Brother XM2701 Review: Is This the Ideal Starter’s Sewing machine?

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When it comes to affordable sewing machines that pack a punch, few manufacturers can match Brother. The Brother XM2701 has a lot of features for a mechanical sewing machine. At the same time, it’s quite a bit more expensive than other machines in this class. Is it worth it? Our Brother XM2701 review will lay it out for you.

Brother XM2701: Review and Breakdown

Brother XM2701

When many people think of Brother Industries, they think of printers, printer cartridges, and office machinery. But Brother actually started life as the Yasui Sewing Machine Company of Nagoya, Japan. [1]

After the death of founder Kanekichi Yasui, his son Masayoshi Yasui inherited the company. At that time, Japan had no domestic sewing machine manufacturing. Instead, the country relied on imported machines. Masayoshi, along with his brother Tokio, decided to change that. They produced the first Japanese sewing machine, a chain stitch machine for making straw hats.

The brothers then set their sights on creating a lockstitch sewing machine. A third brother, Jitsuichi, invented a mass-produced shuttle hook, which led to the invention of the first Japanese home sewing machine in 1932.

The company eventually changed its name to Brother, to honor the fraternal cooperation that had made the business such a success. Today, the companies that make up Brother Industries bring in more than six billion dollars of revenue a year.

About the Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine

Brother XM2701 angled view

Sewing machines are only part of what Brother does, but they do it well. Brother produces both industrial and home sewing machines in a variety of different categories. 

Brother’s home sewing machine lineup encompasses a wide range of products, from affordable mechanical sewing machines to sophisticated semi-professional craft-specific models. But all Brother machines have one thing in common: a pleasing combination of feature-richness and affordability.

The Brother XM2701 lightweight sewing machine is a mechanical sewing machine. Like all mechanical sewing machines, it has a limited number of stitches that the user chooses with a manual dial. Other dials control the stitch width and length, and the thread tension.

Mechanical sewing machines typically have a smaller number of built-in stitch designs than electronic ones. One can, however, use the stitch width and length dials to approximate other designs. An extremely narrow zigzag stitch, for example, can double as a satin stitch. 

The Brother XM2701 has 27 built-in stitch designs, which is quite a bit more than many mechanical sewing machines. Combine this number with the fine-tuning ability of the manual controls, and the number of stitches you can create is quite impressive.

  • A large selection of built-in stitches 
  • Automatic one-step buttonhole
  • Free arm
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Selection of useful presser feet and accessories
  • Numerous customer complaints about thread tension
  • Complaints about shoddy plastic bobbin case construction
  • More expensive than comparable Brother machines

Who is the Brother XM2701 For?

A mechanical sewing machine like the Brother XM2701 has a few natural markets. 

First, this sort of machine can be excellent for learners. The Brother XM2701 in particular has an easy-to-understand stitch map and a manageable stitch library that provides room to grow, but doesn’t overwhelm. It’s lightweight, as well — just 12.6 pounds — so it would be easy to take to classes or meetups.

Also, this class of sewing machine is a natural for the general home sewist. If occasional mending, garment making, or crafts is your thing, you could do a lot with the Brother XM2701. And its affordability means that you probably won’t feel guilty if you’re not constantly using it.

Finally, if you’re thinking about dipping your toe into a new hobby, then an inexpensive mechanical sewing machine can provide a good introduction with minimal investment. (The Brother XM2701 in particular, however, may be a little pricey for an experiment. But we’ll discuss this in a bit.)

Advanced crafters, on the other hand, will probably want a machine with more craft-specific features. And people who plan to do a lot of sewing over a long period of time might look for a heavier-duty model.

How does the Brother XM2701 Stack Up?

Brother XM2701 top drop-in bobbin
The XM2701’s bobbin has come under fire from a few customers.

The Brother XM2701 is a surprisingly versatile mechanical sewing machine. Its stitch library is large for this class of machine (many mechanical sewing machines have just a handful of stitch designs). It’s lightweight and has a pleasing, user-friendly layout.

At the same time, this model does have its share of drawbacks. There’s only one buttonhole design for example, and that’s a bit disappointing. More troubling, though, are the customer complaints about bobbin thread issues and the bobbin case itself, which quite a few users judged to be cheap and poorly constructed.

On top of that, the price point for the XM2701 sewing machine currently sits inexplicably higher than that of several other more feature-rich Brother machines in the same class, including the XM3700 and the XR3774. And it doesn’t come with a cover or case.

Still, customer reviews for the Brother XM2701 are overwhelmingly positive, so for the right buyer, this could be an excellent choice.

What’s in the box? 

Accessories that come with the Brother XM2701, include:

  • Buttonhole Foot
  • Button Sewing Foot
  • Narrow Hemmer Foot
  • Zipper Foot
  • Blind stitch Foot
  • Zigzag Foot
  • Darning plate
  • Twin needle
  • Screwdriver
  • Extra spool pin
  • Three bobbins
  • Power cord
  • Instructional DVD
  • Brother XM2701 manual
  • 25-year limited warranty

Technical Specifications

How to Buy A Mechanical Sewing Machine

The first question, of course, is should you buy a mechanical sewing machine? Like anything else, these types of machines have their advantages and their drawbacks.

Advantages of a Mechanical Sewing Machine

The most obvious point in favor of mechanical sewing machines is ease of use. A mechanical sewing machine has no computerized memory. This means that stitch designs and parameters are limited to what can fit on a dial. As a result, most mechanical sewing machines have a small number of stitch and buttonhole designs. 

This is a limitation, true. At the same time, it also means a fairly short learning curve. With a mechanical sewing machine you can hit the ground running. And once you start, you can accomplish a lot.

The knobs and dials of a mechanical sewing machine can also mean precision. With a computerized sewing machine, you choose between preset parameters by pushing buttons. But knobs and dials provide much finer control over width, length, and thread tension.

Another advantage is that mechanical sewing machines tend to be less expensive than computerized models.

Disadvantages of a Mechanical Sewing Machine

The other side of simplicity is functionality. The memory of a computerized sewing machine can hold hundreds of stitch designs, from functional to decorative to specific crafting stitches. Computerized sewing machines also often have other controls that mechanical machines lack, including:

  • Speed control
  • Start/Stop button
  • Programmable needle position
  • Stitch sequence memory

Choosing the right sewing machine for you often comes down to balancing functionality against ease of use. This decision, of course, is highly individual.

What You Should Look For

If you’ve decided that a mechanical sewing machine is for you, then there are some essential features you should look for. Here are some of our dealbreakers.

Stitch Designs

Brother XM2701 stitch map
The XM2701’s stitch map.

Most sewing comes down to straight stitch and zigzag stitch. You might also use a blind hem stitch for hemming. Mechanical sewing machines typically have these three stitches. In addition, some may have a few decorative stitches. Decorative stitches are fun for crafting. But in the end, you probably won’t end up using more than a handful regularly.

Think about the kind of sewing you’re planning to do. Will you need a lot of different stitch designs? Or would a smaller number of commonly-used stitches fit your bill?

The Brother XM2701 has 27 stitch designs.

One-Step Automatic Buttonhole

Many mechanical sewing machines have a four-step buttonhole. A four-step buttonhole will get the job done. However, it involves a lot of starting, stopping, and adjusting. It can also be difficult to get consistent results.

A one-step buttonhole is a lot simpler. A one step automatic buttonhole, using an automatic buttonhole foot like the one included with the Brother XM2701, will tailor your buttonhole to the exact size of the button you’re using.

The Brother XM2701 has a single one-step automatic buttonhole design.

Automatic Needle Threader

Brother XM2701 needle threader
The Brother XM2701 has a very handy needle threader.

Have you ever squinted at that tiny hole while trying to tease a fuzzy thread-end through it? Then you know what I’m talking about. An automatic needle threader is a beautiful thing, and a lot of people won’t buy a sewing machine without one.

The Brother XM2701 has an automatic needle threader.

Free Arm

With a sewing machine with a free arm, you can detach part of the base in order to reveal a smaller arm. This arm is essential for small, circular projects like collars and shirt and trouser cuffs.

Some mechanical sewing machines come with a free arm. Others do not. The Brother XM2701 has one.

A Hard Case

Many sewing machines come with either a soft dust cover or a hard case. We’re especially fond of a hard case, as it protects your machine from bumps and scratches, whether during travel or while your machine is in storage.

Unfortunately, the Brother XM2701 does not come with either a dust cover or a hard case as standard.

The Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine: Features and Benefits

Customer reviews of the Brother XM2701 are overwhelmingly positive. And there is, indeed, a lot to like about this powerful little machine. Here are some of its benefits.


At just 12.6 pounds, the Brother XM2701 lightweight sewing machine lives up to its name. How much is 12.6 pounds? It’s about the weight of a medium-sized cat. Or two two-liter bottles of soda. The point is, this machine is compact and lightweight and you can take it anywhere you might want to go, including classes and meetups.

Good Selection of Useful Stitches

27 stitches is a very decent selection for a mechanical sewing machine. You can find a few models with more stitch options, like the Singer 4432, which has 32 stitches. More likely, however, you’ll encounter mechanical sewing machines with fewer stitches — sometimes as few as one or two.

The Brother XM2701 has 27 stitches, including all of the stitches that a home sewist uses most. It also has a sizable selection of decorative stitches. And don’t forget that the manual controls allow you a large amount of customization of all of them.

Easy to Use

Mechanical sewing machines, by and large, are intuitive and easy to use, even for a learner. The Brother XM2701 is no exception. It has a well-organized stitch map, and the dials are clearly labeled. A beginner could start sewing with this machine right out of the box.

Decent Selection of Included Accessories

The accessories pack that comes with the Brother XM2701 isn’t extravagant. However, it does include a lot of useful things, including six presser feet, a darning plate, a twin needle, bobbins, and that all-important screwdriver.

Accessories packs are one way that sellers can bulk up the price of a sewing machine (excess stitch designs are another). We much prefer quality of accessories over quantity, and that’s what Brother provides, here.

But One Question Remains…

Why is this machine currently so much more expensive than comparable models?

Some sewing machine brands are pricey in general. Brother machines typically aren’t. In fact, one of the features we love most about Brother sewing machines is their overall value for money.

The Brother XM2701 is priced higher than a lot of mechanical sewing machines from many different manufacturers. It’s also priced higher than comparable, and even more advanced models by Brother.


We did our research, but the mystery remains.

Alternatives to the Brother XM2701

Even if you’ve already decided that the Brother XM2701 could be your new sewing machine, it’s always helpful to consider the competition. Here are a few comparable machines that you might also enjoy.

Brother XM3700

brother XM3700

The Brother XM3700 is a lightweight portable mechanical sewing machine. It has a clear, easy-to-understand stitch map, an automatic needle threader, and, just like the Brother XM2701, it has a single one-step buttonhole. 

There were only two differences between these machines that we could find. First, the XM3700 has 37 built-in stitch patterns rather than 27. Also, the price is significantly lower.

If you like the sound of the Brother XM2701, but are a bit wary of the higher price, this could be your machine.

Janome HD1000

Janome HD1000

Janome is one of those manufacturers whose machines tend to fall on the high end of the price spectrum. They also tend to be bare-bones when it comes to features and accessories. However, their sewing machines distinguish themselves through durability, excellent performance, and quality of manufacture.

The Janome HD1000 is a very basic mechanical sewing machine. It has 14 stitches and a single four-step buttonhole. It also comes with a very modest accessories pack.

Why are we recommending it? Well, it’s a workhorse. This is a heavy-duty sewing machine with an aluminum chassis. It also has that extra-high presser foot lift that so many Janome machines have. On top of that, it sews 1000 stitches a minute, which is considerably faster than most domestic sewing machines.

What this all means is that the Janome HD1000 will stand up to any heavy work you might throw at it, such as leather, thick fabrics, and multiple layers. The same cannot be said of most sewing machines that are not designed for heavy-duty sewing. And it costs about the same as the Brother XM2701.

If you’re looking for a sewing machine for heavy work, or you’re anticipating doing a lot of sewing, the Janome HD1000 could be one to consider.

Brother CS5055PRW

Brother Project Runway CS5055PRW

The Brother CS5055PRW is part of Brother’s “Project Runway” line of machines inspired by the TV show of the same name. 

This is a computerized sewing machine, rather than a manual one. However, it’s on the simpler end of the spectrum, so a learner could master its powerful features quickly. It’s also significantly less expensive than the Brother XM2701.

The Brother CS5055PRW has 50 built-in stitches and five automatic one-step buttonholes. It also comes with a large selection of useful presser feet and other accessories. 

The Brother CS5055PRW is a good example of Brother’s hallmark value for money. Beginning and intermediate sewists and crafters could get a lot of enjoyment out of this machine.

The Final Analysis

brother XM2701_front_view

Customer satisfaction doesn’t lie. The Brother XM2701 has a huge number of customer reviews, and those reviews demonstrate overwhelming satisfaction. 

However, we’re still mystified about why the price is so much higher than that of comparable machines. It’s not a heavy duty sewing machine, and the user complaints about bobbin thread issues and even the bobbin case suggest that the quality of manufacture doesn’t justify the price tag. 

For our money, we’d choose the Brother XM3700, which is a more or less identical machine that costs less. That’s not to say that the XM2701 is a bad machine. It isn’t. But it does appear to be overpriced.

On the other hand, if you can find the Brother XM2701 at a discount, then you could find yourself with an excellent machine that’s also excellent value for money.

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