For me, the decision to invest in an embroidery machine was a response to the number of requests that I was receiving from customers asking if they could get their totes embroidered. My initial response was to direct them to a local embroidery shop to have them customized after purchase. But as requests kept rolling in, it was clear this was a good business decision.
What to consider when picking a machine?
There are three different kinds of embroidery machines – Combo (sewing & embroidery), Single Needle and Multi-Needle. Deciding which one is right for you will come down to how you use the machine and your budget. We will talk about the different kinds of machines, hoop sizes and features that I looked for in my machine.
Sewing & Embroidery Combo Machine
If you are looking into investing in one machine that will do both sewing & embroidery, then a combo machine may be just right for you. They start around $350 and can be as expensive as $6,000. In my experience with sewing machines, when you are at the $1,000 and up range you are getting a good, reliable machine. Machines below this price point can also be great machines, but be sure to do your research. How often do they need repairs and how well do they keep their tension?
Maybe you are going to upgrade your sewing machine and would like to add embroidery to your line-up, the combo machine may be a good solution. The only negative is that you will not be able to sew while you are doing an embroidery. I decided to save a little money and get a single needle machine. I have several sewing machines that I love, so only embroidery was great for me.
Single Needle Embroidery Machine
A single needle machine, which is the one I have for my business, is solely an embroidery machine. You can embroidery with only one color at a time. Pretty straight forward concept.
Multi-Needle Embroidery Machine
A Multi-Needle Machine is kind of like the Cadillac of embroidery machines. If you are looking to purchase this machine, you are pretty serious about monogramming and I’m guessing you are doing this as a business. There are 6-needle and 10-needle machines. This means you can load in 6 or 10 different colors, press start and the machine will get the project done for you. They are faster and have a lot more features. The hoop size is much larger, so you can do much larger projects without re-hooping. They are very expensive and very much an investment.
If you are just starting out and want to do embroidery/monogramming for a business, I would suggest starting with a single needle machine and then work your way up to a multi-needle. When running a business, it is always good to have a back-up machine, so just consider this your testing the waters and future back-up machine.
Hoop Size – How to know what is right for you?
The hoop size will determine how large your design or monogram can be. My machine has a 4″x4″ hoop and a 5″x7″ hoop. The 5″x7″ has been large enough for the larger monograms on my totes.
The lower model machines will only do a 4″x4″ hoop. This is really going to limit your projects, so if you can afford a machine with a 5″x7″ go for it! The multi-needle machines hoops go up to a 8″x12″
What I considered when shopping for my machine –
I wanted a machine that was going to be reliable. Adding monograms was a business decision, so buying an unreliable machine could really hurt order turn around time. I looked online for reviews and tested out several machines at local sewing shops.
I needed to be able to do designs on my computer and load them into the machine, so it needed a USB port. Size was also a consideration. My sewing room machine space was getting maxed out, so having a large machine was just not going to work for me. I also didn’t want to break the bank with this purchase. I looked for a price point that would “pay for itself” in a short period of time.
The things I didn’t consider or care about – the built in designs. You are likely going to search for a specific design and purchase it from a good embroidery designer. The built-in fonts are horrible…you will not use them.
My One Regret…
My only regret with my machine is the bobbin. The bobbin is located under the object being embroidered. There is not a built-in indicator when the bobbin runs out. The machine just keeps on chugging away. It can go all the way to the end before you realize it has been moving and making noises, but not making a design. This is extremely frustrating. I end up changing my bobbins when they are about 75% done, so I don’t have to worry about this happening. Remember, I’m sewing while the machine is working. I’m not sure if you have to jump up to a higher price point to have this feature, but it sure would be nice.
What machine do I currently use for embroidery?
Bernette 340 Deco – it retails for around $1,400. It has been a very consistent machine. The stitching tension has been very solid and there have been no major issues of thread breaking or getting jammed (quickly go knock on wood). It uses both a 4″x4″ and 5″x7″ hoop and has an unusual loading style compared to the traditional embroidery machine. It can easily do free arm work, which I thought was a good selling feature.
Please leave a comment if you have any questions. Please also let me know if you currently have an embroidery machine you love.