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I would call myself a confident beginner sewer. I generally make clothes for my children with the odd household items thrown in (curtains, cushions, bean bags, duvet covers etc). I started sewing about 2.5 years ago when I purchased a basic Singer sewing machine that was on offer in Lidl. As I became more confident in my sewing skills, and knew it was a hobby that was going to stick, I wanted to upgrade my machine. I went into my local sewing machine shop and had a play with a few different machines. After that I knew I wanted a computerised one and started my research. I had a budget of around £250 and one of the things I definitely wanted was a one-step button hole and a drop in bobbin (my pervious machine has neither). Brother machines kept coming up in my searches and had good reviews and reputation. Then I saw this machine on offer in Homebase of all places (who knew they sold sewing machines?). Anyway, it was reduced down to £179 from £220 it was on Amazon. I waited for a 15% discount code to come up, as they often do, and managed to get it for a little over £155 with delivery. It had the one step button hole & drop in bobbin I wanted so was pleased with my bargain. It arrived quickly and I instantly got it out of the box. I was impressed with the instructions (both a written manual and a dvd) and the amount of accessories it came with. Here's a list of everything included in the box: buttonhole foot, overcasting foot, monogramming foot, zipper foot, zigzag foot, blind stitch foot, button fitting foot, seam ripper, 4 bobbins, needle set, tin needle, cleaning brush, screwdriver, extra spool pin, foot controller as well an extension table. The first major difference between a manual and computerised sewing machine is that you can control the machine without the need of a foot pedal. I found this very strange at first when all I had was the speed switch and a stop/start button. It took very little time to get used it however, and I now rarely use the foot pedal as I find I have enough control without it. There are 40 different stitches and I haven't got round to using them all yet. I particularly like the blanket stitch, which I use for appliques, and some of the decorative stiches are very sweet to finish off a hemline. It is capable of taking a twin needle, which is very useful for when I am making clothes as it gives a more professional finish. I also like how light weight the machine is. I don't have a dedicated sewing space in my house so I have to carry it from the shelf to the dining room table a lot and was surprised how light it was. There isn't a handle though, just an opening on the back to hold on to. The machine is lit by an LCD screen, which is easy on the eye and I find I can work in the evening fine. A downside for me is probably winding the bobbin. I find the method of doing it a bit tricky as you have to feed the thread between a disc and it always takes me a couple of attempts. I have also found that my 'universal' bobbins don't actually fit so I have had to buy specific brother ones. Not too much of a problem but I now have around half a dozen bobbins that can't be used. Ideally I would've liked an automatic needle threader but for the price I got this for, it wasn't a deal breaker. Overall I would recommend this machine for both beginners and more advanced sewers. I don't think I am going to outgrow this machine anytime soon. I am very happy with my purchase and wouldn't hesitate to buy it again.
I work from home as a seamstress and have gone through more than my fair share of sewing machines. I bought the FS40 earlier this year when my much beloved Brother Innov-is died. It was slightly more expensive than my previous machine, costing me around £250, which I think is a fair price for this kind of computer controlled machine from a well known and trusted brand. For those who don't know, a computer controlled sewing machine is one which sets the stitch length and style for you, rather than using control knobs to do it yourself, and this often results in more uniform stitching. As someone who uses a sewing machine a lot, a computerised machine is a must, and so the FS40 was perfect. It has 39 stitch settings, some of which are utility stitching, and others are decorative, which is ideal when top stitching a garment. It even has button hole settings, and the button hole foot for the machine is included. The machine method of creating buttonholes is quick and easy, and an absolute godsend for anyone who hates creating buttonholes, like me! Not every machine has this function. There are 5 different buttonhole styles to choose from on this machine. It also has setting for reinforced stitching, taking a lot of the work out of sewing. If you want to adjust the length or width of the pre-programmed stitches, there are two buttons on the light up display that allow you to do so easily. The machine can be controlled by either a foot pedal (which is included) or by a button on the front. I prefer the foot pedal, but I know some people don't and it is great to have this choice. There is also a speed regulator on the front. It has three settings, low, medium and high, and basically contols how fast the machine sews. So, on the low setting, you can press the pedal right down and it still only stitches slowly. I usually use the medium setting, unless I'm using a slippery fabric, like silk or satin, in which case a set it to low. There is also a needle up/down button on the front, which allows you to lift or lower the needle without using the wheel on the end. The wheel is still useful, however, as I use it to check that the needle will fall in the right place, particularly when I'm inserting zippers. The machine is cased in plastic, which may put some people off, however, all my sewing machines have been plastic cased, and I never had any problems with them. What's great about this is that it is lightweight enough that you can carry it around. So if you don't have a designated sewing room, you can easily lift it onto the kitchen table and then put it away again when you're finished. I would advise that you invest in a good case though, if you are going to be storing it, just to be on the safe side. Mine sits on my desk in my sewing room with a fabric cover on it to keep the dust off, and it seems quite happy! It also has automatic bobbin winding on the top, and when full, the bobbin just pops into a compartment on the machine's table. The cover is clear plastic and comes off with minimum hassle. It comes with the usual range of extra feet - buttonhole foot, overcasting foot, monogramming foot, zipper foot, zigzag foot, blind stitch foot and button fitting foot. The feet simply clip on and off, meaning that switching between them is easy. It also came with extra needles, though in my opinion, they aren't very good, and I use slightly higher quality ones. The needles are inserted and removed with the help of a chunky screwdriver that is also included, and is simple to do. It also has the capacity to have a double needle. The only downside of this machine is that there is no automatic needle threader, which is a bit of a pain. If you have trouble with your eyesight or trembling hands, you might find it next to impossible to thread the needle. I would advise trying this machine out in a shop to see how you get on threading it before you commit to buy. While I manage okay with threading it, I can't deny that it is a bit of a pain, especially if a sewing job isn't going well and I'm already grumpy and frustrated! Overall though, this is a great all rounder for people who do even a moderate amount of sewing. It came with an instruction manual and a DVD so there is plenty of help getting aquainted with it. It is perfectly suited to sewing clothes, accessories and home furnishings, and would suit beginners and more experienced dressmakers. Unless you want loads of fancy embroidery stitches, you really can't do much better than the FS40.
Sewing Machine with Extension Table / Short name: Brother FS-40