I get asked a lot about what sewing machine I use or what sewing machine I would recommend so I wanted to do a dedicated post about the sewing machine I currently use for my own sewing at home. I mostly use it for dressmaking so this review is likely to be more biased towards those features but I have also made one quilt with it.
The machine is the Brother Innvois VQ2 and to be totally transparent, it is currently on loan to me, from Brother (via my local sewing machine dealer, Frank Nutt) and I’ve had it for about 9/10 months now. To buy new it costs £1999.99. I have used various models of Brother sewing machines for over 10 years now and they are the machines that I know the best and have the most experience with. I don’t have extensive experience of different brands of sewing machines to know how it compares to them.
Read on for my take on this awesome beast of a machine or check out my latest Youtube video to hear me chat about it and show you the machine up close!
Machine spec and details
This is my own take on the key listed features of this machine.
Large LCD touchscreen - Full-colour LCD touchscreen display with user-friendly controls to select and adjust stitches. View on-screen tutorials and control the machine with the large, intuitive on-screen icons. This is really easy to use and had good sensitivity for a touch screen.
Huge stitch selection - choose from over 470 stitches including decorative embroidery designs, 14 one-step buttonhole stitches and 5 different fonts. I haven’t used all of them yet but I’ll go into more detail on that (see below).
My Custom StitchTM - As well as all the pre programmed ones you can even design your own stitchn on the LCD panel by using the ‘My Custom Stitch’TM feature. I have to admit I’ve not really used this as I tend to mostly dress make with this machine and as there are so many built in decorative stitches I would probably use them before making my own one.
Automatic needle threader - easy to use and reliable self needle threading function that works at the touch of a button. The only thing I’d say about this function that takes a bit of getting used to is that after using it you can only lower the presser foot if you press the button. If you want to use the manual level at the back to lower the presser foot, you first need to use the button, then manually lift the foot up, then you can manually lower it.
Pivot function - You can set the machine to automatically lift the presser foot while the needle remains lowered for fast and easy fabric manipulation. I haven’t set the machine to automatically lift the presser foot for me yet but having the needle stop in the machine when you take the foot off the pedal is super useful. I find it gives more control and accuracy when you are sewing curves or turning corners and need to lift the foot to move the fabric. Other models of brother machine I have used do have that function too.
Handy accessory compartment - a super neat and organised compartment to store the 10 different feet that come included with the machine including a free motion open toe quilting for and ¼” quilting foot with guide.
Long arm - The extra large long arm (11 1/4”,285 mm) gives you loads of space to the right of the needle so it’s great for bulky projects like quilts and coats. I love the extra space and have never felt limited by it at all!
Super fast stitching - Adjustable speed control with up to 1050 stitches per minute. This is amazing and was one of the first things I noticed right away when I used it for the first time. You can still adjust the speed to make it slower if you want more control.
Lockstitch key - rather than back stitching, you can use the lock stitch button to tie-off stitches at the beginning and end of the sewing. This is great for top stitching or when you are starting to sew and there are bulky seams and the machine might find it hard to reverse back to secure the stitching.
Low bobbin warning - This is super useful, the machine basically beeps and stops sewing when the bobbin thread is about to run out. When I did make my quilt it was especially useful as I went through quite a few bobbins!
ICAPS - Helps ensure consistent stitch length on all fabric thicknesses by keeping the presser foot pressure consistent, regardless of fabric thickness, leading to uniform stitch quality across uneven surfaces. This magic kinda works in the background without you realising it. I’ve used this machine to sew everything from silk crepe de chine to denim when making jeans and it copes with anything and everything - just make sure you have the right needle!
Ultra-bright feature lighting - The ultra-bright LED lighting gives a crisp, bright natural light, so you can see colours and stitch details, no matter what your lighting conditions. The lighting brightness is fully adjustable, so you can set it at a level to suit. I’ve really noticed the difference with this machine compared to other models of Brother I have used. If I was sewing in the evening before I used to have a lamp I’d put on and shine on the machine but I don’t need that any more.
7-point feed - Enhanced longer feed mechanism for superior handling of layered fabrics and smooth precise stitching. Includes multi-directional feed to sew straight in eight directions and in four directions with zig zag. I’ve certainly noticed smooth precise stitching and in terms of the eight different directions I’ve really only noticed that when I was stitching name tags for my daughter and the letters can be bigger because the machine can automatically move the fabric side to side as well and forward and back - incredible really!
Independent bobbin winder - You can wind a new bobbin while you continue to sew and you can control of the bobbin winding speed to suit different thread types. There is an extra spoke for a reel of thread to sit on the top of the machine so you can wind a new bobbin while leaving the original thread still threaded up. Great if you are doing a bigger project and have more than one reel of thread in the same colour.
2 USB ports - One for USB devices such as a mouse or memory stick to import and export stitches. And a port to connect to a PC for easy machine updates. I have not used these yet!
Knee lift - This is a lever that you can put into the front of the machine and then use your knee to lift the presser foot. I’ve not used it before as I'm in the habit of just using the lever at the back of the machine to lift the presser foot.
Dimensions - 54cm x 34cm x 24cm - These are my own approximate dimensions as I couldn't find listed dimensions anywhere. It really heavy and sturdy and and I can only lift it with two hands so I tend to leave it out in my sewing area all the time and not move it around.
I’ve been asked a few specific questions, which aren’t totally covered in the features list above so I hope you find this useful too. If you have any others feel free to email the shop on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get back to you!
What stitches do I most commonly use?
As I mostly use the machine for dressmaking the good old straight stitch is my most commonly used stitch. I use it in both needle positions. The left position is what makes the markings and measurements on the plate of the machine accurate so I use that for sewing seams. Then for top stitching I usually have the needle in the middle position.
After that I mostly use the stretch stitch as I do sew a lot of jersey fabric. I still use the regular foot for that, not a walking foot. The default length of the stretch stitch is 2.5mm length and I usually lengthen that to 3m for seams and 3.5mm for top stitching with stretch stitch (when hemming for example).
It has loads of embroidery and decorative stitches and they are all really easy to select from the touch screen panel.
I haven’t used any of the patterned ones but I have used the letters to make name tags and stitch my daughters name onto her school belongings. It’s really good as there are upper and lower case letters and you can just type in the letters you want and the machine remembers and stitches it all out as a word.
What needles do I use with it?
I use Prym needles with it and I generally adjust my needle to suit my fabric. I mostly use size 80 standard needles as that suits most of the fabric I sew but I do also use size 70 when sewing with lighter weight fabrics and a ballpoint jersey needle when sewing with stretch. I've got a separate blog and video about selecting the right needle for your project - follow this link to check it out!
What's it like for button holes?
I’ve used it to sew buttonholes one a really lightweight viscose for a shirt I made, and on the waistband of a pair of jeans, so it was going through lots of layers and I’ve found it to be really good. There are lots of different buttonhole options to select from but I mostly use the regular rectangular one or the keyhole one for buttons with a thick shank (like buttons for denim).
What makes this one better than previous brothers - how does it compare to studio ones?
At the moment in the studio we have NV1300 Brother machines and I would say the most obvious differences for regular, everyday dressmaking are
- The speed - the VQ2 is much faster
- The lighting - the built in lighting is much brighter
- The space under the machine - that longer arm on the machine means you can get way more to the right hand side of the needle than most other machines.
- The needle threader - it’s a bit smoother and easier to use as the process is more automatic on the VQ2 as you press a button to activate it, rather than pushing down on a lever.
What I have sewn with it and how much do I use it?
Some weeks I can use it every day, other weeks maybe like 2-3 times so it varies how much use it gets, but over the whole time I’ve had the machine it’s done a lot of things!
I mainly use it for dressmaking projects and I’ve sewn loads of types of fabric on it from super lightweight and slippery viscose to jersey, thick denim, wool coating and everything in between.
Who is the machine best suited for?
I think for a complete beginner it might be a bit overwhelming to be honest. Having said that the built in help guide is really good so if you were used to navigating through touch screens that it would be easy to work out.
Overall I would recommend it to anyone who loves dressmaking with a variety of fabrics and also likes patchwork/quilting too and is at a more intermediate to advanced level. It’s smooth, slick and has so many neat features that once you learn about, you can’t believe you were ever without them!
Disclaimer - I have been using brother sewing machines for over 10 years now and have always been really pleased with them. I have been given this Brother Innvois VQ2 sewing machine on loan, for free. There was no formal agreement between Brother and I that I would post or share any reviews so all opinions are my own. A version of this sewing machine review originally appeared in SEW Magazine in March 2019 in their printed magazine and on their website.
I do also have a set of 10 Brother NV1300 sewing machines, also on loan for use in the g&g studio during our sewing and dressmaking workshops.