If you’re looking for a machine that can not only sew with ease, but embroider complex designs as well, then read our Brother SE400 review – as this machine might be just what you’re looking for! This combination sewing and embroidery machine is user-friendly, versatile, and affordable.
Brother SE400: an overview
The Brother SE400 is a combination embroidery and sewing machine that will appeal to a range of sewists. Whether you love to embroider, but want to sew or repair the occasional item, or if you sew a lot and want to add some embroidery to your projects, this machine is for you.
The Brother SE400 is also a good choice for those who enthusiastically dabble in both mediums. It is a versatile machine that can sew on a range of fabrics using various techniques, as well as coming with dozens of built-in embroidery designs and multiple alphanumeric fonts.
You can import even more designs using the machine’s USB port.
This model is also well-suited to all levels. It is easy to set up and use, with on-screen tutorials to help you to learn to use it, so is suitable even for absolute beginners. On the other hand, its many features will allow more advanced sewists to explore their skills.
What we like:
- Easy to use: With an automatic needle threader and touch LCD screen, as well as easy threading and bobbin winding, even beginners will find the Brother SE400 easy to navigate.
- Versatile: The SE400 has a large number of built-in stitches, fonts, and designs, and you can import more through its USB port. It is also equipped to work with a range of fabrics and techniques.
- Affordable: The Brother SE400 is one of the cheapest combination sewing and embroidery machines and represents excellent value for money.
What we don’t like:
- Black & white LCD screen: This is a bit of a disadvantage when choosing embroidery designs.
- Prone to break needles: Some online users report that the SE400 breaks a lot of needles.
These features come in a portable and lightweight machine that is highly versatile, and weighs less than 11 pounds!
All of this comes at a reasonable cost, making this one of the most affordable combination sewing and embroidery machines on the market, despite its many features and benefits.
Brother SE400: Features & benefits
This compact machine is packed with features for not only sewing but also embroidery, including:
- Built-in stitches and designs: The Brother SE400 comes with 67 built-in stitches, 70 embroidery designs and five monogramming fonts.
- Eight presser feet: This machine comes with a range of presser feet for various techniques and working with different fabrics.
- USB port: Allowing for computer connectivity and letting you to import any designs you wish to use.
- Touch screen: The machine has a LCD touch screen to easily select stitches and designs, stitch length or width, and other functions.
- On-screen tutorials: To show you how to use the machine.
- Fast sewing speed: The Brother SE400 can sew up to a speedy 840 stitches per minute.
- Needle stop up/down: You can use this function to choose whether the needle stops in the up or down position.
- Automatic needle threader: Allowing you to easily thread the needle with the touch of a lever.
- Drop-in bobbin: The SE400’s top-loading bobbin is easy to load and wind, as well as having a built-in sensor to alert you when the bobbin case needs cleaning.
- LED light: To brightly illuminate the work area.
Ease of use
Even absolute beginners will feel comfortable using the SE400 thanks to its intuitive design and ease-of-use features.
Easy to set up
The Brother SE400 is a piece of cake to set up, so even if you’re a new sewist, you’ll be able to start sewing pretty much as soon as you get it out of the box.
The machine is very easy to thread, thanks to the SE400’s excellent design. This includes handy numbers printed on the machine that show you how to thread it in the correct order.
Similarly, the bobbin is easy to wind, and also has numbers to help you to do this correctly. The SE400 also has a drop-in bobbin that is easy to load and use.
The Brother SE400 is also equipped with an automatic needle threader that will painlessly thread the needle for you with just a touch of a lever.
The Brother SE400 is a computerized machine and comes equipped with an LCD screen, for easy stitch selection and functions navigation, including adjusting stitch length and width, and thread tension. The screen is intuitive to use, as most of the icons are pretty easy to work out, and you can check the manual if you’re unsure.
The LCD screen is black and white only, which is a bit of a disadvantage when selecting embroidery designs. However, you will struggle to find a sewing and embroidery machine with a color LCD screen for this price.
The screen is also backlit, making it easy to navigate even when you’re working in low light. For some functions you’ll need to navigate your way through several levels of the menu, but this is a product of the large range of features that the SE400 delivers.
This includes on-screen tutorials that show you how to use many of the machine’s functions and features. This is an easy way to get guidance while you’re working, and saves you having to dig out the user manual to check how to do something.
As an extra bonus, the screen shows the recommended presser foot for each stitch selection. This is particularly useful for beginners, as it helps you make sure you use the right foot for the best results.
If you find touch screens annoying to use, you’ll be happy to know that there is also a tap pen included with the machine to help you use the LCD screen. This not only helps you to accurately navigate the menus easily and accurately, but will also keep the touch screen smudge-free.
Easy to learn
The Brother SE400 is suitable for sewists of all levels, as it is easy enough that even complete beginners will be comfortable using it, while having plenty of features for more advanced sewing and embroidery.
Along with the user manual and on-screen tutorials, you also get a CD with the machine that has more instructions and tutorials for learning how to use this model and get the most out of its many features.
The SE400 is equipped with a top-loading bobbin that is easy to thread. The bobbin case also comes with built-in sensors that tells you when it needs to be cleaned.
Some online reviewers complain about having to frequently clean the bobbin case because of these sensors. However, regular cleaning is generally a good practice anyway and can help you avoid a number of sewing machine issues caused by lint and dust build-up in the bobbin case.
The Brother SE400 comes with a number of automatic functions that help to make sewing easier and more efficient. It has a needle stop up/down function that lets you choose whether the needle stops in the up or down position.
This is helpful, as you can having the needle stop in the down position allows you to neatly change stitch direction or manoeuvre your fabric.
There’s also an LED light to help you see your work when working at night or on a gloomy day. This is particularly handy when using dark thread on dark fabric, which can be tricky to see if not well-lit.
One of the Brother SE400’s greatest strengths is its versatility. You can use it for a large range of sewing, monogramming and embroidery projects, and have access to an unlimited number of designs via its USB port.
Sewing and embroidery functions
Being a combination embroidery and sewing machine, the Brother SE400 can handle a wide range of projects from embroidery and monograming to garment making and repairs. To switch between sewing and embroidery functions, all you need to do is switch the base and the presser foot.
If you are going to do embroidery projects exclusively, or if you are going to do a lot of embroidery such as for an Etsy store, then you may want to consider a dedicated embroidery machine like the Brother PE770.
However, if you want to be able to sew a range of different projects, then a combination machine is a must! Remember that a machine that is exclusively for embroidery cannot do any regular sewing at all, not even adjusting a hem on a garment.
Therefore even if you mostly want a machine for embroidery, but may occasionally want to do regular sewing and repairs too, a combination sewing and embroidery machine like the Brother SE400 is an excellent option.
Large number of built-in stitches and designs
The Brother SE400 comes with 67 built-in stitches. This includes a four-step buttonhole to let your quickly and easily sew neat buttonholes for shirts, pants, and other garments.
When it comes to embroidery and monogramming, the machine comes with 70 built-in embroidery designs, five alphanumeric fonts, and 120 frame-pattern combos.
You can customize the designs depending on your needs, so you’ll only be limited by your own creativity!
You also have access to an unlimited number of embroidery designs thanks to the SE400’s computer connectivity. Simply download or create your own designs on the computer, then import them onto the machine via its USB port.
You can connect the SE400 directly to your computer with a USB cable (there is a cable included with the machine). The SE400 even has built-in storage, so you can store your own designs and customizations on the machine, allowing you to easily access them at a later date.
Unfortunately, you have to scroll through all of the stitch options to find the stitch you want to use, which can be tedious and time-consuming. The same is true when choosing embroidery designs.
However, there is a chart with all stitch options printed on the side of the machine, with a small diagram of each, to help you choose the right stitch. The embroidery designs are displayed large enough on the screen that you can see them in detail.
The Brother SE400 can embroider in an area of four by four inches, which is a reasonable size, though some machines have a larger embroidery area.
Range of presser feet
The Brother SE400 comes with eight presser feet:
- Blind stitching
- Free-motion monogramming
These will set you up to do a range of sewing and embroidery techniques on various types of fabrics.
All presser feet can be changed quickly and easily by snapping the old presser foot off and snapping the new one on.
Range of fabrics
The Brother SE400 can work with a range of fabrics, of various weights and different levels of stretch.
However, this is not a heavy-duty machine and is not suitable for very thick or robust fabric. If you want to be able to embroider on fabrics such as denim or leather you’ll need a more advanced (and more expensive) embroidery machine such as the Brother NQ1600E or the Janome MB4.
Some online reviewers also say that the Brother SE400 can be pretty wasteful of thread, especially when embroidering on thicker fabrics. Some users also report issues when working with some stretch fabrics, particularly t-shirt fabric, which the machine sometimes “eats” when embroidering designs.
However, this latter issue can probably be avoided by using the right stabilizer and adjusting the thread tension.
The Brother SE400 has a removable free arm that you can detach to work with small, circular items such as sleeves and collars.
This user-friendly versatile machine comes at a very reasonable cost, representing excellent value for money. This is one of the most affordable combination sewing and embroidery machines available today, and has more features than most in the same price range.
The SE400 has a maximum sewing speed of 840 stitches per minute, which is pretty speedy, though not the fastest sewing machine on the market.
It is generally well-built with few mechanical problems. However, quite a few online reviewers report issues with broken needles, so you may need to invest in some spare needles!
The SE400 weighs just under 11 pounds, making it one of lightest sewing and embroidery machines you’re likely to find. It is also reasonably compact, at 20.3 by 15 by 15.2 inches.
This featherweight machine is easy to take with you on the road, bring to sewing class, or to move in and out of storage.
Value for money
The Brother SE400 is one of the most affordable sewing and embroidery machines on the market today. It offers exceptional value for money, with a large range of features as well as Brother’s trusted quality at a low price.
Indeed, it was many more features and better stitch quality than most comparable machines at the same price point.
Alternatives to Brother SE400
Brother has a vast range of sewing machines, including more than one combination sewing and embroidery machine. You could also consider the Brother SE425 if you’re looking for an affordable sewing and embroidery machine.
So what’s the difference between the two models?
Brother SE400 vs Brother SE425
The Brother SE400 and SE425 are very similar machines. At first glance, they look identical.
Both are user-friendly, versatile combination computerized sewing and embroidery machines. They have the same sewing and embroidery features, and both have an embroidery area of four by four inches.
The main difference is in the accessories you get with the machine: the SE425 comes with all the same accessories as the SE400, as well as a zig zag foot and four bobbins. The SE425 also comes with an additional 100 designs on a CD, along with the 70 built-in designs that you’ll also get with the SE400.
The SE425 is a little more expensive than the SE400, so with identical features, it really comes down to whether you feel these extra features are worth the extra expense.
The Brother SE400 is an excellent option for any sewist who wants to be able to complete a wide range of projects, from garment making to embroidery and monogramming.
This computerized sewing and embroidery machine is easy to set up and use, comes packed with features and a large number of built-in stitches and designs. Furthermore, with USB connectivity, you’ll be able to import and embroider any design of your choosing!
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