Brother ST371HD Review
Cons: Mediocre sewing, below average buttonholes
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The ST371HD is a low cost machine….and a low scoring one. Nothing really jumped out as spectacular, and this machine's performance was mediocre across the board.
The ST371HD did average in our sewing test earning a 5 out of 10. To test the sewing aptitude of this machine, we compared the quality of the long straight stitch, zigzag, scallop and sewing on a zipper produced by this machine against the others in our review. While this machine completed each of these stitches, we found them to be lackluster.
The long straight stitch bunched up the majority of the fabrics we tested, leading to an aesthetically displeasing appearance. However, this machine did excel at a long straight stitch on jersey knit cotton, actually doing the best out of all the machines that we tested.
We also noticed a few flaws on the zigzag stitch, with the bottom thread being much too tight to allow the stitch to stretch at all, effectively defeating one of the major points of using a zigzag stitch.
This product was average when it came to scalloped stitches, as well as sewing on a zipper, though it did leave some off stitches around the zipper stop
Ease of Use
The ST371HD continued its trend of mediocrity, earning a 5 out of 10 in this metric. The directions on this machine were clear and easy to understand for simple tasks, and the average tension is noted. This product does not mark the average stitch length and width like some of the other models we looked at, but it was the only one that labeled which direction to turn the thread tension knob to adjust it up or down.
The light provided by this machine cast a somewhat annoying shadow, and was definitely a little too dim to be the only source of light when sewing. The thread cutter on the ST371HD is the typical, shielded blade on the side of the machine. The ST371HD can also do automatic or pedal-less sewing. Additionally, the needle always stops in the down position.
Ease of Setup
As with the above metrics, this sewing machine earned a 5 out of 10 for ease of setup. This category looked at all of the task required before you actually start sewing, and how difficult they were. This machine was easy enough to thread, and even excelled slightly when it came to threading the needle. This style of needle threader was slightly easier to use than the one on some of the other Brother machines.
It was easy to set up and thread the machine to wind a bobbin, but the wound bobbin was slightly irregular, with the thread not moving up and down in a perfectly consistent way. It was also difficult to install the wound bobbin, requiring you to fit in in the notch in the bobbin housing, with it being unclear where to thread it. This would be especially hard for those with limited eyesight or dexterity.
The ST371HD lacked when it came to button work, earning a 4 out of 10 on this metric. We initially had a little trouble setting up the machine, with the directions being a little hard to follow on what to do. This product makes a 1-step buttonhole, but it will not stop automatically on the final step, making the final step prone to human errors.
We did like that the buttonhole presser did not unintentionally catch on the fibers of the fabric, making it less prone to bunching, but that's about it. The quality of the buttonhole produced was subpar when we compared to its competition, and we found it amazingly difficult to line up the buttonhole in the desired spot
While being an economical option, the ST371HD fell short on performance. There are other options out there that offer substantially more value that we would recommend.
Offering low cost, but low performance, this machine did not really live up to our expectations, and we would hesitate on recommending it. Instead, we would suggest looking at our Best Buy award winners — machines that cost less than this one and outperformed it, or at our Editors' Choice award winner, if you want the very best, but at a premium.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer