Brother SM1704 Review – Features, Comparison, Pros & Cons

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If you’re reading this Brother SM1704 sewing machine review, you’re probably wondering if it’s the right sewing machine for you.

The Brother SM1704 sewing machine is a full-size, lightweight sewing machine that, in my opinion, will appeal to a few sets of people:

  1. A beginner sewist who doesn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a snazzy sewing machine.  This is a great beginner sewing machine to test the waters with if you don’t want to make a huge investment on a feature-rich sewing machine.
  2. A sewist who’s looking for a portable sewing machine to take to classes or on the road or someone looking for a second, backup sewing machine.
  3. A user who doesn’t want anything too fancy or complicated like a computerized sewing machine.  And who just wants to accomplish basic sewing tasks such as altering or mending garments, sewing basic household decor, simple DIY projects, etc.

As you’ll see in this Brother SM1704 review, this sewing machine has enough functions for the hobbyist.  Also, you’ll be able to do all basic sewing tasks and won’t break the bank with this affordable sewing machine.

Brother SM1704 Review of Features

FeatureSpecs
Dimensions5.8" x 15.4" x 12.1"
Weight10.6 pounds
Stitches17 stitches, including one buttonhole stitch
Sewing Feet4
Maximum Sewing Speed750 stitches per minute
UL/CSA Listed Voltage110 V
Warranty25 year limited warranty

What’s in the SM1704 box?

Brother Mobile Solutions Lightweight Sewing Machine, White

  • Brother SM1704 sewing machine unit and power cord
  • Foot controller pedal
  • 4 presser feet
  • Accessory set including: 3-piece needle set, twin needle, 4 bobbins, and extra spool pin
  • Darning plate
  • Operations manual and instructional DVD

How many presser feet are there, and what do they do?

There are four included presser feet, which will allow you to accomplish most basic sewing tasks:

  • Zigzag foot: This is your all-purpose presser foot you’ll use when sewing most projects needing a straight stitch or zigzag stitch.
  • Buttonhole foot: With this foot, you’ll be able to create automatically sized buttonholes.
  • Button sewing foot: Use this accessory foot to sew on buttons.
  • Zipper foot: This narrow foot will facilitate sewing zippers on garments and projects.

These sewing machine feet are easily swapped using a lever on the base of the presser foot holder.  Also, as a note, you should be able to purchase additional accessory feet for the Brother SM1704 as long as the feet are made for low-shank sewing machines.

What stitches come with the sewing machine?

There are 17 included stitches with the Brother SM1704 sewing machine and are broken down as follows:

  • 6 straight stitches (5 center needle of various lengths and one left needle)
  • 3 zigzag stitches of different sizes and one zigzag (satin) stitch
  • 1 style of a 4-step buttonhole stitch
  • 1 each of blind hem stitch and stretch blind hem stitch, elastic stitch, overedge stitch, double-action stitch, and bridging stitch

This sewing machine also comes with a twin needle and has the capability to sew this double line of parallel stitches.

How do you set up the Brother SM1704?

Brother Intl LX3817 Lightweight and Full-Size Sewing Machine

Included with your sewing machine is a quick-start guide that will help you get started setting up the SM1704 easily.

How do you wind and set the bobbin?

Bobbin winding is done automatically on the top of the sewing machine.  You’ll pass the thread around the discs at the top of the sewing machine as shown by the “cheat sheet” diagrams.  The end of the thread goes through a small hole on the outer piece of the bobbin,  You’ll place the bobbin on its spool and move the spool to the right to signify to the SM1704 that it’s time to wind the bobbin. At this point, the bobbin will automatically wind, and all you’ll have to do is press the foot pedal.

Once the bobbin is threaded and removed, you’ll insert it in its bobbin case.  Being a top-drop, quick-set bobbin, you don’t have to worry about any complicated processes to draw the bobbin thread up.  Just make sure to place the bobbin as described by the instructions on the machine.  And then you’re good to go!

The bobbin is jam-resistant as well, which is helpful for a beginner who’s still learning the ropes of setting up and using the sewing machine.

How do you thread the needle of the Brother SM1704 sewing machine?

To thread the upper thread, you’ll pass it through the thread guides, which are marked by numbers on the sewing machine.  Once the thread gets to the base of the sewing machine, you will have to thread the needle manually.  Some sewing machines like the Brother XM2701 and CS6000i have automatic needle threaders, where a press of a small lever threads the needle for you.  A nice feature, it’s not a necessity if you still have good eyesight and steady hands.

Starting to Sew on the Brother SM1704

Once the Brother SM1704 sewing machine is fully set up, you can begin sewing your first project!  At this point, if you haven’t read the manual, I really do recommend that.  A lot of issues beginners have with their sewing machines can be prevented with knowing how to correctly set up and use their sewing machine.  I remember my first sewing machine and I were in a constant battle until I sat down and read the instructions.  I had no idea you had to set the tension first and that needles weren’t one size fits all!

You’ll first select your stitch with the dial on the front of the machine.  The only way to alter stitch length or width is to change the stitch selection.  Lowering and raising the needle manually is done with the handwheel on the right of the sewing machine.

If you need to adjust your tension to make sure your stitches are even, you’ll do this with a knob on the front of the sewing machine.  Increasing the tension number increases thread tension and vice versa.

When you’re ready to begin sewing, you’ll use the foot pedal to start.  A lever on the front of the sewing machine under the stitch dial will reverse stitch when pressed. I think this lever is in a pretty awkward place on the sewing machine personally.  When I’m sewing, I want to move my hands the least distance from where I’m guiding my fabric.  Thus, I prefer a reverse lever or button directly above the workspace.

How are buttons sewn and buttonholes created?

Brother Intl LX3817 Lightweight and Full-Size Sewing Machine

Buttonholes are created using the buttonhole presser foot and the one buttonhole stitch option.  The presser foot, which holds your button, will auto-size your buttonhole based on your button size.  This ensures perfectly sized buttonholes every time.

Creating the actual buttonhole is done manually in 4 steps.  This gives you great control over the process of creation.  Some sewists will only create buttonholes manually.

(I, however, love having an automatic one-step buttonhole on my Brother CS6000i.  The machine creates the buttonhole for me automatically, which I find to be a lot faster and less complicated!)

When it comes time to sew on the button, you’ll attach your button fitting foot and attach the button.

What’s so great about a free-arm?

You might see the description mentions this sewing machine has a free arm.  So what is that?  Well, when the accessories compartment at the front of the sewing machine is removed, a built-in free arm remains.  This free arm is useful for sewing cylindrical or tubular items.  You wrap the item around the free arm so you don’t have to worry about accidentally stitching the sides together.  This is a pretty standard feature on Brother sewing machines, and it’s useful if your sewing goals include mending or hemming garments.

Is there any lighting available?

The Brother SM1704 sewing machine does have a built-in LED light that’s situated over the workspace.  For most sewists with reasonably good vision, this light should be adequate to help distinguish dark stitches on dark fabric and make out fine details.  Some Brother SM1704 reviews will mention it’s not bright enough.  If you find this to be the case for you, you have the option of purchasing an auxiliary sewing light as well.

How portable is the Brother SM1704?

Weighing in at only 10.6 pounds, the Brother SM1704 sewing machine is one of the more lightweight, portable Brother sewing machines that’s still full-size.  On the back of the sewing machine is a built-in, molded handle where you can pick it up.

Having a portable sewing machine means you can transport it around your house easily or you can take it on the road with you to a sewing class.  Or, it can be your second sewing machine that travels when you travel.  Just note that this machine does not come with a hard, protective cover.  You’ll have to purchase a cover, or you could even sew a soft cover for yourself.

Is the SM1704 sewing machine good for a beginner?

This is a very basic sewing machine, so it is great for a beginner sewer.

I personally think some of the slightly more advanced models like the Brother XM2701, XR3774, or even CS6000i sewing machine offer a little bit more function without making things too complicated.  If you have the budget to consider a slightly more featured sewing machine, I’d recommend doing so.

I LOVE having the option of an automatic, one-step buttonhole on my CS6000i sewing machine, and it also has a wide table, several quilting feet, and the ability to control the speed with a slider and buttons rather than a foot pedal.  For me, that was easier to learn to sew on than my bottom-of-the-line sewing machine my dear husband purchased for me at first.

If you’re a beginner, make sure to read the manual the whole way through before beginning, and consider picking up a beginner sewing book to help you learn even more!

Can you quilt, serge, or embroider with the Brother SM1704?

You will be able to quilt with this sewing machine, but keep in mind there are sewing and quilting machines designed to do a better job of quilting.  The feed dogs don’t drop, so you will have to cover them manually with a darning plate.  Certain sewing machine feet and accessories quilters may enjoy that are not included are a spring action quilting foot, walking foot, 1/4″ piecing foot, and a quilt guide.  If you’re wanting to create larger quilts, this sewing machine also doesn’t have a throat space larger enough for a king-size quilt, and it doesn’t come with a detachable, oversized wide table.

Also, this machine does not do embroidery and does not have a built-in monogramming font like the Brother HC1850 or Brother CE1125prw sewing machines.

Furthermore, this sewing machine is not a serger as it does not trim fabric, create a seam, and finish fabric edges all at once.

Will the SM1704 sew thick materials such as leather, denim, or upholstery?

The Brother SM1704 sewing machine is not a heavy-duty sewing machine, nor does it have the motor or capability of regularly sewing thick materials.  That being said, if you need to sew thinner denim every once in a while, it may not be out of the question.

Make sure to choose a compatible needle, thread, and stitch length.  Sew slowly and use the handwheel if needed to advance the needle without breaking it.  Some Brother SM1704 reviews will mention sewing successfully through thick fabric, so it’s not impossible.  Just be careful!

Brother SM1704 Pros

  • Not complicated to use since very few functions
  • Portable and takes up a small footprint
  • Great budget sewing machine

Brother SM1704 Cons

  • Very basic sewing machine, so not a lot beyond basic functions
  • Limited to the pre-set lengths and widths of stitches
  • No automatic needle threader and have to do four-step buttonholes
  • Limited heavy-duty capability
  • Awkward placement of the reverse lever, in my opinion
  • Max sewing speed of 750 stitches per minute compared to many other comparable machines that will go up to 800-850 spm.

Brother SM1704 vs XM2701

Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine, Lightweight, Full Featured, 27 Stitches, 6 Included Feet

In comparing the Brother SM1704 vs Brother XM2701, you’ll find a lot of similarities but several key differences. The Brother XM2701 sewing machine is another of Brother’s more basic sewing machines.  It’s an arguably more popular Brother sewing machine because it has a few more features that appeal to many sewists.  If you’re looking for very, very basic, then you’ll prefer the SM1704.  Otherwise, consider the XM2701.

Both sewing machines are not computerized but still feature easy bobbin winding on the top of the sewing machine.  The bobbin is also top-drop and quick-set on both.  Needle threading on the XM2701 sewing machine can be accomplished with an automatic needle threader, which is not the case on the SM1704.

Stitches are selected with a dial.  Whereas the Brother SM1704 has only 17 stitches, the XM2701 features 27.  It also has dials to control stitch length and width, which allows for much more versatility! The XM2701’s buttonhole stitch is also an automatic one-step buttonhole stitch.  I think this is a huge plus for beginner users who are looking to frequently sew buttonholes.

The XM2701 sewing machine also includes 2 more presser feet: the narrow hemmer foot and blind stitch foot.  Furthermore, it has a reverse lever that’s placed right above the sewing workspace rather than on the right of the sewing machine, which seems counter-intuitive to me.  Whereas the SM1704 sews at a max speed of 750 spm, the XM2701 does add an extra 50 spm for a total of 800 spm.

Overall, unless you’re not wanting any more features than what’s strictly necessary, you may be better served with the Brother XM2701 sewing machine.  Here’s my full Brother XM2701 sewing machine review which will give you a little more information. 

Brother SM1704 Review – Conclusion

If you’re one of those people I described at the very beginning of this Brother SM1704 sewing machine review, I think you’ll find this machine will fit your needs.  It’s a very basic sewing machine with no complicated bells and whistles.  However, it’s still reliable and will accomplish what you need it to!

If you’re not sure if this is the machine for you, then I’d highly recommend checking out my top Brother sewing machine reviews to see if another machine fits your needs better.  Happy sewing!

Brother SM1704 Sewing Machine Review

Brother SM1704 Sewing Machine

4

Beginner Friendly

4.3/5

Bang for Your Buck

4.0/5

Versatility

3.8/5

Pros

  • Not complicated, so easy to learn with
  • Very portable
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Limited functions
  • Limited heavy duty sewing ability
  • No automatic needle threader or one-step buttonholes

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