Singer vs Brother: Which Brand Has the Best Sewing Machines?

singer vs brother
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Singer and Brother are extremely popular sewing machine brands, and both produce a range of reliable and affordable machines. Ultimately, we recommend Brother machines for complete beginners, and Singer models for sewists looking for advanced features and a large range of stitches and accessories.

Singer vs Brother: head to head

Singer and Brother are two of the most recognizable names in sewing machines. Both are brands that produce a large range of sewing machines for different levels and sewing techniques, many of which are very affordable.

Singer is one of the world’s oldest sewing machine brands, becoming the first ever manufacturer of a portable sewing machine in 1851. The brand continues to focus entirely on sewing and embroidery machines as well as sergers, with a range of price points and for sewists of all levels.

Brother is a brand that makes a range of personal electronics items, from printers and label makers to sewing machines. In terms of their sewing machines, they are best known for affordable, beginner-friendly computerized sewing machines.

In general terms, Brother machines are best suited for beginners, being very user-friendly and intuitive. On the other hand, Singer sewing machines come equipped with the latest in sewing machine technology and automated features. Both brands offer excellent value for money.

Key models in Singer’s current range are:

Popular Brother models are:

  • Brother CS6000i – A beginner-friendly sewing and quilting machine.
  • Brother SE600 – This versatile computerized sewing machine has some impressive embroidery features.
  • Brother HC1850 – A versatile sewing and quilting machine with a generous number of built-in stitches.
  • Brother ST371HD – This versatile mechanical sewing is capable of sewing leather and other robust fabrics.

In order to get a better idea of each brand’s strengths and weaknesses, we’ll compare the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 and the Brother SE600. These are similar machines that are both leading models in their niche, making a reasonable basis for comparison between the two brands.

Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 Computerized Sewing Machine

The Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 is a versatile, user-friendly computerized sewing machine that is packed with features. This machine has a very reasonable price tag, especially considering the huge range of functions and features.

Singer Quantum Stylist 9960

Versatility

The Singer Quantum Stylist comes with more than 600 built-in stitches, a particularly impressive amount for a machine in this price range. The large includes basic, stretch, decorative, home décor, and quilting stitches, meaning you can work with virtually any type of fabric and make essentially any kind of project.

The built-in stitches include a staggering 13 one-step buttonholes, allowing you effortlessly sew your choice of buttonholes for garment making. As if this wasn’t enough, you also have the option to elongate or mirror many of the stitches, giving you even more options.

Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 stitch selection

Adding to the Quantum Stylist 9960’s versatility is the large range of included presser feet for a range of fabrics and sewing techniques. These include a buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, cording foot, satin stitch foot, and adjustable bias binder foot.

Along with basic and garment sewing, this machine is also well-suited to embroidery and quilting. The in-built stitches include 34 decorative stitches and alphanumeric stitches in no less than five different alphabets: Gothic, Script, Italic, Outline, and Russian.

There is also a darning foot as well as an embroidery presser foot come with the machine allowing you to embroider on a range of fabrics. For quilting, there is a walking foot included with the machine, and a wide extension project for manoeuvring large projects.

Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 accessories

On the downside, the Quantum Stylist 9960 does not have a USB port or any other way to import new embroidery patterns, so you are limited to those that come built into the machine. It also lacks the feature you’ll find in some high-end machines that allows you to save stitch sequences and reuse them later.

Other features that make this a very versatile machine are its twin needle setting for sewing stretch fabric, speed control settings, and start/stop switch.

Ease of Use

The Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 has a number of features that make it easy to use, including a user-friendly automatic needle threader, automatic threader cutter, drop-in bobbin, and needle up/down setting.

The bobbin is not only drop-in, making it easier to thread, but also has a transparent case that lets you quickly peek in to see if the bobbin thread is running low.

Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 threading and control buttons collage

This machine also has a color touch screen panel for selecting from its many stitches, as well as choosing the stitch length or width. As an extra handy feature, the display shows what the stitch will look like in the selected length and width, helping you to choose the perfect stitch.

Each stitch also comes with optional default settings, making a great starting point for beginners, while allowing more experienced sewists to be more adventurous.

Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 display

You’ll also be able to quickly and easily find the stitch you want with the flip up panel on the top of the machine that shows each stitch and its reference number. To save time, you can use the direct stitch selector on the front of the machine to select from eight common stitches.

One feature that particularly makes the Quantum Stylist 9960 stand out is its automatic tension selector. This is especially helpful for beginner sewists, allowing you to find the right tension for your fabric and stitch choice, and avoiding sewing machine issues such as looped stitches or fabric puckering.

Durability

Unlike some computerized sewing machines, the 9960 is very durable, thanks to its solid metal frame. This makes it suitable for working with robust fabrics, as well as meaning you can expect it to serve you well over the long term.

Furthermore, the metal frame stops the machine from moving around while you sew and so avoids problems like skipped stitches. At the same time, this heavy frame makes the machine pretty weighty, meaning it is not very portable.

Although not a heavy-duty machine, it can handle some sturdy projects, and will automatically adjust to the number of fabric layers. This allows you to sew multiple fabric layers at the same time without the fabric bunching or jamming.

Technical specs:

Built-in stitches:600
One-step buttonholes:13
Embroidery designs:34
Sewing speed:850 stitches per minute
Computerized:Yes
Touchscreen:Yes
USB/Memory port:No
Automatic threader:Yes
Automatic thread cutter:Yes
Needle up/down:Yes
Push button stop/start:Yes
Automatic tension selector:Yes
Bobbin:Drop-in
Extension table:Yes
Full-metal frame:Yes
Presser feet:18

What we like:

  • 600 built-in stitches – There is an impressively-large range of stitches for sewing, embroidery and stitches, meaning you can create a diverse selection of sewing projects
  • Time –saving features – The 9960 is equipped with an automatic needle threader and thread trimmer, transparent drop-in bobbin, and automatic tension selector, saving both time and effort.
  • Durable – This machine’s full metal frame makes it suitable for some heavy-duty projects.

What we don’t like:

  • Cannot import embroidery designs – The machine does not have a USB port or other connectivity, so importing designs is not possible.
  • Heavy – The machine is rather large and not very portable weighing 20 pounds and measuring 17.25 by 8.25 by 12 inches.

The overall build quality of the machine is good, but some online reviewers have reported having to return their machines for replacement due to defects. So, it seems that there might be some quality control issues in the manufacture of this model.

However, overall this is a reliable and versatile computerized sewing machine that is suitable for sewists of all levels. It is easy enough for beginners to use, though some may be overwhelmed by the number of stitches and features, and has plenty of room for you to grow your skills!

Check out our full review of the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 and its sister machine the Singer Quantum Stylist 9980 review.

Brother SE600 Computerized Sewing and Embroidery Machine

The Brother SE600 is a compact and lightweight computerized sewing machine that is perfect for beginners but will also satisfy more advanced sewists. This extremely popular model is a dedicated sewing and embroidery machine that has a number of embroidery features that set it apart from its competitors.

Brother SE600 Computerized Sewing and Embroidery Machine

Ease-of-use

The Brother SE600 is easy to use, even for complete beginners, with well-positioned controls that are clearly marked so you can easily use its many functions. These include a range of functions to make sewing more efficient and hassle-free, such as a needle stop up/down setting, stop/start button, automatic thread cutter, and automatic needle threader.

This model has a color LCD screen that is a generous 3.2 inches wide. This screen is easy to navigate, allowing you to quickly pick your stitch type and size, or choose between the built-in embroidery designs.

Brother SE600 LCD display and embroidery field collage

The drop-in bobbin is well-designed, making it easy to load, as well as being resistant to jamming. This is particularly handy for beginners, as incorrect bobbin threading is one of the most common causes of birds’ nests and other stitch problems.

Bobbin winding is super simple, thanks to the Brother SE600’s quick set bobbin and independent bobbin winder. The SE600’s LED lights also provide a nice, bright work area, reducing eye strain and making it easier to work.

Brother SE600 needle threader and lit work area collage

Like the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960, beginners may find the large number of features rather overwhelming. However, the SE600 comes with a user-friendly manual that will help you navigate all of its functions, complete with clear directions and detailed diagrams.

When you do run into errors, a message will pop up on the LCD display. Then all you need to do is check the alert number against the manual, and this will walk you through how to resolve the problem.

Versatility

The Brother SE600 is a versatile machine that can handle a range of fabrics, styles, and techniques. It comes with 103 built-in stitches, not nearly as many as the Singer Quantum Stylist, but a decent number by most standards and very good for the price point.

These include basic, quilting and decorative stitches such as hearts and scallops, as well as eight one-step buttonholes. With eight different presser feet included, this again is less than the Quantum Stylist, but still sufficient for a wide range of projects.

Brother SE600 selection of stitches

The machine has a large throat and an extendible work table that is perfect for large sewing projects. In total, you can extend the work area up to 6.4 inches by 4.1 inches, enough to work with bulky fabrics or large quilts.

On the other hand, you can also work on small, fiddly items like sleeves and collars thanks to the removable free arm. Together with the included buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, and zipper foot, this makes this model a good choice for sewing garments.

singer buttonhole, zipper and sewing feet

The Brother SE600 is well-suited to not only sewing and quilting, but embroidery too. It comes with six different lettering fonts and an impressive 80 built-in embroidery designs, and you can import even more through its USB 2.0 port.

Alternatively, you can create your own designs on the machine’s touchscreen or edit or customize built-in or imported designs. The color touchscreen allows you to preview the designs, selecting from various thread colors to help you visualize what it will look like.

The resulting embroidery and monogramming are produced to a high level of quality. Furthermore, the Brother SE600 comes with an embroidery foot and monogramming foot, and has an embroidery work area up to four by four inches, which is bigger than most comparable machines, though not really sufficient for commercial embroidery.

Portability

The SE600 is very compact and lightweight, weighing in at only 11.8 lbs. This means you can easily take it with you to sewing class, or stow it away in between sewing sessions.

On the downside of this light weight is that this is not a heavy-duty machine. Although it can handle some robust fabrics, it will not stand up to a large volume of heavy projects.

Additionally, this machine doesn’t come with a hard case, which would be useful to protect it during transportation. However, you can find affordable sewing machine carrying cases that fit this model online.

Technical specs:

Built-in stitches:103
One-step buttonholes:8
Embroidery designs:80
Sewing speed:710 stitches per minute
Computerized:Yes
Touchscreen:Yes
USB/Memory port:No
Automatic threader:Yes
Automatic thread cutter:Yes
Needle up/down:Yes
Push button stop/start:Yes
Automatic tension selector:No
Bobbin:Drop-in
Extension table:Yes
Full-metal frame:No
Presser feet:8

What we like:

  • Beginner friendly – This model is easy to use, with a comprehensive manual including error troubleshooting, which makes it perfect for beginners
  • Loads of embroidery features – The SE600 includes 80 built-in embroidery designs, USB port, and ability to customize designs, meaning you can create tons of different projects with ease.
  • Compact – The Brother SE600 is lightweight and portable. Weighing just 11.82 pounds, it’s easier to transport and to store than other similar models .

What we don’t like:

  • No hard case – No protection during transport.
  • Not suitable for heavy-duty projects – The SE600 does not have a full-metal frame and the motor is not super strong, so it does not handle a large volume of robust fabric well.

Overall, the Brother SE600 is a user-friendly computerized sewing machine suitable for beginners to advanced sewists. Although a reliable machine for basic sewing, garments, and quilting, where this model really shines is for embroidery.

Want to learn more about the Brother SE600? Check out our full Brother SE600 review.

Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 vs Brother SE600: Features face to face

Now we’ve covered an overview of each model, let’s see how their key features stack up head to head.

Versatility

Both the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 and the Brother SE600 are versatile machines that are well suited to basic sewing, garment sewing, quilting, and embroidery. However, there are some important differences when it comes to sewing particular techniques or fabrics.

Built-in stitches

The SE600 has 103 built-in stitches including eight one-step buttonholes, while the 9960 has a staggering 600 with 13 one-step buttonholes. In fact, the number of built-in stitches is one of the key stand-out features of the Singer machine.

Having said that, the SE600’s number of stitches is significantly more than most models in the same price range. Furthermore, they will be sufficient to satisfy most sewists, including more experienced ones.

Both machines have a large range of basic, stretch, quilting, and decorative stitches that will be sufficient for the vast majority of projects you are likely to attempt.

Embroidery

The 9960 has 34 built-in embroidery designs and five lettering fonts, while the SE600 has 80 embroidery designs and six lettering fonts. Furthermore, the Brother machine lets you import even more designs through its integrated USB port.

Another advantage of the Brother SE600 is that it allows you to edit and customize embroidery designs on the LCD display, unlike  the 9960.

Included accessories

The accessories included with any machine determine the sewing techniques and fabrics it can work with, and therefore how versatile it is. The 9960 comes with 18 presser feet, while the SE600 has just eight.

However, much like the built-in stitches, the Brother has a very decent range included of presser feet that, although less than the Singer, will meet most sewist’s requirements.

Heavy-duty sewing

Neither the 9960 nor the SE600 are heavy-duty sewing machines and if you want to be able to sew large volumes of robust fabric you are better off looking at a machine designed for that purpose, such as the Singer Heavy Duty 4423.

Although the Singer machine stands out for its huge number of built-in stitches, the Brother SE600 wins overall when it comes to versatility because of its superior embroidery features.

Ease of use

Both machines are user-friendly, however we’ve compared the different features to see which comes out on top.

Automatic features

Both machines share a number of the same time-saving automatic features including:

  • Automatic needle threader
  • Automatic thread cutter
  • Needle up/down

Push button stop/start

One feature that puts the 9960 ahead of the SE600 is its automatic tension selector that provides a default tension for the stitch and fabric you are working with. This is very handy for beginners, and helps you to avoid stitch issues caused by using the wrong tension.

Another outstanding feature of the 9960 is that it automatically adjusts to multiple layers of fabric.

Drop-in bobbin

Both machines have a drop-in bobbin that loads from the top. This makes the machine easier to thread compared to the traditional front-loading bobbin.

A key difference between the two models is that the 9960 also has a transparent bobbin cover. This is a big time saver, as you can quickly look to see whether your bobbin thread is running low rather than having to take the bobbin out and then rethread the machine.

On the other hand, the SE600 has a jam-resistant bobbin that helps to prevent birds’ nests.

Beginner friendly

Although both machines are easy to use, the Brother SE600 has some extra features that make it particularly suited to beginner sewists. It has an excellent manual with user-friendly explanations and diagrams to walk novice sewists through the machine’s use.

Especially useful is the error message system that allows you to check error numbers displayed on the LCD screen against the manual and troubleshoot the problem. There are 29 different error numbers, helping you to resolve a large number of potential issues and produce perfect results.

Error message on Brother SE600 sewing machine display
Image Source: YouTube / David T. Gould

The SE600 inches ahead of the 9960 when it comes to ease-of-use because of its special features designed to help beginner sewists use the machine properly and troubleshoot issues.

Look and feel

When it comes to sewing machines, it’s not just about what they can do. We’ve compared the look and feel of both models to see how they stack up.

Overall design

Both machines are well-designed, making them intuitive to use. Both also feature clearly-marked buttons and other functions and so are easy to navigate.

However, the 9960 boasts a couple of extra-clever design features, such as the flip up panel on the top of the machine that allows you to quickly find the reference number of the stitch you’re looking for. We also like the direct stitch selector on the front of the machine that lets you quickly pick one of the eight most common stitches, to save you having to go through the menu.

Size and weight

One of the biggest differences between these two machines is their size and weight.

The Brother SE600 is a light and compact machine, weighing 11.8 lbs. On the other hand, the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 is significantly heavier at 18.2 lbs.

Brother SE600 vs Singer 9960

This makes the Brother machine much more portable, and a better choice for those who want to take the machine with them to class or sewing bees.

Although both well-designed machines, the Brother SE600 wins this category for its lighter weight and portability.

Value for money

The Brother SE600 and Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 have very similar prices, both in an affordable price range, though not the cheapest machines on the market. Though comparable, the official list price of the 9960 is slightly less than the SE600.

Given the slightly lower price tag, with the larger number of built-in stitches and included accessories, the 9960 represents better value for money overall.

Stand-out features

Unusually for an affordable computerized sewing machine, the 9960 has a full metal frame. This sets it apart from the SE600 and other comparable machines.

Although this metal frame does make the 9960 a little heavier, it also makes this machine more durable. The extra weight helps to avoid skipped stitches, and makes it more suitable for working with heavy-duty fabrics.

The 9960 is also outstanding in its price range in terms of the large number of stitches, one-step buttonholes, and different presser feet included. Therefore, in terms of stand-out features, the 9960 is clearly the winner.

Key Takeaway

Both Brother and Singer make a large range of user-friendly sewing machines that are packed with the latest technology and features. In the end, the choice between the two brands comes down to personal preference, as well as your individual requirements.

Use a Singer sewing machine if:

  • You’re interested in the latest technology and automatic features
  • You want a large number of built-in stitches
  • You’re looking for as many included accessories and presser feet as possible
  • You plan to work with large volumes of heavy-duty fabric

Use a Brother sewing machine if:

  • You’re a complete beginner and you want a machine that’s easy to learn on
  • You have a tight budget but you want a computerized sewing machine
  • You do a lot of embroidery and want to customize embroidery designs
  • You work with a range of different sewing, quilting and embroidery projects

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