Brother SE600 Review

Short on space? Not got the budget for a dedicated embroidery machine? Interested in the best combination sewing and embroidery machine for home use? We’re taking a deep-dive look at the Brother SE600: review it’s pros and cons, and see how it stacks up alongside other popular models.

What is the Brother SE600?

The Brother SE600 2-in-1 is the latest combination sewing and 4×4 embroidery machine from the popular brand, Brother. It replaces the SE400 – which you can still buy, and is still supported. (The “SE” refers to “Sewing & Embroidery”, to distinguish it from an embroidery-only machine). If you’re looking for your first two-in-one sewing and embroidery machine from Brother, check out the SE600.

A few words about Brother

Brother makes great-quality, budget-friendly sewing and embroidery machines. Winners of plenty of Consumer’s Choice awards, the technologically advanced computerized sewing machines are popular with craftspeople everywhere.

Review of Brother SE600 Sewing & Embroidery Machine

What’s in the box?

  • Embroidery arm.
  • 4″x4″ embroidery hoop.
  • Embroidery foot.
  • 3 bobbins pre-wound.
  • 7 Sewing feet: Spring action zigzag, buttonhole, zipper, button sewing, blind stitch, overcasting, monogramming feet.
  • Twin needle, darning plate.
  • Bobbins (2), bobbin clips (3), 6-piece needle set, disk-shaped screwdriver, 4 spool caps, spool net, scissors, cleaning brush, power cord.
  • Foot controller.
  • Machine dust cover.
  • English/Spanish operation manual and quick start guide.

Quick-look specs

  • Weight: 26 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 21.2 x 15.5 x 16.5 inches.
  • Stitches: 103 built-in stitches, 6 monogramming fonts, 80 new embroidery designs
  • Speed: 710 spm.
  • Computerized two-in-one machine
  • 4×4 embroidery area
  • Bobbin: Drop-in, Quick Set(™) bobbin
  • Free arm design to work easily with trouser legs or sleeves
  • 7 point sewing feet
  • 3.2” Backlit color display
  • Automatic needle threader & thread cutter
  • Warranty: 25-year warranty.

Key features

Embroidery area

The 4”x4” embroidery field is a good size for most home embroiderers. It doesn’t mean you can’t stitch bigger designs – you can, but your design would be broken up into 2-3 sections. You could also buy a larger hoop if you didn’t want to keep re-hooping the fabric when you adjust the position.

Color LCD Touch Screen

This model has replaced the Brother SE400 black and white LCD screen with a larger, color one. The Sew Smart color LCD touch screen display is responsive, and you can edit your patterns and preview your embroidery designs in full color. If the 80 built-in designs aren’t enough, USB 2.0 connectivity allows you to easily upload your own designs and preview your design edits on the screen. What’s nice about having a full color screen is that you can see the thread colors in the pattern and adjust them if you’re feeling creative – it also tells you when to change threads.

If you’re not very tech-savvy (or buying this for someone who doesn’t use a computer), it can be a bit of a learning curve to switch from a manual machine to a computerized one. The user interface is user-friendly and once you’re used to it, you won’t want to go back!

Built-in Designs/Stitches

With 103 built-in sewing stitches, the Brother SE600 sewing machine is certainly equal to most home projects. The needle-to-arm length/height is big enough for bulky jeans or small quilting. Work area is sufficient for a home machine.

7 Sewing Feet, but…

(No walking foot).. 7 sewing feet make it a very versatile machine for expanding your wardrobe or getting creative with household projects, one for almost every task. Note that it doesn’t include a walking foot and whilst the feed dogs do a good job feeding the material through with lighter fabrics, if you’re sewing quilts or denim, it can get stuck – a walking foot should solve this.

Automatic cutter, threader, finisher…well, almost

The automatic threader and thread-cutter – which we’ve become accustomed to on modern computerized sewing machines – make getting started a breeze and no fiddling around swearing because you can’t find the needle eye! It really comes into it’s own when you’re doing embroidery with lots of different colors and have to keep changing the thread.

The automatic finishing option tightens with a back-stitch, then the thread-cutter does its job and gone are the days of messy stitching at the end!

A note about Bobbins

Brother’s Quick-Set(™) jam-resistant, drop-in bobbin makes setting the bobbin easy. With a couple of caveats though: buy pre-wound Brother bobbin, and make sure you use correct bobbin thread. No, any old thread won’t do! If you find it a bit hard to fish the thread into the sewing area, don’t use the blade, as it can make it a bit too short for some people.

Foot pedal, stitch speed

For those of us used to manual speed control, requiring fancy footwork and pedal pressure, the digital (yes, digital foot pedal!) takes a bit of getting used to. A bit like going from a stick-shift to an automatic. Once you’re used to it, coupled with the speed adjustment on the machine itself, you can set the speed and just get on with it.

Embroidery Designs

There are 80 built-in designs and 6 lettering fonts. Using the USB port you can easily upload your own designs (just be sure to digitize them properly and have them in .pes format) and other designs you can buy online. There are quite a few Japanese characters included, which is great for some people but not so interesting for others. The Sew Smart color LCD screen allows you to view your embroidery designs and edit before you start.

Other Features worth a mention

LED lights illuminate the work area. You aren’t going to be doing a whole lot of intricate sewing or embroidery in a pitch-dark room you’ll need a bit of ambient light. But the LEDs certainly light up the work area meaning I don’t need my glasses to see what I’m doing!

Brother se600 computerized sewing and embroidery machine

Important Details & Quick Tips:

Ease of Use

As with anything new, how easy it is to get started depends on your prior experience. For those who find technology a challenge, it can be a bit of a learning curve to get to grips with the automated and computerized features and functions. If you’re completely new to sewing and embroidery then the learning curve is more to do with the basics of the craft.

The machine itself comes with pretty comprehensive set up instructions and most people seem to find it easy to get going with. It’s not super-complicated, and certainly not for those with a little bit of experience.

Needle Breakage

If you find the needles break when you’re doing embroidery, first check that the design you’ve uploaded is digitized correctly. An incorrectly digitized pattern will cause the machine to need to jump from place to place making it easy to break the needle.

Stabilizers: unless you’re embroidering on denim or another heavy-duty, tight-weave textile, please make sure you use the correct stabilizer – take some time to experiment with fabric/stabilizer combinations. If the stabilizer is wrong, the thread can get bunched up leading to needle breakage.

It can be a good idea to buy titanium needles if you feel the ones you are using are of questionable quality. Much more durable and forgiving, they won’t, however, make up for poorly digitized designs or use of the wrong stabilizer. Try slowing the stitch-speed down to see if that makes a difference.

What else do you need to buy to get started?

It’s a bit annoying if you order your new machine and only when it gets home do you realize you needed other accessories. If you are new to sewing, or machine embroidery, and don’t have a lot of textile bits and bobs laying around, be sure to get yourself:

  • Fabric. Get some offcuts as well as the fabric you really want, as you’ll need to practice on different weight materials, different weave – see what you can get hold of, it’s all good practice!
  • Stabilizer. You’ll need different stabilizer depending on the fabric you are using and/or the project you are working on. Tear-away is softer and works well on hats or t-shirts. Cut-away gives a bit more stability to the design as it stays in place permanently – better for shirts, or stretch fabrics. {put link in to somewhere else here}
  • Threads – as mentioned above, for embroidery, be sure to get actual bobbin thread. For normal sewing, you can use the same thread in both the bobbin and the top. You’ll want to get lightweight (you don’t want the back of the design to be too bulky) but strong thread.
  • Spare needles. Don’t wait until your needle breaks on a Sunday afternoon to find that you’ve not got a spare! Get a set of different sized needles. We like titanium ones, a bit more robust – it doens’t mean they’ll never break.
  • USB stick for transferring designs from your computer to the machine.

Brother SE600 vs SE400

The SE600 is an upgraded version of the SE400. The main difference is the technology in the Brother SE600 vs SE400 has been upgraded. The USB port now accepts a thumb/flash drive (you don’t need to plug it into your computer to download designs).

The SE600 has a larger LCD screen vs SE400 and, crucially, it’s in color! This is a big improvement, especially for embroidering, allowing you to see and edit the colors on your design. It’s much easier to play around with thread colors as you can actually see your edits on the screen.

Additionally, the Brother SE600 has 103 sewing stitches vs SE400 with 67. In terms of built-in embroidery designs, it’s 80 vs 60. A little bit larger, faster and quieter, the brother SE600 vs the SE400 is a definite step up.

Note on confusing model numbers..

The LB6800 (project runway model) is the same machine as the SE400, only with a carry case and the ‘Project Runway’ branding.

The SE625 is the same as the SE600, only it comes with more embroidery designs. Depending on the price at the store you’re looking in, it’s just as easy to buy the SE600 and then get additional designs online.

What we like

  • Excellent value for 2-in-1 sewing and embroidery
  • Good stitch quality sewing machine function, and most embroidery designs come out well
  • Color touch screen easy to edit designs, good built-in fonts/designs
  • Quiet, smooth running
  • USB port that takes a flash drive – no need to connect to computer to download purchased designs
  • Extendable free-arm design makes it easy to use with pants or sleeves

What we don’t like

  • This is a good-quality machine for the money, that said, it’s not the fastest if you are used to a commercial machine
  • Depending on your taste, you might not like having so many Japanese characters in the built-in embroidery designs
  • If you’re not tech-savvy the computerized interface can be a bit confusing and overwhelming
  • The thread can be a bit of a pain if the tensions aren’t just right.

Should you buy the SE600?

For the money, this is a super quality sewing/embroidery machine. If you’re a bit short on space (or budget) and need a 2-in-1 then this one is good for getting you started. It’s not going to be up to high levels of commercial output, but for your general home textile projects, at a good price to features ratio, you won’t go too far wrong with this model.

Other models might suit you if

  • You already have a sewing machine you are happy with and need a dedicated embroidery machine
  • You need to do larger embroidery designs than the 4×4 area allows
  • You need a machine capable of higher output, for a home-business

Not for you? Here are some alternatives

Wrapping up Brother SE600 Review

A definite step up from the SE400, Brother has put out a really decent, budget-friendly 2-in-1 sewing and embroidery machine in the SE600. Great for beginners and more experienced folk alike – if you’re wanting a dual-purpose sewing machine, this one’s a serious contender.

Anything we’ve missed? Take a look at the latest price on Amazon and read more reviews.

See also: buyer’s guide to best embroidery machines.

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