If you’re short on space or budget, you might need a combination sewing and embroidery machine. Look no further than the Brother SE400, it’s great at sewing as well as embroidering.
Update May 2019: this model has been largely replaced with the SE600 – see our Brother SE600 Review.
What Is the Brother SE400?
The “SE” means “Sewing and Embroidery”. The Brother SE400 combination computerized sewing and embroidery machine, is versatile, with a full range of sewing features. And with a quick addition of an embroidery foot, becomes a computerized embroidery machine with 4”x4” field. With an intuitive touchscreen display and computer connectivity, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy with the 70 built-in designs.
You might also like our article comparing the best embroidery machines: reviews and buying advice.
A few words about Brother
Unless you’re new to the sewing and embroidery world, you’ll already know that Brother has an excellent reputation for making well-priced, durable, versatile sewing and embroidery machines for home use.
Review of Brother SE400
What’s in the box?
- SE400 Sewing and Embroidery Machine – computerized
- 4″ x 4″ embroidery hoop
- Embroidery arm
- Soft cover
- Free Arm/Accessory compartment
- Accessory feet: Buttonhole foot Overcasting foot, Zipper foot, Button fitting foot, Monogramming foot, Blind stitch foot, foot for Embroidery
- Embroidery bobbin thread
- USB cable
- Power cord
- Accessory bag with seam ripper, needle set, cleaning brush, screwdrivers (2), touch pen, spool caps (3), scissors, bobbins (3)
- English/Spanish operation manual
- 25 year limited warranty
- Dimensions: 10.94” x 6.89” x 15.55”
- Weight: 13.6lbs
- Stitches: 67 built-in sewing stitches, 70 embroidery designs, 120 frame pattern combos and 5 lettering fonts
- 4”x4” embroidery area
- Computerized sewing and embroidery machine
- Free-arm design
- Bobbin: Quick-Set drop-in top bobbin
- 7 point sewing feet
- Automatic threading system
- Automated thread cutter
- Backlit LCD touch-screen display
- Warranty: 25-year limited warranty
- 4”x4” embroidery field, large enough for most home embroidery use, you can easily put designs on t-shirts, towels and table linens, but you won’t be able to embroider leather jackets or large t-shirt backs. If you needed something a little bit bigger you can use a 9”x4” hoop.
- Back-lit LCD touch screen display is black and white, and you can easily choose from the 70 built in embroidery designs, and if these aren’t enough, the iBroidery connectivity gives you access to tons more. You’ll need to have your manual handy as there are a lot of different menus and submenus to navigate.
- PC connectivity allows you to import your own embroidery designs via USB cable. It doesn’t allow you to use a thumb drive – though there is a slot for an embroidery card – to use with Brother cards (separate purchase required).
- It’s easy to thread thanks to the one-touch automatic threader, and the QuickSet(™), drop-in bobbin gets you up and running in no time – after using the super-useful bobbin-winding system.
- The fabric feeds smoothly through the PE400 with the 7-point feed dogs, making it easy to be accurate.
Important Details & Quick Tips: Getting the best out of the SE400
Ease of use
The SE400 is a feature-packed combination sewing and embroidery machine, but it’s pretty easy to set up and get started. For basic functions, the instructions on the machine itself are intuitive, but for more advanced features, you may need to refer to the manual.
Built-in embroidery designs
In addition to the 70 built-in designs, there are 5 embroidery fonts and 120 pattern combinations for frames.
Getting it ready for use is a speedy process, the automatic needle threader actually is automatic, once you’ve put the thread through the clearly numbered locations, and pressed the button.
Winding the bobbin is simple and then it’s just a case of dropping it in – the QuckSet(™) takes care of the rest. The automated thread cutter works well. The sewing machine always stops with the needle down, then it’s just a case of hitting the button and the machine cuts the top and bottom thread.
So how well does it sew?
Considering that it’s a 2-in1 machine, the Brother SE400 combination computerized sewing and embroidery model works as a fully-functioning sewing machine, up to most of the tasks a home seamstress will need.
The embroidery functionality is a great addition for someone who needs a bit more versatility and wants to add embroidered designs to their textile projects.
Being computerized, all the stitch-selection happens on the little screen – OK it’s not such a little screen, at 2.7” x 1.4”, but if you’re used to a manual machine where you simply turn the dial to the stitch you want and get sewing, this can be a bit more bother. With so many available stitches, it can be tedious to scroll through menus.
How to load custom designs
It’s got a Brother embroidery card slot, which is nice if you’ve got a card already. What’s a bit annoying is having to connect the machine to your computer to download new embroidery designs – it doesn’t seem to work with a USB stick. iBroidery compatibility does mean you’ll never run out of designs though!
The backlit start button is a handy addition, as it has a light that turns green when the machine is actually ready to start sewing, so you don’t run the risk of starting when you’ve got no thread in the bobbin or you’ve forgotten to put the presser down.
Those are the little metal bars with rough surface in the machine’s needles plate. They serve to move the fabric through the sewing machine. Either forward or backward, depending on the stitch. The Brother SE400 has 7-point sewing feet, preventing your fabric slipping and allowing you to guide it accurately under the needle.
If you’re going to get serious about using this for embroidery, you’ll need to buy other accessories:
- Fabric or material you want to work with
- Tear-away backing and stabilizers
- Patterns/Monograms (if you don’t like the pre-loaded ones)
- Good quality thread (in lots of different colors)
What we like
- Great sewing machine with the option of embroidery makes it a versatile machine for home projects, not too difficult to switch between sewing and embroidering
- Easy to use and set up, even for beginners. Although, as with anything new, there is a learning curve.
- Lots of stitch selections for sewing, and great at buttonhole work
- Self-threading needle, automatic thread cutter, and QuickSet(™) bobbin are great time savers and prevent you having to peer at the machine
What we don’t like
- Isn’t great with very fine fabric/material
- Thread tension problems can cause ‘birdsnesting’ in the bobbin
- Preloaded patterns are not great – and the 4”x4” embroidery field is a bit small for some
- Doing small and fiddly designs can cause needle breakage and tangled thread in the bobbin case
Should you buy Brother SE400?
If you’re looking for a good-value, feature-packed sewing cum embroidering machine to take your home craft projects to the next level, the Brother SE400 combination computerized sewing machine is well worth a look.
The sewing quality is solid, and if you’ve not got the budget or space for a separate sewing and embroidery machine, then this model is a good choice. With a lot of the fiddly functions being automated, it’s also good for people who lack dexterity!
Other models might suit you if
- You’re not really interested in using the embroidery function and need more of a dedicated sewing machine
- You’ve already got a sewing machine/not interested in sewing and need a more dedicated embroidery machine
- Business use – this is a good product for home use, but it won’t keep up with the volume / capacity you’d need for large scale sewing projects
Not for you? Here are some alternatives:
- Brother SE600 – the new edition of the SE400
- If you want an embroidery-only machine, take a look at the SE800
Wrapping up Brother SE400 Review
Take a look at this model on Amazon, and see what others have to say about it. I think you’ll be impressed.
As of early 2019, the Brother SE400 has been discontinued (you can still buy it though) and replaced with the Brother SE600 – click to see this one, which you’re going to love.