Brother makes a wide variety of sewing machines at different price points. But one place Brother really excels is with affordable, feature-rich all-purpose home sewing machines. Many of these are aimed at quilters. But the Brother SE425 aims for the amateur embroidery enthusiast. How does it do? Our Brother SE425 review will tell you.
A Bit About Brother
You’re probably already familiar with the Brother brand. You may even have one of their printers or other office machines at work or at home. The company also makes label makers, industrial machinery, karaoke machines, and more.
But Brother Industries began more than one hundred years ago as a sewing machine company. Their first product was an industrial chain stitch machine for making straw hats. In 1932, they focussed production on home sewing machines using a proprietary shuttle hook. Two years later they began producing industrial sewing machines, as well.
Today, Brother Industries manufactures sewing, quilting, and embroidery machines for both home and factory use.
Brother’s domestic sewing machines fill a special niche. Generally speaking, Brother machines are simultaneously feature rich and affordably priced. The quality tends to be decent, as well.
So, where does the Brother SE425 fall in their lineup?
Brother SE425: Review and Rundown
The Brother SE425 sewing machine is a do-it-all type machine aimed at embroidery enthusiasts. It’s a full-function general sewing machine with all of the features you’d expect from a home sewing machine. It also has a lot of features that you won’t find in your average domestic machine.
Specifically, it has pre-programmed embroidery stitches and designs–170 of them. It also offers the option to import new designs that you can purchase from Brother’s Ibroidery.com service or other sources. In addition, you can edit these designs using the Brother SE425’s LCD touchscreen.
The ability to import and edit embroidery designs is a real find at this price point. Although the editing capabilities are less sophisticated than those common on more expensive embroidery machines, the Brother SE425 will give you a taste of machine embroidery. It could be a good way of exploring the craft without laying out a month’s pay.
At the same time, this machine has a few limitations that the experienced machine embroiderer will eventually feel. If you’re using more than one color of thread, for example, you’ll have to know when to stop sewing and change colors. The black and white display makes this difficult. This is also a single needle machine that can only work with one color at a time.
In short, it’s a good machine for the casual or beginning user, but will prove limiting for the experienced machine embroiderer.
Brother SE425: Pros And Cons
Here’s a quick overview of what’s great about the SE425…and what could be better:
- Feature-rich for sewing
- Lots of useful stitch designs
- A good selection of included embroidery options
- Ibroidery.com compatible
- Handy USB port for design transfer
- Edit embroidery designs on the machine
- Upper thread sensor
- Bobbin thread sensor
- Convenient LCD touch screen
- Excellent accessories pack
- Good value for money
- Somewhat pokey max sewing speed of 710 stitches per minute
- Low resolution black and white design previews
- Limited editing capabilities
- Some users find operation noisy
The Brother SE425 as a Sewing Machine
Embroidery functions aside, how does the Brother SE425 do with regard to everyday sewing?
Quite well, as a matter of fact.
This is a computerized sewing machine, which means that you can adjust stitch length and width with the press of a button. There are 67 built-in stitch designs and 10 one-step buttonholes. Like many computerized sewing machines, the SE425 has speed control, reverse stitching, and a programmable needle.
There are also thread and bobbin thread sensors, which you’ll often find on more expensive machines.
Although someone starting a home embroidery business would do best to consider a dedicated, professional-quality embroidery machine, the SE425 is feature-rich enough to keep most hobbyists busy for a long time. And if it turns out that machine embroidery is not for you, you’ll still have a decent all-purpose sewing machine at the end of the day.
How is it Different from the Brother SE400?
If you’ve read our Brother SE400 review, you might be thinking that a lot of things sound very familiar. You’d be right.
The Brother SE425 is a very slightly upgraded version of the SE400. Both are entry level combination sewing and embroidery machines. They have many of the same features, many of the same drawbacks, and are comparable in price. In addition, both have a similarly large and well pleased customer base.
How is it different, though? Well, the SE425 comes with 100 more embroidery designs on an enclosed CD. Other than that, though, there’s not a lot of difference. Even the accessories pack is very, very similar.
What’s in the box?
Accessories that come with the Brother SE425, include:
- Four-inch by four-inch Brother SE425 embroidery hoop
- Needle set, including a twin needle
- Buttonhole Foot
- Overcasting Foot
- Monogramming Foot
- Zipper Foot
- Blindstich Foot
- Zigzag Foot
- Embroidery Foot
- Four bobbins
- Seam ripper
- Cleaning brush
- Eyelet punch
- Three screwdrivers
- Touch pen
- Three spool caps
- Extra spool pin
- Embroidery bobbin thread
- Instructional CD
- Felt with stabilizer
- USB cable
- Power cord
- Brother SE425 manual
For the general home sewist looking to experiment with embroidery, this machine could be a real find. It might also fit the bill for someone who wants to do hobby-level machine embroidery, kids’ projects, housewares monogramming, and the like.
Of course at this price point, one can’t expect the same level of functionality or durability as a professional embroidery machine. User reviews bear this out. But as far as general purpose home sewing machines go, the Brother SE425 gives a lot of bang for your buck.
So You Want to Buy An Entry-Level Embroidery Machine
An entry-level embroidery and sewing machine like the Brother SE425 could be an excellent choice for the right hobbyist. Are you that hobbyist? If so, then here’s what to look for.
Solid Sewing Features
First things first. When you’re looking for a sewing machine with embroidery features, as opposed to a dedicated embroidery machine, it needs to be a sewing machine first.
One of the main draws of a lower-priced combination sewing-and-whatever machine is that it can do a lot of different things. But some machines try to do too much. As a result, they do a lot of things in a half-baked manner, and no one thing particularly well.
Make sure your combination machine has solid sewing features, as well as craft-related extras. Look for:
- A decent selection of useful stitch designs
- Several one-step buttonhole designs
- An automatic needle threader
- Speed control
- A free arm
At minimum. And then start thinking about embroidery features.
Included Embroidery Stitches and Designs
Most computerized sewing machines will have a selection of embroidery stitches. These are decorative stitches that you can use to add a bit of flair to your sewing projects. Some machines will also allow you to combine these stitches into stitch combinations that you can use again and again.
Embroidery stitches are different from embroidery designs. Embroidery designs include monogram fonts, pictures and images, border designs, and more. Lower-level sewing-and-embroidery machines will have designs built into your machine’s memory. Some may allow you to import designs from other sources.
Higher level machines often allow users to alter designs and even create their own. The Brother SE425 allows some limited editing functions, but not the same flexibility as a more expensive embroidery machine.
Design Transfer Technology
It’s fun to play with the embroidery designs built into a sewing machine. Eventually, though, some users will feel the limitations of the built-ins and want more. That’s why it’s important to have a means of importing new designs onto your machine.
Older models, like the Brother SE400, came with embroidery card readers. Users could purchase embroidery cards pre-loaded with more designs, and transfer them via their sewing machine’s built-in card reader. Today, most sewing machines use either USB or WiFi to upload new designs.
Once you’ve worked your way through the built-in designs and had some fun with imported designs, you may want to customize or even create your own embroidery designs. Some higher-end sewing machines come with software that allows you to do this right on your sewing machine.
Lower-end machines like the Brother SE425 will have more limited editing capabilities. For example, you might be able to:
- Flip a design vertically or horizontally
- Combine stitches or designs
- Resize a design
- Rotate your design
You can get around these limitations, however, by purchasing embroidery design software for your computer. Software like Embrilliance allows you to customize or create a design, then render it into a file type your sewing machine can read. You can then transfer the new designs to your sewing machine.
High-end semi-professional embroidery machines will come with an array of advanced features. Some of these include a high-resolution color touch screen, advanced design editing capabilities, and extensive stitch and design memory.
You probably won’t find those features in lower-priced sewing-and-embroidery combination machines. However, you can and will find embroidery-specific accessories. These may include:
- Extra spool pins for working with multiple threads
- A twin needle
- Enclosed embroidery hoops
- An embroidery arm
- Embroidery and/or monogram presser feet
The Brother SE425: Features
Here are some of the features that might make the Brother SE425 worth your while.
You’re probably already familiar with the idea of a free arm–that specially shaped arm that makes circular work so much easier. An embroidery arm is similar in that it’s a detachable feature that makes your workspace better for embroidery.
Machine embroidery, like hand embroidery, requires a hoop to hold your work taut. An embroidery arm holds your embroidery hoop in position to facilitate stitching.
Then, when you’re ready to do some everyday sewing, you can transform your space back to a sewing space.
A USB port provides a quick, easy way to transfer designs from your computer to your Brother SE425 sewing machine. You can use a USB stick or transfer directly from your machine. Combined with embroidery design and creation software, this means virtually limitless creative opportunities.
Built-In Embroidery Designs
The Brother SE425 comes with 70 built-in embroidery designs. In addition, the enclosed CD has 100 more. For the casual hobbyist, this might be all you need to have a lot of fun.
Ibroidery.com is Brother’s repository of embroidery designs, available only to Brother customers. There are over 5,000 designs, including licensed characters from popular media franchises, creations from professional designers, alphabets, and more.
The designs are generally inexpensive, and Brother is always running specials for multi-packs and themed collections.
If you’re thinking about buying an embroidery machine to do projects for housewares, or for the children in your life, Ibroidery.com is an excellent resource.
For a lot of manufacturers, the accessories pack can be a way to bulk up the price with unnecessary but attractive extras. The package that comes with the Brother SE425, however, contains a lot of useful essentials for sewists and embroiderers without the bloat.
Alternatives to the Brother SE425 Embroidery Machine
Before making any large purchase, it’s always wise to consider the competition. Here are three other embroidery machines that might suit your needs just as well as, or even better than the Brother SE425.
Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9850
Like the Brother SE425, the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9850 is a combination sewing and embroidery machine. However, the Janome is a lot more expensive. In part, that’s because Janome makes expensive machines. They also tend to have extremely high quality construction and serious durability.
However, the MC9850 also provides a few extras that might make the difference to the right user. These include:
- A large, high resolution color touch screen
- Two different hoop sizes to work with
- Slightly more sophisticated on-the-machine editing capabilities
- 3MB of on-machine memory
- Significantly higher sewing and embroidery stitch speed
Brother SE600 Embroidery and Sewing Machine
The Brother SE600 is an affordable combination sewing and embroidery machine. It’s very similar to the SE425, but in this upgrade, Brother has taken care of some of the drawbacks of the earlier model and added some improvements. These include:
- A larger and higher-resolution color touch screen
- More built-in embroidery designs
- Customize and preview your designs before stitching
- Expanded on-machine editing capabilities
It is a touch more expensive than the SE425. Depending on your retailer, you might pay a little more, or you might pay a lot more. Still, it gives a budding embroiderer a bit more room to grow than the SE425.
The Brother SE1900 is a third option for a combination sewing and embroidery machine. It, too, is a smidge more expensive than the Brother SE425. On the other hand, it is a more modern machine with quite a bit more in terms of options and functionality. For the price, you get:
- A larger and higher-resolution color touch screen
- More sewing stitch options
- Twice as many built-in embroidery designs as the SE425
- 11 monogramming fonts
- A larger embroidery area
The Final Analysis
For the right buyer, the Brother SE425 could be great value for money and a whole lot of fun. This is especially true for buyers who are interested in a sewing machine first, with a side of machine embroidery. You’re certainly not going to find a more fully-featured combination sewing and embroidery machine at this price point.
On the other hand, this is an older model, and it shows. Just a bit more of a price increase could net you significant upgrades in functionality and ease of use. Experienced machine embroiderers, or people who anticipate pursuing embroidery seriously, could soon feel the limitations of the Brother SE425.
Is this the right sewing and embroidery combination machine for you? It could very well be. Especially if you love a bargain.