Sewing is unarguably an excellent pastime: besides being relaxing and fun, it allows you to create completely custom outfits, perform your own minor repairs on clothes and upholstery, and save money compared to purchasing finished products new or getting your clothes tailored by a professional.
But central to a good sewing experience is a good sewing machine. How does the Brother PC 420 Project Runway sewing machine hold up against its competitors?
Brother PC-420 Features
Sewing machines are somewhat unique in that price ranges go all the way from the $50 budget machine to the $5000 professional-use behemoth, with a gradual scale the entire way. The Brother PC-420 comes in at around $400, making it expensive but not unreasonable as a personal, heavy-use sewing machine that can provide professional quality results for the committed sewer.
By far the most standout feature of the machine is the incredible number of stitches pre-programmed into the machine. The PC420 boasts an 294 stitches built in for easy sewing, including utility, cross, decorative, lettering, heirloom, and satin stitches. This wide variety makes for attractive flourishes on all your sewing projects; you can easily go years without using a single stitch more than once.
Expanding this even more is a special “My Custom Stitch” feature that gives creative sewers an outlet for expression beyond just their fabric choice. Using the backlit, easy to read LCD screen, users can design their own stitches the machine will then execute, storing them in the machine’s built-in memory for future use.
Of course, for a $400 machine, you would expect a number of convenience features on top of a large stitch selection, and the Brother PC420 doesn’t disappoint. A very bright independent light in the needle zone makes sure all the important details of any project are easily seen. The 6-point feed dogs, bobbin winding system, and automatic needle threader help to alleviate some of the minor repetitive annoyances that come along with sewing.
An adjustable speed control lets you manage how quickly you want to sew, while the built-in thread trimmer can be programmed to automatically cut upper and lower threads between each task – a lifesaver for those projects filled with seams, including quilts. Finally, the machine boasts a twin needle function to create appealing parallel stitches, whether for looks or additional strength.
The box is home to a huge number of accessories to help with your sewing projects. Many specialized feet add control and quality, including presser feet, a monogramming foot, zipper foot, blind stitch foot, and nearly a dozen more. An accessory pouch includes vital needles, bobbins, screwdrivers, and spools to get you equipped to start sewing right away. Finally, the machine comes with a protective storage and transport case as well as a thorough manual.
So, the Brother 420 sewing machine is clearly very full-featured at an attainable price point. But how does it hold up in practice?
The vast majority of owner impressions are extremely positive. In particular, many comment that the machine is significantly quieter in operation than they expected – which as anyone who has used a less expensive sewing machine is aware, they can be extremely noisy. Similar praise has been levied on the ease of use of the machine’s more complicated features, such as navigating the many pre-programmed automatic stitches as well as designing one’s own using the built-in screen. The feature density for the price was a point of high regard, as was the ability of the machine to punch through tough fabrics like denim without breaking a sweat.
Criticisms are rare but there are a few. Some have mentioned that the included sewing feet – the zipper foot in particular – are not quite as sturdy as they prefer, but that replacement feet work perfectly fine. A minority of customers have also experienced recurring problems with thread tension that necessitate a return or repair. Finally, while the machine has a gigantic range of stitches, their appearance seems hit or miss: some appear messier than others, meaning you will likely not use some of them.
Overall, the complaints do not outshine the machine’s assets. An extremely rich feature set for the price point, sturdy construction, and reliability after heavy use make the PC-420 a quality sewing machine purchase for both the avid hobbyist sewer as well as a great learning machine for beginners interested in starting with a strong machine.