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Brother Innov-is F420 sewing machine review

With 140 built-in stitches and a wide array of time-saving functions, Brother’s Innov-is F420 is a feature-packed machine that has a lot to offer, whether you’re a brand new stitcher or a seasoned pro.

Our rating 
4.3 out of 5 star rating 4.3
Brother Innovis sewing machine F420

Our review

A great all-rounder machine packed with functions for newbies and experienced sewists alike. It features 140 stitches (including ten buttonholes), five styles of lettering, Square Feed Drive System, My Custom Stitch designer, adjustable presser foot pressure, advanced needle threader, automatic thread cutter, knee lift, seven presser feet and tool kit included
Easy to use
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Extra functions
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Stitch options
5.0 out of 5 rating 5.0
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Worth the money
5.0 out of 5 rating 5.0
Pros: Wide range of time-saving features, On-screen display gives lots of info, Easy to set up, Built-in accessory storage and hard case included
Cons: Fairly heavy at 8.5kg, could be daunting for absolute beginners who want to keep it simple

The Brother Innov-is F420 features Brother’s innovative Square Feed Drive System, which uses a longer sewing foot and improved feed mechanism to guide fabric under the needle smoothly and evenly, whether it’s a delicate satin or a tough denim.


The F420’s adjustable presser foot pressure keeps things running smoothly, meaning you can match it to each project as you go, and the built-in My Custom Stitch software allows more adventurous stitchers to create and save their own bespoke designs. In addition to this an array of time-saving features such as an automatic needle threader, thread cutter, start/stop function and handy knee lift take the faff out of fiddly tasks and give this machine a real boost ahead of its competitors. Carry on reading to find out more about the Innov-is F420, with details on stitch functions, portability, durability and more.

What is the Brother Innov-is F420?

The Innov-is F420 is a computerised sewing machine aimed at domestic stitchers of all kinds. It can handle a wide range of projects thanks to its Square Feed Drive System, which uses a longer sewing foot and a redesigned feed to guide fabric underneath the needle smoothly, no matter the thickness. The F420 also features a range of other functions designed to make the user’s sewing experience easier, such as an advanced needle threader, automatic thread cutter, start/stop button and a handy knee lift for hands-free stitching.

What does the Brother Innov-is F420 do?

The F420 has been designed to work well across a wide variety of projects, with elements such as the Square Feed Drive System and adjustable presser foot pressure meaning it can tackle a range of fabrics with ease. With both utility and decorative stitches to choose from as well as five lettering styles, users can both construct and decorate a wide variety of projects, from garments to quilts and everything in between.

Key features:

  • 140 stitches
  • Five lettering styles (upper case only)
  • Ten styles of buttonhole
  • My Custom Stitch software built-in
  • Square Feed Drive System
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Advanced needle threader
  • Automatic thread cutter
  • Start/stop button
  • Lock stitch button
  • Presser foot knee lift
  • Seven presser feet and tool kit included

How much is the Brother Innov-is F420?

While the Innov-is F420 has an RRP of £599, at the time of writing, it’s currently only available online for £649.

Is the Brother Innov-is F420 good value for money?

At £599, the Innov-is F420 offers great value for money. It includes a range of high-spec features often seen in more expensive models but sits at a mid-range price point, meaning that it isn’t unaffordable for beginners or those who don’t want to invest thousands in their machine.

Is the Brother Innov-is F420 easy to use?

As soon as I got the F420 out of its box, I could tell it was going to be quick and simple to set up. The machine is neatly presented, with a digital screen and a series of touch-button controls to the front and a single wheel to the right hand side. A fold-down lid conceals the thread spool at the top of the machine, and also features details of each of the F420’s 140 stitches (as well as the five lettering styles – more on those later). A second fold-out beneath the needle plate reveals a hidden storage caddy that houses seven presser feet, alongside several spare bobbins and a seam ripper. This was a real bonus for me as I can never find a seam ripper when I need them – having one stowed away in my machine at all times will be a godsend.

Both the included manual and quick-reference guide (which is a handy addition for those of us who want to tear the box open and get stuck in straight away) gave easy instructions for threading everything up and within just a couple of minutes, I was up and running. Selecting a stitch was straightforward using the on-screen display and button controls, and when I needed to add buttonholes to my project the entire process went without a hitch thanks to the included automatic buttonhole foot and the detailed instructions given within the machine’s manual. The F420 took everything I threw at it in its stride and delivered neat results back to me, every time.

Brother Innov-is F420 quality / durability

The F420 definitely feels like a sturdy piece of kit that’s built to last. The body of the machine is well-constructed and doesn’t feature many bulky buttons or dials, meaning that it’ll be easy to keep it safe from knocks and scrapes. Inside the machine, the mechanism ran smoothly and throughout the entire time I used it, never got snarled up or jammed – Brother has a reputation for using reliable, high-quality parts and that certainly seemed to ring true in my experience with this machine.

The fold-down lid at the top of the F420 keeps the thread spool and mechanism concealed when not in use, again providing an extra layer of protection from both damage and dust. The built-in presser foot storage underneath the needle plate is moulded to fit each part perfectly, which not only reassures me that my accessories will be kept safe (and won’t get lost) but adds a high-end luxury feel to the machine too – these little design touches really do make all the difference.

In terms of on-going care, all Brother sewing machines come with a minimum three year warranty and services and repairs can be sourced easily at sewing machine centres up and down the country, so I feel assured that if I do run into any trouble, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get it fixed.

Brother Innov-is F420 functions and stitch options

The F420 has a selection of handy functions and features that I think elevate it above similar models in the same price bracket. The aforementioned Square Feed Drive System really came into its own both when I was stitching through bulky seams and also when working with delicate satin – both slid under the needle easily and didn’t snag, stretch or catch. The ability to change the presser foot pressure also helped, meaning that I could quickly and easily match the pressure to my project. The machine comes with 140 built-in stitches, as well as five lettering styles (including Cyrillic and Japanese fonts). It also offers ten different styles of automatic buttonhole.

In addition to the built-in stitches, the F420 also comes pre-loaded with Brother’s My Custom Stitch software, which gives users the option to design their own bespoke stitches. The machine comes with a pack of design papers which are used to mark out your ideas, then the information is fed into the machine and converted into a custom stitch pattern. Users can alter the size, width and length of the stitches and save up to 15 at a time for easy retrieval later on.

The machine also harbours a number of ergonomic time-saving features that were fun to use and made my projects easier to complete. The knee lift, for example, is a great addition – something I didn’t previously know I needed, but now I’ve tried it, I wouldn’t want to be without it. The same goes for the needle threader (a life-saver for those who struggle with this fiddly task) and the automatic thread cutter, start/stop button and lock stitch function, all of which saved time and trouble throughout my projects.

How portable is it?

The F420 is a fairly hefty machine, coming in at 8.5kg in weight. However, it does have a built-in handle that feels safe and sturdy and comes supplied with a durable hard-case cover that should protect it from day-to-day wear and tear. If you’re looking for a machine to take out and about often you may want to invest in a lighter option; however for occasional classes and workshop visits, the F420 would be a good choice.

Our verdict: should you buy the Brother Innov-is F420?

Overall I’m very happy with the Innov-is F420 and am sure it would make a worthy addition to any sewing room. The wide variety of functions included as standard allows the machine to take on an array of projects with ease, from large-scale quilts and bulky patchworks through to delicate garments and accessories. In addition, add-on accessories such as a wide table, circular sewing attachment and various specialised feet can be purchased separately to further expand the F420’s capabilities. The only real downside to the machine is that it is fairly heavy, so not ideal for those who want to take their projects out to classes and workshops; plus those completely new to the craft might find the variety of functions on offer a little daunting at first. However, with a little time and experimentation the F420 might just prove to be a worthy sewing companion for years to come.


On the lookout for a different model? Check out our complete guide to the best sewing machines.