Simple Sewing Machine for Kids

Janome 11542
Well, here it is - a simple sewing machine for kids! This little beauty is a refurbished Janome 11542, recommended by Crafty Gemini in response to my Perfect Sewing Machine for Kids? post. It rates 4.5 based on nearly two dozen reviews at, and cost less than $65 with shipping. After reading the reviews and researching my other options, I chose this machine for my granddaughter’s 10th birthday based on features, weight and price.

My list of wants included:

  • Drop-in bobbin
  • Zigzag
  • Convenient reverse
  • Easy to thread
  • Durable
Nice features that weren’t on my list:

  • 4-step button hole
  • Free arm (just remove the accessory storage)
I haven’t yet tested the machine enough to vouch for long-term durability but it sure meets my other criteria. Although weight didn’t make my original list, I realized that having a machine she could lift would be a plus and am happy to report that this one weighs in at about 11 pounds. Considering her new baby sister now weighs more than that and she packs her around every chance she gets, I think she’ll easily handle moving the sewing machine around.

Test stitches - Janome 11542
 But How Well Does it Sew?

I tested the stitches and played with the tension, using yellow on the top and black in the bobbin so that problems would be easier to spot. The tension dial came pre-set at five, which was fine for most stitches. In fact, it was actually fine for all the stitches but the quality improved at a lower setting for some. Anyway, I marked the tension dial setting for each line of stitching on my test fabric for use as a reference.

The machine runs smoothly and sounds fine - no scary noises. I’m a little concerned about the thread holder, however, as it is plastic and seems a little hard to snap into place. If a kid is going to break something, I put my money there. But I think if it is left in place instead taken off when not in use, it should be fine.

Update 1/22/13 - If you're having sewing machine issues, I just discovered that Craftsy has a free online class that may help. I signed up and so should you!

FREE Online Sewing Class


  1. Does anyone have a manual for the Janome 11542? Mine did not come with one and I can't find one online anywhere. Thanks.

    1. Sorry for taking so long to respond - I've been away. You're right - I can't find the manual online, either. Have you contacted Janome? Also, beings you have your machine right there and the one I bought is far away at my DGD's house, is there maybe another number on it? Searching for Janome 11542 turns up nothing so I'm wondering if maybe there's another number we could use. Let me know if you find anything out and I'll do the same.


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