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Singer QuikFix Mending Machine

I was fortunate to recently receive this cute little SINGER QUICKFIX MEND MACHINE (also known as the SINGER Pixie-Plus Craft Machine) as a gift from a friend. I was so excited about it, because at a glance it met all the requirements I have for a machine: compact, easy to use, easy to store, has all the “necessary” features, and is made by a reputable company. Another bonus was the fact that this little cutie runs on batteries (four AA batteries, to be exact). I craft at a folding table in my living room, and have young children. Those cords can be a hazard, and anything I can do to get them out of the way is fantastic! This machine is billed as “perfect for all your mending and hemming needs…designed for all those little mishaps that happen.”

The QuikFix includes:

  • the machine itself (measurements, including carrying handle: 10.5″h x 11″w x 5.0″d)
  • 1 general purpose foot pedal
  • 2 thread spools
  • 2 metal drop-in bobbins
  • 1 needle threader
  • 1 extra needle
  • 1 power adapter
  • needle threader

And its basic features include:

  • eight stitches and a pattern selection dial
  • a reverse stitch button
  • sewing speed control
  • sewing light
  • free arm (for sleeve cuffs and pant legs)

The thread colors included in mine were orange and turquoise, which I totally loved. It also happened to come with two bonuses: an extra spool of buttery-yellow thread and an extra metal bobbin. Who doesn’t love a little non-advertised freebie?! It was in a whole separate bag. I still haven’t figured out why, but I’ll take it! I don’t know if they are included in every box or not. The machine retails for around $70 and is sold online at Amazon, Target, and other retailers (mine came from Target.com).

According to the directions, you can operate the QuikFix two ways. Option one is the foot pedal, which will operate when the machine is plugged in via AC adapter. Option two is to install the batteries, and then turn the machine to either low or high, and it will begin automatically sewing. I took this to mean that if the batteries were not in, the automatic options would not work – this was in fact incorrect! So that is an important safety tip. Make sure the switch is in the off position before you plug in the machine! I happen to think the low speed is perfect for small projects, like hemming pants, mending holes, and sewing on paper craft projects. The high speed seemed quite fast (and other problems developed…read on).

The QuikFix, like most other machines I’ve seen, comes with a small drawer to hold its sewing goodies. My extra two metal bobbins, a spool of thread, a needle threader, and the extra needle all squeezed in just fine.

This machine has eight basic stitches available. Again, that’s all you really need if you are truly using this machine for its intended purpose of quick hemming and mending. I found the stitch selector dial and the tension selection dial (not pictured above) to be very hard to turn. I thought at first it was because the machine was new, but even after repeated attempts neither one turned as easily as I would have liked them to.

The machine thread a bobbin and holds the spool of thread much like other, larger machines do. In my opinion, the green plastic pieces seemed a bit…cheap. They work fine, I just constantly worried about them breaking on me. They don’t feel very heavy-weight. But again, this is an inexpensive machine designed to do quick-and-easy work – not heavy duty stuff.

The instructions that accompany the QuikFix include decent quality black and white photos, and very good step by step instructions for winding the bobbin, threading the machine, threading the bobbin, actually sewing, adjusting the tension, replacing the needle, and a good overview of the machine features (although, that is at the end, and I think it should be at the beginning – don’t you want to know what it does before you get started?). It’s important to note that with this machine, you must always use a metal bobbin, or the magnetized bobbin case will not be able to function properly, resulting in a lack of tension on the thread. Also noted on the Quick Start guide is the tidbit that the bobbin sits in the bobbin case with the thread tail coming out on the right side of the bobbin (clockwise), and that this is different from most regular sized sewing machines. Also included in the instructions is a troubleshooting guide, which I had to refer to often.

I really liked the clear sliding cover above the bobbin. The two other machines I have used have not had that feature, so this was a new one for me.  The drop in bobbin seems much easier to use.

I set the thread tension dial on 5, and started testing out stitches. With all eight stitches, the same thing happened. They would start out fine, and then one of two things would happen: either the end result would have skipped stitches (see above and below) or the thread would break. To address the skipped stitches, I first emailed fellow reporter Wendy Jordan to make sure it wasn’t operator error. Then I double checked the troubleshooting guide, and saw that the problem could be one of three things – the needle eye was not centered, the needle itself could be bent, or the presser foot was too loose. I removed and re-inserted the needle and slightly tightened the presser foot, which seemed to help.

Pictured below is the broken thread problem, which to me was much more frustrating. The troubleshooting guide hypothesized that the issues causing the thread to break were a bent needle, that the needle shank was not properly seated, or the thread tension dial or thread guide were too tight. I removed the needle and re-inserted a new one, and adjusted the tension dial and guide. Unfortunately, this problem continued to occur. I never actually got more than one 8″ line of stitches before the thread would break in spectacular fashion – it almost looks as though it gets knotted and then breaks. I tried the tension dial on all settings, to no avail.

Here is my quick list of pros and cons for this sewing machine:

Pros:

  • affordable price and compact size
  • runs on batteries
  • easy instructions
  • good range of basic features

Cons:

  • thread breaking is a problem
  • the skipped stitches required quite a bit of TLC as well (I readjusted the needle frequently)
  • some of the plastic parts seem inexpensive, and feel like they might break easily

Overall, despite the thread breaking frustrations, I really like this little sewing machine. I intend to keep fiddling with it, and call the Singer customer service line to see if they have any solutions for me. For the price is seems handy for its intended use.

Do you have a QuikFix, or a similar machine? How do you like it? And if you’ve experienced thread breaking problems like I did, please share your tips on how to resolve them – I’d love to hear it!

Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby

One of the newest sewing and embroidery machines from Husqvarna Viking is the Designer Ruby Deluxe Embroidery Machine. Boasting numerous features like a large embroidery field, an exclusive sensor system, touch screen and Swedish design, much like its slogan, this machine truly does seem to be “Love at first touch.” I was eager to give this new gem a go!


Right away this machine took my breath away; the design is beautiful. However there were a few things that had to be tested out, because sometimes beautiful machines don’t sew so beautifully. I have had, in the past, numerous problems with machines and thread tension. So right away, I made a simple baby quilt.

With the exclusive sensor system, this machine is supposed to be able to sense the thickness of the fabric and automatically set the tension according to the thickness of what it is sewing. I’m pleased to say, it does just that. From piecing together my squares to the actual quilting of all three layers, I had perfect beautiful tension from the top and underside of the quilt. Afterward, even when stitching one of the hundreds of included stitches, whether it was decorative or utilitarian, the tension was perfect. I may be going on and on about the tension, but to me it’s one of those keep it or return it situations. This machine definitely passed that test with flying colors. Here’s a close up of the top and bottom stitching from my quilt, you can see the beautiful, even tension.


As an embroidery machine, there was one main thing I needed my Ruby to be able to do, embroider with metallic threads. Previous experience I’ve had with embroidery machines has shown me that not all can handle the beautiful decorative threads available, specifically metallic. So right away I tested out all of the metallic threads I had in my stash on a snowflake tote bag.

All of the metallic threads worked without any problems, and I didn’t even need to change the needle to one specifically made for metallic threads. The Ruby has five different speeds for embroidery and I found that the third speed gave me optimum results for embroidering with metallic threads. Much to my delight this machine passed both of the tests I had set out in my mind, now it was on to start exploring some of its features!


The Designer Ruby has many desirable features, including a thread cutter, which in embroidery mode will pull both top and bottom thread to the underside of your garment and then cut the thread. The sewing and embroidery adviser will automatically set the perfect stitch, width, tension, and perfect presser foot according to what you tell the machine you are sewing. While embroidering, you can use the adviser for guidance as to what needles or stabilizers you may want to use for optimum results.

Something I had never seen before on a sewing machine was the side motion feeding that can be used to create stitches with widths much larger than the traditional 7mm or 9mm widths most machine are limited to; rather than just feeding straight forward or backward, this machine can actually feed from the side to create widths with sizes upwards of 27mm.


Straight out of the box, you have an amazing sewing machine capable of monogramming and embroidering beautiful designs, but when you add the available software you unleash an entire world of creativity. You can design your own logos, monograms, different types of embroidery fills, thread gradients, making your own lace, embroideries made straight from home photos, all made possible when you attach the machine to your home computer. The Designer Ruby has a USB connection which can be used to communicate with your computer, or you can use a USB mouse rather than the included stylus to navigate through your screen.

My experience so far with the Designer Ruby has truly been, “love at first touch” and I’ve been sewing up a storm!

Pros:

  • Easy to use – Large Bright Touchscreen, Brightly lit sewing area
  • Heavy Duty – This is a strong machine I did one of those tests where you fold up a heavy-duty piece of fabric into many layers; this machine sewed through it all, and maintained perfect tension the entire time.
  • Capabilities- I can definitely grow with this machine, it has more features than I know what to do with! I think I’m going to enjoy learning them all.

Cons:

  • Price- This is an expensive machine MSRP: is 5,999.99. Not only the machine but the accessories: hoops, additional presser feet, 5-D Software (almost $2,000), Servicing the machine, EVERYTHING is expensive, which is definitely the biggest con.
  • This machine won’t remember your place in embroidery should you lose power in the middle of a project, a feature that the Designer Diamond from Husqvarna has.
  • This machine is so high tech, that they have done away with the lever to manually lower the presser foot. Now you just press a button or tap your foot pedal. While this is nice, I miss being able to lift my presser foot with a lever, as sometimes I need to fiddle around with the placement of my fabric before I start sewing, and this doesn’t require me to completely lower or raise my presser foot just kind of have it float above to show where it’s going to lay

Clearly, these cons do not keep me from loving this machine! Do you have a favorite high-end sewing/embroidery machine? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Disclosure

Dritz Magnetic Seam Guide

Reported by Susie Ziegler

Last summer I got my daughter a new adorable sewing machine and hoped she would develop a new love of sewing. To go with her machine, I thought it would be important to get a basket of nice tools since using good tools helps ward off frustrations. I saw this Magnetic Seam Guide by Dritz in the notions department of my local sewing store. If you haven’t noticed, Dritz dominates the notions department with tools like snaps, fasteners, pins, grommets, elastics, virtually anything you might think you need for sewing. Even though I am satisfied that I know how to keep an accurate seam and don’t think I need this tool, I thought it would help out my young daughter to maintain her seam allowances.

Dritz recommends that you use the Magnetic Seam Guide to stitch even seams, tucks, and pleats without marking. It turns out you are not supposed to use this magnetic tool with computerized sewing machines. This seemed goofy to me, since I have other magnetic things like a magnetic pincushion near my machine with no difficulties. I tried it:


The Magnetic Seam Guide won’t stay put! I think the little needle plate on my fancy-pants machine is too small for the magnet to take hold because the seam guide goes right for the sewing foot. Daughter has a standard, non-computerized machine with a much larger needle plate, so I tried it there:


Much sturdier! I can put it way up high along the sewing foot, or right here ahead of it. I think way down in front in anticipation of the needle is better. You might feel differently.

Never fear small needle plate, drop-in bobbin, sewing machine owners. There is a solution for you! Find some post-its and stick a short stack of them where you need it to get the perfect seam allowance you desire:


Okay, but we are testing out the Dritz Magnetic Seam Guide. My daughter got frustrated with the post-its when I did this with her. She reports that the Magnetic Seam Guide really helps her to keep her fabric lined up. The needle plate on her machine has a lot of lines and grooves and it is very confusing for her. I noticed that at first, the Magnetic Seam Guide slid around under her clumsy fingers (she was only 8 when we first used this tool). Now that her fingers know better what to do, it works much better for her.


You do not need to be 8 years old to find accurate seams to be intimidating! The Dritz Magnetic Seam Guide really does help. You can also use this handy tool for making pleats. I’ll consider that on some other project.

Pros:

  • Very easy to use and understand
  • Mady of sturdy, durable metal
  • Will fit into the little tool basket that came with your sewing machine, or you can store it right on your needleplate

Cons:

  • Does not fit all sewing machine needle plates
  • Magnet does slide around a bit. I imagine this problem gets worse with age.
  • The price seems worth it, but costs add up when you are stocking up on beginning sewing supplies.

I found The Dritz Magnetic Seam Guide for about $5.00 at my sewing store. We’d love to know if you’ve had any luck with this seam guide. What other beginning tools have you found essential?

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