About a year ago when the new ‘ask me any question’ thing came out on Instagram Stories, I tried it out and was surprised to have people mostly interested in my machines. I should have written this post a long time ago, but I have learned so much in the last year, so better now than never! I currently have three machines, and I love them all, so I’m excited to share them with you!
Sewing Machine – Brother CS-6000i
I ordered this machine in September 2014 (thank you Amazon for keeping record of that. Haha.) I bought it because my husband’s old machine could only do straight stitch, and I wanted to try sewing more. This was the cheapest machine with the BEST reviews, and I’m pretty sure it still is!
One of my favorite things about this machine is that it does button holes SO well. I don’t have other machines to compare, but the ONLY time I have ever had a problem with the button hole function was when I was sewing a corduroy skirt and it had to sew through two layers of really thick corduroy. Even then, my husband figured out how to go in and raise the feed dogs so that it would grab the fabric more forcefully and I finally got the button hole finished. He lowered them back after that and I haven’t had to redo a single button hole since (also I’m smarter about how thick of fabric to sew with). I use button hole #30 almost always. I also recently learned how to sew button on with the machine as well, and there’s no going back to hand sewing buttons on for me EVER again! (button foot and instructions in the manual)
The only one thing I wasn’t impressed with that came with the machine was the walking foot. I think it must be defective/out of alignment somewhere because when I try to use my walking foot, the needle catches the foot and I end up having so many problems. I might have thrown it away, or buried it somewhere because of how mad it made me. Haha. But the regular foot (J) is what I use 95% of the time and it usually works just fine for me!
I haven’t tried all of the different stitches and button holes yet (there are 59!), but it is a pretty trusty machine. I love that I can control the speed of the stitching, and the manual has saved me so many times (it’s very useful and has helpful info that I reference often!). I did sew a pair of Ginger Jeans and a pair of light denim Chi-Town Chinos in the past few months, and although the machine does pretty well, I think I’m going to hold off on any more thick fabrics, because it tends to struggle with when going over thick seams and hasn’t handled doing bar tacks all that well. I am new to sewing jeans, so it could be user error, but since it’s not quite strong enough for those thick fabrics, I find myself putting off or dreading certain steps when making things with thicker fabric. For this reason, I might be in the market for a more heavy duty machine in the distant future, so if you have a machine that you love that can handle the more beefy projects, let me know!
After making my Ginger Jeans and going back and forth between thread and different tension every time, my machine started acting really weird and I knew the tension was off. I made it through making my Chi-Town Chinos, but it was a very frustrating process. I ended up taking it in for a “minimum labor” servicing for $50, and the technician added a note that he “reset tension release”. I’m hoping there is somewhere online that I can learn to do that myself to save myself the $50 in the future.
***UPDATE*** The tension ended up getting messed up again 3 weeks after I got it fixed, so I’ve decided to just move on and get a better machine. I might try learning how to “reset the tension release” so that I can use it for lighter projects eventually. I recommend not sewing anything extremely thick, or things that require you to change the tension too drastically. This machine lasted me a good 5 years until my sewing just started getting to advanced for it. 😉
I’m pretty sure 90% of sewists out there have this serger. It’s just the best one there is, and it is a dang good price! I bought this machine in April 2016 when I was starting to take sewing a lot more seriously and sewing more often. I have never had it serviced and I think I’ve replaced the needles once (I think it’s advised to change them more than that). The only thing I’ve ever had happen do it is that I broke the serger knife when I forgot to remove a pin. DOH! Don’t forget to do that. But if you do it’ll only cost you $8 to replace. 😉
I really don’t have much else to say about this machine! It does what I need it to and doesn’t give me any problems. If I remembered to oil it more often it probably wouldn’t be quite so loud, but other than that, I’m happy with it!
Coverstitch Machine – Juki MCS-1500
When I was deciding which coverstitch machine to get, I was deciding between this machine (Juki), a Brother, or a Janome, but settled on this one because it seemed to have the best reviews. I wanted to start my own dress business, and I knew a double needle or zigzag stitch was not going to cut it for the professional look that I wanted. So, I bought this in November 2017. It was a huge investment, and there is a very big learning curve, so don’t expect to pick it up super easily and never be frustrated. If you do get a coverstich, you desperately need to join the Coverstitch Sewing Discussion Facebook Group! There is SO much information and so many questions that people have asked and answered. There is a search bar in the group and you can search for anything that has been discussed, so it’s basically the Google of the coverstitch world.
When I first got it, I would use it and then not use it again for a week or two because it made me so frustrated and I was afraid I would never get good at it, so I just avoided it. Thankfully my husband talked some sense into me and told me that I just needed to practice more, so I played with the tension A LOT, and I did A LOT of test stitching over and over again on the same fabric, taking notes as I went.
I also learned during this time that this machine is an exact replica of the Bernina L220 (discontinued, and I have not idea why they are the same), and some things that were left out of the Juki’s manual, I was able to find in the Bernina machine’s online manual (important things like how to pull the threads to the back).
After a year of having it, I still had threads that would pop and start unraveling in mine and my husband’s clothes. I decided to take my question to Instagram Stories, and I’m SO glad that I did! One person replied saying that I should check my stitch length… Low and behold, my stitch length was at 3.5 – and 4 is the HIGHEST that it will go. The whole time I was comparing the stitch length to my RTW clothing, when those fabrics are usually much more stable and don’t stretch very much. The dana knit and rayon/spandex that I had been sewing was much more stretchy, so it need a MUCH smaller stitch length. That had just never occurred to me! (*face palm*) Ever since the beginning of January when I changed my stitch length, I haven’t had any popped seams or unraveling!! I finally feel comfortable using it and I don’t feel the overwhelming anxiety using it like I did before. 😉
One downside is that this machine doesn’t have a clear foot attachement that you can see the stitching through. I’ve searched the internet high and low. But it does have the lines to line your garment up with, so once you get the hang of it, it’s not so bad.
This is a really good machine, and now that I finally understand how it all works and little tricks to make using it a lot easier, I actually enjoy using it!
This post was also inspired by the Love to Sew Podcast episode 83 – “Sewing Machine 101”. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you definitely should. Helen and Caroline give helpful tips about sharpening or disposing of sharp sewing tools, what to pay attention to when your looking for a new machine, and they also came up with the hashtag #showmeyourmachine to encourage other to share about their machines!
I hope this post has been helpful to you if you are a sewist looking for or researching new machines. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! I am always happy to help!
4 thoughts on “My Machines”
I LOVE my heavy-duty Singer. It cheerfully sews through multiple layers of denim, wool, pretty much anything. It’s handled thicknesses of fabric which later broke my serger needle (same serger as you, of course, haha).
That’s amazing! I will look into the heavy duty Singers too then! Thank you for sharing, Lia! 🙂
I have this sewing machine currently and I love it but curious what you ended up upgrading to!
Hi Anna! So, I did end up buying a VERY old Bernina 1020 (on Ebay) to use for the next time I sew with denim or canvas. But I just ended up buying the same machine again! Haha. That might be dumb, but I just really loved it and I was so upset when I messed it up sewing jeans with it. I thought about getting a more upgraded Brother machine, but couldn’t really decide on what I wanted.