Brother SE400 Review

Brother SE400 Computerized Embroidery and Sewing Machine With USP Port

When I moved back to California after living in Italy for thirteen years, I couldn’t bring my ancient, but beloved, Elna sewing machine with me. My first thought was to replace the Elna — that is until I saw the prices! So I started looking around for a machine I could afford.

I wanted to try the new stitches and features offered by modern, computerized sewing machines. And I remembered how much I had enjoyed embroidering as a child, so I wanted a machine that would do embroidery too. I started my extensive research with the Brother SE400 Computerized Sewing and Embroidery Machine because it’s the number-one best-selling embroidery machine on amazon.com.

The Brother SE-400 has 70 built-in embroidery designs, 5 monogramming fonts, 120 frame pattern combinations, 4×4 inch maximum embroidery area, USB port and cable that connects to your computer for importing additional designs, 67 built-in sewing stitches including 10 styles of one-step automatic buttonholes, and much more that I’ll tell you about below.

Combination Sewing and Embroidery Machine

Brother SE-400 Sewing

The Brother SE400 Sewing My Long Blue Skirt

The Brother SE400 is both an intermediate level sewing machine and a beginner embroidery machine in one compact machine. As a sewing machine, it does all the normal sewing functions including mending and alterations, garment construction, craft and heirloom sewing, and quilting and has special stitches to support each function. As an embroidery machine, it embroiders designs, monograms, fonts, borders, and appliques.

It’s simple to change from sewing to embroidery and back again. You just slide the embroidery arm off or on, change the presser foot, needle, thread, and you’re ready to go.

A combination machine is perfect for you if, like me, you don’t have room to store or set up two machines. Or if you need a new sewing machine or want to upgrade and also want to get into machine embroidery.

Easy-to-Use Touch Screen Controls

You control all of the sewing and embroidery functions and settings with the LCD touch-screen. You can either touch the icons with your finger or use the included stylus. One reason I chose Brother was because I don’t have to hook the machine up to my computer to embroider. It’s all controlled right here with the front panel and built-in software.

Right side of Control Panel

Operation Keys to the Right of the LCD Display

The keys on the right side of the panel are used for main navigation, settings, saving embroidery designs to memory, and online-help.

The keys in the left column, top to bottom are:

  • Back Key – Return to the previous screen.
  • Previous Page Key – Go to the previous page to view items that won’t fit on the display.
  • Next Page Key – Go to the next page to view items that won’t fit on the display.
  • Memory Key – Save the selected design to memory.

The keys in the right column, top to bottom are:

  • Sewing Stitch Key – Go to the sewing home screen – select and setup the sewing stitches.
  • Embroidery Key – Go to the embroidery home screen – Select and edit designs.
  • Settings Key – Control and view various settings for the machine.
  • Help Key – Online-help with basic operations on using the machine.
Sewing Home Control Screen

Sewing Home Control Screen

The main control panel for sewing appears when you turn on the machine and the embroidery unit is not attached.

You can select from 67 utility stitches and adjust the stitch length, width, etc. For each stitch, the panel shows you the width and length, presser foot, whether a twin needle can be used, and other settings.

Embroidery Home Control Screen

Embroidery Home Control Screen

The main control panel for embroidery appears when you turn on the machine and the embroidery unit is attached.

Touch an icon to embroider a built-in design, words and letters using the fonts, or a frame pattern. You can also select a design from an embroidery card, the machine’s memory, or one copied from your computer using the USB port. The last key moves the embroidery unit back to its “home” position.

Beyond this main embroidery menu are a series of screens that allow you to choose various functions and settings to set up your embroidery.


Embroidery Functions

I’m assuming you want to get into embroidery because if you only want a sewing machine, you don’t need the Brother SE400. There are many other sewing machines to choose from, and you’ll get more value for your money if you buy a dedicated sewing machine. So I’ll cover the embroidery features first and get to the sewing side of the machine in a minute.

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Brother SE400 has a 4x4 inch embroidery area
4×4 inch Embroidery Area

4 Inch x 4 Inch Maximum Embroidery Area

The Brother SE400 has a 4 inch by 4 inch embroidery frame. This means that the maximum design size that you can stitch at one time is about 3.875 x 3.875 inches because there has to be room inside the hoop for the embroidery foot to travel. If you want to stitch a larger design you either have to split it with software and stitch the pieces separately, or you can build up the design from smaller elements by moving the hoop or re-hooping the fabric. The optional large multi-position hoop makes this easier.

I love my Brother SE400, but I do wish it had a bigger hoop size. However, moving up to a larger hoop size is a lot more expensive and out of my budget. So I’m OK with the limitation for now.

Most designs are available for the 4×4 inch hoop, but some are only for 5×7 or larger. Whether the 4×4 hoop is OK for you depends on the type of projects you want to embellish.

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Brother SE400 USB Port and Cable
USB Port with Cable
Connects To Your Computer

USB Port For Downloading Designs

No matter how many built-in embroidery patterns your machine has, sooner or later you’re going to want something different. Or you’ll have something particular in mind for a special project. So one of the most important features to consider when you’re looking at embroidery machines is how do you get additional designs into the machine.

The Brother SE400 Sewing and Embroidery Machine comes equipped with a USB port so you can transfer your designs quickly and easily from your computer to the machine. Just connect the SE400 to your computer with the included USB cable. You can transfer designs found on CD’s, the Internet and more with a simple copy and paste, or drag and drop. You don’t need any additional software. It works with both Windows and Macintosh using the computer’s software.

The Brother SE400 can save up to 12 embroidery designs or 512 KB of embroidery data in its memory pods. The built-in memory allows you to keep frequently used designs such as your child’s name in the machine for faster and easier stitching. It’s also useful for downloading several designs to stitch out later without being connected to the computer.

The SE400 only reads designs in .pes or .dst (with some limitations) embroidery data file formats. The .pes format is a very common, standard format. You can find free or reasonably priced designs on many websites.

For detailed, step-by-step instructions on downloading embroidery patterns using the USB port and cable, see my article, How To Download Embroidery Designs Into A Brother SE400.

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Brother SE400 Embroidery Card Slot
Embroidery Card Slot With Card

Embroidery Card Slot

The Brother SE400 also has a card slot for reading embroidery designs from Brother embroidery cards. This lets you use thousands of additional Brother embroidery designs including the Nickelodeon Collection and special licensed Disney characters.

You can write your own designs on cards if you prefer to manage your collection on embroidery cards rather than on your computer. But you will need an optional card writer and software.

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70 Built-In Embroidery Designs

The Brother SE400 has 70 built-in embroidery designs including flowers, scrolls, capital script letters, animals, and holiday motifs. You just select one of these designs using the LCD touch screen and the machine will guide you step-by-step through the stitching. When it’s time to change colors, the it will stop and tell you to load the next color. Practicing with these designs is the best and fastest way to get started because you always have them at your finger tips without trying to learn about downloading at the same time.

These are just basic designs to get you started and may not be to your taste. Bur remember you can easily download other designs.

Ten shapes such as circles, squares, diamond, shields, even a heart can be combined with 12 stitch patterns such as straight, scalloped or other decorative stitch, to create 120 different frame styles you can use to stitch a border around the embroidery design.

Brother SE400 Built-in Embroidery Designs

Brother SE400 Has 70 Built-in Embroidery Designs

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Brother SE400 built-in fonts
5 Built-in Embroidery Fonts

Five Built-In Embroidery Fonts

The Brother SE400 has five built-in fonts that include the upper and lower case letters, number, symbols, and accented characters for non-English language. Just select the font from the LCD screen, type in the name or word and press go. You can use the fonts to personalize clothes, pillows, towels, etc right out of the box.

You can select one of three sizes for the lettering. The exact size and spacing of the letters is slightly different depending on the font, but the small size is approximately 3/8 x 3/8 inch, the medium size is 5/8 x 5/8 inches and the large size is 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches.


Watch a Demo by the Enthusiasts at HSN

This video from HSN demonstrates the Brother HE-240 Sewing and Embroidery machine with USB port. It’s an exclusive model Brother made for HSN. The HE-240 is the same machine as the SE-400 with some extra accessories and a bonus.

In the video, she demonstrates the features and emphasizes how easy the machine is to use because of the LCD touchscreen and online instructions. She also shows some embroidery projects and talks about the advantages of the USB cable.

HSN sells the HE-240 for more than $500 after adding shipping and handling. You can get the SE-400 for more than $150 less at Amazon.com. The advantage of HSN is the extra accessories and bonus and the monthly payment plan. Be sure to check the prices of the ones you want. You may still get a better deal by buying them separately. Check out the HE240 at HSN.com. And check today’s price of the SE-400 on Amazon.com.

So Many Possibilities And Yet So Easy To Use

The Brother SE400 is interactive and intuitive with the large, backlit, touch-screen control. It’s so easy to operate and understand. You just look at that LCD screen and see the patterns and scroll through all the different ones. You pick one and up it comes. It shows you all the different colors so you can line your colors up in advance. It’s all push button and there they are. How easy is that?

>>>*** Here’s My Current Recommendation For The Best Value *** <<<;
Click here to see today’s price.

 

Click here to discover all the other great features and benefits of the Brother SE400.

Please Join The Conversation

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Our Readers Respond ...

  1. Jason says

    I bought this machine and have used it only a couple of times – went to use it this past week and the thread feeding just fell off. Additionally, the material feed dogs no longer engage the material and causes the thread to bunch up in the bobin area.

    I’m completely dissatisfied with this product!!!!

  2. Sarah says

    Hello, I have a brother se 400 and I usually just use to make dresses for my daughter. Today I attempted to embroider, but I kept getting an error message of “raise presser foot”. The presser foot was raised and I checked this several times. I read manual and lookd on the Brother site for trouble shooting and FAQ’s and I didnt find any information that seemed to help. Do you have any advice? Thanks.

  3. Jane Randall says

    I just can’t seem to understand the basic things about this machine although I have sewn on a
    more basic machine for years. For example, If I want a longer stitch, I can’t get it. Or I can’t make
    the zig-sag stitch longer. Can you help. Also, I know the tension must be incorrect at 4 because
    the thread is not even on both side of the fabric

  4. Judy says

    I purchased a 1/4 foot a
    To go with my SE400 machine, but when I put it on the needle keeps breaking. Can you help me?

  5. Julie says

    I just got my brother pe500 today and no matter what I try when I mess up and stop the machine then press the thread cutter button the needle just goes into the fabric comes back up but DOES NOT CUT. am I doing something wrong or if my machine messed up?

  6. Hannah says

    Hi Kamala,

    Thank you for taking the time to put this site together and to answer questions. I have found your site very helpful. I have had my SE400 for about 6 months, and I love it! I use it for monogramming and appliqués to sell for my business. I don’t have any issues with embroidery. However, I am a novice when it comes to actually sewing. I just tried to sew on it for the first time yesterday. As long as it is in the slowest setting, it sews fine, but if I try to increase the speed at all, it stalls and grinds. I’ve tried adjusting the tension, changing the needle and re-threading. Do you have any suggestions or advice as to what I might be doing wrong? I appreciate your help!

  7. Kellee says

    In need of help quick….I have an SE400 and yesterday I was in the middle of an applique that was stitching beautifully. I did a color change and then all of a sudden the upper thread began to wad up under my design. When i took the bobbin casing out, what I found was when I would put the needle down to grab the bobbin thread, then tug on the upper thread to bring it up, the upper thread would get looped on the metal casing around the bobbin casing. I hope that makes sense. When it would loop, you could not pull it all the way back up. This is what I suspect is causing the mess up. I’ve brushed everything down, changed the needle but to no avail. I can’t get my machine back working. Please help!!!!!!!!!!! :(

    • Kamala says

      Hi Kellee, It’s interesting that it happened after a color change. So I wonder if the upper thread is not threaded correctly. Since you took the bobbin case out and brushed everything, I assume you’ve cleaned the race according to the instructions on page 152 in the manual. Make sure the bobbin and case are back in correctly and threaded correctly. Normally I stitch without pulling the bobbin thread up manually. It comes up automatically. But looking at page 29 in the manual, did you pass the bobbin thread through the slot first? And then press the Needle position button? Other than that, I don’t know. I’ve never had this happen.

  8. Marty Tamblyn says

    Brand new machine, and already a major issue. On my 6th embroidery project the thread kept creating bird nests and breaking. First was a few every so often but it became a regular occurrence. Now anything I put in breaks automatically. I have tried all the tricks to no avail. I even tried to take the white plastic case off to look at the tension discs. They seem to be seperated and have a grey metal piece pushing on the backside causing them to seperate (design flaw) I could now get them to come together. So there is no tension on the machine causing the thread to bunch gather, fray and then break…As it is so new I don’t think I would recommend this machine to any of my customers. I can’t find a repair manual. Is there any advice to offer?

    • Kamala says

      Hi Marty, I’ve only had a problem with bird nests one time when I didn’t securely attach a baseball cap to the stabilizer. It slipped, bent the needle and made quite a mess. But after cleaning the race (page 152 in the manual), replacing the needle and rethreading top and bobbin, it was fine. I’ve never taken the machine apart so I don’t know anything about the grey metal piece, but messing around with the tension discs sounds dicy to me. I don’t know of a repair manual. But since the machine is brand new, it’s still under warranty. So if it doesn’t work, it should go to a dealer for repair.

    • Hannah says

      To Marty and Kellee:

      Are you using polyester thread? Make sure if you are embroidering that you are using polyester 40wt thread. That said, different brands of thread are different of course, but a lot of the polyester threads are very slick and silky. Try turning up the tension on the dial on the top of your machine. For a lot of my threads, I have to up the tension to about 6 or 7. My machine used to get those knots under my design occasionally, creating a giant mess and causing the project to take way longer than it should have, or even ruining it all together. Since I have increased the tension to about 7 I haven’t had this problem a single time (knock on wood ;-)). Hope this helps! If not, you may want to try calling Brother to see if they can troubleshoot the problem with you, or take it to a repair shop. If it’s been less than a year since you bought it, take your receipt with you, and it should be free. When you get the kinks worked out and get the hang of it, you will love this machine!

  9. mary says

    Hi Kamala, do you put the feedogs down yourself with switch on the back of the machine before embroidering, or does it automatically switch it over? I don’t see it saying to change it to feed dogs down in the book, but assume it should be that way just like for free-motion quilting.

    • Kamala says

      Hi Mary, the feed dogs automatically stay down when the embroidery unit is attached even when the switch is on the up position.You have to lower them manually for free-motion quilting and also for sewing on buttons.

  10. Debra Gonzales says

    Hello, I recently purchased an brother se400. I am very excited about this machine but am having some problems teaching myself to use it. I am trying to do a machine applique and need help. I am confused because my designs involve applique and embroidery so I’m not sure what to do. One shirt will have the number 3 appliqued with material and hopefully satin stiched, however the pattern also as the name embroidered at the base of the design. Really confused. Can you help?

  11. nola says

    This page is wonderful and to Mechile how did u fix the automatic thread cutter mine is only cutting the bobbin thread and thank you

  12. Renee says

    I have has my machine for a couple of years and just started having a trouble with the tread cutter function. When I press the button it doesn’t cut the thread and it makes a grinding noise. I can see the cutter is moving but the machine doesn’t seen to be holding the thread tight enough to cut it. Any suggestions besides to take it to someone to be repaired?

  13. Bonnie Taylor says

    I’m looking at buying the Brother SE400 and really appreciate finding your web site. I can see I’ll be back many times! I was wondering on that machine is there a drop down feed dog or do you have to use a plate over the feed dogs. It looks like it has all the features and then some that I am looking for in a new machine. I am replacing a 25 year old Kenmore which has been a great machine but has a small basting stitch. Thanks for your time!

    • Kamala says

      Welcome, Bonnie. Yes, the Brother SE400 has a drop-down feed dog. You have to keep it down for embroidery because the fabric moves all over and is not just fed straight through like sewing a seam. I love my SE400!

  14. Mechile says

    Can you help me. I have the SE400 and I only use it to Embroidery with as I have a brother sewing machine already. I have had my machine about 4 or 5 years now and have had small problems from time to time but have always been able to fix them by looking on the Internet for suggestions. This past week my machine started saying that “the safety device has been activated” I looked my book and it said it might be the needle or the upper thread getting tangled up with the bobbin, but none of those fixed my machine and I’ve looked and looked and can’t find any suggestions when I ran across your site. It’s wonderful by the way. I have saved it to my favorites and can’t wait to read more about the stuff you have to say, but I couldn’t find anyone else asking the same questions as mine. So if you have any suggestions or anyone else on your site, I’d love the help. This has been a wonderful machine. I’ve fixed the automatic threader myself… it just feel off one day not long after I got it and I wasn’t taking it 100miles to get it fixed.. then figured out how to fix it and have done so 2 times in the past few years.
    Thanks for any help.

    • Kamala says

      Hi Mechile, Congratulations on figuring out how to fix all that yourself. The only time I got the “the safety device has been activated” error is when the needle was bent. Changing to a new needle fixed it. Have you tried replacing the needle? You could also try thoroughly cleaning the race and bobbin area. Make sure the bobbin case, bobbin, and needle plate around the hole aren’t scratched or have a burr on it. Hope this helps. It’s hard to know exactly what causes it without seeing it because there are several things.

  15. Kathy Kahler says

    When I purchased my SE400 last summer, it came with a 5 x 7 hoop, rather than the 4 x 4 that I though I was getting. I was happy because I liked being able to do bigger projects. I purchased several applique and embroidery designs over the Internet and didn’t have any problems. I just purchased a program called “Letter It” because I wanted to be able to do multiple lines of text and text merged with designs. The program allows me to save files in multiple formats, including .DST and 5 versions of .PES. I created a simple 2-line text file and tried saving it as a .PES file. When I tried downloading it to my sewing machine, it didn’t recognize it. I tried all the other .PES versions with the same result. After doing a Google search and finding your blog, I discovered that Brother recognizes .DST format, so I saved the file as .DST and had success. However, when I try to enlarge the text and resave the file, the sewing machine tells me it’s too big for the frame size. On the computer screen, the design fits in the hoop just fine. It’s like the .DST file format thinks I have a 4 x 4 inch hoop. I’m very frustrated and wonder if you have any experience with this software or this problem. Thanks for any help you can provide.

    • Kamala says

      Hi Kathy, the hoop that comes with the SE400 is physically more or less 5×7 inches, but it’s not a hoop that lets you do larger projects. The SE400 cannot stitch a larger embroidery area than 4×4 inches. This is a physical limitation of the machine and has nothing to do with the size of the hoop. The hoop has to be larger than 4×4 so that the embroidery foot doesn’t hit the edge of a 4×4 inch design. .PES files should work, but the SE400 won’t recognize any design larger than about 3.9×3.9 inches. Even if you have the large, multi-position hoop, you can’t stitch a larger design — only in blocks of 3.9×3.9. The only way is to split the design with software and stitch it in pieces. But I think it’s very difficult to get the pieces properly lined up and I’ve never tried it.

  16. Alice says

    I also have this machine and I love it. I did have a problem today that has me baffled. I hope you can help me with it. I downloaded a cinderella shoe off the computer to my machine. It started doing well at first but all of a sudden the top thread it just laying on the fabric and not going down to the bobbin. I did new thread, needles, bobbins etc. Nothing worked. i am so frustrated. I do not want to take it in for repair as I just bought it online recently. The last time I took my other Brother in he charged me $80 service charge for a 75cent part!! So have you had any problem like this or can you give me an idea what might be going on? I need help!!

  17. Terri says

    My SE-400s needle will not come up its like it is stuck. I have taken it apart to make sure there is nothing stuck in any of it. I even removed the needle from it so I know it is not stuck in the bobbin which I also removed. It is like it is hung on something.

  18. Samantha Ri'Chard says

    Ms. Kamala,

    I have purchased the SE425 as a Christmas present to myself last year. The problem I’m having is that my button hole stitch will not complete the command it back stitches and cuts the thread when I haven’t selected that command. I love my machine, but is really heart breaking that I’m experiencing this problem. My question is being that I’m new to sewing is it something I’m doing wrong? I contacted Brother, the seller and reference my manual. Can you advise me on how to best remedy this matter.? At this point I seeking a refund on this $300 plus machine. This is my last ditch effort by contact you on this product.I really do love the Brother product over all the other brands. Help if you can, thank you.

    • Kamala says

      Hello Samantha, I’m so glad you love your SE425 and sorry you’re having this problem. I must confess, I don’t wear or sew tailored clothes like I use too, and so I haven’t used the buttonhole stitch yet. But since you say that it cuts the thread before you select that command, I wonder if you have the automatic thread-cutting feature turned on. You could try turning it off (see manual page 62) and see if that helps. Best of luck and happy sewing.

    • Kamala says

      Hi Cathie, that’s very easy because the SE400 doesn’t know what color thread you have loaded. So just thread the color you want and keep on going when it asks for the new color.

  19. Jen says

    I recently bought the brother se400. My problem with it is when I sew the thread wads on the fabric or it looks loose. I started to embroidery with it after I gave up on the sewing and the first thing I embroidered went fine the next time it broke up top and wadded underneath the fabric where the bobbin thread is so I had a mess and had to cut stuff and then clean out where the thread was wadded in the bobbin trey. What am I doing wrong and how can I correct this?

    • Kathy Kahler says

      Jen, when I first bought my Brother400, I had a little bit of an adjustment period with the threading. One thing I found was that you MUST buy the actual Brother bobbins, not the generic kind that say they will work in Brother machines. Also, be sure your bobbin is inserted with the thread going around the top in a counter-clockwise direction. Once I got those two things cleared up, I haven’t had any problems and love my machine.

  20. Leigh Peters says

    I have I hope an easy question, when making a bobbin for embroidery, can you use embroidery thread or should it be embroidery bobbin thread, I made a bobbin and then saw I had a spool of embroidery bobbin thread and thought uh oh? Thanks so much

    • Kamala says

      Hi Leigh, Good thinking! You should use embroidery bobbin thread. It’s a much finer, lighter weight thread than regular embroidery thread. It’s possible for special projects when you want the color on the back to use regular thread, but in general, you’ll get better results if you use the embroidery bobbin thread. Check the weight when you buy it, different machines use different weights. The SE400 uses #60.

  21. Judy says

    What size motor does the Brother SE400 have. I would like to know if it can do heavier materials like denim or canvas. Thank you!

  22. Carrie says

    Hi, I’m also a newbie to embroidering. So far it’s a love/hate relationship we are having. My question is…can you “skip” a section of a design. For instance, I have a design that has a saying under it. I want to leave the saying out. Anyway to just skip that box when it comes up? It is actually the first thing it sews on there.

    • Kamala says

      Hi Carrie, there’s a learning curve like all good things. You’ll go more towards “love” as you embroider more. If the saying is in a separate color, it’s easy to skip. You an skip by color or by stitch in the Layout Adjustment panel. Look at page 147 and following in the manual. It’s talking about other kinds of troubleshooting, but the pictures will show you the controls.You can skip by stitch, but that’s going to be very tedious. The easiest way is to use embroidery editing software. But that has a learning curve of its own that you probably aren’t ready for.

  23. michele hawkins says

    Hi I’m new to this. I love to sew but embroidery is new to me on a home machine. How do you embroider 2 words but not side by side but instead one word underneath the other on the brother se 400? Anyone know how to set that up?

  24. Susan says

    I am trying to embroider dog collars ( Nylon webbing). It works great until it goes to the next letter than the thread breaks. Can anyone tell me why? Thanks.

  25. Jodi Day says

    Hi. Such an informative site!! Thanks so much. I am going to purchase the SE400 today at Walmart. Is there anything else I should buy to go with it so get started back into sewing?? I am brand new to embroidery! Thank you.

    • michele hawkins says

      Im new at the home machine also but you do need tear away or cut away backing and stabalizer for top depending what you’re embroidering on.

  26. margartet vest says

    HELP!!!!!! I got my SE400 for xmas after a lot of hinting. I am having some trouble…… how do I combine a frame and a letter? How do I line up letters? PLEASE!!!!! Can anyone help?

  27. Roxana Flores says

    the monogram that I need is the 3 letter fonts the one in the middle is bigger and I don’t know if I need to purchase an additional software anybody please I need help

  28. Lisa says

    Just purchased the brother lb6800prw. I have already embroidered several towels for Christmas gifts. Super fun and easy. Never embroidered before. What software do you recommend for embroidering font in a split pattern with a larger hoop? Want to use larger font for longer words but limited to the 4×4 area. Some have mentioned software to split the pattern but not sure what software has this capability?

  29. Terri Wagnon says

    I like on the information you have shared. I will be referring back to your site. I have purchased the SE400 and I am going to open it up this weekend and start using it.
    I am glad to know that you are there for any questions or comments I might have for you.
    Thanks again and nice to meet you.

  30. Diana G says

    I am thinking of purchasing this machine to upgrade my sewing machine (over 30 years old) and to delve into machine embroidery (totally new to me).

    I have a newbie question – I’m assuming that when purchasing embroidery designs, they can be re-used, correct – (just as factory-installed embroidery designs)?

    Thank you-

    • Kamala says

      Hi Diana,
      Oh yes, regular designs can be re-used. If you purchase designs from Brother’s iBroidry site, your account is attached to your machine. So you might not be able to use them with another machine. Not sure how that works. On other sites, be sure to check the designer’s license. Some have limitations like for commercial work.

  31. Sharon says

    Just bought my first embroidery card for my SE400. Plugged it in and nothing happens. What am I doing wrong? Do I need to use the cable and hook it up to my computer to read what is on the card or…or..or. Help!

    • Kamala says

      Hi Sharon, No, you don’t need to hook the SE400 to the computer to read a card. Put it in, turn the machine on. Did you press the card icon? Have a look at page 138 in the manual for a picture of the card icon and the next steps.

  32. Elise says

    Hi—Wondering if you’ve had any problems while using the embroidery function and the bottom bobbin thread pulling through. It does this for me more often then not! I try to rethread everything but I still get the same results!! What am I overlooking?? Help!!
    Many thanks,
    Elise H

  33. Andres says

    Hi, could you please confirm that the 5 embroidery fonts include accented characters for non-English language? Thank you.

  34. Axle says

    Hi I have this machine and i been having problems with filling the bobbin and it likes to put it on so tight at times that I have to unwind all the thread and try again also I all having trouble getting it to start threading. What am I doing wrong? I am also wanting to know what metal bobbins are compatible with this machine. Thanks.

    • Kamala says

      Hi Atared,
      I do not sell this machine or anything else. I write about using them.
      In the United States, Amazon.com and stores like Walmart sell them. Amazon will also ship to some other countries. The price changes daily. Click the above link to see the current price and if Amazon ships to your country. Brother does sell it all over the world, probably under a different model number because there are differences — voltage for one. Other than that, I don’t know anything about buying it in other countries. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  35. Adam Wortham says

    I am looking into buying a machine for my wife, she is wanting one that will do sewing and embroidery. I was told by a friend to get her one that has a USB port, and that you can buy accessories for allowing her to do bigger then a 4×4. Would this be a good machine for her?

    • Kamala says

      Hi Adam,
      I can’t say if this would be a good machine for your wife because it depends on your budget and what exactly she wants to do.

      I agree that a USB port is essential for downloading embroidery designs. There are two kinds. The SE400 has the kind that takes a cable that connects to your computer. This is good if you have a laptop you can move next to the machine. The other kind of USB port takes a USB thumb drive which is more convenient if you don’t want your machine next to the computer.

      About the 4×4 area, your friend isn’t exactly right. All embroidery machines have a maximum embroidery area that they can stitch. This is often confused with hoop size, but it’s really a hardware limitation of the machine. You can get a “large” hoop for the SE400. But it doesn’t allow you to stitch designs larger than 4×4 inches. It’s really a “multi-position” hoop. It allows you to stitch 2 or 3 designs without rehooping the fabric which saves time and makes it easier to get the designs lined up. This is great, for example, to stitch a motif on a towel or baby bib with a name underneath. Have a look at my review of this hoop to see how this works.

      The other thing you can do is split large designs with embroidery software. You then stitch each 4×4 inch piece separately. But this requires an advanced level of hooping and positioning skill to get lined up and smooth.

      I love my SE400. For me, it was a matter of value for money. If I had had a thousand dollars or two to spend, I probably would have gotten a larger, fancier machine. But I didn’t. I sometimes wish for a larger area than 4×4, but not often or bad enough to spend the extra money. These are projects like large lace Christmas angels or some in-the-hoop projects.

      I would suggest cutting out a 3.8″ x 3.8″ shape and put it on various items your wife wants to embroidery. So she can see how big a design she can easily work with. It’s pretty big for most things, but if she wants to decorate a whole shirt or jacket back, she’s going to need a larger machine.

  36. Ariana Millan says

    Hi Kamala,
    I am interesting in buying the SE 400 machine. I am a little bit confused on how you can import images from the computer or internet. I am huge Disney fan and wanted to make shirts for my daughters. Could I just download a mickey head from the internet that is a JPEG file or would I need a software to convert the file. Also, if i wanted to customize it would I need a software. If i do need a software, which would be the best one to purchase at an economical price for the things that i want to do (download any JPEG file and convert it to a .PES file)

    I also just recently purchased a CD from EBAY with Disney embroidery images and the seller said that i needed a software to put the images on the machine to be able to customize my design…. Is this true?

    This is an example of something i would like to do:

    http://img3.etsystatic.com/014/0/7387197/il_fullxfull.452009867_djqj.jpg

    Last but not least, will this machine be able to do all the things i just asked above?

    Thank So Much!!!!
    Ariana

  37. Florence ledbetter says

    I have a SE 350 It has started making a grinding noise coming from the back of the machine when trying to embroidery. It cant go from slow to high speed with out it grinding, and the safety device has been activated comes on. The wheel feels tight at some points like something hung.

    • Kamala says

      Oh dear, that’s not good. It sounds like something has gotten into the innards of the machine-maybe a piece of a broken needle. You could try taking it apart and cleaning it as much as you can. Look in the manual for instructions. But you should probably take it to a repair shop, before it gets damaged further.

  38. Crystal says

    Hey I’m new at doing appliqués and I just cannot get them to turn out right:( when I use a stabilizer the thread always jams/tangles on the bobbin side. Do you know what could cause this? I’m doing the appliqué on a tshirt and use the peel away stabilizer.
    Thanks
    Crystal

    • Kamala says

      Hey, Crystal, thanks for stopping by.
      It could be the stabilizer. Knits are tricky to stabilize. I use cut-away stabilizer on the bottom (back) and water-soluble on the top. Is peel-away the same as tear away? Tear away isn’t strong enough for knits. It tends to separate during embroidery. Or is it adhesive with a peel off back? I haven’t tried that. I hoop the cut-away stabilizer and use spray adhesive to attach the tee-shirt. (I don’t hoop the tee-shirt itself because it can cause stretching and marks on the shirt.) If it doesn’t seem secure enough, I sometimes pin it. Then I put a loose piece of water-soluble on top to keep the stitching from sinking into the knit. I’m work on a tutorial for this, since I think this answer needs photos.
      Hope this helps,
      Kamala

  39. Julia says

    Hi Kamala,

    I’m new to Embroidery. I just bought brother SE400. How can I install/copy new fonts to the machine?? I want to embroider letters on my daughter’s jacket using Goudy light font, but it’s not preloaded on the machine. The 5 fonts came with machine are too big for me even I choose the small size. What do I need to import different fonts to machine? And once I import it, does it appear as one of function on LCD screen?
    Thanks!!!

    • Kamala says

      Hi Julia,
      You’ll need software to use fonts from your computer. Embird has an add-on called Font Engine that does it. You’ll also need the basic software: Embird Editor. “TrueType and OpenType fonts are scalable vector files, which allows Font Engine to produce lettering in a large size scale, from about 5 millimeters (1/5″) up to 30 cm (12″).” There are other software packages that do this too. You use Embird to create the design you want using the Goudy light font from your computer. Then import that design (See my tutorial on importing.) Once you import it, you can save it to one of the 12 memory slots and retrieve it later with the LCD screen. But there’s no way to install additional fonts that you can use like the built-in fonts to make words. You have to create the words using software and then import the whole design.

      You could buy or find free alphabet letter designs which look like letters, but are not fonts. They are regular embroidery design files. You would still need to build the words from the individual letter files using software on your computer. Theoretically, you could stitch it one letter at a time. But I don’t recommend this as I’ve found it impossible to get the lined up and spaced nicely. The SE400 cannot combine designs. It can only stitch one at a time. To combine designs, you need software that runs on your computer such as Embird or SewWhatPro. Both have 30-day free trials, so you can see if you like it before buying. There’s a lot of personal taste involved in choosing software.

      • Julia says

        Thanks Kamala! I will check out software as you suggested. This is more complicated than I expected. Thanks for the information.
        Julia

  40. Jody says

    Hi Kamala,
    Thank you so much for your response.
    I have received my new machine. The first thing I noticed was the bobbin case was very different from the first machine. I believe the first machine was missing pieces.
    This second machine was obviously not new. The manual is torn, the cd is scratched but the machine is sewing much better however the top stitch is still coming through to the bobbin stitch but not very much and yet is is not the clean stitch I was expecting. I have cleaned the bobbin case and played with the tension between 4-5. My machines are coming from amazon and they are great with making the exchange. I am thinking of exchamging once again for #3. What would you do?
    Thank you so much for your advice.
    Jody

  41. Jody says

    Hi again.
    I have returned the machine for a replacement and hopefully the tension in the new one will be set correctly. I read all the great reviews and want the same experience!!!
    Has the tension been an issue with this machine?
    I was sewing on light cotton (double layer). The top thread was both sides and the bobbin was barely visable – I had the top tension all the way to a 7 and was not successful in getting any improvment. A straight stitch was not so bad but anyother stitch was way off. Do you know of a solution for this. The brother rep said the tension should stay between the 4 & 5 for most projects.
    I used prewound bobbin as well as one I wound on the machine and that didn’t matter, I cleaned the bobbin case as I explained before and I rethreaded the machine several times. And tried different thread.
    I have sewn alot and yet Ive never really been comfortable setting tension. Is it something I might be doing wrong? I just don’t want to start out with a new machine that’s faulty but I don’t want to return a good machine because I have set something wrong.

    • Kamala says

      Hi Jody,
      Sorry for not answering your previous question soon, I’ve been gone all day. It sounds like you’ve already done what I would suggest: Check the top threading and the bobbin, paying careful attention to the places in the manual ( p. 27-36) where it mentions points that can affect the tension.

      It sounds like you are sewing rather than embroidering, but the pre-wound bobbin has embroidery thread which is a lighter thread than regular sewing thread.

      I’ve never had a problem with tension with my machine. The top tension is set to 4 and a half. I rarely change it. I checked the manual again (Adjusting the Tension: p. 59-60), but it doesn’t seem to be what you describe. Your problem doesn’t seem to be caused by the tension setting or else there is something wrong with the machine.

      The problems other people have are usually caused by threading: not getting the bobbin set right (push down on the middle of it with your finger), not catching the bobbin thread in the tension-adjusting spring, not raising the presser foot, not getting the top thread on the thread guide spring. You should be able to feel some tension in the top thread when you pull on it.

      You’ve already sent the machine back, so we’ll have to wait for the new one. Hopefully, it’ll work well for you. Let me know how it goes.
      Kamala

  42. Jody says

    Kamala,
    Help. I received my se400 for my birthday. I cannot get a nice stitch. The tension is way off and I called for advice from brother and he explained how to clean the bobbin case but that did not cure the problem he then told me to take it to a service center but there is not a service center closer than 70 miles from me and I am concerned that I am starting with a faulty machine. What would you suggest.

    • Kamala says

      Hi Sharon,
      You create your own designs with software that runs on your computer. Then you copy the designs to the SE400 via the USB port. One thing I like about the Brother SE400 is that you’re not tied to the manufacturer’s software that runs on the machine. You can use any embroidery editing software that runs on your computer to create designs. I’m not sure what you mean by a circular attachment. You can get a small hoop that’s sometimes circular for doing socks and things.

  43. Blake says

    Hi Kamala! I just got my SE400 and have been really excited to try it! Tonight was my first go and I keep getting a “Safety Device Has Been Activated” message. In the manual, it said that the upper thread is tangled and the needle is bent. I replaced the needle 3 times and I don’t think it is that- do you have any other suggestions? I did notice that when winding the bobbin originally it did snag a little in the middle causing some tangles- not sure if the machine can sense that and just halts? Thanks so much!! :)

    • Kamala says

      Hi Blake, I had that message once. I was embroidering a cap and it got loose from the stabilizer, broke the upper thread, bent the needle and tangled up the bobbin thread. It was quite a mess! The needle should be OK, since you replaced it. I think it’s the bobbin. I guess you’re sewing since you wound the bobbin. Try winding it again. Make sure the thread is in the pretension disk when it comes around to the bobbin. Pull it a little to make sure there’s tension. I missed this once and the bobbin wound too loose and didn’t work. Make sure it’s wound smooth and tight. I would worry about snags and tangles, even a little. I’m not sure what the machine can sense – it’s very clever. ;-) In my case, I also had to clean the bobbin case to get it to go. You could try this too just to make sure. See the manual, page 152 – Cleaning the race. Then make sure the upper thread is treaded correctly and not caught on anything. Hope this helps. Let me know how you make out. Kamala

      • Blake says

        Hi Kamala, thanks for those tips! I finally figured out what happened- seems I took a wrong turn when upper threading (sort of ashamed to admit that one since there is a number system in place- haha), then we had a hard time figuring out how to raise the needle for threading. In the instructional video it didn’t show the wheel on the side- go figure :) Anyway- we are rocking and rolling now on basic stiching. We tried our hand at embroidery too- but ended up with a big hole in the fabric and quite a huge ball of thread that jammed the machine. I think we may just have to tackle that one tomorrow night before my husband throws this thing in the neighbor’s bushes :) By the way- I can’t say enough how thankful I am you have this site and your responses….so very helpful :) Have a great evening!

  44. Deb says

    I just purchased the SE400 and am very happy so far, however I am having a problem that is not listed in the manual troubleshooting. I am embroidering numbers which have suddenly started showing up mostly with the white bobbin color and only a small percentage of the yellow top color?
    Can you tell me what is wrong?
    Thank you

    • Jaqueline says

      Hi Deb,

      I have the same problem. Did you find the solution?
      I am stuck with my project. I would appreciate your help.

  45. Louise says

    I’m trying to help a friend with her SE400. Our problem comes when we put a design on the card using PED Basic. It says it erases everything on the card when the new design is put on. Isn’t it possible to store many designs on the card? Thanks so much.

    • Kamala says

      Hi Louise, yes PED Basic rewrites the whole card every time. So you have to also copy the old designs you want to keep.

      Scroll up to the top of the browse box and see the card at the top. Click on the card and you should see your designs on the card in the list on the left side. Move the ones you want to save to the right side of the screen. Then go to your embroidery folder and load the *new* designs. When you’ve loaded all the new designs, press the Write button on the bottom and all the designs (old and new) will be written to the card.

      Hope this is clear and helps. I don’t use PED Basic. I find it easier to download the designs from my computer using the USB cable. You can see my tutorial for how to do this.

      Some people do prefer to use cards instead. There are always advantages and disadvantages.

      Enjoy,
      Kamala

  46. Peppi says

    Forgot to ask a question. When I put the bobbin in, it says to cut it and you don’t have to pull up the thread to put under the presser foot like older machine. However, when I end my reverse stitching (regular straight stitch) and use the thread cutter button, it cuts the top thread, but when I pull my project away from under the presser foot, the bobbin thread is NOT cut and stays pulled up from the bobbin area underneath. What am I doing wrong that it won’t cut both threads at once? Thank you for your time!

    • Kamala says

      Hi Peppi,
      Sorry to take so long to answer — I’ve been out of town for a couple months taking care of my Mother and no time for embroidery.
      It works for me. I did just what you said: thread the bobbin, cut it, don’t pull it up. Sew and reverse, press the needle up button, press the thread cutter button. Both threads are cut. I’ve never had the bobbin thread not cut, but I’ve mostly been doing embroidery, so I tried it again just to make sure. So I don’t know what happened with your project. I hope you’ve figured it out by now and are happily sewing.

  47. Peppi says

    I just recently got my SE400 machine and been using it for a few weeks now. Just for sewing small projects. I am needing more bobbins. Do you know if the Brother SABOBBIN that you can purchase from Walmart stores fit the SE400 (which shows the SA156 bobbins). Another blog I read said they had used the bobbins from Walmart and had no problems. Great review, by the way!

    • Kamala says

      Hi Peppi,
      I finally made it over to Walmart with an SE400 original bobbin, but they didn’t have these bobbins. They had others that said worked for “most Brother machines,” but I couldn’t tell if they really fit the SE400 or not. The differences in hold size and bobbin height can be very small. So if other people say they work and if the aren’t too expensive, I’d try it. Glad you found the review helpful.

  48. Stephanie says

    Hi Kamala,

    I’m hoping you can help me out here. I’ve just purchased this machine, as I really want to get into embroidery, but I’m having a bit of trouble getting started. I think I may be missing some hardware where the bobbin goes, or inserting a bobbin in this machine is very different from any other sewing machine I’ve worked on. The space where the bobbin goes is largely open and it appears to “free float,” which, obviously, is not functional and bends my needles. Is there a trick to getting the bobbin in there, or do I have a bad machine and need to call brother? I can happily send you a pic of what I’m talking about if it would help.

    Thank you,

    Stephanie

    • Kamala says

      Hi Stephanie,
      That’s really weird. Inserting the bobbin is basically like my other sewing machines only easier. It does sound like you’re missing the bobbin case. I don’t know how much you can see in these pics, but in the first one, there is the bobbin case which holds the bobbin. The second one has the bobbin in it. I can jiggle the bobbin with my finger, but no way can it “free float” or go anywhere near the needle. The bobbin case holds it firmly in place.
      Blessings,
      Kamala

      Brother SE400 Bobbin Case

      Brother SE400 Bobbin in Case

    • Julie O. says

      I am in the same boat. My bobbin seems to free float as well. I have broken a needle and punctured a hole in a shirt. I am so extremely frustrated!

      • Kamala says

        Hi Julie,
        The bobbin shouldn’t free float. I think that’s why the needle is breaking and you’re getting the hole. You need to get the bobbin straightened out first. Do you have the metal bobbin case like in my photo above? Then I drop the bobbin on top of the round medal plate. It’s held firmly by the sides of the case. I can’t get it to free float or move more than a jiggle.
        Let me know what it looks like. I know these things are frustrating, but it sounds like something is wrong with your machine. Maybe it needs to go to a repair shop.
        With sympathy,
        Kamala

  49. Pam West says

    I also have the Brother SE400 machine but have not had very good luck with it. Has anyone had problems with the top thread coming undone while embroidering? It happens to me so much that I end up just turning the machine off and walking away because I am so mad!! I have gone back through all the instructions on how to thread the top thread, the bobbin, the settings, etc. and nothing helps!! Can anyone out there help me or direct me? Thank you!!

    Pam

    • Kamala says

      Hi Pam, I’m sorry to hear about your problems with the SE400. I’ve never had anything like this with mine. I’m not quite sure what you mean by the “top thread coming undone”. Do you mean it comes undone off the spool? Or when it embroiders, the top thread is just a mess of tangles on top? Does the bobbin catch the top thread at all or is the top thread just very loose on top? It does sound like a threading problem. After you thread it, pull on the thread. There should be a fair amount of resistance. If the thread pulls easily, it’s not threaded between the tension discs. Sometimes a bit of thread or dirt, can mess up the tension. Take the bobbin out and clean all around in there. Cut the top thread near the spool and pull it down through. This might clear out any pieces of frayed thread in there. What is your upper tension setting? Mine is a little less then 4 and a half which is how it came. I’v never had to adjust the tension, but yours could be off. Does it sew? If it sews OK, the threading and tension should be OK. Has it ever worked? You may need to take it to a dealer to be serviced. :-( Good luck. Hope this helps and you get it working. Kamala

  50. says

    Do you have a recommendation for a brand of pre-wound bobbins, I tried threadsRus, which are terrible and have cost me twice as much in time and ruined product as they cost new. I saw from your review of the Project Runway model that it comes with Pre-Wounds and I would guess they are Polystar like the embroidery threads, can you possibly confirm that?

    • Kamala says

      No, so far I’ve been winding my own bobbins. The Grand Slam package doesn’t say what brand the bobbins are, but I think that they are the same ThreadsRUs bobbins that Amazon sells separately here. I wonder if you got a bad batch to have had such a terrible experience. The reviews on amazon.com are pretty good.

    • Kamala says

      No, it is not possible to stitch larger than 4×4 at one time. You can fake it by stitching them separately. For example, you could stitch a 4×4 inch design first and then stitch a name under it. The multi-position hoop makes this easier. Or you can split the design with software. Then you end up with several embroidery design files, each one containing a 4×4 block. I’ve never tried this because I doubt my ability to get the pieces lined up correctly. But it is physically impossible for the embroidery mechanism of the SE400 to stitch in a larger frame. If you need to embroider larger designs, the SE400 is probably not the machine for you. Have a look at the Brother PE770. I would love to have a larger frame size myself, but those machines are more expensive and out of my budget.

  51. Deanna says

    I just got this machine for Christmas from my dear husband! I tried to embroider a design on a shirt for my daughter this evening, but I forgot to move the back out of the way, but how do you do that…(I ended up sewing from front all the way thru to the back OPPS) So, like for shirts that aren’t that big and onesies and such, how do you do that? Sorry I’m still very new at this! TIA.

    • Kamala says

      Hi Deanna,
      Lots of people have done that, too. It’s part of the learning curve. Onesies and small shirts are particularly hard to embroider. You have to sort of turn it half wrong-side out and embroider from inside, bunching the back and rest of the shirt up all around the needle part of the machine. Sometimes it’s too small to do that. Then you can rip open a seam or whatever you need to give you enough access and sew it back up after you finish the embroidery.

  52. Jaie says

    I’m seriously considering this machine, it’s one of the few in my budget range with some saving. I’ve looked at this one and the LB6800PRW, and from what I can tell with your reviews and others comes down to price, and gadgets. The PRW having a few more goodies with it than the SE400.

    My question is this, and they are probably a little silly but this would be my first embroidery machine.

    I currently sew with a White Rotary that is about 90 years old. It goes forward, it goes backward. That’s it. I’ve used newer machines (of course! And I love gadgets!) but I have NO clue about embroidery machines.

    First, can I sew with it? I mean, just plain old regular sewing? At most using a zig zag stitch? Or can this only be used for embroidery and I’ll still need to get a newer machine for regular sewing? I can’t invest in two machines, and while I want to be able to embroider, I’m more about the sewing.

    Secondly, I understand that this takes “PES files”, I’ve done some research on these, so I know what they are, but do both of these machines have the ability to hook it to my computer (I really am a gadget hussy) and download any old design I want (say from Urban Threads or other free sites) and use my machine to create with the designs? I’ve never seen the software to this machine so I have little clue how that entire thing works. I’d far rather have the machine that hooks into the computer that I can do what I want with.

    Thanks so much for this review, it has made me far more inclined towards this machine, and hopefully your answers will make me even more inclined to owning this machine.

    • Kamala says

      Hi Jaie,

      Some embroidery machines only embroider and can’t do regular sewing. One of the advantages of the SE400 and the LB6800PRW is that they are combination sewing and embroidery machines. They can do regular sewing with different stitches, automatic buttonholes, etc. I’m making a dress for New Years on mine right now. I should make this clearer in my review. I haven’t finished all the features yet. And put up a photo of it sewing. You can’t see it in the photos, but the embroidery unit comes off and then it looks just like a regular sewing machine.

      Both machines will hook up to your computer via the USB port for transferring over embroidery designs. You don’t need additional software for this. It’s just like copying a file to a hard drive. You can learn more in my post, How To Download Embroidery Designs Into A Brother SE400. You can download any design in PES format that fits the 4×4 inch hoop and stitch the design. (There are other limitations on the number of colors and stitches and file size, but that’s rarely a problem.) You only need additional software if you want to combine designs, or do advanced editing or create your own designs.

      I’m glad you found the review helpful. I love my SE400. I needed to replace my 40-year old Elna sewing machine and I can’t afford both a sewing machine and a larger embroidery-only machine.

      Blessings,
      Kamala

  53. melanie says

    I’m looking at purchasing this brother machine. Is it strong enough to sew through layered material such as a quilt?

    • Kamala says

      Hi Melanie,
      Yes, The SE400 will sew quilts. You might want to buy a couple of the optional feet specially for quilting.

  54. Marissa says

    I am wondering if it is possible to monogram a wallet on this machine. It is a quilted wallet that zips. Also, I am new to the sewing and embroidery world and would like to receive some helpful information on the correct needles, thread, and stablelizer to use when doing appliqueing and monogramming. Thanks in advance!