Brother ST371HD Review: Heavy Duty Sewing For A Low Duty Price

The release of the Brother ST371HD sewing machine is the first heavy duty machine from Brother — and we think it’s a great start from the company.

Sure, it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of other machines, but it’s sturdy, reliable and a great machine for sewing from home.

If you’re looking for a heavy duty sewing machine that can really go the distance at an industrial level, the Brother ST371HD is not for you.

But if you’re looking for a personal, mechanic sewing machine that is perfectly adequate for both general sewing projects, thick materials and multiple layers, then this machine could be the one.

brother heavy duty sewing machine

Here’s our in-depth review of the machine to help you make up your mind.

If you already know you want to buy the Brother ST371HD, head on down to our ‘Where To Buy’ section for the best deals.


Brother ST371HD: The Details

The Look

With a blue, gray and white color scheme, the Brother ST371HD probably isn’t going to win any awards for incredible aesthetics.

Are we the only sewers dying for a pastel colored machine?

But, nevertheless, it’s a neat little machine that’s surprisingly light for its heavy duty sewing skills.

Let’s have a tour around the features:

brother st371hd review

  1. Free arm: for free motion sewing
  2. Automatic needle threader: press on the little lever for automatic threading
  3. Reverse sew lever: easy backstitching for hems and seams
  4. Tension control dial: manual thread tension adjustment
  5. Handle: for easy portability
  6. Bobbin winder
  7. Stitches: all of the 37 in-built stitches and buttonhole
  8. Stitch selection dial: find and use the stitch you want to use

And here’s a video tour of the ST371HD:

Specs

  • 14.3 pounds
  • 12.21 x 16.10 x 7.87 inches
  • 37 built-in stitches including one automatic one-step buttonhole
  • Maximum 800 stitches per minute
  • Mechanic
  • Requires use of the SA156 bobbins
  • 25 year limited warranty

Accessories

The Brother ST371HD comes with the following accessories in the box:

  • 6 presser feet: blind stitch, buttonhole, button sewing, non stick, spring action zigzag and zipper
  • Foot controller
  • 3 piece needle set: #11, #14 and #16
  • Twin needle
  • Spool pin
  • 4 bobbins
  • Power cord
  • Operational manual
  • Instructional DVD

Brother: The Company

Although the most important thing to consider is the machine itself when it comes to buy sewing machines, it’s also a good idea to assess the company itself. Often, this can give you some idea about the strength of their customer service and the longevity of the machine.

The ST371HD is made by Brother and unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few decades, you’ll probably be familiar with them.

Brother International Corporation was established in 1954 as the US branch of the Japanese based Brother Industries Ltd.

That means that with a Brother sewing machine, you get the Japanese inspired engineering combined with the American convenience, safety and customer service that you want.

Aside from sewing machines, Brother have a long history of producing an array of home and office products, including printers, scanners and vinyl makers.

One of the major bonuses of buying the Brother ST371HD is that they provide you with a 25 year limited warranty and unlimited phone support for the life of the product.

That’s a level of service you simply won’t get with an unbranded sewing machine, or one from a lesser company.

The Warranty

Brother offer a limited 25 year warranty on the ST371HD, which can be broken down as follows:

  • Parts, labor and accompanying accessories: 1 year
  • Electronic components and printed circuit boards: 2 years
  • Chassis casting: 25 years

Remember, you must keep your receipt in order to demonstrate proof of purchase to use the warranty, and will also need to pay the costs of shipping and packing.

You can read the full standard Brother limited warranty here.

Heavy Duty Features

The Brother ST371HD is marketed as ‘Strong and Tough’ — hell, it’s even written on the machine! — and so Brother have really gone a long way in ensuring that it lives up to your expectations.

What do you want from a heavy duty sewing machine?

For us, it’s simple: the ability to handle a variety of material thicknesses and to be able to sew through multiple layers of fabric.

Easy, right? Not always.

brother st371hd sewing machine

The metal needle plate

Thankfully, the ST371HD has the chops to handle our heavy duty projects with ease. At this low price point, that’s something to celebrate.

Here’s what the Brother ST371HD is packing in the heavy duty department:

  • Heavyweight needles: including #16 for heavyweight fabrics and #14 for multiple layers
  • Metal needle plate: ensures the fabric feed is smooth and helps alignment with the engraved measurement guide
  • Metal thread hook
  • Spring action zigzag foot: helps you glide seamlessly over thick seams and plentiful layers
  • Nonstick foot: Great for moving over non woven fabrics, like suede, that can otherwise be difficult

Brother ST371HD Review

Right: time to get down to the good stuff — what’s the Brother ST371HD actually like? Is it worth its price tag?

Let’s find out…

Stand Out Features

Aside from its heavy duty specs, the ST371HD has a few more interesting features to consider as well.

  • Automatic needle threader
  • A convertible free arm for hemming sleeves and cuffs
  • Brother’s exclusive jam-resistant quick-set drop-in top bobbin
  • Adjustable stitch length and width

As we mentioned in the introduction, the Brother ST371HD is not a glitzy, high tech sewing machine. It’s not even computerized.

What it is, however, is reliable: it gets the job done. It’s also inexpensive. Beginner sewers and those on a budget will find excellent value for money.

The Positives

Great for Heavy Duty Sewing

As you’d expect from a ‘Strong and Tough’ sewing machine, the Brother ST371HD is perfect for sewing heavyweight fabrics and multiple layers.

The metal needle plate ensures that the fabric feed is smooth, whether you’re using silk or suede, and the #16 needle makes short work of tougher materials (without any shredding).

For multiple layers, the #14 needle is great for tackling fabrics of different thicknesses, while the spring action zigzag foot makes effortless work of gliding over different materials.

While the machine as a whole doesn’t have the same sturdy feel as the more expensive heavy duty sewing machines — the components feel like they’re made of plastic — the 25 year limited warranty should give you some peace of mind to its durability. We found it plenty tough enough to take on some pretty big projects, including sewing outdoor canvas materials.

Easy to Use Bobbin

We know that this will be a major pro to all the beginners out there — as well as old hands (like us!) who hate fiddling around with the bobbin.

The Brother jam-resistant quick-set drop-in top bobbin stays in place and helps to deliver even and reliable stitches. There’s even a thread guide mark on the bobbin holder to help you set the thread in place.

The bobbin winder is simple to use and makes it easy to load bobbins with different threads.

The transparent cover over the bobbin is also a nice touch, making it easier for you to see when you’re about to run out thread.

brother strong and tough sewing machine

Easy needle threading and transparent bobbin cover

All in all, the bobbin system is easy to use and convenient for all.

Automatic Needle Threader

Here’s another feature that will be valued by beginners and experienced sewers alike.

The automatic needle threader, which is powered by simply pushing down the lever on the side, allows the thread to automatically thread the needle.

For sewers with bad eyesight, or even just for those of us who get frustrated with threading, this is a real point of value.

The Stitch Selector Dial

While there’s no denying that the Brother ST371HD isn’t as sleek as those sewing machines with a computerized LCD screen, we actually really love the easy to use stitch selection.

brother st371hd review

You simply select the stitch you want by turning the dial on the side of the machine. The 37 built-in stitches are all printed on the front of the ST371HD so it’s easy to pick out which one you want.

While some sewers might feel that 37 included stitches pales in comparison to some of the machine’s competitors, we think it’s a great number to cover all of your everyday sewing needs.

Aside from the most prolific of crafters, who’s using 100+ different stitches anyway?

Other Small Features We Love:

  • The 6 accompanying presser feet are snap-on for easy changes
  • Free arm, and feed dogs can be lowered for free motion sewing
  • Built-in handle
  • Adjustable stitch size
  • Free customer service phone support for life
  • No periodic oiling is needed
  • Storage compartment in the work area
  • It’s cheap!

The Negatives

Of course, with a reasonably priced machine there comes a few downsides. Whether or not these issues are a dealbreaker will depend entirely on why you need to use a sewing machine.

It’s Quite Basic

The thing we love about the Brother ST371HD is that it’s reliable and gets the job done. It’s great for everyday sewing as well as for more heavy duty projects.

But beyond that… it can’t offer too much.

It only has 37 built-in stitches, one button hole, and isn’t computerized. There are no lettering fonts for crafters to use and no options for embroidery.

For specialist sewing, you need a specialist sewing machine (and probably one with a higher price tag). The Brother ST371HD isn’t that — it’s just a good everyday machine.

There’s a Few Functions Missing

There are a few features we would have liked to have seen on the Brother ST371HD to really bump up the user experience and convenience factors.

There’s no stop/start button and sewing must instead be started by moving the feet. This may take a little getting used to for beginners, although shouldn’t prove too much of a problem (even if it is a little inconvenient).

A major feature we feel is missing is a button for the up/down position of the needle. We find sewing around corners so much easier when we can just push a button to bring the needle down, but unfortunately this will need to be a manual re-adjusting movement with the ST371HD.

Again, it’s not a deal breaker, as it is possible to complete the action yourself, but it does take away from the convenience of the sewing machine.

brother heavy duty sewing machine

No Automatic Thread Tension or Speed Control

Another couple of things which may deter sewing beginners from the Brother ST371HD is the fact that you will need to set the thread tension yourself by turning the dial at the top of the machine.

Some of the more high-tech sewing machines will set the tension automatically for you, which does make the learning curve a little easier.

There’s also no speed control available, which again may be a little unnerving for beginners who like to start their sewing slowly before building up the speed.

Other Small Features That Could Be Improved

  • We wish it felt a little more durable
  • The LED light isn’t that bright on the work area

Brother ST371HD Overall Verdict

Overall, we highly recommend the Brother ST371HD.

Yes, it isn’t high-tech. Yes, it’s not for crafters. And yes, it looks kind of retro.

But, you know what?

It’s reliable and it gets the job done. We dig that.

It’s great for heavy duty sewing as well as your usual everyday needs — whether that’s hemming your favorite jeans, sewing a Christmas play costume or trying to merge together outdoor fabrics.

At such a reasonable price point, it’s hard to find any real fault with the Brother ST371HD.

Where to Buy the Brother ST371HD

You can find the Brother ST371HD for sale all over the internet, including at HSN and Jo-Ann.

Of course one of the most popular places to buy this sewing machine is on Amazon, where you can often find some great deals.

As well as selling the stand-alone machine, they also offer a bundle deal with a pack of 10 bobbins.

brother st371hd sewing machine

Have you tried the Brother ST371HD yet? What’s your verdict?


One Response

  1. Nancy Ball April 10, 2017

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