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Brother XL 2620
A sewing machine was one of those things that I always had access to growing up, but it was a cumbersome old, very heavy and practically antique Frister and Rossman one. When I first got married I borrowed my mums every time I needed one, which bearing in mind the weight of the thing was really awkward transporting it between houses. Then in time I inherited my Granís even older but equally cumbersome and heavy Frister sewing machine. When that eventually gave up the ghost I thought it was about time I got my own, more modern version. As sewing at the time was something I did occasionally, the odd romper suit for my babies, a pair of curtains or a bit of mending, I opted for the cheapest that Argos had in their book at the time, which was the Brother XL 2620. This was about 10 years ago and it cost me £99. Looking at the price now the same machine, more or less, is currently available on Amazon for £215. It would appear that sewing machine manufacturers are one sector that has benefited from the recession, if my house had increased in price by that much Iíd be quids in.
The first thing I noticed about my new machine was the weight, it was so light, I bought it in our local town which meant a walk with it, the car was not right outside the store, it was simple, just like carrying a largish box around. Even now I feel a sense of ease every time I pick it up, for years I couldnít even lift my mumís machine, and she still gets my Dad to put it on the table for her if she wants to use it. However this does have its downside, recently I have been doing a lot more sewing, including quilting and the lightness causes a stability problem in that if I have a large, heavy piece of material that I am working on the machine does not stay still. This causes scratches on my table so I have to have a cloth underneath which makes the problem even worse. However for regular light sewing with easy material to work with the machine is fine.
Getting started is really easy, I had used sewing machines for years so I knew how to thread one, but for a first timer no prior knowledge is needed, you pop the thread on the sticky up thing on top (spool pin) which pulls up easily if itís pushed down, then follow the numbers, feeding the thread through as you go. I notice on Amazon it is advertised as having an automatic threader, if this is something that is important to you I would check that, mine doesnít have it, also if you think thatís like an automatic cable rewind on a vacuum cleaner in that you push a button and off it goes Ė itís not, it just means there is a little gadget to help you get the thread through the hole of the needle you still have to do the rest yourself.
Threading the bobbin is really easy, once you filled the bobbin you drop it in the bobbin hole and itís good to go, nothing like the old Frister.
One thing I really donít like about the modern sewing machines and this one in particular is the foot pedal. It is so small and light and doesnít stay where you leave it so you have to readjust it every time you sit back down, which if youíre getting up and down to iron your work is a real pain. To be fair though this isnít just an issue with this machine, it seems to be standard these days.
Using the machine is simplicity itself, you have three dials on it, one to change the stitch of which there are 25 (and like any machine, Iíve played with most of them but only ever use 2) There are slightly different versions of this model that have 35 stitches but again, straight and zigzag are most peoples requirements, with the occasional use of overlocking stitch and blind hemming, neither of which work particularly well but I tend to do all of my hemming by hand anyway. There is a dial to adjust the length of stitches, and another to adjust the tension. All very easy and very obvious to useÖ..howeverÖÖ one of my main issues with this machine is the tension problems. If you are using a nice easy cotton fabric and simply attaching two pieces together, it is so easy to adjust and to get it right so you get a beautifully smooth line with perfectly even stitches. Anything slightly out of the ordinary though and itís the devilís own job to get it right, it really doesnít like stretchy material and as I mentioned I have been doing a lot of quilting and despite having invested in a quilting foot I gave up in the end and hand quilted it, which just means I can watch tv while Iím doing it. Similarly with the tension settings, again it could be me, but youíd have thought after 10 years Iíd have got the hang of it, many of the decorative stitches donít work very well they all come out a bit wonky.
The machine comes with the usual little bag of goodies, replacement bobbins, needles, a screwdriver, a zipper foot and an embroidery plate. On more advanced machines there is an option to lower the teeth below the needle so you can move a piece of material freely to do creative embroidery, on this one there is a little plastic plate that covers them Ė itís horrible, Iíve done small bits of embroidery but certainly not anything special, and they all look more than ever so slightly homemade, to be fair though I think that may be more to do with my creative inability than a fault with the machine Ė having said that if you want a machine for embroidery, you wouldnít be looking at this one in the first place. The little goody bag has a hidden compartment under the machine to keep it safe and tidy.
Changing the feet on the machine is really easy; simply unscrew a very accessible screw and the one drops of so you can slide the new one in. Changing the needles, not so easy, the screw is on the right hand side as you look at the needle set up, with not a huge amount of space between it and the curve of the machine, so it is really difficult to manoeuver the screw driver into position to loosen it. The lack of space between the working section and the machine is also a problem if you are quilting, I was working with a relatively large quilted area and it was a huge challenge to move the work around.
So to be honest, this isnít the best machine you can buy, by a long shot, you get what you pay for and I bought a machine to sew the odd curtains and a few small items for my kids when they were little. Itís not the machines fault that my requirements changed and it was no longer up to the job. If you just want a basic machine that doesnít take up too much room, this is perfect, although I do question the current £215 price tag compared to what I paid 10 years ago, and there appear to be far better machines for less money on the brother uk site www.brothermachines.com
I would very much like to upgrade my little brother sewing machine, but unfortunately, being a sewing machine it is a long way down the list of priorities so for the time being, it works so it will have to do.
An E. review! I envy your sewing skills. I am hopeless with a sewing machine and it seems to run in the family. My two daughters have already come home from school with all too familiar stories of getting the thread entangled in the machine or friends having to come to their rescue.
Angela150 30.03.2011 23:07
I need to buy a sewing machine. Have not had one in the house for years!