Janome Sewing Machine JFS1821S – Review

Janome JFS1821S

When Mum was sewing my matric dance dress in 1986 she bought an Elna sewing machine for the job.  It had a great innings but eventually gave up the ghost.  We sent it in for a quote to have it repaired and the cost of repair would have been more than the cost of other brands new machines.  I got my Janome  JFS1821S at Pick ‘n Pay about 18 months ago after much shopping around.

Buying another Elna was out of our budget so I looked around and extensively researched the brands available in South Africa.  I had to rule out the big brands such as Elna and Bernina on price.  I was left with Empasil and Janome to choose between.  My Mum has an Empasil and although it has not given many problems she said that she battles doing any heavy sewing on it and that it feels flimsy.  Empasil are made in China.

I found out that Janome now own Elna and that the machines are virtually identical.  When I was shopping around I contacted the distributors of Janome and asked where I could look at a Janome as the ones in store were boxed and none on display, they told me to go to an Elna shop and look at a machine with the same specs as they are identical.  The difference is in the price, if I remember correctly the Janome was about half the price of the Elna.  Where a product is made is always an indication of quality to me, Janome are made in Thailand.  The Elna 2000 which turned up it’s toes was apparently the last of the Elnas made in Switzerland before moving to the far East.

The Janome  JFS1821S which I chose was not the most basic model and cost a little more than the cheapest one but I wanted the overlocking stitch which I have used a lot.  The machine feels wonderfully solid and has not given any problems at all.   The machine has automatic 1 step buttonhole (which I have not tried yet), 21 stitch functions, some decorative stitches, the overlocking stitch and a big drawcard a 3 year guarantee.

So far I have made Christmas stockings for the children, some kids clothes and last weekend braved curtain making for the 1st time ever.  If for nothing else everyone should own a sewing machine for mending, so many things get thrown away when mending would give them a new lease on life.

I am very happy with my choice of the Janome  JFS1821S.  My Mum visited recently and set the curtain making ball rolling, she was very impressed with the machine too.

Update – 17/10/14 – It is a year and a half since I wrote this review and I am very happy to report that the machine has not given me a moment’s trouble, I use it very regularly and will be sewing nighties for my nieces this weekend.

Update – June 2018 – Still no problems with the machine and it’s hardly ever not used long enough to pack away.


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  1. where can i buy a janome 521 in south africa

  2. How much did you get it for?

  3. Oh saw the post was this yearso i assumed it was a recent purchase, my bad! Are you still happy with it

  4. Hi Sula,

    How do you gather fabric using your Janome, am struggling with it.

  5. Hello I have forgotten how to set the overlocking stitch on the JFS 1821S. Can you pls help.

  6. Hi … Do you know where can I download a copy of the Instruction Manual for the Janome JFS18215.
    I had 2 house moves since I bought this machine and lost the book. Thanks

    • I’m sorry I don’t know, maybe contact PnP and ask for the agents contact details. Otherwise let me know what info you are looking for and I can scan and mail the pages that you need

      • Actually I want the whole book. But no worries I will contact the lady down at Pick n Pay Hyper where I bought it. She is very helpful so I am sure she will make a plan for me. Thanks for your kind reply. Glad to hear you happy with your Janome. I have not yet used mine.

  7. I found this review extremely Helpful.
    Please try this contact details for the Agent in Pretoria that may be able to assist you with the Manual.
    EMNIC (PTY) : P O Box 52932 , Wierdapark. 0149 | TEL 012 653 0562 | FAX 0866 713 515 | E-MAIL emnicjanome@mweb.co.za

  8. Dear Ladies,

    So as per PNP and Janome Distributors the JFS 1821S. is no longer available in SA. They now only keep the level RE 1712 and the 8870 models. Am not sure now which I should buy. The RE 1712 is currently on special at PNP for 1000.00.

    The RE 1712 also has the Overclocking stitch.

    Please advice which one I should buy.

    Thank You

    • Sorry I don’t know either but would go for the 1712, the overlocking stitch is fantastic.

      • Good Day To you Sula,
        I bought the RE 1712 with is almost the same as the JFS 1821 s. The difference is the one step button hole and more stitches. They has a JFS 1821 in stock at the Boksburg PnP , however the lady at the sewing center advised that the machine had been dropped during the renovation in the store and she had no guarantee that it would not be damaged. What a pity.
        Also the Lady at the Elna store confirmed what you said, Janome makes Elna, The Elna Sew and Fun/ Zebra is the same as the Janome Re1712 and sells at R1500 less .

        She also told me not to take th Empisal,

        Thanks Again for your Blog. Hope to meet soon.
        My Email is Buddhar.8@gmail.com

        Thank You

  9. Hello ladies, Zulie, I have the PDF version of the instruction manual. please let me have your email address so I may send to you.

    Be blessed

  10. Wow ladies I have found your info so interesting…I did see the machines at PnP…I am wanting to buy one for one of my staff who has just started taking lessons and is making those traditional african outfits. He will be quite busy as I can see from the interest he is receiving. They have two to choose from a 21 function and a 52 function…of course you are so right the overlocking stitch will make life easy for him…but do you think this machine will last until he can afford to buy an industrial one.

    • Sorry I can’t really advise you but I have owned mine for about 4 years and it has lasted me very well and I don’t see any reason why it would give any problems unless sewing very heavy duty fabrics on a very regular basis. A lovely gesture that you want to buy one for your staff member

  11. Hi Ladies, I want to take up sewing for beginners mostly I would like to make cushions, pillows, curtains and re-using fabric from soft to thick fabric.

    I need a good enough machine to take me from beginner to intermediate.

    I live in Benoni

    • I have used this machine to make clothes, dog cushions, curtains and other things, it has worked well on everything that I have tried

  12. Hi Sula

    Thank you I was looking at a PicknPay catalogue they have the following machines please advise:

    Janome 52Function
    Janome 4Thread overlocker
    60 Function 8077

    Sorry for the many question I’m very new

  13. Hi Sula

    I saw from the thread that you are in the East Rand are you in any sewing club or something similar I would like to join a group like that to share ideas and get motivation.


  14. My mum bought a overlocker for me in 1991and i got the sewing machine in 1990. I am NOW in the market to replace….only choice is Janome!

    • Hi Antwa, have you bought a new machine yet? I am looking to get the janome 8077 or the janome JFS 1821S but not sure what to get?

  15. Hi! Could anyone please help me with a copy of model JFS 1821s…or please send my info on how to use automatic buttonhole???

  16. Hi. Thank you so much for your blog. I made the decision to order my first sewing machine and I found all this info very helpful. I purchased a Janome 1712 and can not wait to start sewing when it gets delivered.

  17. hullo ladies,
    lovely blog Sula and thank you – you are very patient.
    Has anyone any experience with the Finesse JB 1422 by Janome? thinking of buying 2nd hand one for my friend i am assisting in setting up in a small sewing venture [community project]. More for the buttonhole feature as she is using my industrial and overlockers
    any feedback would be great.
    Thanks Suzanne

  18. My last janome eventually gave up after 44yrs of wonderful service!! Just to old for spare parts. There was nothing I hadn’t done in the house, plus baby clothes, evening gowns and children’s clothes. I am now looking at getting the JFS181S. I think janome is a wonderful machine and in my price bracket I wont look further. I cannot live without a machine with a family plus the enjoyment of making things.

  19. Morning Sula
    Thank you so much for starting this wonderful thread…I am in the market for a sewing machine and you and the other guests have just made up my mind on which machine I will buy. I was at an Elna shop yesterday (20/08/16) but quickly walked out due to the prices on those machines! The sales assistant advised me to rather buy the machines from pick n pay instead of those from Game. Now I know its because she knows they are Janome and they are the same as the Elnas.
    Pick n Pay has the Janome JFS1821s and that is what I am going to get.

    • So pleased that you found this post useful. Enjoy your new machine!

    • Hey Iwazi

      You are so right…I have an Elna Stella that my Gran bought me 40 years ago…so very special and only for me to use…

      I am starting build a sand bag house and need 38000 bags to be stitched and filled…so I did the costings and decided to get a few folk to stitch them for me…thanks to Sula and her blog I contacted the agent I think she is in Pretoria and she told me to go to the Hypermarket…have bought three machines and have three guys stitching away…they have never used a machine before so we gave them lessons and they are batting it out…having a competition to see who can get the most done…..talk about sturdy little beasts!!!!

  20. Wow.i am reading this late at night and cant wait for day time to purchase a sewing machine.
    I am only starting out but you ladies have inspiref me.
    I can a dress but lol cant stick no machine been so for 2weeks.
    So after this very usefull info i will confidently purchase a Jerome.thank you.

  21. Please could you assist me, I am in the middle of sewing cushion covers and the needle got jammed, I took the bobbin out and managed to get the needle out (had to break it) when I put everything together again and got the needle running nicely again I threaded up but now it wont sew any stitches, sails along beautifully and NO STITCHES. WHAT HAVE I DONE? PLEASE HELP have one more cover to sew. I have the Janome RE 1712

    • Oh dear, I’m sorry I don’t know. There is a phone no on the sewing machine box, maybe you can give them a call

      • Thank you very much, my husband managed to find the problem the little screw thingy hat hold the needle in had gone all scew (probably when the needle got stuck) so he sorted that out and bingo I am in business again. thanks for your reply.

  22. Good Day,

    I was given a Joname sewing machine, but it needs a new foot pedal and a service. Where in Johannesburg can I send the machine for a service and gets parts. Thanks

  23. Hi Sula,

    I found your blog post via Google. Thanks so much for taking the time to post the review… It’s really helpful!
    I’ve been searching to find the international model number of this machine so that I could find some more info. You mentioned that there’s an identical Elna machine… do you perhaps remember the model number of the Elna?

    I have so many questions (if you would be so kind as to reply):
    Do you still use the machine, and how are you finding it?
    Or have you moved up to another machine that is better?
    Do you use it often?
    Have you tried all the features and do they all work well?
    Is the build quality high?
    Have you stitched through tough fabrics like hemming jeans or sewing thick curtains?

    I tried to contact Janome-Emnic about the international model number but they didn’t respond as yet.
    Again, thanks so much … this blog post and these comments are just about the only information available on this sewing machine on the whole internet!! 🙂

    • Hi, sorry I’ve taken so long to reply our router was hit by lighting. Yes I am still using the same machine and I still love it. I have really put it through it’s paces sewing very thick heavy fabrics such as making a quilted picnic blanket with waterproof canvas which is very thick and heavy (and not fun to use). I even recently made a braai cover and lawnmower cover for my husband. Unfortunately I don’t know the international model number.

  24. Hi. I know this is really old but this website is the only lead I can find. I just bought this machine (JFS1821S) and it came with the wrong manual and it was the last model in store and I can’t get the right manual. Can’t find a PDF online either. Do you still have a pdf you could send of the manual?

    • Hello Craig, I’m sorry I somehow missed replying to your comment. Are there particular pages which you would like me to scan for you?

      • Thanks. Nevermind. Sat down and managed to work it all out. Three main issue was the automatic button hole but I figured it out.
        The other issue was were to oil but I just initially oiled all areas where moving parts moved against each other.

  25. Linda Streicher

    Good evening. I have an Elna 5000 which has packed up after 21 years.and new spares are not available. I was advised to rather look at the Janome or Finesse at Pick n Pay instead of the empisal at Game or Makro, So that will be my trp for next week. Wish me luck,

    • I hope you enjoy your machine, which ever choice you made

    • Hi I have just read your post and wish to know if you have purchased a new machine.please let me know which make and what is your experience so far as far as quality etc.thanks in advance

  26. Hi Sula, not sure if this blog is still active, have a question about the Janome machine that you bought long time ago. Let me know…

  27. Do you still have the Sewing machine?

    • The one that I had when I wrote this lasted about 8 years, then last year I replaced it with the identical machine

      • Ben Van der Linde

        Hi Sula, thanks for the reply. What an epic journey to buy my first Janome jfs1821s, a brand new, 3 year old machine but still in guarantee period. First buyer never got around opening it. I wanted to ask you if the machine was still in circulation, I phoned the distributors in Pretoria, Wierdapark and Nic from Emnic told me its still selling in PnP and doing well. The current retail price is R2 799. I was blown away. I only read good reviews and your review helped allot, thank you. I received the machine, foot pedal and power cable and manual. Did it come with any other accessories if you can recall? Well , here we go 2020 and still going strong! Thanks again.

        • That sounds wonderful. There were also a few bits, and bobs zipper foot etc. tucked in under the plastic removable base

  28. Hi Sula
    Thank you for this wonderful review, it seems to be the only info available for Janome sewing machines.
    Do you perhaps know if there’ s any difference in the wattage on the motors of the JFS1821s and the RE1712.
    The current price difference between the two is just over R1000.
    Thanking you in advance.

    • I’m so sorry I don’t know the answer to either of your questions. Hope you managed to find the info that you needed

  29. Hi
    DO you still have a pdf manual for the JFS 1821. I’d really love a copy.
    Thank you

  30. Hi. I am also desperately looking for a pdf manual for the 1812. Can you assist

    Much appreciated

  31. Good day, thank you for this useful dialogue.

    Please advise, I am a beginner but would like to do upholstery projects once I get the hang of the machine.
    I need to make a decision to either buy the Singer 4423 heavy-duty or the Janome JFS1821s.

    WHich one would you recommend for a beginner that wants to do roman blinds. will the janome sew through this fabric?

    • I am not sure but I did make some thinks like lawn mower covers and other projects using very heavy fabric and I suspect that I may have damaged my machine a little, it never sounded quite as smooth after that

  32. Hi Sula,

    Thank you so much for all the information regarding the Janome JFS 1821s sewing machine.

    I’ve been desperately looking on the internet for a copy of the instruction manual and am delighted to have found your blog.

    I would appreciate it if you could send me a copy of your pdf.

    Thank you

  33. Hi, please could you share the copy of the Janome JFS 1821s manual?

    Thanks a lot!

  34. Natalie Combrink

    Hi Sula, I have just purchased a preowned Janome JFS 1821 s and it only came with the power cord and foot pedal. What additional feet should I purchase as a beginner? I would like to use a foot for the overlock stitch. Also, Emnic Janome sent me a User Manual PDF for a JF 1018 s. Is this the same machine? I am so confused as I can’t find any information online for the JFS 1821 s. Is it called a different model elsewhere. There is also nothing on the website. Is it a Top-loading (Horizontal Rotary Hook) model (6.5 mm width) classed ‘E’ on the Janome accessory catalogue? I have no idea which accessories to purchase? https://www7.janome.co.jp/global/wp-content/uploads/accessoriescatalog.pdf
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hello Natalie, I use the normal foot for the overlock stitch (H), the only other foot that I use is the zipper foot but I imagine that sewing stores will sell other feet. I have scanned the Manual and can send it to you.

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