Saturday, August 21, 2010

Babylock Companion 1550...

Yesterday I added to my stable. Babylock isn't a common brand around here - there is no dealer for probably a couple of hundred miles. But this one was in my sewing tech's shop for a long time, and he knew the history fairly well. Originally this machine had snap on feet and when I bought her she had a screw on zigzag foot on, and was somewhat in need of a cosmetic exterior cleaning. My sewing tech gave me a snap on shank, made sure it fit correctly, and then we tried her out. All the original feet were there in the accessory case, all except the original zigzag foot! She also still has her cover plate for the feed dogs and a couple of the original plastic bobbins. It takes the same bobbins that my Elna 2100 does, as well as the same feet. The Elna is also a vertical front loading machine with snap on low shank feet. It's nice to have them share feet, but I bought a snap on Zigzag foot today at Joann's for $4.99 because you really do need an all purpose foot! And I don't want to mess with the screw on foot it had on when traded in. The manual is good, all in English, nicely done and from that I knew that the machine came with a snap on as standard because all the feet it came with snap on. :) Having a 5mm stitch width max, she makes a nice delicate stitch in all the stitches. Nice straight stitch, very very nice - and the back of the fabric stitching looks as nice as the front, which is nice - or is it that the bottom thread looks as nice as the top?! She sews just fine - not the quietest machine ever, but this machine is a heavy solid machine probably from the early to mid 90s. Probably a lot of metal in there. Some quirks of this Babylock that I am not used to - although it has a one step buttonhole, on the other hand you cannot drop the feed dogs. Odd combo of features. There are about 14 stitches and that one step buttonhole. It is an adequate buttonhole, and the functionality is solid and the foot is better than the Janome-Elna-Kenmore and more auto-buttonhole foot you see everywhere. It does work the same - you put a button it the back and that sizes your buttonhole. It works flawlessly, first the bottom bartac, then the left side, then the top bartac and then the right side, and a finishing stitch.The machine has a bit of a clacky sound which my tech said seemed to be relatively common in these Babylocks. A web friend mentioned this also, and she hadn't heard that my tech had said this. So that is a validation - it certainly isn't a problem in the needle-bobbin area. It makes a nice bobbin with a very solid bobbin winding function. The only odd thing that stands out is the accessory case. On the positive side, it is capacious. It is a long rectangle and has a nice deep storage compartment without any division or anything to be awkward when adding items. On the down side, it fits in under the extension part of the bed which removes for a free arm. It is attached in under the extension part and you must detach it to use it and you have to do that before you start to sew because there is no other way to get at the accessories. Another plus though, the storage is right side up and opens on top so things can't slide out at you like they can on some of the cheaper bottom line Janomes and Kenmores of the last several years (the ones that have the accessories in the tube of the extension, not the ones which open out). She's cream with that pebbled finish on top and on most of the body that was popular back in the 80s and early 90s, and she has pinkish to maroon lettering and trim. All in all a lot of fun to get another machine to play with, and a good solid machine.

December 2013 - added a photo of cleaning out bobbin area from the manual after the comment from Angel in the comment section.
You can see in the picture the various parts of the bobbin area. The shuttle race, the hook and the little door thingies.  I sold this machine last year, so do not have the machine to photograph.  Hope this picture will help. click on it to make it much larger. Thanks for the comment!

Here is a link to the threading diagram and you can see the bobbin area and components in that page.