Monday, May 12, 2014

New Sewing Machine! Brother PC420PRW Project Runway

Now that I've sewed with my new sewing machine enough to make the herringbone blanket, I thought I'd share my thoughts on moving from a 15 year old mechanical machine (Singer 4830C) to a new computerized machine.  And my general thoughts on my new Brother PC420PRW sewing machine.

Probably like many people who sew, I started out researching the same machines that all the super cool sewing bloggesses use and realized I'm just not that awesome of a seamstress to justify dropping over $2,500 on a machine.  Not yet at least.  Heh heh.  

After a ton of research on sewing machines that were positively perfect but came with a four-digit price tag, I sort of threw my hands in the air and made an impulse buy and bought the Brother PC420PRW machine.  Seriously, what is with all the secrecy about the pricing on sewing machines?  It reminds me of buying a car before the advent of the internet - everyone is playing pricing games and shopping dealers.  It's antiquated.  Big huge turn off.

So yeah, I sort of gave up and bought a machine to hold me over until I could amp up the courage to research all the big dealer brands again.  Ended up buying my machine from Amazon and paid $369.99 for it.  I really wasn't thrilled by the Project Runway branding, it seemed gimmicky, but it had hundreds of really good reviews.  Mostly it had a lot of features aimed at home decor and quilting that others in this price category did not have, so it was a pretty good fit for me.  This machine just seemed to be a good value for the price when compared to other major sewing machine manufacturers.

At the same time, I also purchased an optional additional accessory - the Brother SA537 extension table for $58.81 to help while quilting and sewing blankets.  Honestly, I felt fairly guilty about the $58 price tag - let's be real - it's just a piece of plastic and way overpriced! I had seriously considered returning it and buying a $69 Ikea table to make my own drop in sewing table, like the ones I found on Badskirt and here on FromMartaWithLove, where the needle plate sits lower and is flush with the table.  

Ultimately I kept the extension table because I couldn't imagine where I'd put a dedicated sewing table (I'm a dining room table sewer who has only threatened to take over the office or guest room).  One nifty trick about the extension table is that the knee bar snaps into it for storage AND it is made to hang onto the sewing machine's plastic cover.  This makes it so you can carry it all away with just the one sewing machine handle.

Positives (remember, I'm coming from a mechanical machine):
  • Needle stops in down position! Such a small thing, but it makes the sewing more natural.  I'm not instantly reaching for the wheel to turn the needle.
  • Accessories Galore! I was thrilled with variety and amount of accessory feet.  I had bought a few accessory feet for my old Singer and needed more, but didn't want to invest more money on such an old machine.  This one comes with more than I ever even considered. 
  • Cut your thread with a button - When I sewed on my old machine, while my mom sewed on the new one, I missed this feature the most. You can even set it to automatically cut at the end of all seams, but it resets to default push button cut settings once machine turns off.
  • Clear bobbin cover - although there isn't a "low-bobbin alert" you can keep an eye on the bobbin thread through the clear plastic cover
  • Default needle position is to the left (not center).  Why?  So many feet require center position, why would they do this?  I feel like if I knew the rationale behind this, I could get used to the idea.
  • Required to disconnect foot pedal to use the start-stop button, but the plug is similar to a headphone jack, so easy enough to pop out without looking.
  • All settings reset when the machine is turned off.
    Never had to have a notebook to jot down my stitch settings until now.  Not that big of a deal, but just very different from a mechanical machine.
  • Presser-foot lift is located on the inside of the machine's throat.  As a lefty, I cannot stress enough how much better it works (for me) to have it behind the needle instead of to the inside/right of the needle. Previously I could reach behind the machine with my left hand to left the presser foot; now I have to use my right hand to reach inside the machine's throat.
Questionable issues:
  • Threading.  Obviously I've only had it for about a month and a half, but I really have to be diligent about having scrap fabric to sew a few practice stitches after I thread the machine.  I'm the first to admit, it could be me.  Many many many times, the stitches are off and fixed by re-threading the exact (to me) same way.  I had trouble getting the bobbin case set properly and found the manual on this topic to be lacking details.  Thank goodness for YouTube videos.  But since I never had issues after threading my old machine so of course I'm biased to think it can't by my lack of threading skills.

Overall Thoughts

I LOVE my new machine.  I wish I would have bought a new machine a long time ago.  It's just the little features that make such a big difference in the over all rhythm of sewing. It's hard to explain, but everything is so much easier - I could change the feet one handed now (I seriously had to use a set of pliers to get my zipper foot on the old Singer while sewing Katy's bench cushion).

The old machine is still here and hanging in the closet, not sure what will become of it.

The new Brother's throat is an inch larger, and it's profile is an inch shorter than my mechanical Singer 4830C.

Hope I won't need to call Brother, but nice of them to offer to help

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