This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read disclosure for more information.
Because I like to try things out, I purchased the gray version of the Brother LX3817 sewing machine (the Brother LX3817G) and can confirm, for beginners on strict budgets, that it’s a decent sewing machine to start sewing with.
However, since it doesn’t come with more than basic features, it’s not my first choice for beginners with a larger budget, as I also own many more expensive machines that I prefer.
But, for those who are just starting, it will still create quality stitches with a little extra patience on your part. Read on for my full Brother LX3817 review!
Brother LX3817 vs. LX3817a vs. LX3817G
Everything about these sewing machines (size, dimensions, and stitches) is identical, except the color.
The LX3817 sewing machine is white with blue paisley accents, the LX3817a is aqua with gray hearts, and the LX3817G is gray with a geometric print. I purchased the Brother LX3817G because every other sewing machine I own is white, and I thought a pop of color might be fun!
LX3817 Features and How They Stack Up
Here are some things to know about the machine and whether they’re a pro or con.
These 17 stitches will allow you to perform almost all basic sewing tasks.
- 6 straight stitches (5 sizes ranging from 1.6mm to 4mm in length using central needle position and one 2.5mm left needle position)
- 3 zigzag stitches (0.7 to 2mm length with 1.8 to 5mm width)
- 3 sizes of satin stitch (only counts as 1 stitch)
- 1 four-step automatic buttonhole stitch
- 1 of each of the following stitches: blind hem stitch, stretch blind hem stitch, elastic stitch, overedge stitch, double-action stitch, bridging stitch
What stinks about these stitches is what you see is what you get. There’s no way to adjust stitch length or width for a wider variety of functions.
While not a huge issue, I like having as much control as possible.
About The 4 Presser Feet
There were four snap-on sewing feet included. I’m not a huge fan of snap-on feet, as this means there’s more plastic to the machine (rather than metal in the case of feet changed with a lever on more expensive machines.)
Here’s what they do, though:
- Zigzag foot – the sewing foot you will use on most projects along with the straight or zigzag stitches
- Zipper foot – attach zippers to projects
- Buttonhole foot – make 4-step buttonholes along with the one included buttonhole stitch
- Button Sewing foot – sew on buttons easily
Additional presser feet can be purchased if you want others. For example, I purchased a box of 40+ presser feet on Amazon (for around $25) that will work universally with any low-shank sewing machine.
I also have the Brother CS7000X sewing machine (you can read more in my CS7000X review), which costs roughly $200. In this review, I’ll be using it as a comparison to show you how Brother can charge around $100 less for the LX3817–and why I recommend the CS7000X instead if budget isn’t an issue.
The first difference is that the general all-purpose foot on the LX3817 machine is narrower than the Brother CS7000X. It also doesn’t have a clear opening for visibility purposes, and it is missing the spring on the left side, which makes sewing over thick seams easier.
Bobbin Winding and Set Up
First, just know the Brother LX3817 and LX3817a sewing machines use Class 15, SA156 bobbins if you need extras.
Now, one pro of this machine is it features automatic bobbin winding on the top of the machine, and there are diagram stickers on top that remind you how to set up and wind the bobbin.
However, the bobbin winding contraption is not nearly as deluxe as on higher-priced Brother machines.
First, the Brother CS7000X has a metal spool pin, while the LX3817G has a plastic spool pin to hold the thread.
Then, the area where the bobbin is placed to wind is more stable on the CS7000x.
Can you wind the bobbin just as well on the LX3817G? Yes, of course, but it’s just not as snazzy, and plastic will break before metal does.
Now, once the bobbin is wound, you can simply drop it underneath the clear bobbin case on the base of the sewing machine and thread following the diagram.
Being a quick-set bobbin, it is unnecessary to draw up the bobbin thread manually once it’s dropped into the case. Quick-set bobbins are worth their weight in gold, and I love this feature on the Brother LX3817.
Threading the Top of the LX3817
Another thing to love about the LX3817 is threading the top thread is easy thanks to diagrams on the machine, making pulling out your user manual unnecessary. However, as with threading the bobbin, the top threading path of the LX3817 involves more plastic, meaning parts will not last as long.
As you can see above, the tension disc on this thread guide is movable plastic. I don’t think this is going to last as long!
The Brother CS7000X, meanwhile, not only has a metal tension disc, but the thread guide itself is also metal.
Threading the Needle Itself
This sewing machine does not have an automatic needle threading lever like some more expensive Brother sewing machine models–you will have to thread the needle by hand.
This is not a deal-breaker if you have good eyesight and finger dexterity.
Nonetheless, above is the needle threading helper on my CS7000X, which was helpful once I learned to use it.
In good news, the Brother LX3817 comes with a buttonhole presser foot and a button sewing presser foot.
However, the sewing machine has only one buttonhole stitch (although you have some control with the buttonhole fine adjustment screw).
The buttonhole is also created manually in four steps (following steps A through D on the stitch dial) with the buttonhole foot on the machine.
If you plan on making many garments or other projects with buttons, you will be better served by spending more money and getting a sewing machine with an automatic one-step buttonhole.
I LOVE the one-step buttonhole on my other sewing machines, as it makes perfectly sized buttonholes every time, and I don’t have to do much of anything!
The Free Arm
When you remove the flat-bed attachment, the built-in free arm remains.
The purpose of this arm is to help with tubular items such as pants legs or shirt sleeves. I use mine when hemming and sewing in the round all the time.
However, see how small the accessories compartment is?
Turns out it’s about 1/2 the size of the CS7000X. You can store a lot more in the CS7000x compartment!
Another minor gripe I have about the LX3817 is the placement of the reverse lever.
When you press it down, the machine stitches in reverse so you can lock your line of stitches and keep the thread from unraveling.
The lever is located on the right of the machine, which I think is an awkward place.
I prefer having a reverse lever right above the sewing space, where my hands guide the fabric.
This is the case on most machines, like my Brother CP60X (above), which has a button to press rather than a lever.
Weighing in at less than 11 pounds, the Brother LX3817 is one of the most portable sewing machines.
It also features a nice molded handle on the back of the machine body to help you grip it.
The machine’s footprint is also tiny, so it will not take up a lot of space on your sewing table or wherever else you will store it.
If planning to travel, I recommend purchasing a protective case, as it doesn’t include one like…you guessed it…the CS7000X does.
Sewing Thick Fabrics
Brother says you are good to go as long as your layers are 6mm or thinner!
However, I don’t think this is a perfect statement.
The Brother LX3817 is NOT a heavy-duty sewing machine, and although it has a “metal” frame, there’s still a lot of plastic, its motor isn’t super powerful, and this little baby is NOT made to sew thick fabrics frequently.
I also have a Singer 4452 heavy-duty sewing machine, which blows the LX3817 out of the park with its power.
However, you can sew some thick fabrics like denim or canvas with the Brother LX3817.
Just choose the right needle and thread, consider using a hump jumper, and instead of using the foot pedal, try turning the handwheel towards you to advance the needle slowly and safely.
Sewing speed is controlled with a foot pedal.
Unlike some computerized Brother sewing machines, there is no slider to set your maximum speed, and you cannot sew pedal-free with just buttons.
The foot pedal is also lightweight and moves on slippery floors, so consider making your own foot pedal non-slip pad or buying one if you sew on hardwood or carpet that doesn’t grip very well.
- Affordable sewing machine. It’s the cheapest Brother sewing machine available, and I understand the importance of a budget sewing machine!
- Portability. This lightweight machine will travel with you to and from classes or even to and from its storage closet.
- Uncomplicated to use. There aren’t so many options and functions that it hinders beginner users.
- You get what you pay for. It’s not the most feature-rich machine, but you’re sneaking in at under $100!
- Very basic tasks only. You won’t be doing monogramming or complicated quilting, but you’ll still be able to do plenty.
What Was Included When I Purchased
My LX3817G box had the following packed in there:
- Sewing machine, power cord, and foot pedal
- Four presser feet
- Needle set, four bobbins, screwdriver, and darning plate
- Operation manuals and instructional DVD
If you’re looking to get started as a beginner, I have a list of basic sewing supplies to help you make sure you have everything you need to get started.
Is the Brother LX3817 a good sewing machine for beginners?
Yes, this is an excellent Brother sewing machine for beginners with a budget of less than $100.
It is easy to get started with the quick-start instructions, and there aren’t hundreds of options to confuse the beginning user. Automatic bobbin winding is a great feature, as is the quick-set top drop-in bobbin that gets you sewing immediately.
While I don’t think manual 4-step buttonholes are beginner-friendly, if you don’t plan on sewing a bunch of buttons, this shouldn’t be a deciding factor in purchasing this sewing machine.
Can you buy a better beginner sewing machine? Yes. Will it cost you a lot more? Yes, also!
Quilting with the Brother LX3817
If you only want to piece quilt tops, the LX3817 will do this without problems. A 1/4″ quilting foot would help, but it isn’t necessary.
If you want to quilt the top, batting, and backing, you can find a better machine.
First, the LX3817 doesn’t come with a spring-action quilting foot, which assists with free-motion quilting, or a walking foot, which can feed bulky quilt layers more evenly.
Also, there’s no detachable wide table like with more expensive Brother sewing machines.
Lastly, the feed dogs on the Brother LX3817 sewing machine do not drop to allow for free-motion quilting. If you want to free-motion quilt, you must use the darning plate to cover the feed dogs.
It isn’t hard to cover the feed dogs with the darning plate, but remembering where I’ve placed it when it comes time to put it on is the big problem.
Why are there so many 1-star reviews of the Brother LX3817?
If you’ve read through Amazon or Walmart’s reviews of this sewing machine, you’ll find that users either really love or hate it, and I have a theory for why.
I’m sure there are legitimately some LX3817 sewing machines that come out as “lemons” and don’t work. Isolated, poor manufacturing of all brands and types of electronics happens.
That being said, I think there’s also a lot of user error.
I remember the first sewing machine I purchased. I didn’t read any directions, and I started sewing.
The bobbin jammed, the sewing machine skipped stitches, and since I didn’t even know what tension was, I didn’t take the time to adjust it before starting. I didn’t know you shouldn’t thread your needle with the presser foot down, and I had no idea the handwheel was only supposed to be turned towards me.
Because the LX3817 is a beginner sewing machine, more beginners purchase it than other Brother sewing machines.
Thus, a higher percentage of reviewers are going to be beginners. And if beginners don’t take the time to read the instructions, the sewing machine will not perform well.
If you purchase the LX3817, LX3817G, or LX3817a sewing machine, protect yourself if it doesn’t function as it should.
Keep your purchase receipt, and if you happen to be one of the people who gets a nonfunctional machine, return it to your purchase location.
Brother offers a limited warranty if it is past the return date. The 1/2/25 year warranty means the following warranty periods:
- 1 year: parts, labor, and accessories
- 2 years: electronic components
- 25 years: chassis (sewing machine body)
An affordable craft room addition, the Brother LX3817 sewing machine is great for the budget-minded and the beginner who’s not sure they’ll want to adopt sewing as a serious hobby.
It’s also perfect for someone looking for a lightweight sewing machine on the go. It has enough features that you’ll be able to mend or alter garments, create household decor, and even complete most sewing projects soon after picking it up from the store. And it won’t cost you an arm and a leg!
Interested in learning about some other popular Brother sewing machines before deciding? Check out my top Brother sewing machines list.