Out of all the sewing machines (opens in new tab) we tested in our best-of round-up, the Juki HZL-355ZW-A is one of the most compact and easy-to-use which makes it a great option for beginners. Its features include 26 in-built stitches, including straight stitch and zig-zag, and a button-hole function. As a basic model, there's no screen on this machine, so everything is changed or switched manually, with the speed controlled by a pedal.
Dimensions: 16" x 12" x 7"
Weight: 15.7 lbs
Built-in stitches: 26
Warranty: 2 years (motors, light assembly, wiring, switches, circuit boards, speed control), 5 years on all other parts.
Although its speed is slower than some machines, that's not necessarily a bad thing if you’re a beginner and when you have to manipulate fabric more on bigger projects. The 26 stitch patterns are nothing fancy but enable you to get creative on a whole range of sewing projects where the fabric, decoration and purpose will shine. Sew up curtains, bed linen, easy clothing designs, tote bags, kids’ art aprons and more. If you are into upcycling and would like to repair and extend the life of your favorite items, you can do that too.
The box comes with all you need to get started on sewing projects, from extra feet, bobbins, needles, and an instruction DVD. All of this comes in one compact package that will be easy to store or take with you if you work a creative job or run workshops. If you're an experienced sewer looking for a sewing machine that does advanced embroidery then this isn't the product for you, but it is a useful buy for many basic sewing projects.
Juki HZL-355ZW-A: Features
The Juki HZL-355ZW-A may be a basic sewing machine without the additional features of some of its higher-end counterparts, but the manufacturers have still included a host of useful features that make this really easy to use.
Save pricked fingers and frustration with an easy 3 step needle threading process and automatic needle threader. There's also a drop feed for sewing buttons and free-motion quilting techniques, and a long-lasting LED light to illuminate the needle entry area as you sew.
Once you start trying out different sewing projects mad materials, you'll also benefit from a presser foot pressure adjustment which you can alter to match the type of material being used. If you need a little more room to manipulate fabric for cuffs of pant legs then free arm sewing is also a possibility.
At the top of the machine, there are illustrations of all the 26 different stitch patterns you can create, which range from basic straight and zig-zag to some more complex decorative stitching. As we've mentioned before, this isn't capable of advanced machine embroidery, but with 26 different sewing patterns to choose from, a one-step buttonhole function, and additional feet all your basic needs for sewing, hemming and overlocking are covered.
These additional feet are for buttonholes, button sewing, and also zippers, so ideal for clothes making and repair, or making homeware such as throw pillows.
One of the best inclusions in this package is the instruction DVD. There are clear visual aids and handy tips for using the machine, and safety information for switching components. These instructions make up for some gaps in the written information, such as full steps to use the buttonhole sewing feature. Watch the DVD when you first purchase, and for refreshing your memory on anything from winding a bobbin, to how to use the overlock stitch function.
Juki HZL-355ZW-A: Performance
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 found the Juki HZL-355ZW-A incredibly easy to use but we did find that it had some issues with accuracy, such as excess thread when sewing along a curve.
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 (opens in new tab) and the Singer Confidence 7640 (opens in new tab).
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.
Juki HZL-355ZW-A: User reviews
There were only a small number of reviews on Amazon, giving this an overall star rating of 3.6 out of 5 from 15 global ratings. While half the star ratings were positive and one commenter rated the quality of the product, there were some negative reviews too. One reviewer commented on the position for the tension and presser foot handles not being very convenient, while another found the foot pedal very hard to control, making using other functions, such as sewing a seam more difficult.
It seems that while there are some plus points for this sewing machine, there are some inconsistencies in the accuracy and quality of the product.
Should you buy the Juki HZL-355ZW-A?
The Juki HZL-355ZW-A is a great sewing machine for beginners or those seeking a simple and easy machine for traveling. It comes with a carry case and offers free arm sewing for awkward tasks. We found it a little messy when it came to accuracy, but it's a great option for beginners and those working on less fiddly tasks.