I’m a complete embroidery geek and gadget-girl, so imagine my excitement when I was given the Brother NQ3500D from their Q-Series to explore and review! Opening a big box like this will make any day feel like Christmas – even the outside of the box promises fun with Disney’s Mickey Mouse grinning at me! And I just know that this box contains so many nifty goodies that I’ll hardly know where to begin!
Unpacking seemed a good start – and after getting the packing materials out of the way, I laid all the accessories out on the table. Wow – definitely an impressive spread!
So many goodies:
Aside from the machine itself and its embroidery module, the packing list includes 13 presser feet, assorted screwdrivers, spare needles plus a twin needle, an additional bobbin case, an extra spool holder, small scissors, a seam ripper, a thread net, an eyelet punch, a cleaning brush, four bobbins, and a slide on-accessory tray to hold most of these goodies, as well as a power cord, foot control, knee lifter, and a hard cover to protect the machine on trips to classes and retreats. For embroidery, it includes two embroidery hoops with their templates and a spool of bobbin fill, and a bobbin riser for using pre-wound bobbins.
I’ll play with only the most basics today, but stick with me this week as I dissect and explore the accessories and features in categorical detail each day. I’ll save the best (for me, that’s the embroidery part) for near-to-last…
Take the Brother NQ3500D sewing, quilting and embroidery machine grand tour:
The NQ3500D is now set up in sewing mode, and I already like how bright and roomy it is – not as big as a long-arm machine but certainly more spacious than the average sewing machine. From needle to machine body it’s 8.3” (the brochure said so and I measured it just to be sure, LOL). The slide-on accessory tray is in place around the free-arm, enlarging the work surface even more and adding the benefit of handy, hidden storage for most of the sewing accessories.
I set about getting it all threaded – an easy enough task as I’ve played with Brother sewing machines in the past. Winding the bobbin is fast and simple – just follow the numbered path and diagrams. Winding the thread around the bobbin is a much easier start than poking thread through a little hole to get it going! (I actually wound with a lighter color thread, but am using red for this picture so you can clearly see its path.)
Setting the filled bobbin is as easy as dropping the bobbin into its case and drawing the thread through the threading slots. All that’s left to do down here is pop the bobbin cover on – you don’t even need to draw the thread to the top to begin stitching!
Threading the upper path is just as straightforward – and easy enough to do one-handed. But threading the needle is where the real magic happens: just press the threading lever and voila! Quick as a wink, the needle is threaded. Truly – if you blink, you’ll miss it!
Brother NQ3500D – YouTube
Time to test out the stitching… slide in some cotton broadcloth and press the button on the front of the NQ3500D to lower the presser foot – I like this but I’m glad there’s still a presser foot lifter lever at the back, too. I feel kind of lost on a machine without one. Of course, I like the knee lifter even better. I grew up using one, and I love the fact that I can lift and lower the presser foot with my knee. It keeps my hands on my fabric for added control (I like control!), and it’s great for pivoting.
Okay, stitching already! A touch of my foot on the foot pedal and oooh, nice! Smooth and responsive! Pretty fast, too – the brochure said the NQ3500D sews up to 850 stitches per minute. That can be slowed using the speed control slider on the front of the machine for beginner sewists or delicate techniques.
Ease off the foot control and the machine stops right away with the needle down, my preferred setting. It anchors the fabric in place while I adjust my hold or let go altogether. That setting can be changed to stop needle-up, though, if you prefer.
Unplug the foot control completely and you can use the start/stop button to sew; the slider I mentioned before lets you adjust the stitching speed as desired. It’s great to not have the foot control and its cord in the way if there are inquisitive children or pets around. Better yet, this button shows green when your machine is ready to stitch; touch it when it’s red and the screen will tell you what you need to do to get stitching.
End off a seam by backstitching or lockstitching – both are handy buttons easily accessible above the needle. Pressing the “U-turn” button secures by reversing, while holding the “target” button sews three stitches in the same spot – a quilter’s favorite for piecing.
What’s not to love about the scissors button? Simply press it and the threads are drawn under the needle plate where they are neatly trimmed short before the needle is “automagically” raised, ready to begin another seam. No more hanging threads!
Well, it took me long enough to sew just that single seam because I couldn’t help but play and explore the basics, but there truly is so much more to look at:
Inside the top cover is a chart of all the NQ3500D’s stitches. They are divided into categories, each with a numbered picture to make it easy to get to on screen. There are a total of 290 stitches – lots of choices for practical applications – including 10 buttonholes – and lots of decorative stitches. Add to that 5 alphabets and you’ll have many happy hours of playing ahead of you!
The touchscreen is kind of small, but even so, its color display is clear and easy-to-read. I really like how informative it is; among other things, it tells me that I should be using the “J” foot for the selected stitch, which is highlighted in blue. Along the top are the stitch width and length settings, as well as the current tension setting, at the end. All of these can be adjusted by touching the very last button. And I’ll bet you think I skipped the L/R Shift button… Nope, but that one is so cool you’ll have to be patient. I’ve got a great idea to show off that exciting feature in a day or two.
Along the bottom of the screen are some of my most favorite sewing features – watch for their applications on Friday. Yep – you’ve got to stay with me all week if you want all the good stuff!
Below the touch screen are navigation buttons to help you access the different stitch menus. Starting with the top left is the BACK button, then the LOCK SCREEN button, then the LEFT and RIGHT scroll arrows. Under that are the two sewing and embroidery HOME buttons, followed by the SETTINGS and HELP menu buttons.
So far, I really like what I see! The NQ3500D is a solid, sleek-looking sewing machine that offers a lot of practical features and functions with a very user-friendly set up. I’ve only touched on the absolute basics, but in my mind I already decided on the areas I’d like to explore over the next four days:
- Playing with Decorative Stitches: I like to play with stitches as embellishments, so that’ll be a fun playground on this machine – there are lots to choose from!
- My Custom Stitch™: this feature looks so cool! With it you can create your very own stitches! See a hand stitch you like? You can make the machine do it!
- Brother Embroidery: I know I already mentioned that embroidery is my favorite. This machine boasts on-screen editing, and I can’t wait to try my hand at this!
- Practical Stitches and Functions: While it’s fun to explore all the fun things a machine can do, it really does boil down to one question: how will it handle a sewist’s every-day needs such as seaming, overcasting, zippers, buttonholes, etc. In other words… the final test.
Of course, I can’t promise to do these in order! Please join me tomorrow and we’ll “play” together with the Brother NQ3500D!