Monday, November 2, 2009

yet another new sewing machine

Two weeks ago I bought yet another sewing machine. I was at Joann and they had a floor model on sale for $250 because it was a class machine, and another 10% off as a floor model. It's a Husqvarna Emerald 116. It's a strange purchase in a way, because it's a step up, and a step down.

It has a whole lot less features than my current machine, which is a Brother CS-8150. I like all of the features my brother has, but its not a very substantial machine. I wanted something that had more power and a bit more finesse. When I alter jeans it frequently skips stitches and has problems with thick layers of fabric. It's also loud as hell. Brian and I have a kind of all purpose room where my sewing machines, the computers, and large screen TV live. We do that so that even though we have completely different activities, we are still in the same room and can talk. However, the Brother can make multi-tasking difficult because it's very loud. Brian plays games that require a mic, and between the sewing machine and the TV turned up to loud enough to hear, he has issues playing.

When I bought it I was very impressed with all of the stitches it could do, but now I find that I use them very infrequently. Generally its a basic straight stitch, basting stitch, or zig zag that I find myself using for most projects. Assuming that I keep the Husqvarna, I won't get rid of the Brother. It will be a back up machine, and on some rare occasion that I need a stitch that looks like a leaf, or need to sew an eyelet, I'll break it back out.

So, I think the new machine fits the bill. Even though it's short on features, its a Husqvarna and quite sturdy. Its much more quiet than either the Brother or my serger. It zipped right through the last pair of jeans I bought with no skipped or elongated stitches. After the jeans I immediately had some wonky stitch issues that I'm still trying to work out, but I suspect that it's user error and not the machine.

On the negative side, there is no needle up feature, no thread cassette (I got spoiled), and everything is controlled by dials. I keep finding myself reaching for the needle up button, and then having to reach around to the side to turn the hand wheel. Same with the buttons for changing stitch length and width. I think that maybe the dials aren't really a con, it's just something I need to readjust to. Also, the Brother starts and stops with a push button, and has a slider to control speed. I always thought that was a major benefit, but in working with a treadle again I'm discovering it wasn't. Having the treadle really allows me to control my speed without having to take my hands off the fabric. It's a real plus when the fabric is slippery, or it needs to be stretched, and going around corners or curves.

I think I'll play with it a bit longer and see how things go before I decide definitely to keep it, but so far I'm pretty happy. Its interesting how you can feel the power and smooth operation of the motor in the better machines, and that does whisper to me that I should keep it.

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