I actually got this Brother 1500s Nouvelle sewing machine a few months ago – but reading other reviews helped me make my decision. I have now sewn 8-10 quilts on this and am really happy with it for piecing, straight line quilting, and free-motion quilting.
Edited To Add October 1, 2014: I have now had this machine for a year and am still very happy with it. I got the recommended Organ HLx5 Needles for this machine which I reviewed here.
Some maintenance tips:
- Don’t forget to oil your machine! I do it about once a month, or if I am sewing a lot, more often. I forgot for 2-3 months and was mortified by how quiet it got after a few drops of oil. Guess I hadn’t noticed it slowly growing louder.
- Don’t forget to oil and clean your walking foot and FMQ foot! By Clean I mean going in with a brush and removing the lint. It adds up. You are supposed to oil the feet about once a month or more if you sew a lot.
- Vacuum out the bobbin area. It is difficult to get to the bobbin area to really keep it clean, so once a month or so I use my vacuum attachment to suck out extra lint. It takes 30 seconds and makes a big difference. For the record, I brush out lint about every other time I change the bobbin, but it adds up deeper in the machine anyway. I do a lot of scrap quilting with tiny pieces and use all manner of thread so that is probably why I end up with lots of lint.
I had previously sewn on a Pfaff Creative 2124 which is an older embroidery and sewing machine (I think about 10 years old – I got it used for about $700 in 2008). I sew A LOT and was having to do more and more repairs to the Pfaff – I was just over-using it. I decided I had to get a tougher machine before I completely ruined the Pfaff, as it is great to have an embroidery machine around for adding labels to quilts and other odds and ends – like when I need a zig-zag stitch -as the Brother 1500s is a straight stitch only!
If you sew A LOT I think having a machine with all the bells and whistles is just going to sacrifice some long-term toughness. I say this having had a reasonably nice, older machine (I can’t believe you can still buy that Pfaff 2124 for $1500+ used – it’s almost ten years old) that wore out after about 4 years my own heavy use (no idea how it lived before it met me). (For the record, I kept it clean and serviced).
Which is why I thought I’d try this tough workhorse!
What I like:
- Price – You can get this refurbished or used for less than $600. Compared to the $2000+ I might have been convinced to spend if my Pfaff had died completely, that is a steal to me.
- Harp space. It’s 8.5 inches deep and about 6 inches tall. The height of the sewing area makes a huge difference, it’s not just the width of the harp to look for. In addition to being able to quilt queen sized quilts much more comfortably, having all the extra openness is just more pleasant all around – more light on the sewing bed.
- Free-motion quilting – it has really nice stitches, great tension, it was really easy for me to pick up and get a feel for how to move the quilt to get the stitch length I wanted.
- Handles weird thread – I like to use wool thread, metallic thread, 12 wt. thread, whatnot. Not all the time, but this was always a production – playing with tension and different needles with my previous machines. I just pop the thread in and go, it hasn’t struggled with any thing (ok, I had to adjust tension with the metallic thread).
- TENSION is just so nice! Easy to adjust, rarely needs adjusting.
- Doesn’t skip stitches on 5+ layers of fabric – I hemmed jeans with no trouble.
- It’s fast. Too fast? I do worry about sewing my finger, which I have done on all my previous machines without much injury, but I think this one would actually tear my finger off. Hoping never to find out. Until I sew my hand to a quilt, I LOVE how fast this is and how much time it saves me. For real, I think it takes at least a good hour less to finish a quilt.
- It’s metal. It feels more solid than any new machine I’ve seen in the last 5 years.
- Smaller feed dogs and needle plate. Since this machine only sews straight stitches, it doesn’t need to have the wider feed-dogs to allow for wider stitches. The smaller needle opening and narrow feed-dogs means your piecing never gets eaten by the machine. It makes for much smoother piecing, even for tiny fiddly scraps you may be working with.
I am mostly sharing these to see if anyone has any solutions for me – I’ve looked in forums and not seen anything that worked. I love this machine and will use it for ever, but if anyone has any solutions for:
- Bobbin doesn’t hold a lot of thread. When is someone going to invent infinite bobbins that always match what I’m sewing??? But seriously, these bobbins hold way less thread than my Pfaff. I don’t know why or how, but I have to stop more to re-bobbin. Still faster though! ETA: I have been using Fine Line Bobbin thread for piecing and it lasts much longer. It is a 60 wt. Recommend it for anyone else who is annoyed by this!
Coming unthreaded.ETA – the thread cutter only works with the presser foot up. So now I don’t have problems anymore. I don’t think it says anywhere in the manual that you have to have the presser foot up. So now that I know that, it works!
- The reverse lever – yes it reverses, but you can’t lock it into reverse that I can figure out. Sometimes I want to sew in reverse for a while so I don’t have to adjust the quilt when I’m straight-line quilting.
- Not a free arm – every once in a blue moon, I need to sew up a sleeve or bag or something small and fiddly and this would be handy. But I have adjusted around it pretty well. I’ll be honest, I was often to lazy to pull off the table and use the free arm on my old machine even when I could have used it.
- The handle – ok, now I’m being nitpicky, but the handle on this machine is crap. Sewing machine designers, think about us folks who have to move our machines a lot, hmmm?
So, overall, do I love this machine? Yes, I love it. But — I do need a second machine for the occasional zig-zag applique and for machine embroidery on a label. I now dread pulling the second machine out and wrestling with the perfect tension and needle combo to get the poor old thing to perform.