Mini Sewing Machine Is More Than Just Cute
|April 1, 2002||in Product Reviews|
A review of
from White Sewing Machine Company
Sew Cute is the perfect name for White’s new entry-level sewing machine for children, because these little machines are exactly that – so cute! They come in a tiny package in three colors: Barbie pink, two-tone green, and yellow with white.
The sherbet colors of these 1.8 pound sewing machines will attract young sewers, but these machines are not toys. The Sew Cute is a real sewing machine that measures eight inches across and eight inches high. The bed measures four inches from front to back and three inches from the needle to the machine.
The machine is little, and so is the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $49.99, although some shops sell it for less, if you can imagine that. It’s hard to believe you can get a real sewing machine for the price of a nice dinner.
I wondered how White could manufacture a real sewing machine that could sell for so little, so I went to Sunshine Carousel Quilt Shop for a test drive. What fun I had with the little yellow machine!
White had to make some compromises to be able to offer the Sew Cute for so little money. But I found that they did retain big-machine features where they really matter.
One big-machine feature is the adjustable tension dial. It provides the flexibility you need to get perfect top and bottom stitches with many kinds of threads and fabrics.
During my test I changed my thread and my fabric several times. I adjusted the tension for each change. I found that just a slight twist of the tension dial made my stitches march across the fabric in a straight line. I was pleased at how easy it was to get the right tension setting for the situation.
The Sew Cute uses Class 15 metal bobbins, the generic bobbins that you can buy anywhere. The best part is that it uses them for both the bobbin and for the top thread. There is a special bobbin spindle on the front of the machine to hold a bobbin for use as the top thread.
The Sew Cute also comes with a top-thread spool spindle, but no instructions or pictures about how to use it. So I had to experiment. I found that YLI, Mettler, and Madeira thread spools were too big. Then I tried the small Coats and YLI Metallic spools. But they were too small. Finally, I found that the large Coats spool, like Baby Bear’s porridge, was just right.
For the spools that don’t fit the top-thread spool spindle, the Sew Cute includes a swing-up spool pin so you can wind thread onto a metal bobbin and then use it as top thread from the bobbin.
While the bobbin mechanism has some big-machine characteristics, White cut costs by eliminating many other features. Sew Cute has no light, but it has one stitch (straight), one stitch size (nine per inch), one stitch direction (forward), one presser foot (permanently attached), and one speed (medium fast). Sew Cute is a simple, basic machine, so it doesn’t take much training to master.
The lack of a reverse stitch isn’t much of a problem for most piecing, because most seams cross other seams and lock the stitches in place. But when I wanted to lock my stitch anyway I just lifted the presser foot, rotated the fabric, and sewed a couple more stitches.
The presser foot has two equal-length toes, and the back of the foot is wider than the front. Because neither side of the foot is parallel to the feed dogs, I couldn’t use either side for a seam guide. I would have to use masking tape or moleskin to make a 1/4″ sewing line.
The Sew Cute has a start/stop button and a foot pedal, but neither allow you to vary the speed. The machine is either sewing at its one speed, or it’s stopped. For sewing right along, I preferred to use the start/stop button, even though you have to push it so hard that you’re in danger of moving the machine.
But if I only wanted to sew a couple of stitches, I found that the foot pedal has a slight advantage over the start/stop button. I could tap the foot pedal a couple of times to lock my stitches or to sneak up on an exact point.
The foot pedal is very tiny and lightweight. The cable is a little too short for the standard-height table where I was sewing, but I could still use it with very little problem. For a child, who would sit in a lower chair and table, the length of the cord would be perfect.
Bobbin Loading Problems
I read a description of the Sew Cute on the Internet before I went to test it. The list of features stated that I could load the bobbin into the drop-in bobbin case without removing the case from the machine. That made sense to me, since the Janome and Elna machines have drop-in bobbins that can be installed without removing the bobbin case.
But during testing, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. After several unsuccessful attempts, I finally read the instructions. The first thing the instructions told me to do was to remove the bobbin case. So I guess what I read on the Internet was wrong.
Removing the bobbin case didn’t solve all my problems. Further into the bobbin-loading instructions it told me to put the thread through the left hook, then the right hook. The problem was, I couldn’t find a left hook and a right hook.
After studying the picture and taking a long, hard look at the bobbin case, I was able to determine that the confusing part was the words “left” and “right.” If I held the bobbin case just as it was pictured in the manual, I had a top hook and a bottom hook.
So I guided my thread through the top hook, the one labeled “Left.” Then I guided my thread through the bottom hook, the one labeled “Right.” Then I replaced the bobbin case and covered it with the clear door. Everything worked fine after that.
I was quite surprised when I realized that the Sew Cute presser foot is spring-loaded, like the darning foot on my Janome 3000. That made it easy for me to sew through two layers of fabric with batting in between. I even found that, thanks to the spring-loaded presser foot, I could do free-motion quilting.
To test Sew Cute’s power, I folded over one of my fabrics and continued sewing through three layers of fabric and one batting layer. The machine handled it just fine. Next, I sewed through two layers of fabric and one layer of Heat ‘n Bond Lite without any problems. I was surprised at how well this little machine handled the big jobs.
Sew Cute even has a few features that the big machines don’t. First, it comes with three pre-wound bobbins. And the machine is already threaded and ready to sew, right out of the box. But the best feature is the battery compartment that holds four AA batteries, so you can take your machine along and sew anywhere.
Sew Cute would be a perfect gift for that perfect grandchild that you want to teach to quilt. And it is an affordable gift for your children that want to be with you in your sewing room.
While I wouldn’t depend on this machine alone for a class, I can imagine taking the Sew Cute to a friend’s home so I could do some machine piecing instead of having to always have a hand project ready to go. And I can imagine taking it to the park for the day. It’s a little noisy, but that’s a small inconvenience compared to the light-weight convenience of this so-cute mini sewing machine.
A special Quilter’s Review “Thanks!” to Sunshine Carousel Quilt Shop in Grantham, New Hampshire for letting me test the Sew Cute in their beautiful shop.
Elaine and Chuck set me up with the little machine in their classroom with lots of windows. The length of the entire shop is lined with windows, making this a great place to select fabric in natural light. And they carry a beautiful selection of fabrics, as well as many quilting products.
If Sunshine Carousel is too far away for you to visit, they have a great Web site featuring their wonderful selection of goods.
Sunshine Carousel Quilt Shop
Sawyer Brook Plaza
Grantham NH 03753
Toll Free 866-796-2002
April 1, 2002
Carol B. writes:
Thanks for the Sew Cute review. I’ve had one sitting in the box for almost a month wondering why I bought it. I’ll try it now!
April 2, 2002
Judith S. writes:
I am a camper and thought, after reading your article, that the Sew Cute would be just what I needed to take along on
camping trips. I went to a local dealer and he said it was a child’s toy and he would not sell it to me for my purposes.
I told him I had seen it recommended by a quilting newsletter
and he replied that
he still would not recommend it. Also, he said that it could not be serviced.
I was disappointed but respect his opinion and am glad that he
gave it to me.
April 8, 2002
Toni S. writes:
I purchased two of these little sewing machines from Home Shopping
Network. One is for my niece and the other for me. They were priced for
much less than $50 and that was one of the reasons I purchased them.
far mine has done exactly what I expected based on the presentation I
watched on HSN. My experiences have been very similar to the review.