vs Janome MB7
The Janome MB4 and MB7 are both user-friendly embroidery machines for home use. They share many of the same features, but the Janome MB7 has more needles and therefore can work with more threads.
As the model names suggest, the MB7 can work with seven threads, while the MB4 can only work with four.
The MB7 is significantly more expensive than the MB4 and this extra investment is not necessary for most embroiderers. Unless you want to create large volumes of professional-level embroidery, the MB4 will likely meet your needs.
Janome MB4 vs Juki HZL F600
The Juki HZL F600 is not a dedicated embroidery machine, unlike the Janome MB4. Instead, it is a sewing and quilting machine with a number of embroidery features.
The Juki machine comes with 255 built-in embroidery designs and four alphanumeric fonts, as well as features such as a knee lifter that makes embroidery more efficient. However, as a regular sewing machine with a single needle and thread spool, compared to the MB4’s four needles and eight threads.
If you want to do a large volume of professional-level embroidery, you’ll find the MB4 will allow you to work more efficiently. On the other hand, you’ll be able to do a large range of sewing and quilting functions on the Juki HZL F600 that are not possible on the Janome MB4.
Read our full Juki HZL F600 review.
We’ve tried to be as impartial as possible in this Janome MB4 review, but inevitably there are questins that come up from users and prospecitve buyers that a review alone cannot address. So, let’s take a look at some of the most common questions asked about the Janome MB4.
Is the Janome MB4 user-friendly?
The MB4 is generally easy to use compared to other commercial-level embroidery machines. However, as with any machine of this kind, it is more complicated than a regular sewing machine, and is not recommended for complete beginners.
In particular, it is not a self-threading machine and each of the four needles needs to be threaded by hand. Some users on online forums report that manually threading the MB4’s needles can be rather fiddly.
Is the Janome MB4 heavy?
Yes – at 65 pounds, this is a weighty machine that will probably need two people to lift it. It is also larger than a standard sewing machine at 26 x 17 x 25.5 inches, and so you’ll need to allow more room for it on your workspace.
What do you need to do to maintain the Janome MB4?
The MB4 doesn’t need a lot of maintenance: all you’ll need to do is clean the race hook and feed dogs after each use to avoid build-up of dust and debris. Other than that, you should wipe the head and lubricate the machine as needed.
You should have your machine serviced once a year, which is standard for home-use embroidery machines.
What accessories are included?
The Janome MB4 comes with three embroidery hoops, five bobbins,a needle threader, five spool caps, and nine spool nets. It also has a number of sewing and maintenance accessories including scissors, a lint brush, a seam ripper, tweezers, an oiler, and four different sized screwdrivers.
The Janome MB4 is a good option if you’re planning to complete a large volume of different embroidery projects. For sewists with at least some experience, this model is quick and easy to use, and allows you to complete a wide range of embroidery projects on a variety of different fabrics.
On the other hand, if you want to do occasional embroidery only along with other sewing projects, you’re probably better considering a sewing and embroidery machine like the Juki HZL F600.
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