Even the simplest machine that controls embroidering in a hoop is much more expensive than a basic sewing machine. They’re more complex, and the success of an embroidery design depends on the accuracy it’s sewn out with, which comes at a price.
But you don’t need a high-end machine. You can do most embroidery stitching techniques on a machine costing much less than $1000.
Spending more on a sewing machine gets you more stitches plus some useful tools like needle up-down. That is not true for an embroidery machine. Spending more on an embroidery machine does get you a few more built-in designs, but the number is still small compared to the huge numbers of designs anyone can download from the internet. You can do all embroidery techniques on a machine with a small number of built-in designs and a small hoop. Paying more for an embroidery machine gets you a larger hoop, and at mid-price you can do some editing/designing directly on the machine and save to a simple memory.
It can be exciting looking at machines which do amazing things, but there’s no point buying a machine which stays in the box. So step away from the thrills and find out how to use the machine you’re thinking about. Start with a machine that gives you an ‘I could do this’ feeling. Beginners may find it easier to start with a basic machine – if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be confusing to find your way to the essentials among all the options on a more expensive machine.
Hoop size is a consideration. The biggest hoops can be quite difficult to hoop smoothly. I suggest you don’t go bigger until you’re sure using an embroidery machine is something you enjoy, and you know what you enjoy making. So the main choice is between a 4″x4″(100x100mm) hoop or about 7″x5″(180x130mm). (Those are the sizes of the biggest embroidery area you can sew in that hoop, the hoops themselves are quite a bit larger.) Cut out pieces of paper these sizes, to look at and hold against what you might embroider on. What are you dreaming of stitching ?
Are you the sort of person who is happy to use designs made by other people, or do you think you will quite soon want to make small changes to designs, such as adding names and messages ?
Cheaper option, if you’re comfortable using a computer – use a basic embroidery machine plus your computer with basic embroidery software, often free.
More expensive – a machine on which you can do simple editing direct :
On lower-mid-price machines you can edit single designs (re-size, rotate, flip), and produce text.
Mid-price machines also have simple options for combining designs – so you can combine design and text in a single hooping.
Other thoughts :
– do you want a machine with Disney copyright designs ?
– do you need a machine which does both sewing and embroidery, or an embroidery-only machine ?
– which brand has the most helpful local dealer ?
If you can’t get to a machine dealer :
– can you find internet videos on how to use this or a similar machine ? depends a bit on how good the presenter is, but do you think you would be comfortable with using it ?
– you can probably find a manual to download, but they’re not always easy to understand ! so watch machine videos first.
Machines to move on to, if you’re excited by new technology
There are some hugely expensive combo sewing+embroidery machines which provide many special tools. Do you need one ? – not at all. Except for automatic thread changing, jumbo hoops, wi-fi, what they do can easily be done away from a machine.
Machines for professional embroiders have several needles each threaded with a different colour. So they can automatically change thread colour, which greatly speeds the stitch out.
‘Top of the line’ single-needle sewing+embroidery machines are big enough for ‘jumbo’ hoops, and each year the new models can do yet more amazing things. Currently (mid 2018) :
– cut out fabric shapes for appliqué, paint, add crystals (Bernina with optional tools)
– auto-digitise on the machine (BabyLock, Brother)
– develop a design and transfer to the machine from a tablet or phone (Janome , Pfaff)
These machines are for experienced sewists who love exploring new and complex technology in their sewing. They’re not at all necessary for the rest of us, in fact we may not even enjoy using them. I suspect most beginners would find it difficult to know where to start.
I was thinking of getting a TOL machine, then I watched the videos and realised I would not want to use one. I’m more a hands-on person, I’m not a target customer for a machine where everything is done on a screen or using wi-fi. For sewing, I love my basic workhorse ‘real buttons’ machine. For embroidery, I’m experienced and could easily use the design options on a mid-price machine. I prefer to add other types of embellishment away from my machine, and to change or develop designs using embroidery software on my big-screen computer.
But it is fun to know about these machines, and they look marvellous 😀
Do you love personalising or embellishing what you make ? Happily you can do many beautiful and fun things with a very basic embroidery machine. There’s such a wealth of embroidery designs available, having an embroidery machine can be a rich source of pleasure 😀
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