Product Type: Tesco Sewing Machine
Newest Review: ... of the cheapest machines on the market.. The sewing machine comes well packaged and the instructions are easy to follow. Set up is easy... more
Sew and Sew
Tesco EJ09 Sewing Machine
Member Name: historywitch
Tesco EJ09 Sewing Machine
Advantages: Cheap, easy to set up and use, reliable, good performance, simple
Disadvantages: Very basic and clunky, expensive at full price, can get very hot.
***So what do you get for your money?***
Not to be too flippant, but a sewing machine. Its white, weighs about 6kg, has a fold down handle at the top, two places to put thread and a little shiny piece of metal which goes through fabric to make stitches. This model can produce 19 different types of stitches of varying lengths, including zigzag stitches and also can put buttonholes in garments. It comes with a power cord and treadle which you press to commence stitching. Part of the sewing machine slides off (the bit under the needle) to create a free arm to enable you to sew sleeves etc more easily; the bit that slides off doubles as a little storage box.
The bobbin loads from the bottom and the other thread sits horizontally on top of the machine, held in place by a supplied holder. There are two wheels on the side, one to raise/lower the needle and the other turns a dial to select a stitch type. A small lever on the front allows you to backstitch when necessary. Very simple, basic and certainly not as whizzy or streamlined as a more expensive model.
In addition to the main machine you get other essential bits for sewing machine maintenance (brush, screwdrivers, oil), several bobbins and other bits and pieces such as a zipper foot and buttonhole foot. For those who absolutely must know exactly what else is included in exact detail, the list copied from the Tesco website is:
'zipper foot, buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, L screw driver, seam ripper/ brush, oil bottom, pack of 3 needles, 3 bobbins, draning plate, seam guide, spool holder, second spool pin, spool pin felt'
It also comes with a very cheap plastic cover, which is good at keeping the dust off the machine. Its not a nice cover, its not a pretty cover and its really quite flimsy but it does do what it is supposed to do.
As a novice sewer I found this machine incredibly easy to set up and get going. I was expecting at least an hour of screeching before I was able to actually sew anything, but actually it took less than ten. The instruction leaflet that came with the machine was simple but very easy to follow and I had the machine threaded and running with very little stress. After a couple of trial runs on some scrap fabric I made a simple toy for my baby son and was addicted! 9 months on I can thread the machine and fill the bobbin without even looking at it and any problems have been sorted out pretty quickly upon reading the problem list in the manual. The instructions also explain each type of stitch, its uses and also how to use the more complicated functions of the machine, the zipper and buttonhole foot.
I only generally use two of the 19 stitches for my sewing (the 'normal stitch' and the zigzag), the rest are a bit unnecessary for the sort of sewing that I do. The machine consistently and reliably produces these stitches, as well as the other types when I feel the need; I sew at least twice a week and don't have any complaints to make about performance or reliability in this area. It is very simple to change between stitch types and lengths by turning the dial and although the dial itself can be a bit stiff and clunky, the movement as it shifts between options makes it easy to tell when you have moved onto another selection. So far I have made pyjamas, dresses, trousers, curtains, toys, fitted sheets, blankets and assorted small items such as pegbags and I have been very happy with the finish I have got from this machine. It can handle four layers of cotton material easily, although any more than that and the whole machine goes a bit juddery and it all gets very noisy. Certainly I wouldn't attempt anything thicker than a light denim and definitely not heavy upholstery material.
Maintenance is very simple, the machine only needs an occasional brush out and oil, both of which are supplied with the machine. On a couple of occasions when I used awful thread I had to dismantle the whole bobbin area and the sewing machine plate to get the tangled threads out, but the tools needed also come with the machine. I am not the most mechanical of people but it found it very very easy to take apart and put back together again, the only problem was the teeny tiny screws which are easy to lose. Changing the needle is also extremely easy and it takes standard machine needles that you can buy anywhere, which was a relief to me as a complete novice-I had no idea what I was looking for! There is a small dial on the top to help set the tension of the thread, but I have only had to slightly adjust this once in 9 months; likewise the tension on the bobbin/casing underneath the needle.
I haven't used the buttonhole function properly, just a couple of practices on a scrap piece of fabric and the result was a nice tidy buttonhole...not professional shop quality obviously, but nice and it would certainly do the trick on a future garment. I hand stitch in zips as I find it relaxing (yes yes, I know, weird) so haven't had to use the zipper foot but these feet are pretty standard in their function and use. They are easy to change when you need to, simply flick a lever to remove the foot and flick it again to reattach.
It does have a few negatives. It is very basic, it can't handle thick material and it can be quite noisy, especially if you want to sew more than two layers of fabric. When I was making curtains and used it constantly for over an hour at a time I found the machine got incredibly hot after a while, very hot to the touch around the main mechanism and generally warm on the rest of the machine. This made the machine unpleasant to be around and use and caused concern about it breaking down. Now I sew for an hour and leave it to cool down before coming back to it, slightly inconvenient, especially as it gets hot even when the light is turned on but the machine is not actually being used.
The light in the mechanism above the needle appears to be the cause of this heating and has another drawback. You can only have the light on when the machine is on and ready to use. So if I want to check stitches or a seam in the light without sewing I have to make sure that my foot is well away from the treadle, as an accidental touch could mean unexpectedly setting the machine off. The treadle itself has a cheap feel; it has no grips on the bottom so it slides around quite a bit on our laminate floors, so I have had to invest in a small mat to put it on when I need to use it. It also seems to veer from requiring a tiny amount of pressure or almost a stomp to activate the machine. When you are trying to concentrate on getting everything where you need it to be, holding the fabric in place and keep an eye on an inquisitive one year old this is a major disadvantage. The power cable is quite short and I find I can only sew in certain places and positions around the living room, without having to dig out an extension cable.
It isn't very pretty or as nice to look at as a premium brand machine which tend to be brighter and more aesthetically pleasing. Instead it has a functional clunky shape which some people may object to having on display in their house. I am a function over style kind of girl though, as long as it works I don't really care what it looks like.
This is a very good basic machine if you can get it at the discounted price. If I had paid the full asking price of £89.97 I think I would have been disappointed, as for not much more you can get a basic premium brand machine such as a Janome, Singer or Brother. For the £50 I paid I am very happy and it is the perfect starter machine for a novice sewer or for someone who is thinking of taking up sewing again, but doesn't want to fork out a lot of money. My five year old can work it under supervision , so it would also make a good machine for a child or a teen who is interested in trying sewing out.
It works, it is reliable, very simple and stitches are even and consistent. As I said, I have used it to successfully make lots of things, including a medieval princess dress for my daughter's costume day at school, new curtains for the whole house, fitted bedsheets for my son's cotbed and lots of clothes. If I was going to take up sewing more seriously I would definitely invest in another machine, but until then I am very happy with this one. I give it five stars, but had I bought it full price then it probably would have lost a star for the high (ish) price for such a basic machine.
Tesco have it discounted again at the moment and it is currently retailing at £69.97 (September 2010) and this is probably close to its real value.
Summary: Super basic machine if you buy it at a discount.
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