My dealer suggested the Elnita EC30 as the best all-around option for my $300.00 price point. The machine has 30 stitches including a 1 step buttonhole, drop feed, speed control slider and 820 spm. It does not come with a wide accessory tray or a hard case; however my dealer included a complimentary machine service at the one year mark.
The Elnita EC30 is very similar to the Elna 450 (sold outside the USA) and the new red Travel-Mate TM30. All machines are made by Janome.
This machine certainly met my requirements for a kid-friendly sewing machine. After a quick lesson, the 4th graders who used this machine were able to navigate the computerized functions and sew independently.
Over the past month, I’ve pulled it out several times to help me complete sections of the Homebody Quilt that gave the Baby Lock Jubilant fits. The Elnita EC30 didn’t hesitate at going over thick seams and the foot didn’t catch on the seam allowances of my FG and HSTs as I sewed over them. The seams sewn with the Elnita EC30 were a more consistent scant 1/4″. Stitches were nice and tight and the seams securely sewn.
The machine also did a very nice job sewing buttons on my Dad’s knit shirt and with repairing torn seams/hems on bed linens. The 5mm wide zigzag was wide enough to sew on the buttons, but still narrow enough that I did not feel the need for a straight stitch plate when topstitching the hem. The machine simply did not pull fabric down in to the opening. The bonus? Everything I needed to take to make repairs, including the machine, fit in an XL canvas tote from LL Bean.
What I do not like about the machine (and what I did to resolve the issue):
(1) dim lighting – even my students complained about how dimly lit the sewing machine is. A Bendable Bright Light addressed this issue.
(2) super light mint green stitch library on the front is hard to see (can’t do anything it, but the TM-30 offers greater contrast).
(2) noisy operation – This is purely subjective; however, I did measure the noise level using an app on my phone. This machine is 5 decibels louder than the Baby Lock Jubilant and my Elna STAR. The drone the machine makes at lower speeds takes some getting used to. Solution: the machine needs something like a hard placemat (hardmat) and/or a low profile (1/8″ thick) workbench mat underneath it. Janome makes a muffle mat that works to quiet the machine; however, the mat is about 1/4″ thick and my machine bounced too much for me when sewing at higher speeds. I also stuffed batting in the front accessory tray. I can now tolerate the noise. I’ll mention the noisy operation when I take the machine in for its complimentary service. We’ll see if the noise level improves once I receive the machine back from the service technician.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this machine. It’s both kid-friendly and suitable as a travel machine.