All of you quilters and sewists who are on the lookout for a powerful workhorse to boost your productivity, Brother PQ1500SL Quilting and Sewing Machine could be just the right choice for you. It doesn’t do a great many things, but what it does, it does astoundingly well. It won’t bedazzle you with hundreds of stitches, but every single stitch it makes will be smooth, elegant, and beautiful, exactly as the previous one.
If a good old mechanical machine is what you need, this one won’t let you down. Seasoned sewists usually don’t need many bells and whistles. They need a performer that will do the job in the most efficient way – something like Brother PQ1500SL. It offers plenty of room for bulkier projects, a powerful engine that won’t get tired after hours of sewing through thick and thin, a variety of sewing and quilting feet, a few automatic functions that will make your life easier.
Today, I am giving you an in-depth review of this machine. First, we’ll take a look at its basic features and performance, and then we’ll consider the pros and cons. Read on and decide if this model is right for you.
Brother PQ1500SL – Overview & Features
- Sewing speed of 1,500 stitches per minute. It’s one of the features that qualify this model for a heavy-duty or semi-industrial machine, since the sewing speed of your average portable machine doesn’t go over 850 stitches per minute.
- Built-in needle threader that should reduce the time needed for this preparatory job. Sewists are complaining about this feature, but more on that later.
- Automatic thread cutter will snip both the upper and lower threads at a touch of a button. It also resets the threads so you can seamlessly proceed with your next project or sewing session. Without messing around with that dreaded pair of scissors, of course.
- Adjustable presser foot pressure. A color-coded knob controls the pressure, so you can increase or decrease it when working with different fabric thickness. This feature allows for even stitches across different fabrics.
- Adjustable feed dogs. You won’t have much to complain about, even if you sew difficult fabrics such as velvet. Combined with the variable presser foot pressure, this option enables sewing with ease. Choose from four feed dog settings.
- Automatic needle up/down position. The needle will stop in down position by default, so you can easily rotate the fabric without losing the stitch. But you can also pre-program the machine to stop the needle in whichever position you like.
- Easy bobbin winding. The process is pretty self-explanatory and you will find labels printed out on the machine’s body to show you what’s your next step. Just make sure the bobbin is compatible with the machine, since there are some similar looking bobbins that just won’t do.
- Thread tension controller works with a convenient dial that moves the tension disks closer to or away from each other, increasing or decreasing the pressure. You can easily adjust your stitches to be tighter or looser. If your thread tension is unbalanced, you will see irregular stitches with loops and puckers on either side of the fabric.
- Pin-feed mechanism is Brother’s exclusive feature available in some of their high-end quilting models. Simply put, it replaces the feed dogs with a pin, so multiple layers of fabrics will be able to move smoothly.
- Removable knee-lifter is a very convenient way to lift the presser foot without raising your hands from the project.
- Fabric extension table is an addition that quilters will applaud to. It allows for a spacious work area, 5.7 inches in height and 8.6 inches in width. You will be able to tackle your bulky quilting projects without any effort.
- LED lights to brighten up your working area. Ideally, you shouldn’t be needing an extra light.
As you unbox the machine, you will find some nice extras in the package. Even though I can definitely live without most of these accessories, I still like the thrill of rummaging through the box and finding yet another little aid that I would otherwise have to buy separately. And they really made a rich choice of extras here! Here’s what you will get: five metal bobbins, a feltscaper, a stabilizer roll for embroidery, felting needle, an assortment of polyester threads for embroidery and cotton threads for quilting, 3-piece organizing caddy, fabric frame, seam guide, ballpoint needle, spool cap, cleaning brush, two screwdrivers, spool cushion, power cord and user’s manual. I hope I managed to list out all of them!
When it comes to feet, there’s something in store for everyone. Zipper, general purpose, rolled hem, gathering, spring action, invisible zipper, and quarter inch feet – there’s almost nothing left to wish for.
What Do Sewists Think About It?
Sewists and especially quilters are raving about this machine, its power, nice and smooth stitching, large quilting area and properties. It has 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, with over 330 customer reviews as of this writing. Sure, it’s not one of the most popular Brother models – but it wasn’t even meant to be. Simply put, it isn’t an entry-level machine, or even a very versatile one. If you’re looking for a model that will get you started and are a Brother fan, you might consider getting Brother HC1850 or SQ9185. They are easy to use and loaded with properties to spice up your learning process.
Beginners tend to complain that the machine is finicky in terms of settings. The thread tension is often out of place, which can cause breaking of the thread. This is just one of those settings that require quite a bit of experience to get the hang of it, which is exactly why I don’t recommend this machine to newbies.
All in all, the number of great reviews outweighs the bad ones by far. People are generally very content with their purchase, and the enthusiasm hasn’t decreased even with those who have been using it for over three years. Models from other manufacturers that are similar in performance tend to come with a hefty price tag. Sewists who are used to having a wide range of fancy stitches still find this machine a very nice and powerful choice for the straight stitch, while employing another machine for the more varied stitchwork.
If it’s your first time working with a semi-industrial machine, make sure to never ever forget the fact that you need to oil it from time to time. It’s a regular aspect of the maintenance, and you could find yourself in a world of pain if you forget about it. Just put a sticker note to remind you that you need to oil it before starting a larger project, or even if it’s been out of use for a few weeks.
On the bright side, oiling isn’t difficult. You won’t need any mechanical knowledge to do it – just look for small holes on the machine’s body and pour a few drops into each of them. You will also find a cleaning brush in the package, so you can sweep off lint and other contaminants.
One of the most common issues with this model is needle threading. Even though it’s advertised as advanced, it’s far from being easy and will most probably require some digging for instructional videos on the Internet. Other customers have had difficulties using the automatic thread cutter, which cuts the threads too short. However, this issue is easy to solve if you raise the pressure foot before cutting the thread.
What We Like About Brother PQ1500SL
- It comes very near to a heavy-duty machine, thanks to its 1.5-amp engine, sturdy metal construction and great stitching speed. With somewhat over 33 pounds, it’s heavy enough not to wobble when in use. Of course, that means you won’t be able to tote it and carry to your sewing class. But it wasn’t even intended for that. Technically, it’s still a portable machine, so it won’t take up half of your room. Just allocate a special nook for it in your apartment or house and let it sit there. I am pretty sure that it will serve you a lifetime.
- It’s packed full of awesome features for quilters. Extension table, drop feed dogs, pin-feed mechanism, needle up/down, adjustable presser foot pressure, 9-inch throat space roomy enough to accommodate full-size quilts – all of these features will make quilting a breeze. There aren’t many feature-packed models within this price range.
- Thicker fabrics like denim, canvas or vinyl won’t suffocate it, even when sewn in multiple layers. This is a semi-industrial machine, which means it won’t break a sweat over thicker materials.
- The maximum stitch length is seven. Note that most sewing machines only offer stitch lengths up to six points. So, there’s only one stitch, but it’s highly adjustable and flexible.
- A nice assortment of feet comes included in the package. Quilters will especially appreciate the free motion, pin-feed and walking feet.
- Oiling is very simple, even if you’ve never done it before. The machine has small openings where you can put drops of oil. There’s no need to take it apart, unlike many other heavy-duty models.
- It’s pretty quiet considering how powerful the motor is. You don’t have to worry about waking up half of your neighborhood.
- Reasonable price. Machines with similar performance and features typically cost a couple hundred dollars more.
What We Don’t Like About Brother PQ1500SL
- Not the most suitable model for beginners. So you’ve only just started sewing, and someone is throwing various notions at you, such as thread tension. What is it and how will it affect your progress? This machine is primarily intended for seasoned sewists who know their whats and whens. The learning curve would be too steep for novice sewists and quilters.
- It only has a straight stitch. No zigzag, buttonholes, overcasting or any other stitches that are common in more versatile models. It’s a con for sewists who like to experiment with many different stitches. But if you are one of those seamstresses who can make miracles by using just straight stitch, you will still be delighted, since this machine does that stitch beautifully.
- No automatic speed control. You will have to get the hang of controlling the speed with the foot pedal, which sometimes won’t be subtle enough, even though it’s pretty responsive. Here’s a nice tip to help you beat this con: try sewing with bare feet. It makes a world of difference.
- Setup is fairly difficult. If you’re hoping to start sewing right after you unbox the machine, you’re probably in for a bit of disappointment. You will need some time to set everything up, and the user’s manual is a bit short on information. So, get ready to sift through Youtube videos in order to figure out everything.
- Needle threading isn’t easy enough for people who aren’t used to this model. You will most definitely need your user’s manual – and not just the first time.
- The bobbin case isn’t transparent, so you can’t monitor your thread supply. Get ready for bad surprises, when the bobbin suddenly runs out of thread in the middle of a project.
- The LED lights could be a little bit brighter. If you like working at night like I do, some extra light would eliminate the strain on your vision, especially if it’s not perfect.
I did my best to outline all the pros and cons in this review, so as to provide the most honest and multisided account – the kind that I like to read when I’m about to make a purchase. When all taken into account, there’s no doubt about it – this model is far from being perfect. But even so, it’s still one of the best and most convenient machines out there. At least where the price/quality ratio is concerned. As for quilters, it might easily be the best mid-range quilting machine.
If you’re a savvy sewist, it will boost your productivity. However, if you’re a newbie, you’re in for some grinding through trial-and-error until you manage to hone your skills. But once you get past the basics, you will be thrilled with just how consistent and professional your projects will look.