Saturday, September 6

IKEA Sewing Machine Review


When my youngest daughter turned six (she's 9 now) we bought her a Mini Janome sewing machine. For the 100 euros it cost I expected a simple but good machine from a well known brand like Janome. Sadly the Mini Janome has never worked properly, made a terrible noise when it did work and using it was frustrating for both Luna and myself. Because it's no fun trying to teach or learn how to sew when the machine jams all the time! We ended up practising on my own sewing machine (a Husqvarna Sapphire 835) and I wish I hadn't traded in my simple but perfectly fine Huskystar E20 when I bought my own machine a couple of years ago. Because it would have been perfect for my daughter.

Ye Olde Huskystar E20. I even made a stuffed turtle with it. 

Fast forward to 2014. I was at IKEA with a shopping cart full of stuff I didn't know I needed when I left home that morning, when I stumbled upon 'Sy' (it means Sewing in Swedish) the IKEA sewing machine. It was a little under 80 euros*, looked pretty sturdy to me, with all the basic stitches etc you would expect on a simple machine so I decided to take a chance and take it home with me.
* I later checked and in the US and the UK the Sy is much cheaper, about $80 (50 euros) and 45 GBP (55 euros), wish I could have bought it for those prices!

And while I bought the Sy for my daughter I really want to stress that this isn't a kid's sewing machine. It's a proper-grown up machine, so you will find no extra kid-friendly or safety things on this machine. Luna is very careful when she sews and has been watching and learning for a few years now which is why I trust her with a 'big' sewing machine.

Obviously I wanted to try it out immediately (before handing it over to my daughter) and after an initial misunderstanding on my part about the front loading bobbin case it was ready to go. Here's my (and Luna's) experience with the machine so far.

The machine is quite heavy, about six kilos, which is good as it doesn't 'walk away' from you while you sew as smaller and lighter machines sometimes do. It has all the basic stitches and then some. Like most people we just use the straight stitch and zig zag stitch. You can't adjust the stitch length on this machine but there's three straight stitches on the dial with three different lengths. I find the smallest one (A) rather tiny and the third one (C) is nearly regular in length but we use the middle one (B) the most :)



There are also various zig zag options so we're good with the most basic stitches.

There is a back stitch option and (yay!) a thread cutter on the side. It also has a light which is good. The bobbin loads in the front, something I'm not used to, so it's always a surprise when the thread runs out. On the little metal plate there's a seam guide too.

The Sy comes with a pedal (which is quite small and very plastic-y) and several extras like a seam ripper and some bobbins. I forgot to take a photo of the accessories when we just had the Sy (and by now some have gone MIA in the sewing room) but you can see them here on the IKEA website.


The one thing that I noticed right away is that the machine sews very fast, even if you can control the speed a little bit with the pedal it still goes quite fast. If you try to go slow it tends to jam. This is clearly something Luna still has to adjust to. It's also important to guide the fabric until the last bit of your sewing or it will trail off and leave you with a crooked seam. My Husqvarna which was about 800 euros more expensive does that too by the way...

For most of your straight line sewing (paired with a little sewing experience) the speed isn't a problem but sometimes you need to sew slowly, when you sew curves for example, and that would become tricky on this machine.

Winding thread on the bobbin was an interesting experience. The manual was very clear and easy to follow but it involved pulling out the hand wheel on the side which was a new to me action. The end result was a quite loosely wound up bobbin. However that didn't give us any problems when we started sewing with it. I only just found out IKEA has some excellent Sy instruction videos on YouTube including one for the winding up bobbins.



Currently Luna is making Log Cabin blocks for her very first quilt on the Sy and it's going very well. The actual quilting will probably be done on my Husqvarna though as I don't expect the Sy is quite up to that task.

If you are a beginner and you have a little more cash to spend then you might consider buying something like The Huskystar E20  I mentioned earlier. It was about twice the price (perhaps a little more) of the Sy and in my view definitely in another league. A good second hand sewing machine is always option too of course... However if you only sew every now and then and if your projects are quite straightforward (pillows, simple curtains and bags etc) the no non-sense Sy is good value for your money in my opinion.

Hope this review was useful!

21 comments:

  1. What will Ikea come up with next? I love them :) Thanks for the heads up on this, it might be a good Christmas gift for a beginning sewer.

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  2. sy is my main machine at the mo, since the brother died and I'm undecided waht I want instead. I'm mainly a handsewer, but find sy ok for making mens shirts etc. I actually find it a little on the slow side tho - maybe I'm used to industrial machnes.

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  3. Hi!

    Do you think I can sew on Nylon with this machine? (I'm a beginner)

    Thanks :)

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    1. I haven't sewn with Nylon before on this or other machines. It might be tricky especially with heavier nylon fabrics. sorry I can't be of more help!

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  4. I am a beginner and I must admit that most of my sewing will be to hem my own pants including jeans. Is the Sy up for the task of heavier fabrics like denim? Thanks!

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    1. I sewed a denim pencil case with Sy and it worked just fine.

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    2. I've shortened jeans, heavy duty work pants, corduroy trousers on my SY. Like a boss.

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  5. This was a fantastic review. Thank you !

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  6. Thanks for the great review!

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  7. It doesn't seem like it does zipper stitches. Does it? Thanks for the review!

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  8. I started sewing two years ago when I received Sy as a Christmas gift. I had never sewn before so I decided to go for a basic sewing course. At the course everybody had fancy, old style sewing machine and mine looked like a toy one. Well, they all had problems with fabric jam, jumping stitches, while I sewed with no problems. Now it is becoming a bit too noisy and I noticed that I have to clean it up quite frequently, but as you mentioned quilting for example, I already quilted a couple of runners and a baby quilt and it was ok. As I become more "expert" I'm thinking to move to something more serious, but they are too expensive so let's see.

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  10. I have one of these sewing machines and my 8yr old son is currently learning to use it. Can you tell me if it is possible to sew anything but straight lines with it. I was thinking of curves round the toes of a stocking. I tried it yesterday with the foot up and the thread just went all loose on the back. Might be obvious but I'm new to sewing machines. Thanks.

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    1. Hi there, you can not sew with the foot up! Curves can be made by slowly feeding fabric through the machine although that's not an easy task with this machine!

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  11. I can't find it on the Ikea website...could it be that they no longer sell it?

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    1. Hi there, I just looked and I don't see it on the website anymore either. Maybe it's discontinued??

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  12. hi. I got this sewing machine from my grandmother (brand new, she got it for a gift). i dont have good experiences so far, if I push a pedal slow it doesnt even start to sew, I have to turn the side wheel with hand. Sometimes it jams and the needle wont go anywhere, even if I push it by hand with a side wheel... Do you have any idea what could be wrong? It is very frustrating, becouse you can not control stiches... Thanks.

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    1. hi there, to be honest I'm not sure why it jams. Things I always check when something is wrong is whether the machine is threaded right, whether the needle needs replacing or if there's not too many layers/too thick fabric in the machine.

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  13. Hi- great review! I bought a Sy last year and have pretty much sewed a whole bedroom with it, but the power cord/pedal has vanished. Do you know where one can find this part? Thanks!

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    1. Hello, I have no idea but you could check with your local IKEA maybe?

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