The best embroidery machine
If you love embroidery but don't have the time, skills, or inclination to do it by hand, an embroidery machine will be your new best friend. Simply set it up, pick your design, and the machine will do all the difficult work for you.
Our No. 1 pick is the Brother PE770 Embroidery Machine. It's an excellent choice without going into professional territory with its steep price tag. We love the decently sized embroidery field and range of available designs.
Considerations when choosing embroidery machines
Single-needle vs. multi-needle
The vast majority of home embroidery machines are single-needle models, which create designs using just one sewing needle. These machines are compact and reasonably priced, but it does mean you need to change the thread several times if you want multicolored designs. Multi-needle embroidery machines can hold threads of several different colors, so they can use four to eight hues in their designs without you needing to change thread colors. Sure, this is convenient, but multi-needle models tend to cost several thousand dollars.
Embroidery machines are only able to embroider designs in a limited area -- this is sometimes called the embroidery field. The dimensions of this area can range from about 3 x 3 inches to more than 8 x 10 inches. Think about the size of the designs you'd like to embroider before buying.
Number of designs
This is the amount of built-in embroidery designs your machine comes with. You can find machines that store anywhere between 25 and 200 designs, plus anywhere between four and 15 fonts. The good news is you can download additional fonts and designs and add them to your machine either wirelessly or using a USB drive or cable.
Stitches per minute
The more stitches per minute (spm) your embroidery machine can achieve, the faster the design will be finished. Slower machines can reach about 300 to 600 spm, whereas high-speed home machines manage 650 to 1,000 spm.
You need embroidery hoops to keep the area of fabric you'll be embroidering taut. Some machines include several different-sized hoops. If not, you'll need to buy them separately.
Embroidery machines have LCD display screens built into them, so you can view the design before you start. Some machines also allow you to make some simple edits on-screen such as adjusting color choices, flipping or rotating designs, and editing text. Large color display screens are preferable to small black and white screens.
You can find some basic home embroidery machines that range from as little as $200 to $300, but on the other end of the spectrum professional multi-thread models can cost more than $4,000. A high-end home model will cost between $800 and $1,500.
Q. Will I need a computer to make the most of my embroidery machine?
A. Your embroidery machine will have some built-in designs, but with a computer you can download more and transfer them to your machine for use, which gives you far more choices. Plus, you can buy computer software that allows you to design your own embroidery patterns if you want to be even more creative.
Q. Can I sew using an embroidery machine?
A. Some models are dedicated embroidery machines, but it's common to find options that double as sewing machines, particularly at the lower end of the price spectrum. It's worth noting that multi-purpose machines are often only moderately adequate at both sewing and embroidery, rather than being excellent at just one.
Embroidery machines we recommend
Best of the best: Brother PE770 Embroidery Machine
Our take: This reliable embroidery machine is easy to use and gives excellent results. At 650 stitches per minute, it works quickly, too.
What we like: Includes 136 built-in designs and six fonts, plus a USB port to easily add additional designs. The 5 x 7-inch embroidery areas are sufficient for most users. Clear LCD screen.
What we dislike: Can be tricky for beginners to use.
Best bang for your buck: Brother PE535 Embroidery Machine
Our take: Along with being highly affordable, this machine has some excellent features, such as a color screen.
What we like: Features nine fonts and 80 embroidery designs with the capacity to add more from a USB drive. Easy to edit designs on the display screen. Automatic needle threader saves time.
What we dislike: Small embroidery field.
Choice 3: EverSewn Hero
Our take: Makes quick work of the 40 built-in embroidery designs, and also it doubles as a regular sewing machine.
What we like: Extremely speedy at 800 stitches per minute. LCD screen allows you to quickly and simply adjust designs. More than 400 stitch patterns in sewing machine mode.
What we dislike: Doesn't have the best manual, which can be confusing.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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