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If you’re a beginner on a strict budget, the Brother LX3817 sewing machine is a great, simple sewing machine to start expanding your hobby with. It doesn’t come with much more than basic features, but you’ll be able to get started easily with the simplicity of this machine. You’ll find yourself mending or altering clothes, sewing Pinterest-worthy DIY projects, or even redecorating your house in no time.
And if you’re looking for a simple, portable sewing machine, the lightweight Brother LX3817 17-stitch full-size sewing machine comes in at under 11 pounds.
So, read on for my full Brother LX3817 review! This review will give you more information about this sewing machine’s features and hopefully answer some questions you may have.
What should a beginner consider when purchasing a sewing machine?
If you’re new to sewing, purchasing a reliable and easy-to-use beginner sewing machine will help to make your learning experience fun rather than fraught with issues. You want to spend time creating masterpieces rather than fiddling with your sewing machine, wondering whether it’s you or the sewing machine causing errors.
When deciding on a sewing machine, first honestly evaluate what your goals are. Do you want to do basic mending and alterations? What about creating gorgeous quilts? Do you want to embroider? Do you need 100+ stitch options for your projects?
If you’re needing just a basic sewing machine and have a small budget, pick a reliable, good quality sewing machine such as the Brother LX3817 without all the bells and whistles. If you’re thinking you want to expand your sewing skills over time and create Project Runway worthy fashions, you might want to consider a more feature-rich sewing machine. As a beginner, though, there is no reason to feel forced to buy a pricey, snazzy machine with more features than you will ever use!
Watch An Overview of the LX3817 Brother Sewing Machine
Comparing Brother LX3817 vs LX3817a vs LX3817G
Comparing the Brother LX3817 vs Brother LX3817a vs Brother LX3817G sewing machines, you’ll find that the sewing machine features (such as size, dimensions, and stitches) are identical. The only difference when looking at the Brother specifications is that the LX3817 sewing machine is white with blue paisley accents whereas the LX3817a sewing machine is aqua with gray heart print. The LX3817G sewing machine is then gray with a geometric print. Functionally, since you’re looking at identical sewing machines, choose whichever color appeals to you most! Walmart, at the time of writing this LX3817 review, prices them identically.
What Comes in the LX3817 and LX3817a Boxes?
- Sewing machine unit with 4 presser feet, power cord, and foot pedal
- Accessory pouch including: needle set with 90/14 ballpoint needle and twin needle, cleaning brush, seam ripper, 4 bobbins, 3 spool caps, eyelet punch, screwdriver, and cleaning brush
- Operation manual 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. Such as thread, sewing scissors, marking tools, measuring tools, and more.
What Presser Feet are Included?
These snap-on sewing feet are changed easily with the press of a lever on the back of the sewing machine.
- 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 for use on this sewing machine. For my primary sewing machine, I purchased a box of 40+ presser feet on Amazon (for around $20) that will work universally with any low-shank sewing machine. Therefore, do not discount this sewing machine just because it doesn’t have every presser foot you might want right now. It will grow with you if you need it to.
Brother LX3817 Review of Features
What are the 17 stitches?
These 17 stitches will allow you to perform all basic sewing tasks. Included are:
- 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
How do you set up the bobbin on the LX3817?
First of all, just know the Brother LX3817 and LX3817a sewing machines both use Class 15, SA156 bobbins if you ever need extras.
This sewing machine features automatic bobbin winding on the top of the machine. Diagrams on the top of the sewing machine will remind you how to set up and wind the bobbin.
Once the bobbin is wound, you drop it in underneath the clear bobbin case on the base of the sewing machine. Being a quick-set bobbin as well, once it’s dropped into the case, there is no need to manually draw up the bobbin thread.
Is it easy to thread the needle?
Threading the needle is accomplished by following the diagram on the sewing machine. You can also get easy instructions in the quick-start guide that’s included with the sewing machine.
Once you’ve threaded it a few times, it will become second nature.
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. Not a deal-breaker if you have good eyesight and finger dexterity. For the Brother sewing machines with the automatic needle threading lever, it takes longer to learn how to use that than it does to just thread the old-fashioned way, in my experience.
How do you make buttonholes and attach buttons with the LX3817 sewing machine?
This Brother LX3817 comes with a buttonhole presser foot as well as a button sewing presser foot.
You will have one buttonhole stitch on the sewing machine, and the buttonhole is created manually in four steps using the buttonhole presser foot. Manual buttonhole insertion means you will follow steps a-d on the stitch dial to make your buttonhole. You may also need to use the buttonhole fine adjustment screw.
Then, you’ll attach the button sewing foot and zigzag stitch on the button itself.
If you are planning on making many garments or other projects with buttons, you may be better served by spending a little more money and getting a sewing machine with an automatic one-step buttonhole. I personally LOVE this feature on my sewing machine. It makes perfectly sized buttonholes every time, and I don’t have to do much of anything!
What is the purpose of the built-in free arm?
When you remove the flat-bed attachment (this holds the accessories pouch), you’re left with a built-in free arm. The purpose of this arm is to help with tubular items such as pants legs or shirt sleeves. If you’re wanting to hem, put in blind hems, attach elastic, or more, this free arm is very helpful! Obviously, it’s not going to be useful for making doll pants or kid’s skinny jeans, but it’s going to work well for most adult-sized garments.
How portable is the Brother LX3817?
Weighing in at less than 11 pounds, the Brother LX3817 is one of the most portable Brother sewing machines. It also features a molded handle on the back of the machine body to help you grip it.
The footprint of the machine is also very small, 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’d recommend purchasing a protective case.
Can it sew denim or thick layers?
Brother says as long as your layers are 6mm or thinner, you are good to go! When choosing to sew thick fabrics such as denim, make sure to choose the correct needle and thread types. If you’re still having problems, instead of using the foot pedal, try turning the handwheel towards you to advance the needle slowly and safely.
Make sure to check out my sewing machine needle charts to make sure you’re picking the best needle.
How is speed controlled?
Speed is controlled with a foot pedal. Unlike some computerized Brother sewing machines, there is no slider to set your maximum speed. The foot pedal is lightweight and does moves on slippery floors. Consider making your own foot pedal non-slip pad or buying one if you’d prefer.
What other features are there on the LX3817 sewing machine?
The workspace is lit with an LED light. Some Brother LX3817 reviews complain that the LED light is not bright enough. If you find that to be the case as well, you can get an auxiliary light to shine on it.
Is the Brother LX3817 a good sewing machine for beginners?
Yes, this is a great Brother sewing machine for beginners who have a budget of less than $100 in mind. It is easy to get started on 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 right away.
While I don’t think manual 4-step buttonholes are beginner friendly, if you’re not planning on sewing a bunch of buttons, this shouldn’t be a deciding factor in the purchase of this sewing machine.
Can you buy a better beginner sewing machine? Yes. Will it cost you a lot more? Yes, also!
I can’t say enough, though, how important it is to read the instructions manual or watch the instructional DVD prior to starting to sew. Setting up and using the machine will be so much easier if you know what you’re doing. You won’t make as many rookie mistakes, and you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches! Also, consider picking out a beginner sewing book to help you learn more about the craft.
Is this a good quilting machine?
While you are able to make beautiful quilts on this Brother sewing machine, there are several absent features that may make quilting easier on a different sewing machine.
For instance, quilters may find benefit from having a spring-action quilting foot to assist with free-motion quilting, a walking foot to help feed bulky layers, and a 1/4″ quilting foot to sew precise seam allowances. If you read through the LX3817 manual, you should be able to find the part numbers of these accessory feet and you can order them.
An oversized, detachable wide table can be helpful in holding large projects. While helpful, this is not necessary.
The feed dogs on the Brother LX3817 sewing machine do not drop to allow for free-motion quilting. If you’re wanting to free-motion quilt, you will need to purchase a darning plate to cover the feed dogs.
What is missing on the LX3817 sewing machine that is included in slightly more expensive models?
Some features that are nice, but definitely not necessary, and are included on pricier models of sewing machines are:
- Automatic one-step buttonholes
- Oversized, detachable wide table
- More presser feet options
- Automatic needle threading lever
- Slider for speed control (computerized sewing machines)
If these features are make or break for you, just know you won’t find them on the basic LX3817 sewing machine. Upgrading to the Brother XM2701 (see: XM2701 review), Brother XR3774 (see: XR3774 sewing machine review), or even the Brother CS7000i (see: CS7000i computerized sewing machine) will get you more features.
Brother LX3817 vs XM2701
The Brother XM2701 sewing machine has many more features for only a slightly higher price. If you are wanting a more fully-featured sewing machine, I’d recommend checking this sewing machine out before purchasing the Brother LX3817.
Weighing in at a slightly heavier 12.6 lbs, the Brother XM2701 features 27 stitches, including an automatic one-step buttonhole, and comes with 6 presser feet. Because you’re getting dials to adjust length and width, you’re getting MANY more stitch functions than on the Brother LX3817.
The XM2701 also includes the darning plate you will need for free-motion quilting. An added perk is it has an automatic needle threading lever if you’re not wanting to thread by hand. This is a GREAT feature for sewing enthusiasts with poorer eyesight or decreased dexterity!
For beginner sewists, I lean towards recommending the Brother XM2701 just because it has more beginner-friendly features and better ease-of-use to accompany those added features. It usually doesn’t cost too much more than the Brother LX3817 either!
Read the full Brother XM2701 sewing machine review for all the details!
Why do so many Brother LX3817 reviews give it only 1-star?
If you’ve read through Amazon or Walmart Brother LX3817 sewing machine reviews, you’ll find that users either really love it or really hate it. I do 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 electronics of all brands and types happens all the time.
That being said, I think there’s a lot of user error as well. 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 at risk of messing up the tension. I had no idea the handwheel was only supposed to be turned towards me. Or that you need to make sure to pick an appropriate thread type as well as needle size to correspond with your fabric weight.
Because this is a beginner sewing machine, more beginners purchase it rather than other Brother sewing machines. Thus, a higher percentage of reviewers are going to be beginners. And if beginners (like I was not that long ago!) don’t take the time to read the instructions, the sewing machine is not going to perform well. Hence, poor machine set-up may cause a decent portion of the negative Brother LX3817 sewing machine reviews.
(As an aside, if you’re having problems with your sewing machine, I recommend reading my guide on how to adjust tension after troubleshooting other possible sewing machine problems!)
If you do purchase the LX3817 or LX3817a sewing machine, you want to protect yourself in the event it doesn’t function as it should. Make sure to keep your purchase receipt, and if you do happen to be one of the people who gets a nonfunctional machine, first return it to your location of purchase. If it is past the return date, Brother does offer a limited warranty. 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)
- Affordable sewing machine. It’s the cheapest Brother sewing machine available (at Walmart at least.) I totally 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 going to be the most feature-rich machine out there, but you’re sneaking in at under $100, which is great!
- Very basic tasks only. You won’t be doing any monogramming or complicated quilting, but you’ll still be able to do plenty.