Embroidery Sewing Machine: A Beginner’s Guide

In the following paragraphs, we’re going to discover every nook and cranny of a specialized embroidery sewing machine. We’ll also have a look at the features of its semi-specialized cousins. 

We’ll also dig into their usage and the best models available on the market. 

But before we get into details, let’s tackle what embroidery sewing machines serve for, how, and when to use them. 

In this article, we will:

    1. Respond to the burning question: “What is an embroidery sewing machine?”
    2. List the best embroidery sewing machine models to simplify your purchase;

Let’s start exploring, shall we?

Embroidery sewing machine—basics 

We use an embroidery sewing machine to create patterns onto various surfaces and textiles.

Embroidery is a primarily decorative technique. You can use embroidery machines to create logos, drawings, and other designs.

We usually do embroidery on table linens, quilts, and throw pillows—where you put them depends entirely on your creativity.

An embroidery can come in the form of stitched flourishes, such as, for example:

    • a basic monogram or 
    • a detailed scene of flowers and butterflies; 

Most of today’s embroidery sewing machines are computer-controlled—they stitch a digitally created embroidery design. 

In fact, when you ask for an embroidery sewing machine at the store, you will most probably be offered a computerized embroidery sewing machine.

Many sewers ask if they can do embroidery without a specialized embroidery machine. 

The answer is yes!

There are two ways to do it:

    • by a meticulous hand-sewing or 
    • by using a free-motion embroidery technique (a pretty challenging one) with a traditional sewing machine;

Yet, using a machine designed specifically for embroidery stitching has some significant advantages:

    • it helps assure uniform stitches, and
    • it saves the operator some time;

Best embroidery machines
Image source: Good House Keeping

While looking for your soon-to-be favorite model, you’ll run into single needle and multi-needle embroidery machines. Most embroidery and sewing machine combos are single needle machines.

Here is how they differ according to Good House Keeping:

Feature

Single

Multi

Number of colors

One

More than one

How it works

You can make designs with multiple colors. A machine will ask you to change the thread every time. 

A machine will hold different colors of a thread simultaneously. You don’t have to change them manually.

Price

Relatively cheaper

More expensive—they’re typically designed for home businesses.

Let’s see what the pros and cons of these two types of embroidery sewing machines are. Get ready for a quarter of an hour of compact learning in the video below: 

Embroidery vs sewing machine
Image source: The Creative Folk

Using a digital embroidery sewing machine

While there are all three categories of embroidery sewing machines on the market:

    1. mechanical, 
    2. electronic, and 
    3. computerized,

in this paragraph, we will explore only the third, most popular type. 

Mechanical sewing machines have been around already for over two centuries. They continue to be widely used (Brother and Singer still produce them in masses). On the other hand, computerized embroidery machines have several toothsome features that other machines lack.

Take, for example:

    • multiple needle positions, 
    • an automatic needle threader, 
    • mirror imaging, 
    • over a hundred stitching functions, stitch patterns, screen positions, 
    • a screen display for the stitch length 
    • width adjustment, and many others;

(by Design My Costume

Sewing and embroidery machine
Image source: Brother USA

In short, digital embroidery is producing stitched pictures from a computerized image.

An advanced embroidery machine works with a computer. It provides it with elaborate pre-programmed embroidery patterns. If your imagination runs far, you can also add your downloaded or scanned patterns. 

Also, this kind of machine often employs a hooping system that holds the fabric taut when it works on the design execution. 

The only feature of a computerized sewing and embroidery machine that may not be of your liking is its price. These machines are the most expensive ones.  

According to Sew Home Grown:

“A good upscale embroidery machine can cost as much as $20,000, while more budget yet high-quality options are priced around $3,000-$7,000. “

Industrial sewing machine for embroidery is usually much larger than its domestic counterpart.  It also tends to be more expensive. 

Digital embroidery sewing machine
Image source: Publish Illinois

How to use a digital embroidery sewing machine? We’ll do it in several steps:

What to do 

Description Extra tip

Gather all the necessary sewings supplies.

Ensure you’ve got:

    • sharp scissors, 
    • embroidery threads, and 
    • sturdy fabric;

The Creative Folk also advises to ensure you’re equipped with needles, bobbin, and stabilizer. 

Create your design

Take one of the designs included in the machine or upload a new one. 

For newcomers using their sewing machine for beginners, we suggest a built-in design with minimal colors.

Manage machine inputs

After choosing your design, ensure the number of colors and stitching order is accurately set on the machine. 

If you have a multi-needle model, ensure thread colors match the numbers on the needle heads.

Frame the fabric

    1. Make sure the fabric you have is wrinkle-free and lay it in the hoop. 
    2. Check if all stabilizers are in place and insert the inner ring of the hoop. 
    3. Place the hoop in the machine. 
    4. Verify if the needle starts working exactly where you want the design to appear. 

Read about sewing machine needles here.

Start stitching!

There is little to do left—just press the start button. 

Remember to stop the machine when you need to switch the color.

It wasn’t that hard, was it? Now let’s live it again with a video! 

Here’s how Lee Stuart tackles it:

Loads of effort and roughly a pleasing effect, right? It happens to everyone at the beginning. 

Keep in mind that becoming a skilled machine embroiderer takes time and quite a lot of practice. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Brother sewing and embroidery machine
Image source: Financial Times

Try out these outstanding “Free Machine Embroidery Tips For Beginners!” by Claire on the Frank Nutt Sewing Machines YouTube channel:

Buying an embroidery sewing machine

We promised we would introduce you to the best models out there. But first, let’s go through a couple of golden rules of the embroidery sewing machine buying process.  

    1. Size 

For starters, take into account your plans for its usage. For example, if you’re going to take your machine to sewing classes, look for a smaller, portable one. 

Larger embroidery machines can weigh up to 50lbs, and it makes them extremely hard to move around. 

      2. Sewing ability

The next point to revise, as indicated in the Good House Keeping article, are your embroidery machine’s skills. 

In general, embroidery machines are not designed for regular sewing purposes—i.e., you cannot use an average embroidery machine to sew.

However, most single needle embroidery machines usually act also as sewing machines.

If you’re not a professional doing only embroidery, consider getting a sewing machine and embroidery combined.

Having a sewing and embroidery machine all in one is pretty handy when thinking about sewing room ideas

Less space sacrificed for heavy sewing appliances means comfier sewing. This, in turn, results in more creative time spent in your cozy sewing interiors.

Beetle wing embroidery
Image source: Fashion History

      3. Hoop options

The point is that a design area on your hoop will limit how big your embroidery designs can become. 

A hoop length for most machines spreads from four to ten inches. Choosing the size that you predict will most accurately respond to your needs. 

      4. Designs

Embroidery machines typically already have some built-in designs. Yet, you can go further than this, uploading as many crazy projects as you wish!

Check out if the brand has an online site and if you can find more embroidery options.

Embroidered clothing tutorial
Image source: Crewel Ghoul

Still not sure which type will work best for you?

Let us put it in a neat table created with the help of The Creative Folk:

Your starting point

What to do

You need a machine for embroidery purposes

Buy an embroidery machine or sewing and embroidery machine combo.

Some single-needle embroidery machines can be used for both purposes. 

You’re planning to run a small embroidery business

Invest in a multi-needle embroidery machine. 

What do you gain? 

    • a lot of time saved, 
    • less hassle as you won’t have to rethread the machine every time you need a new color of thread;

Here’s how The Baby’s Booty puts the complex experience of choosing the right embroidery machine in her live appearance on YouTube:

Regular sewing machine and embroidery machine

The issue you should explore is whether you need an embroidery sewing machine to do embroidery. 

Can you do embroidery on a regular sewing machine? You can use a regular machine to do embroidery if you aren’t currently planning to purchase an actual embroidery sewing machine.

As explained on Sewing Machine Buffs:

“Special embroidery machines can get the job done quickly and efficiently. However, it is possible to create embroidery patterns on different fabrics with a regular sewing machine. It is not mandatory to invest in a sewing machine with an embroidery function or to buy a separate machine for the job.”

You can do embroidery on any sewing machine with zig-zag functions. 

Trace a design onto a stabilizer and trace it along with the needle (as if it were a pencil).

Read about doing embroidery with a regular sewing machine on Sewing Machine Buffs. 

Tips for embroidery sewing using a regular machine
Image source: Felt Magnet

Ruby Shelton shares with us these “5 Tips for Embroidery Sewing Using a Regular Sewing Machine” on Felt Magnet:

    1. Lower the feed dogs

Go through your owner’s manual to discover how to lower the feed dogs. 

Some machines have a special darning plate that covers them up. 

By covering up or lowering the feed dogs, you’ll gain free movement during sewing. This way, you’ll take control of the sewing instead of letting the machine pull and move the fabric for you.

Here’s a YouTube video explaining “How to Raise & Lower the Feed Dogs/Teeth on the Brother NV950”:

      2. Use embroidery thread

Another tip to learn to sew embroidery on a regular sewing machine is changing a thread to a specialized one. 

Embroidery typically calls for 30- or 40-weight embroidery thread. 

When it comes to stitching techniques, it should be repetitive and texture-building. It will help outline patterns and pack them with color.

More about threads in our articles: sewings supplies and how to thread a sewing machine

Read also about the difference between embroidery thread and sewing thread. 

Using rayon (the best choice), cotton, or polyester embroidery thread will benefit your projects in two ways:

    • by making it look great on the finished garment,
    • by providing strength to the garment;

Embroidery threads on rack
Image source: Stitchers Source

Do you know what else can benefit your fashion creations significantly?

Different types of woven labels that Super Label Store offers in every quantity!

Whether you need to finish your freshly-made clothing with custom hang tags, care labels, or woven labels, this is an online address to reach out to.

What do you gain? Four awesome features! 

This product:

    • is super easy to create with the use of intuitive configure option on the site,
    • has super, premium quality from start to finish, 
    • is super customized, so you finish your Super Label Store adventure with 100% custom labels,
    • comes in super low quantities, so whatever is the number of labels you wish to order, you can do it;

      3. Use a full bobbin

Apart from verifying if the type of thread you use for your embroidery endeavors is intended for the specific technique, you should ensure that the bobbin is fully wound.

The last thing you wish for is finding yourself in the middle of the embroidery project with the empty bobbin.

      4. Use a stabilizer

This point may not be necessary, but it’s worth giving it a thought. 

What do stabilizers serve for?

They are handy for slippery fabrics or thin fabrics, which would otherwise often pucker up when embroidered.

There are various styles of this product:

    • some tear away around the embroidered area (tearaway), 
    • others dissolve when they’re washed in water (wash-away), and 
    • others can be trimmed around the embroidered area when stitching is finished (cutaway); 

Read these tips on how to use embroidery stabilizers on Craftsy in “How to Pick the Right Machine Embroidery Stabilizer Every Time.” 

Embroidery sewing machine guide for beginners
Image source: Craftsy

      5. Use an embroidery hoop 

In case you didn’t know, you need to use an embroidery hoop for machine embroidery.

Sadly, pulling and moving the fabric from side to side and along curves by hand won’t lead to a comparable result.

As obvious as it sounds, an embroidery hoop:

    • helps keep the fabric taught and smooth, and 
    • the hoop will make it much easier to move the garment as you sew;

An embroidery hoop will be useful, especially in the early days of learning how to sew. You can as well let go of it once you gain more control over your projects.

How to use an embroidery machine
Image source: The Simple Things

Sewing and embroidery machine combo

Apart from using a regular machine to do embroidery, you can come across a sewing machine that does embroidery while not specializing in it exclusively. 

Embroidery machines allow for embroidery stitching. Sewing machines allow for regular stitching (i.e., construction stitching). 

Plus, there is a type of machine that allows for both types of stitching. It’s referred to as sewing embroidery machine combo, sewing and embroidery machine, or similar. 

A combination sewing and embroidery machine lets us sew, quilt, and embroider. For the best models of sewing quilting embroidery machines, check in with Sewing Machine Fun

According to their findings, the list goes as follows:

    1. Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Machine
    2. Janome Memory Craft 9850 Sewing and Embroidery Machine
    3. Husqvarna Viking Designer Jade 35 Sewing and Embroidery Machine
    4. Brother SE600 or SE625 Sewing and Embroidery Machine
    5. EverSewn Sparrow X Combination Machine

To sum up, you can quilt, sew, and embroider on the two types of machines:

    • Standard Sewing Machine (you guide the fabric and tailor your machine’s stitch settings),
    • Computerized Embroidery Combo Machine;

As Wise Geek puts it:

“Some machines are only capable of construction stitching. Others can do both construction work and embroidery, perhaps by way of a removable embroidery attachment, while some highly specialized machines only sew embroidery stitching.”

In the sewing machine that does embroidery, the difference lies in the attachments.

Having an embroidery sewing combo machine is very convenient. Undoubtedly, this combo feature-rich machine takes up less space than purchasing two machines. Also, for the budget-minded, these appliances are less costly.

The top nine best embroidery and sewing machines are described briefly on Cast Off, along with each model’s to-the-point pros and cons. Whether you use them for home use or a business, you’ll do the right thing browsing this carefully-studied selection. 

Best embroidery sewing machine models

Knowing everything about embroidery sewing machines is not enough. Studying as many embroidery sewing machine reviews as possible should help you find the top-selling models. 

Luckily, we’ve got you covered on this one!

In each sewing machine specialization, there are usually a few brands that stick to the tops of the lists in the particular category. 

For example, among industrial sewing machines, Juki persistently wins it all. The kids sewing machine sector is usually the proudest of Janome, Brother, and Singer. And so on!

What about a sewing machine with an embroidery function? Which brands can we expect to see at the highest positions in charts?

What is embroidery sewing machine
Image source: Sewing Machine Buffs

The field of custom embroidery design is dominated by Brother and Janome. Naturally, a couple of different market propositions will occasionally pop up as well. For example, a model of Baby Lock sewing machine—The Baby Lock Solaris 2. Learn about it from All People Quilt.   

When you’re on a hunt for a new machine, arrange shopping with a dealer who allows prospective buyers to test machines in person. 

You can also ask for demonstration classes. Don’t forget to ensure you’ll have ongoing support to fully comprehend the machine and learn to use all its features.

Janome embroidery sewing machine
Image source: The Spruce Crafts

We can’t wait to share our research regarding the best embroidery sewing machine models out there.

With the help of several specialized websites, we collected our favorites in the table below:

Embroidery machine 

Sewing machine and embroidery combined

Brother PE800 (Sew Home Grown)

Brother SE600 Sewing and Embroidery Combination Machine

Brother PE550D

Bernette B79 Combination Machine

Brother SE600

Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Combination Machine

Janome MB-4S with Bonus Package

EverSewn Sparrow X – Next-Generation Sewing and Embroidery Machine

Janome Horizon Memory Craft 12000

Singer Legacy SE300 Portable Sewing and Embroidery Machine

The list doesn’t end here. For example, the Best Embroidery Machine for Home Business is believed to be Janome MB-7 Seven-Needle Embroidery Machine (The Good House Keeping). 

While researching the topic carefully, you will also come across: 

    • Janome Memory Craft 500E,
    • Husqvarna Designer Jade 35, 
    • a super expensive Janome Memory Craft 14000 Bundle ($6,999.00), 
    • Brother PE535 Embroidery Only Machine, and other members of the embroidery machines family. 

But for now, let’s focus on our favorites. 

Embroidery sewing machine reviews
Image source: Fashion Magazine

Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine

Let’s tackle a handy YouTube video straightaway. Here, Jennifer from Sewing Report, answers your questions about Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine:

On the bright side, this machine has clear, easy-to-follow instructions, and a large 5 x 7 embroidery area. It also presents an automatic needle threader and a delicious full-color touch LCD.

However, it’s also quite a costly purchase ($1,250 on Amazon), and the machine is able to do only embroidery, resulting in some extra cost.

If you want to do sewing you’ll need to buy a regular sewing machine as well. Not to mention sewing machine repair—handling all fixing twice will be the name of your game. 

This Brother digital sewing machine for embroidery is suitable for both beginners and serious crafters.

It stitches quickly and neatly, and you’ll undoubtedly find it exciting to work with a ton of built-in designs (138 design features). Other built-in presets include: 

    • frame designs with ten shapes and 14 stitches, 
    • 11 built-in fonts that make monogramming and lettering more flexible; 

An LCD touch screen gives you the ability to edit and customize your projects before sewing. 

You can also upload your own logo using the USB port. 

Given all the features and professionality, regardless of the somehow elevated price, this machine is worth it.

Read more about Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine on The Spruce Crafts:

“This machine is easy to use but works like a commercial machine and can handle high output and intricate designs.”

Brother digital sewing machine
Image source: The Spruce Crafts

Brother PE550D

What do we know about this gentleman?

Finally a more affordable proposition!

You can have Brother PE550D for $679.99, together with 125 built-in embroidery designs to get your creative juices flowing.

Your kiddos will be thrilled with 45 presets with Disney and Pixar characters. 

Brother embroidery machine
Image source: Embroidery Press

You’ll find yourself inspired in front of decorative alphabets. Just think about nine fonts, including six Latin alphabets and three Japanese borders. Not to mention dazzling florals!

Impressive, personalized lettering designs and monograms embroidered on your projects are at hand! You can edit the text, overlay it, re-align it, change the angle, increase and decrease letter spacing, etc. 

Brother PE550D comes with Sew Smart LCD touch screen with all presets in full color and changeable settings: from individual thread colors to font size, and many many others. 

The work area supports 4″x 4″ hoops, and the field comes with a grid sheet. 

What’s more, the arm offers alignment features for better precision during preparation and sewing. 

With this machine, you also get:

    • automatic needle threader,
    • quick-set bobbin design (faster reel change guaranteed), 
    • 7-point feed dogs, and 
    • bright LED lighting around the needle area;

Two cons of this model:

    1. We can use this machine only for embroidery and not for sewing,
    2. The embroidery area is relatively small;

For more info, check Sew Home Grown.

Brother embroidery sewing machine
Image source: Sew Care

Still looking for the best sewing machine for embroidery works? Let’s see what else we’ve got worth recommending.

Brother SE600

Unsurprisingly, there is another Brother embroidery machine waving at us from the top!

Although it’s often said to be an embroidery machine, this one can be actually be called a Brother sewing and embroidery machine as well.

Exports also claim that it works pretty well at the beginner stages of the sewing affair.

According to Hello Sewing: “Most beginners don’t usually choose computerized models, but this one is great for newbies.” 

This time, let’s start with issues that you may face when working with this model:

    • you will have to buy some embroidery software before you start embroidering,
    • you’re stuck with a small 4”x4” hoop size unless you upgrade it to 7”x4” (still 4” in length though); if you want to experiment and create a design using a larger size, it will become a problem;

On the bright side, the dual capabilities of this machine are awesome no matter whether you prefer to sew or embroider.

Song other pros listed on Hello Sewing, we note:

    1. convenient touch LCD display screen,
    2. a sewing foot for almost any task,
    3. over a hundred sewing stitches for any kind of project,
    4. LED lighting for sewing in the dark,
    5. work field (4”x4”—comes in exactly a size of the hoop so that re-hooping takes a breeze—plus a detachable arm, helpful for sleeves or other small tricky areas, and a special embroidery foot),
    6. automatic needle threader,
    7. in-built lettering fonts,
    8. easily importing your designs (note that the USB stick is not part of the package),
    9. expandable free arm,
    10. quiet while sewing,
    11. useful manual,
    12. added accessories like a dust cover and a foot controller (it helps get the right pressure when using the sewing feet);

Read the detailed description on Hello Sewing

Starter embroidery machine
Image source: Hello Sewing

Janome MB-4S with Bonus Package

Another two mind-blowing choices from our best embroidery machines chart are: 

    • Janome MB-4S with Bonus Package, and 
    • Janome Horizon Memory Craft 12000;

The first one is full $5,299.00 (not the lowest price, even for professionals), but when you think about:

    • the 5.7-inch Remote Computer Screen (RCS) provides remote access to all stored designs and fonts, and
    • 65,536 available colors to make screen preview more realistic,

over five thousand dollars spent doesn’t surprise as much. 

The pros worth paying attention to when considering this model are:

    • automatic thread cutter,
    • programmable jump trimming,
    • large work area (9.4” x 7.9”),
    • bright LED lights,
    • larger bobbin,
    • faster bobbin spool speeds,
    • built-in memory, and USB support;

Dig deeper with Sew Home Grown in this article and have a try at programming the needles and colors on the Janome MB-4/ MB-4S:

Four-needle embroidery machine
Image source: Pinterest

Janome Horizon Memory Craft 12000

The embroidery sewing machines business is monopolized by Brother and Janome; and here’s another example. 

You must admit that this machine looks prestigious. No wonder so is the price of around $6 999,00.

The Janome Horizon Memory Craft 12000 is versatile and can be referred to as a sewing quilting embroidery machine. 

As manufacturers claim themselves, this appliance will change the way you quilt, sew and do embroidery.

Now, let’s focus on actual positives:

    • built-in USB port,
    • adjustable knee lift,
    • 15-inch embossed stainless steel bed,
    • automatic thread tension,
    • foot pressure, and height adjustment,
    • 4MB memory storage,
    • real-time PC connection,
    • auto-return post thread break;

Also, no one will avoid being swayed by its:

    • 338 built-in designs, 
    • 425 stitches, and 
    • ten fonts; 

Janome Horizon Memory Craft 12000 creates up to 100 stitch combinations and engages the arm in 91 possible needle positions.

You can imagine a wide range of projects that these technical conditions can accommodate. 

Read this model’s review on Delaware Sewing to get to know this machine better. Also, see how it works on HeidiLovesSewing YouTube channel: 

Sewing quilting embroidery machine
Image source: Delaware Sewing

Before we get to the top Brother computerized sewing and embroidery machine, let’s see this YouTube video. It introduces us to “9 Best Sewing & Embroidery Machines 2021”:

What do we have in the menu?

    1. SINGER Superb EM200 Embroidery Machine,
    2. Brother Embroidery Machine PE550D (see above),
    3. Husqvarna Viking Designer Epic 2 Sewing,
    4. Brother Stellaire Innov-is XJ1 Sewing,
    5. Janome Memory Craft Horizon 15000 Quilt Maker Sewing Machines,
    6. Husqvarna Brilliance 80 Sewing & Embroidery Machine,
    7. Brother Luminaire Innov-is XP1,
    8. Janome Memory Craft 500E Embroidery Machine, and 
    9. Bernette B79 Sewing;

All of them are worth knowing, but let’s tackle our top sewing machine and embroidery combined models. 

Since we’ve already discussed many Brother embroidery sewing machines, let’s leave 

    • Brother SE600 Sewing and Embroidery Combination Machine, and 
    • Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Combination Machine

for you to read on Cast Off

It looks like it’s time to meet Bernette B79 Combination Machine!

Bernette B79 Combination Machine

After trying this model out, Kat from the Kat Makes blog was pretty impressed:

“The first things I noticed (aside from the touch screen – hard to miss!) were the lack of a presser foot lever (It’s a button on the front!), the wide space in the throat of the machine, and the semi-automatic threader. Honestly, I thought the lack of foot lever was going to cause me some issues, but by the end of my testing period, I’d completely stopped reaching for it! It also helps that the foot lowers and raises automatically at the beginning and end of a seam (It lowers when you press the pedal to start, and raises after it completes a thread cut – also, automatic thread cutting!!).”

(read on Kat Makes)

If you want a bigger hoop (6″x10″ maximum) this is a sewing embroidery machine combo for you. It has a dazzling maximum stitching speed of 1,000 stitches per minute and a dual-feed to help feed fabric evenly. It reads most embroidery file formats, also from other brands.

Bernette B79 Combination Machine comes with whopping 500 built-in stitches, including:

    • 17 buttonhole stitches, 
    • 35 quilting stitches, and 
    • 133 decorative stitches;

Mind that a semi-automatic needle threader included isn’t as easy to use as in Brother machines. 

You’ll be happy to find out Bernette B79 Combination Machine has:

    • a knee lifter, 
    • the ability to program automatic seam finishing and thread cutting with the tap of your heel,
    • the LCD screen with basic editing capabilities, and many others!

Computerized embroidery machine
Image source: Kat Makes

Discover EverSewn Sparrow X – Next-Generation Sewing and Embroidery Machine and Singer Legacy SE300 Portable Sewing and Embroidery Machine on Sewing Machine Fun.

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