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I bought my Tesco sewing machine about six months ago now, for the bargain price of just under £50. I say bargain price as this is a full-sized sewing machine with 19 stitch options for just a little more than I was quoted for taking up some curtains, a job I am now able to do myself. The machine was, until recently inexplicably not available on the Tesco direct site for a while, but it can now be purchased for £49.97, which I would say is the cheapest you will find a full size machine anywhere. When I was researching machines online, prior to stumbling across this one in a Tesco store, only "mini-machines" were available for this price, and the reviews of them seemed to be rather negative. This is a proper sewing machine.
This was an impulse buy for me; I hadn't sewn for many years, and am not an expert seamstress by any stretch of the imagination. I have been pleasantly suprised, however, that this sewing machine has provided me with all I need to be able to sew with some degree of success, so if you are starting out sewing or just needing a basic machine, I would say this model is one to investigate.
When you open the plain white cardboard box first impressions of this machine are that you actually get quite a lot for your money. There are full instructions, and all the bits and bobbins you need to use the machine, including a buttonhole foot, one for zippers, needles and thread as well as all the tools you will need to maintain your machine,unpick threads, or thread the needle. All the tools and extras are stowed in a little box under the base plate, this can be removed to make a narrower foot for working on small areas of fabric.
The machine is 33 cm high, 38cm long and 16cm wide and quite heavy at 6kilos - I can lift it fairly easily with the handle at the top which folds down when not in use, but wouldn't want to transport it too far.
As already mentioned I hadn't actually touched a sewing machine for nigh on 25 years, and luckily for me as far as this machine went things hadn't changed too much - I was able to work out what to do fairly easily. If you haven't used a machine before I do think you would be able to follow the step by step instructions that come with the machine, which are 34 pages long and pretty comprehensive. These take you through how to thread the bobbin and how to do the various stitches by turning the three dials, with clear pictures and in simple English. You can do a fair range of stitches from basic through to zig-zag in various sizes, and even some decorative stitches and hemming. You can't really embroider or do the things that more fancy machines will no doubt do, but I find that actually I tend to use the same length stitch for most tasks. I have found it easy enough to adjust the tension and that the machine tackles a good range of different fabrics, again something a mini-machine probably wouldn't do.
When using the machine the dials are a bit hard to turn at times, and the machine is not really very aesthetically pleasing - it is a bit blocky, sort of the Lada of the sewing machine world to look at, next to its more expensive contemporaries on the shelf of my local Tesco Home shop. There is, however, as far as I can tell nothing substandard about the build quality of machine itself if you can ignore the fact that it doesn't look as nice as some of its more pricey contemporaries. The body of it is clearly printed with the different stitches and arrows to show you the direction to thread the thread, and it is a proper machine that can hold its own in many ways, all the basics are there.
The worst thing about this machine is the cover, which is made of that kind of plastic that gives you goosebumps to touch, it is cheap, white, wrinkly and nasty, but it does keep the machine dust free. Likewise the foot pedal, which as in all machines is used to turn the needle operation on and off, is rather basic and I do think a more prolific sewer than me may get annoyed by it. The holder for the thread at the top of the machine is also a bit flimsy to look at, but so far has been fine.
Another negative point is the fact that the only way to turn the light which illuminates the work area on and off is turn the machine off all together (there is a button on the side which you should also turn off for safety when threading the needle). For my needs it is more than adequate, however. This is a basic machine, and quite frankly for the price it is amazing that there are as many features as there are.
The motor is suprisingly quiet, and the machine does sew well, as far as I can tell - interestingly my neighbour who has a whole collection of machines as she does sew quite extensively, pronounced the machine to be "good" when I asked her advice on one of my early sewing projects. I've managed to follow the instructions to make button holes with comparative ease, though I have yet to use the zipper foot, I have found that this machine is straightforward enough to give me the confidence I need to have a go at sewing.
I do struggle to load the bobbin under the needle at times when using this machine, but I think this is down to my own kackhandedness rather than any design fault.
Basically this machine works extremely well, in a basic fashion. There are no bells and whistles, but as I said at the start for an occassional or new sewer this is a great little machine, especially if, like me, you can nab it at a lower price, you will be surprised at how good it actually is and may find you use it more than you thought you would. Highly recommended.
http://direct.tesco.com/q/R.206-0145.aspx for a full list of features and to purchase the machine, which may also be available in larger Tesco stores.