John Lewis Mini JL sewing machine December 2008

Mini JL a big sewing hit for John Lewis?

Looking for a budget sewing machine to make do and mend? You're just the person that John Lewis is hoping will buy its cheap and cheerful Mini JL sewing machine. We've threaded it up and set it loose on some simple sewing tasks, so read on for our first impressions.

John Lewis mini sewing machine

One unexpected consequence of the credit crunch has been increased sales of sewing machines, as people begin to repair their existing clothes rather than buy new ones. 

John Lewis has responded by introducing its own range of models, including the tiny, £49 John Lewis JL Mini, which we’ve put through its paces in our office, though we haven’t tested it fully.

Our verdict

This is a very basic sewing machine, but it has a similar spec. to other comparably priced models.

It offers a choice of 10 stitches; four different lengths of straight stitch plus another positioned differently, three sizes of zig-zag stitch and a scallop stitch.

The accompanying instruction booklet has clear diagrams of how to assemble and use the sewing machine, basic information on the stitches and thread tension and a troubleshooting guide.

Adequate but limited

sewing machine

A few simple stitches is enough for mending clothes 

The functions are limited; it has one sewing speed and isn’t suitable for thick fabrics according to the instructions. The sewing platform is very small and it lacks a light, which can make it hard to see what you are doing. Some of the plastic parts such as the bobbin spool are fiddly to use and it’s hard to open the storage tray in the base.

That said it is a solid little machine which has a smooth, although noisy, sewing action. Novice sewers might find it fun to use for a while and the selection of stitches is good for basic sewing tasks such as hemming and repairs, but we wouldn’t be tempted to tackle much beyond that with it.

Pros: Suitable for make do and mend.

Cons: Too small and limited for serious sewing.