Looking for a feature rich sewing machine to make cosplay with? Read my write up on The Project Runway Sewing Machine: Brother PC-420PRW.
After my trusty old Brother Innvo-is 1500D started giving me trouble again, I had to start looking for options to keep me sewing. My Innov-is was a floor model embroidery machine that I’d bought used nearly 7 years ago. It had been through 6 moves and years of heavy use. Buying a new embroidery machine was not in my budget, though. I was spoiled by the convenience features of my embroidery machine and worried that I’d be priced out of all those features. When I saw the Project Runway Special Edition Machine, my interest was piqued. The design similarities are notable.
"Can I use a moon stone to evolve PC420 into 1500D?"
Seeing as though this machine was only a fraction of the price of what Innov-is models cost, I was worried it couldn’t hold a candle. Still, it seemed like an interesting option for a cosplayer spoiled by automated features. So, how does it sew? Exactly how it should right out of the box. Better than my Innov-is had lately, that's for sure! The thread tension works fine, the stitches are even, no fabric puckering or feed dog problems to speak of. It is easy to thread, and works well. I’ve used it with cotton, linen, chiffon, satin, basketweave, Indian khadi, and several other blended fabrics so far and it has preformed consistently with all of them.
A good number of features of this machine are the same as what is included on Brother’s higher end embroidery machines. The decorative stitches are the same ones my Innovis came with, minus the embroidery files. When comparing this to my old Brother 1500D, I’m struck by how much is the same. Granted, there’s no touch screen or crazy options to do things like sew on pockets for you but the overall impression I get from this little machine is just as positive. Brother lists this as a ‘Professional Grade Computerized Sewing Machine.’ It is feature rich, making it more impressive than many entry level machines but it is not an industrial machine. Professional should not be confused with industrial here. You won’t find this in a tailor’s backroom or factory floor. It will not preform with the same strength as an industrial model that sews through leather like butter, but it will do just about all the things a cosplayer needs it to… and maybe a few more. The first thing new users will notice are the buttons on the front. These control different convenience functions that will make many a cosplayer fall in love with it like I have.
This machine has an automatic needle threader AND a built-in thread cutter. The thread cutter is the button with the scissor icon and it is so handy. After using it, you will get spoiled. The button with the needle icon raises the needle to the correct height to thread it. The u shaped arrow button is a backstitch button. The button with an arrow pointing up is an auto-stitch button. It is a blessing when making yards of ruffles. To activate this button you have to unplug the foot pedal. To start sewing, press the glowing button. To stop, press it again. If you are using one of the stitches with a built in knot & cut feature, the machine will then finish off the stitch for you! It is worth playing around with since it has many applications.
If you forget to remove the foot pedal, the LCD screen will remind you.
There is a knee lift lever that attaches to the front of the machine to allow you to lift the presser foot with your leg, letting your hands have freedom to adjust or guide fabric instead of lifting the presser foot lever. I find it is very useful when topstitching or working on appliqué.
It may take some practice to not accidentally hit the knee lift while sewing. I did it a few times...
There is a Custom Stitch feature that allows you to save your own stitch settings so you can recall them whenever you need. Save yourself time by saving a unique stitch you’ll use repeatedly on a costume, like a custom satin stitch. You may not need to make custom stitches often since the machine has 294 types of stitches programmed in by default. These include utility, decorative, satin, cross-stitch, and lettering stitches that you can adjust as needed.
This model has a twin needle function for topstitching, pin tucking, hemming, etc. There’s a built in bobbin winder on the top of the machine inside the thread panel. Threading is simple and quick, with instructions printed right on the machine.
The 6 point feed dogs on this machine work well, grabbing and pushing through light and thick fabrics uniformly. It uses a drop in bobbin with a clear cover so you can see how much thread you have left in it or if it is winding properly.
While this machine excels with convenience features, the true value to a cosplayer is in all the accessory feet included by default. With what this machine provides, you will be well on your way to tackling harder projects.
It comes with:
Adjustable zipper/piping foot
Blind stitch foot
Button Fitting foot
Stitch guide foot
The non-stick foot is great for pleather and vinyls. The buttonhole foot allows you to create buttonholes effortlessly, and the machine features 10 buttonhole stitches for you to choose from! The button fitting foot lets you use the machine to sew buttons on to your project. The adjustable zipper & piping foot makes installing invisible zippers much easier. There’s also a standard zipper foot for regular zippers. The stitch guide foot helps you gauge seam allowance and stitch placement if it isn’t something you like to eyeball or mark out. The walking foot is great for sewing through thick projects or preventing puckering on fabrics prone to slipping.
It comes with a hard cover if you want to protect it from dust… or more likely take it with you to a convention. If there is one criticism I have of this machine, it is that it lacks a sensor warning about empty bobbin thread. My last machine would give a warning that the bobbin was nearly empty so you didn’t keep sewing with no thread. With all the tech in this machine, it seems odd this sort of feature wasn’t included. Perhaps in a future version! After a few months of use, I really like this machine. I feel like it would be an asset to any new or intermediate cosplayer, especially one starting out without a lot of tools. It has a wealth of features and accessories without being too pricey.
Took that Project Runway sticker off now that my review is done. Sorry Tim Gunn, you are cool but this is now a Pusheen limited edition machine now.
You can find this machine from many different retailers. I'm a Prime member so I bought mine from Amazon, but places like Jo-ann Fabric and Crafts sell it too! I paid $400 for it. Maybe you can find a better deal. If you do, post about it in the comments!
This post has been relocated (with minor modifications to the images) to my new website hosting in January 2021. Previous comments on the post were not migrated.