Sewing with less stress Front

Sewing with less stress Front
My newest sewing book

Sewing with less stress back cover

Sewing with less stress back cover
What my new book is about

Clothesmaking mavens

Clothesmaking mavens
Listen to me on the clothes making mavens podcasts

About me

My photo
I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



Follow me on Instagram

Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday, December 29, 2018

My review of the Eversewn Sparrow 30

When I was at QuiltMart in Portland last spring I had a chance to see and test sew on the new Eversewn machines. As a result of that experience, and great conversation with Philipp Ueltschi chief of Eversewn and yes also of the famous Bernina family, I was lucky enough to have an Eversew Sparrow 30 sent to me to test.

Those who follow me in Instagram will have seen periodic posts on this machine and the various projects I have sewn on it.

I have a lot to say about this machine, and the thinking evident behind it, and that is one reason why this very detailed, long, review has taken some time to write.

I have strong feelings about any reviews I post on this blog.

I don't know about you but I am somewhat overwhelmed at the amount of marketing information across the blogosphere, presented as product reviews. Who needs more of that?

The fact is that I if I don't like a product I won't post anything about it at all, except in circumstances where I feel I want to warn my fellow sewers about something that I feel might cause them angst. Who needs more of that either?

I only write exactly what I think about any product I use.  I want to make sure that I have thoroughly tested anything new before I comment on it.

Also, full disclosure here, about 20 years ago I did some educational work for Pfaff and one project for Brother. I am pretty familiar with how some aspects of the sewing machine industry work. 

I know for example that there is a huge difference between "demoing" or even test driving a machine and using it day-in-day-out for a wide range of sewing challenges. 

For that reason I wanted to really use and live with this machine, and assess it based on other machines I have worked with, before I talked about it.

So to put my comments into context, these are some of the projects I have made on the Sparrow 30 over the past 6 months:

  • Men's shirts - this was useful in testing buttonholes, for ease of use and reliability, and for stitch quality through various thicknesses, as well as the ability to edge stitch precisely (needle positions were helpful here)
  • Swimsuits and lycra leggings - these were great test garments for the stretch stitches - I used both the reverse action triple zig-zag and the narrow zig zag for some details, as well as the triple/multiple zig zag for top stitching through thick chlorine proof elastic
  • Fleece- multiple layers of thick fabric (pressure foot adjustment used here)
  • General dressmaking (zippers) children's and baby clothing - cotton woven, rayons, and knits - both cotton lycra and modal or rayon
  • Mending - darning, satin stitch and various utility stitches. Fabrics included denim and outwear
I really feel that my observations on this machine are based on some pretty thorough test sewing, under a variety of conditions.

Note: I am a garment sewer and although I tried out and played with the alphabets and many decorative stitches I didn't actually complete a project with any of these features.

Now before I get into the specifics of my experience with this machine I want to put this machine and the Eversewn company into what in my own opinion only, is context within the industry. 

For a start I have to say the one question I hate being asked most by new sewers, or worse still by the non-sewing relatives of potential sewers is "what is a good machine to buy for someone who is just getting into sewing?"

I really cringe when I hear this because I know that the machines they have budgeted for are more than likely not all that well made and, my worst nightmare, would be so frustrating to the new sewer that they might even give up on life's best activity.

As a general rule, cheap machines are cheap machines, and who wants to tell any mother that? 

I am also equally frustrated by sewing machine dealers who present that the only machines worth sewing on are the same price as a small car, or that they should also be the same size as one. 

$5,000 before you can try making your first skirt? Really?

I have always felt that to bring in all the happy sewers I would like to into the sewing community there needed to be an achievable alternative.

So last spring when I was in Portland I wondered if Eversewn, with its very reasonably priced, feature rich machines, and cool sewing notion kits, might meet that need. And that it might fill what I saw as a definite gap in the current menu of sewing machines on the market.

That's what I wanted to find out.

That's why I was eager to test this machine.

I also have to tell you I was intrigued by Philipp Ueltschi. 

Obviously sewing machines are in his blood but it needs to be said that these are not Bernina machines, I see many aspects that I would call Bernina informed. Eversewn is Ueltschi's own project and if I were to put it into one of my own sentences I would describe this project as:

"Sewing machines made for millennials by a millennial who also happens to know an awful lot about sewing machines." 

(Note sure if the company would agree with this assessment but it's how it looks to me).

More specifically my assessment for my fellow sewers would be that this:

The Sparrow 30 is an A1 machine, that performs very, very well and has a whole range of very useful/sophisticated features that are simply not usually found in machines at the price point. 

A new or returning sewer who has a specific budget would in no way be settling at all for less features with this well-priced machine, in fact, relative to the competition in this area of the market, would be getting far more for her money than she would get elsewhere.

Now let's get into some of the detail and some of my own favourite features. 

Here are the highlights:

I am one who is more interested in sewing functions than in a number of decorative stitches so here are the things I liked, and liked a lot in this machine. All are features seen most often on much more expensive machines:

  • The metal body: Although this is a fairly light machine (ideal for some of the sewing retreats I took it on) it is solid. You just can't compare the feel of an all metal body to one that doesn't have it. That said this machine does go really, really fast when set to top speed and although it stayed still no problem at all on my study sewing table at home, there was some hopping when I sewed fast on a portable table. Putting the machine on a piece of old yoga mat fixed that.
  • Needle up and needle down: My lovely old vintage machines don't have this and I really miss it. So so useful as a necessary third hand when top-stitching/stretching swimsuit elastic.
  • Variable sewing speed: Being able to turn down the sewing speed when doing careful work like topstitching makes all the difference.
  • Needle threader: no explanation necessary.

  • Thread cutter: I don't always use this, often like to trim my threads closely myself, but when I do I always appreciate the long threads on the underside that don't pull out.

  • Single pattern/tie off function: Neater than sewing forward and backwards at the beginning of every seam, although you have to figure this out, it really does a single pattern of the stitch rather than a mini reverse and forward like some machines.
    • Adjustable presser foot pressure: This is sort of an old school feature but a really useful one I wish they still had on every machine. Loosening the foot pressure for polar fleece was useful, as was increasing it for lining.

    • Great lighting: For some reason a lot of new machines don't have this. The Sparrow has nice strong light in the stitching area, which I really like:

    It should be noted that the LED lighting here does cast as sort of yellow halo around the lit sewing area, something that startled me at first, but I don't notice anymore.

    • Really great buttonholes. Some truth needs to be told here. A straightforward mechanical buttonhole often produces a more reliable buttonhole than many of the real fancy computerized ones. In fact one of my sewing partners, a former high end sewing machine dealer, told me when she watched me make buttonholes on this machine that in her opinion this traditional system makes some of the nicest buttonholes ever. A button placed in the back of the foot determines buttonhole size and the lever that is pulled down whenever buttonholes are made, regulates consistent size for each buttonhole:
    • Ease of use: we are going back here to a machine for a new sewer. The Sparrow is sprinkled with a number of really useful illustrations, particularly for threading:

    • A nice simple to understand control panel of common stitches on the machine face: It was so interesting to me that our 9 year-old just sat down in front of this machine and she knew exactly how to thread and use it. No problem at all.

    • An excellent, stable extension table. I was also very impressed with this, particularly since I had just recently tested a top of the line that did not have these little feet and as a result extension table on that machine bounced around annoyingly:

    Issues with this machine.

    I found this a nice, easy, comfortable machine to work with. Of the eight sewing machines I have in my workroom this in fact is the one I reach for when I am in a hurry and just want a reliable little bit of sewing done with little fuss. This says a lot.

    The only issue I had was with some "bird nesting" in the bobbin area when I was just getting used to the machine. 

    After a bit of double checking (an old sewing machine technician friend of mine always used to say that the first place to check for an problem would be in the chair in front of the machine ...) I decided that this important thread guide was essential:

    Yup this first upper thread path is super important. (Note I put the handle down to take this picture but of course it needs to be up for sewing).

    I missed this a few times (and am not sure if the thread cutter didn't jangle it out when I had been casual about getting the thread in here) and got a thread nest in the bobbin area. 

    Interestingly the only consistent problem reported by new users for this machine, as reported online, were those lower area thread nests - my suspicion now is that those problems might have to do with missing this thread path. 

    Since I have started paying more attention to getting the thread in there and in threading the machine with the foot up (to open the tension disks) and making sure I "flossed" the thread in between the tension disks I haven't had any further problems with messy bobbin thread at all and subsequently sewed for months since then for hours and hours without seeing this issue again.

    So final verdict:

    Great machine, more than excellent for the price. A machine I will happily take to classes, and recommend to anyone who asks and is looking for a nice, reliable, high feature, good value machine.

    An overdue option for those in the market for a new machine too, who are often so overwhelmed by all the choices.


    SewRuthie said...

    Are Eversewn machines available in the United Kingdom?

    Barbara said...

    Ruthie I see a listing on Amazon UK. Not sure about voltage. I have the contact for Philipp somewhere do you want me to contact him directly?

    Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

    Barbara - what's the price point for this machine? And what is the advertising like? If it's truly a millenial selling a machine for millenials is it something they can afford? And are they reaching out to a diverse market or are they doing the same old, same old marketing?

    Leorah said...

    One thing I noticed on a recent test drive of this machine was that the throat plate sits a bit higher than the machine base. The edge is a somewhat sharp and creates a “bump” when feeding fabric through the presser foot. I think this would be something that quilters might find annoying, as the edge tends to catch on some seams. Overall I think your assessment of this machine is right on.

    Barbara said...

    Carolyn its on Amazon for $400 US right now. Can’t speak too much on matketing but can say they are distributed through Brewer the notions company and here in Canada I see that most seem to be sold through sewing lounge places or through smaller online young fabric outfits like Fabric Snob. Looked to me to be a different business model than old school dealer network but notice some of the bigger Bernina dealers in the US carry them. Interesting bet a lot of sales through Amazon.

    Hummingbirdgrammy said...

    Thoroughly appreciate your review of this particular machine and perspective of the Eversewn line in general. It's honorable someone of your background has a realistic view of sewing machine features and costs. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who want to sew but want/need as you mentioned a good machine that's not $5000 and for that matter...not $1000.

    In the last picture showing the "not to miss" thread guide the machine's handle is laying across the thread. Understandably this wasn't meant to be sewn with that way and was simply not the focal point of the picture yet it's something to note for others new at sewing.

    Barbara said...

    Good eyes Myra, moved the handle because it was making a shadow over the part I wanted to photograph. Not much of a pro😉

    Hummingbirdgrammy said...

    Thank you for your kind reply.

    Unknown said...

    I have had the Sparrow 25 for about a year now, and love it for classes and retreats. I am a quilter! Great value for the $$$

    Catherine said...

    I've been very curious about this machine for some time now. Thank you for such a great review. Sounds like it would make a great starter machine for a daughter.

    Tory said...

    Most interesting! I'd never heard of this company before. Now I want to search one out and try it.

    Thanks for the thorough review!

    birdmommy said...

    So I’m down in Florida spending the holidays with my snowbird in laws, and came across this review. I’ve been looking to upgrade from my current machine, but didn’t want to spend $1000. The sparrow 30 looks perfect, and with 2 day shipping from Amazon it’ll be here before we have to head up north. Thanks for the detailed review!

    paloverdeblooms said...

    I've only ever sewn on mechanicals (old school Kenmores, Kenmore branded Janomes, and mechanical Berninas). This machine sounds like a possible choice for a first computerized machine. One question: Does it have a free arm?

    Sarah Wale said...

    I found this review very interesting. I am currently using a Brother NS30 (as a pensioner I can no longer afford my favourite Pfaff, which I have used for 40 years!. I was struck by the similarities in specification between the two machines, right down to the colour and format of the instruction book. I love using the Brother but do have concerns over its robustness as it is very light but also very plasticky. So far I have had no problem using it for any type of fabric and keeping it set on a bobbly non-slip tacky cloth holds it steady even when sewing fast. I would doubtless be looking for an Eversewn if I needed to change my machine now but am writing this to assist anyone who lives in a country where they are not available (like here in New Zealand). I can order one through the USA but shipping and import duty charges etc. make it a very expensive machine! Anyone looking for an acceptable, albeit plastic not metal, machine can be confident in the Brother NS30. I don't work for them and nor am I getting anything for writing this, just wanting to share my experiences for the benefit of others. It cost me NZ$399 (US$267 or thereabouts; the Eversewn from Ubuy in the USA is advertised at NZ$699 US$468) but you can add a LOT for shipping, taxes etc. Ubuy seems to have a UK and Asia distributor so maybe they can help people in those areas.

    Unknown said...

    Thanks for this review. I've purchased this from Amazon and it will be here soon. I purchased a Viking about twelve years ago and it is too complicated for me to use for routine sewing .

    Marty said...

    You can buy one from Connecting Threads for $399.99.

    Thank you for the review. Excellent. I have a Janome Gem 760 which is no longer produced by Janome, this looks exactly the same machine. I love my Gem. If I was in the market for another machine, I’d easily purchase that. I’m a 35-yr quilter - this’d be perf3ctvforva class machine.

    Lucy said...

    Have the Eversewn 30. So far I am very happy.... except the thread nesting issue. Sometimes I get it right the first time, other times not so good.

    PJones said...

    Since they are phasing out the pink (it’s really more white with a touch of pink) you may have some negotiating room. The new model is turquoise and us really pretty. Fairly light weight-17 pounds I think, so easily moved. Haven’t done a lot of sewing on it yet. The first project had some pretty thick seams and it did a great job. I think it’s a great machine for the price. The price at the quilt show was $329. If I remember correctly the turquoise model was $429 and included some extra feet. I bought the extra feet for less than $30.

    Anonymous said...

    It’s Presser foot not “pressure” foot for god’s sake! Just look at the image YOU posted. Poorly written.....

    Felecia said...

    @anonymous - there is a pressure adjustment for the presser foot on this machine. Maybe you misread?

    Rohit said...

    Thanks for your wonderful post .... do these sewing machines works in electricity

    Hanna Samuel said...

    Thanks to your great review on Eversewn Sparrow 30.. This is one of the best option you like to sew and also some embroidery digitizing work. Thanks.

    Unknown said...

    Yes. Indeed.

    Lae said...

    Sorry to dredge up an older post, I just had to mention that I'd recently just run across the Eversewn brand and I'd been running around trying to find a review that was in-depth. Thank you for writing an such informative review, most of the ones I read seemed to be paid for if you understand what I mean. For curiositys sake, it's been a few years, are you still using this machine? Does it have longevity? I've got an entry level Janome that is a workhorse and I've had her for over a decade but she's limited in stitches and I want to have an upgrade, so far this is the only machine with all the features I want in this price point. I'd like to know if it's worth the investment.

    Barbara said...

    Yes I still use it, particularly for stitches my other machines don’t have and the buttonholes which are always reliable. I also have it set up as the machine my granddaughter prefers to use. She finds it easy and never has any trouble with it.

    MKL said...

    Thank you so much for this review. I gifted my granddaughter with my Passport, and am looking to replace it. The price seems to have jumped. I will check this one out!