It was a bittersweet moment when I decided to purchase a new sewing machine. I loved the old sewing machine, even if I never did get to actually sew on it. I loved the retro charm of the avocado foot pedal and the quaint manual with the mom and daughter on the cover. I loved that it was made almost entirely of metal. I especially loved that I already had it, that I was avoiding purchasing something new, for both economic and environmental reasons.
However, I just couldn’t get the machine to work properly. I think I could have created stitches that looked almost right, but even then it was with the tension set at zero. I’m certain that the machine is fixable but not by me, and I was too impatient to use my newly-learned sewing skills to wait for the fix. I also suspect that there may well be other problems with the old machine that I just haven’t experienced yet.
So, with mixed emotions, I ordered a new machine and picked it up from Sears on Sunday. (As you may recall, I hate driving in the city, so I took the bus downtown and hauled the sewing machine back home on the bus! Good thing it’s not as heavy as the old machine.)
I purchased a Kenmore Drop-In Bobbin Sewing Machine (Model #18221) for a few reasons:
- The Needle Shop recommends Kenmores.
- I used a Kenmore in class (though not this one) and liked it.
- I’ve heard from several people that you should spend at least $150 on a new sewing machine (this was $179.99) because the cheapo models are not well-made.
- I wanted a drop-in bobbin because it seemed simpler and better for changing bobbins on the fly (although, as it turned out I had paid a lot more attention to the vertical bobbin loading in class and had to turn to my good friend, Youtube, to load this bobbin.
- If I was going to buy a new machine anyway, I wanted one that did automatic buttonholes and had a few decorative stitches.
- Devon has this machine so I had seen it in real life.
- Finally, the reviews of this machine on sears.com are overwhelmingly positive.
The machine was very easy to set up, and I really put it through the paces in the past few days (more on that tomorrow). Overall, I like it, and I think I’ve been far less frustrated than I would have been with a poorly-working older machine.
I’m sad that the foot pedal is boring black, but on the other hand, it handles really well. I feel like I have complete control over the speed. I wish it went a touch faster, but it’s probably best for my projects that it doesn’t.
I like that it has a variety of stitches, even if I probably won’t use them very often. What’s really nice (maybe all new machines have this?) is that it lists the recommend stitch length and width for each stitch. I think the colors mean something, too, about the types of stitches they are, but I’ve only done straight stitching, so I can’t really comment on that.
Like the old machine, this one too has an extension piece that pulls off for free arm sewing (which I’ve already taken advantage of). Unlike the old machine, this one is all plastic, so if a peg breaks, all my useful mechanical skills will be useless. Also unlike the old machine, there’s a nifty storage compartment in this extension piece. I love have the presser feet and extra bobbins right there. (It would be nice if the machine came with more than three bobbins, but I can always buy more of those.)
Overall, I’m very happy with the machine. I don’t have much to compare it to, but I found sewing to be pretty straightforward, and I was able to keep stitches pretty straight, even on long pieces of fabric.
I do have a few gripes. I don’t know for sure if I’m doing something wrong, or if these are defects in the machine. First, occasionally when I wind the bobbin some of the thread goes below the bobbin, onto the bobbin holder. When this happens, I have to pull the bobbin off, unwind that loose thread, and start over. I’m not sure why that happens, but it is annoying. I can usually get it right on the second try. Second, sometimes I will sew a long section only to realize that the needle became unthreaded, and I have to start over, I’ve been trying to pull out more thread before I start, but it’s happened several times. I suspect this isn’t really a problem with the machine, but it’s frustrating. Finally, and again, I don’t think this is a machine problem, I’ve had some difficulties with thread bunching. I think it’s happening when I try to sew too many layers, or when I’m sewing over other stitches/loose threads. The problem is probably just that I’m a total novice. I’ll see what happens going forward, and maybe I can learn to avoid these problems.
I read in a few reviews that the zipper presser foot on these machine was bad, so I used the foot from my old machine, so I can’t comment on that. Being able to pop off presser feet rather than screwing them off is a nice bonus, but I had to use the screw-off feature to use my old presser foot.
Stay tuned tomorrow for pictures/descriptions of some of my finished projects!