A number of readers have asked for a follow-up review on the Brother CS6000i. Ask and ye shall receive! And later this week, I’ll have a post with some general advice on how to pick your first sewing machine.

A little history:

About a year and a half ago, I purchased the Brother CS6000i after my sister’s 30 year-old Bernette (below) snapped a part at great expense. Rather than fix the machine, which had been a bit of a headache when it came to finding parts (including bobbins and a zipper foot, absolute necessities!), I looked into buying a new machine.

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I learned of the Brother CS6000i because it’s the machine that my friend Aurora uses in her sewing studio Fabric Bliss; so I wasn’t just buying any old machine, I was already familiar with it and knew it worked, even when used by students every day for months on end.

Now I’ve had the machine for awhile and used it on just about a gazillion projects, I am ready to share my pros and cons.

Brother CS60000i

PROS:

The price can’t be beat.

For a machine with so many stitches, that’s such a workhorse, and comes with a full set of accessory feet (including a walking foot), $150 is worth every single penny. In fact, it is worth every fraction of a penny. This is a good machine for the money.

The Brother CS6000i is low-maintenance.

For a year and a half, my machine has lived in a house with two shedding dogs. Despite the dust and other airborne particles, it hasn’t needed cleaning even once. Sewing purists may faint when they hear this; as good practice, you should generally clean your machine once every 6 months. But, regardless, mine didn’t need this kind of upkeep.

The computerized controls and display are easy to use.

It couldn’t be simpler. I have read other reviews that say computerized controls are a risky investment because it’s just one more thing that can break, one more thing that needs fixing. That hasn’t been my experience with this machine. Not only does it work, but so many items are conveniently automated: needle up and down, going in reverse, stitch length and width. The only thing that I miss is an automatic thread cutter. Otherwise, I couldn’t ask for more automated features.

The machine is light and portable.

I’ve traveled with this machine, and it’s so easy to bring just about anywhere. Compared to my Bernette, it is light as a feather.

CONS:

Two words: Bobbin vomit.

This is the phrase someone at Fabric Bliss coined for the biggest maintenance issue on this machine. The lower thread tension is fussy (at best), and often, mid-project, you’ll end up with something that we call “bobbin vomit.” In plain English, this means that a big clump of bobbin thread gets pulled up and catches on the fabric, creating a knot that’s hard to cut through without popping the bobbin out, unraveling the whole thing and starting again. It is a giant pain in the butt when you’re in the middle of a project and have to pick out a huge knot from your work, unwind and rewind the bobbin. It is annoying from the perspective of someone who sews all the time, and I can tell you that there is nothing worse than an Intro to Sewing student experiencing it.

I won’t try to make excuses for this machine’s weaknesses, but one piece of advice: just about every machine is going to have tension issues, either top thread, bottom thread or both. I just spoke to a friend who bought a lovely, high-end Juki, and she spent the first two days with it fixing the tension. If you are a sewer, just expect tension to be an issue.  Don’t let it get you down. Instead, become familiar enough with your machine that you can fix the tension yourself.

The machine’s throat is narrow.

If you love quilting, as I do, you want to get a machine with a wide throat. This helps you stuff your fabric through as you free-motion quilt. It is very, very difficult (not impossible, just difficult) to do any sort of free-motion on a machine with such a small throat.

Overall verdict:

If you’re a beginner or even an experienced hobbyist, I recommend this as a good, inexpensive machine. It accomplishes all the basics well: crafting bags, garments, quilts; I even sewed a doll on this machine.

Return on Wednesday for another post with general advice on buying a sewing machine – a few tips I wish someone had told me before I put down any cash for a machine.

~ Kristina

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