Brother SE400 Computerized Sewing and Embroidery Machine Review

The Brother SE400 is an economically priced sewing and embroidery machine combination, which can help get your creative juices flowing. If you’re a complete beginner to sewing, or a competent sewist looking for a machine which can help you take your first steps in embroidery, this machine would be a versatile addition to your sewing room.

For a very low price, this machine offers a wealth of features that puts it up there with some of the higher quality and more expensive machines.  Features include an automatic thread cutter, automatic needle threader, top drop in bobbin and extra high presser foot, which will have you zooming through projects in no time. Along with the regular sewing foot, it also comes with feet for embroidery, monogramming, blind stitching, overcasting, zippers, button holes and button fitting – all the presser feet needed for regular sewing, quilting and embroidery/monogramming.

Brother SE400 Computerized Sewing and Embroidery Machine Features

To get your creative juices flowing, there are 67 stitch types, 5 lettering fonts, and 70 built in embroidery designs. Importing embroidery designs is done via the USB cable or specialised memory card and customers report the downloading process is quick and simple. The USB cable also allows you to update the machine’s software, which is helpful. You can purchase additional designs, and this machine uses two file types: PES and DST, broadening your design options. You will also have access to iBroidery.com which has thousands of professionally made designs, in a variety of themes.  However, if you would like to create your own designs, you will need to purchase additional software at a hefty price, so this is probably more an option for business customers.

The embroidery area is small at 4” x 4”, which makes this machine a good starter option for any would-be embroiderer, however as your skill and desire for larger designs increasesyou may need to look at upgrading sooner rather than later.  The machine comes with a 4″ x 4″ embroidery hoop, however you can purchase additional larger hoops to give you more room with your sewing, and this will allow you to add designs without rehooping, which can be time consuming.

In addition to the 70 in built embroidery designs, there are also 120 frame pattern combinations to use in conjunction with your designs or monograms.  This is an example of where using larger hoops would be helpful to your overall design, removing the necessity to rehoop to add a frame to a design. Brother also has available to purchase multi-dimensional hoops, giving you even more options. A multi-dimensional hoop has two sets of connectors, so that it can be attached to the arm at different points. This means that by using a slightly larger hoop, say 6” x 4”, which is multi-dimensional,you will have more space to embroider, so for example, if you have a longer name to monogram, you could do this without rehooping.

This machine has a regular arm cover/accessory compartment, that is used for standard sewing. To change its function to embroidery, the regular arm slides off, and an embroidery arm slides on, attaching the electronic connector inside the arm, to the machine.  You then hoop the fabric, attach the embroidery hoop to this arm, choose your design, size and placement, and set the machine sewing. Preparation is key, as once you set the machine sewing, it sews by itself, only requiring user intervention to change thread colour. So, by simply sliding the two arms off/on you are able to combine the two machines in one.

As a lightweight and compact machine, this feature has its pros and cons.  Part of the reason why it is lightweight is that it does not have a heavy duty metal frame.  This can make sewing larger items such as quilts a bit cumbersome if the machine moves around due to its light weight.  On the other hand, it does make it easy to travel with, and you can easily take it to workshops and sewing meetups, taking the opportunity to learn this exciting craft from others.

Brother SE400 Editorial Review

While the maximum stitching speed is 710 stitches per minute (SPM), the embroidery sewing speed is 350 spm.  For this lower end machine, that is probably fast enough to allow enough speed in work, while avoiding problems with thread tension and bunching. To assist with creating quality embroidery, the machine stops, cuts and ties off upper/lower thread for colour changes.  It is highly recommended to use the best quality embroidery thread, needles and stabiliser you can afford to avoid thread breaking, bunching up of stiches/bobbin threads or puckering.  Also, the small throat space will put some limits on quilting and working with larger projects.

While the focus of this machine is its impressive embroidery option, this machine is no slouch in the standard sewing arena.  It has all the sexy functions wanted by dressmakers, crafters and quilters – adjustable stitches, 8 presser feet, 10 buttonhole stitches, extra high presser foot and more.  And then of course, you can embellish your sewing creations with the embroidery features.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Very well lit workspace
  • 7-point feed dog system
  • Automatic bobbin winding system

Cons

  • Small embroidery area
  • LCD black and white only – makes it hard to discern designs
  • Stitch choice involves scrolling through up to 12 pages of stitch options
  • Small throat space

Brother SE400 Customer Feedback

With 78% of Amazon customers giving it a 5 star review, feedback on the Brother SE400 is overwhelmingly positive. However, it must be said that embroidery is a skill that takes practice and patience, and an understanding of the technicalities of the machine, fabric, specialised notions and designs required to get a quality result.

Apart from the small number of negative reviews that are technical glitches, many of these reviews seem to be due mainly to lack of skill with embroidery and sewing in general. Mostly they consist of problems with threading the machine and thread tension, as well as not using the correct embroidery thread or stabilisers. Some do report that it does not handle multiple layers of fabric well, and that needles break regularly.  So, whether these are one off glitches for some users, or an overall problem, we suggest the high star rating probably indicates the former.

Many users comment that it is a complicated machine, and that it is vital to read all the instructionsfirst up, to ensure you have a good handle on how to use it correctly.  This of course, should solve many problems, and there are a host of online sources for assistance and support.  If you’re a beginner embroiderer, this machine would help you get started with the technicalities required for embroidery

The various stitch types are helpfully shown on the front panel of the machine so that you can find what you are looking for.  However, the small screen only allows you to scroll through the stitches page by page, with stitches per page, which can become tedious when the one you want is on page 12. There are on screen tutorials and guidance for the different functions of this machine, for example if you are embroidering it walks you through step bystep to thread the machine, choose the design, make the required changes to size and placement, shows you the colour thread needed and so on.

Two manuals come with the machine.  One is a standard user manual, and the other focuses on the embroidery designs and fonts that come as standard with the machine, and includes a thread conversion chart so that you can match thread and colours.

Verdict

For the low price, the Brother SE400 is a great entry level machine for those wanting to get a feel for embroidery and see if it sparks their interest.  There is a steep learning curve required for embroidery in general, and it has to be stressed that if you fall in love with monogramming and personalising your projects with embroidery, you will very quickly want a larger machine with more capability.

The low price of this machine has the added bonus of leaving you with extra cash to spend on the additional items needed for embroidery: designs, specialised thread, needles, thread holders, storage items, a variety of stabilisers and more.  Costs for all the extras can soon mount up, so before deciding you need to create a monogramming business, you could use this machine to get a feel for the embroidery craft, the skill required and additional items needed, before spending out the big bucks required for a high end machine.

With all that being said, this is the perfect beginner machine as it has a low price point to get you started, and if you change your mind and want a straight sewing machine, you have a fully functioning piece of equipmentthat offers everything you need. For those who want the best of both worlds, and have a hankering to get creative with embellishments, monograms, borders and pretty pictures, this machine could offer you the best option for your money to help you learn and grow in your creative textile skills.

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