We Review the Brother SE400 Embroidery & Sewing Machine

Are you looking for a solid combination sewing and embroidery machine? 

We're going to take a look at one of the more popular models on the market.  The Brother SE400.  It's solidly built, got tons of features, and even allows you to upload your own designs.

But is it worth the price tag?

By the end of this review you'll know if this machine is the right one for you.  We're going to cover:

  • it's embroidering, monogramming and sewing capabilities
  • functionality / ease of use
  • it's features, functions, and accessories

My Brother SE400 Home Embroidery Machine Review

Pros

  • Simple self-threading!
  • Very Extensive Stitch Library - See List Below
  • Built-in memory for storing your own designs (via USB)
  • Simple bobbin re-threading
  • Workspace is well lit
  • Easy to drop feed dogs for button hole stitching
  • Includes a variety of sewing feet.

Cons

  • LCD Interface is a bit clunky, and resolution is poor
  • Needs more internal memory!
  • Difficult to clean feed dogs

Given it's price, the SE400 is a highly flexible and capable machine, but is it the right machine for YOU?  If you're looking for any of the following capabilities, it might just be a great fit.

  • monogramming clothes, towels or other fabrics
  • adding embroidery to your own projects or even to things you've bought
  • a wide variety of embroidery patterns, including the ability to upload your own
  • a VERY capable sewing machine, with advanced features.  More on this later...

Key Features of the SE400

Whether you're a beginner or accomplished seamstress there are some features of the SE400 that are just downright awesome.  Let's take a look at my favorites.

Self-Threading Needle

Anyone who's spent any time sewing knows that some machines can be incredibly difficult to re-thread.  With the SE400 you simply pull a lever and it's taken care of for you.  This can be incredibly helpful when you're having difficulty getting your tension right and the thread keeps breaking. 

Computerized Sewing Machine Functionality

In addition to the embroidery functionality you also get the benefit of a computerized sewing machine.  This includes 67 built in stitches, 10 of which are 1-step buttonholes. 

Now I'll be honest, I don't typically use that many stitches.  Most seamstresses have a couple that they primarily use, and the rest are used at most on occasion.  But the capability is built-in, so use it if you need it.

Here are a few of the included stitches:

  • straight
  • zig zag
  • overcasting
  • blind hem
  • applique
  • eyelet
  • stretch
  • side cutter
  • heirloom
  • decorative
  • smocking
  • quilting

Intuitive LCD Display

The SE400 offers 67 built-in stitches (including 10 1-step buttonholes), 70 built-in embroidery designs (plus the ability to upload your own via USB), and 5 stitching fonts.  With all that functionality an easy way to navigate all of these functions is a must.  The LCD screen is great once you get the hang of the navigation.

​To select a stitch or pattern you simply scroll through the menu until you get to the one you want.  Pressing on the image will select it.  Then the screen will display all of the options and settings for that particular stitch or pattern.

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Information like the dimensions (L x W), the necessary presser foot, whether or not you can use a twin needle, and button functions you have selected (needle up/down etc) are displayed.  You can then save these settings to memory for easy switching later. 

There's also a help function that will provide you with instructions for common tasks like loading and winding bobbins, changing the presser feet, threading and more.

My only complaints with the LCD screen are:

  1.   It seems to work best with either the included stylus or your fingernail.  I'm a nail biter (gross, I know) so my nails aren't always long enough and I CONSTANTLY lose the stylus.
  2.   I would like to see a color screen (it's 2017 after all) as this would help when choosing designs that are similar but use different colors. And higher resolution overall would be nice. But once you've worked with it for a while you'll get the hang of picking out the right patterns.

Use Designs from iBroidery.com

Creating your own embroidery designs can be fun, but it can also be EXTREMELY time consuming.  Now there's a way to get access to tons of designs professionally made designs.

ibroidery.com logo

Have you ever looked at iBroidery.com?  It's worth taking a quick peek if you're seriously considering this machine.  You'll find literally thousands of pre-made designs that you can download to your computer and then upload to the SE400.  You can grab anything from Winnie the Pooh to cool vintage patterns and designs.

Downloading the designs is a snap.  Just grab the ones you want and then upload them to the SE400 using the USB cable.  Just keep in mind that the memory card is limited, so you might have to delete some old designs first.

I've started keeping all of my embroidery designs on my laptop.  This way when the internal memory card on my embroidery machine gets full, I can just delete the designs without having to worry about losing them. 

Create Beautiful Monograms

I grew up in the Southeast U.S.  People there LOVE monograms.  Not to poke fun, but I know some women would've monogrammed their children if they could've found a way.  🙂

All joking aside, this machine makes monogramming an absolute breeze.  The only limitation is the 4x4 hoop size.  That means that the largest monogram you can do is 4 inches by 4 inches.  If you need something larger than that you're going to want a bigger machine.

There are larger hoop sizes available if you need something wider than 4".  But anything taller than 4" will require a different machine.  Here is a 4" x 6 3/4" hoop that will allow for wider designs.

monogrammed napkins

One thing to be aware of with the SE400.  If you create a monogram file that is larger than the hoop size and upload it, it won't show up and you won't get an error message.  Make sure your designs are smaller than 4" x 4"!

Designed for Performance

So far we've mostly just covered the features of this embroidering machine.  But anyone can just cram a bunch of stitches into a machines memory banks.  Brother takes it a step farther with SE400.  They've incorporated technology that makes this a pretty serious home embroidery machine.  Let's take a look.

  • a 7-point feed dog system
  • drop feed dog lever
  • automatic bobbin winding system
  • sensors to tell you when thread is broken OR running out
  • previously mentioned (but worth mentioning again) auto threader
  • needle up/down button
  • thread cutter
  • automatic bobbin winding system
  • sensors to tell you when thread is broken OR running out
  • previously mentioned (but worth mentioning again) auto threader

Expand Your Machine's Functionality with a Bigger Hoop

One way to overcome the limitation of the 4"x4" hoop that comes with the SE400 is by going with a re-positional hoop.  It basically enables you to create larger patterns by allowing you to move the fabric without readjusting it inside the hoop.

So you would use multiple 4" x 4" patterns to make up one large full pattern. You can use software like Sew What Pro to create the design.  Then within the software break up the pattern into multiple pieces that can be loaded as separate files. 

It's a clever way to create bigger designs without having to purchase a MUCH more expensive embroidery machine.

The total area that you can embroider with this particular hoop is 6.77" x 3.94".  

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Software for the SE400

One of the most important features of this machine is that it will work with a number of sewing software packages.  The only thing it comes with out of the box is software allowing your computer to talk to the sewing machine.  You can download designs from sites like iBroidery.com, but you can also create your own designs.

If you want to create and edit your own designs you'll need to purchase additional software.  There are a couple options.​

Brother PED-Basic Software for Downloading Embroidery Designs

This software package allows you to copy patterns from you design software to a card that is compatible with the SE400.  Once it's on the card you simply install the card in the slot on the sewing machine and select your new design from the menu. 

Installation of the software is pretty straightforward.  Unfortunately the card itself doesn't hold a lot of information so you'll have to occasionally delete designs to make room for new ones.

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Brother PE Design Next

This software is extremely powerful.  Whether you are a beginner or a professional it has everything you need to create or edit any type of embroidery file.  As far as design software goes it pretty user friendly.

It has some powerful features like photo stitch, programmable stitch creator, design database, & font creator.  There are other software packages that include these sorts of tools, but none execute these functions as well as Design Next.  It's not the kind of software you just pick up by playing around with it.  Fortunately there are TONS of Youtube videos out there that can help you with just about ANY task in this software.  If you're looking to take your embroidery to a professional looking level this is the next logical step.

Of course this software is considerably more expensive than the SE400 itself, so you're probably better off waiting until your budget allows for a more capable embroidery machine.  🙂

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Final Thoughts

The Brother SE400 combination sewing and embroidery machine is a great value.  Not only do you get a sewing machine with advanced functions like a drop feed dog lever, 7-point feed dog system, needle up/down, and a thread cutter, you also get a fully functional embroidery machine that allows you to upload designs from online or those of your own creation. 

In other words it's got enough features to satisfy advanced users, and it's an easy machine to grow into for beginners interested in monogramming and embroidering.

More Sewing Resources:

Our Janome HD1000 Review

We recently reviewed the Janome HD1000 sewing machine (here) and thought we should take a look at another popular Janome model, the HD3000.

When it comes to choosing the best heavy duty sewing machines construction materials are key.  These machines are NOT designed to be fancy. 

They DON'T offer computer control and hundreds of different stitches.

Instead they are designed to do a few things VERY well.  On top of that high performance machines should be solid, reliable, and have plenty of power.

The HD3000 offers all of this and more.  Let's take a deeper look.

Our Janome HD3000 Review

If you're in the market for a heavy duty sewing machine you want something that is powerful, durable, and reliable.  Sure it may not have all the bells and whistles that many of today's computerized machines have, but it will deliver consistent performance day in and day out.

If you're looking for a machine that is computerized or offers more stitches and options check out our comprehensive sewing machine buying guide.

There are two very important things to look at when considering a high performance sewing machine.  The first is power.  The HD3000 utilizes a 1.0 amp motor which is capable of sewing through multiple layers of fabric with ease.  We're talking 3-4 layers of denim without slowing down or bunching. 

If you need a good deal of power for sewing through materials like leather, denim, or canvas this machine is right up your ally.

The second most important factor for heavier duty machines is construction materials.  While the HD3000 does not have the all-aluminum body of the HD1000, all of it's internal components are metal.  Only the outside housing of the unit is made of plastic.  This helps to keep the weight down and this unit weighs only slightly more than the HD1000.

Features of the HD3000

The HD3000 is not a feature rich machine, but Janome has done a good job ensuring that it incorporates all the essentials.  This makes it a great machine for intermediate/advanced sewers as well as those just getting into sewing. 

It is a mechanical sewing machine, though it does look similar to many of today's computerized models.  It incorporates an on-board guide that details all 19 of the available stitches.  It incorporates both common decorative and utility stitches.

It also incorporates a couple features not typically found on mechanical models: an on-board thread cutter and a needle threader.   Here is a complete list of it's features:

Key Features

  • 19 decorative and utility stitches
  • 1-step buttonhole
  • 5 piece feed dog
  • Extra high presser foot lift
  • drop feed
  • reverse stitch button
  • push-pull bobbin winder
  • stitch selection dial
  • foot pressure adjustment
  • horizontal, full rotary hook bobbin system

The five-piece feed dog keeps fabric moving smoothly as you sew and prevents bunching of even multiple layers of quilting and batting.

All of the available stitches are listed along the front of the machine allowing for quick selection and changing.

The needle plate includes seam guides that are etched into the plate on both sides of the sewing needle.  The cover for the drop-in bobbin is made of clear plastic so you can always see exactly how much thread is left. 

Included Accessories

The HD3000 includes quite a few accessories.  Here is what you'll find included:

  • Owner's manual
  • extra bobbins
  • seam ripper
  • lint brush
  • extra needles
  • quilting bar
  • hard cover
  • 7 snap-on feet including:
  • blind stitch hem foot
  • automatic buttonhole foot
  • zig zag foot
  • extra needles
  • hemmer foot
  • zipper foot
  • overedge foot

Performance of the HD3000

Threading and winding the bobbin of the HD3000 is very easy.  It is the same process used to thread many other machines produced by Janome.

Inside the lid of the HD3000 you'lll find the foot pressure adjustment dial.  On the inside of the cover you'll also find a guide that helps you choose the correct presser foot to use for which application.  You'll also find a note about resetting the sensor after performing each buttonhole.

The stitch selection dial is located on the right hand side of the machine.  As you turn the dial you'll see a light illuminate under the corresponding stitch on the guide located on the front of the machine.

Along the top of the machine to the right of the stitch selection guide you'll find the stitch length and width adjustment slides.  Simply slide them to the setting you want and away you go.

The stitches produced by the HD3000 are of extremely high quality and consistent with what other Janome machines produced.  With a top speed of 860 stitches per minute, this unit is slightly faster than the HD1000.  While this isn't as fast as machines like the Singer 4423, it's still plenty fast for all types of sewing.

Key Specs and Warranty

Hook type:  top loading full rotary hook bobbin
Thread tension control:  manual
Max stitch width:  6.5mm
Feed system:  5-piece feed dog
Reverse button:  yes
Bobbin winding:  auto de-clutch
Number of stitches:  21
Buttonholes:  1
Needle threader: built in
Free arm:  yes
Drop feed:  yes
Size:  W 16" x H 11.3" x D 7.2"
Weight:  18.7 lbs

The warrant on the HD3000 is a 25 year limited warranty.  Here are the specific details from Janome.

Janome America, Inc. warrants this Product for a period of twenty-five (25) years from the date of original purchase against defective materials and/or workmanship, excluding (I) electronic component parts (including but not limited to circuit boards, step motors and all other electronic andnon-electronic pattern control units), which are warranted for a period of five (5) years from the date of purchase, and (II) labor, which shall be provided for a period of one (1) year from the date of purchase free of charge. Following a lapse of one (1) year from the original purchase date your Authorized Janome Dealer or Janome Authorized Service Center can provide parts and/or labor at an additional cost to you.As stated above, this warranty is in respect of normal household use of the Product. Machines used commercially are warranted for a period of one (1) year from the date of purchase in respect of parts and service

Final Thoughts

The Janome HD3000 hands down gets my vote for the best heavy duty sewing machine on the market.  It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of many of today's computerized models, but it does what it's designed to do extremely well.  It offers 21 of the most commonly used decorative and utility stitches.

It's ideally suited for beginners or for those looking for a solid, reliable sewing machine that can handle a great deal of use.

More Sewing & Quilting Resources

https://www.thetoolreport.com/quilting-machine-reviews/

https://www.thetoolreport.com/serger-reviews/

A Great Machine for Free Motion Quilting

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About the Author Natalie

Natalie V Mason is an ETSY entrepreneur that started her online sewing business in 2012. She specializes in fabric design, sewing, and dying. You can see her work on her ETSY page and on her website at natalievmason.com

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