At the suggestion of a friend in bartering for eggs this year, I ended up teaching sewing lessons—who would have thought I would love it so much!! In the process of teaching, I had a student bring her Brother sewing machine and I noticed it had speed adjusted button with “turtle speed” (it literally has a picture of a turtle on one side!!) as an option. My Little Miss tried out her machine on turtle speed and she was in love. She had already used my sewing machine since she was 6, but using the Brother machine with the speed adjuster really helped her feel more comfortable and really enabled her to be more independent in sewing. After that, and because of all the young students I was getting, I started looking to purchase a new machine.
On a recommendation from a quilt shop owner who I adore and who I took classes from in the past, I tried the Brother XR1300 from Costco.
I have had this for 6 months now and used it myself, and had several students use this machine…..and I love it. It was about $169 and I bought it online. The best thing is it has the speed adjuster button and so my daughter is in heaven. She can sew independently and because it goes a consistent slow speed she also has the time needed to adjust the fabric and learn how to sew straight consistently. I have had several adult student who like the slow speed as well to start, and then you can adjust it to a faster speed as soon as you get the hang of things.
Here are the other things I have tried, and like about the machine…
Zipper foot—I have sewn a zipper once or twice in my life before this machine, but this one is very easy to use and I have made several of these adorable zippered pouches (pattern at www.skiptomylou.com).
Straight stitches and zig zag stitches are easily adjusted in length and width with the digital adjusting buttons. I haven’t had problems sewing burlap and minky fabric on this machine either.
I recently tried out the free motion quilting on this machine and I felt like it was comparable in ease to my mom’s Bernina machine that I have. It also has a mini stippling stitch available to choose on the digital decorative panel—I thought it was a great option for smaller pieces or doll quilts.
(free motion example on left, decorative mini-stippling on right)
I went to a local Bernina shop and asked them to show me some of their basic models for beginners and they showed me a great little machine that was $800—that was their student/basic machine. I am sure it was a good machine, but if you are looking for something more affordable to start a new hobby or teach children how to see—I love the Brother XR1300. Enough that I bought another one for my sewing classroom so more students have the option to go “turtle speed!” It is a great beginner sewing machine!!