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Comparative review vs. CS6000i, Janome Magnolia, Brother PRW7070
on December 24, 2013
UPDATE: The video, mentioned below, is now uploaded but only shows this machine in action, not the others that I compared it to. There is a limit for file size (for obvious reasons :)) here on Amazon so I edited what I had and isolated just Laura Ashley CX155LA. To save a lot of time, testing and and frustration, it would have been nice to see the machines in action prior to purchasing! I hope you enjoy the video and that it helps with your decision.
I began the sewing machine purchase process by buying 2 machines, the PRW7070 and a Singer Fashion Mate. I already own the 6000i and my Mom has the Janome Magnolia 7325. We need some additional machines in our studio for teaching sewing lessons. I did as much research as I could but was frustrated when the information from the manufacturer was not accurate. This review is a bit long but I found that I wanted more information, rather than less when purchasing my machines.
I bought the PRW7070 and the Singer on Black Friday for a good discount but had to return the Singer after just 10 minutes because the bobbin case was loose so the stitching was way off. At that point I also noticed that despite the fact that the Brother website clearly states that the PRW7070 has needle up/down, it does not. Frustrated, I ordered in, wait for it.... four more sewing machines. I decided to pit them against one another and keep the best two. I made two classes for comparison. The under $250 class and the $250-$500 class. This review focuses on the under $250 class.
After two weeks of heavy testing, the clear winner was this wonderful, feature packed machine that does so much more than the other machines in the same class. Here are the results.
Strength Test: I took 12 ounce denim and layered it. All the new machines had the same 100% Polyester Guttermann Thread, the needle that came with the machine and the bobbin that came with the machine. The bobbin was filled with a contrasting color so that I could easily see it if the tension was off. I used the leveler foot that comes on the machine. This is a regular sewing foot that features a small black button on the side of the foot that releases the pressure so that the foot can go over thick layers. Not all the machines came with a walking foot so different results may be possible with this attachment. For this class, the results were: PRW7070, 8 layers; CS6000i thread broke part way through 12 layers with skipped stitches. The Janome ground through eight layers but the Laura Ashley managed a WHOPPING. SIXTEEN. LAYERS. OF. DENIM. WOW! WINNER: Laura Ashley.
Stitches: The Laura Ashley has 155 stitches including alpha numerics. The Brother CS6000i has 60, the PRW 7070 has 70 stitches and the Janome Magnolia has 25. I made a video of the beautiful alphabet work by the Laura Ashley. If you want to be able to make lovely labels for quilts, kids clothing, and just about anything else, this machine does a wonderful job. The key is to follow the manufacturers instructions and use a good stabilizer underneath. I am not technically savvy but as soon as I figure out how to load it, I will add the video here so you can see the machines in action: WINNER: Laura Ashley.
SEWING/GREEN TIP: you can save dryer sheets and reuse them as stabilizer. That's what I used and it worked beautifully. Just be sure to iron them flat with a warm (not too hot) iron before use.
NOTE: when using the comparison feature, the Brother website indicates that the PRW7070 does NOT come with quilting stitches. This is not true. It has the same Q (for quilting) stitches as the CS6000i. There are five on both of these machines.
Sewing Lighting: The CS6000i has two LED lights. The rest have just one. WINNER: CS6000i
Screen Lighting: The Magnolia is mechanical so does not have a screen. The CS6000i and the PRW7070 have small LED monochrome LED screens that are not backlit making it hard for me to see as I wear glasses for reading and sewing now. The Laura Ashley features a larger, very well lit screen for selecting stitches. WINNER: Laura Ashley
Threading: All the machines have pretty much the same needle threading mechanism. I love the upgraded version of this on the PRW420 but that's a different story. No clear winner - four way tie.
1/4" seam test: A quarter inch seam is not only essential for quilting, it is the foundation of a French Seam, used in fine dressmaking and tailoring fine shirts as well. All the machines, except the PRW7070 came with a specialty foot for this function. The feed mechanism and presser foot pressure is what really determines how well these seams come out. The Magnolia and the Laura Ashley sewed a perfect 1/4" seam but I gave this one to the Magnolia because the foot that came with the machine (guide verses flat foot) was better. WINNER: Magnolia
5/8" seam: All the machines sewed a straight seam just fine. Using the contrasting bobbin thread I was able to identify that after 3 years, my CS6000i was slipping a bit, even after playing with the tension.
Accessories and Attachments: The CS6000i and the Laura Ashley both came with 11 feet and attachments. The Magnolia and PRW7070 came with 6, including the one on the machine. All three Brother machines came with extension tables but the Laura Ashley came with a larger one than the other two. The CS6000i does come with a dust cover (as opposed to a carrying case) but I bought a case instead so it was a bit of a waste in my case. WINNER: Laura Ashley
Free Motion Quilting and Free Motion Embroidery: I could not figure out how to do this on the PRW7070 and it does not come with a darning/free motion foot. The CS6000i comes with a feed dog cover and the Magnolia and the Laura Ashley both have levers on the back of the machine that allow you to drop the feed dogs completely; all three came with the right foot. The larger extension table for the Laura Ashley gave more support than the CS6000i and the Magnolia does not come with a table so there was a bit of slipping. (Truthfully, Mom only uses this machine for piecing)WINNER: Laura Ashley
Functionality: Both the Laura Ashley and the CS6000i come with variable speed control, auto pilot sewing (sewing by using a button instead of the foot pedal). These two and the Janome Magnolia also come with needle up/down. The PRW7070 does not have any of these features but is also the lowest priced machine that I tested so therein lies part of the price difference.
Finally, just for the joy of it, I did some bobbin work and some circular sewing on the Laura Ashley since that is part of the big sell for it's much more expensive cousins, the NX800, 2000 and 5000. I used a circular sewing attachment that I made myself and the results were beautiful. The bobbin work was very pretty, but of course the stitch selection is limited to 7 mm stitches unlike the more expensive models. Still, the fact that the machine did such a nice job for just under $200 was pretty amazing.
All in all, this is a fantastic machine and worth every penny of the price difference between it and the CS6000i and the PRW7070 IMHO. The larger, clearer screen; strength of stitches, ease of free motion, quality and selection of stitches added to the larger table, and general ease of use made this the winner and keeper at our house. I am still going to give good ratings to the other machines but this one was just in a different class keeping up with the $250-$500 machines for strength and the quality of stitches. I hope this helps and happy shopping!