Monday, 12 June 2017

My machines

Today I want to tell you about my sewing machines. :) I've been asked quite a few times in the past what machine I can recommend to beginners and what I find important. 

The thing about buying a sewing machine is, you have to know what you need. As always.

Are you sure sewing is your thing?
What are you going to sew? Jeans? Jerseys? just mending here and there? Do you want to do machine embroidery?
How often are you going to sew? Every day? Every weekend? Every 6 months?
How much do you want to spend?

I can't help you answering these questions, because only you know what exactly you do and need. 
But I can tell you about my experiences with my sewing machines. 
I own a Brother innovis 950 and a Singer Professional 5 (combined over- and coverlock machine)

Brother Innovis 950

I love this little machine. It hasn't failed my but once in 8 years (and that's really because I didn't take it to the inspection and cleaning and it was all dusty inside). I have tons of different stitches and it also has a small embroidery frame (10x10cm) for machine embroidery. 
Now, to be honest with you: I hardly do any machine embroidery. Very rarely. Usually I make something for the kids and then I think - oh, that pocket would suit a little bit of stitching, but then the garment is made and I missed the right time to add the embroidery. So, to be honest that was a bit of an extravagance, as I don't really use it. 
What I absolutely LOVE is the threading automat (or whatever that's called in English). It's SO good! I wouldn't want to miss it if I ever have to get another machine. 
I also really like the auto "restitch and cut thread" button, so I don't have to manually go backwards/forwards and then cut the long threads, it is a real help. Another thing I wouldn't want to miss. 
I strongly recommend a walking foot though, it has no differential presser foot, so sewing stretch fabrics or thick quilts might be a problem. It has a special "stretch" stitch, so sewing jersey shirts is not a problem, I do tend to use the overlock for that, though. 
I like to use the double needle to achieve a "coverlock"-look when sewing with the overlock.
Also very thick fabric (jeans, 2-4 layers) can be a problem, but you can "walk" over the thick bits with the hand wheel. 
Something I do miss is a longer "arm" of the machine to have more workspace. It's not a huge thing, I am doing fine with my machine, but sometimes I would appreciate a bit more space on the right. So that's something I might look out for next time. But only if it doesn't up the price ridiculously.  (I do hope my little machine will last me a lot longer, though!). 

Singer Professional 5

Buying the overlock machine was one of the best ideas, ever. I love sewing with it, it is fast, things look really tidy and sewing stretch material works a treat. It is also very strong, thicker layers of jeans fabric  didn't impress it much. Sewing thicker layered fabric (e.g. a quilt with a thick inlay) was a but fiddley, but also possible. 
I have to admit though: Buying a combined overlock/coverlock machine was a mistake. I hardly ever use the coverlock function (I am using my normal sewing machine with a double needle for the "coverlock look finish"), because it takes so long to thread from overlock to coverlock and then back again. And getting the tension right. And you can't keep all the coverlock things until the end and then do them.
So I would recommend getting a good sturdy overlock machine if you plan to sew a lot of shirts or stretchy trousers. You can maybe get a coverlock machine if you find you are really doing an awful lot of coverlock sewing. 

You don't get the huge variety of  stitches with an overlock machine. It's more like industrial sewing, no nonsense, efficient, strong, fast.

Be warned though: You need to start a very close relationship with your overlock machine. Threading it can be tricky (I use plyers to thread mine) and you have to get the tension of the several spools just right. Once it is installed, it works absolutely perfect, though. I suppose there are now automatic threaders out there, but mine requires patient threading. 

I can definitely recommend the machines I've got, but there are plenty of companies that produce superb sewing machines that last long. 
If you are a beginner, you could start with a cheap machine of a good company and then trade it in when you see you want to have more gadgets. But by that time you might just love that machine. :) 

If you want to purely sew, just get a "workhorse" no frills no gadgets machine, sometimes shops have second-hand ones that work a treat (more metal parts...!). Getting fabrics can be a bit of a nightmare, but consider bedlinen, tablecloths and alike a super fabric source and  also huuuuuge second hand shop finds a really good source.

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