Brother HC1850 Review
Pros: Easy to use, solid buttonholes
Cons: Lackluster stitching quality, pricey
Our Analysis and Test Results
This model finished in the lower half of the pack, right behind the Janome 8077, but ahead of the Singer 4452. The Janome produces better stitches, but is a little bit harder to use and is far inferior at producing buttonholes. The Singer 4452 also produced slightly better stitches, but it much harder to use and set up, granting the edge to the HC1850.
To find out which sewing machine is truly the best, we bought them all and put them through a series of side-by-side tests, ranging from stitching on charmeuse to sewing on chiffon. In total, we conducted over 20 different tests, divided among four weighted metrics: Sewing, Ease of Use, Ease of Setup, and Buttonholes. The sections below detail how the HC1850 did and exactly how it compared to the rest of the pack.
Comprising the most weight of the entire group, our Sewing metric is responsible for 40% of the total score for each group. We had an experienced seamstress do a variety of different stitches on tons of different fabrics, basing our scoring primarily on the quality of the long straight stitch, zigzag stitch, scallop stitch, and attaching a zipper. The Brother HC1850 earned a 4 out of 10 for its subpar performance.
Starting off, the HC1850 delivered an average performance in our long straight stitch assessment. It did very well on satin and silk and about average on corduroy, chiffon, cotton, and denim. However, the stitch became distorted on the jersey knit fabric and extremely poor quality on the polyester charmeuse. The stitch was unacceptably loose, with large loops of thread on the underside of the fabric.
This machine gave us a little more difficulty with the zigzag and scallop stitches. It produced a decent quality stitch on the easier to sew fabrics — like cotton, thin leather, or chiffon — but struggled on the more difficult fabrics, such as woven cotton, charmeuse, and satin. The scallop stitch decreased in quality significantly more than the zigzag on these more difficult fabrics.
Finally, we weren't particularly thrilled with the HC1850 when it came to attaching the zipper.
The stitches became quite loose around the grommet, giving it a very sloppy appearance. TheHC1850 also has a full set of alphanumeric stitches, allowing you to customize your projects.
These stitches are shown on the underside of the stitch chart for the standard stitches.
Ease of Use
Next, we evaluated how much work it took to actually use each of these machines, with this metric accounting for 30% of the total score. We focused on the amount and quality of the built-in work light, the type of thread cutter, the needle stop position, automatic sewing capabilities, stitch selection method, and how intuitive and easy to understand the directions on the machine are. The HC1850 did exceptionally well in this metric, meriting an 8 out of 10 for its performance.
This model has an excellent set of labels and directions printed right on the machine. They are very intuitive and extremely helpful, especially for beginners and novice users.
This model has a decent work light and makes it very easy to select different stitches. There is a helpful chart with a key for all of the stitches right on the side of the machine.
The number of the stitch is then entered on the screen using a pair of up/down arrow keys.
This model does have automatic sewing, allowing you to use it without the foot pedal and the needle will always stop in the down position. It also has a built-in thread cutter, but we found it to be a little inconvenient to reach.
Ease of Set Up
Our next metric evaluated the amount of effort required to get the machine set up and sewing, responsible for 20% of the total score. We looked at the difficulty involved to thread the machine, thread the needle, wind a bobbin, and swap out presser feet. The Brother HC1850 earned a 6 out of 10 for its slightly above average performance.
It is about average to thread the upper machine with very clear instructions, but it is exceptionally easy to thread the bobbin. It has a standard needle threader and is relatively easy to thread to wind the bobbin. However, the bobbin does wind a little bottom heavy.
For the remaining 10% of the score, we judged the quality of the buttonhole produced by each machine. The HC1850 did a reasonably good job, earning it a 6 out of 10 for its performance.
Creating a buttonhole is a 1-step process on the HC1850. The finished product is about average and it isn't too much work to correctly align the buttonhole in the desired spot. However, we did notice the buttonholes created weren't quite as even as the top models, showing slight discrepancies in size between the top and bottom bar tacks.
The HC1850 isn't a great value, as there are machines that performed better and cost less.
All in all, the Brother HC1850 isn't one of our top recommendations. It pairs a high price with substandard sewing performance, with other machines that cost less far outpacing it.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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