The Brother ST371HD Review – a Versatile Machine Capable of Sewing Leather

Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine
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An affordable, versatile and durable machine in the Brother ST371HD

If you’re looking for an affordable mechanical sewing machine that can do a range of sewing tasks including working with heavy fabrics, the Brother ST371HD could be for you. 

We’ll explain more about the benefits and drawbacks of this machine in this Brother ST371HD review.

Brother ST371HD Strong and Tough Sewing Machine Overview

The Brother ST371HD is an affordable and versatile mechanical sewing machine with a range of features. It has a large number of built-in stitches and comes with a good set of accessories to allow you to sew on a variety of fabrics. 

We included Brother ST371HD in our roundup of the best sewing machines for leather. With a sturdy metal frame, this model is well equipped for handling sturdy and challenging fabrics like leather.

With a very reasonable price tag and a range of easy-to-use features, this is also a great machine for beginners.

One of the biggest sewing machine brands in the world, Brother is probably best known for its computerized sewing machines. However, they also make a range of mechanical models, applying many of the user-friendly features that users of their computerized machines love. 

This model strikes a good balance between features, durability, and price, to deliver a great all-round mechanical sewing machine.

What we like:

  • A large number of features for the price – The Brother ST371HD has more features and many more stitches than most comparable machines in the same price range.
  • Versatile machine – The 37 built-in stitches include basic stitches, decorative stitches, and one automatic buttonhole, making it suitable for range sewing techniques. The six presser feet included will also let you work with a range of fabrics, and the drop feed feature allows free motion quilting.
  • Can handle leather and heavy duty fabrics – Though not a true heavy-duty machine, this model can handle most robust fabrics, including leather, thanks to its heavy metal frame, metal needle plate, and suitable built-in stitches. It also comes with needles suitable for these kinds of fabrics.
  • Easy to use – The Brother ST371HD has a number of features that make sewing easier and help to avoid common problems, such as an automatic threader and drop-in bobbin. 

What we don’t like:

  • Limited sewing speed – The maximum stitching speed is 800 stitches per minute, which will satisfy most amateur sewers. However, commercial sewers will likely find this sewing speed too slow.
  • No needle up/down button – This feature can be found in many modern machines, and allows sewers to stop stitching with the needle down to better maneuver the fabric. This model lacks that feature.
  • Dim LED light – The sewing area is rather dim, as the built-in LED light is not really bright enough, especially when working with darker thread and fabrics.

Features & Benefits of the Brother ST371HD Strong and Tough Sewing Machine

The Brother ST371HD is an affordable, versatile machine. It has a range of features and benefits that make it suitable for various fabrics and sewing techniques, including robust fabrics like leather and denim.

Easy to use

The Brother ST371HD has a number of features that make life easier for sewers. It has an automatic needle threader, which is a huge time saver: simply run the thread through the guides and the machine will thread the needle for you.

This is a huge improvement on manually threading your needle, which can be frustrating and time-consuming. Automatic needle threaders also reduce eye strain as they avoid you having to squint to find the hole in the needle.

Another feature that makes this machine easy to use is the drop-in bobbin, which is much easier to load than traditional front-load bobbins. The bobbin is also jam-resistant, helping to avoid jammed and tangled threads while sewing.

Range of built-in stitches

The Brother ST371HD comes with 37 built-in stitches, a very decent number of stitches for a heavy-duty machine, though not nearly as many as you find in most computerized sewing machines.

With a range of stitches from blind hem stitches to zigzag stitches suitable for stretch fabrics, you will be able to work with a range of fabric types and sewing techniques. There are also a number of decorative stitches, allowing sewers to get creative with their projects.

Variety of stitches on a denim fabric and sewing machine stitch selector collage

There is an automatic buttonhole feature that makes sewing buttonholes simple and straightforward. This machine automatically sizes the buttonhole so it will exactly fit the button you’re using.

Finally, there are built-in reinforcement stitches, ideal for working with leather.

User-friendly stitch selector

The Brother ST371HD has a user-friendly stitch selector, making choosing different stitches while sewing quick and easy. 

The stitch selector is simply a knob that you turn to the correct number, with the relevant stitch printed next to it on the machine, to select your stitch.

Choosing from the 37 built-in stitches is easy, thanks to the reference guide of all stitches printed on the front of the machine. The stitch selection dial is conveniently placed on the side of the machine, making it easy to switch between stitches while sewing.

This machine is simple and easy to use, making it a good choice for beginners to learn on. Being a mechanical machine, novice sewers may find this less overwhelming as they get the hang of stitching and sewing techniques.

Can handle heavy-duty fabrics like leather

The Brother ST371HD has a metal interior frame, making the machine more sturdy and durable. This helps it to handle heavy-duty fabrics with ease, as well as preventing the machine from moving with sewing, and so avoiding skipped stitches and other issues.

Brother ST371HD sewing machine metal needle plate and heavyweight needle sewing thick fabric collage

Another robust feature of the Brother ST371HD is its metal needle plate, which is rarely found in machines of this price range. 

A metal needle plate is much more durable than the plastic needle plates commonly found in more affordable machines, and much better able to stand up to the demands of sewing leather and other heavy-duty fabrics.

Lightweight and portable

In spite of all this, the Brother ST371HD is surprisingly light-weight. Although not the lightest sewing machine on the market, it is much lighter than most heavy duty models, making it easy to transport. It also has a handle for portability.

However, with a stitching speed of 800 stitches per minute, this machine will not be fast enough for commercial sewers, and enthusiastic amateurs may find it too slow.

It also lacks the true sturdiness and features to be able to handle large volumes of robust fabrics for long periods of time. 

This is really a versatile machine suitable for some heavy duty sewing, rather than a true heavy duty machine.

Free arm for small tasks

The Brother ST371HD has a default flat-bed sewing surface, with the option to remove part of the base to reveal a free arm. This allows sewers to easily switch to the free arm, depending on what they are sewing.

This is great for sewing small and fiddly items such as cuffs, pant legs, and sleeves, as you can slip these small, circular shapes over the free arm.

Brother ST371HD sewing machine free arm feature and threading process collage

The Brother ST371HD also comes with a drop feed feature, which allows free motion sewing. This is a useful feature for a range of sewing techniques, most notably free-motion quilting.

Plenty of accessories included

The Brother ST371HD comes with a decent number of accessories, which will assist sewers with their heavy-duty as well as general sewing projects. 

The machine comes with six presser feet, letting sewers to tackle a range of tasks and projects.

The presser feet include:

  • buttonhole foot
  • zipper foot
  • non-stick feet
  • spring-action zigzag foot

These are great for sewing robust and tricky fabrics: the spring-action zigzag foot deals effortlessly with multiple fabric layers and varying thicknesses. The non-stick feet, on the other hand, glide easily over leather and vinyl.

It also comes with several needles, including those suitable for heavy duty fabrics. Notably, it comes with a size 16 needle that is ideal for working with leather and other thick fabrics such as denim, canvas, and burlap.

The Brother ST371HD also has needles suitable for sewing multiple layers, lighter-weight fabrics, as well as a twin needle for stretch fabric, and so is highly versatile.

Other accessories included with the Brother ST371HD are:

  • Dust cover
  • Instructional DVD
  • Extra spool pin
  • Two spool caps
  • Screwdriver
  • Bilingual product manual
  • Quick start guide

You’ll also enjoy technical support from Brother, which includes life-long free online, live chat, or phone support to troubleshoot any issues with your machine.

Wrapping it up

Though not really a heavy-duty machine, the Brother ST371HD is capable of working with robust fabrics such as leather, denim, and canvas. It can also execute a range of other sewing tasks, from working to lightweight fabrics to decorative sewing and quilting.

Commercial sewers will find this machine rather slow, and it is unlikely to stand up to prolonged use with large volumes of robust fabrics. 

On the other hand, with a large number of stitches and a range of features, this is a great choice for sewers looking for a versatile machine that can also handle heavy fabrics.