Embroidery on denim dresses and tops has become more and more trendy and popular. But hand embroidering can be time consuming and exhausting, and can even accidentally prick your fingers. Embroidery machines are an easier (and much faster!) way to personalize your garments with designs and customizations. Whether you have your own home business or are just looking for a new hobby, investing in an embroidery machine will leave everyone wondering, “Where did you get that cute embroidered cup?”
However, embroidering with a machine is not as simple as pressing a button. They always require skill, understanding, and a lot of time to master to achieve ideal results. Our DIY textile professionals at the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab have reviewed over a hundred embroidery and sewing machines for durability, ease of use, and innovative features. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, check out our top picks for the best embroidery machines to buy in 2021:
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Best Overall Embroidery Machine
Sewing and embroidery machine SE1900
- Automatic needle threader
- Large 5 x 7 inch embroidery area
- Lightweight, at 22 pounds
Work both as an embroidery and sewing machine, this Brother’s top-rated pick for a reason: it’s easy to use with clear controls and included accessories. With over 900 rave reviews on Amazon, pros and reviewers alike agree the large 5 x 7 inch embroidery area accommodates a wider range of design sizes. The machine offers 138 built-in designs and 240 stitches, but it’s easy to download custom designs via USB. As a single-needle machine, the the automatic needle threader makes it easy to change colors when prompted.
Best Value Embroidery Machine
Sewing machine SE600
- Easy to follow controls
- Affordable price
- Variable speed settings
Starting at around $500, this sewing machine with embroidery options is an absolute steal. With a clear LCD display, easy to insert bobbin, variable speeds and free-motion sewing capabilities, this Brother machine has everything you will need for your sewing and embroidery projects. There’s a 4 x 4 inch embroidery area for using the 80 built-in designs, as well as a USB port for uploading custom images. Our pros found the included instructions easy to follow, making this the perfect purchase for a beginner.
Best Embroidery Machine for Home Business
MB-7 Seven Needle Embroidery Machine
- Accessories included such as storage and embroidery table
- Independent winder
- Bright LED lights
If you’re capitalizing on current embroidery trends and selling your designs on Etsy or other online sites, this multi-needle embroidery machine from Janome is worth the investment. You can thread all seven needle heads in advance for faster embroidery speeds. With a maximum embroidery size of 9.4 x 7.9 inches, this machine accommodates a wide variety of design styles and has a USB port for downloading designs. Reviewers particularly appreciate the large LCD screen, independent bobbin winder (allows you to wind bobbins while the machine is embroidering!) and a ton of free included accessories.
Best Embroidery Machine for Custom Designs
B79 sewing and embroidery machine
- Automatic thread tying and cutting functions
- 208 embroidery designs, 500 stitches and seven built-in embroidery alphabets
- Huge 10 x 6.3 inch hoop size
- No free-motion sewing capability
This “sleek, sleek and modern” embroidery machine has a huge extension table, making it easy to manage embroidery and sewing projects, according to reviewers. The largest hoop size, at 10 x 6.3 inches, can accommodate massive embroidery designs. Innovative features like tie off (no backstitching required) and thread trimming can be programmed to occur automatically. There are 208 embroidery designs and seven built-in embroidery alphabets, but the included embroidery software has hundreds more that can be downloaded via USB. It can also be used as a sewing machine, has over 500 stitch options and offers an impressive speed of 1000 stitches per minute.
What features to look for when buying an embroidery machine:
Cut: If you plan to bring your machine to sewing classes or groups, opt for a smaller machine. Although there aren’t as many bells and whistles, large embroidery machines can weigh over 50 pounds.
Sewing ability: While some embroidery machines have sewing capabilities, others are just for embroidery. However, most single-needle embroidery machines double as sewing machines.
Hoop options: The design area will limit the size of your embroidery designs. Most machines have a hoop length of four to 10 inches.
Designs: Although embroidery machines have a number of built-in designs, you’re not limited to which ones are included, as many also have a USB port for downloading custom designs. Pro Tip: Check to see if the brand has an online site to see thousands of other embroidery options.
Single-needle or multi-needle embroidery machines
Embroidery machines are single or multi-needle, meaning you can only use one color at a time (single) or the machine can hold multiple colors (multi). Most combination embroidery and sewing machines are single-needle machines. On these machines, you can still create designs with multiple colors, but the machine will ask you to change threads each time. Multi-needle machines will hold different thread colors simultaneously, so you don’t have to manually change them for faster embroidery speeds. Just note that these models tend to be more expensive as they are usually designed for home businesses.
How to use a computerized embroidery machine:
When you start, make sure you have a few necessary tools on hand for best results: sharp scissors, embroidery threads, and sturdy fabric. Follow these basic instructions to begin your embroidery journey:
- Create your drawing: Choose a design included in the machine or download one via the USB port. When first starting out, we recommend choosing an integrated design with minimal colors, as complex and colorful designs are more difficult.
- Machine inputs: Depending on the pattern you choose, make sure the number of colors and stitching order are accurate on the machine. On a multi-needle machine, make sure the thread colors correctly match the numbers on the needle heads.
- Frame the fabric: Place the fabric in the hoop (make sure it doesn’t wrinkle first!) and make sure all the stabilizers are in place before inserting the inner hoop ring. Place the hoop in the machine and make sure the needle starts exactly where you want the design.
- To start up: Press the start button and be sure to stop when you need to change colors.
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