This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. Please read my disclosures to know more.

Singer Vs Brother Sewing Machines Review

This is a post I never thought I would write but here we are because I can only answer so many emails before I write a blog post.  So we are going to do a deep dive into Singer vs Brother sewing machines.  We will cover both new sewing machines and vintage sewing machines.  Just promise me before we go on that we will still be friends when you get done reading this post. 

Singer vs Brother sewing machines has been a debate raging for over 100 years, find out which sewing machine you should buy from each brand.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Purchasing items from the links costs you nothing more and adds a few pennies to the fabric budget.

Singer Vs Brother Sewing Machines Review

I want to say before we get started that both companies have made great machines, OK machines, and real duds.  I also want you to know that the only 100% correct answer here is "buy the best machine you can afford with the features you need."  We here at The Quilting Room want you to enjoy making quilts and sewing no matter what sewing machine you do it on or if you don't use a sewing machine at all.  

I have done my best to make sure the information on the companies is accurate but due to using Google translate for some of the Brother company's history, there could be errors. 

Brief Singer Sewing Machine Company History

Issac Merrit Singer started his company in 1850.  Thanks to great marketing and assembly line production Singer became synonymous with home sewing machines.  Due to the demand for Singer sewing machines in the UK Singer opened a factory in Scotland in 1867.  They would open the million-square-foot Kilbowie plant in 1882 and could produce 13,000 machines a week.  The height of production for the Kilbowie plant was in the 1960s and it employed 16,000 people but due to the reduced demand of sewing machines 10 years later the plant would only have 5,000 employees, and just a short decade later in 1980 the plant would be closed.  It is estimated that the Kilbowie plant produced 36 million sewing machines.

Singer would start to struggle after WWII.  The Japanese and European machines that entered the US market after the war had features that Singer machines didn't have.  Singer would start diversifying in the 60s and their revenue would change from 90% of sewing machines to only 35%.  In 1986 the sewing machine division was spun off into SSMC.  By 1987 Singer was hit by a corporate raider who sold off the various divisions.  The sewing machine division would be bought by Semi-Tech Microelectronics which would rename SSMC to Singer eventually changing it to Singer N.V.  Singer N.V. would file bankruptcy in 1999.  Kolhberg & Company purchased the company and moved its headquarters to LaVergne, TN.  In 2006, Kolhberg acquired Husqvarna and Pfaff sewing machines.  The three companies would merge into SVP Group.  SVP is owned by Platinum Equity as of 2021.  Platinum Equity also owns the Detroit Pistons NBA team. 

If you would like to see an almost complete list of Singer sewing machine models check out Singer Sewing Machine Models by year.  You'll notice there's a gap when the company was being sold in the 80s and 90s.  That information may be lost.  My hope is someone will find that box of paperwork and reach out at some point. 

Brief Brother Sewing & Embroidery History

Brother started in 1908 as Yasui Sewing and Co and would be renamed Yasui Brothers Sewing Machine Co in 1925 when the founder's son inherited the company.  At first, they focused on making parts and repairing sewing machines.  In 1928, they would produce a chain stitch machine for making straw hats.  I'm assuming it was similar to the Singer 24.  It was also used for making hats and is a chain stitch machine.  They started producing domestic sewing machines in 1932, which was a Singer 15 clone machine.  In 1934, Yasui was liquidated and the brothers were incorporated as Nippon Sewing Machine Manufacturer and started making industrial machines.   Brother Sales Ltd would be established in 1941 and in 1947 Brother would export their first batch of sewing machines.

Brother would also start to diversify in the late 50s and early 60s, similarly to Singer.  In 64 they would change the sewing division from Nippon to Brother Industries Ltd. In 1968 they bought the British sewing machine company, Jones Sewing Machine Company.  Brother would introduce their first computerized sewing machine in 1979.

The company's history is fairly vague from 1979 to 2012.  It appears that they just kept plugging along making sewing machines for themselves and making badged machines for other companies.  In 2012, they opened the world's largest single-brand sewing machine manufacturing facility in Vietnam.  That same year they would produce their 50 millionth home sewing machine.  In 2013, they would introduce the Scan and Cut. 

There isn't any information on who currently owns the company as far as if it's still in the hands of the Yasui family or not.  Brother continues to make machines under their brand and for others though what brands are made by Brother isn't listed.  I have seen lots of rumors about who they make sewing machines for but since there is no concrete evidence I won't list them.  

Singer vs Brother Sewing Machine: Which One Is Right For You?

The right sewing machine for you, Singer or Brother, is the one that fits into your budget and has the features that you need.  That holds true no matter if you are buying new, used, or vintage sewing machines.  

Vintage Singer vs Brother Sewing Machines

If you have been following The Quilting Room for any length of time you know we have lots of vintage sewing machines.  If you are considering a vintage sewing machine please take some time to see what it takes to resurrect a vintage sewing machine.  There are a lot of great vintage machines out there that can be picked up for little money but you'll need to be willing to put a little effort into fixing them.   You can check out our vintage sewing machine restoration blog post series for more help. 

Vintage Singer Sewing Machines

Vintage Singer sewing machines are what you will find the most out in the wild.  Singer made a lot of machines and they had a trade-in program that destroyed any machine traded in that wasn't a Singer.  This kept the competition out of the market and makes the Singer machine much more abundant.  If you are looking to just piece a quilt you can't go wrong with the Singer 301.  The Singer 221, aka The Featherweight, is also an excellent choice but the Singer 301 is a more affordable option.  If you need more stitches the Singer 500A is a great machine but it isn't portable.  The Singer 401A also has many built-in stitches.  

Vintage Brother Sewing Machines

As far as vintage Brother sewing machines go the best that I have found are the Singer 15 clones.  We have a few of them and they are smoother than the original Singer 15s that we have.  They have the ability to drop the feed dogs and have reverse as well.  They might not say Brother on them.  Remember from the history section that I said Brother made machines for other companies?  They've been doing that for years.  Our class 15 machine has Bendix on the front but when you look underneath at the parts they are stamped Brother.  As far as the other vintage Brothers I'm not a fan of them.  They aren't as smooth as other machines of the same period.  The Brother machines tend to be louder and clunkier than other machines from the same time period.  

New Singer vs Brother Sewing Machines

If you have seen my post about the best sewing machines you might notice that I don't have either Singer or Brother on my list.  That's not to say they are bad machines it's just that I found better in that price point.  I will be honest and say I have no first-hand experience with any Singer machines after the Singer 2404 Merritt.  My family wasn't a fan of Singer machines so they weren't purchased.  I do have first-hand experience with Brother because that's what my grandma swore by.  I do understand that people do have brand affinity though. 

You can find both Singer and Brother sewing machines at dealers and at big box stores.  There is a difference between the machines, the machines at dealers are of higher quality.  It's similar to big box store fabrics and independent fabric shops.  You will need to decide what is the best for you, a little cheaper but won't last as long, or spend a little more and keep the machine a little longer.  Sometimes that will change as you go along in life and your sewing journey.  

New Singer Sewing Machines

Singer sewing machines are beginner machines really.  They aren't expensive and you do get what you pay for.  You aren't going to get years and years of heavy use out of them.  Based on what people have said in several sewing groups I belong to the HD, heavy-duty, models are your best bets.  

The Singer HD 4411 has eleven stitches and has the ability to drop the feed dogs.  It's currently $189.99 so it's not a huge investment.  It would be great for a kid who wants something new but you aren't sure if they are going to stick with sewing. 

The Singer Heavy Duty 5511 has 69 stitches but it doesn't mention the ability to drop the feed dogs.  It does 1,100 stitches per minute which is pretty fast.  It's currently $219.00 so still not a huge investment.  

New Brother Sewing Machines

Brother has a much wider range of sewing machines.  I know a lot of people that swear by their embroidery machines but since I don't use or hang out in groups focused on embroidery machines I'm going to skip those machines.  I also stuck to machines that had more quilting features than features you need for fashion or home decor.  

The Brother ST371HD is an entry model.  It's got features that cover a variety of sewing, similar to the Singer HD models above.  These entry-model machines are designed to do a little bit of everything so you can figure out what kind of sewing you really want to do.  This machine is currently $229.00.  It has drop-feed dogs and 37 built-in stitches.  It's also slower than the other machines doing only 800 stitches per minute.  Slow machines are excellent for new sewists who are still learning to control the fabric.  

The Brother PQ1500SL is Brother's most popular non-embroidery machine.  It is a straight-stitch-only machine and it does 1,5000 stitches per minute.  This machine was designed to be both a sewing and a quilting machine.  It has adjustable feed dogs, an automatic thread cutter, and adjustable pressure for the presser feet.  

Singer Vs Brother Sewing Machines: Which one has the best reviews?

The machine with the best reviews on my list is the Brother PQ1500SL, it has almost a perfect 5-star rating.  I looked at the three reviews that weren't 5 stars.  One was about a shipping issue and not about the machine, one was about the thread breaking while doing free-motion quilting, and the other was about not being able to figure out the automatic threader.  None of those reviews are concerning enough to not recommend the machine. 

Which machine would I buy? Singer Vs Brother Sewing Machines

I would buy a Singer 301 hands down.  Out of all the machines on this list that's the machine that I would buy over and over again.  I adore my Singer 301, it's got the features that I need, it's portable, and it's reasonably priced.  

What if I don't like any of the Singer Sewing Machines or Brother Sewing Machines?

I fully understand thinking you are going to go one way but after reading about various sewing machines you end up saying to yourself, "I really don't like any of these machines.  Ugh, I was sure I wanted a Singer or Brother sewing machine."  I have a list of machines that are the best sewing machines for quilting and they are all under $1000.  On that list I didn't focus on brands, I focused on features vs price giving you a better idea of what is on the market for quilters.  

Reviews of the Singer Sewing Machines and Brother Sewing Machines, which one I would buy, and more

Would you like to comment?

  1. Thank you for a very interesting article. I love old machines, especially the 301 (I have one in each color!) I am also a fan of the Featherweight, the 201 and the 237. I also have the Brother Nouvelle 1500S. I love the history of Isaac Singer too!