Pros / The machine earned top marks for ease of use by our testers.
Cons / It lacks automatic stitch settings.
Verdict / The Juki HZL-355ZW-A has all the basic features you need for most sewing projects.
This Juki sewing machine doesn’t have much in the way of bells and whistles, but it’s still a relatively useful machine for basic sewing. Reaching up 750 stitches per minute means this machine is slower than most of the others we tested but likely fine for most tasks. The speed is also only controlled by the foot pedal; there’s no integrated speed control on the machine itself. Even though there are only 26 stitch patterns, nearly the lowest of the machines we reviewed, it has everything you’ll need for most sewing projects, including a straight stitch, zig-zag, buttonhole and blind hem. The downside to these stitch patterns is you must change the settings manually. For instance, the zig-zag stitch won’t come out right until you change the stitch width dial yourself.
The HZL-355ZW-A comes with a sewing light, a thread cutter on the side and an automatic needle threader but lacks an extension table, so large projects like blankets require a little extra fabric manipulation. We had four reviewers use the machine and its various settings, and they felt this Juki was decidedly easy to use, giving it an A in that category. It did, however, receive an F for sewing accuracy because our reviewers experienced a multitude of problems, including backstitching errors, puckering on satin, snags, knots and excess thread while sewing along a curve. The straight stitch also didn’t look very straight.
This was also the only machine we tested that has no measurements on the sewing plate – just lines. This means if you’re not experienced with a ruler or other sewing machines then you’ll have no idea what seam allowance you’re using. We tested the noise level as well, and this Juki reached 68.9 decibels at its highest speed, which is a little quieter than the Singer Stylist 7258 and the Singer Confidence 7640.
The included instruction DVD is a nice visual aid for giving you helpful tips for using the machine plus safety information. The instructions recommend unplugging your sewing machine from its power source while changing the presser foot or needle, installing the bobbin or threading the upper thread in the machine. The video is straightforward and walks you through the machine’s operations including winding a bobbin, setting up the machine and using various settings like buttonhole sewing and the overlock stitch, which is used to keep fabric edges from fraying. We did struggle with this machine’s one buttonhole sewing feature. The written instructions leave out an important step: You have to pull a buttonhole lever down near the presser foot. This is illustrated in the accompanying pictures and on the instruction DVD though, so we figured it out.
This sewing machine comes with three extra feet: a zipper foot, buttonhole foot and button sewing foot. Other supplies include two screwdrivers of different sizes, bobbins, a seam sipper and a pack of needles. There is also a free arm if you remove the auxiliary bed for easy sewing on pant legs or shirt sleeves. On the machine itself there is one dial for stitch length, one for stitch width and another for tension control, which should be left at a factory setting of 4 for most sewing projects.