Hands-on Gear Review

Brother ST371HD Review

Brother ST371HD
Price:   $200 List | $199.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive
Cons:  Mediocre sewing, below average buttonholes
Bottom line:  An average mechanical machine, that requires a little more dexterity to operate than its competitors
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Sewing Speed:  800
Built in Stitches:  37
Buttonhole Styles:  1
Manufacturer:   Brother

Our Verdict

The Brother ST371HD was one of the lowest scoring machines in our testing process. This machine essentially scored average in our three largest metrics, earning it a score of 49 out of 100. Based on its performance in our tests, we would recommend looking at a different model, as a handful of the ones we looked at scored significantly better at a comparable price.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Tuesday
October 25, 2016

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The ST371HD is a low cost machineā€¦.and a low scoring one. Nothing really jumped out as spectacular, and this machine's performance was mediocre across the board.

Performance Comparison



The ST371HD scored below average in our tests.
The ST371HD scored below average in our tests.

Sewing


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.

Surprisingly  this machine performed the best overall on jersey knit fabrics. This machine was stitch number 3 on this test swatch.
Surprisingly, this machine performed the best overall on jersey knit fabrics. This machine was stitch number 3 on this test swatch.

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.

This machine had better labeling than some of its competition.
This machine had better labeling than some of its competition.

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. This machine does have the capability for automatic sewing, and the needle will always stop 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 notch that you have to route the thread through makes it a little more difficult to install the bobbin on the ST371HD than some of the other machines.
The notch that you have to route the thread through makes it a little more difficult to install the bobbin on the ST371HD than some of the other machines.

Button work


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.

The buttonhole presser foot and some buttonholes on the ST371HD. (3rd column)
The buttonhole presser foot and some buttonholes on the ST371HD. (3rd column)

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

Value


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.

Conclusion


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

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