June 2, 2009

Brother CE-4000 - a review for Sew, Mama, Sew!

Sew, Mama, Sew! is creating a list of sewing machine reviews at their site, which is an AWESOME idea and a resource I would have loved to use as I decided on a new machine a while back. Luckily, I got a great one, so I'll let you know a little about it and contribute to the cause : )

What brand and model do you have?

A Brother CE-4000. I'm pretty sure it's exactly the same as the CE-5000 Project Runway Edition that is now seen in stores (minus a few stitches).

How long have you had it?

Since November. Let me count...about 6 1/2 months.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
I think I paid around $80 buying a refurbished machine from an appliance dealer. High end on Google shopping is $179 and a refurb from the same store I bought mine (Ken's Sewing and Vacuum) is $99 right now.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?

I mainly piece my quilts on it, but also do some general sewing, hemming curtains, purses...I'm ramping up for full-on machine quilting...tomorrow? Exciting!

How much do you sew?

At least every weekend. When I'm out of school, just about every day for around 4 hours.

How much wear and tear does the machine get?

I'd say it's pretty sturdy for quilting. I haven't machine quilted a large quilt on it yet, but I'm going to tomorrow!

Do you like/love/hate your machine?

Like: I really like that I can drop my feed dogs to machine quilt, and the LCD display and numbered stitches is very clear and easy to use.

Love: I LOVE my needle threader and am now genuinely spoiled. I complained when I first got it that it periodically stopped working...um, needless to say, I'm and idiot, and you have to have the needle raised all the way for it to work. Ahem. I also LOVE my drop in bobbin...again, now spoiled. I used to mess with and curse that silly bobbin on my old machine ALL the time!

Hate: Um, let's see...the automatic backstitch? No, the 40 different stitches? No, I'm at a loss, here.

Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?

No. Fairly. Surprisingly, no.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?

It's easy to thread, I can drop my feed dogs to machine quilt, it came with every foot I could ever want (ok, maybe I want a ruffler...) and tells me what foot to use for each stitch (each foot has a letter on it) so I don't get confused or do something stupid.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

At one time, I had complained about my walking foot and a needle breaking. 1) I learned that they are called "quilting needles" for a reason and I should switch out and use one when I'm "quilting". 2) Walking feet are for walking and again, quilting needles should be used while quilting. 3) Tension adjusters are our friends. Let's just say that every woe I've had has been due to operator error.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!

From my blog post when I first got her in the mail:

"My 3/4 size sewing machine is getting a little small for me. I started looking for a darning foot for it so I could machine quilt a bit, and by the time I finished shopping, I had a genius plan. Genius. My birthday was in September, and Erik got me tickets to the opera (Le Nozze di Figaro!) and said I could buy a new dress (yes, this is going somewhere). I had already gone shopping and wasn't too thrilled with the results - do they not sell dresses these days? So - my genius plan. How 'bout I take the dress back that we're not thrilled with, and considering the cost of a darning foot for my small/old sewing machine, I could buy this refurbished, amazing machine for the same price!"

And that's what I did. Swapped my dress for a sewing machine.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?

Yes. It's a great machine for a great price. I'm a fan of Brother now, and can't believe how much more I love sewing now that I have a machine that doesn't make me angry.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

I was looking for features that I needed as a quilter (dropping feed dogs, darning foot, walking foot, useful stitches). Make sure it will do what you need it to do for your hobby, but don't buy something that will lock you in if your interests expand. Sturdy, reliable, and something you can get serviced easily should the need arise.

Do you have a dream machine?

I'm pretty happy right now, and fairly oblivious to the glorious-ness that I hear Bernina is. Contentment is good : )

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