Best in Class
This review is a bit long but I found that I wanted more information, rather than less when purchasing my machines.
I was in the market for a couple new machines for my home studio and I began the process by doing research online. I wanted to test the machines out by trying them at home so I purchased several sewing machines and tested them all carefully. Here are the results for this machine:
Strength Test: I took 12 ounce denim and layered it. All the new machines had the same 100% Polyester
... read more
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. The Laura Ashley managed a WHOPPING. SIXTEEN. LAYERS. OF. DENIM. WOW!
The 155 stitches available with this machine came out beautifully. 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 stabilizer underneath.
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.
I loved the brightly lit LCD screen for selecting stitches. The Laura Ashley screen is about 2" by 1 1/2" and really clear and easy to read.
Threading: All the machines in this class have pretty much the same needle threading mechanism. I love the upgraded version of this on the PRW420 but that's a different story.
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. The feed mechanism and presser foot pressure is what really determines how well these seams come out. The Laura Ashley sewed a perfect 1/4" seam and is perfect for piecing and light enough to take to quilting or sewing classes.
5/8" seam: All the machines that we tested sewed a straight seam just fine. I liked the even, balanced tension of this machine and how durable the seams were when we tried to tear them apart.
Accessories and Attachments: The CS6000i and the Laura Ashley both came with 11 feet and attachments. All three Brother machines in this class came with extension tables but the Laura Ashley came with a larger one than the other two.
Free Motion Quilting and Free Motion Embroidery: This wonderful machine has a simple lever on the back of the machine that allow you to drop the feed dogs completely and it comes with a clear darning foot that makes it easier to see what you are doing versus the traditional metal foot. The larger extension table for the Laura Ashley gave optimal support for a machine in this class.
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) and also come with needle up/down. These features really help make the most of my sewing time.
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 my own circular sewing attachment (there isn't one with the machine) and the results were beautiful. The bobbin work was very pretty too!
All in all, this is a fantastic machine and worth every penny of the price I paid. The larger, clearer screen; strength of stitches, ease of free motion, quality and selection of stitches added to the more expansive table, and general ease of use made this the winner and keeper at our house. I am still going to give good reviews to the other machines but this one was just in a different class keeping up with the higher end machines for strength and the quality of stitches.
I hope this helps and happy stitching!