Needs lots of help – able to sew a straight seam but unfamiliar with most sewing techniques; needs assistance and instruction on basic sewing techniques.
Competent – can make different clothing items without assistance or guidance, but not good enough to sew intricate projects or to sew without a pattern.
Expert – can sew anything without instruction or assistance; possesses an expansive knowledge of sewing techniques and terminology.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I reviewed the Brother SQ 9050 sewing and quilting machine. Quite frankly, this is the first combination sewing and quilting machine in this price range that I have ever had an opportunity to review.
Given the affordable price range, I actually had some misgivings about whether or not this machine could meet the expectations of machine quilting enthusiasts.
Winding the bobbin is a challenge
Accessories pack does not fit easily in storage area
At A Glance
The first things I noticed on the Brother SQ 9050 were all of the tutorial decals and promotional stickers affixed to the front of the machine. The manufacturer certainly wanted to make sure that anyone who uses this machine knows all there is to know before even turning it on.
As with any other sewing machine, the first things you must do when preparing to sew are wind the bobbin and thread the machine. Well, even with all of the instructional on-board decals, graphics and written instructions, I’ll have you know that winding the bobbin on this one was more than a notion.
Winding the bobbin on the Brother SQ 9050 should have been as simple and easy as it looks in all those pictures provided by the manufacturer. For some reason, the thread would start winding on the bobbin and then drop off the bobbin and wind itself around the spindle underneath.
After several attempts, I actually considered winding the bobbin by hand just to get through the review. However, I am not one to easily give up on anything as mundane as winding a simple bobbin; so I continued to work with it until the thread finally stayed in place long enough for the bobbin to be filled half way.
The Brother SQ 9050 comes with a drop in bobbin, but this terminology may be a bit deceiving. You can’t simply drop this one in like you do on some machines. When I followed the instructions on the diagram, however, I did not encounter any of the challenges I had with winding the bobbin.
I am not pleased, however, with the fact that the small clear plastic bobbin cover is completely detachable. It’s entirely too easy to lose something this small in a busy sewing room.
On the other hand, however, I am happy to report that the upper threading process was infinitely easier. Once the upper thread and bobbin were in place, I was able to get down to the business of testing a few of the 100 on-board stitch selections.
Selecting the stitches was easier than many of the other sewing machines in its price range that I have reviewed. The stitch selection guide consists of two separate panels. The first one is a display of 100 separate utility and decorative stitch options with a numerical code assigned o each one.
A panel flips up to reveal the entire alphabet in upper case block letters, each letter with an assigned numerical code. A backlit LED screen situated above the stitch selection guide displays the stitch number as well as the stitch length and width settings.
Four separate toggle switches control the stitch selection, width and length settings. Next to the LED screen is a tiny touch pad that allows you to move between utility stitches and the alphanumeric setting.
The utility stitches were clean, sturdy and perfectly formed. When it came to the some of the decorative stitch options, however, I found that the condensed stitches were not as tightly formed as I prefer.
Switching from the utility and decorative stitch options to the alphanumeric stitches is as easy as touching the appropriate area on the touchpad. Once the letter is selected, the stitch length switch is used to adjust the size of the letters or numbers while the stitch width switch controls the number of times the letter or number is repeated.
The accessories are stored inside a compartment that is removed to gain access to the free arm. It must also be removed in order to attach the extension table. The one and only hindrance if was able to find with that entire procedure is that when the plastic pouch containing the accessories is inside the compartment, it is a bit difficult to put it back in place without manipulating it.
I like the idea of having a separate pouch for the accessories. It helps keep everything together, but it is easier to slide the unit back onto the sewing machine without it. I suggest that the manufacturers consider a slight redesign of the unit so that it is large enough to accommodate the pouch.
* more often if the machine is used for extended periods of time or if used frequently
**more often if the machine is used heavily or if it is not operating properly
Tying Off The Loose Ends
When it’s all said and done, the Brother SQ 9050 is possibly the best sewing machine in the low end price range that I have reviewed thus far. That, however, is not great accomplishment. In my opinion, any sewing machine that comes with a bobbin mechanism that is as challenging as this one should not be considered too seriously.
If you encounter the challenges I did with winding the bobbin, you might just get frustrated enough to decide to put the machine aside and do something else.
If, however, you can overcome this challenge, and depending upon how much you intend to actually sew on this machine you might just like it. Because of the bobbin issue, I hesitate to recommend the Brother SQ 9050 for beginners – especially for children.
The stitch quality and ease of selecting stitches, as well as the access to a start/stop button, automatic needle threader and variable speed slider at your fingertips are all definite advantages.
Taking these features into account along with the problematic bobbin winder, one must simply decide which is more important… a not so perfect bobbin winder or some great conveniences that are not usually available on a sewing and quilting machine in this price category.
One other thing that you may want to consider is the fact that this is machine is very light. This is a wonderful advantage for someone who must move it around regularly, especially if they are challenged with even the mildest case of arthritis or neck, wrist or shoulder pain issues.
However, I can’t help but wonder how long a machine that weighs less than 10 pounds will really be able to stand up to the drudgery of working on large quilt projects. If you decide to add this one to your sewing room, I recommend it only for the novice machine quilter.
The Brother SQ 9050 is probably a good machine for learning machine quilting techniques; but I think anyone who purchases it will be in the market for another machine within a very short time.