First, let's be honest. Every single time I say or type the word laser, I feel the need to hold my pinky finger to the side of my mouth and say "laser" in my worst Dr. Evil from Austin Powers impression. Surely you do the same? No?? Moving on then...
I have wanted to add an after-market laser to my vintage Bernina 930 Record for some time now. I had searched for one that might work, but never had any luck. Then I saw a tip from @downgrapevinelane on Instagram about one that was working for her! In the mean time, I switched to using my new-to-me Juki TL-2010Q sewing machine. It was the perfect time to do some experimenting!
I ordered the laser on Amazon for around $13, but it is also available from Harbor Freight (for about half the price!). @downgrapevinelane purchased hers on Ebay. (Note: I'm just sharing the love with you. I did not receive any compensation for this post, and I purchased the laser with my own money. These are not affiliate links, so I won't receive any compensation if you make a purchase.)
The laser is made by Central Machinery. The head of the laser rotates, and the connection between the body of the laser and the mount allows it to move up and down. It works using three small batteries (included in the package). The class 2 laser emits a thin, straight, red beam. It comes with three options for mounting: small screws, magnets, and a sticky pad. (Note: As with any laser, do not look into the laser itself directly. If you have small children, make sure they can not get hold of it. It is perfectly safe to view the light that hits the sewing machine surface.)
I took it out of the package eager to start sewing. Then, to my surprise, discovered that the metal on the outside of my Juki is not magnetic! I wanted the laser to be easily removable, so the screws and sticky pad that came with it were not an option. I decided the best option here was a removable Command strip. (Edited to add: I am going to upgrade to one of the Command strips with Velcro so I can reposition the laser more easily.)
I positioned the laser to be out of the way of the thread and all moving parts of the sewing machine, being sure that the laser beam was still a straight line in front of the needle. Even at an angle, the laser beam is still straight and crisp.
Next up was a sewing test! For the project I was sewing, I needed to stitch a diagonal line from corner to corner. Usually, I would use a ruler and draw a line on the wrong side of every square. However, using the laser, I didn't have to draw any lines!
As the sewing machine feeds the fabric, be sure that the corner of the square stays in line with the laser beam the entire time.
It's so much faster than drawing lines, and much more accurate than just eyeballing a straight line!
The laser also works for sewing half-square triangles two at a time. Just adjust the laser so the beam is 1/4" to the left or right of the needle. Then keep the corners of the square in line with the laser beam as the fabric feeds. Flip the square around and sew a second line the same way, then cut down the middle as usual. Perfect HSTs without the added step of drawing the lines!
I am very excited for this new and fancy feature on my sewing machine! With two young boys in the house, every minute of sewing time is precious. I love finding ways to use those precious minutes more efficiently!
Linking up to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday at Late Night Quilter.