Sewing machines with fancy touch pad controls costing several thousand pounds have been around for several years. In today's sewing circle, the equivalent of the latest media centre PC is a machine that produces multi-coloured, computer generated embroidery designs faster than Edward Scissorhands. For beginners, there is Brothers' Innovis CS 8060. If you take advantage of 50% plus reductions and buy online, this computer sew machine is available for a fraction of the price.
The CS 8060 is an entry-level machine with 50 built in practical and decorative stitches and 5 styles of buttonhole. It is not set up for embroidery. Before you can sew a single stitch, there is the problem of loading thread and this is where the Innovis scored most highly in our tests. The machine features Brother's Quick Load Thread System, which does for sewing machines what APS film did for cameras, only better. Upper threading is completely automatic. You just load your spool of thread into a cassette being careful to follow a few basic steps with the thread, place the cassette into the top of the machine and press down. Something happens but it all passed too quickly for us to see exactly what. The end result is that the thread appears miraculously looped through the eye of the needle so all you have to do is pull it through and you're ready to go. Loading the bobbin follows similar principles to manual sewing machines and we found ourselves guiding the thread as it loaded onto the bobbin to keep it neat and even, which was a bit hit and miss.
With our threads loaded, it was time to try out some basic stitches. The CS 8060 has plenty of straight and zig zag stitches but if you want to be more creative, there are some super quilt, herringbone and blanket designs too. Programming stitches is easy with the LED panel and if you have forgotten to fit the correct sewing foot for your choice of stitch, the panel gives you an error message telling you what you have done wrong. The big test came with the buttonhole stitching. This requires its own foot - a fairly long, plastic foot whereas all the others are metal. The foot adjusts to the size of your button and then it's simply a case of selecting which design you want and the machine does the rest.
Whatever your stitch, sewing is automatic with push button controls to start, stop and reverse stitching, and lower and raise the needle. In practice, we used the machine's manual foot pedal because it gave us better control and we were sewing small lengths. Once you get into several metres, the automatic controls would probably come into their own.
If you think you might like a sewing machine to use around the home and add to your wardrobe, this is a great machine to start off with. With its wide choice of stitches and buttonholes it does more than the basics. The machine handles tension very well and even when we put some very thick and rough home made felt through it, the machine gave us a perfect stitch.
This product was kindly loaned to us by http://www.tesco.com/electrical/