My Very First Sewing Machine – Frister and Rossmann Cub TLX
My first sewing machine was a Frister and Rossmann Cub TLX. My mother had a 20 year old Frister & Rossmann still going strong so she highly rated them and my grandmother completely agreed with her. I really didn’t have a clue about any aspect of sewing and had no idea what I was looking for in a sewing machine so I shopped around reading reviews and checking out what all was included in the bundle for what I could afford at the time. I settled on the Cub TLX because it had good reviews as a beginner’s machine, it came with a massive bundle of freebies from sewing machines direct and it was affordable at approximately £129 with a 5 year guarantee. The freebie bundle included a pack of 5 pairs of scissors and more threads than I could ever imagine needing in my lifetime, along with 10 Organ Universal Needles, Tape Measure, Seam Ripper and 5 Bobbins.
As excited as I was when I bought my first sewing machine, I actually only made a child’s pirate apron and a frilly vintage apron for myself. It then went back in it’s box and sat gathering dust for five years until March 2016 when I had the urge to learn to sew again.
Upgrading From My First Sewing Machine to the Janome DC3050
From March until June I attended some local sewing classes in my area and with a few beginner sewing projects under my belt I decided I’d outgrown the Cub TLX. During this time I had made a couple of cushions, pyjama bottoms, purses, handbags and a child’s waistcoat.
It definitely was a good sewing machine for beginners and more reliable than some cheaper models I’d seen friends use (Brother LS14, Hobbycraft Mini and Midi models), but it wasn’t very reliable at threading bobbins and it was difficult to get the tension correct when sewing through medium weight fabric or interfacing of any sort. This is not just my newbie opinion. I had my grandmother and sewing teacher check it out and they both agreed it was not just me. My Granny said “They don’t make them like they used to” and she’s right because my Mum’s F&R is still going strong and far more durably built, with a heavy storage case.
So what to choose? This time around it was even more bamboozling. By this point I had a fair idea about what I wanted from a machine, I was willing to spend a bit more (£200 – £300) and I wasn’t so bothered about freebies, even if they can be quite enticing.
I’d heard good things about the Singer sewing machine, many people I met in my sewing classes and from reading sewing magazines appeared to be firm favourites of the Brother sewing machines and I also heard good things about Janome and Bernina.
Second-Hand or Brand New?
I considered buying second hand via Ebay, with the thought process that many people filled with good intentions will buy a fancy new sewing machine and then a year later discover they never really found the time or inclination to continue with their hobby and stick it on eBay. So I thought buying second hand might be a good way to get a top quality machine at a much lower price, but there are no guarantees with second hand and there’s nothing worse than having things go wrong with your sewing machine when you are getting stuck into a new sewing project so I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. I felt it was a safer bet to buy brand new and get the peace of mind that goes with it.
After spending many evenings reading through forums, sewing machine sales shops and Amazon & Ebay I decided to get the bull by the horns and just buy something! I went to John Lewis as they have a good reputation for selling quality goods at reasonable prices, with good customer service. I then sorted their sewing machines by popularity and then looked for the ones with the most reviews and had a quick read through. I finally settled on the Janome DC3050 because it fell into this category with a lot of positive reviews and looked like a good all rounder for the next stage in my dressmaking journey.
I passed my Cub TLX onto my children because it is an ideal kids sewing machine for starting out and they love to get the chance to sew with it even if it is just practicing on scraps of old fabric.
This particular Janome sewing machine has 50 stitches which I’m sure will take me a while to get full use of. So far I’ve only used the straight stitch, buttonhole, blind hem and zigzag. It only comes with a two year guarantee rather than five but hopefully I won’t come to regret this.
I’m really pleased with my choice, I paid £288 for it and it works very smoothly. It comes with a wonderful foot pedal, which is solid metal and feels very durable and great to use. It plugs directly into the machine, which means the cord is not too long. My previous machine had a flex that split in two with one branch going to the foot pedal and one to the wall socket. I prefer this new design with two separate cables because it is tidier.
The biggest change is that this machine is fully computerised, which makes it very intuitive to use as I just have to press buttons to choose the stitches and stitch length or width. I’ve found the tension is fine using the default setting for lightweight and single layer fabric, but when I created a skirt facing with mediumweight interfacing the thread kept breaking and I had to change the tension. It worked much better at number 5.
The simple 1-step buttonhole function was incredibly simple to use and far neater than my previous attempts with the Cub TLX.
There is an automatic needle threader but I’ve never used it as I don’t find it difficult to thread the needle manually.
My favourite aspect of the sewing machine is the needle up/down button which programmes the needle to finish in the up position or in the fabric. I was SO excited to discover this and use it constantly with the needle in the fabric as it just makes starting and stopping so much neater and accurate.
Janome was established in 1921 and is the world’s largest manufacturer of domestic sewing machines. The DC3050 is advertised as being suitable for use with most fabrics including lightweight, medium and heavyweight fabrics such as cotton, wool and tweed, making it a true workhorse. This was the main selling point for me as I intend to sew a lot of different styles of jackets in many different fabric weights.