So you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy your first embroidery machine. At first, the options can be confusing – what does it all mean? You’re unsure of what aspects of the machine are essential – and what even matter at all.
Secondly, you may not be looking to spend a large amount of money. You don’t want to be paying for features that you might never use.
When I bought my first home embroidery machine, I wanted a high-quality model but I wasn’t looking to make a major investment as it was all new to me.
So, there I was – with no knowledge of embroidery machines aside from what they did, unsure of what questions to ask, and also trying to stay within budget!
Does this feeling sound familiar to you?
Here are my top tips for choosing the right home embroidery machine first time:
What are you going to use it for?
Are you only wanting to sew a few designs onto a t-shirt or do you want to get more creative in the embroidery hoop? Will you be using it for towels, blankets, and quilting?
Embroidery machines can do so much more than simple patterns and logos. So, start by considering what you plan to make with the machine. Then, consider how you plan to use the machine. Is it for personal or business use? This will play a big role in the volume your machine creates, and what kind you need. For example, some machines are built specifically for business use, allowing large-scale production and continuous hours of operation.
Does the machine sew, as well as embroider?
If you need something versatile for your initial purchase, then consider an embroidery machine that also sews. Even if you’ve got a sewing machine already, the additional features can come in handy.
Do you need the embroidery unit to be separate from the sewing machine?
If the embroidery unit can separate from the sewing machine then you can use the same machine for sewing and quilting as well as embroidery.
This is a good feature as you definitely get the most bang for your buck! And, if you are short on storage but would like all three capabilities, this can save space in your crafting nook.
Consider the brand
In general, most name-brand machines (such as Singer or Brother) are going to be of good quality. But, of course, there will be one that is the best fit for you.
Start by checking out the manufacturers’ blogs, websites, and forums to get a good feel for overall customer satisfaction. Read through a few of the comments to see if one specific complaint seems to be a trend – it might be the one thing you are looking for or to avoid, so it could be a deal-breaker.
Determining the best brand can also help you narrow down your budget. Some are more expensive than others, even if the machine is on the cheaper end for that brand.
Does the brand you are interested in have its own embroidery design software, specific to the machine? Check whether there are online tutorials or even local classes available, to help get you started quicker.
Some embroidery machine dealers offer owner’s classes and the option of refreshers to help you with your new machine.
Of course, you can find this outside of the dealer, but having at least one provided and included with your purchase is a cost-saver and help.
Consider the embroidery designs – (built in, and how to add more)
Some machines already have the embroidery designs built into memory while others can connect to a computer. Check out how many designs are pre-loaded into the machine’s memory.
How do you add more alphabet styles and designs to the machine?
Does the manufacturer have software with extra alphabets/designs with the embroidery machine?
To access the most stitches and designs, look for an embroidery machine which can connect to a computer – or one that can load files from a thumb (USB) drive.
Modern machines can also connect to Wifi to transfer designs, though others will need a USB cable.
However, you definitely want to avoid a machine that needs to be connected to a computer in order to run.
Screen Size & Features
Does the machine have a black and white, or color touchscreen? I prefer color screens. Screen size is important, you don’t want to be peering at a tiny screen when you are trying to select from different functions.
Check whether you can combine two designs on the screen or whether you’ll need separate software to do this.
Hoop & Embroidery Design Size (“throat width”)
What is the largest hoop size the embroidery machine can handle? This will determine the embroidery design size.
You can often get a good idea of this by looking at the distance between the needle and the body – known as the throat width – that’s the diameter of the hoop you are able to use.
If you want to embroider large designs, you’ll need a machine capable of accommodating a larger hoop.
Embroidery Machine Accessories
Of course, a machine is great on its own, but you really get the most out of it when you start adding accessories and upgrades. How many hoops is the machine supplied with? Are you able to buy extra hoops at a reasonable price?
Before buying, check what options you might have in the future. A more expensive machine might have a feature you would want later on, but a cheaper model might offer the same thing just as an accessory. So rather than buying the expensive one now, you can buy the upgrade later, spreading the cost out.
Warranty & Service – is it included?
Regardless of if you go for a cheap or more expensive model, an embroidery machine is an investment.
Check whether there is a warranty and/or service included with the machine, in the event that something should go wrong. See if your local store has a service center with technicians that can resolve issues without having to send your machine away.
Buying your first embroidery machine doesn’t need to be too complicated. I hope these tips will help ease your mind a bit and offer you some insight as to where and how to begin your search for the perfect embroidery machine for you.
Now that I have shared my favorite tips, it’s your turn.
Did I miss any steps? What tips do you wish you would have known when you bought your first embroidery machine?