Project Runway Brother CS5055PRW Review

Does the Brother CS5055PRW stand up as the would-be fashionista’s sewing machine of choice?

First Glance

Project Runway sewing machines are a limited-edition series manufactured by Brother. Anyone who is familiar with the hit TV show will know that these machines are certainly put through their paces by the contestants, so if you’re just starting out and looking for a machine that has durability as well as an abundance of features, then the Brother CS5055PRW could be the one for you.

Since its launch the series has proved popular with novice dressmakers, designers and fashion students alike.  It certainly ticks all the right boxes in the credibility stakes for marrying a trusted brand with a successful TV franchise. In fact, the CS5055PRW is so popular, it’s a frequent sell-out with US stockists. But is it a worthy investment or simply trading on a name? 

The Brother CS5055PRW currently retails for around $140 and it certainly packs a punch in terms of what it delivers. All in all, this is a very accomplished sewing machine for what is essentially marketed at amateurs – thanks to its versatile yet easy to use programs and accessories included as standard. 


  • Lightweight and compact
  • Very affordable compared to some other models
  • Really easy to use


  • Plastic material isn’t very premium
  • Lighter build means it is prone to vibration

A major plus point is that it’s light and compact enough to take to class but still qualifies as a full-size machine, allowing ample room for working on a bigger scale. There’s plenty of automated features which will assist even the most novice of students with frustrating and time-consuming tasks like threading and winding bobbins.  Of course, it’s not without its faults, there could be some improvements but at first glance this is a very impressive number. 


The Brother CS5055PRW is a computerized sewing machine with a clear and easy to read LCD display. The panel shows you the selected stitch type and length, meaning you have complete control over the consistency of your work. The bright LED light illuminates your work area, perfect for working at night-time or for intricate detailing. It also makes sewing onto darker color fabrics a breeze. The wide table area provides enough space to work on larger scale projects such as prom wear. 

It also comes with some pretty useful features to help make setting up that little easier, such as an automatic needle threader andthe quick set bobbin. Just press the lever and the thread is passed through the needle eye for you.  The drop-in bobbin couldn’t be easier to deal with as you simply drop it into the slot under the footplate. The transparent cover makes it easy to see if you’ve got enough thread to finish the job at hand. Conveniently placed thread cutters on the bottom and side of the machine means that you can keep your work area neat and tidy. Save those scissors for fabric cutting only!

It’s doubtful your creativity will be stifled ever again with more than 50 in-built stitches programmed into this model. There’s even a picture chart at the front of the machine so you know exactly what you’re selecting from the menu. Every aspect of construction is covered with blind hem, zigzag and overcasting stitches to give you that clean professional finish to your garments. Specialist stretch stitches make working with difficult fabrics like fleece and elastics much easier and a seven-point feed dog ensures smooth handling of thicker fabrics like tweed and denim.

In addition to garment construction stitches you’ll find a couple of embellishments like feather and mock hand quilting stitch to give an extra dimension to your projects. Coupled with a drop feed function, you could even try your hand at free motion quilting effects. Yes, it seems that the CS5055PRW isn’t just for dressmakers, it also caters to the needs of quilters and crafters.  

What comes as a surprise bonus on this model are a couple of extra features that you wouldn’t normally expect to find on entry-level machines, such as the horizontal spool pin which consistently feeds the top thread. Anyone who’s worked with metallic or specialty threads knows how notoriously difficult they can be, as the spool jumps around but this feature adds that little bit of stability in ensuring a smooth feed and maintaining the correct amount of tension in the thread. 

In addition to the 50 automatic stitches it also offers five automatic buttonhole stitches which are custom sized to fit pretty much any button of your choosing. 

What’s good about the Brother CS5055PRW?


The low price point of the Brother CS5055PRW makes this sewing machine excellent value for money. As an amateur you’ll be challenged to find another computerized model with as impressive a spec as this for the same price or less. 


One of the first things you’ll notice about the CS5055PRW is it’s streamlined design. It weighs under 15lbs which is about as light as sewing machines of this spec go. Coupled with a durable carry handle, this sewing machine is portable enough to take to classes or from room to room, making it the ideal choice for students or on-the-go tailors.

Easy to use

Thanks to features like easy winding and drop-in bobbin, set up is quick and painless, meaning that you can spend more of your precious time sewing and not falling at the first hurdle. The digital display takes the guesswork out of projects as it intuitively tells you which settings are most appropriate for the task at hand.

Added extras

What’s so great about this model is that in addition to all the built-in features, you also have a huge number of added accessories, which all in all, adds up to one very well-equipped sewing machine. It comes with a generous amount of interchangeable presser feet (seven in total) including zipper, buttonhole, overcasting and monogramming feet. The digital display makes it even easier to use as it tells you which foot you need to use and when. A twin needle is included in the pack to stitch parallel rows and pleats. When you think of all the savings in not having to buy all these parts separately, it quickly becomes apparent that this is a good deal to be had.

Speedy yet relatively quiet

The Brother CS5055PRW is a pretty speedy model capable of 850 stitches per minute, which is considerably faster than average. You’ll have no problem running up yards worth of drapes in a couple of hours.

The seven-point feed dog, part of Brother’s exceptional feed system handles fabrics smoothly and quietly. You’ll barely notice it running at top speed as it whips through cumbersome fabrics like tweed and layers of interfacing at a surprising level of ease.

25-year Guarantee

Buying from a trusted and established brand gives you a little extra reassurance when investing in an expensive piece of equipment.  A 25-year limited warranty ensures that you’ll see many projects through on this machine.  

What’s not so good about the Brother CS5055PRW?


Plastic construction

With an entry level sewing machine of this caliber, it can be hard to find the negatives. However, the plastic body of this machine could be off-putting, especially to those who swear by metal frames when it comes to longevity. There’s also increasing concern over more and more appliances ending up in landfill prematurely. 

That said, with correct usage and a little TLC by way of cleaning and regular services, this machine should last you par for the course. On top of that, its limited warranty should go some way in allaying some of those concerns about its lifespan.


Again, this follows on from the above and why some people prefer heavier, metal bodied machines. The lighter casing of a plastic sewing machine allows for more movement when stitching at higher speeds. This in turn can cause vibration which, on top of being annoying on the ears, wears the parts out much more quickly. This can potentially be avoided by remembering to place your machine on a rubberized mat before it becomes too much of an issue. 

Ultimately, in the case of plastic vs metal body sewing machines, it all comes down to how frequently you’ll be using your machine and whether you need it to be portable. 

The Verdict

Looking beyond the TV show affiliation, the Brother CS5055PRW is an impressive sewing machine for any would-be fashionista. It has an excellent price point for a computerized machine with a generous array of features and accessories. The affordability of this machine also makes it the perfect gift for anyone who shows a keen interest in garment construction but doesn’t know where to start. 

Despite being marketed at a younger, more fashion-conscious audience, this sewing machine is likely to have much broader appeal, after all it’s just as capable of quilting, as it is running up a pair of pants or embellishing a purse. While it easily fulfils the needs of the school or college student who is learning to sew for the first time, it’s just as likely to meet the requirements of the parent or grandparent who is returning to sewing as an intermediate. 

The CS5055PRW has proved to be a hit with budding designers and hobbyists alike and it certainly doesn’t seem to be waning in its popularity any time soon. 

Moreover, the Brother Project Runway series goes some way in proving that budget doesn’t always mean compromising on quality. 


What is Brother Project Runway?

Brother Project Runway is a limited-edition series of sewing machines that will enable you to make high end couture looks and more at an affordable price.

Should I buy a Brother Project Runway sewing machine?

If you’re looking for a computerized sewing machine that offers versatility at a reasonable price, then the Brother Project Runway series is the ideal place to start. Whether it’s dressmaking or quilting, you’ll find a range of tailored programs and features to suit your needs.

What is a computerized sewing machine?

A computerized sewing machine works in the same way as a standard manual sewing machine, in that the machine is electric powered and operated by a foot pedal. The difference between the two is that computerized models have digital displays and a lot more control over stitch patterns and needle functions. Most computerized models have automated features and in-built stitches to make sewing projects easier than ever. Although capable of some advanced functions, their versatility and easy to operate programs make them accessible to even the most novice learners. They can help assist people with dexterity or vision problems with things like needle threading and maintaining sewing speeds.

How do I thread my Brother CS5055PRW?

Before using your new machine you will need to make sure that it is threaded correctly. Many people struggle with getting the top thread through the machine. Use the pictures printed onto the top of the sewing machine to help you but as a simple guide you’ll need to follow these steps:

Put your thread onto the horizontal spool at the back of the machine and replace the cap at the end to keep it in place. Guide the end of the thread through the two hooks at the back and then bring it over the top to the front of the machine. 

You need to guide the thread down through the metal plates of the first slot and then back up to the second slot. Bring the thread down between the metal plates and hook it under the needle guard. Make sure that the thread has passed through all the tension discs on the way down through the metal plates in the slots.  Thread the needle manually or use the automatic threading function if you prefer. It may be helpful to have the foot in the down position while you do so.  Always check that the tension is on the correct setting before you start sewing. 

Remember to always refer to your manual to ensure you’re threading both the top and bobbin thread correctly. If it’s not done properly, you may risk damaging both your fabric and your machine. 

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