This is a showdown.
Brother vs. Brother.
My sewing studio is home to two Brother sewing machines (and one Brother serger). My sewing machine model is SQ9185 and my daughter’s is LX3817A. I’ve had my machine since 2017 and since then it has been replaced on store shelves with the comparable XR9550. The SQ and XR are essentially identical so any comparisons between the SQ and LX would be similar to comparing the readily available XR to the LX. I’ll be comparing the SQ and LX.
So where do we begin our comparison? Where it counts. After you have opened the box and looked at all the accessories you’re going to want to plug it in and sew a scrap piece of fabric to get a feel for the machine, right? That’s the moment where it counts… the experience of sewing.
Quick Reference Table
|130 stitches (55 alphanumeric)
|1 buttonhole (4-step)
|8 buttonhole options (1-step)
|850 stitches per minute max speed
|850 stitches per minute max speed
|12.13″H x 5.75″D x 15.43″W
|11.48″H x 6.69″D x 16.02″W
|4 accessory feet included
|10 accessory feet included
|manual needle threading
|automatic needle threading
|needle up/down button
|wide table included
|variable speed controls (3 settings)
|backlit LCD display
Computerized vs. Mechanical
This is where you encounter, in my opinion, the biggest difference between the two machines. One is mechanical (LX) and the other is computerized (SQ). Before you begin sewing you’ll need to flip the switch, turning the machine on. Both machines have a light, so that will turn on, but the SQ makes a *beep-boop-beep* sound as it resets itself into stitch setting “00”. Let’s say before we even mess with different stitch settings we put the scrap of cloth under the presser foot, put the presser foot down, and press our foot on the pedal. Both machines will begin stitching and pulling the fabric through. Because the SQ is computerized, you can adjust the maximum speed that the feed dogs pull the fabric through. There is a slider with 3 settings. When you lift your foot off of the pedal the computerized machine will finish the action of making a stitch and end with the needle completely down in the fabric. The mechanical machine needle will stop where you stop. It could be halfway down, about to pull up from the fabric, or anywhere in between. Here is one difference that I have grown accustomed to with my computerized machine and I love it. I love that my needle stops in the fabric, especially at times when I need to pivot (a common occurrence). When you want to free the fabric from the needle there is a handy button on the face of the machine that, with one push, lifts the needle to the highest position. This feature is spectacular.
Stitches & Buttonholes
Let’s throw out some numbers here! The LX has 17 stitches. The 17 stitches include different needle positions and straight stitch lengths, a few zigzag stitches, blind hem stitch, elastic stitch, shell tuck stitch, double action stitch, and bridging stitch. The SQ has 130 stitches (55 alphanumeric). The 130 stitches serve so many purposes, both practical and decorative. You can select a setting that mirrors the decorative stitches to either a left or right orientation. 55 of the stitches are alphanumeric. You can program the letter stitches into a word. You can’t change the size or font, but they can come in handy for certain projects. I’ve stitched my girls’ names on the handle of their lunch bags. You can also stitch the numeric size on a homemade tag for clothing you make (ex. 2T). The LX has 1 buttonhole option and the buttonhole is produced in a 4-step process. The SQ has 8 buttonhole options and they are all automatic/1-step. When selecting stitches the LX uses a manual dial and the SQ has buttons and a backlit LCD screen.
Needles & Feet
The SQ has automatic needle threading. I like to think of this as assisted verses automatic. There is a little mechanism that drops down, slips a tiny hook through the eye of the needle and pulls the thread through the needle. BUT it isn’t “automatic”; you are an active participant. You pull the lever down and place the thread in the correct position. It is helpful if you struggle with threading a needle. The LX doesn’t have this feature. Threading the needle is completely manual.
Both of the sewing machines come with additional sewing feet. The LX comes with 4 accessory feet: buttonhole foot, zipper foot, zigzag foot, button sewing foot. The SQ comes with 10 accessory feet: zigzag, monogramming, overcasting, zipper, blind stitch, button sewing, buttonhole, ¼” piecing, walking, and spring action quilting feet. Accessory feet are readily available separately that work with either machine interchangeably.
Start & Stop Button
With the sewing pedal unplugged, you can press the ‘Start/Stop’ button to control the stitching. It starts the stitching and continues until you press it again to stop. You are able to control the stitching speed with the slider right above it. This function is incredible if you are either temporarily or permanently unable to use your feet to control the pedal (due to injuries, impairments, or disabilities).
The SQ has some features and accessories that the LX doesn’t have. A wide table is included and it is an optional accessory. You can simply slide it on and off when you want to use it. It is very handy when you work with a large project, such as a quilt. Speaking of quilting, there is another feature that is useful when free-motion quilting. That feature is the option to drop the feed dogs (the jagged feed under the presser foot that pulls the fabric through). The feed dogs would interfere with being able to move the quilt in any direction. *Note: the spring action quilting foot that is included would be the foot that you attach for free-motion quilting.
Dimensions & Speed
LX: 12.13″ x 5.75″ x 15.43″ SQ: 11.48″ x 6.69″ x 16.02″. The size difference is very minuscule. LX & SQ: 850 stitches per minute. In my opinion, the speed isn’t a big deal for a beginner. If high speed stitching is an important factor then you’d want to look at a high speed specific machine such as the PQ1600S. That machine’s stitching speed is 1,500. That is almost double the speed. Industrial sewing machines have a range of 1000-5000 stitches per minute. The dimensions and speed of these two machines are not something I weigh heavily in their comparison. This information is simply included to show that they are very similar in this respect.
Which machine is the winner? Well, I think it depends on your budget, goals, and interests. You can clearly see that the SQ has a lot of wonderful features and extras, but is it the right machine for you? I would recommend the LX to: someone between the ages of 10-16 that is curious about sewing, someone who wants a sewing machine for mending and small, infrequent alterations, and someone who has a limited budget. I would recommend the SQ to: a beginner that is an enthusiastic learner, someone upgrading from an LX-type machine, and someone who is interested in sewing garments (*nodding at the 1-step buttonhole feature*).
I hope this comparison has been helpful to you in your search.