Do you love embroidery but you wish you had to work less? Or to have more finished high-quality products as soon as possible? Well, look no further, because I will now tell you my experience with the Baby Lock Sewing and embroidery machine named Altair.
And as this machine is suitable for both beginners and professionals (and since I’m not much of a writer), I’ll try and cover as many topics as possible from both my experience and the information I found on the internet. Hopefully, this text will help and ease your sewing problems, if you happen to have them.
Baby Lock Altair Review
- What I used to love the most when I bought this beauty was to transfer patterns from my phone to the machine and watch it start sewing on its own!
- The so-called IQ Designer helps you create your embroidery designs.
- This Baby Lock sewing machine has something the company named “IQ intuition positioning”, a system that perfectly places design patterns for impeccable sewing.
- What amazed me the most is the huge field of operation – 9-1/2” x 14”! More than great for a machine of this size!
- It has over 700 built-in stitches and around 500 built-in designs to help beginners or simply anyone who needs new ideas.
Why I bought it?
The reason is simple – I’ve been a professional embroider for over a decade and have made quite some money out of it, to be honest. But, most importantly, there have been several occasions where other people would ask me questions about this beautiful profession.
So, as it goes with human nature, I suddenly got an urge to teach other people and share a bit of my knowledge. At first, I was just showing patterns and my artwork, but that was not enough for beginners. Then I tried to do YouTube videos but soon abandoned the idea because, quite frankly, those videos were atrocious. And then I finally got the right idea – to make a workshop.
Since I sadly got rid of my old machines, I was looking for the one machine that would suit all of my needs – to be modern, to look traditional, not to be complicated, to be able to sew lots of things, to be fun, etc. And after thorough research, there it was – the Baby Lock embroidery machine Altair!
It had all I needed and at a very reasonable price. Everyone who has visited my workshop simply fell in love with embroidery, and I believe a great part of it is this machine. It’s fun to use, it does the job great, and is quite enjoyable to watch. I don’t know, I guess I kind of fell in love with it myself. It’s a very good machine and has served me very well.
About Baby Lock Altair
Now that my background and personal feelings about the machine have been laid down, let’s take a look at the Baby Lock sewing and embroidery machine itself.
What was mentioned already is the incredible fun and ease of use of Altair’s system. You can put anything on your desired cloth with a few simple steps. The IQ Intuition, as they call it, allows you to take a picture with your smartphone and transfer the picture wirelessly to the machine. The machine will show you the image in full color on its screen and it can proceed to create such patterns.
The app is free to download and once opened, shows the exact image of what your embroidery will look like when finished. Of course, the Altair screen will then help you with positioning said image onto clothing and you can’t miss at all!
This “modern” feature has been of much fun to both my “fellows” (as I like to call people who come to my workshop) and me as well!
When talking about modern technology, screens, patterns, and designs, it is notable mentioning that you can make your designs either directly on the screen, or your PC and then transfer them to Altair via USB drive. Of course, it is much easier to simply take a photo or mess around on your computer, but drawing with your winger on an Altair touchscreen is so much fun! Especially if you have children! Give them to draw something with their little fingers and immortalize their art in stitches.
Of course, you can upload an image from your phone (as stated above) and work on it as well! Take a photo of something you find interesting and add some personal touch with your details and colors! So, so much fun!
The screen is huge and colorful, and that’s more than you need. The exact size of it is 10.1” so it feels like drawing on a sheet of paper, really.
Drawing your art can be done with a pen that is specially designed and comes with this screen. Altair has various tools that will help you out in the drawing process, and you can create anything from simple patterns to real colorful drawings. I know I spent many hours in front of it.
The picture quality of this screen is great but not perfect. The colors are vivid and powerful, and I can distinguish between shades without any problems. But the screen is “just” LCD, and as my husband explains, it’s not the best quality on today’s market. Of course, he was talking about TVs and stuff and this is an embroidery machine. But still, too bad it doesn’t have those better screens with more active colors, that would have been amazing!
Lots of space
Since this machine is the size of a normal traditional sewing machine, I was expecting it would be difficult to maneuver the material around. But, to my amazement, the Altair machine has over 11″ of a workspace (from the right of the needle)! Some big chunks of material can be put on this space and it works like a charm.
Besides, when talking about workspace, the embroidery field is 9,5” x 14”, therefore you can stitch big designs on big material surfaces. Simply fantastic!
Built-in designs and stitches
The Baby Lock Altair sewing and embroidery machine already has a plethora of designs and stitches that you can use anytime! From what I’ve read, there are over 700 stitches and about 500 designs at your disposal. To be honest, maybe half of them are just basic ones, but you can combine some to make it cool. Other designs and stitches are cool and I’ve used some of them on more than one occasion.
When in hurry and you have a big order to fulfill, this method will come quite in handy. Besides, using these built-in features can help you out when using the machine for the first time. You’ll see how it works, what to expect, and you’ll get some ideas for your next work. I know I have.
To make things easier, the needle has its own “beam of light”, so to say. There is a small LED pointer that shows where the needle will drop first. You can use this to make precise designs and reduce unnecessary cuts, especially when starting from the middle.
Plus, it looks quite cool.
Pros and Cons
- You can stitch any image you come across on your phone.
- It’s easy and fun to use.
- The screen is fantastic and offers so many options.
- There are preset stitches and designs to help you out.
- Great for beginners.
- A new machine is a bit pricey.
- A bit more manual labor than with some other machines of similar price.
Value Editorial and Buying debates
I find Baby Lock machines to be quite suitable for both beginners and professionals. Here is a quick guide on what to look for when buying a sewing and embroidery machine for the first time.
Say No to Plastic: Machines with a heavy plastic shell and frame have less durability and strength. How do I know? On the weight. A good sewing machine has a good weight, this gives us the guideline that all the components are made of metal and not plastic. In addition, a machine with a good weight achieves greater stability on the table when sewing.
Not because having more stitches is a better machine, the decision to buy your sewing machine should not be based on the number of different stitches it has. Since basically we always use the same stitches and very sporadically some decorative stitches. By basic stitch, I mean straight, zig-zag, buttonhole, and some other more. It is also recommended that you have a separate Stitch Width and Stitch Length Selector. This will allow us to choose the measurements that we like the most in each job and for each Stitch.
A good machine has speed and strength. And the type of fabric that the sewing machine can sew is another element that we must take into account. It is not the same to sew one layer of thick fabric or a padding (several layers of fabric), so we must check the force of the motor and the drag, as well as a speed regulator.
It goes without saying that when sewing large and heavy pieces we must do it at a slower speed than with other lighter materials. Some types of fabrics require special needles, and we must also bear this in mind.
Presser foot and accessories: Don’t worry about buying all the accessories for your machine. To get started, all you need is the “multipurpose” foot that works for most fabrics, a zipper foot, an invisible zipper foot, and a blind stitch foot. Many machines come with these basic presser feet, in addition to the other accessories for machine maintenance and use.
I recommend that the presser has an “easy change” system, which avoids you being, every two by three, with the screwdriver or the small screw to change between one presser foot and another.
Baby Lock Altair FAQ
Is Baby Lock a good brand?
The shortest answer possible is – yes.
Baby Lock has been around for quite some time, and while some people might not have heard about the company, it can’t be denied that the machines are good.
Have you heard of Brother sewing and embroidery machine manufacturer? Well, both companies share the same factory, so you know Baby Lock will have great production.
Apart from that, you can find a lot of positive Baby Lock sewing machines reviews on the internet from people who have used them. Don’t trust just me, surf a little bit and find out more about other experiences. It won’t hurt, it can just help.
How long do Baby Lock sewing machines last?
Well, I’ve got a used one two years ago, and the previous owner told me they used it for two years, so my beauty now is active for about 4 years total. Of course, while I was experimenting a bit and used this machine for my workshop, it didn’t work “full-time”. I can’t say about the previous owner but this one looks well-maintained.
From what I’ve heard, Baby Lock machines can last over 5 years, of course, with proper use and maintenance.
Why is it called Baby Lock sewing machine?
This is quite an interesting story, well, at least to me.
Apparently, when the two Japanese guys Suzuki and Sukuma decided to make their own machines, they wanted to make them smaller and home-friendly. Of course, they were professionals who have been working in a factory, so they knew their craft. But factory machines are too big and could not fit into a normal home, especially smaller Japanese homes.
So, by making a smaller machine, they named it “baby”, and since factory machines are called “overlockers”, they combined the two words – Baby Overlocker = Baby Lock.
Is Baby Lock a good sewing machine?
Baby Lock is an old Japanese company with more than 50 years of history. They started by producing only overlock machines and eventually they began to produce sewing machines and crossover patterns. Today they have around 50 models and make sewing, embroidery, quilting, and mending machines.
In summary – Japanese + long history = good machine.
Baby Lock is arguably in the top 10 sewing and embroidery machine manufacturers, and as such has fantastic machines. I know this one is amazing and I will use it until it completely falls apart.
What is the best baby lock sewing machine?
Well, I’ve used only this one so I can’t tell for sure. The research I did on the internet led me to believe that Baby Lock Zest is probably the most popular machine from this company. Why?
Apparently, this machine is a good starter machine for new sewers or kids because it has enough features to be practical but not too many to become overwhelming. With 15 built-in stitches, a free arm for free hemming, and a portable design, it doesn’t take up storage space in a small apartment. People can do a lot with this machine, no matter the age. As said, Baby Lock is a popular brand for high-end machines, and this little unit is a great place to start learning how to sew. Baby Lock has a 25-year limited warranty.
All in all, I have only words of praise for this machine. It has served me more than well for the past two years and my friends are extremely happy to learn embroidery on it. It’s fun, easy to use, has a lot of built-in patterns, works well, and second-hand machines are very affordable. I am now fully recommending it to everyone.
I hope this text has been somewhat informative and if you liked what you’ve read, hopefully, you’ll buy this beauty of the machine. All I can say to that is you won’t regret it.