Sewing machines with automated embroidery functions are hugely popular. Some are simple and user-friendly, while others have bells and whistles that allow you to create complex designs at the touch of a button.
When deciding what embroidery machine is right for you, it's important to consider not only what a machine can do, but also your own needs, wants, skill level, sewing room space, and your budget. Some embroidery machines are designed exclusively for embroidering; these tend to give a high-quality finish and hold up well to this kind of use. For sewists working in small spaces or on a tight budget, a combination utility and embroidery machine can be the way to go. Rather than buying twice the equipment, these versatile machines allow you to switch from plain sewing to embroidery with the flick of a switch. With more capabilities, however, more things might go wrong, so they're not the best option for sewists who plan to do a lot of embroidery.
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Thinking about your next project and what's right for you? Not all embroidery machines are created equal. We've rounded up the top machines for sewists of all types. Check out the list below!
1. Brother PE770 Embroidery Machine
This machine has all the features you could want, and a sizeable 5x7" embroidery area in which to work. With 136 built-in designs, plus the ability to edit images, and a USB port to download more, there's no limit to the embroidery you can create. Of course, all these handy features do come with a larger price tag, so this may not be the right machine for casual sewists. It's also limited exclusively to embroidery stitches and meant to be used in addition to your primary sewing machine.
2. Brother SE400 Combination Machine
For sewists looking for a budget friendly machine that combines regular stitching with embroidery, the Brother SE400 is the perfect option. It's easy to use, with a back-lit LCD screen on which to preview your designs. It comes pre-loaded with 70 embroidery designs in addition to more than 60 stitches for regular sewing projects, plus the ability to download more. The embroidery area is smaller than dedicated embroidery machines—4x4"—but with its versatile capabilities, it's a great all-around machine for frequent sewists.
3. EverSewn Hero
Another all-around machine, the EverSewn Hero is often overshadowed by bigger brands, but its capabilities are not to be overlooked. Not only is it capable of complex embroidery designs, text, and decorative stitches, but its range of utility stitches make it perfect for a variety of projects. Download additional designs from EverSewn software with a simple USB drive. While it is an investment, it can be an economical choice for sewists not ready for separate sewing and embroidery machines.
4. Brother DZ820E Embroidery Machine
For serious embroidery projects, this Brother machine is an excellent option. It's a dedicated embroidery machine with a larger work area than most competitors, and has all the options you'll need to create custom projects. With hundreds of pre-loaded stitch patterns and the ability to add more as needed, there's so much this embroidery machine can do! Learn how to use it to its fullest advantage with built-in tutorials and an easy to read back-lit screen. Geared toward professional-quality embroidery, the Brother DZ820E is definitely an investment, but with a full package of accessories in addition to your machine, you'll get your money's worth.
5. Janome Memory Craft 400E Professional Embroidery Machine
If you're sewing for a small business, you want to make sure your equipment can keep up with your needs. The Janome Memory Craft 400E is a workhorse with all the power and features you need to turn out perfect projects every time. Its fast, with a maximum speed of 86 stitches per minute, and with an embroidery area measuring nearly 8 inches in both directions, you'll have plenty of space to work with large, complex designs. The computerized interface is user-friendly, making it easy to search through 160 pre-programmed designs, 6 fonts perfect for monograms, and to download all the additional designs you need. This is definitely not a machine for the casual sewist, but if your sewing business requires dedicated embroidery equipment, this is an excellent option for those not yet ready for commercial-grade machines.
6. Singer Futura XL-400
This machine has a whole range of features that serious embroiderers will love, but even better, it's not limited to just embroidery! With 30 utility stitches, including automated buttonholes, the Futura XL-400 will be able to tackle all the sewing projects you can throw at it, and embroider them too! The embroidery area allows for designs up to 18.5 x 11 inches; like all high-end embroidery machines, it has easy USB import options, so you can add and combine designs to create custom works of art. It's not best for beginners, however; not only does it have a sizeable price tag, but it's more complex to use than a regular sewing machine. Unlike many embroidery machines, it does not use a view screen, so there's no way to view your work in progress, a step most beginners appreciate. If you're experience with machine embroider and looking to upgrade your current combination machine, or downsizing from a dedicated embroidery machine to something that can handle all of your sewing needs, this might be just the option you're looking for.
7. Brother PE540D Embroidery Machine
This Brother sewing machine was developed with the Disney aficionado in mind; featuring Mickey, Minnie, and the rest of the gang as decorative decals on the machine itself, and a host of pre-loaded, licensed Disney embroidery designs, it's geared towards sewists both young and young at heart. While definitely not for a first-time sewist, its straightforward setup makes it easy to use for those just beginning to delve into the world of machine embroidery, and with a comparatively low price tag, it's a nice way to explore your options. It does have limitations: with a top embroidering speed of 400 stitches per minute, it's definitely not suited to large volumes of work, and the embroidery workspace measures only 4 inches on a side. However, it does provide lots of opportunities to experiment, download and edit patterns, and learn how machine embroidery works before moving on to a more industrial machine.
8. Singer Superb EM200
The Singer Superb EM200 is an excellent intermediate machine, typically recommended for sewists who have some experience with machine embroidery, but who may be looking for a step up from a basic machine. The EM200 offers a larger embroidery area (almost 8 inches on a side) and a top sewing speed of 700 stitches per minute! It's designed to handle embroidery on all kinds of fabrics, from thick terry cloth towels to delicate cotton baby clothes. An LCD touchscreen makes it easy to select your embroidery designs, including those downloaded from other sources. A sensor in the machine monitors your upper thread and alerts you if it runs low or breaks, which is particularly handy when working complex embroidery designs.
9. Brother LB6800PRW Project Runway Embroidery & Sewing Machine
Economical, easy to use, and with all the functionality you need, the Brother LB6800PRW is an excellent beginner embroidery machine. It comes with a handy carrying case, which makes it perfect for attending classes, and its display screen allows for editing designs as you go, as well as downloading new ones. It's download feature is not compatible with Mac computers, however, and it's embroidery field (4" on a side) is on the small end of what's available. As a reliable machine for a beginning embroiderer, however, it comes highly recommended, and since Brother offers other embroidery machines that are perfect for more advanced sewists, starting with the LB6800PRW makes it easy to graduate to a more powerful machine later.
10. Singer Futura XL-580
Similar to the Futura XL-400, this machine is an upgrade in several ways. In addition the more standard hoop sizes that come with your machine, the Futura XL-580 features an "endless hoop," which allows you to create continuous border patterns without the hassle of re-hooping your project and potentially throwing your border out of alignment. It also comes with software that, among other features, allows you to convert fonts on your computer into embroidery designs, making the possibilities almost endless. Keep in mind that there's no in-progress editing; this machine doesn't include a display screen, so all edits need to be done on a computer before beginning your project. Like other Futura machines, the XL-580 features one of the largest embroidery areas available. Designed for the serious embroiderer, it's one of the few combination utility/embroidery machines that can stand up to use for a small business, and with a limited 25 year warranty, you can be confident that this machine will keep up with you for a good long while.