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If you’ve ever seen a colorful thread design on a t-shirt, pillow, or pants pocket, and thought, “I wish I could make something like that!” — well, you can!
Enter the humble embroidery machine.
You can either buy a stand-alone machine, or buy a sewing machine that can do embroidery.
We’ve compiled this guide to embroidery machines, as well as a list of the best machines on the market right now.
Here’s a quick sneak peek at the results:
|Machine||Embroidery/Sewing||# of Stitches, Designs etc||Hoop Size||Score|
|Embroidery & Sewing||67 stitches, 70 designs||4" x 4"||4.5|
|Embroidery & Sewing||600 + 5 fonts||No hoop||4.4|
|Embroidery||136 designs, 6 fonts||5"x 7"||4.6|
|Embroidery & Sewing||400 stitches, 40 designs||4" x 6"||4.7|
|Embroidery||160 designs, 6 fonts||7.9" x 7.9"||4.8|
Let’s get into it..
- 1 Embroidery Machines vs Sewing Machines
- 2 Inside an Embroidery Machine…
- 3 What Makes the Best Embroidery Machine?
- 4 The Best Embroidery Machine Reviews
Embroidery Machines vs Sewing Machines
At first glance, it’s easy to mix up an embroidery machine with a sewing machine.
Both are machines that work with thread and fabric, after all.
However, a sewing machine and an embroidery machine have different purposes. A sewing machine is used for construction: it connects pieces of fabric in order to make something larger, such as an article of clothing. An embroidery machine, on the other hand, is used for decoration: it adds an image or design to fabric.
If you want to create a pair of pants, use a sewing machine. If you want to decorate the pants with a cool design, use an embroidery machine!
Many of the best sewing machines nowadays are kitted out with their own embroidery capabilities — good news if you don’t want to buy a separate machine. These 2-in-1 products are ideal for crafters who like to get the most out of their purchases.
Inside an Embroidery Machine…
Embroidery machines have several features, some of which might sound familiar to you if you have used a sewing machine before.
There are many different kinds of needles, and embroidery machines have their own kind.
Embroidery needles have a larger eye than sewing needles, which protects the thread. This is necessary because embroidery needles often move more quickly than sewing needles.
Some embroidery machines come already with needles included, but you can purchase packages of extra if necessary.
Just like in a sewing machine, the bobbin is the spool that holds the thread in the embroidery machine.
Some embroidery machines can hold more than one bobbin at once, so you can load each bobbin with a different color thread to contribute to your design.
You might think that an embroidery machine looks a bit like a computer. This is because of the display screen, which allows you to operate the machine.
The display screen is where you set up the digital patterns for the design the embroidery machine will put on the fabric.
Embroidery machines usually come with patterns included, but you can add your own designs, or designs you found on the Internet, to the machine.
The machine’s computer can store many designs, and there are no limits to what kind of image an embroidery machine can set into fabric!
Embroidery machines also have one or more hoops, which look and operate like a frame. The hoop attaches the fabric to the embroidery machine, holding it in place while the machine operates.
The hoop is an essential part of the machine that keeps the computer from making errors in the pattern.
The stabilizer is a part of an embroidery machine that holds the fabric taut as the machine does its work.
Similar to the darning foot on a sewing machine, it works together with the hoops to keep the fabric from shifting around and ruining the design.
What Makes the Best Embroidery Machine?
Now that you know what most embroidery machines have, it’s time to talk about what you really want to look for when you get one yourself, to make sure that you have the best machine for your needs.
You definitely want to look for one with helpful time-saving functions.
An embroidery machine that automatically cuts threads, or one which features multiple needles and can therefore automatically switch between colors, saves you from having to stop the machine and change the threads yourself.
The best machines will also automatically thread the needle for you.
Some particularly hi-tech models also have laser alignment systems that help you position the fabric and place the design exactly where you want it to be the first time you try.
Better Computer Systems
If you plan to use a lot of different designs when you embroider, then you’ll want to get a machine with a larger digital memory. This means that the embroidery machine can store more designs and sometimes even larger designs.
Some machines can connect directly to the Internet, which makes it very simple to download a new embroidery pattern whenever you feel inspired – no guess work!
Embroidery Sewing Machines
Earlier we discussed the difference between sewing machines and embroidery machines. You could also buy an embroidery-sewing machine which can perform the functions of both!
When you want to sew, you can detach the embroidery parts of these machines and set them aside for later.
Because this machine can both sew and embroider, getting one can be an economical choice if you plan to do both crafts but don’t know where you would keep two machines.
The Best Embroidery Machine Reviews
The Brother SE400 is one of the most popular embroidery machines on the market right now, and it’s no wonder — 67 built-in stitches, sewing and quilting capabilities and a very reasonable price.
It can connect to your computer to access thousands of embroidery designs, and is very easy to use.
The hoop is a little small, however — just 4″ x 4″ — which means that we recommend this more for beginners and those on a budget.
- Embroiders, quilts and sews
- Great price
- 67 built-in stitches
- 70 built-in embroidery designs
- Touch LCD screen
- One touch automatic thread cutter
- Free arm
- Automatic needle threader
- 7-point feed dogs for smooth fabric feed
- Small embroidery hoop
The Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist is more of an all-in-one sewing crafts machine, but it is truly excellent for embroidery (as long as you remember to buy a hoop!).
It comes with 600 pre-programmed stitches, which includes 5 fonts — perfect for embroiderers! It’s also very easy to use and fantastic for a number of craft projects. Considering its huge capabilities, it’s actually very reasonably priced.
Here’s a great video of the embroidery stitches in action on the Singer 9960:
- 600 built-in stitches and 5 fonts
- Large extension table
- Lots of accessories included — including embroidery foot
- Automatic needle threader and thread cutter
- Top drop-in bobbin system
- Needle up/down button
- Autopilot control
- Digital information adviser
- Speed control lever
- Automatic stitch sizing
- Doesn’t come with an embroidery hoop
- Singer customer support leaves a little to be desired
This is the first embroidery-only machine we have in our list — so be aware that you can’t do general sewing, clothes making or quilting on the Brother PE770.
It has a large 5″ x 7″ embroidery hoop, 136 in built designs, 6 lettering fonts, 10 frames and 12 borders. It also has a built-in memory so you can import huge numbers of your own and downloaded designs.
- Large embroidery hoop
- Back lit LCD screen
- In built memory and embroidery card slot
- USB port
- Lots of in-built designs and fonts
- Easy threading
- Automatic thread cutter
- Quick set bobbin system
- Design editing features
- Compatible with iBroidery
- Design your own stitches with My Custom Stitch feature
- No general sewing capability
- A small learning curve when you first get started
The EverSewn Hero is a criminally underrated sewing and embroidery machine, in our opinion!
It has over 400 stitches in-built into the machine, is very easy to use and both sews and embroiders like a dream.
The embroidery hoop measures 110mm x 170mm (around 4.3″ x 6.5″ for all us Americans). It also stitches at 800 stitches per minute — great for experienced crafters.
- 400 in-built stitches and 40 embroidery designs (including decorative, utility and alphabet stitches)
- USB port on embroidery module to import your designs
- Intuitive LCD screen
- Sews like a dream
- Automatic needle threader
- Upper needle and bobbin thread level monitoring
- Large embroidery hoop
- Fast stitching
- Comes with 8 different presser feet
- Comparatively expensive
This is really the Big Daddy and what many people would consider to be the best embroidery machine right now.
The Janome Memory Craft 400E is expensive and can only do embroidery, so it’s really only recommend for serious — perhaps even professional — embroiderers.
But it’s really at the top of its game. It’s got a huge embroidery hoop, 160 built-in designs, 6 fonts, and a USB port for importing even more designs. It’s also got a huge number of editing options.
- Exceptional embroidery quality
- Huge embroidery field — 7.9″ x 7.9″
- Lots of built-in designs and fonts
- USB port
- Top loading, full rotary hook bobbin
- Variable speed between 400-860 stitches per minute
- On-screen editing functions
- Adjustable hoop positioning
- Programmable jump thread trimming
- Direct jump to desired stitch point
- Advanced needle thread and automatic thread cutter
- Easy set bobbin winding and bobbin thread sensor
- Full color LCD screen
- Very expensive
There you have it — the best embroidery machine reviews of 2017!
Which is your favorite embroidery machine?