Best Embroidery Machine Reviews 2019 – Buying Guide

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Welcome to the Wonderful World of Embroidery

Buying your first home embroidery machine and not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered. Our buying guide will cut through all the jargon and the ‘need-to-knows’. Our embroidery machine reviews will give you insight into which model is best for you.

At a Glance: Our Recommendations

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon

Best Embroidery Machine Reviews – Top Embroidery Machines

Here are some of the better embroidery machines available.

Brother SE400 Combination Computerized Sewing and 4×4 Embroidery Machine

Features:

  • Includes 67 built-in stitches, 98 stitching functions, and 70 built-in embroidery designs
  • User-friendly computerized sewing model
  • 5 monogramming fonts
  • 120 frame pattern arrangements
  • Onscreen manual, available in 16 languages
  • 4-inch x 4-inch embroidery layout
  • LCD touch screen display
  • Bobbin and automated needle threader
  • Can connect to a computer
  • Can import plenty of designs
  • Features sufficiently lit embroidery area
  • Buttonhole, zipper, accessory feet, zigzag, monogramming, blind stitch, and button fitting
  • Ships with USB cable, machine cover, and power cable

If you have a limited budget and want an affordable model that will not cut you short in terms of performance, look no further than Brother’s SE400.

This sewing and embroidery machine gives the user versatility and practicality and is a 2-in-1 unit. Easy to use and affordable. It doesn’t have a lot of built-in memory storage for designs, but its simplicity and price point makes it great for beginners.

It does need regular cleaning, as with all embroidery machines, you’ll want to maintain it well. Fortunately, cleaning is pretty easy.

The SE400 combines both embroidery and sewing functions. It has a backlit LCD touch screen panel, and connects to your computer with a USB cable giving you access to thousands of designs online.

The unit’s bobbin system is quick to operate and dependable – it doesn’t jam and is not complicated to wind. The automatic needle threader makes changing threads a hassle-free task.

It includes a total of 7 point feed dogs so you can work on tougher fabrics. Unfortunately, it’s not great if there’s a lot of thick material. It is a beginner’s, cheaper model after all. The automatic thread cutting is a little finicky (it doesn’t work all the time), so it is hard to rely on it. However, it delivers beautiful work and smooth performance.

Is it Worth Buying?

The Brother SE400 is worth a look if you’re on a budget, or are relatively new to machine embroidery. It’s at a price point great for beginners, but has a good set of features and is easy to use.

Things We Like

  • Great for beginners
  • Computerized

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Not great for thick materials

Brother PE770 5×7 inch Embroidery-only machine

Features:

  • 136 integrated embroidery designs and 6 integrated embroidery fonts
  • 10 frame styles with 12 border designs
  • 5-inch x 7-inch hoop size
  • Touch screen LCD display
  • Memory function to let users save their designs
  • Add your own designs
  • Allows for onscreen embroidery editing
  • Ships with USB memory stick for design downloads
  • Integrated card slot (embroidery cards not included)
  • Simple bobbin winding system with quick-set, drop-in bobbin
  • Includes dust cover and embroidery arm
  • Accessory bag with needle set, cleaning brush, 2 screwdrivers, seam ripper, 3 spool caps, 3 bobbins, scissors, and touch pen
  • 25-year limited warranty

Another model from Brother, the PE770, is well worth a look. It isn’t as affordable as the SE440, but it comes in with more features, higher quality, and more efficient work. If you’ve got some embroidery experience, the PE770 is a great choice (while the SE400 is excellent for beginners).

The PE770 provides a larger area for operators to work on while monogramming big pieces. It also offers users the capability to combine work with minimal re-hooping procedures.

Complicated designs are also easier to decipher thanks to its brightly-lit LCD panel. The preloaded designs range from quilt patterns, floral designs, frame shapes, and border styles.

Having computer connectivity means you can access additional designs online by way of its USB stick or Brother embroidery memory card. You can even store your downloads or your own designs. The integrated software is user-friendly, lets you edit your work, and includes an automatic threader.

One annoying thing was the included hoop was finicky at best. I would suggest ordering a new embroidery hoop at the same time if you’re buying the PE770. Fortunately, it still makes up for this minor annoyance.

The stitch quality is excellent and clean despite it being able to do 450-650 stitches per minute. It’s got sufficient speed, and other machines in this price range don’t usually have that number of high-quality stitches per minute.

The Brother PE770 is pretty quiet when in use.

Is it Worth Buying?

A good quality embroidery machine for a medium price point. It’s not as great a bang for your buck as the SE440, but if this isn’t going to be your first embroidery machine and you want richer features and higher stitch quality then the PE770 is a GREAT choice from one of the most reliable brands. If you’re a beginner just go with the SE440.

Things We Like

  • great stitch quality
  • 450-650 stitches per minute
  • Nice and quiet

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Included hoop is a bit flimsy

Brother LB-6800PRW Project Runway Sewing Embroidery Machine

Features:

  • Includes 70 integrated embroidery designs, 5 monogram fonts. 120 frame pattern combos, 67 integrated sewing stitches and 98 stitch functions
  • Allows users to import designs from their computers
  • Automatic thread cutter
  • High-tech needle-threading system
  • Features a backlit, touch screen LCD panel
  • Includes a reference guide onscreen, available in 16 languages
  • Quick automated bobbin winding, and quick-set drop-in bobbin
  • Free arm and flatbed convertible sewing area
  • Includes presser foot
  • 4-inch x 4-inch embroidery area
  • Electronic adjustable sewing speed control, stitch width, length control, and variable thread tension control
  • Single-touch Start, Stop, and Reverse functions
  • Bright LED working area

Brother’s LB-6800PRW is a great embroidery machine. Computer connectivity allows you to store extra designs. It includes a range of sewing patterns, 98 stitching functions, and a selection of up to 70 designs for embroidery work.

The model also includes 5 fonts and 12p frame combinations. More features come in the form of a backlit, touch-screen LCD display, first-rate needle and thread system, and an automatic thread cutter. For easier transport, the machine comes with a Project Runway rolling bag so you can take the nifty device with you wherever you go.

It comes with great instructions which makes it all the easier to get started. It delivers fast, clean, stitches that will leave you satisfied and wondering why you would ever want to go with a pricier model if you’re a hobbyist. (If you’re looking for an industrial machine this isn’t for you). It easily gets the job done with rougher material such as denim and fabrics with many layers like quilts.

Is it Worth Buying?

It’s a great model for a reasonable price. It’s not the cheapest on the market, but it is very high quality, easy to use, and easy to set up. People who have had previous embroidery machines will appreciate the price point for the class. It’s okay for beginners, but it does have a bit of a learning curve. If you’re a beginner and okay with that then you can buy the LB-6800PRW with confidence.

What We Like

  • Great build quality
  • easy to use (once you’re used to it)
  • USB port makes it convenient to use computerized designs

What We Don’t Like

  • LCD screen is mediocre
  • Embroidery field is quite small

Brother PE525 Embroidery Machine

Features:

  • Includes 70 built-in designs, 5 monogramming/lettering fonts, and 120 frame combinations
  • Allows users to import thousands of designs at iBroidery.com
  • Features 4-inch x 4-inch embroidery area
  • 1.4-inch x 2.7-inch backlit LCD panel for editing and accessing designs
  • High-tech needle-threading system
  • Quick bobbin winding system
  • Computer connectivity with free machine updates
  • 25-year limited warranty

The Brother PE525 gives embroidery enthusiasts great value for money. It is a simple, user-friendly machine aimed to accommodate beginners.

Includes a backlit LCD display and computer connectivity so you can get more designs online. Its selection of embroidery patterns includes 70 preloaded designs and 5 fonts for monogramming and lettering. It also comes with a 4-inch x 4-inch working area and a 25-year warranty, plus free phone support for customers.

This is a popular choice for many embroidery fans as it does the same, high-quality work as more expensive models. An excellent choice for hobbyists who plan to use it for smaller, personal embroidery projects.

It’s also great for beginners. It takes some time to get used to it, but it’s easy enough to use. It comes with over 70 free designs which makes it even more beginner friendly.

Is it Worth Buying?

I’d say it’s pretty good, and a decent buy, but the previous models we reviewed are probably better (depending on what you want). This model might be worth it if you’re very artsy-craftsy and are trying to create your own designs or like unique designs. However, there are better choices if you have simpler embroidery needs.

What We Like

  • Great for beginners
  • Great warranty & free phone support
  • Easy to use LCD screen + 70 free designs

What We Don’t Like

  • Embroidery area a bit small

​Brother PE540D 4×4 Embroidery Machine with 70 Built-in Decorative Designs

Features:

  • Includes 35 built-in Disney character designs, 70 built-in ornamental designs, 5 monogramming/lettering fonts, and 120 frame pattern combinations
  • 4-inch x 4-inch embroidery area
  • Features 1.4-inch x 2.7-inch backlit LCD touch screen panel
  • Needle-threader
  • Computer connectivity for importing and downloading designs from sites like iBriodery.com
  • Durable construction

The Brother PE540D is another user-friendly model, capable of handling complicated tasks. It has a good selection of features 70 preloaded designs, computer connectivity, 5 monogramming and lettering fonts, and a lot more. The preloaded Disney designs are great, so if you like any of those film characters, you will love these.

Lots of beginners give this model a thumbs-up thanks to minimal setup needed, and straightforward use. It’s a lighter embroidery machine and is great for shirts, nightgowns and other thinner materials. But, thick material like jeans or hats may be a bit tough for this one. If you want to be able to embroider everything, pick a different model since this is a little limited.

Is it Worth Buying?

It’s a good buy for beginners and only beginners. It’s a bit limited for the advanced user, only good for embroidering thinner materials -not great for heavy duty material.

What We Like

  • Good for beginners
  • Disney characters

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t work with sturdier materials

What is Embroidery?

Embroidery is a craft involving needles and distinctive threads to produce stitched patterns on fabrics. You can do this by hand or using a machine.

Embroidery stitches describe the types of stitches used to create the designs. The most-used stitches in embroidery are:

  • back stitch
  • satin stitch
  • chain stitch
  • cross stitch.

Embroidery can decorate pieces of clothing, cushions or pillowcases, linens, and tablecloths. It can also place logos or monograms on hats or towels. To do this, we use thread called “embroidery floss” which comes in a wide selection of colors and textures.

Designs are created by a distinctive method of placing the threaded needle in, and out of the material. Every kind of stitch used is unique.

  • The cross stitch is created by making a sequence of Xs in clusters of closely gathered stitches.
  • The satin stitch is produced by motions that resemble sewing to insert several threads together.

Simple stitches, such as the back stitch and the chain stitch, are easy for beginners. More complicated stitches – the feather stitch, the French knot, and the buttonhole stitch, may take more time to master.

Benefits of Embroidery Sewing Machines

If you want a faster job, you might decide to use an embroidery machine. An embroidery machine – once you’ve mastered it – can do the job much quicker than embroidering by hand. Machines can also duplicate any chosen stitch, reducing mistakes.

Contemporary machine models look a bit like a traditional sewing machine, and they work in a similar manner. Many embroidery machines can also tackle sewing jobs – not only embroidery.

People who enjoy the craft, but are not too crazy about the amount of time spent on manual embroidery, might want to try a machine. The best embroidery machines offer computer connectivity, so you can upload designs. Programmable models allow a lot of customization and allow you to create your own designs.

If you want large production of certain products – such as baseball caps, team-related items, or uniforms, you can get a commercial device. These industrial models are bigger than standard embroidery machines, can change thread colors mechanically, and can finish big batches faster. Business owners usually invest in industrial models because of the larger output. They are more expensive though, so if you are doing it as a hobby, then these might be overkill.

For those who enjoy embroidery as a hobby, they can opt for standard models. Picking the right model that will work for you should not be that difficult. If you learn the fundamentals and compare the features of each model, you’ll make an informed buying decision.

I have suggested my favorite embroidery machines, but what is right for me might not be good for you. I encourage you to check out our buying suggestions/guide so that you may find the best one for your needs.

Embroidery Machine Buying Guide

Just because a model is expensive, doesn’t mean that it’ll give you perfect results and seamless performance. It can be useful to have a lot of features – but only if you are going to use them. Buying a machine that can create a lot of different stitches is useless if you won’t make use of them.

Before coming to a decision, you first have to look at your needs. Consider the amount of time you are going to spend on the craft. Whether you want to make items for personal use only, or if you’re going to make several things for your friends and family.

Do you need to be able to sew as well?

Most of the reputable brands make machines that only do embroidery, as well as combination machines that can sew as well. If you’ve already got your favorite sewing machine, then you might be on the hunt for a specific model to embroider. If you are lacking space and need more versatility, then a sewing/embroider combo machine will be a good choice.

Note: Brother machines are easy to distinguish as the “SE” part (for example SE440) stands for Sewing Embroidery, where the “PE” means Personal Embroidery.

Home or Business use?

If you intend to make a business from your embroidery, selling your work online or at craft fairs, then you’ll need a commercial machine that can cope with higher demands. Naturally, industrial embroidery machines are better for this use, but they come with a higher price tag.

If you’re just starting out with your stitchwork projects, then a home embroidery machine is probably your best bet.

Hoop Size a.k.a size of embroidery area

Most machines for home use have an embroidery field (working area for your design) of either 4″x4″ or 5″x7″. This doesn’t mean you can’t make bigger designs, it just means that you’ll need to re-hoop more often. This entails taking the fabric out of the hoop and putting it back in – in a slightly different position. It can be done, it’s just more fiddly.

Obviously, large commercial models have super-big areas, and a price tag to match!

Future-proofing your purchase

Make sure that whatever model you choose now, will suit your purpose in years to come. You don’t want to find that you get a very basic machine for your embroidery craft only to find you’ve outgrown it in a year’s time. If you are going to pursue this hobby, be sure what you choose now can take extra accessories and extensions. (For example, you’ll need one that can accommodate hat frames if you are planning to embroider baseball caps).

Brand Considerations

A new machine to help you with your embroidery is a considerable investment. For this reason, it’s best to stick with the tried-and-true brand names. Brother, Singer, Janone – it’s not really a good idea to buy a no-name brand when for a bit extra you could get a decent warranty and assurance of quality.

Price Considerations

A product’s price is also something you have to take into account. Prices vary enormously from budget products to expensive commercial embroidery machines. There is a lot of variance in price, and embroidery machines are not cheap! Some non-industrial, specialty products can ring in the thousands. Hence you have to do some research first and compare at least 2-3 models before making a decision.

Single Needle vs Multi Needle

Single Needle

Single-needle embroidery machines are very similar in appearance to conventional sewing machines. They only have one head (made up of the bobbin, thread, needle, and other metal parts).

When the machine is active, the needle doesn’t move while the embroidery “arm” navigates across the fabric to match the design.

These types of embroidery machine have only a single point of hoop attachment and often can’t handle a larger embroidery hoop. The largest hoop size is generally around 8″ by 12″ and can usually do around 300-1000 stitches per minute.

Pros

  • Great if you’re good with computers to create patterns/designs
  • Easy to find in most stores
Cons

  • Inefficient when embroidering multiple of the same patterns
  • Hard to hoop ready-made garments and bags

Multi-Needle

A single needle machine will get the job done. But if you’re looking to step up production and do it professionally, then you’ll need a more powerful machine with more capabilities, better speed, and improved efficiency.

Multi-needle embroidery machines typically have around four to ten needles. Each needle can hold a different thread color, so you can have many more colors at once than a single-needle embroidery machine. This way, you won’t have to stop and change the thread colors continuously.

Instead of having to switch threads during the embroidery process, multi-needle machines make it as easy as:
1) Selecting thread color
2) Hooping the fabric
3) Pressing start.

These more efficient machines will have 2 points for hoop attachment (whereas single needle machines have 1), and can also manage larger hoop sizes – typically up to 14″ x 14″. Although the speeds are around the same, there is a lot of time saved by having multiple needles.

Pros

  • Very fast with multicolor designs
  • Better precision
  • Can embroider pockets
Cons

  • Not as intuitive
  • Must program color stops

What features are important to you?

Personally, I like a lot of stuff to be automated. I hate fiddling with needles and thread, I can’t thread a needle so I for one need automatic threading and cutting. Bobbin winding – if I have to do this, it ends up with the wrong tension resulting in broken needles.

Designs for the embroidering process

What embroidery designs are you interested in? Most machines come with between 50-150 designs built-in, which is nice for a beginner, you’ll soon outgrow these if you are wanting to make custom projects. Make sure that the machine you are looking at is compatible with software available (such as iBroidery) or able to take uploads of custom designs that you create on your computer.

What fabrics & material will you be using

It’s no good expecting to embroider the entire back of a leather jacket on a small at-home embroidery sewing machine. Most models will be able to handle softer materials – thick blankets and tote bags may need different needles or extensions.

The Little Things to Know

You can check out YouTube to see a basic demo of the model’s features and operations. You’ll want a display screen as well as controls. Be sure that the layout and buttons suit your preferences. Don’t forget to check the warranty.

Embroidery Machine Maintenance Tips

One crucial aspect of embroidery machines that you have to keep track of is maintenance. Inspecting, and doing basic maintenance will keep it in good condition and ensure top quality performance.

  • Inspect your unit regularly, and it will help extend the machine’s lifespan.
  • Remove all the thread from the thread path. Clean or dust its rack and examine whether dust or grime is accumulating on the tensioners.
  • Shine a light beneath the needle where the O-ring is. Be sure to remove all traces of dirt so replacement needles will not catch foreign objects as they make their way to the shaft.
  • Take the bobbin plate away and inspect for dirt and surplus threads. At times, the thread can coil itself all over the shaft at the back of the hook assembly. These excess threads can drive the hook’s point near the needle’s eye, which can cause problems.
  • Run your fingers over the bobbin case, the tensions disks, the positioning finger, the hook, the throat plate, needles. If you encounter any stresses or grooves, rub carefully with a cloth or fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Using a magnifier, inspect the throat plate’s hole where the thread and needle comes by. Nicks can cause shreds on the thread and will disrupt proper machine performance.
  • Inspect the filters and motor. Dust and thread buildup can make the machine overheat.

Embroidery machines are must-haves that any avid seamstress and tailor needs in his or her workplace. If you want faster, seamless results, it is a great decision to invest in one.

Conclusion

Embroidery machines merge functionality, creativity, versatility, and practicality. When it comes to price, you need to decide what you need – both now and in the future. Seek other people’s opinions, weigh your needs, and you’ll find the top embroidery machine for you.

Everybody has different needs, and while I’ve rated the embroidery machines to my standards, you might have different expectations. Be sure to understand what it is you want out of an embroidery machine and use my reviews to help you pick one. I’m always available for comments and to answer questions.