Product Review: Sew Easy Stitcher

August 1 Update: Congratulations to the winners of the launch day giveaway on the July 27 post. I drew two inner critic stuffies winners– Linda Darby and Donna McGuigan! I had to draw two winners with all those great entries!

We now continue with our regularly scheduled post for today.
Alton Brown, the food geek from the Food Network, who shows us why cooking techniques work (or not) has a wonderful saying: The only kitchen appliance with just one use should be the fire extinguisher.

I feel the same way about art tools. Brushes can blend and apply paint, but they can also sweep away eraser dust, pick up water, apply glue, medium, and sweep together beads and glitter. Multi-use.  The number of single-use tools that companies sell to make us feel more creative make me cranky. These one-use tools often come with proprietary accessories, adding unnecessary stuff to our shelves and debt to our credit cards.

The tool as sold--it comes with a straight-stitch punching head--$8.99

When I saw the Sew Easy stitcher from Memory Keepers™ I immediately lit up with joy. The tool is shaped similar to a brayer, and the roller part has pointy parts that punch holes in paper. The heads are detachable and interchangeable.

The use? To punch holes in paper so you can sew a wide variety of patterns–flowers, letters, lazy-daisies, loops without hauling out your sewing machine. The patterns were incredibly cute, so I bought three heads–the loop shown below, a grid for stitching letters, and a pattern for stitching flower vines. $3.99 each

Origami paper, dusted with pan pastels to show holes more clearly. Works fine on this light-weight paper.

My plan was to punch holes in paper, then dust pan pastels over them and create both a punched pattern and a colored dot pattern. Then I thought of making positive (holes punched from front to back, they feel smooth) and negative (holes punched from back to front, they create a raised pushed-through holes alternate on card stock for a subtle white-on-white effect without stitching. Cards, journal covers–OK, I thought, multi-use tool. I had hopes that it may work on crisp fabric, too.

Heavier black paper doesn't pierce well. Neither do tags, watercolor paper, my journal, or cover stock.

I was in for a lot of disappointment. First of all, your results may vary. You may get much better results if you use the company-specified paper and the company-specified cutting mat as well as the company-specified embroidery floss (all sold separately). As I own a lot of paper and several cutting mats, I didn’t use the company-recommended ones. This is my opinion and my experience. I opened the package and began to experiment. I read and followed directions on the package.

An accessory that is recommended for best results is the cutting mat that has a layer of foam to make hole punching easier. I tried felt, foam, and the stiff foam that protects art supplies and computer equipment. All work well.

The Sew Easy is supposed to replace your sewing machine so you don’t have to drag the sewing machine out. Except the sewing machine will stitch through cardstock, watercolor paper, oaktag, index cards, and heavy black paper. The Sew Easy will not. It works fine on copy paper, origami paper and Arches Text Wove. In other words, it won’t work on 80 percent of the papers I use. If you use lightweight paper for your cards, you’ll get better results.

Two pegs visible on purple head, teal head has right peg broken. My opinion: pegs are soft plastic, too weak for the job.

The instructions to interchange the head are woefully inadequate. OK, I am left-handed and prone to mistakes, but the instructions say “Simply twist and pull stitch piercer head to remove, then replace with desired head (sold separately) by aligning the knobs and twisting.” The instructions don’t tell you in which direction to twist, they don’t have a diagram and they don’t tell you with what to align the knobs or how.  The first try in attaching one of the new heads, I snapped off the little plastic knob, which renders the $3.99 head useless.

Attachment hole shows wear after three head exchanges.

Gentle, but persistent attempts at attachment wears out the handle hole. Both attachment areas–on the handle and on the head–should never be soft plastic, it should be metal. Like the attachments on one of my favorite tools–the Dremel. Or another of my favorite tools–my lightweight sewing machine.

I’m disappointed, and the device is going back to the store. I will happily accept the responsibility for  the pattern head I broke. But hands that un-mat a cat’s long hair (without getting bitten) and know how to tat using sewing thread are probably not too rough if the instructions are clear.

I don’t like retail shopping and I’m not a single-use tool user. I’ll go back to using my sewing machine or simply drawing the pattern and poking holes with a tapestry needle if I want pierced holes. I was hoping to post some pretty project photos, but not with this tool. It’s just not for me.

FTC-required disclosure: I purchased all the equipment myself. I am not getting paid by anyone for my opinion.

6 thoughts on “Product Review: Sew Easy Stitcher

  1. Thanks for your refreshing review.. and for encouraging those of us who are also not ‘retail shoppers’. I think every time I have to step into a Michael’s or AC Moore, I get this very creepy ‘I’m being manipulated by Corporate’ feeling.. I especially resent the products that then require you to buy x amount of accessories to work. And I too, really prefer multi-use implements that also can double as art supplies. I make a number of items from recycled bits or thrift shop finds. I did recently purchase a bone folder and an awl as nothing I had on hand quite did the job for me, but in the end, even though the corporate monster stores had these items, I bought them from my local art shop.

    Anyway, I subscribed to you blog recently and now have signed up for the Artists of the Round Table group workshop (and have your new book!).. so am excited to play along soon, and in some of my own handmade journals even!

    • It’s very practical to have tools that do a variety of jobs. Bone folders do more than one thing–they do fold paper, but they also help turn corners, make marks for the awl, and score paper! Thanks for joining the class at ART–can’t wait to see those hard-made journals!

    • Well, the instructions say you should use their mat and their paper–and I didn’t do that. So they could say I didn’t use it as intended. It’s one of the major reasons I don’t buy these specialized tools. You have to buy all the equipment that comes with it, and I don’t want to play that game. And seriously, I’m not a “name.” But I’m thrilled you think I am!

  2. I use a simple dressmaking wheel for hole making and it serves my varied uses. I can make my own designs with it or I can use it for stitching. It’ easy and simple and dirt cheap.

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