Sometimes you don’t want to mess around with figuring out how an appliance works. You just want to open up the box and get cracking. If you envision yourself unboxing your new sewing machine, plugging it in, and moments later happily stitching away, then the Brother GX37 may just be your new favorite toy.
Brother Industries, Then and Now
Brother Industries, formerly the Yasui Brothers Sewing Machine Company, is a Japanese manufacturer of printers, office machinery, and, yes, sewing machines. They make a variety of sewing machines for both home and industrial use. And they’re very, very good at it.
Brother began as a sewing machine repair company. Later, they set the goal of creating the first Japanese-produced sewing machine. More than one hundred years later, they’re one of the largest and most respected manufacturers of sewing machines in the world.
Brother’s home sewing machines have a reputation for being reliable, affordable, and excellent value for money. The company makes a range of machines for sewing, quilting, and embroidery. Their offerings encompass mechanical and computerized models at different levels and price points.
About the Brother GX37
The Brother GX37 is a small, friendly mechanical sewing machine. It has 37 built-in stitches and one one-step buttonhole. As far as features go, it’s pretty bare bones. But that’s par for the course when you’re looking at mechanical sewing machines.
Though mechanical machines might not look as impressive as top-of-the-line computerized models, a lot of people prefer them.
The main reason is ease of use. Mechanical sewing machines have a limited number of functions and features. This can be less intimidating for new users than a complicated interface filled with cryptic glyphs and unfamiliar labels. The controls are simple: dials, levers, and sliders. You can generally tell what each one does just by looking.
On top of that, the manual controls of a mechanical sewing machine allow you to fine-tune your stitch length and width, and your thread tension in a way that you simply cannot do with push-button computerized controls.
If you want to start sewing right away, and don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to decipher the manual, then a mechanical sewing machine like the Brother GX37 could be a great choice.
And it goes without saying that with a mechanical sewing machine, the price is almost always right.
- Lightweight and portable
- Easy to set up and use
- Decent selection of stitch designs
- One-step buttonhole
- Automatic needle threader
- Large number of extremely positive customer reviews
- Great value for money
- Numerous complaints about bobbin case design
- Complaints about thread tension issues
Where the Brother GX37 Stands in Brother’s Current Lineup
The GX37 is one of several very similar mechanical machines on offer from Brother. Others include the Brother XM2701, the Brother SM2700, the Brother XM1010, the Brother LX3817 and the Brother XR3774.
The differences between these machines are slight. Some have a few more stitch designs than others. Some are lighter and more portable, while others are heavier. All of them have a large number of excellent customer reviews. And all have their share of complaints, particularly about plastic construction and bobbin thread issues.
Interestingly, while most of these models are on the lower end of the price scale for this type of machine, the XM1010 inexplicably costs between two and three times what the other nearly identical models cost. Why? We’d like to know that, too.
But we’ll discuss this more in a bit.
Who is the Brother GX37 For?
The Brother GX37 looks like a beginner’s machine. And, if you’re looking for a first sewing machine for yourself or a new sewist of any age, it would be hard to find one that would be easier to work with.
This is also a fine machine for all-purpose sewing. Garment construction, mending, housewares, curtains — you get the idea. You could even use it for small quilting projects.
At just a smidge over 10 pounds, it’s lightweight and compact. This makes it easy to pack it along when you go to classes or meetups.
If you’re starting your own business, the GX37 probably won’t have the functionalities you need, and it very likely won’t stand up to continuous heavy use over the long term. But the average all-purpose home sewist — especially a new sewist — could have a lot of fun with this machine.
What’s in the box?
Accessories that come with the Brother GX37, include:
- Zig zag foot
- Blind Stitch foot
- Buttonhole foot
- Button sewing foot
- Narrow hem foot
- Twin needle
- Extra spool pin
- Darning plate
- Four bobbins
- Soft dust cover
- Power cord
- Instructional DVD
- Brother GX37 manual in English and Spanish
Thinking About a Budget Sewing Machine? Read This First.
If you’re considering the Brother GX37, then you’re probably in the market for an inexpensive sewing machine. There’s a lot to be said for budget models, but it’s important to know what to look for.
Some sewing machines come with hundreds and hundreds of stitch designs. We think that’s overkill, especially if you’re eager to get started. On the other hand, some mechanical sewing machines have a mere handful of stitches, and those can get old quickly.
At the minimum, look for a straight stitch, a zig zag stitch, a stretch stitch, and a buttonhole. A serging stitch can come in handy, too. In the case of mechanical sewing machines, the number of stitch designs is limited to the number that can comfortably fit on a dial. All the same, you can find models (like the GX37) that have a decent selection of decorative stitches as well.
A one-step buttonhole is de rigeur for most computerized sewing machines. Many mechanical machines, on the other hand, have a four-step buttonhole. The difference is greater than you might think.
A one-step buttonhole allows you to create buttonholes easier and with greater consistency. On top of that, when you use the enclosed automatic buttonhole foot, you can customize each buttonhole to the exact size of your button.
A free arm allows you to remove part of the base to reveal a smaller workspace. This is essential for circular projects such as cuffs, collars, hems, and trouser legs. Most sewing machines have a free arm, but plenty of less expensive mechanical machines do not. So always look closely, especially if you think you’ll be sewing clothing.
Here’s how it works.
Automatic Needle Threader
Have you ever tried to jam a fuzzy thread end through the teeny tiny eye of a hand sewing needle? Now imagine trying to do so with a machine needle that’s even more difficult to get to.
An automatic needle threader makes threading your sewing machine needle a snap — literally, in some cases.
Some manufacturers try to lure customers with an accessories pack that’s loaded with lots of little extras that few people actually use. Look for a modest accessory pack instead, with things that you know you will use, like commonly used presser feet.
Sometimes a budget machine is a great deal. And sometimes it’s just, well, cheap. How can you tell the difference?
There’s an art to reading between the lines of customer reviews. It’s not just about the star rating, although the average consumer rating is a good indicator of overall buyer satisfaction.
Another factor to consider is the number of customer reviews. That is, how many purchasers felt strongly enough about their sewing machine to bother to write a review. Many products have a few dozen reviews. But if a product inspires several thousand reviews — especially positive ones — it’s a good indicator that the product is worth your time.
It’s also important to pay attention to the complaints. I like to go straight to the negative reviews to scope out any potential problems. Or not. Shipping delays, products arriving damaged, customer service issues — these have nothing to do with a product’s quality, and can be remedied by simply finding a different dealer.
As for actual problems with a particular model, negative reviews can help you to decide if said problems are something you’d be willing to tolerate in light of a product’s lower price.
Features of the Brother GX37
As I said, the Brother GX37 is a bare-bones machine. Even still, it does have a few things to recommend it.
37 Built-In Stitches
When compared to some advanced computerized models, 37 stitch designs might not seem like a lot. The Singer Quantum Stylist 9980 has 820 stitches, after all! But it’s more than enough for most people’s uses.
Thirty-seven is also more than many comparable sewing machines have. And let’s face it. Once you find a few favorites, how many stitch designs will you actually find yourself using regularly?
The Brother GX37 has a single one-step buttonhole. That’s not a lot in the way of design choices, but it’s better than the four-step buttonhole that comes with many mechanical sewing machines. And paired with the included automatic buttonhole foot, it could be the only buttonhole technology that you need.
Yes, the Brother GX37 has a free arm. This makes it fantastic for all sorts of sewing projects, including garment making and housewares.
Automatic Needle Threader
The automatic needle threader makes this model even more user friendly. Combine this with the easy threading diagram, and you’ll be stitching away sooner than you think.
Alternatives to the Brother GX37
The field of mechanical sewing machines is a crowded one indeed. Every major sewing machine manufacturer makes at least one mechanical sewing machine. Many make half a dozen. So it pays to look at the competition to make sure you buy the machine that’s the best fit for your needs.
The Brother XR3774 is very similar to the GX37. It’s a mechanical sewing machine. Like the GX37, it has 37 built-in stitch designs and a one-step buttonhole. It also has an impressive number of positive customer reviews.
We chose this one out of Brother’s lineup because it comes with something the others don’t: a detachable wide extension table. It’s a simple, low cost extra. But it’s also an extra that can make a big difference to aspiring quilters and sewists interested in free-motion embroidery.
The Brother XR3774 costs about the same as the Brother GX37.
Singer HD 4432
Singer has produced a large number of mechanical sewing machines, most notably their HD line. “HD” stands for “heavy duty,” and this line is made specifically for heavy duty work. Features of this line include:
- A heavy duty metal frame
- High speed sewing (1,100 stitches per minute)
- 50 percent more powerful motor than most domestic sewing machines
The Singer HD4432 has 32 built-in stitches and a one-step buttonhole. Like most mechanical sewing machines, it’s easy to set up and easy to use. Unlike most, this model is built for heavy work like thick fabrics and multiple layers.
If you like the idea of a mechanical sewing machine, but need something tough enough to stand up to heavy work, then the Singer 4432 may be a good choice for you.
Bernette is manufactured by the Swiss company Bernina. The Bernette 35 is a stylish mechanical sewing machine with the high quality build that you would expect from Bernina.
This model has 23 built-in stitch designs and a one-step buttonhole. It’s a bit more expensive than the Singer 4432, and, depending upon your retailer, it might be quite a bit more expensive than the Brother GX37. However, fans of Bernina would agree that the quality of construction more than justifies the price.
The Brother GX37 is a fun, friendly, easy to use mechanical sewing machine. Its price, portability, and simplicity make it a great choice for a first sewing machine. Although it probably wouldn’t be well suited to heavy, continuous, professional-level sewing, for general, all-purpose home sewing, we predict it would be a reliable friend.