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A Comprehensive Look Into A Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine
Are you looking for a quality, one-time investment sewing machine that’s going to last you for ages?
If yes, then this article might just be the end of your search!
Before I get into it, I want to say that I know how many different brands and models there are, and how all of them claim to be the best, which, of course, can’t be true.
This leaves us with a tough problem of collecting information about dozens of different machines, then scrutinizing it in the hope of finding something that’s truly worth our hard-earned money.
I want you to rest assured knowing that I’ve got your back on this, as the machines that find their way onto my website are among the most reputable units out there.
With that being said, I’d like you to meet Brother ST531HD, a once-in-a-lifetime purchase and a reliable tool for personal or professional sewing projects.
If you’ve been a part of the sewing world for a while, I’m sure that the Brother company needs no special introduction to you. They are a world-renowned manufacturer known from their reliable and quality products.
The model that I’m about to review could be characterized as a classic sewing machine that’s been enriched with a wide variety of options and has the power to sew through anything from silk to leather.
Today, I’ll be dissecting this machine and tell you about what I’ve learned along the way.
Let’s get started!
Brother ST531HD – My Grades On a Handy Table
For those of you who want to scan how the machine performed quickly, take a brief look at my scoring table.
|Brother ST531HD Review|
|Value for money||5/5|
The table above is a sneak-peek into what this model is all about. If you want to find out why it earned these grades, please read on.
Brother ST531HD In-Depth Review
The following sections will talk about my experience with ST531HD, as well as some personal advice that I believe you could benefit from.
Getting Close & Personal
With the dimensions of 12.21 x 16.10 x 7.87 inches (31 x 40.8 x 19.9 cm), Brother ST531HD can be placed among the mid-sized sewing machines. It 18.4 pounds (8.34 kg) which is kind of heavy for its size, but I’m sure you’ll be able to move it around relatively easily.
The machine doesn’t come with a case (although it can be bought separately), but it does include a carrying handle for transporting it.
As for the appearance of this model, it has a rather non-pretentious and straightforward design. It features a strong metal frame which is enveloped with hardened plastic, and this makes it one sturdy piece of machinery.
All the controls on the machine are manual, and they’re easy to wrap your head around. Once you get into the groove, you’ll see that setting this up and switching between options can be quick.
Putting Brother ST531HD to work
To start the machine, all you need to do is flick the power switch and then step on the foot controller. The needle will start sewing once you apply pressure to the pedal, and stop when you remove the foot.
The sewing speed is dictated by the amount of pressure that you use, and the maximum that this model can do is 800 stitches/min. It’s far from the fastest machines, but it’s still pretty fast.
Here’s a handy video demonstration from Brother
Now, the real advantage and the main reason that people buy this product is its power. Brother advertises it as being able to sew through six layers of denim, which is true! Of course, you can use it on light materials as well, so it gives its users a lot of versatility.
ST531HD includes 53 built-in stitches and selecting the one that you want to use is done by turning a dial on the backside of the machine. You will also find three dials on top that will allow you to set the width and length of the stitch, as well as the tension of the thread.
The working area of the machine isn’t very big, which is mostly OK, but it might be a hassle when working on large pieces of fabric.
It includes a free arm, which is very useful when sewing cuffs, sleeves, or pants. The part of the working surface that can be detached also doubles as a mini-storage container where you can put the most necessary components.
The thing that might annoy some customers is the lack of an automatic thread cutter. However, it does have a built-in manual cutter which forks fine, but it is placed a bit high from the presser feet. Unless you want to use that one, scissors will be your next best option.
Brother ST531HD Usage To The Max – My Advice
When trying out this machine, I took notes about some of its specifics, and here’s what I found out.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, turning on the machine is a breeze. Plug it into a power outlet, flick the switch, and the sewing light will turn on.
Once it’s on you’ll need to wind the thread around the bobbin so that you can get to sewing. Make sure only to use bobbins that were specifically designed for this machine if you want it to work correctly.
First, place the bobbin on the winder shaft and push it to the right. Next, place the spool of thread onto the spool pin, and hook the thread to the guides as explained in the manual.
When wrapping the thread around the pre-tension disks and attaching it to the bobbin, be careful to always do it in the right direction (clockwise or counterclockwise). To get it right follow the diagram printed on top of the machine.
Last, step on the presser foot until the thread rolls around the bobbin.
The feature that most users have trouble with is switching between SS1 and SS2 stitching patterns. I admit it; it is kind of confusing at first and is probably the biggest downside of this product.
Before doing anything, make sure to put the needle in the up position; otherwise, it might get damaged. To do this, turn the wheel on the back counterclockwise.
I actually managed to break two different needles until this nasty feature got embedded in my brain, so please, learn from my mistakes.
Then, turn the stitching length dial to the left, past the point where it feels like it won’t go any further. You might need to apply a bit more force for this. Once it’s done, you will have selected the SS2 setting.
After this, you’ll be free to choose the pattern that you like using the pattern selection dial.
To reverse stitch, simply hold down the reverse sewing lever while pressing the foot controller. Remember to keep the lever down during the entire length of the operation, because when you release it, the machine will start sewing regularly again.
The foot controller pressure is not adjustable, so you will have to adapt to it. I know that this is a drawback, but it did not present a huge issue for me.
Replacing the needle will be necessary at some point either due to it being worn out, or you requiring a different needle for the particular fabric that you wish to sew. Doing this is a very simple process, but remember to switch the machine off beforehand for the safety of your fingers.
To know which thread and needle to use for which fabric, take a look at the chart below.
As you can see, the machine supports a lot of different fabrics and works like a charm on all of them. If you follow these instructions closely, you will be able to create fantastic and smooth stitches on any material and with any pattern.
The automatic threading process will help you thread the needle without straining your eyes. However the thread can slip out pretty easily if you’re not extra careful with it, so remember to always take it slowly.
ST531HD also supports a twin needle which can be a very useful tool for sewing thick fabrics like denim or making decorative stitches with two-different threads.
Highlight Features – What ST531HD Brings To The Table?
Ok, it’s time to check out what I liked the most about this sewing machine.
First, I’d like to point out again that it has 53 different stitching patterns, and while this isn’t the highest number I’ve seen, it is better than many of its counterparts.
Let’s see how some of the stitches look like in real life:
The sheer variety allows you to do anything from simple, straight stitches to phenomenal decorative ones.
As I’ve explained earlier, selecting the pattern that you want might seem tricky at first, but will become much easier once you get the hang of it.
Second, we have the one-step automatic buttonhole sewing option. You probably know how tedious of a task it is to sew buttons, and this feature is going to save you the trouble. However, I would advise you to practice on a piece of fabric before doing it on your project, just to be sure that you get it right.
Here’s a video on using the automatic buttonhole foot:
Third, there is a drop feed, which is the perfect option for beginners.
Fourth, the metal finger guard is not something that you get very often with sewing machines but is a more than necessary component that can save you from a potential injury. If you’ve ever had your finger pierced by a super-fast needle, you’ll hold the guard in high regard.
Last, this isn’t a feature per se, but it is nevertheless a crucial reason for choosing this product; I’m talking about its durability. ST531HD is promoted as being heavy-duty, which it essentially is, regardless of some plastic components.
The frame is made from sturdy metal, and some essential features such as a needle plate are also made from this material. On top of this, the 25-year warranty that you get on this machine speaks volumes about how confident the manufacturer is about the quality of this model.
Attempting to perform maintenance on the machine is something that the company strongly advises against.
They oil up all the components for optimal performance, and if you happen to hear some unusual sounds coming from the machine or if the dials are hard to turn, contact the customer service right away.
Included Accessories & Additional Enhancements
To learn how to use the machine properly, you will get a manual and a DVD that should be able to clear up any questions that you might come up.
My favorite part is that you get six different feet including:
- Zipper foot
- Button sewing foot
- Buttonhole foot
- Non-stick foot
- Zig-zag foot
- Blindstitch foot
By the way, here’s a handy video on how to use it
Summing ST531HD To Simple Ins & Outs…
- Easy to use
- Excellent cost to value ratio
- Smooth stitching
- Automated features
- A wide section of supported materials
- Suitable for beginners and professionals
- Sturdy and durable
- Very powerful
- Stitching pattern selection is a bit complicated
- No automatic thread cutter
Epilogue – My Findings & Advice
In my opinion, Brother ST531HD is a well-made and highly functional sewing machine that is able to make excellent stitches, and sew through both thin and thick fabrics.
With that being said, you can conclude that it is quite versatile and can be used for quilting as well as stitching denim.
It’s loaded with features that will make life easier for beginners and professionals alike.
All in all, this is a machine that was built to last and will serve you for many years to come.