My Expensive Buttonholes

I absolutely love my Baby Lock Molly, but the one thing that didn’t please me was the single, automatic buttonhole. It just never seemed very nice. I know the Molly is capable of a nice buttonhole, because once the repair person demonstrated for me and it came out great . . . but somehow I never managed to duplicate his adjustments.

Not liking the buttonhole option has kept me from considering making tops that have visible buttons, which is limiting.

So I have bought a new sewing machine principally for buttonholes. Yesterday, I received my Brother 660LA, which seems to be a great machine despite it’s hot pink detailing. Right out of the box, the tension and stitch density on the buttonholes were much better than I ever got from my Molly—and this without a single adjustment, and on a single layer of muslin with no interfacing or button cording.

This machine has a lot of other features to play with, including many decorative stitches and three sets of fonts for lettering, meaning I could do some light monograming.

My little craft room is filling up with machines. It feels kind of crazy, but I love it . . . and if I’m going to be home a lot, I might as well have many things I can play with here.

Review: Baby Lock Molly

babylockmollyWhen my Singer 4423 HD broke for the second time in the middle of a project, I decided to trade it in at my repair shop. Fortunately, at The Sewing Outlet they sell Baby Lock sewing machines. Some months earlier, I’d splurged and purchased a Baby Lock serger, with which I’ve been delighted. Therefore, when I knew it made no sense to throw another $70 into my Singer, it made sense to get another Baby Lock.

The Molly has a lot of the features I wanted when I got the Singer 4423 HD: it can handle heavy projects (sewing through layers of denim; it is mechanical rather than computerized; it has a good number of stitches (25 or so), plus a one-step buttonhole. I’ve been extremely pleased with the machine so far, so–since I panned the Singer already–here is my praise for the Baby Lock Molly, as currently worded on Pattern Review.

What demoiselle likes about this machine
I got this machine to replace my lemon of a Singer 4423 HD (reviewed here).

I wish that the Baby Lock Molly had been the machine I’d bought first. Even though it is more expensive than the Singer, it actually works. I haven’t had to drag it in repeatedly for repairs. Moreover, it is what the S4423 HD pretended to be: a tough workhorse.

The very first thing I did when I brought my Molly home was finish my first top-stitched jeans-skirt. At this point, I can’t remember exactly where in the process of making this skirt the Singer died and the Molly came in–but I think it was before I’d made any significant progress on the denim (not the muslin) version. Regardless, it was the MOLLY and not the Singer 4423 HD that was able to sew through several layers of denim and interfacing with ease. Most certainly, I did the topstitching with the Molly, and it turned out perfectly.

The Molly is straightforward, tough, fast, and quiet. I will continue to update this review as I use it more, but so far I have had no problems, no tears, and excellent results.

What demoiselle does not like about this machine
So far, I like everything. I will update this review if any issues come to light.

Yes, it’s a rather spare review so far, but there is nothing to rant about–everything works well (so far). As I continue to use and get to know my Molly, I will update you on how she does. I’ll even do a stitch sampler and a button-hole to show you what she can do.

Review: Singer 4423 HD


The Singer 4423 HD (Alternate View)

My first sewing machine was a Singer 4423 HD. It was a disaster that put back my progress with sewing (that I wanted to take up in 2010) back by several years. Here is my review of the machine, as worded on Pattern Review, for reference:

What demoiselle likes about this machine:

I got this as my first machine after I decided to take up sewing. Because I had been taught the fundamentals in a theatre costume shop, I was used to using simple, hearty sewing machines. Therefore, I wanted a fast, heavy-duty, non-computerized machine that would handle a variety of fabric-weights and offered an array of simple stitches and an automatic buttonhole. I also didn’t want to spend a ton of money until I knew I’d be sewing regularly. The Singer 4423 HD seemed to fit the bill.

When I first got the 4423 HD, I was impressed by its speed and the way it felt “sturdy.” However, that sturdiness was not real: this machine is a lemon.

After attempting to use this machine to relearn sewing, I can confidently say that there is nothing I like about it.

What demoiselle does not like about this machine:

It breaks. A lot. There is a problem with the bobbin timing getting out of alignment with the needle, resulting in ruined fabric, knotted and messy clumps of thread, and hours of tears. This machine meant me huddled over my sewing table (bought at Goodwill and customized by cabinet-maker friends JUST to house this machine so it could fold away in my tiny NYC apartment) or my husband lying on the floor under it working to figure out “what was off.”

We spent ages researching what tensions I’d “gotten wrong” that the machine was so messed up. We checked online for instructions. We researched analyses of how sewing machines work. Very informative, but ultimately useless. There was no “at home” fix for this problem.

That meant that I had to take the machine out of the table and haul it to the nearest NYC sewing machine repair shop (via subway and a long walk). The owner was surprised, said that Singers were usually good, and thought that it was most likely a “new sewer” error, but checked it out.

I was right. It was the bobbin timing that was off. $70 went to the repair man for synchronizing it. I asked if I had a lemon, and the guy said “probably not”–that it might have been jostled in shipping.

Of course, halfway through my next sewing project (a few weeks later), the same problem happened again. Rinse and repeat. By the time I dragged the machine back to the shop, I’d lost several months of sewing time afterhaving waited a year and a half to get the machine + customized table back from the cabinet maker in Virginia.

After having the same problem diagnosed again, I decided that it was not worth throwing another $70 into this machine. I’d hardly managed to finish a skirt and one muslin between breakages. The salesperson looked up the record of me coming in with the machine or questions about fixing the machine and agreed–this was a lemon.

I traded it in for parts and bought a BabyLock Molly (A-Line Series). THAT is a good machine. It doesn’t fit into my customized sewing table, but it works and looks just fine sitting on top of it. If I’d bought the Molly on sale to begin with, I would have spent the same amount as the Singer + repairs + the cost of tears and frustration and lost time.

In summary:

Don’t be taken in by the initial feeling that the Singer 4423 HD is “tough” and “unbreakable” and “fast.” It isn’t. It’s a money-pit. I recommend spending more now for a high-quality machine and suffering less later from repair fees and ruined garments.