Brother XL-5130 Sewing Machine
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- This free-arm sewing machine is lightweight and portable for all your sewing needs!
- Automatic 4-step buttonholer
- 30 stitch functions
- Quick bobbin winding system
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Automatic 4-step buttonholer 30 stitch functions Quick bobbin winding system Snap-on presser feet 15 built-in stitches Built-in buttonholer for crafting, mending or garment construction
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As I recall, it came with six presser feet: regular Zig-Zag foot, 1/4" Quilting Foot, Zipper Foot, Button Foot, Automatic Buttonhole Foot, and one that isn't in the manual, but which I suspect is an Invisible Zipper Foot. It also came with a darning plate, an extra thread spindle, and a screwdriver.
I love how easy it is to use! Everything about it is simple and straightforward.
The downside: the motor is a bit touchy. If you don't press on the foot pedal hard enough, the motor will stall out and whine without going anywhere. But if you press too hard, it takes off sewing before you're ready. For this reason, my beginner students are a bit intimidated by it. They tend to err on the side of caution, which means they don't press hard enough on the foot pedal, and so they're constantly revving the motor without actually stitching. But once you're accustomed to the machine, you learn exactly how hard to hit the pedal to get it going, and then it's no trouble. Just takes getting used to.
Occasionally, with really thick fabrics, I have to hand crank it to get the needle through, like when sewing through too many layers of denim, but just at the cross-over seams. For regular seams, it does just fine, even with thicker fabrics like denim and corduroy.
Oh, and one time the entire needle assembly mechanism just fell off---plop! Right onto the corset I was sewing. Left a grease smear that I was quite unhappy about. Turns out, it requires the world's smallest Allen wrench, about the size of a toothpick. Once I had that, I was able to reattach the mechanism and everything was fine.
Overall, the good far outweighs the bad in this machine. It's so easy to use, you hardly need the manual (which is good, because the manual is kind of worthless). Just keep it maintained (regular oiling and cleaning) and it should serve you well for many years!
Update (May 2012): After nine and a half years of impeccable sewing, my machine started skipping stitches badly. I suspect the timing needs adjustment--a simple enough procedure, but one that will cost more than the machine is worth. I elected to retire my Brother XL-5130 and buy a new sewing machine. It saddens me, because we've been through a lot together . . . but perhaps someday I can get the timing fixed and keep it as a spare sewing machine.
My main problem with the bobbin is some days it works perfectly, but others it will catch or drop the bobbin entirely and I can get halfway done with a perfect seam before it pulls everything so tight that I have to fight my machine to even rip out the fabric from under it, which in turn, rips the lighter fabrics. It seems to get the top thread caught in the bobbin every now and then and then it can no longer sew forward.
My machine is rather old, seemingly ancient and can't be sewn fast on or else it sounds like a machine gun and tries to bounce of the table. If you are a patient beginner this machine is perfect, it gets the job done, but if you plan on making garments that can handle stress or are accurately sewed by any means (quilts for instance) I would not recommend it.