A day with Simplicty by Brother and Spotlight


I’m endlessly fascinated with how stuff gets made, clothes, food, cars, electronics. Those educational type programs on factories are brilliant. I just like seeing the process of how things come into being. So a few weeks ago when I was asked to attend the launch of some new sewing machines I thought it would be a great insight into learning about how the machines came about.

The event was to launch the new collaboration between Brother and Simplicity. Three new machines are going to be co branded and exclusive to Spotlight. Christy has done a fabulous wrap up of the actual machines at Little Betty Sews. They will be called Simplicity by Brother and each machine is aimed at beginner, intermediate or advanced sewers, come with a Simplicity pattern that matches the skill set of each machine.

simplicity by brother sl500

Essentially it’s a good, better, best type program which I’ve dealt with all the time in clothing. It’s all about hitting the correct price points and features to match the price points. Every retailer from supermarkets to hardware has a version of it. Homebrand, known brand, designer brand is what it equates to. In this case it means that the “good” machine is to entice newcomers to sewing. That can only be a good thing, I like that more and more people are learning to sew. What impressed me is that it wasn’t all about the beginner. They have thought about the natural progression of sewing and that there are more than just beginners out that. That showed some smarts as too often things only get aimed at beginners.

button hole demonstration

Overall the entire project has taken over 3 years to come to market. That seems like such a long time to be working on the one project! I was sitting in the audience mentally calculating how many ranges I would’ve designed or worked on during those 3 years. Even for companies where I only design 2 ranges a year that was still 6 seasons ago, that seems forever in my experience. It was insights like that which can make a launch day like this one so interesting. It’s all about learning new things.

launch team

The team from Spotlight were there and they were super knowledgeable not only about their products, but also about different bloggers and what plans they had for the stores. They certainly have some exciting fabrics on the way and I’m so glad. I grew up in a country town where for years Spotlight was the only fabric choice. Sometimes it felt limiting but with a bit of digging around you could turn up some gems.

These days I like plenty of their lines, a notable highlight being the Japanese Lawn which I’ve used here, here, here, here, here, here and a bunch of not yet blogged makes. I genuinely like the fabric and find it a great wash and wear basic that suits my lifestyle. In fact I was wearing this dress on the day, it’s my current favourite dress for when I need to look semi dressed up but not too dressed up and for when I don’t want something that will distract me. It was a little weird to have people patting my fabric and talking about how well it sold and citing facts and figures on it. My dress also received one of the oddest compliments. I was told “but it looks as good as store bought and no one would know you made it”. Such a weird compliment to say at a launch of sewing machines? What exactly did they think a sewn dress would look like?

Simplicity by Brother me

If you took a selfie with a sewing machine you went into a competition to win one, this one has 5 kinds of buttonholes so I grabbed a photo on the off chance I may win.

I had a great time hanging out with Christy who was a bit nervous to begin with and was quite the celebrity as so many people recognised her from her excellent blog. The team from Spotlight are certainly reading blogs and seeing what people have to say about their stores/fabric lines and taking it on board. They rattled off a bunch of facts and figures around their customers and honestly I had no idea they were such a powerhouse. There wouldn’t be many bigger brands in retail in Australia that have a following that large.

Overall I found it a really interesting day. I hesitated to write this as a post because I didn’t want it to seem like an advertisement but I also wanted to offer insight into what is happening in the sewing industry and how that translates to my own experiences. It was an interesting day and I hope the whole promotion works to bring more people to the joy that is sewing.

20 Comment

  1. Bec says:

    Always fun to have a play with some shiny new machines šŸ™‚ A great roundup, it’s heartening to hear that Spotlight are keeping an eye on what people are making from & talking about their stores, too.

    1. Susan Goodwin says:

      It was fun to see new machines and the team from Spotlight were pulling out their phones to get new blog names from us and show us who they were already reading. Great to see a proactive company who listens to their market.

  2. Michelle says:

    Bringing more people to sewing can only be a Good Thing. We have noticed the huge numbers of people shopping in dress fabric stores here in Japan and it’s really fantastic to see. A lot of the quilters at the quilt show were also wearing home-sewn and they looked fantastic.

    That was such an odd comment to receive about your fab dress at a sewing machine launch! Although in my experience a lot of the quilters I know are mortified that I make all my own clothes. They reckon they don’t have the time for that. Even though they no doubt have the skills, as it’s probably his they started out sewing.

    1. Susan Goodwin says:

      Bringing in new people is great, if for no other reason than it makes more opportunities/fabrics/ideas available to those of us who already sew. Am so jealous you are fabric shopping in Japan, have extra fun just for me ok?

      I was trying not to laugh when I got told my dress didn’t look made, Christy was looking fabulous in a knit dress and they were shocked to discover hers was made too. Am hoping they went away with a better understanding of what can be achieved?

  3. Christy says:

    I felt the same about a wrap up post, but I think it’s an interesting venture that certainly serves a purpose. Thanks again for your help šŸ™‚ I promise next time I won’t be such a big baby.

    1. Susan Goodwin says:

      Oh you weren’t a big baby at all. I get nervous about the weirdest of things but crowds isn’t one of them for some reason?

      I think the concept behind what they are doing and how the companies are listening is a worthwhile thing to discuss which is why I decided to go with a post. It’s interesting to see how and why they are creating product.

  4. Velosewer says:

    Yay Susan and Christy. And of course congrats Spotlight and Bernina for wanting to know more about what we want from Spotlight. Anything lovely if you ask me.
    Love your selfie Susan!!

    1. Susan Goodwin says:

      My selfie wasn’t a true selfie as Christy used my phone to snap the pic! ha ha. Also nice to note the machine isn’t too heavy. Good for those whose machines aren’t always set up.

  5. Fabric Tragic says:

    It’s great to know spotty is taking notice of what the modern sewist wants. I always love having a poke around, and the quality is definitely improving. I’d love more good quality basics but you can’t beat them for prints. Sounds like a fun day.

    1. Susan Goodwin says:

      I asked for less polyester, I was telling them how I sometimes like a print but as soon as I see its on that lightweight poly chiffon style stuff I just walk away as it’s so horrid (to me). They said yes they had heard that and they’d be working on getting more silk cotton blends and more of my beloved Japanese Lawn. Very exciting times ahead.

  6. Bec says:

    Its exciting to hear they have plans for new and better fabric. Right now they have some treasures but also a wasteland of polyester. I would love more silks and some rayon or natural fibre linings.

    1. Susan Goodwin says:

      It is exciting isn’t it, am hoping for big things from them after this.

  7. Catherine says:

    How lucky are you! I am only just getting to go to Spotlight more often these days. I have to take two buses or pester the boy to take me and make him my bolt holder so it’s a bit of an event for me. They really have impressed me with the amount of trendy and fashion fabrics they stock like the Reprodepot ones. That really piqued my interest and made me realise they are listening to us and what is popular in the U.S. And UK! I’m not in need of a new sewing machine, but I know so many people who want to sew, so now I can tell them to look into these ones!

    1. Susan Goodwin says:

      I think putting the machines into Spotlight is a great idea, for many smaller towns and communities they may not have a local machine store but they have access to a Spotlight. The Simplicity by Brother team was saying how there is going to be a whole bunch of information in the terms of signs and banners that will help sell the machines and give more information, seems they have really thought out a way to bring machines to the people.

      The team from Spotlight were just off the plane from the USA and said they had made some great new deals with new fabric lines. It’s going to be fun to see how it’s all going to work out.

  8. Liz says:

    Spotlight has really improved over the last couple of years, so I definitely believe they are listening. They used to have rubbish quality fabrics with flaws etc but now they have some pretty good stuff. I love their Tana lawn too and am wearing a dress from it right now!
    Interesting to learn about the machines they are doing too, thanks for the insight šŸ™‚

    1. Susan Goodwin says:

      Apparently a few years back they used to just buy end of season stock or cheap job lots. That resulted in lots of less than stellar fabric and now they are interested in partnering with good fabric brands and bringing quality lines in. Which can only be good for sewers.
      The machines are a great idea, so glad I’ve got a near universal place to send people when they ask me where to get machines now.

  9. Emma says:

    Sounds like a great fun day! Great to hear too that the fabrics are only going to get better, unfortunately for me my closest store is birkenhead and fabric is not a strong point there, i mainly use it to grab notions. Great pics too!

  10. Kirsty says:

    What a fun event and thanks for the post. I’ve been so pleasantly surprised the last few times I’ve been into spotlight and have picked up some real gems and have made some of my favourite items this year from spotty finds!

  11. Vanessa says:

    Sounds like you had a pretty interesting time. I usually go to spotlight these days. They don’t have a wide variety of fabrics, but they are ok for basics and of course the lawns. Looking forward to seeing what they have for us in future.

    P.s. Don’t worry about your post being an advertisement. It’s totally related to your blog. I’d start to worry if you started wrtiting about kitchen appliances or motorbikes šŸ™‚

    1. Susan Goodwin says:

      Thanks for the encouragement about it not being an advertisement. Because I sell my own product, plus my sewing I try to make sure the blog is interesting and not all sell sell sell as that becomes so tedious to read. Am glad I’m going ok with that at least.
      Like you I go to Spotlight a lot of the time as while the variety is not huge it covers a great deal of what I need and those lawns really are beautiful. It’s going to be interesting to see what develops from them.

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