Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Brother SE400

This post is on my experience in importing a Brother SE400 from the USA to UK.  Hopefully it may be of help to someone as I have found it quite a popular machine in the UK and definitely the cheaper option when purchasing a Brother embroidery machine.  The UK equivalent to the Brother SE400 is the Innovis 950.

For the past 3 years I have been using a basic Janome 2032.  While it is a fantastic machine, and great if you're on a budget, with the amount of sewing I do, I thought it was time for an upgrade.  I also wanted something that I could use embroidery on, as personalisation is becoming more popular with my customers when buying my Little Sugar Plum dolls.  I thought an embroidery machine would be the way forward and cut time spent on hand embroidering. However I found it daunting knowing which one to buy, and the cost of some of them was extortionate!

The machine I have had my eye on for some time was the Brother Innovis 950, however with a £799 price tag it was just out of my budget.  I came across the Frister + Rossmann  404 on Amazon which I very nearly bought as it was so cheap in comparison and did alphabet stitches.  However I had money in my paypal account that I didn't want to wait 5 days to transfer before being able to buy on Amazon (WHY don't Amazon accept Paypal??!).  Plus when I saw what the alphabet stitches looked like, I wasn't that impressed with it. So back to eBay I went which is where I found a UK seller selling a Brother SE400 for £655.  I googled it to see how much it was new and found that it was actually only $339.99 on Amazon.com (about £215.00).  I couldn't believe the UK eBay seller was selling her used one for three times as much!

I did some more research and came across this great thread on the Baby Centre forum.  It was full of ladies talking about how they had imported their SE400 from the USA from Amazon and I got some great advice on there. I found that a USA to UK converter would be needed to overcome the voltage difference, but even after factoring that in, it would still be cheaper than buying in the UK. When I looked into it though, I found that Amazon were no longer shipping internationally.  I decided to go back to eBay and type in the model number to see if any others came up and was delighted to find a seller in California who shipped to the UK! So that was that!  I had to have it!  After reading all the description, terms and conditions, etc and my mouse hovered over the BUY NOW button for a few minutes, I finally clicked on it!  I had just ordered my first computerised sewing/embroidery machine! 

Here's a little bit about the machine's features:
  • 67 built-in sewing stitches: Including utility, quilting, heirloom and decorative stitches.
  • 70 built-in embroidery designs: Including floral, holiday, animal and kids' designs. Plus, 120 built-in frame patterns, and 5 built-in fonts.
  • 4"x4" embroidery area: The perfect size for adding decorative accents to home decor, gifts, and clothing.
  • Easy-to-use LCD touch screen display: View your built-in embroidery designs, lettering, frames and editing functions, as well as your built-in sewing stitches.
  • Design editing features: Rotate, mirror-images, increase and decrease the size of your designs
  • Computer connectivity for importing designs and updating your machine: Import designs purchased from ibroidery.com and other web sites. (USB cable included)
  • Easy threading, with automatic needle threader: Simply follow the threading diagram printed on the machine, then have the needle threaded for you, with the touch of a lever.
  • Super easy bobbin winding system: Once you have the thread in place, just move the bobbin to the right, push Start, and the bobbin is wound for you.
  • Reliable, easy-to-use Quick Set drop-in bobbin
  • Built-in tutorials: View tutorials on how to use the SE400's sewing and embroidery functions, right on the LCD touch screen display.
  • iBroidery.com compatible: Choose from thousands of licensed and limited edition, downloadable designs, available for purchase on www.ibroidery.com

  • Click to enlarge.

    The only difference between the SE400 and the Innovis 950 is that the SE400 has a USB cable for downloading designs to the machine rather than a memory stick. It also has an embroidery card slot for use with other Brother cartridges.

    So now I had ordered the machine I needed to look into the voltage adapters.  This is when I stumbled upon the fabulous Brother SE400 Enthusiast blog by the lovely Kamala Kelly.  Her blog is fantastic and well worth a look if you are new to the SE400, or are thinking of buying one.  She also has a You Tube channel with some very informative videos and a Facebook page, Kamala's Embroidery. Kamala gave me some great advice regarding the voltage when I asked her about the adapter. I hope this might be of use to others who is looking for an adapter...

    The Brother SE400 has the following voltage supply:
    0.67 amps (needed to check the capacity of the transformer) 
    I did a bit of shopping around and found this one from Amazon, which I was pleased to find some reviews from people who also had the SE400!
    It is a little on the expensive side, but when I've spent this much on a sewing machine, I didn't want a cheapy one that would burn out.  Especially as I would be using it a lot.  And the cost was still way under the £799 Innov 950! I ordered this one at 2pm yesterday and it arrived at 8:30am this morning.
    If this is your first time at buying an embroidery machine, like me.  Here's some other handy tips I've been given/found on my path to embroidery:
    1.  You need to use a backing stabiliser underneath the fabric before attaching to your hoop.  There are thousands available (try eBay).  Some are iron-on and some needs to be sprayed with spray mount. There are also different thicknesses.  Generally the heavier the fabric you are using, the heavier the stabiliser you will need. - Mariejoy over at MJMakes
    2. However tempting it is to buy cheap threads from eBay or other sites online, DON'T. They will probably break when the machine embroiders at high speed, some are not colour fast and will run when washed and generally they don't embroider to the high quality you would expect. Go for a good quality and your work will speak for itself.
    Some good brands are Madeira and Gutermann Sulky Rayon for Embroidery machines. There is also a cheaper option; a brand called Marathon which is apparently colourfast and good quality.  I cannot comment on this, having never used it, this is only based on recommendations from the research I have done, although I did win a bundle of 30 different coloured Marathon reels on eBay last night for £13.99! I also bought a set of Gutermann embroidery thread so I will let you know what they're both like when I've used them.

    3. Titanium needles do not heat up when they're stitching fast.  Sometimes with regular needles the glue from the stabiliser can make for sticky needles, so titanium ones are a good option.  Again, I haven't used them yet so cannot comment.  I will write post after I get my machine with my findings though! The size is going to depend on what type of material you are embroidering on. The smaller the number, the thinner the needle will be. So if you are embroidering something thick, such as denim, you will want a needle such as a 16. Thinner fabrics would require a size 12 or 14 needle.

    4.  Embroidery machines are calibrated to use a thinner bobbin thread than what is used on the top. The top thread is normally 40wt and EM bobbin thread is 60wt as recommended in the manual.  Pre-wound bobbins are readily available online.
    I spent all evening yesterday searching for embroidery and applique designs.  It's the applique I am most looking forward to making.  I have so many ideas of things to make for my children and no time to make them as i'm always making dolls for other people.  I think I will have to cut back on the custom orders for a while soon. 

    There are tonnes of free embroidery designs on the internet.  Just google "Free embroidery designs" and see where it takes you. I have also found these websites useful for some lovely designs. 

    Urban Threads

    Applique Momma

    Little Applique Factory

    Designs by Ju Ju

    Sweet Peas Place

    GG Designs Embroidery

    There must be tonnes more out there I haven't discovered yet.  Do you know of any that you could recommend to me?

    All that's left is just to wait the 10-14 days for it to arrive!  I'm so excited!  I have been eagerly tracking it's travels online! Lol.

    1 comment:

    Hannah Philo said...

    I ordered an se400 last year from Amazon and had it shipped but today it blew up....probably down to me not the machine. Anyway I went to buy a replacement to find that amazon no longer ship them. I find a seller on amazon in the USA (probably the same as yours) and was just wondering if you have received your machine yet and if so was it a smooth delivery or were you stuck with more taxes. Im in urgent need of a replacement as my business counts on it!