Let me just preface this review with the fact that I am typing this review solely because I can't work on my costume right now because looking at this machine is making me want to cry. So I have come to this review section to a) vent my frustrations and b) look at reviews for purchasing my own machine.
1) What Machine do you own? Include the maker and model number please
Brother LS2125i (coincidentally, the one lolishotahunny was considering above.)
2) when did you purchase it/how old is it?
I am borrowing this from a "friend", who isn't much of a friend because no real friend would let a friend touch this piece of crap. The machine is probably a year old - I found it listed on Walmart for about $80. That is the root of the problem right there. Cheap new machines are great for doing basic repairs, but no cosplayer should be tempted to go this cheap. In the spirit of graciousness, I will say that I am lucky to have a machine to use at all right now. Seriously, I am extremely grateful to borrow a machine. She probably didn't even realize it was so bad because she never used it herself - she was truly doing me a great favor and for that I am very happy. I don't mean to diminish her kindness and generosity, her intentions were pure. But really, it was like a cruel mirage. I could have been spared feeling elated to borrow a machine and then the huge let down that it isn't a sewing machine at all - it is a machine that creates crushed expectations and broken dreams. (And no costumes.)
3) How much sewing experience do you have? (how long sewing, how advanced your projects are)
I'd consider myself an advanced intermediate sewer. I've been sewing for cosplay since 2003, but sewed basic stuff before that. Some more complicated works:
4) what do you like most about the machine?
It is a very calming shade of white. But staring at its soothing exterior can't calm my rage when I look up at it after sewing a puckered seam and say WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU.
5) what do you not like?
That it is not my machine, so that I can theraputically obliterate it. In all seriousness though, it can't sew through more than 4 layers of fabric without the needle breaking. And yes, I'm using the right needles for the fabric, but just to be sure, I experimented with different sized needles with the same results. Thank goodness I am just sewing cotton because I think this thing would combust if 2 pieces of vinyl (or knits, or sheers, or spandex) were put anywhere on it.
There is no speed control, even when the pedal is held down part way it is very sporadic. I am having to go around curves by hand-turning the wheel. And most irritating - very limited stitch width and stitch length control. I mean, how hard is it to have 2 knobs to control stitch width and stitch length, so you can create your own combinations? This is is very basic. But apparently Brother thought even this was too complicated for this beginner's sewing machine, so there is ONE knob where you can choose 4 straight stitch lengths, and then 3 (only 3!) widths of zig zag stitches BUT YOU CAN'T CONTROL THE STITCH LENGTH on the zig zag stitches. There is a buttonhole stitch, so there is ONE satin-stitch-esque option. Just hope you don't need to applique with anything wider than a freaking buttonhole stitch.
6) Would you recommend your machine to a fellow cosplayer?
Only if that cosplayer needed an $80 paperweight. ZING! But really, I know that this is a basic beginner's machine, and priced accordingly. I'd say it's okay if you're not sure sewing is for you and you don't want to waste a lot of money on something you'll never use again, but even then, I can't recommend it. You'd be guaranteed to hate sewing forever. I know that there are many reliable cheap new sewing machines out there. This is not one of them. However, I noticed that this machine got a few favorable reviews here. To the people out there who can use this machine, I tip my hat to you. You are more patient than I.
Over the years, I have sewn on dozens of machines - industrial machines, high end quilt machines, ancient 1960s hunks of metal machines, cheap machines, and everywhere in between. I have sewn on some wonderful inexpensive machines that haven't caused nearly the amount of headache this machine has caused me. If you are a beginning sewer, please - I beg you, from someone with experience - find something else. Sewing can be enjoyable, I promise.