To start off with, the Simplicity BH-600 is identical to the BabyLock BL-101; they’re the same machine.
These are low-priced blindhemming machines designed for light home use — if you run a tailor shop or do a lot of blindhemming, you probably want something heavier. BUT — if you’re hemming a few pairs of pants or a set of curtains, this machine will do just fine. The machine is very light and easy to carry.
These machines use a straight needle, not a curved needle like heavier duty blindhemming machines. The specifications suggest an “Organ” needle — but I’ve used my Schmetz 705 needles successfully.
Note that this is a single-thread chainstitch machine, not a double-thread lockstitch machine. The stitching can be pulled out — it’s not locked in place!
Also, the needle lies parallel to the fabric, not perpendicular like a standard sewing machine. The needle doesn’t go all the way through the fabric; instead, it skims just below the surface when making its chainstitch.
The main problem I’ve had with this machine is finding documentation. There isn’t much — even the manual is just a few pages long — and it’s very hard to find. The main reason I needed the docs was to figure out how to thread the machine. If you’re not familiar with blind hemming machines, it’s really hard to figure out.
I tend to leave a neutral color thread in the machine — I figure no one’s going to see them blindhems anyway! I’m using a brighter color here for the pictures.
You can kind of follow the thread path in the pictures. From the thread spool, the thread rises through the thread stand (which you can raise and lower), then down around the “Stitch Length” knob. This knob controls how far apart each chainstitch lies (clearer when you see the stitch pictures below).
The thread then moves forward around the tension knob. The knob is simply labeled “+” and “-” — there are no dots or numbers to help you find a previous setting. You might want to use a Sharpie pen to help you here!
From the tension knob, the thread goes into the front cover portion. There’s a clear plastic cover that opens up (it’s closed in the first picture at top) to reveal the needle mechanism. The thread flows through the needle eye and then trails either out the back or the front.
Note how the needle lies horizontal, not vertical! When you insert your fabric for hemming, the needle will skim just below the surface of your folded hem to make stitches.
Since the needle lies horizontal, that means it will move left-to-right. Sometimes it will be all the way to the left, sometimes it will be all the way to the right.
When the needle is all the way to the left as shown, the needle is not touching the fabric and you can safely remove or place fabric.
When the needle is all the way to the right, it will be inserted into any fabric being hemmed.
If you stop your hemming with the needle to the right … and then try to pull away your fabric … you WILL BREAK THE NEEDLE! Found this out the hard way.
There’s no reverse feed — you can’t “lock in” stitches. The documentation suggests you simply overlap the beginning and end of your stitching. Of course, this only applies if you’re sewing something circular like a pants leg hem.
Note the two metal “moustache” looking items at the bottom of the metal workings. There’s a “guide” blade between these two pieces. You’ll guide your folded hem with this guide blade — it tells you where the hem stitching will occur. You can unscrew the screw to shift this guide blade left or right.
Okay, the plastic front cover is closed now — and we’re finished with the thread path. Not with the controls, though!
This knob on the right front of the machine sets the stitching depth. This determines how far below the surface of the fabric you’ll be sewing. Set it too far and you’ll be able to see the stitches on the other side of the fabric. Set it not enough and the needle might hit the folded hem but miss the other part of the fabric.
On to the side — the lever shown moves the sewing “arm” up and down. When you flip the lever up, the arm bar raises up to meet the needle works.
To sew, you’ll position your fabric (note how the left end of the front arm bar is open — you’ll set your pants leg around this end) and then raise the lever. If you’ve held the folded hem carefully with one hand, positioned the fabric with the other hand, you can then use your third hand to raise the lever. Yep, good design idea!
Because I only have two hands, I sometimes have to play with the lever a couple of times before I get the fabric positioned just right.
There’s a “skip stitch” knob on the right side of the arm bar. If you set it, it’ll skip every other stitch. You also see the hand wheel — I use it to move the needle right or left as need be. The off-on switch is a black toggle underneath the handwheel.
Let’s take a look at the stitches. I’ve folded some “folded hems” in a piece of brown denim and blind-hemmed them. They’re basically just slanted slip-knots. They’re chainstitches, so if you pull the loose end, they’ll come completely undone.
We’ll set up the piece to sew another hem. I’m going to fold the piece over on itself. That’ll set up a folded “hem line” that I’ll want to blind hem.
This would be equivalent to folding over a hem at the bottom of a pants leg.
Now I’m going to position the fabric in the BH-600. I’ve closed the pastic front cover and have positioned the fabric so the fold line aligns with the guide blade. I’ve then flipped the lever “up”; this raises the arm bar and locks the fabric into place.
Note how I’ve got several inches of fabric to the right of the fold line. This would not normally happen in real life. It’s only because I’m using the same piece of fabric to make multiple blindhem stitches for demonstration purposes.
If you’re doing a pants leg, you’ll slide the pants leg over the arm bar from the left of the machine. Since it’s a circular piece, you’ll just let the fabric rotate around the bar as you hem.
I had wanted to take a picture in mid-sewing — but the hemmer sewed so quickly that there was nothing to show!
Heres the results. The feed dogs are actually an inch or so behind the needle — that’s why my hems start a little away from the edge. This wouldn’t be a factor when you’re doing a pants leg — just rotate the circle around and overlap your hemming.
And a quick view from the other side — you can’t see the stitching line because the needle doesn’t go all the way through the fabric, only just below the surface.
Any likes or dislikes? Well, the hem stitches are slanted — I think they should be more right/left. The documentation pictures show them non-slanted, but I can’t find any adjustment that would affect this. If you know, I’d like to hear from you!
Once you see the threading diagram, threading the machine is easy. It’s suggested use is for light duty; I’ve never run into problems with the load I put on it. ‘Course, I don’t hem dozens of pairs of pants at a time — only onesy-twosy.
Other than that, I’m pretty pleased with the machine. It’s light enough that I can keep it out of the way, but still pull it out and use it quickly. Yeah, I could just put a blind-hem foot on my machine — but I never know which machine I’ll be using and I don’t have blindhem feet for all of them. I could keep one machine set up for blind hemming, but it would be much heavier that the BH-600 and more trouble to set up.
I’m on a new computer and I don’t have my scanner software loaded, so I can’t scan the threading diagram, but here’s a picture I took with my camera.
If you click here , you’ll see an enlarged picture. Your browser may adjust the size of the image — if so, you can probably click the resulting image to force it to enlarge.