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|Baby Lock:BL9 (Sewing Machine)|
|Viewed 2020 time(s)|| |
1 more reviews for this machine
Review rated Helpful
by 1 people Very Helpful
by 13 people
|About SandiMacD |
|Member since: 2/8/09 |
|Reviews written: 33|
|Favored by: 4 people|
|sewing machines reviewed: 6|
|Posted on:||12/7/12 8:54 AM|
|Approx price paid:||$100|
|Had this machine for:||1 day|
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|What SandiMacD likes about this machine|
I wanted a portable, lightweight model machine that I can take to a class to learn a technique or sew a craft project. I wanted it also to be a secondary home machine for my visiting grandson and those times when having two threaded machines is convenient. This review offers my initial impression of the BabyLock 9 (BL9) during unboxing. While it is too early to determine how well it meets my class needs, I will describe some paces I put it through since this machine usually is not available at a dealership for testing prior to purchase. It is currently offered as a BabyLock Promotion for $99 on the their website through Dec 31, 2012. I was intrigued by this model after reading a review posted by a gentleman who used the BL9 to reupholster his sofa!
The BabyLock site doesn’t offer a feature comparison with this machine- information is cursory and refers you to the online Manual. The Ellisimo is my primary machine so I wanted to see the benefits and drawbacks in contrast to the Ellisimo- how difficult or easy it is to accomplish a task or make-do without a feature. This review is not a comparison because a TOL combo machine serves a different purpose.
The first thing I noticed was how easy it was to leave the dealership with the box in my arms- very light! It weighed-in on my scale at 12.8 pounds. It was simple to unbox- just the machine and foot controller surrounded by the styrofoam cut out. The machine had a 90/14 needle inserted and the multipurpose solid metal zig-zag foot was in place. It was similar to the Ellisimo’s N foot but, of course, narrower for this machine’s 5 mm feed dogs.
Next I removed the accessory box tray to access the bobbin area and view the free arm. The BL 9 has a vertical rotary type metal bobbin assembly. Access is through the accessory box tray which must first be removed by sliding it off, then flipping the panel down. The clear plastic bobbin is a standard BL and is easily removed and inserted. The accessory box tray contained other parts which I checked against the Manual’s Parts list. Everything was there- 3 empty bobbins, 3 Organ needles (90/14), a plastic throat plate (needle plate), a cover plate (used for darning/free motion), a buttonhole foot and the standard BL seam ripper.
I had debated long and hard between a vintage Featherweight (I had owned one in the 70‘s) and the BL9. I knew without a doubt that I had made the right choice. I neglected opening the manual and went right into sewing preparation. I picked up the foot controller and noticed that it looked just like the one on my BL Evolution- and the bottom tag contained the same part number which meant power- a good sign. Of course the connection end of the cord is different, they are not interchangeable. I wound a bobbin by pushing it towards the right, pulling out the hand wheel and stepping on the foot control. Straight forward, no problems.
I wanted to test the stitch quality and *operational feel* against my Ellisimo’s so I cut some woven muslin and used the Ellisimo to stitch out the default center needle straight stitch, the default left needle straight stitch lengthened to 3.5, the default zig-zag and the blind hem stitch.
After stitching on the Ellisimo using an 80/12 universal, I put the same needle, thread and bobbin into the BL9. The first thing I noticed was the lack of any needle threader so I used the same threader that came with my BL Evolution- it was a breeze. I used the default needle tension (set to 4) and turned the stitch length dial halfway between the 2 and 3. When done, I reached for the thread cutter usually found to the left outer side. The BL9 has it tucked into the back of the presser foot post.
I then used the left needle position and turned the dial half way between 3 and 4. The needle became unthreaded as I started again (it needs a thread tail of at least 6 inches). This time I used my just my eyesight to rethread. I was impressed to see that there are no machine parts to obscure the needle’s eye. When done, I looked at the four seams. As you can see from the pictures, there is absolutely no difference in stitch quality on either the front or back of the fabric between the Ellisimo and the BL9’s stitches. The BL 9 was noisier than my Ellisimo but quieter then my Evolution. Vibration was barely perceptible but there was no jumping or movement of any sort on my Koala’s cabinet top.
Next I tried the zig-zag and blind stitches. Again the needle became unthreaded because I forgot to leave a 6 inch thread tail when cutting it. My photos show the variations as I adjusted the dial to the same width and length as the Ellisimo’s computerized settings. Dialing it was intuitive- it wasn’t hard to get a comparative sample. My smile widened, the BL9 had just joined my family. Although it has other decorative/stretch stitches and a 4-step buttonhole I wasn’t ready to read and follow the manual just yet for those because over the years I have rarely used them on my other machines. But I will update this review as I get to them.
Here's my photos:
(PR template has changed and no longer has a link option)
The throat plate is solid metal, in fact the entire machine looks and feels solid. The darning plate drops into place, without tools. The foot pedal operates just like the BL serger- it’s responsive, sews steadily and can maintain high speeds. Bobbins wind evenly. The threading sequence is quick- 4 steps plus needle. The two thread posts are metal and lower down into the body for travel. The thread cutter is conveniently recessed on the back of the presser foot post. The throat plate is marked in cm and inches and has a 5/8 inch corner turn guide. The presser foot release bar is prominent and easy for my finger to find and use. The presser foot lifter provides an extra 1/4 inch lift. The reverse button is easily located and depressed without looking up from your work. The manual is comprehensive with numerous diagrams.
It is lighter than a Featherweight, feels just as solid and offers a greater stitch variety including: 5 stretch patterns (with balance adjustment), button sew on, overcasting & applique zig-zag, satin stitch (0.5 - 1), triple stitch (straight and zig-zag), tricot stitch, blind hem stitch, smocking stitch, needle left/center (straight stitches only). And it uses only 1 foot to do every one of these!
What SandiMacD does not like about this machine
The light is yellowish and not adequate under all circumstances. This is not a problem since my sewing room and my class rooms have good lighting. This is more suitable for entry level sewers & woven garment/small project construction sewers, but I would suspect it’s not for quilters. I say this because of the small (6 x5 inch) harp size and no automated features such as: needle up/down, thread cutter, presser foot lift & variable pressure foot adjustment.
There is no needle threader and it comes with just two feet- one is multipurpose and one is for buttonholes. The 4 step buttonhole is time consuming (but then aren’t all buttonholes?)and basting length is limited to 4mm. It runs noisier then my Ellisimo- but perhaps a bit less noisy then my (previously owned) Bernina 430. Like my 430, the bobbin is not a drop in style and you have to remove the accessory box tray (unless you are sewing on the free arm) to access it. I don’t mind that as I never used a drop-in bobbin before owning my Ellisimo.
The top thread must be trimmed to more than 6 inches or the needle eye won’t stay threaded and I would prefer the hand wheel to be less recessed and more comfortable to grasp while moving. BL does not include a screw driver with this model and you will need one to clean the feed dogs. But I bought one for my Ellisimo as I found the BL flat washer type screwdriver to be cumbersome. And of course the BL9, if used continuously, has three areas that require oiling every 4-6 months.
I wanted the BL9 model because it’s 4-5mm and a manually controlled, motorized machine. It was important to me to have dials so that stitch settings would not be accidentally bumped or changed when someone in the classroom *helped* me or if the power strip was turned on or off by someone. I like not squinting or needing readers to see a small LED screen and trying to find the numbers- or to wrap my head around what they are referring to. I like that my young grandson can fiddle around with it and not become confused or lost with too many options.
I am now looking for the perfect inexpensive, small extension table that I can tote class.
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