My mum has sewed for many years of her life, Brother being her favourite brand of machine to use. This particular sewing machine is the favourite of the bunch and now belongs to me - very loved!
Brother has been running since 1959 and has expanded ever since. They have a market of sewing machines, knitting machines, printers, typewriters and many other electrical goods (with sewing machines being the most popular).
The sewing machine I am reviewing is the PS33, a lovely machine that has lasted for a very long time and continues to run like new (touch wood). The machine is plastic, white and quite hard and durable. The machine comes with a foot pedal that has rigid rubber so your foot doesn't slip about and attaches into the machine and mains supply - you cannot start the machine without the foot pedal being attached. There is a light on the machine which helps you to see the needle and stitches whilst turned on, the light is automatically turned on/off with the machine so there is no need to faff about with it and you cannot leave it on accidentally.
Stitch wise, the machine comes functioned with 28 stitches that you can set it to do. To name a few: straight, button hole, elastic, blind hem, over lock, feather, zig zag & double zig zag. The others are all shown in the instructions manual. To choose a stitch there is a dial that turns showing the stitch and you just leave the stitch you'd like up on the screen. I have only used straight stitch because of the fact I am trying to learn how to use it along with using them at college - I don't want to hurt myself or break the machine!
Accessories that come with the machine include 3 needles, twin needle, small screwdriver, 3 plastic bobbins to wind your own threads around, spool holder and 3 different feet (button hole, zipper and button sewing). These can all be stored in a handy compartment that pulls out of the machine so they do not get in the way or get lost. It saves a lot of money and you don't need to rush to the shops once you have brought the machine home as everything is already there for you.
The machine itself isn't that heavy and in size it is about 40x18cms around and about 30cms high - pretty much the regular size of a domestic machine.
I have to admit, when it comes to reading instructions I am the worst - I just can't get the hang of it from some words and pictures. Because of this my mum taught me and it wasn't very hard at all. You just need to put your thread in the holder at the top, pull it around the numbered parts and then down and through the needle. It does seem confusing in the manual but when you do it, its easy.
Winding the bobbin is fairly simple too. You follow the instructions manual and it simply joins the thread from its position to the bobbin, you then select a button and it spins the bobbin for you. It can also be undone like this too.
When it comes to using the foot pedal it is fairly simple to push it too hard and let the needle and fabric fly out the window. After a while you do get the hang of controlling the speed and its much like using the clutch on your car - when you reach biting point you need to stop pushing!
My machine was brought about 2 years a go or less by my mum and she has never had an issue with it. We have never took the machine in for repair or had issues where it kept snapping needles. Hopefully it will last me through college and won't break on me as I don't fancy spending a load on a new one.
The machine cost £120 on Amazon but I am sure since then prices have lowered. It can also be brought from stores such as HobbyCraft.
If you know the sewing world, you will understand the importance of a good machine. I thought for £100 this wouldn't last very long compared to the more expensive ones although I was pleasantly surprised at how well its behaved. We have never had a single problem with the machine and I hope we don't for a long time in the future. The machine is used very regularly as I enjoy customising clothes and making my own - its also made blinds and curtains! I would recommend it to anyone wanting a long lasting, fantastic machine without the industry price tag.
HE AINT HEAVY
When my faithful Frister Rossman died with a little pursuasive help from wellmeaning friends, I decided to take a look at what was available on the market. When buying a sewing machine, I would advise consumers to take a look at what they want the machine to do, rather than what a machine offers in the way of gadgetry, because as I found with the Frister Rossman, 30 per cent of the features I was paying extra money for were of no use to me. Set this again price, and it really is important that your choice is machines suits your needs, rather than paying out excessively for features that you will never use.
The Brother Machine has been very well thought out. Instead of the usual fold down handle for example, they saw that it was possible to actually make a slot that fit the hand within the main body of the machine. Innovative but simple, this means that there are actually less parts to get damaged. What I liked about the Brother was the simplicity of the design, the easy of adjustment, and the lightweight nature of the machine, weighing in at 7.5 kilos, making it easily transportable and small enough to tuck away in its lightweight cover, not taking up the space that my old one did.
There are 27 stitches available, ranging from straight stitch to buttonhole stitch, zig zag, and reverse stitching and for me, it was essential that I had the reverse stitching facility, because I am not always wise enough to tie off the ends of my work, and reverse stitching ensures that the stitches stay in place. Moving from one stitch to another is easy and the panel on the front of the machine shows illustrations of the stitch to be achieved. Simple, effective movement of the slide makes changing from one stitch to another so easy that even I can handle it, and what I liked about the machine is that it actually encouraged me to try new things.
Needles for double stitching are available, and what this produces is a superb two parallel lines of stitching for finishing. For example, when mending jeans, or denham shirts, the double stitching achieves a factory style finish that doesn't look crooked and I am proud of the achievement of working on such thick fabrics, and producing such a superb finish. This double needle can be used for decorative work, although I have not used it for this, simply inserted a different colour in each needle.
Tensions and width of stitch.
Here, as opposed to any Singer I have used and indeed the Frister Rossman, Brother have designed the tension adjustment in a very simple way and it is very easy to jump from one tension to another, dependent upon the thickness of thread or material. The Frister Rossman was not as easy, and the tension dial was my downfall with that machine. After using many materials of differing thickness, I can easily adjust the tension back to the thickness required, and here Brother have got it right.
Filling a bobbin is simple. There is a one click bobbin button that actually stops gripping the bobbin when it is full, not allowing the bobbin to become too full of thread to be effective. Placing the bobbin in its compartment is easy. One thing that bothers me with the bobbin compartment is the flimsy nature of the cover, and I have to say that here I am very careful not to break or distort the cover, and am perpetually aware of its weakness.
Here, I was disappointed at first, although it's a learning process and now I have become accustomed to the machine, is simple. Compared to the Frister Rossman where a thread was simply pulled through a slot, the thread is taken down through one slot and up through the other, and the threading process has become second nature to me, and is not hard to learn.
Built in Light.
I found the light a little strange to start off with as it seems to be set further back than I am accustomed to, although again, was easy to get used to.
Now here, Brother got clever and it paid off. Sometimes when I worked with thick materials with other machines, I found that their very thickness distorted the foot of the machine and was faced with the problem of the needle hitting the foot and breaking. Brother have devised a system whereby there is adjustment to counteract this, and it is effective and when working with thicker materials, I usually set the needle with the thick fabric in place, so that I know the position is correct for the work I am doing.
I didn't use the buttonholer on the Frister Rossman because they made it too complex. On the Brother, they took the process one step further and produced a buttonholer that can even be used by me. It is a very good feature, and encouraged me to use it, and what it produces are professional looking buttonholes that enhance the garments I make. Even on very thin knitted material, the buttonholer does not let me down.
In the old days, other machines would fail me when working with toy making fabrics, denhams and upholstery fabrics. They simply could not cope with the strain. The Brother glides over the fabric with ease, and as it is electronic, actually does not produce heat which can damage the machine.
I remember the first time that I ever used an electric sewing machine, and that awful feeling of not being in control. I do a lot of delicate patchwork where control of the speed is vital. The Frister Rossman was harder to control than the Brother machine, which seems to have gotten the balance perfect, letting me slow down almost to a halt, or speed up, as and when I want to.
I thought that at the price the guarantee would be limited to one year, though was chuffed to bits to find that Brother are so confident in their product that they offered a two year guarantee. I have seen various sites where only one year is offered on the same machine, so seek out those bargains. They are there to be had.
I like this machine a lot, and one of the benefits that I found was that if you remove the tool area of the machine from the front, what you achieve is a sewing area that is useful for sleeves and the legs of trousers making mending very simple with awkwardly small confined areas of sewing.
Cleaning the machine is simplicity itself and I have found that the best way to ensure smooth running of the machine is to clean after each use. There is a small brush provided and unlike other machines that I have owned or used, I have not found the necessity for oiling the machine. What I do find is that opening the bobbin compartment after I have finished each time and brushing out the little fluffy remains of fabric is the only way to ensure smooth running of the machine and is essential. The plastic areas on the outside of the machine can be wiped with a very slightly damp cloth.
As with most modern machines, the light being on tells you that there is power going to the machine, and if there are small children around, then this is helpful, because you can ensure that you have unplugged the machine, rather than just leaving it plugged in as a possible danger area for small hands.
I have used many sewing machines over the years. Compared with my trusted Frister Rossman, I know that sense tells me that paying out three times the amount I did with this machine for a fancy machine that did stitches I never used was silly. The overlocking on the Frister Rossman was difficult, and let's face it, wasn't worthy of the extra couple of hundred pounds I paid. With the brother, you get a simple effective machine that has a good instruction leaflet, and simplicity of use, ease of changing functions, and ease of changing feet. I love the control the machine gives me. It is sturdy and used carefully and diligently will last me every bit as long as my expensive machine did, but where it will not fail is wrapped in its simplistic nature. It was the complication of adjustment in the expensive machine that made it fail, whereas the Brother doesn't purport to be anything other than what it is, a simple to use sewing machine.
Would I recommend it ? Yes, indeed I would. At 149 Euros, (a third of the original Frister Rossman machine and just under 100 Pounds), it gives me all that I need from a Machine and that's really what it's all about.
I go forward into a New Year with a Brother I trust.