Great Heavy Duty Workhorse
Friday, May 7, 2021
I purchased this to sew some heavy fabrics when making various bags, backpacks, shop aprons, and also for other general purpose sewing. Specifically I wanted something that could handle multiple layers of heavy canvas, sail cloth (Dacron), vinyl billboard cloth, denim, heavy waxed canvas. and even thinner leather in the 2-3mm thickness. However I needed something that could also handle anything lighter than that. I don't need a ton of stitch patterns and didn't want a computerized machine. I also had a budget of under $500.
After a lot of research and consulting with others I settled on this model. It perfectly fits my needs. A solid and reliable mechanical machine with a decent number of stitch pattern, free arm, hard cover, and a nice selection of accessories, and able to handle some really heavy fabrics and multiple layers. It also has a huge number of optional accessories for it, in the form of various presser feet. While no longer in production, it still is available new and used from various retailers and resellers and can be purchased new in the sub $400 range.
I've had it for about 2.5 years now and I'm not disappointed in any way. I've been able to sew everything I listed here and it runs like a champ. It can handle 6 layers of anything I listed above without problem. It can manage 8 layers if it is in the middle of a long seam and I keep the momentum going. It struggles starting on 7 or more layers and will usually need a little hand assist to start. It can handle more layers with some hand wheel assistance and I've gone through 10 layers but it absolutely needs some hand assist on that many layers. These extremes only happen where seams overlap, so it really isn't a big problem for me. I'm not expecting heavy duty industrial performance from a sub-$500 machine.
I've sewn tons of other lighter weight and stretchy fabrics without problem as well, well without problems induced by not being familiar with the fabrics being used. The variety of stitch patterns has been way more than I need for 99% of my sewing. Standard straight stich and zig-zag covers about 90% of my work and three or so others for the rest.
I find the needle threader to be a bit gimicy in general and a pain to use most of the time. It's quicker and easier to thread by hand and this is from someone loosing my near vision from age and having very shaky hands. However, I have some threads that fray very easily when snipped and resist pointing with a little wetting. When using these threads threading by hand can be a pain and the needle threader has been a big help. So I've been happy it was there in those situations.
Other than it struggling with lots of heavy layers, it has a few other little issues, but nothing game stopping. One thing is you have to be very careful when sewing multiple thick layers that the presser foot doesn't overcome the load spring holding it down. It can pop up and make a huge rat's nest of thread under your fabric, especially as you often will miss when it happens. This is probably an issue with any machine, but seeing this is a heavy duty machine and you are likely purchasing it to handle this kind of thing it is something to be aware of. It's happened to me more than once.
Another issue is feeding with multiple heavy layers. It can struggle feeding lots of heavy fabric. When this happens the needle can bend to the front and hit the needle plate which isn't good. Normally I like to let the machine feed the fabric but with heavy fabric with lots of fabric in layers and hanging off the front of the machine you will want to give it a little assist so this doesn't happen.
The final little issue is you have to be very careful to thread the bobbin thread properly. You have to make sure the thread goes between the tension blades and back down into the slot. If you don't you are going to have all kinds of problems with missed stitches. Even if you thread it properly, the thread can pop out of the slot, but this generally only happens with very stiff inflexible threads.
For me the only big failure has been the automatic buttonhole foot and button hole function. I've tried it on three projects now and it just won't work. I'm not sure if I'm doing something wrong or something needs to be adjusted on it, but it doesn't work. It sews the front bar tack, and about 3/4 of the left side and gets stuck. I resorted to manually sewing them myself. Seeing I've only needed to sew a half dozen button holes in about 30 projects. This almost isn't worth mentioning if not for it absolutely not working, no matter what I've tried it on and setting adjustments I've made.
Overall it is an outstanding machine for someone who needs a machine that can do really heavy duty work but also a machine that can do other work as well as regular hobby or home use. While it isn't a machine for dedicated professional or for heavy industrial use, I think it could definitely be used as a great starter machine while you grow your business and work up to and afford a more professional machine.
Even if I get a more industrial/professional level machine in the future, I don't see myself getting rid of this machine. Seeing how this one is very portable, it will have a place in my tool bag for as long as I live or it lives. I've got a feeling I'll die before it does.