Saturday, April 20, 2013

Brother Sewing Machine Review

This week we've had snow. This is actually the second snow storm we've received this month. I've heard people talk about getting snow in April but I always thought it was just a light little dusting that occurred on April first. (Honestly I thought it was just a horror story that stayed in circulation to keep you from getting too cocky when spring arrives in February.) With all of this nasty weather I haven't gotten pictures of the Modern Quilt Challenge quilt taken. I'll have to come up with an actual name for that quilt before I do it's final post.

In February I bought a new sewing machine and promised I'd do a review after Sammy and I had gotten to know each other. My first sewing machine is a basic Janome named Jenny so there's probably stuff Sammy impresses me with that I shouldn't be impressed by. I've been using Sammy exclusively since then and overall am rather pleased with what he does. I live in rural Iowa so I didn't have a lot of sewing machine dealers near me. I bought the Brother 100-Stitch Computerized sewing machine at my local Wal-mart.

I love the variety of stitches that this machine has. I've tried a few of them for quilting and look forward to experimenting with more of them in the future. The alphabet font is very basic, but I could see using it to make labels for quilt backs. One of the stitch features I don't like is that the default stitch setting (stitch 00) is in the left hand position. The markers that show you seam width are measured with your needle in center position (stitch 01.) I wish that the machine would start with the last stitch you selected. It didn't take long to remember to change my stitch when I turn on the machine though so while this feature in inconvenient it's not anything that makes me regret getting the machine.

As far as sewing, Sammy does a great job. He holds tension very nicely and it is easy to load both top and bobbin threads. I don't like the fact that the case to the left of the thread channel doesn't move. I'm slightly worried that I won't be able to do as much cleaning on this machine as I can with Jenny, but I'm sure as I hunt around I'll find the screws that let me remove the shell. I love that I can tell the needle which position to stop in. This feature has been really wonderful for doing all of the curved seams on my drunkard's path blocks. I also love the ability to lower the feed dogs. I struggled to do FMQ with Jenny since I couldn't lower her feed dogs. I'm sure there's a way to make it work, but I love that I don't have to figure that out. 

Another feature that I'm very impressed with is the speed control. When I was learning to sew I struggled to go slow. I love the fact that if I ever get to teach someone to sew I can set the machine on the slowest speed and they'll have one less thing to worry about. (I haven't used the slowest speed yet, but I have found it useful to switch to speed 2 when doing difficult piecing. By forcing myself to go slower than I normally sew I give myself a little more time to focus on my seams.) So far I've only sewn with the peddle, but I like the option of a start and stop button. I attend work nights and workshops on a regular basis and I'm comforted by the knowledge that if when I forget my peddle I'll still be able to sew. Speaking of taking Sammy places, it's a lightweight machine. I've hurt my wrist carrying Jenny places. I'm certain that because Jenny has mostly steal parts and Sammy is mostly plastic Jenny will outlive Sammy (despite the fact that she's already 10 years older than he is.) For my purposes a cheap, light machine that can do everything Sammy does is more important than lifespan. I did struggle with Sammy's lightweight when I was quilting my modern quilt. It's a large quilt and pushed the machine around a lot when I was trying to do straight line quilting. Probably after I get Jenny fixed she'll be responsible for all walking-foot quilting. I'll also use her for piecing blocks to extend the lifespan of Sammy.

My biggest complaint with this machine is the light. Jenny's built in lamp is big enough that I could sew comfortably in a dark room if I wanted to. Sammy's barely lights up the bed of the machine. Thankfully when I bought Sammy I also bought a light that attaches to the side of the machine. (I can't find the link to the light I bought, but it was displayed with the other sewing machine accessories on the rack directly above the machines.) One of the ladies from my guild said she spent 50 dollars for a light like this at a quilt shop and was never very happy with it. My little light cost a whopping 10 dollars and works wonderfully. It's LED so it won't need battery changes very often, but when it does it takes AA batteries. 

Overall I really like Sammy and would definitely recommend anyone looking for an affordable machine to consider this one. 

*It should be noted that this review is not sponsored by Wal-mart or Brother. I did a lot of research before buying this machine and hope to make it easier for other sewers and quilters to research this machine in the future.

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1 comment:

  1. I presently have an (old) Brother Pacesetter I named 'Betty' which I got last year when I started learning how to sew. I am however considering shopping for a new and better machine as soon as my skills are perfected.
    I think I may consider this over Janome (Been reading lots of review on Janome and also been indulging in some eye candy).

    Thanks for this review.