Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Brother SE400 Combination Computerized Sewing and 4x4 Embroidery Machine With 67 Built-in Stitches, 70 Built-in Designs, 5 Lettering Fonts
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on October 29, 2012
I bought this at a local big box store because I was worried I wouldn't use it, wouldn't like it, or wouldn't be able to figure it out. Let me tell you about me, so you understand why those were my concerns...

I'm about as crafty as a sock, my only sewing experience was sewing little bags with yarn closures as a kid, and I have NO PATIENCE. I don't like manuals too much, which doesn't help.

For whatever reason, I got it in my head that I wanted to try this. Not sure why... but anyway, I'm a gadget junkie, so maybe that was part of it.

I bought it, the little sample pack of thread at the same store, and stiched out one of the included patterns. It was AWFUL, but recognizable for what it was... Santa with some trailing letters. But the bobbin thread came up so much, most of the pattern was white... it was pretty bad. I thought "other people can do this... let me google it". So I googled it, re-looked at my machine, and I had my bobbin threaded wrong (I missed the little lip it has to go under). Tried again, did a free "mouse in a stocking" pattern I found at emblibrary, and it was AWESOME! Super, duper cute... an inch away from perfect! The challenge there was I relied on the machine to tell me what color to put in, rather than the color change chart from the designer (FYI: apparently a common rookie move). So my mouse had pink feet and ear edges, instead of grey, but besides that... PERFECT!

So I did the next thing, and it was GREAT. Here's my lessons learned:
1) Polyester (what comes in that sample pack) stretches a lot... so if you have a dense design, it will cause pucker. There's probably ways to avoid it, but I avoid it by using rayon :).

2) If it's acting funny, it's because it's threaded wrong... most commonly for me, it's the "lip" thing in the bobbin case. Then you get too much white. If it dies after a color change and about 8 stitches, says "recheck upper thread", really, just rethread it, even if it looks fine.

3) REALLY try to not stretch the fabric when you're hooping it. Causes some scary puckering.

4) There is a difference between different vendors of designs. Some are super good, some not so much. So try a sample or two from a site before you go hog-wild there. They may look cute on the screen, but when you try to stitch it out, they have 5 layers superimposed, which causes some issues, the margins are too thin, or the color changes are really poorly defined.

5) You're likely going to want some software. Many people apparently use Embird, so I wanted to like it, but I don't like their business model... I may be missing something, but my understanding is that it's a chunk of change for the base model, that much again if you want to make your own, that much again if you want to use letters, etc. It's not nickel-and-diming, but hundred-and-hundred-and-fifty-dollaring. Same concept, different scale. They let you try it out, but it's truly crippleware... you can't save images you've built (like what that's supposed to tell you, I don't know... how can I know if this is ok if I can't stitch it???). But I suggest you try it out... for whatever reason, it's very popular. I found Stitch Era Universal, which is freeware that requires a constant internet connection, has ads, and is really free and useful. There are some things that are less useful than Embird (harder to see where your edges should be is my only concern right now), but I can take a design, add some text, save it to the file format I need, etc. I even got fancy and made part of a P-51 red so that I could do a pattern for the Tuskegee Airmen. Took me a while (~1.5 hours) to figure out how to do it, because I had to split objects, insert color changes, etc, but I did it. You can also digitize, but I'm guessing that's hard. :) Both of these have active yahoo groups. There are other software products, but I don't know them, so can't comment effectively.

6) Don't pay full price for any design unless you LOVE it and HAVE to have it now. There's going to be a sale, you're going to get a coupon, or something. That may just be at the sites I'm at, but so far, the sales make it super tempting to get those really neat designs. Put it in your wishlist, wait for a sale or coupon. YMMV.

7) Get the free stuff! Sign up for the club, see what they offer free. Emblibrary has a great Christmas club, and a super nice selection of low cost designs that changes weekly. Bunnycup has a REALLY great selection of free retired sets (the ghosts are super cute!), great designs from a technical perspective, and frequent additions to the "new sets" page. It tends to be "cutsier" than I would love, but if you're looking for cutesy, that's a great start (lot of applique, too, and good instructional stuff).

8) Get most of your non-thread stuff on amazon... it's just cheaper and convenient. The things that I wouldn't trade for the world are my pre-cut stabilizer sheets (Tearaway Embroidery Stabilizer, 8x8, 200 Precut Sheets for Embroidery Machines, pre-wound bobbins (144 Prewound Bobbins for Brother Embroidery Machine Size A (156), aweseome weird looking scissors (Havel's Ulti-Mates Angled Machine Embroidery Scissors, and any curved forceps for finishing the threading process (unless your fingers are more agile than mine). I got mine at a local craft store in the jewelery making section for $3. Yes, I'm lazy, and I trade money for time... you can probably get roll stabilizer way cheaper, wind your own bobbins, use any old pointy scissors, and finish the threading with fingers. But for me, being able to grab a sheet, have a really full bobbin with exactly the right tension without having to learn how to use my bobbin winder-thingie, and cut stray threads without contortion are so worth it. (Note: I'm likely going to have to learn bobbin-winder-thingie at some point, since sometimes you want bobbin and upper threads to match, like for applique, but I'm not beating feet to it :) )

9) Shop around. The prices for the exact same thread varies from $2.85 to $5.99, with everything in between, with similar variation in other stuff I've seen. brothermall2 and allthreads are relatively good sites, although the user interface is clunky at the first, and it has a limited selection, but prices are great (especially for the easy glow-in-the-dark thread, and fast shipping.

10) If you can afford it, you like madeira thread, and you think you're going to do this a while, get the set. It's expensive, but you get the drawers that go with it, pre-filled and with little stickers for where the spools go back to, and a cross-reference by number (it's sorted by color sheet order). For about 10x what I spend on 30 threads, I got 356 threads, nice wooden drawers with spool-hugging plastic inserts (to avoid rolling) I'll use forever, and not having to worry about getting a particular color for a special pattern. It solved two of my biggest concerns: storage and inventory. How do I know what I have, find what I have, and store what I have? Now I can easily see what has a hole, find anything, and not be flipping through boxes of spools to find stuff. This set was SOOOO worth it for me. I bought several spools of that brand at a cheap thread site, tried it on a pattern or two, and took the plunge early.

11) This is shockingly fun so far. I can make a neat pattern in a short time... I put Mario's gold flower on my son's pajamas, a glow-in-the-dark ghost on my daughter's blanket, and am working on a state quilt. So for non-crafty, non-creative me, this is something that I look forward to doing... it's almost funny. My kids like watching it stitch out, I like the "set and forget" and good results (with a few setbacks for learning issues), and I am so impressed with what I can make.

12) Research stuff before you buy it. I almost got the "hard" glow in the dark thread, which apparently glows longer, but requires special handling, instead of the "easy" glow in the dark, which you use, launder, etc, just like regular thread. And I almost spent $6 for thread, and I avoided spending $600 on modular software. I bought metallics, which are beyond my skill set, because I violated this guidance...

13) Keep the manual close... my first several times threading, I had the book open next to me. As someone who had literally never threaded before, it took me a couple of times (probably 5) to figure it out. It's clearly labeled on the machine, and you'll be doing it in your sleep pretty quickly, but you have to hit all the marks or it just doesn't work. I also watched the first video, and looked in the manual for repeating a color or stitch (they call it "re-sewing", if you want to look it up in the manual) when I had threading issues. So I flipped through it, and refer to it (despite my anti-manual leanings). I also read other people saying you have to read the manual cover to cover, and I won't say they're wrong. I may have had fewer threading issues if I would have complied :)

So, this a long review, I know, but if someone else is thinking they may be interested, that's the path I took, and my results!
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on April 26, 2010
I just purchased a Brother SE-400 computarized sewing and embroidery machine from Ken's Sewing and Vacuum Center via Amazon.com. It arrived within three days. So far, I am VERY pleased with this machine.
Loving embroidery, I decided to purchase the Brother SE-400, as it had all the features I wanted and it was within my price range. Prior to my purchase, I read all the web reviews I could find on the SE-350, as there are barely any reviews yet for the SE-400 (new on the market). Noteworthy is the fact that the SE-350 and the SE-400 are the exact same machines except for the additional computer connectivity that the SE-400 possesses. The SE-400 has a port for computer connectivity and comes with a USB cable which helps connect directly the sewing machine to your computer. This is an advantage over the SE-350 as this feature allows you to upload embroidery designs directly from the web(or your computer) to your machine, and update your machine's operational software from Brother whenever updates occur.
The SE-400 is compact enough, comes with a handle at the top, which makes it truly portable. Even though it is relatively lightweight (compared to my good 40-year old "all metal" Kenmore), the SE-400 feels sturdy while sewing and it is a very easy machine to operate. The manuals that came with the machine are very well written and the diagrams easy to follow. It took me only a few minutes to figure out how this machine operates. I love the self threading feature of the machine, as well as the built-in thread cutter, bobbin sensors, and drop in lower bobbin.
I was also delighted to find out that the embroidery part of the machine has the following built in features: You can reflect an embroidery design; and rotate the design 1 degree, 10 degrees, or 90 degrees at a time.
I appreciated all the enclosed accessories that came with my SE-400. I wished though that it came with an additional large embroidery hoop too, besides the medium hoop. I guess I will have to buy a large hoop sooner or later, if I am to become more involved with machine embroidery.
The SE-400 is a good choice for a home sewer. I give it a 5-star.
One more note. If you are looking for a hard carrying case for this machine, I highly recommend the Brother 5300 universal hard carrying case. It is the perfect fit for it.
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on April 21, 2010
I agree with the rave reviews for the se-350 now se-400.... for sewing, it's a dream of an upgrade from my battered but still working brother xr-40 bought from costco @ 10-ish years ago.
for embroidery it's limited as the max hoop size is not very large,and an extra purchase, but fun to play with. I give it 4 stars... it's a great intermediate sewing and beginner embroidery machine.

i purchased this machine (shipped promptly from J&R via Amazon) last month after a lot of research. what i found was.... the brother se-350 was pretty much identical to the brother project runway 6700 machine. the 6700 was recently updated to the 6800, adding 1 usb port, as was the se 350 was upgraded to the se-400 w/ usb port.
the project runway machines come w/ a roller case, the se models ship w/ vinyl case. se-400 is 100 bucks cheaper than the PR 6800. the se 350 is still shipping for same price as se-400. I advise purchasing the se-400 even if you don't plan on using it w/ your computer currently as brother will be offering system upgrades you will need usb port for.

most software for embroidery sewing/embroidery machines is not Mac compatible so i assumed the usb port would be useless for a while.. Wrong!

connect the se 400 via included usb cable to your Mac, it'll show up as an external hard drive, mine was named 'unknown', I do not advise changing this. then add PES files from your computer by dropping them on the sewing machine/external drive. do not add folders of designs on machine, they must be added one at a time to be recognized. (mac will display pes designs in finder as an image...but I've yet to find any software to edit them...)

Oh, & remember, it only holds 512 kb of data in memory so you can't load all your designs, unless you have a compatible memory card to load in machines slot. and the designs MUST be 4" by 4" or smaller or machine will not recognize them. (You can buy a larger hoop size to fit more than one 4 x 4 designs on fabric.)
And have fun!
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on January 24, 2013
Holy crap this is the most fun machine ever. Admittedly, I have only used it for embroidery. Who has time to mend pants when there are so many random things that are just screaming for a logo or design to be sewn on them. I went online and downloaded some free embroidery designs. (That is so fun and addictive... and really easy to do because you just USB the machine to your computer). The first one was a one-color design so I could get the hang of it. Then I went to a multi-color design. It was so simple and easy. Though, I recommend watching a few videos on you tube. That is more helpful than the materials that they provide. Note, most recommend that you not change the bobbin color and just leave it with white. I am too OCD to have my bobbin a different color from my top thread so I actually switch my bobbin color out to match the top.

I saw some complaints about thread breaking in the reviews. I only had that happen once but in all honesty, it was an operator error on my part. I saw some complaints about bobbin thread showing through. Since I use matching bobbin thread that is not an issue for me.

My only complaint is that the accessories (feet, tools etc) just come in a cheap little plastic bag that you have to dump out if you want to find anything. Oh, and it is a pain that you need a screwdriver to change the needle.

I would highly recommend this machine.

UPDATE: I have had this machine for 4 months now. It is still just as fun. Note: all of the problems that I have encountered are from the bobbin thread. I have to make very sure that the bobbin thread is tight enough. I should probably buy professional bobbins. So if you find yourself having problems, check the bobbin first. If you notice the bobbin color sneaking up through, change your bobbin immediately.

I get my designs for free from embroiderydesigns.com and have really enjoyed that. However, when you import designs onto the brother machine, do not rely on the color that the machine tells you. For some reason, many times the color description doesn't transfer over right. Also, even though the hoops are 4x4, it won't let me do designs that are bigger than about 3.5 x 3.5 which is a bummer.

I have been working the heck out of this machine and it is holding up.

I am uploading some pictures of little travel bags that I have made for neighbor kids who are moving or going on long trips. I paid about ten cents for the bag and then put on a cute design and it is amazing.
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on February 6, 2011
I bought the SE400 about 2 months ago from Amazon... I knew nothing about embroidery machines before my purches, so I was going by the good reviews & the price. I haven't been disappointed. I've done quite a few projects with this machine, and it has done exactly what I had purchased it for. I've done lots of personalizing things with names- pillowcases, flour sack towels, quilt labels.
Pros:
1. Price. This is the lowest priced embroidery machine that I've found, with the features that I wanted.
2. USB port. You can easily embroider designs (quite a few of them are free) from the internet. Easy to connect to your laptop & downlaod a design.
3. Fonts. There are 5 nice pre-installed fonts that come with the machine. They all work well, and are easy to use.
4. Ease of use. I had the machine out of the box, and was embroidering on a scrap piece of fabric within an hour after I opened the box. The touch screen makes it a snap to navigate the menu & find what you want.
5. Needle threader. I LOVE this feature. It works like a snap. You just thread the machine, and then push down on a little tab on the size, and viola! the needle is threaded. Easy as pie & has worked every time.
6. Thread cutter. This is also a great feature- it just cuts your thread for you when your design is finished. You can also set it to cut the thread between each letter, if your'e doing fonts.

Cons:
1. The designs that come pre-installed on the machine are not that great. But, never fear, the internet is filled with thousands and thousands of designs, and quite a few of them are free. Most pattern sites offer some free designs, and you can really start quite a collection just getting started with free designs. Out of the 70 designs pre-installed, maybe 10 of them are pretty good. The others are a little out-dated & old fashioned.
2. Internal memory. You can only save 10 patterns on the memory of the embroidery machine. So, I just save all my designs on my laptop, and then use the USB cable to connect to the machine. Only takes a few seconds to download the pattern I want to use & I'm on my way. I wish they'd let you delete some of the not-so-great pre-installed designs & make room to save ones that you really want. But, if you have a laptop, or a PC close by, it's not a big deal to just connect to your computer, and get sewing.
3. hoop size. You are limited to the 4x4 hoop size.

All in all, this is a great machine for the price. You can rotate designs, and resize them by a limited amount. It's easy to get started, and easy to thread. The touch screen is a nice feature, as is the needle threader (I wish my other sewing machine had this feature!). If you're looking for an inexpensive machine to get into embroidery with, this is your machine.
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on December 2, 2015
We've had our Brother SE400 for quite a few years now, we weren't really sure how to use it as an embroidery machine in the beginning, so I used it as a sewing machine mostly, which worked great. I love the ease of winding and loading the bobbin. It has lost of great stitches as well. It wasn't until we moved beyond the preset embroidery letters and designs did it really start being awesome. Use your port, hook it up to your computer, get yourself some design software like Click N' Stitch, PE Design, and make your own designs! They turn out way better! You will need to know basic photoshop, illustrator, or inkscape skills. There are lots of videos on youtube to help you figure out digitizing and you will do a lot of trial and error. But you have more control that way. Or you can buy designs if your not familiar with those programs. Use the medium speed setting when embroidering, and use stabilizer! Use embroidery thread. We love our machine and recommend it to anyone who is wanting to start out learning how to machine embroider. We prefer making patches although we have embroidered on shirts, towels, lab coats etc. We like making iron-on patches because if you mess up, you only messed up a patch not the entire garment that might be hard to replace. Another thing I'd say is, keep it clean and it will run great for you. Dust it, oil it. Its a little work horse, the last few months we've really worked it and its still going strong. Here is a video we made on how to digitize an image, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifpxGvo0oh0 then we also made another video on how to make your own patches. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHdeFWNVqmk
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on August 2, 2012
I wanted a travel machine that was small, light weight, and will fit inside a carry-on luggage, while still being a pleasure to sew on and solidly built. Amazon shipped this machine in 3 days and I put it through the paces.

Sewing & Embroidery test)
I was very happy with my test results on utility sewing, decorative stitching, and embroidery. Machine feels solid and of high quality. Bobbin winds better than my $3000 ULT. All tensions were solid performers at the default setting, again better than my ULT. Feed dog seem to have strong traction, even on heavy decorative stitching. Top and bottom fabric fed evenly. Machine had a factory tested seal on the bobbin door, and it felt like it was thoroughly tested, much better than usual even for expensive machines. I am glad I waited so long to buy this, because the SE400 seems much more sturdy than previous similar models from Brother and Janome. My friend had 2 previous models that I tried, and at that time I was not at all happy with them. Those earlier models had felt flimsy. Those machines also weighed a few pounds less, so probably had less metal inside. Slight redesign makes it better than previous models. During embroidery, the non-color screen shows an overall image of the current and next up element, so it's a little easier to see where I am without having a color screen. The snap points where the embroidery hoop attaches has been redesigned to make it easier to operate. I like the bigger bobbin design which holds more bobbin thread. The auto needle threader and thread cutter worked perfectly.

My one qualm is that I smelled burning machine oil after 8 hours of sewing, but there is no place to oil in these new machines. Even a non-oiling machine usually does need oiling in heavy friction areas. I will have to open it up after a month or so to see where it needs oiling and a small amount of lubing. I think it would have been better if the designer had left a few holes where sewing machine oil can be added. They were eliminated in new models to prevent user error, so it's a form of dumming down the design. Traditional machines have holes to add oil after 8 hours of sewing. If you are thinking of oiling, use only sewing machine oil, which evaporates and does not gum up the parts. The embroidery speed had been decreased from 600 stitches per minute in earlier models to 400. So, it takes longer to stitch out the same design. This was probably done to reduce user error, again a form of dumming down. Maximum sewing speed is a little slower, around 700 stitches per minute. This seems adaquate for a portable. I have a Juki quilter's machine that sews 2000 stitches per minute, and I feel a rush when that baby is going, but I only use it for large projects such as a curtain or a sofa cover. Most good home sewing machine speeds are 850 stitches per minute.

Portability)
The machine weighs 19 lbs with all accessories and fits comfortably inside a hardshell carryon 24"x15"x9.5". I attached the embroidery unit and lay it on its side. There is plenty of space for extra sewing tools after all machine accessories are enclosed. I will use towels to wrap the machine and each component so nothing gets scratched during transit, but it's the perfect size. I wanted a combo unit because once I was using a borrowed sewing machine while visiting my brother and found myself wishing I had even the smallest embroidery capability. Therefore, the 4"x4" embroidery field is perfect for that. I have 3 other machines, 2 of them are huge and weigh 45 to 50 lbs. The embroidery attachment and accessories on my ULT are huge too. I used to lug them around when I went to visit my mother-in-law, but it will inevitably get banged against a door or car, because it was so heavy and unwieldy. Now I will be able to travel in style and still get to work on my sewing projects. I am super happy with my purchase.

Long-term durability)
About 10% of users have said that their machines broke down after a couple of months, though they loved the machine while it was working. I was worried about this point and will update in 6 months with my own experience. However, after examining this machine, I feel comfortable that this is a very well made machine. Generally, if you use your machine for a few hours everyday, you will either need to take it to a servicer every 6 months or learn to service it yourself. This is true of all home sewing machines. Service cost of $60-$100 is normal. I service all of my own machines, because I think this cost is outrageous, but you do need to be a mechanically comfortable person to do this. Most important part is to clean out the bobbin/feed dog area thoroughly with q-tips everyday. The race should be oiled every few days with sewing machine oil. Every 1-6 months, you can open up the head and oil or lube friction areas where the vertical metal moving bars touch other gear or shafts. Once a year the bottom plate can be completely removed and all stray thread removed from below the feed dog and feed dog gears can be lubed. Use silicon sewing machine lube for the gears, but don't use too much. Your warranty will be voided when you remove the bottom plate, but you will no longer be covered under full service warranty after one year, so this is no biggie. Your limited warranty should still cover you if the motor or computer part burned out, but it's probably a good idea not to tell the servicer that you opened up your machine if this were to happen all the same. Even so, there are lemons, so I will report back if mine happens to break within 6 months. Happy sewing :-)

Update 9/29/2012 after two months:
Still works really well. Machine feels sturdy. Have transported it in a small suitcase by car, and plan to take it on its first airplane ride. Have finished several sewing and embroidery projects, all came out well. Minor problem with bobbin thread sometimes not locking with top thread during embroidery. Only way to fix it is to remove hoop, manually pull up the bobbin thread about 6", rehoop, then sew slowly while holding the top thread with fingers until threads lock, about 6 stitches. Then continue with embroidery as usual. Another minor problem is that I now have a large burr (groove) on the throat plate at leftmost needle position. I am pretty sure this happened when I was sewing neoprene to make a camera case for a friend. I don't have burrs on any of my other machines even though I sewed on them for many years. I think this machine cannot feed stretch material well, such as neoprene or nylon/lycra sports fabric. I must be pulling the fabric towards the back to coax it to feed because the burr is behind the needle. A solution would be to use a light stabilizer (or tissue paper) under the fabric to provide a little traction for the feed dogs. Embroidery hoop seems too tight and puckers fabric around the embroidery edges, even with cotton. It was much better with hydrostick stabilizer, which does not hoop the fabric. Also the slow embroidery speed of 400 spm instead of 800 spm on my ULT is getting to be a drag. I timed embroidering a flower topiary (14th built in design), which shows 20 minutes sewing time. Actual time to embroider with 8 thread color loadings was 35 minutes, which comes out to 1 minute 52 seconds per thread loading. It may be possible to get thread loading time down to 1 minute if I am less careful. The 20 minutes of sewing time seems accurate. I wish Brother had kept the embroidery stitch speed at 600 as in my small embroidery only machine, PE150. Happy sewing :-)
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on March 5, 2015
This is a great buy. I learnt basic sewing from my mom when I was a kid. I bought this machine as a hobby and I have been enjoying it for the last 4 months. Started with basic sewing and went on to embroidery. It is easy to thread , sew and the best part is the embroidery (ofcourse since this is an embroidery machine!) . I evaluated several machines before I bought this one. I wanted unlimited designs for my imagination to go wild so USB connectivity was an important criteria. It comes with a few free designs and a piece of fabric stabilizer that get you started right out of the box. You can download more free patterns of the web or buy them. I was spending a lot of time finding free patterns so I purchased a .pes design CD (they contain 1000s of designs for less than 10 bucks). Comparable Vikings,Singer ,Janome were over 500$. I was not sure how long the machine would keep me fascinated since it was more for hobby so I settled for this lower priced machine. I have stitched dresses, pillow covers, embroidered towels, free standing lace and more.
What would I buy if I have to again? Well this has a max embroidery area of 4x4 inches, I would buy another that has a larger area say 8x11 to do bigger designs but thats just me. I think this machine has been a good buy.
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on March 6, 2011
I decided on the Brother SE400 after reading all the rave reviews and the price was right. I have a new sewing machine that works fine so I was mainly interested in this machine for the embroidery function. So far I've owned this machine for 2 days and have stitched 6 designs (5 from the internet and 1 preloaded) added some lettering and sewn 1 pair of shorts for my granddaughter.

The good parts:
-The instructional CD is helpful, once you're smart enough to stick it in your computer and not your DVD player.
-It is easy to set-up and get started.
-It works, my friend who just purchased a $1000 machine (not a Brother) has had much difficulty getting her machine to work and has ruined several articles of clothing in learning, where this machine stiched out every design without so much as breaking one thread.
-It is easy to download designs from a computer, but I haven't been successful yet at "saving" a design into the machine, which means if I didn't have a laptop I would be sewing in my office to hook to the desktop.
-The adjusting function, to move the location of the design within the frame is helpful and works well
-The resizing function works well, as does the rotating feature, both of which I found very useful.

The bad parts:
-The quick start guide is not helpful, it is only pictures with confusing flow lines, if it was all I had I would not be able to use the machine. It only makes sense AFTER you learn to use the machine. It should be titled Quick "Reference" Guide. But it does have the color pictures of the built-in designs.
-Of the 70 built in designs, 26 of them are the Alphabet for using to monogram, of the other 44 I will probably only use about half of them. Be prepared to get on the internet to get useful designs
-I've only tried so far to stitch out one font (but on more than one project) and the results were quite sub-standard, even after increasing the density, hopefully the other fonts will be more functional.
-while I understood how to thread the machine and was able to do so successfully, I found it consistently "difficult" to thread in a couple areas - maybe arthritic fingers are to blame?

The wish list:
-as an entry level machine it would have been helpful to have a little more instruction on using stablizer and hooping skills. The information given is basically "use stablizer - put stuff in hoop". It assumes the operator has some knowledge of the zillion stablizers on the market and can automatically figure out where to put the hoop to get the design where it is desired on the garment. Obviously, this is slightly beyond the scope of machine operation, but these are two skills that you must master to be satisfied with the results - and everyone knows if I can't get the design centered and upright - it's the machine's fault! (she says facetiously)

You should plan for:
Budget another $100 to buy thread, stabilizer and stuff to stitch on.

The bottom line:
The machine is as advertised, it is easy to use. The designs it can stitch out are acceptable and wearable. The internet if full of free and low cost designs that will fit in the 4x4 area of this machine. If you are like me and couldn't justify spending the "big bucks" this is the perfect little starter machine to see if you really do want to get started in a new phase of the sewing craft. If you start to regret not being able to stitch more than a 4x4 area without rehooping (that regret comes to play really fast), just get out your checkbook and look at what you paid and it will be easier to move the hoop!
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on December 25, 2010
I was looking for an embrodiery machine that was reasonbly priced and this machine fit the bill. I had to embroider a digitized design on several pieces of fabric and did not want to pay $12 for each piece and wait 2 weeks, so I decided to take a buy this machine based on the reviews. I was totally new to the embrodiery world so I wasn't aware of all the tricks and learned the hard way. After several broken needles and jammed up fabrics, I realized it was the thread I was using and not the machine. I was using all purpose threading, however, I later realized specific embrodiery thread was needed due to the size of the threading. Once I loaded the right thread type in the upper threading and bobbin all my designs came out perfect. Duh!

The machine is very easy to use for loading thread, the bobbin and computer embrodiery designs. I truly couldn't ask for more. The LCD screen is also a very nice feature. But with this feature I feel that is a also the only overly cumbersome part of the machine. I am usually quick about learning software but the menu system is not very intuitive. However, once I read had to use it and played with it for a bit, I am able to get around. Also I had a digitized design that was 6 inches, with my thoought being I could load the design and use the machine to re-size it to be within the 4 inch hoop. However, the machine refuses to download it giving you a message that the design is too large for embrodiery area. I then found a free software to do those re-sizing jobs that start at larger than 6 inches, otherwise, the internal software works fine.

I can't speak to the sewing functionality but will plan on getting into this at a later point.

Overall a great machine at a reasonable price. For me it was and still is a no-brainer, I would buy it again.
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