The BEST embroidery machine, you say? That's a tall order. I'm going to try my best, but, like always, if you have a different favorite, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.
Sometimes, I go on Pinterest and search for things like “beautiful embroidery,” or “mind-blowing embroidery,” or “life-changing embroidery,” and just spend an evening staring at intricately woven floral patterns. It’s my version of a internet rabbit-hole, but I never feel empty afterwards, or get that “how did I get here?” feeling at 2 AM. In fact, I usually feel pretty awesome.
But you know what else? I feel a little inadequate. Have you seen some of the embroidery work out there? Life-changing hardly does it justice. I always think, “What have I done with my life? I will never embroider anything that beautiful.” And then I remember that there is such a thing called magic, and it looks a lot like an embroidery machine.
First of all, I want to get something straight:
Using an embroidery machine is not cheating.
I stand in awe, nay, bow down to the amazingly talented hand-embroiderers out there. But not everyone was a born embroiderer. That’s why embroidery machines were invented, my friends! To be our partners in the creation of beautiful textile images. Think of the embroidery machine as your partner in art, not crime.
So, how do embroidery machines work?
Embroidery machines embroider for you, just like sewing machines sew for you. They do some of the manual labor, but you’re still the creative genius here. For the most part, after you have picked out a pattern you love, you place your material of choice into a frame, and let the embroidery machine do its thang.
Some embroidery machines are super-smart, and connect to the internet and let you download patterns like a digital boss. Others prefer to be fed through USB ports, and a lot of these babies even have built-in patterns that they’ve memorized, just to help you out.
And let me tell you – a good embroidery machine can bring your sewing, or quilting, to a whole new level of awesomeness. You’re about to become fabric famous.
If I’m going to be famous, I want the best embroidery machine ever (within a reasonable price).
Singer Futura XL-550
I don’t blame you. I think you deserve it. And let me tell you, the Singer Futura XL-550 is basically a sentient embroidery machine robot that lives up to the Futura part of its name. It’s a little high in price, but not as expensive as the reeeally high end embroidery machines (I'm talking $5,000).
The Singer Futura XL-550 embroidery machine has 125 built-in embroidery designs, 20 of its own fonts, and outline lettering. It has a super large embroidery hope (10x6 inches) so you can create embroidery designs that are up to 12 x 20 inches in size. This embroidery machine hooks up to your computer directly, which is ah-mazing, so you can download literally thousands of other embroidery patterns from the internet with the push of a button. And OH. Did I mention this is also a sewing machine? Talk about multi-tasking.
Now I’m a little overwhelmed. Tell me about an embroidery machine that’s great for beginners.
I’d love to. I think machines that are good for beginners are generally good for everyone! The Brother PE770 fits the bill, and it’s going to simplify things a little bit for you by being just an embroidery machine (and not a sewing machine, too.)
But just because it’s just an embroidery machine, doesn’t mean it’s not a seriously awesome embroidery machine. The Brother PE770 is easy to use, and also has quite a few built-in borders, patterns, floral designs and even scrollwork. This machine is little less expensive, and you do sacrifice a few options, like extensive editing, and the ability to add additional fonts.
Since I'm not a pro at machine embroider (yet), I reached out to my good friend Jenn Rossotti, creator of Ginger Peach Studio. She's modeling the rad Voir Le Bon embroidered shirt above. Jenn not only embroidered this chambray blouse, but also designed the pattern too! (See why I had to feature her in this post?)
I asked Jenn to tell us a little about her process making this design and any tips she might share about machine embroidery in general. From Jenn:
This funky eye design was originally drawn in Illustrator, then digitized with Floriani Total Control U Software.
The machine I use for embroidery is Janome Memory Craft 15000. I have had great results with it and Janome has some amazing digital tools that will have even the novice machine embroiderer stitching and designing like a pro.
My best tip is to KNOW YOUR STABILIZERS. So important. Stabilizers make or break your success with machine embroidery. Even the slightest differences in weight from one fabric to another is enough to make it buckle. Stabilizers are a way to baseline every fabric so that the amount of body it has is always consistent for the machine. Without it you’d spend all your time tinkering with the tension and different kinds of thread…it would be a nightmare.
My favorite combo for stitching medium weight fabric like quilting cotton is Floriani No-Show Nylon Mesh Fusible, with Floriani Stitch N Wash Tearaway “floating” underneath the hoop. If I’m stitching a design that involves appliqué I can’t live without MistyFuse. This super sheer fusible is a game changer for making the edges of appliqué super clean and professional looking with no lifting or fray.
I also use Janome Blue tip Needles and of course, Aurifil because I prefer a more matte look to the more traditional silky looking poly threads.
This is my first embroidery machine. Tell me everything I need to know.
First of all, some of the best embroidery machines can get really fancy, and really expensive… like more than a new car expensive. If you’re using your embroidery machine for personal or hobby use, it’s totally okay to stick with something more basic, and more affordable. Decide whether or not computer connectivity is important to you, and what size of embroidery you want to be able to pull off. That’s a really good place to start.
Second, if you have a relationship with a local sewing/fabric store, employees can be really helpful in helping you pick out a machine that is good for you. I love giving advice, but there’s nothing like the hands-on experience of taking a look and trying one out yourself. A lot of locally-owned stores will let you try out different machines so you can find a good fit.
(So what I’m saying is, there should be a dating app for people and sewing machine stores. That’s a key life relationship right there.)
I can tell you for sure that you’re going to have a ton of fun with an embroidery machine. Nothing makes a quilt… or a pair of jeans… more beautiful than embroidery. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m ready for another two hours of Pinterest browsing! xo
11 thoughts on “The Best Embroidery Machine for Your Budget”
Hi Suzy, I could go on an about this topic. I own a former Pfaff top of the line, own a Brother sewing and embroidery and worked at a Husqvarna Viking (also Singer) dealer for 3 years. The number one mistake someone looking to buy an embroidery machine is that they don’t shoot high enough as far as hoop size capability. If you get a small hoop size (5×7 is considered smallish now days) you will regret it almost instantly. I highly recommended Brother as a brand. They give you A LOT of bang for the buck. I would also spend a little more and buy one that also sews instead of just embroiders. Finally, buy a machine that will take a 6×10 hoop – at least. You will want this because one of the best things about machine embroidery is the fun “in the hoop” designs. Think about making a complete zippered pouch on your embroidery machine – including inserting the zipper. One last thing – I hate to be negative but a Singer embroidery machine is the last one I would buy. I’ve seen so many unhappy buyers return them or trade up. I love to machine embroider and I want everyone else to love it too and not struggle with their machine.
Molly, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful review! You have given us tons of great info and I love hearing from experienced professionals in the field. THANK YOU! xo
Thanks Molly, this really helps me in making my decision. I have a Brother Sewing machine and LOVE it and keep going back to brother when looking at embroidery machines. Thanks!
I agree 100%. Hoop size will determine how limited you are for projects, and that’s so frustrating! I also agree that Brother is hand-down the biggest bang for your buck, and I used to sell another B named machine!
I totally agree with previous comments. I would never tell anyone to buy a singer machine. I only buy brother or babylock embroidery machines. The Quality of stitches & reliability by far surpasses any machine on the market today.
Great post, thank you!
I am hoping I can ask a question that you could answer for me?
I have a Brother Disney PE750 and it is great but it only shows you the design you are working on right then.
I am looking for a machine that will display the full design as I add things to it.. But price is a big deal.. I have to find a way to convince my hubby that I can’t live without it for our newborn! – He’ll let me get away with nearly anything for that boy <3 haha
This post cleared my all problems with buying a perfect machine. Many thanks!
I have had a Husqvarna Viking embroidery machine for over 10 years and it is a workhorse! At the time, the largest hoop was 9″x6″. That was enough area for me. I have re-entered my embroidery program to 2 new computer towers now and the programs have worked perfect every time. I quilt on it, I do embroidery work on it, and made numerous garments/ curtains on it. I realize a Brother machine is exceptional, yet, the price of purchasing a new machine puts me out of the game.
I am forever thankful that a Viking store was close to where I lived when I was ready for adding embroidery to my repertoire.
Barudan is the best if you can afford $16k. Madeira thread and proper digitizing is also needed.
I have owned 19 heads which included SWF, Brother, and Barudans. When i sold my building to take care of my Mom with alzheimers, i only brought 4 Barudans home to work with.
One machine is 16 years old and runs like a champ. The others are 14, 13, and 1 year old. Maintenance is they key. You wouldn’t run your car without oil, so please respect your machines – no matter what you can afford.
Embroidery is still my fun time. Making lots of money now that i have no overhead and loving it.
Turn on your music and have fun, even if it’s a large project 🙂
Love what you do. It’s not a job, it’s your passion.
Thank you for all of the helpful info 🙂
And I agree, using an embroidery machine is definitely not cheating 🙂
i need some information about sewing machine anyone can help me?