callistotoni: (Default)
I made a comment over on someone's else's blog that I do like my bells and whistles on my sewing machines. This was not always the case. So I thought I'd share some musings on what features I've gotten spoiled by.

Automatic needle up/down: Once you get used to being able to set this it becomes very irritating not to have this feature. Having the machine stop with the needle down in the fabric helps stabilize the work and helps keep seams straight when you need to stop and start again. I know many of my friends insist on this feature.

Pressure foot lowers automatically once foot pedal is pressed. Even though only my big Bernina 750 has this I now expect this to happen, since this is the machine I do most of my sewing on.

Push-button pressure foot up/down. A close second favorite to the above. It speeds things up, not having to reach behind the machine to raise and lower to pressure foot all the time.

Built-in needle threader: I used to scoff at these before I had one. Now it feels like a Big Imposition when I have to thread a needle without one.
In my experience, the hands-down winner for needle threaders is Baby Lock. They use a sort of disk arrangement which is easy to put thread through and works every time. The needle threaders on my big Bernina and my Viking are tricky affairs.

The ability to regulate pressure foot pressure: I only have one machine that doesn't allow this, namely, my little Bernina 1008. This is a nice workhorse machine, but the lack of this feature caused me pain in years past.

Pressure foot "hover": I love this. You can set your pressure foot to come up -- a little or a lot, depending on how you set it -- when you stop. This is great for pivoting, obviously, but is also great for small adjustments. This feature needs to be accompanied by the needle down feature, obviously. The 2 machines I have that do this are my big Bernina and my Baby Lock Aventura.

Automatic seam tie off and thread cutting: Boy howdy, once you get used to this it is *hard* to go back. It speeds up sewing noticeably. Of course, you don't have to use it if you need to have your thread ends; mostly you push a button to tie off and cut threads, your choice. My big Bernina 750, and my 2 Baby Lock sewing/embroidery machines (Ellisimo Gold II and Aventura) have this. My Viking Platinum and Bernina 1008 don't. This feature is causing me to want to take my Aventura to other people's houses to sew instead of my Swiss-made Viking, I'm ashamed to admit.

Built-in walking feet, or using a walking foot as a default foot in general: This is another thing that once you start it's hard to stop. It is just so much easier to keep both layers of fabric aligned, and to get through more sticky fabric. For example, at Costume College Diana found that the only way she could sew a decent seam on her textured "leatherette" material was with a walking foot. And we tried a few others first. And having the walking foot capability built in, as with my big Bernina, makes it even easier and eliminates the clunkyness of many separate walking feet (although these have gotten better in recent years.)

Wider stitch width capability: This has been super useful for Heirloom sewing with a wing needle. I've gotten spoiled by my big Bernina's 9 mm.

Easy-to-swap straight needle stitch plate. I swap between the standard and the straight stitch needle plate all the time. Super good for organza or any lightweight fabric that might get pushed down into the bobbin area. The Berninas and the Viking are great - just snap in. The Baby Lock machines fall down in this area, since you have to unscrew the plate off and screw the new plate back in. I have straight stitch plates for all of my machines -- believe me they are worth the effort.

Specialty feet: I am an addict to having the right foot for the job. Feet I reach for all the time:
- straight stitch "jeans" foot
- gathering foot
- Cording foot (where you feed cord through a hole in the foot). This, coupled with the pressure foot hover function, made couching all that silver cord on Brian's 12th Night Henrician outfit go super fast. I also use this to zig-zag over cord for gathering.
- "stitch in the ditch" foot
- edge foot
- clear foot
- ruffler foot
The plus side of the Bernina feet is that there are plenty of them to choose from. The minus side is that they are expensive. Baby Lock has a wide selection as well and they are *a lot* less expensive, so points to Baby Lock on this point.

Machine Embroidery: I never thought I wanted this before last year. Now there's no going back. I love doing this. I have even used it as therapy these last few weeks with the new job and with Chloe's healing. I may sound crazy, but there is just something fun and relaxing about watching the machine stitch out the embroidery. Now I want to machine embroider All The Things!

Alright, off the top of my head these are all the features that are available on computerized machines that have spoiled me. First world problem I know, but I feel guilty about wanting to use my Baby Lock Aventura to sew at friend's houses now instead of my quiet-and-still-made-in-Switzerland Viking Platinum because of the features I just described.

Oh, and on a tangential note, I've become a Baby Lock convert. Don't get me wrong, they will still have to pry my Bernina 750 out of my cold dead hands. This will need to be a separate post, however.


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