Local Auction Find: Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

I spotted a lovely old Singer® sewing machine, at a local auction house last week. I was so pleased to find it hadn’t been converted to electric, as I’d been looking for one like this for a while now. I had to leave the auction early, before the lot came up, so I left a hopeful bid of £30. I was delighted to win it for £25! I know there’s a lot of them around and they don’t go for much but I’d been having a hard time trying to get my hands on one. I think they’re so popular now, everyone’s snapping them up!

1927 Vintage Singer Sewing Machine with original wooden cover.

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Instructions and Accessories

It’s in fantastic condition, with its gorgeous wooden cover, original instruction booklet and metal bobbins. There’s even a pack of old, unused needles. The kids were fascinated by it and I’ve promised to teach them on it. It works beautifully and I’ve checked up on the Singer® website to find out it’s a 1927 model (although the instruction booklet has 1928 on it?) If you’ve got one that you’d like to check it’s age, go to http://www.singerco.com/support/machine-serial-numbers and click on the link relevant to yours – no letter pre-fix, single letter pre-fix or double letter pre-fix. The serial number of mine is located on the front right-hand corner:

1927 Singer Sewing Machine

Did you know that SINGER® sewing machines were first manufactured in 1851. The manufacture dating on their web site is reproduced from the original company register number log books. They’ve not located the log books for 1851 to 1870 as yet, so the serial numbers for those years aren’t available.

Serial numbers on SINGER® sewing machines manufactured prior to 1900 are numbers only. After 1900, the machine serial numbers have a single or two-letter prefix.

I plan to use mine for teaching the kids on and for putting on display in my new sewing studio (more on that in the very near future). Do you have a Singer®? How old is yours and do you use it or display it?

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Presser Foot

Instructions for the Frister and Rossmann QE404 Sewing Machine

Following on from a previous post, reviewing the Frister & Rossmann QE404 sewing machine, I’ve been asked loads of times if I have any instructions for it. My instruction book is an English translation and not a very good one at that, so it took a while to decipher some bits. So I’m writing some of my own instructions here for some of the machine’s functions. I hope you find it useful.


1 – Needle position button 2 – Reverse button 3 – Start/stop button

The first set of buttons shown above do the following:

1. When you press the needle position button (indicator light on) the needle will go into the down position (into the fabric) before you start sewing and, whenever you stop sewing, the needle will stop in the down position. This is really useful when you need to stop to reposition the fabric, turn corners etc as the fabric will be held in place without having to use the handwheel. When you’ve finished sewing and ready to remove the fabric, press the button so that that the needle goes back into the up position.

2. When you need to back-tack at the start and finish of the sewing, press and hold this button to sew in reverse. Release to go forward again. (only works with straight stitch)

3. The start/stop button is for sewing without the need of the foot pedal. Ensure the foot pedal is unplugged and press the start/stop button to start sewing, press again to stop. Takes a wee bit getting used to but you can adjust the speed the machine is sewing at by using the speed adjustment lever (see no.16 on image below). When it first starts sewing, it will start slowly and then will get up to the speed you’ve selected.


LCD Screen Operation Buttons

1. Pattern group selection button
2. Mirror button
3. PES auto stop button
4. Pattern group indicator – group 1 (see image below)
5. Pattern group indicator – group 2 (see image below)
6. Pattern group indicator – group 3 (see image below)
7. Memory mode pattern indicator
8. & 9. Stitch length setup button (also page down/up when selecting stitch pattern)
10. & 11. Stitch width setup button (also left/right button when selecting stitch pattern)
12. Memory mode edit button
13. Delete setup button – memory mode (also used to reduce pattern elongation)
14. Insert setup button – memory mode (also used to enlarge pattern elongation)
15. Pattern selection confirm button
16. Speed adjustment lever


How to setup your chosen stitch selection:

Note: the numbers in brackets refer to the LCD screen operation buttons shown in the second image of this post.

1. Press the ‘pattern selection confirm button’ (15), to enter the pattern selection screen on the LCD display.

2. Press the ‘pattern group selection button’ (1) to light up the indicator next to the pattern group you want to select from (4, 5, or 6).

3. Press the ‘page down or up buttons’ (8 or 9) to scroll through the available patterns shown on the LCD screen.

4. Press the ‘right/left buttons’ (10 or 11) to choose a pattern from those displayed on LCD screen.

5. When chosen pattern is highlighted, press the ‘pattern selection confirm button’ (15).

6. The LCD screen will now show the pattern selected, a picture of the recommended presser foot to attach to machine and the stitch length/width at recommended settings.

7. Ensure you have the correct presser foot attached and adjust the stitch width/length if required – note: certain stitches will not go above/below certain widths or lengths. It will beep if you can’t adjust it anymore.

LCD screen on QE404

The LCD display screen shows normal straight stitch selected from group 1 of the pattern list.

zig zag stitch selected on QE404

The LCD display screen shows standard zig zag stitch selected from group 1 of the pattern list.

pattern selection for the QE404 sewing machine

A snapshot from the instruction booklet.

Using the PES Auto Stop Button (3) and Mirror Button (2):

Note: the numbers in brackets refer to the LCD screen operation buttons shown in the second image of this post.

Some stitch selections can be used with the ‘PES auto stop button and the mirror button. When the symbol < is displayed at the middle of the left-hand side of LCD screen then you can press the PES auto stop button (3) to make the machine automatically stop stitching when it has finished sewing the selected pattern. The indicator light will be lit up at (3) if you’ve selected it.

PES Auto button on QE404

A snapshot from the instruction booklet.

When the < symbol is displayed at the top left-hand corner of the LCD screen, you can press the ‘mirror button’ (2) which will make the selected stitch pattern sew a mirror image of itself at the same time.

mirror button on QE404

A snapshot from the instruction booklet.

Decrease/Enlarge Size of Selected Pattern (13 & 14):

Some of the stitch patterns can be enlarged up to 5 times by pressing the ‘Insert’ (14) button. Reduce back in size by pressing the ‘Delete’ button (13). The patterns that have this function are shown below, they are in the group 2 section of the pattern list:

Stitches that can be enlarged on QE404

Patterns that can be enlarged up to 5 times.

How to use the Alphabet/Number stitches and how to set up the memory for words/names, etc:



As you’ll see from the images above, the alphabet stitches are a bit limited. There’s just the one style, capitals and this is how it will look once you’ve snipped away the joining stitches between each letter. You could leave it as is if you want but I find it looks and reads better without these excess stitches.

Note: the numbers in brackets refer to the LCD screen operation buttons shown in the second image of this post.

To stitch one or more individual number/letter/symbols:

1. Press the ‘pattern group selection button’ (1), until the indicator light for group 3 is lit (6).

2. Press the ‘pattern selection confirm button’ (15).

3. Use the ‘page down/up buttons’ (8 or 9) until you can see the number/letter/symbol you want.

4. Use the ‘left/right buttons’ (10 or 11) to highlight the number/letter/symbol you want.

5. Press the ‘pattern selection confirm button’ (15) to select your chosen number/letter/symbol.

6. If you want a mirror image of the number/letter/symbol, press the ‘mirror image button’ (2).

7. If you want to stitch just one of the chosen number/letter/symbol, press the ‘PES auto stop button’ (3). If not selected you can continuously stitch the number/letter/symbol over and over again.

To set up the memory to stitch a sequence of numbers/letters/symbols:

1. Press the ‘pattern group selection button’ (1), until the indicator light for MEM (the memory) is lit (7).

2. Press the ‘Edit’ button (12). If something was saved to the memory before, keep pressing the Delete button (13) until it’s cleared.

3. Press the ‘pattern selection confirm button’ (15) and use the ‘page down/up’ (8 or 9) and the ‘left/right (10 or 11) buttons to choose a number/letter/symbol. Press the ‘pattern selection confirm button’ (15) to select the one you’ve highlighted.

4. Add another number/letter/symbol by repeating step 3 and keep repeating this step until you’ve completed your selections (up to 30).

5. If you’ve made a mistake, use the ‘left/right button’ (10 or 11) to highlight the wrong one. Press the ‘delete’ button (13). To insert a new number/letter/symbol, make a space where it should go, by using the ‘left/right button’ (10 or 11) to highlight the correct position and press the ‘insert button’ (14). A space will appear and you can now repeat step 3.

6. Once you’re happy with the selections, press the ‘Edit’ button (12). Now your ready to sew. Your selection set will automatically sew as soon as you press the Start/Stop button or the foot pedal. The machine will automatically stop sewing when the set is complete. Remember, when using the numbers/letters/symbols function, it’s going to sew in the usual sewing direction (towards you), so the finished set of numbers/letters/symbols will be on their side, like below (so watch how you position the fabric you want to sew on):


Errors displaying on the LCD screen:

Here’s some of the usual errors that will pop up on the screen and what you need to do to rectify the situation:

1. This will appear when the lever on the top of the machine is set to the right (for winding the bobbin). Return it to the left when not winding the bobbin.

2. This might appear whilst your sewing, and the machine will stop – usually when it gets jammed. Turn the hand wheel on the right-side of the machine to solve the torque problem.

3. When this displays you need to correct the presser foot position – say if you’ve forgotten to put the presser foot down before you start sewing.

4. This displays when you have pressed on the foot controller by mistake or if you’ve pressed on it too quickly and the machine doesn’t sew. The foot pedal needs to be pressed down gently when you begin to sew.

5. & 6. This indicates that the buttonhole lever is in the wrong position, either down when it shouldn’t be (push up out of the way) or it’s up when it should be down (for when you’re using the button hole feature). Pull it down if needed. I have a tutorial for using the buttonhole feature here.

Error messages QE404 sewing machine

I think that’s most of the major functions explained, if there is anything else you need to know leave a comment and I’ll do my best to add to this post. I hope you find these instructions of some help.

Happy Sewing! 🙂

My Trusty Janome 7025 – Sewing Machine Review

The first brand new sewing machine I bought for myself was a Janome 7025. I purchased it in 2012 for about £199 (now retails at around £219, exclusive to John Lewis department store). Even though it’s described as a beginner’s sewing machine, I feel that it’s much more than that and suitable for all levels of sewers as long as you don’t need to do anything too elaborate. It does most of the jobs I need it to do, it’s sturdy and very reliable. I’d been faithfully using my mum’s old sewing machine ever since I was a teenager but I’d eventually took the plunge to buy a new machine, when the old one became more of a pain than a pleasure to sew with. This was a major purchase for me at the time. I was just starting up my sewing pattern business and didn’t have many pennies to rub together. I’ll never forget how excited I was about buying this. Even though I’ve bought a more advanced machine since, I still keep going back to my trusty Janome because it’s just so nice to sew with. It has a few minor shortfalls but definitely makes up for any of these in it’s ease of use and reliability.

Sewing Machine Janome 7025Having been used to sewing on a really old machine for so long, this was an absolute dream to use. I was a bit nervous using it at first but I needn’t have been as it was extremely easy to set up and use. I guess that’s why it’s billed as a beginner’s machine as it isn’t difficult to use at all and the manual that comes with it is easy to understand.

Issue I had with the machine:

Unfortunately, the machine broke down just 11 months after I bought it (I must admit to thinking that I’d made a big mistake purchasing it). It came with a 2 year warranty though so I called John Lewis and they collected it free of charge and gave it a good going over – they had to send it back to Janome to strip it down! Basically, the machine started making a horrible noise when sewing and was slowing down for some reason. The hand wheel also felt a little bit stiff. The foot pedal has a low and high speed setting and I changed it from low to high. This seemed to solve the problem and it worked fine but soon began slowing down again, to the point that I could hardly sew and the hand wheel was really stiff. It eventually wouldn’t turn at all, everything just seized up. This all happened over just a few days use. The problem turned out to be that the self-lubricating parts inside (at the hand wheel end) had not been lubricated enough at the time of manufacture and so this caused it all to eventually seize. So, they sorted it all out and serviced the machine and I’m happy to report that I’ve never had a problem with it since. Phew! I was so happy to get it back in full working order and I loved using it even more as it’s been so reliable.

The pros:

  • Very easy to set up and use
  • Has an automatic needle threader
  • Extremely reliable with consistent stitches
  • Tension is always consistent, very rarely need to adjust
  • Decent range of stitch widths and lengths
  • The needle position can be altered to suit
  • Reverse button for back tacking
  • Has integrated drop-feed for embroidery
  • Good range of stitch options, 24 in total, including satin stitches
  • Drop-in bobbin is easy to thread up and has clear cover so you know when it needs re-filling
  • 1-step button hole function
  • Machine supplied with a hard cover
  • It’s not too heavy so can be carried easily but just as importantly it’s not too light so feels well built and substantial
  • It copes extremely well with all kinds of fabrics, including thick layers. I make bags, sometimes with lots of layers, and it sews through it all so easily. I’ve also used it to sew denim, faux leather and suede, again it coped really well with the thickness.
  • Free-arm facility
  • Good range of seam allowance markings with good visibility

The cons:

  • It’s a little bit noisy
  • The self-lubricating parts needed attention back at the manufacturer’s

Specifications of the Janome 7025

H28 x W42 x D17cm

Weight – 7kg

What the retailer says about it:

The Janome 7025 is suitable for sewing all types of fabrics and gives you a good choice of sewing options. Its rotary action ensures a smooth bobbin feed, while the view-through cover lets you spot when you need to change the bobbin. The 1-step buttonhole function makes it easy to insert a buttonhole, while there are another 24 stitch options to select. The automatic needle threader gets you started quickly, the side cutter lets you finish the job quickly. Other features include integrated drop feed (useful for embroidering); reverse button (for strengthening a stitch); and auto thread tension (for continuous feed). The machine is also supplied with a hard cover.

Accessories include: a quilter guide and standard foot; additional feet include zipper, blind hem, buttonhole and overedge. It also includes lint brush, spool cap – large and small, spare spool pin, spool pin felt, screwdriver, spare bobbins, spare needles.

Janome 7025 Sewing Machine


Sewing Tutorial – Sewing Buttons with a Sewing Machine

Using your sewing machine to stitch buttons in place is so quick and easy. If you hate hand sewing buttons, this little tutorial is for you. Practice these steps on scraps of fabric before doing the real thing though.

sewing machine button presser footThe button presser foot.

machine sewing buttons 2Remove the presser foot that’s currently attached and attach the button presser foot.

machine sewing buttons 4Lower the feed dogs – if you’re machine doesn’t have the facility, use a cover over the feed treads.

machine sewing buttons 3Once you’ve marked the button position on your fabric, place the fabric under the foot and then slide the button into position (ensuring you have at the correct placement). Lower the presser foot lever to hold button in place, with the two holes of the button visible between the cut out space at front of the button foot. The stitch width needs to be adjusted to correspond with the distance between the button holes. (see next step for checking this)

machine sewing buttons 5With the needle in normal straight stitch position, use the hand wheel to carefully bring the needle down into the left-hand hole (adjust fabric/button position if need be). Bring the needle back up and adjust the stitch width so that the needle can now also go down the right-hand hole. Using the hand wheel, double check that the needle goes through both holes without hitting the button. Slowly stitch back and forth 6-8 times.

machine sewing buttons 6Lift presser lever and gently remove the fabric/button. Trim away the excess threads. Ta Da! One button done!

Go on, give it a go!

If you’d like to see how to use the automatic buttonhole facility on your sewing machine, head on over the my previous post.

Sewing Tutorial – Using the Automatic Button Hole Facility on a Sewing Machine

Here’s a little tutorial on how to use the automatic button hole facility on your sewing machine. With a little bit of practice, it’s fairly easy and even quite fun! Practice the steps below on scraps of fabric, before doing the real thing. Please note that your specific sewing machine might do button holes slightly differently, always check your manual first if required.

Button hole tutorial 2Mark the button placement with chalk or air-erasable fabric marker – place the button at required position, mark small horizontal lines at the top and bottom of button, move button out of way and join up the marks with a vertical line down the middle.

button hole tutorial 1Place the button into the holder of the button hole foot – push the side tabs together to hold button in place.

button hole tutorial 3Remove the current foot that’s on your sewing machine (press the small button at back of foot, the foot will just fall off)  and replace with the button hole foot (most have the universal bar that you clip the presser onto by lowering the presser lever). Consult your sewing machine manual on changing presser feet if required. Take the thread through, under and out to the side of the foot as shown above.

button hole tutorial 4Pull the button lever down (it hides up in the machine workings and should be to the back left of the presser bar). When you pull it down it will more than likely end up sitting behind the back tab of the presser foot, as shown above. THIS IS NOT THE CORRECT POSITION, SEE NEXT IMAGE.

button hole tutorial 5You need to ensure you move the button lever to sit in front of the back tab of the presser foot, so that it’s now sitting in between both the sticking out tabs, as shown above. These tabs (and the lever stopping against them) are what makes the stitches go down one side of button hole and then back up the other side, so that’s why the position of the button lever is vital.

button hole tutorial 6Change the settings on your sewing machine to the button hole settings (consult your manual if need be). Place the fabric under the foot and line up the needle with the BACK horizontal bar that you marked on the fabric. Lower the presser foot lever and begin sewing. Gently hold the fabric so that it doesn’t go off-skew but don’t stop it being pulled back and forward by the machine. You should get an indication of when it’s finished stitching as it will probably slow down (or stop) the stitching at the last horizontal bar.

button hole tutorial 7When you stop stitching and pull up the presser foot lever, the button hole lever will spring back (ready to sew the next button hole). Gently pull the fabric away and out. Above is what you should end up with, whoo hooo! Honestly, the first few times you do this, that’s how you’ll probably feel, it’s so cool! (My kids would probably say I’m so ‘uncool’ for saying that!) Anyways, trim the loose threads off.

button hole tutorial 8You can use a sharp pair of scissors to open up the button hole, being very careful not to cut through any of the threads. I find it easiest to use a seam ripper. Place a pin through the fabric at the top horizontal bar of the stitching (to stop the seam ripper running away from you and ripping through those stitches, yep, I’ve done that!)

button hole tutorial 9Yay! One button hole!

button hole tutorial 10Check that the button fits through it, another good reason for doing a practice button hole before attempting the real thing.

Hope you find this useful. I think the thing that baffled me most when I first attempted sewing button holes, was the position of the button hole lever. It took me ages to work out that you need to place it in between the tabs. I’d assumed that because it pulled down to rest behind the back one, that must be the correct position. Once I’d worked out that little technicality, button holes became a breeze.

If you’d like to see how to use your sewing machine to sew on the actual buttons too, check out my next post.

If you hate hand sewing buttons into place, you’ll love using the machine for it. So quick and easy!

How to Attach and Use Sewing Machine Embroidery Presser Foot

How to remove currently attached presser foot and foot holder:

Most of the presser feet you change on your machine are changed by simply pressing on a button at the back of the presser foot holder. The current foot drops off and you clip on another foot. However, some feet attachments have a holder arm, which needs to be screwed onto the presser foot arm.

1. Ensure machine is turned off at power
2. Raise the presser foot lever
3. Raise needle to highest position
4. Remove the current presser foot, by pressing the button at back of foot holder
5. Remove the foot holder, by loosening the screw at the left hand side of the presser arm.

How to remove the presser foot holder from a sewing machine

Sewing machine presser foot holder/ankle removed

How to attach the embroidery foot:

1. Attach the embroidery foot, by bringing the holder part of the foot around the back of the presser arm and hook it on between the screw head and presser arm.
2. Hold the foot in place with right hand whilst you tighten up the screw. Ensure it’s tightened up securely.

Sewing Machine Embroidery Foot

The embroidery foot attached at presser arm screw.

How to use the embroidery foot:

1. Lower the feed dogs (the teeth under the needle area that pull the fabric through)  – refer to your manual for how to do this. Mine has a sliding button at the back of the free arm, which is accessed by removing the sewing extension table. If your machine can’t have the feed dogs lowered, use a darning plate in conjunction with the foot to cover them.
2. The thread tension should usually be adjusted to a lower setting as well, best to experiment with the settings on your machine. Thread the machine up as normal.
3. Get your fabric and start stitching. I pull the threads out to the side or back and once I’ve stitched a little. I trim away the excess thread from the beginning so that it doesn’t get in the way and get tangled up, as you move the fabric around. Practice moving the fabric around and seeing what happens. Move it around randomly or in shapes, flower/leave shapes, side to side, move it slowly, move it quickly… See what effect you can get. Change thread colours to build it up.

Using a sewing machine embroidery foot
Using a sewing machine embroidery foot

4. Hold the fabric with both hands and guide it in whatever direction you want the needle to go. I didn’t bother using an embroidery hoop in the picture above but probably best to use one to keep your fabric taut.

5. You could also use image templates to great effect. Draw / transfer designs straight onto the fabric, using air-erasable / washable fabric markers or you could use water soluble stabiliser – trace your design on to the stabiliser (pencil is fine, don’t use felt tip pen it’ll stain your stitching or fabric when you remove the stabiliser). Place the stabiliser on top of the fabric, fit the hoop and stitch away. Soak the stabiliser to remove afterwards, in cold or warm water. it will disappear as if by magic!!

Sewing Tutorial – How to use a Cut and Hem Sewing Machine Presser Foot

I’ve been asked recently if I had any tips/tutorials for a cut & hem sewing machine attachment foot. Although I don’t use this foot for bag making, it’s a really useful gadget for other sewing jobs. It’s perfect for shortening hems and finishes off the raw edges very neatly, all at the same time. A good gadget to use, but a bit of a headache to work out at first, so I’m hoping you’ll find this post useful. If you’ve used this attachment before, please feel free to add your own hints and tips to this post too. Any further advice will be much appreciated, I’m sure.

The first time I used this attachment, I spent absolutely ages trying to figure how to use it. The instructions were useless and it took me almost an hour to just work out how to put the fabric into it! I was ready for chucking it in the bin in total disgust but then suddenly, bingo! I’d got it and I was amazed at what it did. So, I’m hoping that this little tutorial might save you a lot wasted time and frustration.

First of all, here’s a picture of it:

Cut & Hem Sewing Machine Attachment Foot

Cut & Hem Sewing Machine Attachment Foot

It has a little cutting blade which cuts the fabric a tiny bit at a time as it feeds it through the attachment and then the fabric  is zig-zag stitched over the newly cut edge, whilst being slightly folded over. It makes a very narrow and neat little hem.

So how do you attach it? That’s the first hurdle to get over. Set the stitch width to the maximum (usually 5mm) and lift the needle to highest position and ensure the presser foot lever is up.

Unscrew the currently attached presser foot from your machine (refer to your machine’s user guide if needed). Lift the hook arm on the cut & hem attachment.

Unscrew the presser foot holder to remove

Unscrew the presser foot holder to remove

Bring the cut & hem attachment toward the presser bar, from the rear, place the hook arm onto the shaft of the needle clamp screw. Then screw the attachment into place on the presser bar. Make sure it’s on nice and tight and sitting straight. Check that the needle isn’t going to hit the presser foot by turning the hand wheel to bring the needle down.

Attach the cut & hem foot

Attach the cut & hem foot

Bring the needle/bobbin threads through the gap of the presser foot and pull under and to the back of the presser foot.

Bring the needle/bobbin threads through the gap of the presser foot and pull under and to the back of the presser foot.

I strongly suggest that you practice using this foot a few times, before you use it on a piece of clothing. It’s really fiddly to get the hang of at first but once you get used to it you’ll gain the confidence to tackle some alterations jobs.

So, get some decent sized scraps of fabric to try it out on. Take a piece of fabric and make a cut of about 2cm in length, parallel to the edge of the fabric. This will  start off the edge to be cut and sewn.

Cut the edge of material by about 2cm to start of hem to be stitched

Cut the edge of material by about 2cm to start off hem to be stitched

You need to place the start of the fabric over the raised ‘guide plate’ section at the front of the foot, with the right hand edge (side to be cut off) going to the right of the little cutter blade and the left hand edge (to be hemmed), going to the left of the cutter and then feed this edge under the foot (after the guide plate section). This edge should be now be sitting directly under the needle.


Ensure the needle/bobbin threads are going under and away at the back of the foot, pulling on them gently to ensure there’s no slack. Lower the presser foot lever, bring the needle down and start stitching slowly. Allow the fabric to feed through the attachment at it’s own pace and just gently guide the fabric to stop it slipping to the side. When you get to the end of the fabric edge, stop stitching and lift the presser foot lever. Remove the fabric from underneath the foot by taking it toward the back of the machine, as the last few stitches will be wrapped around the little metal arm that forms the rolled over hem. The fabric will get stuck on this if you try to remove it to the side or towards you. Here’s my newly cut and stitched hem…

hem stitched with cut and hem presser foot

Well, I hope that helps. I’m no expert with this foot, by any means, just wanted to share my experience with it so that it might help others to give it a try. Any helpful contributions about this presser foot will be welcome.

Sewing Machine Review – Frister and Rossmann Professional Quilter’s Edition QE404

A while back my Janome sewing machine packed in and had to be sent off to be fixed. Meanwhile I was going to be left without a sewing machine for several weeks. Not good! Being an essential part of my business, really can’t work without one, I decided I’d need to buy a new one. The fact that my current machine had stopped working, highlighted the fact that I should maybe have a backup so that I could always have one on standby.

Well, the justification over, the new one I found was a Frister & Rossmann Professional Quilter’s Edition QE404. Not that I’m a quilter, although I dabble in it sometimes, but I was drawn to this one due to all the features it had and there were quite a lot of good reviews for it online. The bonus was that it was priced very reasonably for what you get, £289 and it came with a fantastic freebie bundle. I bought my machine from The Ironing Press Company which has shops on Ebay and Amazon.

Sewing Machine Review

I’ve had a chance now to give it a good run in and I must say it’s been a great choice. All-in-all I think it would be suitable for beginners and experienced alike. One word of warning if you’re buying this. The instruction booklet has been translated into English and has spelling mistakes and bad grammar. There are very clear diagrams throughout, though, so I found it easy enough to follow over-all. Here’s a list of some features:

Stitches: It has 170 plain and decorative stitches, including up to 6m alphabet stitching. I’m not sure if I’ll ever use them all but the range of stitch types is fantastic, there’s even pretty floral ones, animal ones, Japanese symbols, the list is endless. The machine also boasts 5 one-step automatic button holes, with 13 different styles, plus eyelet stitch.

Sewing Machine decorative stitches

Electronic / Computerised: this was a first for me, to have an electronic computerised machine, and I’m very impressed. It has an interactive LCD display screen, small but does the job and shows clearly what has been selected. It’s also helpful if you’ve done something wrong or a glitch arises, as it immediately stops the machine and shows a symbol to indicate what’s wrong. There’s a stitch memory so that you can program your selection of stitching, including number or letter sequences and it can stop at the end of your chosen sequence. Most of the functions are controlled electronically, so at a push of a button you can easily access some very useful features and quickly adjust the stitch length or width.

Electronic Computerised Sewing Machine

Automatic Needle Threader: There’s a lever that you can bring down to help thread the needle. I had this on my old machine but never used it as thought would be fiddly. I tried it on the new one and always use now as it’s really good. It’s a bit difficult to use at first but after you’ve tried it once or twice it’s a breeze. The needle must be at it’s highest position then you bring the lever down and follow the instructions for where to hook your thread. There is a little tiny grabber that goes through the needle eye and, on release of the lever, it pulls the thread though.

Sewing Machine Automatic Needle Threader

Twin Needle Threading: An extra spool pin is supplied which is slotted into place to allow two different threads to be used along with a twin needle. You simply thread up as normal and then put each thread through each needle eye (automatic needle threader can’t be used).

Speed Limiter: I’ve found this to be a really useful feature. You can control how slow or fast you stitch, great for beginners who may prefer to stitch slowly at first and then gradually build up the speed as confidence grows. Even for the experienced though, it’s useful for the times that you need to control the speed you stitch. I like the way the machine starts off slowly and then within seconds it gets up to the maximum speed that you’ve set. If you try to press the foot pedal too fast when you first start sewing, the machine will not start. It stops itself until you lift your foot off and then press it down slower. I found this a bit annoying at first but soon got used to it and I think this would be another good feature for beginners, so that you start off slowly and gradually build up the speed.

Stop/Start FeatureThis function allows you to stitch automatically, without the foot pedal being plugged in. Very useful I think. I tried this on a slow speed to begin with until I got used to using the stop/start button instead of the foot pedal.

Needle Up/Down Function: This is one of my favourite functions on the machine. You maybe wouldn’t think it would make such a difference but it really does. It’s not until you have this feature that you realise what a useful one it is. It eliminates the need to use the hand wheel and makes sewing so much quicker and less fiddly, as a result. A handily placed button is used for setting whether the needle should be up or down whenever you stop stitching. When you start off, you simply position your fabric under the foot as normal and press the button to make the needle go down. Start stitching and whenever you stop, to adjust or move the fabric around, the needle will stop in the down position. When you’ve stopped sewing just press the button to put the needle back into up position.

Reverse Button: Most machines have this feature for back-stitching but, being electronic, this one took a little bit getting used to. It works really well but when you press the button you need to be aware that the machine will slow down (helpful) and there’s a very slight delay (1-2 stitches) before it goes into reverse. So you need to press the button just before you want to go backwards.

Free Arm: This is essential for sewing trouser legs and sleeves. I use this facility a lot when I’m bag making, mostly for stitching around the top edges of bags and accessories. On this machine, you remove the accessories box to allow you to fit trouser legs and sleeves, or in my case bags, over the free arm.

Sewing Machine free arm facility

Quilting and Embroidery: 20 of the stitches have been specially designed for quilting, giving you plenty of variety. The machine also comes with a flat bed table extension to increase working area. The feed dogs can be dropped for doing free hand embroidery or for traditional darning.

Sewing Machine Frister & Rossmann QE404

Sewing Feet: I am so impressed by the range of sewing feet supplied: general all-purpose foot, narrow hem foot, buttonhole foot, gathering foot, blind hem foot, straight sewing foot, overlock foot, cording foot, embroidery foot, walking foot and cutting/sewing foot. I don’t think I’ll want for any other feet ever (apart from a teflon coated one I’d bought separately for sewing laminated cotton).

Accessories and Freebies: I think everything you could need to start sewing comes with this package. As well as all the extra feet (above) it comes with the usual accessories: bobbins, screw drivers, spool caps, button hole cutter, extra spool pin and finger protector. The extra freebies I got were a pack of scissors in all sizes, thread nippers, loads of extra needles in different sizes, a box of 10 large sewing threads, seam ripper and a sewing essentials kit.

All-in-all this sewing machine is a fantastic all-rounder. I love using it and it’s ant-jam rotary mechanism is very quite and works smoothly. It’s capable of sewing all types of fabric, from light weight delicates to heavy denim.