It’s easy to look at an embroidery machine and a sewing machine and not be able to tell the difference between the two. Embroidery machines look and function very similarly to regular sewing machines. There’s only one key difference between the two. Sewing machines are used for construction stitching, while embroidery machines are used for embroidery stitching. In other words, sewing machines stitch pieces of cloth together for functional purposes, finish the edges of pieces of textiles, or alter pleated fabrics. Embroidery machines stitch designs and patterns onto fabric; they have a more decorative purpose. Embroidery machines are programmed with more elaborate and complex stitches than sewing machines. Some are even digitized to provide pre-programmed and even more intricate patterns and stitches. Embroidery machines are intended to save users time and energy and guarantee uniform stitches that hand embroidery does not. Besides adding decoration to clothing and textiles for the fashion industry, embroidery machines are commonly used in advertising to sew monograms and logos for corporate advertising and product branding. While many embroidery machines are large, industrial machines found in factories, there are at-home models and even portable options you can buy if you’re interested in customizing your own clothes and costumes or if you need an embroidery machine for your small business.
Choosing an Embroidery Machine
When buying an embroidery machine, here are the things you’ll want to consider:
- Stitches Per Minute: Different embroidery machines will have different capabilities when it comes to the number of stitches they can sew per minute. Most will be able to do around 200 per minute. If you’re someone who embroiders as a job, you’ll want a machine that is capable of at least 500 stitches per minute or more.
- Cost: Embroidery machines tend to run a little pricier than sewing machines since they’re digitized and have more elaborate functions. If you’re on a budget, considering looking at smaller, portable embroidery machines, as these tend to be less expensive. However, the more expensive machines generally have better capabilities and more pre-programmed stitches, so it depends on how important the cost vs. features tradeoff is to you.
- Built-in Stitches: The number and type of built-in stitches can vary wildly depending on the machine, make, model, and brand. Some may have as few as ten or 12 built-in stitches, others over 100. If you’re a beginner, starting with a machine with fewer built-in stitches might be the better choice. An experienced embroiderer or professional will probably want a higher quantity of pre-programmed stitches. Either way, before you buy, make sure it is programmed with the type or types of stitches you want or at least allows you to program your own type of stitch into the machine.
Top Choice: Brother CS6000i Sewing and Quilting Machine
This is an embroidery machine that offers some of the functions of a sewing machine in addition to decorative stitches. You can use this machine for seven types of auto-size buttonholes, monogramming, zippers, blindstitching, and more. It comes equipped with 60 built-in sewing stitches, an automatic needle threader, and a drop-in top bobbin built to be resistant to jamming. In addition to these features, this embroidery machine has a built-in free arm for cylindrical textiles like sleeves and pants, an adjustable sewing speed control system, and an LCD screen that allows you to view your chosen stitches and select new ones with the touch of a button. Besides the machine itself, you get a protective hard traveling case, a guide and instructions in English and Spanish, a detachable wide table that is ideal for big projects like quilts, a needle set including a twin needle, ten sewing feet, and three bobbins.
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i, 60 Built-in Stitches, 2.0" LCD Display, Wide Table, 9 Included Sewing Feet, Beige/Blue
A well-equipped embroidery machine with plenty of features, including some basic sewing machine functions.
Best Value: SINGER 7258 Computerized Sewing Machine
Here’s an embroidery machine that comes with a whole slew of additional features, accessories, and benefits. Besides the machine itself, you will receive a bundle of ten different feet, including an all-purpose foot and satin stitch foot, an auxiliary spool pin, two spool pin felt discs, thread spool caps, a screwdriver for the needle plate, lint brush, package of needles, darning plate, removable storage compartment, and seam ripper, all for one price.
The machine comes with 100 pre-programmed stitches for advanced decorations, appliqués, top stitches, and embellishments; besides the 76 decorative stitches, it’s capable of nine basic stitches, eight stretch stitches, and seven different styles of buttonholing. Pick whichever stitch you want to need merely by pressing one button. You can also use the built-in LCD screen to personalize the machine to specific needs for your project by adding custom stitches and adjusting the stitch length and width or use the speed control level to set your desired stitching speed.
Also equipped is an LED light to illuminate the sewing surface. The light will last for 100,000 hours and never overheat. On top of all of this, the top drop-in, jam-proof bobbin allows for simple threading, and the clear cover makes keeping an eye on your thread supply easier. The bobbin will also automatically stop turning when the bobbin is full to prevent overflow. You’ll also get an automatic needle threader, twin needle capabilities, an auto tie-off function for a perfect straight stitch every time, and threading instructions printed on the machine for your convenience. Whatever your project, this embroidery machine is a boon to any sewing room.
SINGER | 7258 Sewing & Quilting Machine With Accessory Kit - 203 Stitch Applications - Simple & Great For Beginners
A customizable and well-equipped embroidery machine with a slew of bonus features and accessories.
Most Stitches Per Minute: Brother SE600 Sewing and Embroidery Machine
If you’re looking for a personal embroidery machine capable of high output, this computerized option is the perfect choice for you. With a maximum speed of 710 stitches per minute, this embroidery machine will get the job done fast. Not only does it provide great speed, but it has handy functions like an automatic needle threader, a drop-in top bobbin for easy, jam-resistant application, and highly customizable design-editing features that allow you to change individual thread colors and place lettering in an arc.
The large LCD touchscreen gives you the chance to display and preview your design, edits, and colors before stitching to make sure the picture on the fabric matches the one in your head. The touchscreen means you can move displayed designs around on the screen with the flicker of one finger. It also comes equipped with a 4-by-4-inch embroidery field that includes a hoop, embroidery arm, and seven different sewing feet. Besides the customizable options, this machine has 80 pre-programmed designs, six lettering fonts, 103 stitches, and ten different auto-sized buttonholes. Streamline and speed up your creative process with this high-speed embroidery machine.
Brother SE600 Sewing and Embroidery Machine, 80 Designs, 103 Built-In Stitches, Computerized, 4" x 4" Hoop Area, 3.2" LCD Touchscreen Display, 7 Included Feet
A high-speed embroidery machine with a large color touchscreen that is capable of producing up to 710 stitches per minute.
Best for Beginners: BTY Portable Sewing and Embroidery Machine for Beginners
If you’re just starting to get into embroidering and appliqués, embroidery machines with 100 or more built-in stitches and patterns might seem daunting. If you’re intimidated by these sorts of machines and want to start on a smaller scale, this beginner-friendly embroidery machine is a great place to start. It’s also a handy option for embroiderers of any level who want a simpler machine or for someone wanting a lightweight and portable one to travel with. Weighing in at under 6 pounds and less than 11 inches by 11 inches, it’s easy to bring along for the ride or store without taking up too much space. It has 12 built-in stitches to give you several design options without overwhelming you with choices.
Besides embroidery, you can use this machine to sew zippers and buttons and easily reverse stitching with the press of one button. Though it might not have as many designs as some other models, this embroidery machine still has two speeds, a double supply design, stitch tightness control, and dual-threaded functions to give you some variety. The machine comes equipped with an LED lamp for better visuals and includes a button foot presser, foot pedal, metal thread cutter, AC power adapter, and four thread bobbins. A manual also comes included to help guide beginners. The non-slip bottom pad and certified cables and power supplies give you safety during use.
Sewing Machine Mini Portable Electric Portable Household Overlock 12 Built-in Stitches with Foot Pedal for Amateurs Beginners Embroidery Pink Safety
A safe and beginner-friendly embroidery machine that is also small and portable for easy travel and storage.