How to Buy a Home Embroidery Machine

There is barely a week that goes by that I don’t get an email inquiring about my home embroidery machine.  It seems many people love the designs but just aren’t sure how to go about picking a good machine for themselves.

With that in mind, I decided to write a post which includes the information I’ve been privately sharing in all those email responses.

If you’re considering making the leap, check out my following 10 tips for how to buy a home embroidery machine.

brother embroidery machine view

Allow me to start with a few notes about the machine I own.

I’ve had it now for about 14 years now and love it as much today… as I did the first day I brought it home.

Having an embroidery machine has not only revolutionized my gift giving with the ability to personalize and monogram items… but it’s also enhanced my fabric crafts and projects over the years.

Minnie Mouse

My model is a Brother ULT 2002-D .

The 2002 represents when it was manufactured… and the “D” means it has built-in Disney designs (which are cute and fun to stitch out).

I have to admit, I used the Disney designs a lot more when my kids were much younger but I think you never completely outgrow Disney and every once in a while, I’ll stitch out a favorite character.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Disney embroidery designs are among the group of designs that are licenced for personal use only and not-for-profit endeavors. That means I can stitch out the Disney designs and give it away… but I can never SELL the item. Manufacturers are always on the lookout for violators and will impose hefty fines when they find people using designs in unauthorized ways. There are many designs that do come with so-called, “Angel Policies” that allow you to sell an unlimited or fixed number of stitched-out designs.  Of course, there are even more designs that have zero restrictions which can be used in any way the owner wants, including for-profit.  When you purchase any embroidery design or collection, it’s important that you understand how those designs can be legally used and always comply with any rules attached to them.

Minnie Mouse embroidery

Since my machine is a combination sewing AND embroidery machine, I get the benefit of both worlds.

All I have to do is slide on the embroidery arm attachment when I’m ready to embroider… or remove the arm when I’m ready to do any regular sewing.

When buying an embroidery machine there are so many things to consider.

With that in mind, I’ve come up with my top 10 tips that I think are most important to factor in, when trying to find the right machine.

Open flatware embroidery

You can see more of the above Embroidered Flatware Napkin project HERE

1-Price Point

Modern day embroidery machines are essentially computers that sew… and with any computer… they can be a bit pricey depending on the model.

An embroidery machine can cost you anywhere from hundreds of dollars to ten-thousand dollars or more.

The price differential is generally based on the level of complexity, enhanced capability and more advanced and sophisticated features of the machine.

Whatever machine you settle on, it’s an important investment which makes it even more important to find the best fit.

linen bag

 You can see more of the above Embroidered Linen project HERE

2-Personal or Commercial Use

Have you thought about how you might want to use an embroidery machine?

Maybe you only want to stitch out small projects for the pleasure of it… or perhaps you’re thinking about starting your own home-based embroidery business.

How you plan to use should factor in what type of machine your purchase.

For example, if you plan to use one for commercial purposes, you’ll most likely need to invest in a more powerful, versatile system.

pincushions

You can see more of the above Embroidered Pincushion project HERE

3-Buy a Machine You Can Grow Into

There are some extremely basic embroidery machine models on the market.  However, if you can afford a model with enhanced features, I recommend you lean in.  While any machine may feel intimidating at first, you will master the machine before you know it and the more you use it, you’ll be ready to tackle more complicated projects.

You don’t want to buy a machine that is so basic and limited in its capabilities that you’ll literally outgrow it in a matter of months and end up ready to upgrade a short time later.

So, if you can… buy a machine that will allow you some room to grow with advanced capabilities that can accommodate your burgeoning embroidery skills.

embroidered messenger shoulder bag

You can see more of the above Embroidered Messenger Bag HERE

4-Determine What’s Important to You

I actually ended up buying my embroidery machine because I was in the market to upgrade my regular sewing machine which had a limited and basic stitch selection.

I wanted a machine that had more decorative stitches than the sweet Singer sewing machine that my parents gave me when I was 13 years old which I was still using as an adult.

Settling on a combination sewing/embroidery machine made sense.  The ability to create embroidery projects broadened my creative skills and the sewing machine portion provided hundreds of new and decorative stitches to my sewing arsenal.

hanging lavender heart sachet

You can see more of the above Embroidered Lavender Heart project HERE 

5-Read online reviews

Do you read the Amazon book reviews before you buy a book?  I do. It doesn’t always sway my decision but it does help provide information I didn’t have before.

I suggest you apply that same practice to embroidery machine shopping.  Sewists are very honest about what they love and hate about sewing/embroidery machines.

There’s a lot of opinions out there from hobbyists and professionals alike that could help guide your search and get you thinking about things you hadn’t considered before.

jacobean-three-quarters-above

You can see more of the above Embroidered Jacobean Pillow project HERE

6-Get behind the wheel

Please don’t buy an embroidery machine before you’ve taken it for a test drive.  I think it’s very important to sit in front of a machine and see how it looks, feels and operates under your own fingertips before you pull the trigger on a purchase.

One of the things that ended up distinguishing my machine for me was the large LCD screen where the designs are viewed as they’re stitched.  A few of the other machines I looked at had much smaller screens and I practically had to squint to see the display.

You wouldn’t buy a car before taking it on the road, right? Approach your embroidery machine purchase in the same way.

gingerbread man embroidery

You can see more of the above Embroidered Gingerbread Sack HERE

7-Compare Models and Fear Not

As you’re doing your embroidery machine investigations, take plenty of notes.

Draw up a pros and cons spread sheet so you can see how the differences measure up against each other on paper.  I think seeing the differences written out helps to distinguish one from the other and can help narrow your focus.

I’ll let you in on something else. When I first purchased my machine, I was so intimidated by the apparent complexity… I was afraid to use it.  I thought “what have I gotten myself into?  I’ll never figure this out”.

With practice, trial and yes… error… I did figure it out and it didn’t take very long either.  You’ll learn your machine like the back of your hand in no time.

bloom embroidery

You can see more of the above Embroidered Floral Pillow project HERE

8-Consider a gently-used model

OK, before you say right off the bat, “I don’t want a used machine“, let me explain this one.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say people who purchase embroidery machines generally take very good care of them.  I’ve had mine for more than a decade and it still looks brand new without a scratch on it. I keep it serviced and even cover it at night to keep it from getting dusty.

Many embroidery machine owners decide to upgrade to the latest and greatest model and often trade in their older model. These trade-ins are typically very good, reliable machines that have not been dogged by the previous owner in any way.

If you decide to buy a used model, just make sure that you purchase a “certified” pre-own from an authorized dealer which means it’s been certified by a trusted authority that the machine is as good in the inside as it looks on the outside.

reindeer embroideredpillow

You can see more of the above Embroidered Reindeer Pillow  HERE

9-Sit in on an embroidery class

Local shops that sell embroidery machines, often have classes where new owners complete a project using their machines.  After I first bought my machine, this is how I actually learned how to use it.  I had to use the machine in class which forced me to confront all the once-scary features on my machine.

As a potential embroidery machine owner, you may also be able to sit in on a few classes to watch the machines at work, talk with the instructor and also mingle and question machine owners about their systems.embroidery designs

You can see how I used the above embroidery designs HERE

10-Do your research

Don’t just dive into buying the first machine you see.  You’ve must shop around for models and prices.

An embroidery machine is definitely an investment and with any type of investment, the more research you do, the better outcome you’ll likely have and the more wisely your money will be spent.

butterfly embroidery

You can see more of the above Embroidered Butterfly project HERE

If you’re thinking about getting an embroidery machine, go through the steps I’ve outlined to help guide and narrow your choices.

Embroidery is not only a lovely hobby…. I gotta say, it’s pretty addictive too.

tips for buying an embroidery machine

Thanks for stopping by.

See  you back here next time. 

  • Nigel Stones

    A great buyers guide you provide for the beginners. And of course a nice review shortly. why didn’t you mention the cost effectiveness for the machine?
    the cost comes first by which we can make our choice most of the time

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks, Nigel.
      I only briefly touched on the cost of machines because I think cost can be relative.
      What is pricey to one person may not be considered very expensive to someone else.
      It’s up to each individual buyer to decide how much they want to spend. I focused far more tips on what to look for in a machine regardless of the price.
      Hope that helps.
      Happy day to you.

  • Melissa Pryor

    Your work is flawless! My husband surprised me a Brother/Destiny II. I am taking my time learning. Would you possibly recommend how someone can find these beautiful fonts for their home projects? You inspire me!

    • Melissa Pryor

      Baby lock/Destiny II 🙂

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks so much, Melissa.
      I’m always happy to hear when someone is inspired by my creative efforts.
      I appreciate you letting me know too.
      Which fonts are you looking for?

  • Darlene

    Thank you so much for these tips. I’ve been lurking on your site for years, and loving all your projects. The machine embroidery has me enthralled and I tried figuring out how to go about finding the right one. These tips will be immensely useful as I research one. Hugs!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Hi Darlene, thanks so much for popping out of “lurk-mode”-lol.
      I’m thrilled you found the embroidery information useful.
      Drop me a line if you need any more information to get you going on your embroidery path. I’m happy to help.
      Good luck and keep me posted.

  • Marsha

    Wow, you are one talented lady! Is there anything you can’t do? 🙂

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks so much, Marsha! You’re so sweet.
      I appreciate your thumbs-up regarding my creative efforts.
      I hope you’re finding projects and recipes you want to try yourself.

  • [email protected] Designs

    I have so admired all of your embroidery posts!….Have you considered selling some of your creations?….Love it all!…love the tone on tone embroidery too…looks so vintage! Thanks for the wonderful information and suggestions Lisa!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks Shirley! I actually do sell a select few, custom items. I’ll have to do a better job of promoting that-lol.
      If you ever decide to get a machine, feel free to tap me for any additional questions you may have.
      An embroidery machine is one of those things you never realized you needed… until after you get one (smile).

  • Cindy

    I think you have very sound advice on this piece of equipment! Ten years ago, I purchased a Viking, and I LOVED it:D I chose to go this route because even though it was a pricey personal machine, I also knew I could perform almost commercial type small jobs with it. So it became my crafting/profit machine. Eventually, I sold it because I wasn’t using it very much anymore, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t kick myself! I hope to someday purchase another one, but we’ll shall see:) You’ve done beautiful projects with your machine! Thanks for sharing your expertise;)

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Cindy, I can imagine how you feel, parting with your wonderful machine. I jump from hobby to hobby and I’ve had lulls in my embroidery creativity too.
      I’m going to try to use my machine much more than I already do because I’ve collected so many designs over the years, I really need to get them onto fabric at least once-lol.
      Thanks (as always) for your visit and your sweet words of encouragement.
      Happy day!

  • Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    I love all of your tips and I wish I would have bought an embroidery machine years ago. Right now I have an old Singer my mamma and papà bought for me when I was first married. I made some of my children’s clothes but I embroidered by hand. My other machine is a Husqvarna that is about 25+ years old. So my priorities right now is getting a decent camera – mine as you know is a point and shoot and it just does not get the job done. 🙁 I would love to watch you embroider — have you thought of videos?? Have a great day!!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks, Marisa! I’ve been thinking about adding videos here and there. Great idea to include a few embroidery videos too.
      It’s such an interesting process to watch unfold. I never get tired of seeing a blank piece of fabric and watching the image slowly appear with the thread changes.
      Hope you have a lovely day too and thanks for popping over.

  • Dalia

    Thank you for the post. An embroidery-machine is a distant dream right now, but I love the idea of a combined sewing and embroidery machine. Never enough space!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Yes, Dalia… I know that feeling. My sewing tools and materials used to be all over the house until we moved and I got an attic space to keep everything in.
      Funny thing is that even with that space, I’m still eyeing more space around the house to claim-lol.
      If you ever make the leap, do consider a combo machine. I think you’ll get so much more bang for your buck.

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