Is the Brother ST371HD Worth It?

To prepare for this Brother ST371HD review, I had to take myself back to when I was first getting into sewing.

For most novices, the sturdiness of a heavy-duty sewing machine may not be a high priority. It seems unnecessary if you don’t ever plan on sewing thick fabric like velvet or denim, let alone layers of it. You don’t need a beast of a machine that could run on hours to get your sewing projects done. You might just try sewing some curtains and maybe a shirt or two; keep the project small and manageable. Don’t let that line of thinking fool you! No matter what level of skill you have, everyone needs a durable and reliable sewing machine. Ordinary sewing machines will look, and feel, like toys.

 However, there is an important note to mention. Commercial and industrial sewing machines are truly worthy of heavy-duty quality. They will deliver swift and powerful stitchwork consistently and are least likely to have many problems while sewing. All in all, if you truly want to have a sewing machine that is truly heavy-duty and reliable, avoid non-commercial sewing machines. The non-commercial sewing machines will not be able to keep up with the workload as they aren’t made to withstand hours upon hours of sewing like industrial and commercial sewing machines are. 

But that doesn’t mean you should disregard semi-commercial or portable options. Some do have a few heavy-duty functions. And you never really know when you might end up needing to sew thick fabric. With great ratings and a Women’s Choice award for a 9 out of 10 score in 2018, the Brother ST371HD looks like a stellar sewing machine to fill in the heavy-duty role. Let’s go over the included features and function to see if this sewing machine is right for you.

Buyers Guide:Brother ST371HD Features

At a glance, it looks like the Brother ST371HD is nicely equipped to handle casual, daily sewing tasks. Let’s see what you’ll get out of the box.

37 built-in stitches

The machine has 37 built-in stitches, including common stitches like the zig-zag, reinforcement, stretch, decorative, and blind hem stitches

800 Stitches Per Minute

With a decent maximum stitching speed of 800 stitches per minute, you won’t have to worry about wasting time. This speed will be enough for most sewists and hobbyists. 

6 Presser Foot

There are 6 presser feet for blind hems, spring action zigzag, nonstick, zipper, button sewing, buttonhole included in the machine. You’re also able to adjust the presser foot height to go higher in case you have many layers to work on.

Drop Feed Feature

The drop feed feature is an optional feature that can add the ability for free-motion sewing and for quilting.

Needle Size

For varying thicknesses of fabric, whether on one or more layers, you have 3 needles of different sizes to handle the job. You’ll also be given a twin needle.

Metal Needle Plate

Despite its mostly plastic body, Brother ST371HD has a metal interior frame as well as a metal needle plate to accompany it. Both parts are important. The metal interior is what makes the sewing machine sturdy and durable, and the metal needle plate will help with consistent stitching speed and quality. 

Top Drop-in Bobbin

Top drop-in bobbin is a feature that allows you to easily replace the bobbin. It’s also jam-resistant so you won’t have to worry about the bobbin compartment locking up and messing with the stitching. 

Free Arm

The free arm is a removable part of the Brother ST371HD sewing machine. This allows you to sew circular pieces like the cuffs of your jeans or the sleeve of your shirt. When the free arm is attached, it’s referred to as a flatbed. Storage space is also commonly made inside the free arm, so you can place your accessories all in the same place. 

Specifications

  • 37 built-in stitches
  • 1 step buttonhole
  • Automatic needle threading
  • Free arm
Pros
  • Affordable considering the quality and value
  • No oiling required for the machine to work
  • Can handle thick or thin fabric, doesn’t skip stitches a majority of the time
  • Durable than most machines for its price – Brother suggested retail price is ~$200
Cons
  • Not a true heavy-duty sewing machine
  • No up/down needle button
  • LED light provided isn’t bright enough
  • Some parts – the bobbin winding shaft, hand wheel, timer – have been reported to malfunction or break within a few months of use

Sample Customer Review….This machine is my first Brother purchase. I’ve only used older machines in the past, mostly Necchi. First id like to point out this machine is absolutely not heavy duty. It has a plastic casing. The drop in bobbin and its components are all plastic.

The machine sews well on basic fabrics that are medium to light weight. It works well with a walking foot. The stitches are uniform and tight.

When using knit fabric especially with elastic that has to be encased I’m having trouble with loose tension. I had to out it all the way up on 7 to get tight stitches. When assembling garments it works fine but when topstitching I’m getting long areas of skipped stitches. I’ve read the book and changed needle sizes as it reccomended. This is key to using this machine. Each fabric requires a different type of needle. I find it works best with actual brother needles. For knits Brother brand 75/11 stretch needles work best. I think once I get the hang of changing needles for each project it will be better.

The feed dogs are adjustable for this machine. The stick constantly somi decided to just put them up and leave them there. If you change them the all the way down chances are you’ll have problems getting them back up.

The light on this machine is sub standard. I’m not sure if it’s LED or not but the light quality us terrible. I’ve put it by a window to help.

I’m a seasoned sewer. I’ve been sewing for 20+ years and overall I’m not impressed with the overall construction of this machine. It’s cheap and plastic however once you get the needle formula down the stitches are strong and uniform. I’ve decided to use it as my back up and drag my old Necchi back out. If you need a truly heavy duty machine this one is not the machine for you. If you need a light machine for small lightweight projects then it’s okay if you’re experienced enough to be able to troubleshoot problem stitching so that you can switch around the needles. I’d definitely recommend a walking foot as it does not feed well for thicker or stretchy fabrics.

Read more at Amazon.com

What Are Users Saying?

According to users’, the Brother ST371HD model manages to balance stability and lightweight. Though not the lightest, coming in a little over 18 pounds, compared to heavy-duty sewing machines it may be among the lightest achieved with its features. It’s quite difficult to make a great sewing machine, with heavy-duty qualities, without making it weigh like a pack of bricks. So the fact that this machine weighs less than 30 pounds should be lauded. 

As for the heavy-duty features, there’s little to complain about it in this sewing machine. Reviews on Amazon report that it can sew through thick and difficult materials like it was marketed to be able to do. Whether it’s corduroy or silk, you’ll have no need to fear about what kind of fabric you’re sewing on. However, this means that the type of needle you’re using is very important. If it’s a smaller size, you’ll have trouble making the first stitch and it may even break. You need to use the recommended needle by the manufacturer in order to have smooth stitching. There is no needle that can handle all types of materials. 

Some users say that the Brother ST371HD is a baseline model, and that is true. Considering the price is less than $500, you shouldn’t really expect the top of the line machine.

For many, a high stitching speed is an important requirement. Although this sewing machine’s maximum stitching speed is 800 stitches per minute, it should satisfy most amateur sewists. This will be a pass for professionals, though.

Despite many great reviews, there are quite a few common negative reviews to go with it. For instance, some reviewers claim that the machine broke within a few hours or days of use. When they called customer service, they were told to bring their machine to a Brother certified repair shop, and the cost of fixing the machine cost more than buying a brand new machine itself on occasion. While it’s possible that such damage may have been on the user and not the product, it’s still important to keep in mind the common problems and costs. 

Conclusion

If you know that you’ll be sewing with thick fabric constantly, you should give the Brother ST371HD sewing machine a pass. There’s no doubt that this machine, though not an actual heavy-duty machine, does its job very well at an affordable price point. However, an industrial sewing machine is a true heavy-duty machine capable of handling thick fabric on a daily basis and will last longer. 

If you’re putting it in terms of getting your money’s worth, then there isn’t a doubt that you will be getting more than what you paid for with Brother ST371HD. It outperforms most of the sewing machines in its price range, it’s retail price from Brother being around $200. To state it simply, this sewing machine is great for those who will work on a variety of fabrics. 

Written by Lykasha Lysongtseng

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