Baby Lock Grace Sewing Machine - BL40A Reviews

Baby Lock Grace Sewing Machine - BL40A

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Excellent day-to-day sewing machine

Mar 5, 2011 (Updated Sep 15, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:high quality, sews well, lightweight, portable, easy to use, intuitive

Cons:arm may be too short for quilting larger projects, some problems sewing over bulky seams

The Bottom Line: Great, versatile sewing machine.  Perfect for most practical household use especially with limited space.


I purchased the BabyLock Grace to replace my old clunker mechanical Singer that wasn't worth fixing/maintaining anymore.  Grace is considered an entry-level electronic sewing machine with pretty much most of features and functions that is useful for general household sewing and quilting.

bottom line:  for casual sewer who wants a little more ease of use over the traditional mechanical sewing machine, this is a very good machine to get.

Here is the Baby Lock web site with detail specifications:
http://www.babylock.com/a-line/grace/

Here is a very informative video I found on YouTube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHElRg1jpHw

I believe MSRP for this is around $700, but typically one can usually find it on sale (right around large quilting shows that dealers exhibit) for about $400-450.  As with any Baby Lock machines, you can only buy it from an authorized retailer, and they will not ship (unless local).

The needle position can be varied from left (0-position) to right (7mm position) in 0.5mm increments.  Out-of-the-box, the needle defaults to left-most position, but that can be changed to center default (so when you turn the machine on, the needle will position itself in the center of the presser feet opening).  Stitch length can be varied from 0.2 to 5mm.  from 0.2 to 2mm, you can vary the stitch length in 0.2mm increments, but for length longer than 2mm, it is 0.5mm increments.   This may or may not frustrate people who are expecting infinite adjustments between the extreme settings.  For those wondering how to get 0mm stitch, you can accomplish this by choosing a stitch pattern that uses reinforcement stitch (hard to explain here, but it can be done easily).

Also, you can set the default "end of sewing" needle position to either up or down (very easy to change) that is remembered between power on/off cycle.  It has auto buttonhole maker (never used it, but have seen it demonstrated).  Really cool.

It only comes with zig-zag throat plate (no straight stitch plate option) so that may frustrate quilters who are looking for that extra bit of precision at the end of the fabric when piecing. But most of the time I haven't had much problem with the fabric being pushed into the zig-zag hole and skewing the seam.  only when you're ending a piece in a sharp triangle point, it can be a problem (you will need to put a small stabilizer at the end).

It comes with 7 feet:
Blind stitch foot
Button fitting foot
Buttonhole foot
Overcasting foot
Satin stitch foot
Zig zag / standard foot
Zipper foot

The machine is very well-made.  When you sew on it it just feels solid.  Controls are very easy to use and intuitive.  built-in accessory holder is very helpful in keeping all the feet accessible.  Being electronic, it takes much of the guesswork out regarding needle position, sewing length and width.  It has 40 built-in stitches for general sewing, some decorative and hemming.  It does not have all the fancy decorative stitch, but for most practical purposes, you can do quite a bit with what you get.  If you're an enthusiast and do a lot of specialized sewing (quilting, dressmaking, etc) you might be happier with the upgraded models (Elizabeth, Tempo, Melody) just to give you the extra "nifty functions" that are specific to the activity (longer arm, more stitch selection, finer needle position selection, etc)

It is relatively small in size and lightweight so it's great for portability.  I don't have a dedicated sewing area, so after every sewing session I have to take everything down.  the size and weight makes this very easy to do.  The variety of presser feet available (both from BabyLock, and other low shank feet) makes this machine very versatile.  It sews straight and precisely. Snap-on feet are very easy to remove/attach, and threading is very easy, thanks to auto needle threader (not fully automated, but it's very effective) and an innovative bobbin threader design.  BabyLock shares many parts with Brother machines, so many of the Brother presser feet can be used (make sure can return it if you're going to try a Brother feet, just in case it doesn't fit), which makes it easy to find various specialty feet available to use.

I purchased the machine mainly for quilting.  Although it's a very good model for piecing blocks, due to the short arm, it can get difficult to quilt larger pieces.  It generally does not have any problems sewing straight over bumpy seams, except when you have 4 or 5 layers of seam intersections, you may have to frequently lift the feet to re-settle the bulk under the needle/feet to sew straight.

The machine is free arm, so you can sew sleeves, but as with all BabyLock machines, the throat area is a bit wide, so if you have lots of toddler/young child clothing to sew, it can get a bit difficult. Lighting uses a single LED near the needle.  It's adequate for general use, but if you're doing applique or precision sewing (stitch in the ditch, etc) I find it's not quite enough especially in my poorly lit room.

Overall I am very pleased with the machine, and really love it.  If it weren't for the short arm length, I would say this would be a perfect machine for all practical use, even for quilting (if you buy the necessary feet, that is).


Recommend this product? Yes

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