The sewing machine – an early review

I’m sneaking this post in on the last day of April just to say that I *did* post twice in one month! Sad, really.

I hope everyone had a wonderful April. Ours has been hectic (as usual) but we’ve been accomplishing a ton around the house.

I’ve been playing with my new sewing machine and I love it! I’ve played with most of the decorative stitches and am amazed at what it can do. I have big plans for it!

Many of you expressed an interest in hearing my thoughts about the machine (a Kenmore 19606) so here is what I think so far:

First of all, I do not consider myself to be a proficient “sewer” (that being “one who sews” and not “a conduit for carrying off sewage”). My mother can turn any fabric into a gorgeous gown or perfect skirt. She tried teaching me a few times but it just never took. But recently my interest in it has been re-kindled and I am realizing that sewing doesn’t always have to be about clothing and complicated patterns! I also place some of my past distaste for sewing on my actual sewing machine. I think I spent about $150 on it about 6 years ago and always seemed to have trouble with it from the beginning (I could never remember how to load that damn bobbin!) so it became more of a heavy dust-collector than anything else.

So when the sewing bug bit me in the last several months, I started looking for a sewing machine that I could grow with (and the fact that it does a lot of the hard stuff for me is a bonus, too).

I knew I wanted a machine that included a ton of neat decorative stitches to use in crafty ways. But the price of those machines was way out of my price range! That’s when I happened upon reviews of the Kenmore 19606. Every review I read was a positive one and I found out that it is actually made by Janome so it’s a really well-made machine.

So the first (and obvious) great thing about it is the amount of decorative stitches. There are definitely some I will use more than others (when will I need to stitch an alligator or penguin? who knows – but they will be there when I do). And you can create your own stitch patterns and store up to 5 in the machine’s memory. And I love the fact that it has a stitch locking button. The stitch locking button is great because if I press it while doing a straight stitch it will end the stitch immediately and do a few locking stitches so that the stitches are secured. And if I press it while stitching decorative stitches it will finish the stitch pattern/motif it is working on and then lock the stitches in place at the end which really gives it a professional look.

This leads me to my next favorite thing about it, the start/stop button. This sewing machine gives you the option of using the foot pedal or the start/stop button to do your sewing. I think I’ve used the foot pedal maybe once. The start/stop button is just awesome. I thought I would feel like I wasn’t in control if I used the start/stop button instead of the foot pedal but I haven’t found that to be the case. I actually feel like I have MORE control (especially with the speed). I should also mention that if you have the foot pedal plugged in, the start/stop button will not work. It’s one or the other.

Buttonholes! There are seven fully automatic buttonholes for me to choose from! And when I say automatic, I mean it! It does it all! You place the button that you will be using in the button hole foot and it will make a button hole to fit that particular button! Magic! I have found though that if I want the buttonholes to look professional, I need to go over them twice and the instructions actually encourage you to do that. So when it has finished the buttonhole all I have to do is press the start/stop button again and it will know that I want it to go over that buttonhole again. It’s a very smart little machine.

Drop in Bobbin! Love love love this. I could never seem to get the bobbin right in my old machine and it was just so cumbersome to put it in and get it out. This drop-in bobbin system is SO EASY (even a caveman could do it). Idiot-proof. And I need that!

It comes with nine presser feet, some of which I have no clue about. The great thing is that I don’t really have to know what they do. The machine tells me which foot to use according to the stitch I’ve selected. Although I do wish it had a button foot (for putting on buttons themselves and not for making buttonholes). I’ve sewed a couple of buttons onto some pants and it wasn’t a huge problem but the presser foot they have you use makes it difficult to see the holes in the button to line them up correctly. And I see that Kenmore makes a button foot for “vertical” sewing machines but mine is a “horizontal” one. Could it work on my machine? I don’t really understand the difference between feet for “vertical” or “horizontal” machines. Still learning!

Yikes, this is getting long! I guess I love my new sewing machine, eh?

All of the things that I had problems with in my old machine (figuring out tension, loading bobbins, etc) are all pretty much idiot-proof on this one. So if you’re new to sewing and are able to spend a little more for your first machine, I recommend one like this that does a lot of the “thinking” for you. Of course, I want to eventually understand everything about what it does and why, but for now I am content to let it tell ME what to do.

I have lots of projects planned for my new machine (many coming from some new books I have that I’ll share with you in my next post). Unfortunately, I don’t know when I’ll be able to actually start any of those projects because all of our house projects have sucked up any disposable income lately and fabric, like yarn, costs money (why is that?!).

And on the knitting front, not to worry! I am not giving up my knitting! In fact, I’ll be teaching the Entrelac class at my LYS next week using my scarf pattern found in the side bar. Maybe THAT money can go towards some fun things like fabric and yarn and not boring things like new toilet seats and mulch.

Have a wonderful May Day, everyone!

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