For years I’ve been intrigued by the number of quilting friends I have who LOVE their high-speed, straight-stitch sewing machines. So when Baby Lock Sewing Machines gave me the opportunity to test-drive and experience their straight-stitch model, the Baby Lock Accomplish, I was SO excited. In this post I’m going to share what makes a high-speed straight-stitch sewing machine different from other sewing machines, as well as some of the pros and cons of a straight-stitch machine.
Just to be clear, I have a partnership with Baby Lock and have sewn on a variety of their machines – from the excellent, entry-level Jubilant to the higher-end Crescendo and Destiny machines. I have been impressed with every single one of them (which hasn’t always been the case with other brand’s machines that I’ve had on loan.) While I did receive this machine as trade for a review, all opinions and experiences are my own. This post also contains affiliate links.
What are the benefits of a Straight Stitch, Mechanical Sewing Machine?
The Baby Lock Accomplish sewing machine is designed for speed and perfect for projects like quilts and simple clothing, but it’s also tough enough to sew with thicker fabrics for projects like multi-layer bags, upholstery, and costuming.
A straight stitch machine is a different animal from most other machines I’ve sewn with so far – in fact, it’s different from most of Baby Lock’s other machines. There is such a huge variety of sewing machines on the market now – you really can find the one that works best for both your sewing needs and budget. I go into a lot more detail about how to choose a sewing machine here. In this post I will focus on the pros and cons of a straight-stitch, mechanical sewing machine.
One of the pros of a mechanical machine is that they tend to be simple to operate (with minimal gizmos) and all mechanical – meaning no computerized parts. Think of an old-school sewing machine – the controls remind me of sewing with my mom’s 1974 Kenmore. For some people the simplicity is a huge asset. As a result, these purely-mechanical machines also require a lot less maintenance and fiddling. Even the tension settings are easier on a mechanical machine.
Another difference of the Accomplish Sewing Machine is obvious: as a straight stitch machine it only has one stitch – a straight line. (That said, you can change the stitch length from O to 7mm (for a great basting stitch). For me, this is a pro. 95% of the sewing that I do is in a straight line, piecing quilt blocks, sewing on borders, bindings, etc. as well as the occasional bag, pillowcase, or machine quilting. This machine does not come with any decorative stitches – which is fine for me since I never use them, as I rarely make clothing/garments, etc.
Underneath the stitch-length dial, there is a needle-down button and an automatic thread cutter button.
The Accomplish features an adjustable pin feed mechanism, 4 feed dog settings for maximum fabric control depending on the fabrics and weights/layers being sewn, full range foot pressure adjustment and a easy-to-use lever for simple backstitching.
Speed – the Accomplish can sew up to 1,500 stitches per minute. That is fast. And as a pedal-to-the-metal type of gal, I LOVE that. It’s so handy for strip-piecing, sewing on borders, chain piecing, etc.
Here are more of the details:
The Accomplish comes with 7 sewing feet attachments with the machine including: general purpose straight stitch sewing foot, rolled hem foot, adjustable zipper foot, invisible zipper foot, ¼ inch foot, flex reaction straight stitch foot (useful for going over thick seams or heavy fabric) and an adjustable seam guide.
Also included: a spring action quilting foot for free-motion quilting and a walking foot. This is a great bonus as they are often usually a hefty additional price when you need to buy one separately.
Another reason it’s nice to have all of these feet included is that the Accomplish is one of the few Baby Lock machines that has full-shank feet – meaning the feet are attached to the shank, rather than interchangeable snap-on feet. However, there is a Master Shank attachment (BLQP-MB) sold separately that you can buy to make it possible to use other Baby Lock snap-on feet and accessories.
Bobbin – Another difference between the Accomplish and all of the other Baby Lock machines I’ve used is the Bobbin. All of the previous machines have all had a plastic bobbin that drops-in under the needle plate from the top, but the the Accomplish uses a slightly larger metal bobbin (far left) that inserts from underneath on the left side.
Thread Plate: Another “pro” of a straight-stitch machine is that since the needle never needs to move, the opening in the metal needle plate for the needle to descend into the machine is a small, round hole. This helps so much with preventing things like corners or triangle tips from small blocks getting caught or sucked down below the needle plate when piecing.
I also love the attached built-in, telescoping Thread Guide Bar at the top of the machine. I tend to do most of my piecing with large cones of Aurifil thread and this works perfectly for those – no need to use a separate cone holder next to the machine. The Thread Guide Bar also works great with other spool sizes and comes with accessories to help all kinds of thread (cotton, metalic, polyester, etc.) feed smoothly.
Pin-Feed system option helps with sewing difficult fabric such as velvet, suede or leather (I’m going to give it a try with Minky too) as the mechanism includes a little pin that comes up behind the foot/feed dogs and passes through all the layers of fabric to feed the layers evenly. I’ve also found it really helpful for strip-piecing or any other long seams like added borders, etc. as the pin mechanism acts as a guide to keep the pieces lined up straight and prevents them from slipping side to side. It’s very easy to activate and deactivate the pin feed mechanism.
Photo Source Sewing Machines Plus
An easily removeable Extension Table that creates about 23″ of workspace.
Other Accomplish assets:
Thread Cutter – Excellent. I LOVE a good automatic thread cutter. Saves time and thread, plus no long thread tails to have to trim later!
Threader – after having immediate success with the automatic threaders on every other Baby Lock machine I’ve used, I’ll admit that this one took me a lot more practice to manage. But it’s still a great feature to have once you get the system down.
Hands Free Knee Lift – to make it possible to maneuver and pivot with out stopping and using your hands to lift the presser foot. Also included is a detachable extension table with an additional 23-⅜ inches of space to accommodate larger projects. (And to keep the knee-lift handy, it stores neatly underneath the extension table.)
¼″ seam allowance options
I’m a total stickler and believer in a scant ¼″ seam allowance when quilt piecing. The Accomplish does come with a ¼″ foot (below on the left), but to be honest, this was the one place I was struggling a little to get an accurate scant ¼″. (I’m guessing my need for speed wasn’t helping.)
With other sewing machines I’ll simply adjust the needle slightly to the right to get that scant seam allowance. Moving the needle position is not an option for this machine so I did a little research. After some training from Baby Lock, I decided to use the general purpose straight-stitch foot paired with the adjustable seam guide. I set the seam guide just inside the ¼″ mark on the metal needle plate. This gave me a great scant ¼″. And I actually really like that the seam guide sticks out farther ahead of the foot and is easer to line up my fabric next to it well before it heads under the foot and feed dogs.
Quilting With the Baby Lock Accomplish
The Walking Foot is available for straight-line machine quilting. I’ve also used the walking foot multiple times to sew a binding to a quilt or piece a quilt back (so the fabric doesn’t shift). It’s a little loud, but it’s not bulky and works great. (Hint, be sure to turn off the Pin Feed system before using it. And you will need to slow down your speed some.)
I haven’t tried the free-motion quilting foot yet (mainly because my free-motion skills are pathetic) but I’m feeling motivated to try it out – and to practice so I can improve those currently-non-existent skills.
Finally, because this machine is a no-frills, straight-stitch work horse, it is made of mostly metal (though some of the outer case is plastic so that it’s not too heavy). As I mentioned, there aren’t a lot of buttons or dials. As a result it feels like a sturdy, uncomplicated machine.
A couple of Cons – or just aspects this machine doesn’t include. No speed control setting. (This is fine for me since on my machines that do have one, I just keep it at the highest speed setting all the time.)
This machine says it comes with LED lighting, but it’s not as bright as the lighting on my other Baby Lock machines. (This is easily fixed by adding something like this LED lighting strip specifically for sewing machines.)
So to sum-up all of these thoughts:
- 1500 stitches per minute (FAST!)
- Works well with thick fabrics or multiple layers
- Adjustable stitch length up to 7mm
- Excellent Thread Cutter
- Precision pin feed system
- Presser-foot lift (hands-free)
- Included extension table, walking foot
- Doesn’t offer speed control
- LED lighting feels minimal
- Built-in needle threader has a learning curve – but there still is a needle threader!
- Sewing Machine Feet are not interchangeable with other BL feet – unless you buy a Master Shank attachment
- Straight-stitches only – no zigzag, buttonhole, or satin stitch options
Once again, not every machine is right for every person – which is why it’s so awesome that we have choices between such a huge variety of machines!
If you are interested in a straight-stitch machine (or even just taking one for a test drive), you can find the Baby Lock Accomplish available from your favorite local Baby Lock Sewing Machine dealer. (I always recommend getting to know your local dealer!) If you don’t have a dealer locally, you can also find the Accomplish available online from Sewing Machines Plus.
Do you have a straight-stitch sewing machine? What are the features that you like about it? Leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments!