Brother CS6000i — Redux

I still get a lot of questions about the Brother CS6000i machine via the blog, so despite my lack of new posts recently, I’ve decided to write a follow-up about my starter machine.

Many of you want to know – would I still recommend this machine?

The Short Answer…

The short answer is, yes, if you are a beginning sewer. This machine can get you rolling with all kinds of projects, from garments to quilts. I’ve sewn both on the Brother, from dresses to baby quilts, curtains, pillows, bags, and so much more. I admit I have a great affection for this machine because it was my first, and I learned so much on it. Plus, the price is (still) right.

There is a long answer though, so please read on.

1) This machine is less than perfect, and I’ve had the same problems with the Brother that others mention in the comments section here. So you do have to be a bit patient to manage this machine, and if you are a true newbie, you may have to take a class or chat with a Brother expert to get over some of the bobbin humps.

2) When I got the machine cleaned and tuned professionally, it cost about as much as the machine itself. This led me to decide that I would not clean it again after that first time – instead I’d save some more money and purchase a new machine. That said, you might be able to find a place that will clean and tune it for much less.

At the Sewing Machine Maintenance class with my Brother CS6000i

At the Sewing Machine Maintenance class with my Brother CS6000i

3) I did try to learn how to clean and tune it myself, in the process, I discovered that Brother machines are made of large plastic parts that are difficult/impossible for an amateur to take apart and clean. I went to a machine maintenance class at Fancy Tiger here in Denver, and everyone else brought their older, metal machines, which unscrew and easily oil and clean. With the Brother, I was able to take off one panel and basically clean one area myself. It was frustrating that I can’t take care of the machine that I use (and rely on) so much.

I learned from this experience that there is, indeed, a difference between a plastic machine and a metal one, and not just the old wives’ tales that old school folks swear are the truth. A machine with plastic parts, in part because it’s so hard to clean and tune, is never going to work as well as one with metal parts. There are other downsides to a plastic machine too, but it’s sort of as simple as that.

Think of it this way, when you’re choosing between a machine like the Brother and a more expensive metal one, it’s like deciding whether to buy a Chromebook or a MacBook Air. There is a huge price difference, but the Chromebook is able to get it done for people who just need a web browser and basic Google Drive. If you need to edit photos, use any Adobe program, etc., you’re going to want to splurge on a MacBook.

The Bottom Line:

So the Brother will do just about anything general. But once you reach a point when you want to, say, quilt anything more complicated than straight lines or anything bigger than a baby quilt, it’s going to be hard to do it on a small, cheaper, plastic machine.

Sewing on the new machineYou need to be aware of these issues before you make any sewing machine purchase, whether you’re considering the Brother or not. All of this weighed in when I bought my new machine, a Janome Memory Craft 6600 (see right). (Please note that I did NOT pay manufacturer’s price for this!!). It is a sturdy machine with a great ability to quilt, which is my general sewing focus these days.

I still have the Brother, and it is still a better machine when it comes to weight and portability. It’s the only machine that I’ll travel with! And it works perfectly for any smaller projects that I’ll do on the road.

Anyone else have stories about the Brother? Or another sewing machine purchase?

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