I am beginning to be suspicious of that huge blessing to parenthood that is Smaland, IKEA's supervised play area. We get to drop off kids, ostensibly so we can collapse in the IKEA restaurant with their free (if you are part of their Friends program) hot beverage diffusing into our arms through IV drips, our iphones (or android versions thereof) clattering uselessly to the floor from fingers so limp that only rigor mortis could revive them.
Suddenly childless, and clutching the notebook I'd brought with me so I could sit at a pastry-laden table to just write and make happy lists and have uninterrupted thoughts, I went shopping instead. I don't need stuff, I tell you. I don't know what it is about IKEA - it must be the only store on the planet which I leave with 100 things I don't need but suddenly can't do without. And that's not counting the cardboard boxes. Those Scandinavian designers with their beautiful aesthetic and clean lines and clever colors! Serviettes! How many times have I bought serviettes (OK, paper napkins, you US folks) just because they looked like fat quarters?
Anyway, let's get the confessional show-and-tell over and done with. I bought fabric. There.
I don't need fabric, curse it. Especially not floral print cotton fabric. But this was such happy fabric. And that yellow bias-print gingham was laminated cotton. For $8 a (wide) yard. Only.
And then it got worse when I wandered into the kitchen section. Out of nowhere, I imagined myself hosting dinner parties and bought glassware. In my defence, look:
I could drink a lot of tea or hot-chocolate-with-Baileys in those. Couldn't you?
And then there are all those debut products that IKEA promotes with cunning tags that shout NEW! Like their NEW! Sewing Machine. Did you know IKEA stocked sewing machines? Even the staff didn't. When I asked the fabric-cutting lady how the little storage compartment opened, she didn't know and I had to experiment and then show her. And when I checked it out, another staff member dragged her colleague over to peer in my cart and effuse about it. Claimed it was the cutest thing ever and they didn't even know they had it. Was it some new marketing ploy, to make customers feel like they'd just bought treasures, I wondered - but no, they sounded genuinely surprised and amazed.
As a habit, I never buy sewing machines that I haven't personally tried out. Sometimes I even go back several times to do repeat assessments before deciding if I like one. Which supports my theory that there is something about IKEA that makes people blissfully stock up. Don't misunderstand my whining, friends - I love IKEA. It's just that I have no self-control in their stores. Maybe it's their huge carts, or their charming Swedish names for everything, or how there are always little wooden pencils around to make lists with, or the thrill of taking home their products in lovely, large, plain cardboard boxes. Whatever the case, I bought this little sewing machine today, just like that. No amazon reviews, no recommendations from pinterest, no scrap fabric to test stitches on the (unplugged) display model, no sales pitch, nothing. The girls have needed their own machine for a while and although I wasn't in a hurry to get one, this one seemed as good as any. Took it home to do the test run. Want the review?
First, it's cute. It's smaller and lighter than a typical adult machine. It has a decent-sized foot pedal and a carrying handle.
It has all these stitches - more than what I have on my own Pfaff. There is no separate stitch-width adjuster: the first three stitch positions (ABC) are a sliding variation of the straight stitch, just as the second three positions (DEF) are a sliding variation of the zigzag stitch.
There's the upper tension dial,
the backstitch lever,
the thread holder, which tips back to hold a spool, and tucks back into a little indentation when empty,
the bobbin winder
and the lamp.
It came with these accessories (that clavicle-looking metal thing at the bottom is a screwdriver, apparently)
which tuck (but not very securely; better to have them in a mini zippy so they don't explode out whenever you have to change the bobbin) into the storage compartment, that slides out
to access the bobbin (not drop in). The entire housing of the bobbin case can be removed for cleaning and lubrication. And the bobbin case fits all the different bobbins we have in the house, except my Pfaff ones.
There's also the thread cutter, which is one of Emily's favorite features of my sewing machine.
The manual is lovely. Even I can understand it.
(updated to add: I can't believe how many people emailed me for my English manual. So many that I had to return to this post to add in this note. I'm sorry but I will not scan and email you my English manual. Or photocopy it. Or post it to you. Or sell it. Or give it away. Nor do I know where you could get a copy of it in English. Maybe you should write to Ikea and ask. Maybe they'd start selling their English copy online. Or maybe it already is on sale online.)
So how did it perform? Let's lower that presser foot and find out.
and eight layers of canvas.
All with the same needle. Yes, I'm a hard taskmaster.
One last test - push the back lever to release the foot
and clip on the buttonhole foot
to make a 4-step buttonhole.
- I bought this for the girls. It was pitched (by IKEA) as a "good machine for beginners", never as a "child's" machine. As far as a suitable-sized non-toy machine goes, this is definitely a good one for kids. Updated to add: I've seen this post pinned and linked all over the place (thank you), often accompanied by the comment "Good for beginners" (or similar). Um.... please note that I didn't say that- only IKEA's tag did. Might help to read what I said in the comments about this.
- The stitches were good.
- The buttonhole was not great. The spacing between the two lines of stitching was too wide. But then, this is not a Pfaff or Bernina or whatever. And a wide buttonhole is easier for kids to cut open without ripping the stitches.
- It doesn't have a needle position-adjuster. The needle shifts to the left or right according to the kind of stitch it is making. You can't, for instance, affix the zipper foot (two-sided, incidentally) and sew lines of stitching closer or farther from the foot as you like. In other words, sewing piping might result in visible stitching lines. But how likely are kids to sew piping?
- It sewed neoprene. Without a teflon/roller foot, or 3M magic tape. True, it was only one layer of 3mm neoprene, but still- neoprene.
- It doesn't have a walking foot. I'd forgotten how sewing without a walking foot felt like, since my Pfaff has its walking foot engaged 99% of the time when I sew. This machine sews knits, but it would be better with a walking foot. But then, any machine would be better with a walking foot.
- There is no slow/fast speed adjuster lever on the foot pedal. However, we (i.e. 5-year-old Jenna) managed to go real slow when she wanted to.
- I doubt if the feed dogs can be lowered.
- I love the snap-on feet and the release lever.
- I do not love the horizontally-expectorant storage compartment. But it was great once we contained the contents within a small ziploc bag.
- It is very easy to thread.
- It does not purr the way my Pfaff purrs. But it sounds exactly like I expected it to sound - like any typical sewing machine.
- It came in a plain cardboard box.
- It was only $59.99. Did I forget to mention that?
The girls were very pleased. They gave it a bit of a workout today - Emily sewed up the edge of a small quilt she'd been working on, and made arm warmers for Bearaby, Jenna made a camisole for Bearaby, and Kate sewed straight lines on scrap fabric.
I did not sew anything today. But I have a swim robe/dress tutorial for you coming up!
P.S. IKEA did not pay me to write this review. Nor did they give me a free machine to write about. Pity.