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TO THE TEST: Sewing machines.

Byline: Tested by CARAMEL QUIN

XL2230, pounds 99.99 (0845 606 0626, www.brother.co.uk/sewing)

LIKE the Toyota, this is a good basic machine but for pounds 99 we would still hope to be able to adjust the length and width of the stitches.

After all, if the pounds 49 JL Mini can give a few more options then surely this should be able to. Otherwise the Brother's 10 stitches and four-step buttonhole are good, as are the instructions.

JL Mini, pounds 49 (0845 604 9049, www.johnlewis.com)

IT may look like a toy, but the mini's 10 stitches are enough for most jobs except buttonholes. Stitch length is more adjustable than with the Toyota or Brother XL2230. It can even sew together a couple of layers of denim.

There's no light and the pedal's laughably tiny, but it would make a great starter machine or portable second machine

J324, pounds 149 (0161 666 6011, www.janome.co.uk)

THIS sturdy machine has everything you could need, including 24 stitches and a one-step buttonhole. Simply pop your button into the foot and it sews a buttonhole to fit it. There's a great gizmo that makes threading the needle easier too. Easy-to follow instructions and a hard plastic cover complete the excellent package.

Toyota SPA15, pounds 99 (0870 600 8784, www.argos.co.uk)

A GOOD price, but it's disappointing that you can't change the length or width of its 15 stitches. And the "built-in sewing advisor" - little cartoon instructions - baffled us.

The instruction manual was fairly easy to follow though. And the machine coped fine with heavy fabrics, (four-step) buttonholes and more.

Brother ES2020, pounds 159 (0800 092 5215, www.sewingmachinesdirect.co.uk)

INCREDIBLE value for a computerised machine. Pick a stitch (from 40) and it displays recommended stitch length and width, even telling you which foot to use. All mod cons including one-step button hole. Exclusive to SMD, it comes with loads of freebies and a five-year guarantee.

CAPTION(S):

7/10; 9/10; 9/10; 7/10; 10/10
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 26, 2008
Words:344
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