Wow! I can’t believe 5 days surveying the Brother NQ3500D have passed so quickly! The old adage, “time flies when you’re having fun” is so true! Yesterday, when I researched designing my own decorative stitches with My Custom Stitch™, hours flew by as I played and poked buttons and tweaked and tested. There’s so much exciting stuff to learn; the thrill of discovery never gets old!
So, having explored a range of the fun features of the NQ3500D over the last several days, it’s time to knuckle down and investigate the core sewing basics. All this week during my posts, I’ve been making promises about things I can’t wait to share with you about this machine, and today is the day I’ve to deliver on those promises. So I guess I should start at the very beginning (I’ve it on authority that it’s a very good place to start).
Incredibly easy threading
I already mentioned on Monday how very easy the NQ3500D is to thread. I’m still marvelling at that now. I’ve never experienced anything easier to thread than this! Especially the needle – you’ve just got to watch the video again with me:
Brother NQ3500D – YouTube
Pre-set straight stitches for all sewing genres
A straight-stitch is probably the single most important stitch on a sewing machine, and it should come as no surprise that the NQ3500D offers plenty of options. No matter your sewing pursuit, you’re sure to find a pre-set straight stitch that will become your “go-to”.
If you’ve been with me all along, you may remember in my first post, Introducing Brother’s NQ3500D sewing, quilting and embroidery machine, that I showed a picture of the main sewing screen which included several straight stitches. Some may find that confusing, but it’s actually pretty cool. Take a closer look and see if you can spot the differences:
Stitches 1 to 4 are each thoughtfully pre-set with a different combination of needle positions (left or center) and reinforcing style (traditional backstitch or in-place lockstitch). First, note the placement of each stitch in its display box on screen: a stitch shown on the left stitches on the left; stitches pictured in the middle stitch in the center. Handy, but it gets even better: simply by changing the stitch width setting, one can access all 15 straight stitch needle positions. That’s 7 places on either side of center! If that isn’t enough – you can adjust them further with the L/R Shift feature we played with on Wednesday.
Stitch 5 is a triple straight stitch, perfect for seams needing extra-strong stitching.
But wait for it… there’s even more! Take a look at stitches 29, 30, and 31 from the stitch card, below. See the little “P” footnote? These are set up specifically for piecing (quilters, this means you!). They are shorter stitches, and are positioned respectively ¼” from the right edge of the standard sewing foot, in the center, and ¼” from the left edge of the standard sewing foot. Someone was really thinking!
Convenient automatic seam reinforcing and thread trimming
Now, above, I also mentioned reinforcing styles; these correspond to the securing buttons near the needle. But again, someone really had their thinking cap on: use these stitches (or any others) with the tools along the screen’s bottom row and you have some really time-saving conveniences.
Envision this in your mind as I do this: select stitch 101 and activate the Auto Reinforcement (the U-turn) and Auto Thread Cutter (the scissors) tools on screen. Begin stitching. The machine takes 3 stitches, backs up 3 stitches, then proceeds until you press the U-turn button near the needle. Then it immediately backs up 3 stitches, forwards 3, and trims the thread. I told you – it’s “automagic”! These functions work on all stitches, and each stitch secures itself appropriately to the stitch type. Here’s a few to show you – beautiful stitch quality, and clean, precise reinforcements. Don’t you just love it?
I’m a huge fan of the knee lifter. This handy tool is inserted into its port on the front of the machine, and offers hands-free control of the presser foot lifter. A nudge of the knee can raise or lower the presser foot, allowing you to keep your hands on your work for better control. It’s often found on industrial machines because when properly used, it’s a huge production-booster. A little bit of practice and its usage becomes second nature.
The Pivot Function can do much the same thing as a knee lifter, only automatically. With it activated, every time you stop sewing, the needle sinks into the fabric and the presser foot rises, allowing you to rotate your fabric. So handy, especially if you can’t get the hang of the knee lifter! And, of course, there’s more (there’s always more!)… It does something else that I really like: when you have the auto secure and the auto trim turned on with it, it raises the presser foot for you after securing and trimming. How cool is that?
A whopping 13 presser feet included
All of the basic necessities are included with the NQ3500D to get you sewing in style. Many of these feet are ‘quick-switch’; they snap on and drop off with the touch of a lever. Several of them, meant for techniques requiring a more stable hold, screw securely on to the presser foot bar.
From top to bottom, left to right: zigzag foot (with levelling button), monogramming foot, blind hem foot, overcasting foot, zipper foot, open toe embroidery foot, stitch guide foot, open-toe quilting foot, non-stick foot, button sew-on foot, embroidery foot, adjustable zipper foot, and the buttonhole foot. These all store in the slide-on accessory tray surrounding the freearm, ready to be attached in a flash.
Hassle-free fabric feeding with the AHA® Feature
No more struggling with varying fabric thicknesses… when the Automatic Fabric Sensor System is turned on, the NQ3500D automatically and continuously senses the fabric thickness and adjusts the presser foot pressure for you. Of course, you can override it, but why would you when it works so well?
Slip your button into the back bracket of the buttonhole foot and snug the holder in place – that’s all it takes to measure your button perfectly! Then choose your buttonhole and lower the sensor lever. Push the start/stop button and the machine does the rest. It really couldn’t be easier! There are buttonholes for all weights of fabric, even a stretch buttonhole, and a tracer for bound buttonholes.
Hidden gems on the buttonhole menu
Also on the buttonhole menu are a few related stitches that just beg to be mentioned, since I included them in the above stitch out: 2 mending stitches, a bar tack (I made two of those in different sizes), an eyelet, and a button-sew-on program. They’ve really thought of everything!
Built In sewing fonts
The NQ3500D has 5 sewing fonts built in: block, script, double block, Cyrillic, and a Japanese font.
I took a few minutes to play with the block font; it was easy to enter and quick to stitch, and I’m quite pleased with its clarity. I like this, and can see its usefulness for smaller labels and the like, but I’m glad that this machine also embroiders – I’m definitely partial to richly embroidered lettering. Still…
My bonus “faves”
As I was stitching out the samples for the pictures above, of course I was using the very tools I was speaking of. But… there were other features I relied upon that really deserve their own special mention again.
I wanted to use the NQ3500D at home while standing at a high counter. So I didn’t bother using the foot control this time – I exclusively used the start/stop button and the speed control slider. While I like the foot control for larger projects, the freedom of not needing it was great!
I’m going to turn the small panel I embellished over the last couple of days into a fancy little case for my eyeglasses. If you missed the supply list, please check out Wednesday’s article, Playing with the Brother NQ3500D’s built in decorative stitches.
My glasses are only a slim pair of magnifiers, so I don’t need a large case. Follow along with these steps, using your own glasses to measure:
1. To make my pattern, I wrapped a piece of paper around my glasses to determine how wide I needed to cut my panel, factoring in about a ¼” seam allowance. I added some curve to the bottom and top for interest, like this:
2. I layered my stitched panel and fusible-backed flannel right sides together and cut them out according to my pattern, leaving the bottom curves uncut for now.
3. Matching the top curves, I stitched (using stitch 1-29 – the right-hand piecing stitch) around the top curve only. Since I sewed fusible side up, I used the non-stick foot. And I was so intent on sewing slowly and carefully around those tight curves, I forgot to change thread colors! At least this seam will be on the inside – unseen after this. And you won’t tell, will you?
4. I clipped the curves closely…
5. Then I turned it right-side out, smoothing the curves with my fingers and pressed it, fusing the flannel lining to the wrong side of the panel.
6. Next step was to fold it in half lengthwise and now cut the bottom curves.
7. I cheated and used the overcasting (G) foot with left straight stitch 1-01 and stitched along the edge as shown, using the guide on the foot to stay an even distance from the edge. Of course, I turned the auto secure and auto trim on!
9. Last chance to trim away any pokey threads, and then overcast the edges with 1-16 – I like this overcast – it’s quite pretty.
So here’s the final little project (I hope the picture’s in focus, I took it with my glasses off!)
Well, I sure hope that you’ve had fun playing, exploring, and creating along with me. It has certainly been a wonderful experience getting to play so intensively with the Brother NQ3500D; it’s certainly a machine with many fantastic, covet-worthy features. It’s advanced enough to satisfy experienced sewists, yet intuitive and easy enough to learn and grow into. Definitely a winner! Cheers, and until next time: happy sewing!