The Brother Innovis F420 is one of those sewing machines that will appeal to new sewists and those with more experience alike. It's the kind of sewing machine that can span a number of skill levels and uses. The reasonable price and packaged extras only help cement the Brother Innovis F420 as one of the best sewing machines for all-comers.
In terms of pre-installed stitches the Brother Innovis F420 offers just enough to keep you busy – 140 stitches, including five buttonholes – but not too many as to overwhelm first-time sewers. In extended use these stitches prove very useful, as well as the machine being quiet and easily controlled.
140 built-in stitches, including 10 buttonhole styles
5 Styles of lettering (uppercase)
Advanced needle threader
Automatic thread cutter
Lock stitch button
Square Feed Drive System
Needle up/down setting
Quick-set bobbin and winder
My review will take into account everything the Brother Innovis F420 can do. I've been using it for four weeks, and have created some projects using it, including working on a quilt for a client. I mainly quilt, so I'll be putting the extension table to good use. Read our guide to how we test craft and sewing machines for a complete breakdown of this site's review process.
During this review I have also been using the Brother Innovis F420 in combination with the company's craft cutting machine, which is a great fit if you can afford the pair. Read my detailed review of the Brother ScanNCut SDX2200D and see how it can add to your sewing workflow.
If you're looking for a new sewing machine but want to see what else is around, take a look at our buying guide to the best sewing machines available now. This covers beginner models all the way up to professional sewing machines.
Brother Innovis F420 review: setup
The Brother Innovis F420 comes with a lot of excellent accessories that will appeal to newcomers and offer enough freedom for experienced sewers. This machine comes with seven presser feet, including the Buttonhole, Overcasting and Zigzag feet. It also comes packaged with a seam ripper, needle set and tools for cleaning and maintaining the sewing machine. There's pretty much everything you need.
There are a number of features that you can get to grips with instantly to save time and fuss, such as the automatic needle threader, simple Start/Stop function and connecting the useful knee lifter – a feature usually found on more expensive machines but is invaluable to anyone sewing with large, heavy material. Quilters will bemoan the lack of an extension table.
Brother Innovis F420 review: design and build
The Brother Innovis F420 isn't the lightest machine, weighing 8.5kg you may not be taking this to a sewing class as you would the Janome 2200XT, but don't let that put you off as this is a far more feature-packed machine. The design is compact and curvy, and not at all cumbersome. There aren't any over-designed buttons or switches to get in the way of your sewing.
The LCD screen is bright and easy to use too. The fold down lid details the main pre-installed stitches so you needn't always turn to the screen. A second fold-out section offers excellent storage for the presser feet and tools that come with the machine.
While design often takes in the ergonomics of a sewing machine, it's worth pointing our the attention taken by Brother in developing the Square Feed Drive System (SFDS). This guides material beneath the needle with a smooth and consistent motion, but importantly it can sew the same material in all directions without rotating the fabric (for example when stitching a badge to a shirt).
The Square Feed Drive System works with very thick materials too, which is advantage for quilters and patchworkers, even though the Brother Innovis F420 isn't specifically aimed at these sewists out of the box.
Brother Innovis F420 review: performance
The Square Feed Drive System, the range of adjustable feet means and pre-installed stitches ensures the Brother Innovis F420 can be used for a wide range of fabrics and projects. It has enough features to take on most tasks, whether stitching a garment or getting decorative and detailing with wording.
The machine is quiet and easily controlled. The included manual offers all the instruction you could need, but if you do want further advice the Brother website has excellent video tutorials.
Selecting stitches is easily done using the neat touchscreen display and accessible button controls; when I need to change feet it's easily done with plenty of room to get to the foot and replace it with a new one. (Trust me, not all sewing machines get this right.)
The one downside is the Brother Innovis F420 doesn't come with a Walking foot for quilting. It's quite capable of patchwork, but if you need to go further and stitch the layers of material together as a quilt you'll need to spend money on a proper Waking foot.
For my quilt project (above) I pre-cut material on the Brother ScanNCut for speed and went to the Brother Innovis F420 to piece it together. The neat size of the F420 means I can have both on the same table. The image above shows the top of a finished quilt, I would need a Walking foot to finish this project, meaning extra expense. So, this is great for patchwork out of the box but full quilting is not possible.
When it came to setting up and winding the bobbin there are clear and easy to follow instructions. If you're new to sewing machines the Brother Innovis F420 makes getting started incredibly easy and stress-free. Also, I encountered no tearing or clumsy threading with the Brother Innovis F420 and the auto-cutter also makes life easy.
Brother Innovis F420 review: value for money
Priced at $1,199.00 / £699 the machine is more expensive in the US, but unlike the UK you can generally find deals around the $900 mark. Either way it's hard not to view the Brother Innovis F420 as good value for money.
The Brother Innovis F420 comes packaged with the kind of high-end features usually reserved for more expensive sewing machines, such as the excellent custom stitch feature for designing and using your own stitches to the wealth of pre-packaged presser feet and the excellent Square Feed Drive System.
A small but neat feature is the machine's fold down lid that protects the bobbin and mechanism while in use, it's the kind of design touch more costly machines offer but at this price it's another sign of excellent value for money because this kind of protection will ensure the machine will last.
Brother Innov-is F420 review: should you buy one?
Yes, it's easy to recommend the Brother Innovis F420. This is a sewing machine aimed at newcomers but has enough features and extras to appeal to most seasoned sewers too.
If you're a quilter then you will find the Brother Innovis F420 lacking slightly compared to more expensive machines that offer a larger sewing area, such as the Brother Innovis NV1800Q, which has a walking foot too, for example.
Yet, if you're just getting started in sewing or sew occasionally the Brother Innovis F420, at its retail price, and considering the wealth of extras and quality stitching, is highly recommended as a good overall sewing machine.