Today’s market is flooded with inexpensive sewing machines that are packed full of features, with thousands of functionalities that your grandma couldn’t even dream of with her Singer. However, that doesn’t mean that choosing a new model got any easier. On the contrary – if you’re looking for a new workhorse, you’re in for some serious puzzlement.
And sewists won’t encounter near as much trouble as quilters will. Most machines that are advertised as sewing and quilting machines won’t do nice work in both areas. Some of them won’t do nice work at all. That’s why I decided to write an honest, in-depth review of Brother XR3774 Sewing & Quilting Machine, which is one of the most popular and affordable options out there.
The tagline says that it’s a full-featured sewing and quilting machine and “the least expensive Brother model that includes a wide table for large scale projects”. While I don’t doubt that this is true, I always like to try out a product for myself before I come to a conclusion.
So, let’s see what I found out about Brother XR3774.
Brother XR3774 – Overview & Features
Before we dig in, let’s get one thing clear. You won’t find millions of bells and whistles in this Brother XR3774 model. And that is completely fine! I prefer to have a machine with a few functions that work well than a feature-rich one that underperforms in just about each of its many areas. So, here’s a list of the things you’ll get:
- 37 built-in stitches, including garment construction, decorative, heirloom, quilting stitches, as well as a one-step automatic buttonhole stitch. You will get 74 total stitch functions.
- 8 sewing feet: buttonhole, zigzag, zipper, blind stitch, narrow hemmer, button sewing, quilting and walking feet.
- Maximum sewing speed of 800 stitches per minute. It’s an average speed for machines within this price range. Nowhere near an industrial model, it will still do the job if you’re a hobbyist or enthusiast who doesn’t make a living off sewing.
- Wide table. This is an excellent option for quilters, and a pretty rare sight if you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars.
- Free arm option for easy access to tiny areas such as collars, cuffs, or baby clothes.
- Automatic needle threader and bobbin winder. It will be much appreciated both by sewists with poor vision and those who just aren’t used to manual threading of the machine.
- Quick-set top drop-in bobbin. It’s an awesome feature available in most Brother models, even the cheapest ones. It’s hard to overpraise this feature, especially if you’ve only dealt with traditional bobbin cases so far. Those are very easy to tangle or jam up. No such problems here. Another nice feature that this bobbin has is the transparent case that lets you monitor the thread supply.
- LED bulbs to brighten the work area. This should eliminate the need for extra light.
- Accessory storage for tiny items that are easy to lose, such as spare needles, bobbins, scissors and similar stuff.
- Instructional DVD on how to set up and use the machine.
- 25-year limited warranty
What Do Sewists Say?
Overall, the Brother XR3774 machine has a pretty good rating on Amazon. Out of over 500 buyers, 76% awarded it five out of five stars. Another 14% gave it 4 stars, which means the number of negative reviews is pretty low.
Beginners agree that Brother XR3774 is a very user-friendly contraption. Even those who had no prior experience at sewing had an easy time setting it up, either by following the instructional DVD or the printed owner’s manual. Quilters appreciate the walking foot and the wide table, since both of those would cost nearly as much as the machine itself when bought separately. Another thing that everybody seems to be happy about is that the Brother XR3774 machine is pretty quiet. Even though that’s not uncommon with portable machines, it’s still worth mentioning.
What I Like About This Machine
- It’s very easy to set up. If you have had prior experience with Brother machines, chances are that you won’t even need the video instructions or the user’s manual. There are labels and diagrams printed on the machine. You will get it up and running in less than half an hour. If you haven’t used Brother models so far, it still won’t get much adjustment.
- It doesn’t have too many features. This can also be a con if you actually need plethora of functions. However, this is a machine primarily intended for novice users. They are overwhelmed with sewing as it is and don’t need additional pressure and further complications in their learning curve.
- Very affordable. Brother has many cheap models, but even so, it’s hard to beat this price. Even after a few easy projects, the machine will pay itself off very fast.
- The variety of specialty feet makes it very versatile. I haven’t seen many machines within this price range that come with whopping eight presser feet. Even though it doesn’t give great results with all of them, it’s still nice to have a chance to learn about their usage and performance.
- It’s equipped for basic quilting. The wide detachable table is an awesome feature, and quilters will also find a darning plate that can cover the feed dogs for free motion quilting. However, I must stress one thing. If you only do quilting, it’s not a perfect model for you. The throat room isn’t spacious enough to let you deal with your quilts comfortably. So, the keyword here is “basic.”
- Even though it’s inexpensive, it’s not a toy. It’s light enough that you can carry it around if you detach the quilting table, but it’s not the smallest of machines. Your kid can use it to learn, but it will serve you too well enough.
What I Don’t Like About This Machine
- It skips stitches sometimes, even with brand new needles that aren’t bent or blunt. To be frank, it didn’t happen to me, but many other sewists are complaining. If you happen to be one of them, try to use better thread and check if your thread tension isn’t messed up for some reason.
- It lacks a few very convenient features such as the needle up/down position key, start/stop button, speed control slider. Don’t get me wrong here. To expect all kinds of bells and whistles from a basic and cheap model would be unrealistic to say the least. But Brother has these features in other entry-level models, so I was a bit disappointed not to find them in this one.
- Beginners will have a hard time getting the hang of the foot pedal. Frankly, it doesn’t only pertain to this model, but to every model that exclusively relies on a pedal. Theoretically, the pedal should work just like a gas pedal in your car – the more you press it, the faster the machine will sew. But it takes quite a lot of time to learn just how hard you should press it for the task at hand. The greatest pain will be when sewing on tricky areas, where you need some super slow needlework.
- Doesn’t seem very durable. It’s entirely made of plastics, which means you probably shouldn’t count on it to last for years or decades. Which is acceptable if it’s your second or third machine, but much less so if you rely on it entirely.
- The LED bulb isn’t bright enough. I like to sew at night, so brightness is paramount for me. Of course, you can buy an extra light and it won’t cost much. But it’s still a bit of a hassle, which is why I feel I have to mention it.
Final Verdict – Is It Worth Buying?
As always, this largely depends on what you actually need. If you are after an entry-level machine that will be easy to learn, then yes, it’s absolutely worth buying. It’s more than affordable and can fit almost any budget. And it will handle most basic projects, whether it’s home decor, garment sewing, or basic quilting.
However, seasoned sewists won’t get much from it. If you need a stable and sturdy workhorse, it’s best to skip this one and keep looking, assuming you’re ready to spend more money. With this Brother XR3774 model, it just wouldn’t be fair to expect wonders. It will sew through a wide variety of fabrics, but it would be best not to feed it heavy-duty ones. It just wasn’t made for that kind of job.