Wednesday, October 23, 2013

(Please note that I don't have experience with any other sewing machines, so my opinion is limited.  But if you're a beginner, this review could help you decide on purchasing your first machine.)

I got the Brother XL2610 (ordered from Amazon here) because the ratings and comments were the best in comparison to price.  It is selling for a discounted $99.  Most basic sewing machines seemed to be around $80-$140, which is reasonable considering all the little intricate mechanics that it's made up of.  I personally thought the pink design was cute and made it feel kind of personalized.

Basic features and accessories:  The XL2610 is a good weight - sturdy, but not nearly as heavy as a metal machine.  It features 25 different stitches, many more than you would need on a regular basis.  Inside the pull-out compartment is a pouch of various other tools - extra bobbins and universal needles, zipper, button, and quilting feet, etc. - great things to get you started when you don't know what you need.

Ease of use:  I was proactive and used a combination of the instructions and Youtube videos to show me how to do the basics.  The manual reads in English and Spanish (in separate paragraphs) but I have no trouble, because the English instructions are first, and bolded.  The steps are numbered and generally simple to understand.

Threading the needle is very straight forward, although I do have to occasionally tweak the automatic threader back into place so that it guides through the needle hole properly.  Threading the bobbin takes a bit of practice, but as far as the machine goes it hasn't jammed the bobbin.  I know in other machines there is a bobbin case that you tuck into the front, but this one is very easy and you just drop it inside the sewing plate.

Some of the Amazon reviews said that their threads were breaking and such, but I'm a total beginner and I have yet to have that happen.  I sometimes "lose" my thread when I first begin sewing because I didn't pull the top thread out enough and it flies back up, so I learned to clasp the top thread with the first two stitches.

The backstitch button is a lightweight push down lever.  It allows for speed with switching back and forth, but sometimes I wish it were a button like on more advanced machines, because otherwise I feel like I need three hands to feed the fabric through and push on the backstitch lever.

I wish there was more space in the arm so that larger garments didn't bulk up as much, but you only get that feature with the much fancier professional machines.

Durability:  This has a plastic shell and plastic knobs, bobbins and such, but it feels very durable even when carried around.  There is a "handle" groove in the back specifically for carrying.  I've sewn at least five decently involved projects now, and I am just now thinking that I might need to oil it.

With the universal needle I was able to sew through several layers of stubborn cotton without too much difficulty.  Online reviews said that it handles heavy denim material too.  It makes a bit of a "crunching" sound with thick layers that could be worrisome, but you just have to go slowly.  Sew "by hand" by cranking the handwheel for the difficult areas if needed.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.  Definitely a good buy.

Avoid sewing mistakes that I've made:

Test on a small piece of your fabric.  It is important to tweak the stitch length, width, and tension so that bubbles don't form and that your seams aren't too loose/tight.

- Keep an eye on your bobbin and make sure it has enough thread to finish your next "line."  When it runs out, you'll still have your top thread, but the stitches won't form because they're lacking the bottom thread from the bobbin.  It's troublesome when this happens in the middle of a seam.

- If you backstitch too quickly, your fabric can bunch or jam, or the stitches will bubble or bunch in the back and make it difficult to detach the garment.

- Make sure your needle matches your type of fabric.  For example, jersey is a lightweight fabric that stretches, bunches, and gets stuck in the sewing plate easily.  Switching from a universal to a ballpoint needle keeps this from happening.  The manual has a table on what needles to use for what fabrics.

Hope this helps!

Update Aug. 2, 2014:

After a year of sewing experience, I think my main complaint with this machine is that my buttonholes still do not come out symmetrical, even after following my sewing instructor's directions exactly and trying over 10 holes at once.  One side comes up tight, one side comes up spaced out, even after adjusting the little knob above the wheel.  Apparently that's just how cheaper machines are.  


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What is most interesting is fashion when it's living. I find it inspiring when people dress well - but in their unique interpretation. Searching for people who enjoy having fun with their style and make their own statements. If you want your picture removed, don't hesitate to contact me!
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