Janome 1600P Sewing Machine Review

Monday, February 27, 2017

Happy Monday! A couple years ago I bought a new sewing machine. Since then I have had a number of questions about how well I like it. So, I thought today I would finally post a proper review of the machine I bought, a Janome 1600P-QC.

I'm slightly embarrassed to say it's now been almost three years since I bought my machine and I'm only now getting around to posting this review! On the plus side, I've had a long time and a LOT of projects (including all the projects for my book) to figure out what I like about it. Before we dig in though, I'd just like to say that I'm not affiliated with Janome in any way and this post is a reflection of my personal opinions.

With that being said, I love this machine. If it broke down today, I'd buy another one. But let's back up a little. Prior to the 1600P, I had a Janome Horizon 7700. I'll be honest, the Horizon and I did not get along. It had a lot of good qualities, but had way too many bells and whistles for me. When I decided to look for a new machine, I knew I wanted to simplify. I had been using my vintage Singer Featherweight a ton, and wanted to find a machine that most closely resembled that, but bigger. Enter the Janome 1600P.

It's a nice heavy duty machine, with a primarily metal body. It is a straight-stitch only machine which is what my Featherweight is. This means it can only do one stitch, but that it can do that one stitch very well. I had learned this from working on the Featherweight. Since it only stitches straight the needle plate has one little hole in it for the needle, so it's much less likely to pull fabric down into it.

This machine is fast! That's one of my favorite thing about it. It's got three speed settings: turtle, sitting bunny, and running bunny. It can stitch at up to 1600 stitches per minute. As someone who sews a lot (and likes to sew fast), it has been wonderful using this machine. Especially when piecing, I can cruise right along.

Another one of my favorite features about this machine is the separate bobbin winding motor and thread path. I have a dedicated cone of thread set up for winding bobbins and one for the top thread. I don't have to un-thread my machine or even stop sewing when I need to wind a new bobbin.

I have a few favorite feet for the machine that I use the most. The 1/4" foot is what I use the most (which I'm very happy to say has a remove-able guide.). I also bought a narrow straight stitch foot. It's super tiny and is perfect for topstitching. Next up, the walking foot. It's sturdy, and does it's job. Finally, the adjustable zipper foot, which you can move to either side of the needle.

With my old machine I never took advantage of even some of the simplest features, but I've been taking full advantage of them on this machine. I use the automatic thread cutter for just about everything, and I love how it lifts up the needle when it's done cutting. This really comes in handy when paper piecing.

Side note: Since it is a semi-industrial machine, it is pretty loud. I sit mine one a folded up mini quilt to help dampen some of the noise for our neighbors. I also invested in a pair of wireless headphones, which I use when sewing. Just an FYI!

Since the 1600P sews at high speeds, it does use special needles, HLx5 needles. My favorite for piecing are 75/11s. For bag making or projects using thicker fabrics I like 90/14s. Finally for quilting (free motion & straight line), I like 100/16s. This machine also needs oiling every few hours. I use the same precision oil pen I use for my featherweight.

One thing I would like to mention about this machine is that it does take some getting used to. The tension is set manually and it also has a pre-tensioner. It can take a bit of fiddling to get the tension just right, but once you do, it sews great.

I wanted to share my settings for this machine for free-motion quilting. There isn’t anything about free-motion quilting in the manual and when I first tried it on this machine I had to do some trial and error to find what worked for me. Here is what I do:

- Put on the free-motion quilting foot, and free-motion quilting needle plate.
- Use a new size 100/16 HLx5 needle.
- Set stitch length to 0.
- Set presser foot pressure to 0.
- Lower the upper thread tension a bit.
- Slightly loosen bobbin tension.
- Adjust free-motion quilting foot height as desired.

You'll definitely want to play around with a practice quilt sandwich to get the right combination of tensions. Don't forget the pre-tensioner if you're having trouble with the top tension. I keep my pre-tensioner pretty loose, and adjust with the main tension knob.

The 1600P is the perfect machine for the type of sewing I do. I primarily use it for piecing, which is great for the high-speeds, but I love to make bags and other projects too. I try to use this machine and my serger as much as I can to make garments, but occasionally pull out my backup machine (a Janome Memory Craft 4800) for it's free arm and buttonhole capabilities.

Happy Quilting!


  1. Very interesting. I love the idea of a removal guide on the 1/4" foot as I think it can be an enemy as well as a friend. I have the 7700 and we have come to an uneasy truce over time but I've often regretted my decision to go with a fancier machine vs a simple straight stitch. Unfortunately, I just don't have space or patience to move to a second machine at this point.

  2. I am a diehard Janome fan however my latest purchase has NOT at all impressed me. I have the 8900 and almost from the very beginning I have not in anyway been a fan. I would love to trade back down to a Janome 6500 which never gave me a day of grief. I even went to the dealer and asked if I could trade down but they just want to fix the issues rather than satisfy me... the 8900 has way more bells and whistles than I need (it's basically a duplicate of the 12000 which I have minus the embroidery, it winds a lousy bobbin no matter what I do...I have to make way to many adjustments just for a 1/4" seam...and it hates foam based batting (skips stitches no matter what I do). I just want it gone! Now I am trying to decide if I want to try and sell or just not use it which is wasteful... Ok rant done... have a good one everybody

  3. Agree, love my straight stitch machine. I've got a juki which is almost identical to the janome, it doesn't chew fabric, and the settings are where you leave them when yo turn the machine off. I had a bells and whistles pfaff before and it ended up too fancy for me. It's good to hear that you still love the simplicity 3 years later!

  4. Great Review. I have also had a 1600P for about three years and love! love! love!!! mine for all the reasons you said. I also love the Knee lift when sewing curves or chain piecing. I too sew very fast and my kids have to turn up the TV lol. Mine uses normal needles though. I think that is something they had just changed when I purchased mine. I stocked up with Titanium needles from Massdrop. My Hubby just bought lucky me a simply 16 so the 1600P has been given a break from quilting but I do miss straight line quilting with it. It's so fast with beautiful stitches. :-)

  5. I have the Pfaff Grand Quilter which is the same machine branded for Pfaff. Love it! I also have a Janome 6500 for when I need more than a straight stitch, but the Pfaff is my favorite for all the reasons you stated. One additional foot you might enjoy using is the Janome Convertible Free Motion Quilting Foot set. This foot makes it very easy to adjust to the height of your quilt.

  6. This is a great review Jeni.
    Do not feel bad about taking so long to tell about it. Sometimes that is what takes, oh well :-D
    I am very pleased to hear about this machine.
    I am several olden machines. All old Singers. Sometimes I imagine selling the whole herd, except my mom's beloved Singer 316G, and perhaps "Mary" my 301A and then there is Maria and Lucy and Margaret, the Featherweight sisters...... but the others... I could find new homes for them, and then get a good machine with a big bed and a tall harp. I love mechanical machines the best and have no desire to purchase a computerized. They are delightful to play with at the shops though.

  7. I too have had this machine for about a year now and I love love love it. I learned some things from your review though so thank you.

  8. I just bought the Janome 1600P at Craft-South two days ago, so I was thrilled you posted this review! This is my first Janome and your review has given me peace of mind. Thank you for all the tips. Great timing for me!

  9. I've had a Janome Memory Craft 6300 for a little over a year and I really love it. It can handle things so much smoother than my old machine, and the extra throat space is a sanity saver when quilting large quilts. I considered the 1600P but I really needed the additional functions (mostly the buttonhole, zig-zag, and stretch stitch) for apparel sewing.
    Glad to know you are happy with your machine!

  10. Your review is spot on!! I have the 1600 - also. I bought it about 3 years ago and loved it so much that I bought another to go on my Gracie King frame. I have to agree with everything you said, the machine is awesome. I use one for piecing and the other for quilting. I also have to agree with Four Dogs and One Quilter, the convertible free motion quilting foot is one accessory not to be without. I can't say enough about this machine...it made me a Janome person for life.

  11. Thanks for the review. I couldn't find any recent reviews. The earliest I could find were from 2013 & 2014. I was getting worried that this model is obsolete and not worth purchasing. My sewing machine/repair guy has a brand new one to sell me and I'm strongly considering the purchase of the 1600P-QC. I have a 30year old New Home (Janome) that I will never give up. The only reason I desire something bigger is for machine quilting because my New Home has a pretty small neck area and it's impossible to quilt anything bigger than a baby quilt. Your review helped a lot. Thanks so much and happy sewing!

  12. I have this machine also and I Loooooooove it. It's one of those machines that you just never want to get rid of. I don't even know how long I've had it. 6 years??ish I use mine for every thing. FMQ, piecing and bag making. I didn't even know until a couple of years ago that it had a extra high presser foot lift! BONUS for bag making!!!! Glad to read you review. I always wanted a 7700. Now, I don't feel the need :) I would like another machine for piecing, just so I don't have to adjust my tension for FMQ. Plus I'd like a few more stitch options for garment making-which I have never really tried. I have a serger that I'm scared to death of.

  13. Thank you Jeni for this review. I first "met" you through the Pyrex Flickr group and have followed your blog ever since. I have been considering the Singer S16, it's the same machine. I am happy to read a review from a real sewist and not a blogger whose page is filled with affiliate links. Thanks again.

  14. So happy to see someone else who still uses a 4800. People look at me like I'm crazy to use something so old. My 1600 has been named "The Beast" because it takes on anything and I mean anything.

  15. Something to think about: if your machine broke down tomorrow, you'd buy another one. But if it did break down (let's hope not!) or just goes into the shop for repairs, you might find that a vintage Singer 301 will meet your needs. You can pick one up for $100 or less, and it is a perfect straight stitcher that can reach speeds of over 1500 spm. Since you've used a Featherweight, you know how great these vintage machines are, and the 301 is dind of a cross between your Janome and the Featherweight, in fact. Just a thought!

  16. Hello Jeni Baker and everybody. MKB,
    I agree with you.
    The Singer 301A direct drive all metal (except textolite "handwheel" gear) machine
    is more expensive to build than Janome 1600P-QC whith 2 belts and 1 plastic gear (handwheel ???). The big advantage with Janome 1600P is almost all bearing vs all bushing Singer 301A, thereby Janome 1600P does not need to be lubricated then Singer 301A. Regards.


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