The Ultimate Guide to Buying the Best Embroidery Machine

Welcome to the ultimate guide to buying the best embroidery machine.  I have done the research for you to help make it easier to decide which embroidery machine to purchase.

The guide starts with a quick buying guide for embroidery machines which helps you understand what you need to know about embroidery machines, including what accessories you may wish to consider purchasing.  We then shift to a comparison chart of the best home and small business embroidery machines currently on the market which range from high end to heap pricing.  Finally the guide shifts to short reviews of each of the top embroidery machines including detailed information about the right accessories you will also need to purchase for each embroidery machine option to help you get started with confidence.  The guide has been set up so that you can quickly jump around to the different sections.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links.  That means that if you purchase an item after clicking on a link it may mean that we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you!

Embroidery Machine Buying Guide

What is an Embroidery Machine?

An embroidery machine is a specialised machine, similar to a sewing machine, which can be used to automatically sew a vast range of embroidery designs onto fabric.  The designs can include images, text and monograms.  The fabric options which can be embroidered include clothing, hats, shirts, t shirts, jeans, bed linen, towels, handbags etc.

The user sets up the fabric in a special hoop which inserts into the machine, then selects or programs their embroidery design.  There is some technique in learning how to set up the fabric into the embroidery hoop and to tension the threads, however modern embroidery machines make these processes very user friendly.

Embroidery machines for home or small business will embroider one color at a time, with the operator changing threads as required until the design is completed.  Commercial (or industrial or professional) embroidery machines can embroider multiple colors at a time, with a commensurate increase in price.

Can I Buy a Combined Sewing, Quilting and Embroidery Machine?

Most of the embroidery machines recommended in this article are combination sewing, quilting and embroidery machines for home or small business use.  This means that you can readily purchase an affordable single machine which can be used for sewing, quilting and embroidery.

Do I Need a Multi Needle Embroidery Machine?

For home or small business use a single head or single needle embroidery machine will usually be adequate for most needs.  The machines recommended in this article will embroider one color at a time with a single head.  For multi color designs you then change to the next color thread and so on until the design is completed.  Modern embroidery machines enable you to easily change colors to create your final design.

If you are looking for an embroidery machine which can embroider with multiple colors at a time then you will need to consider commercial level machines, which can embroider using multiple needles (3 needle, 4 needle and 6 needles are the common options).  At this stage commercial embroidery machines are not covered in this article.

Which Embroidery Machine Brand Should I Buy?

While most sewing machine brands also produce embroidery machines, by far the leading brand for home and small business use is Brother which has a wide range of well rated embroidery machine options.

Can I Purchase a Computerized Embroidery Machine?

All embroidery machines recommended in this article are modern computerized models.  The features of most modern embroidery machines are that they either connect to a computer, or design files can be easily transferred from a computer via a USB thumb drive.

How do I Create Embroidery Machine Designs?

All of the best rated embroidery machines for home or small business use are the Brother brand, and all Brother embroidery machines have a range of options to create your designs as follows:

  1. All embroidery machines come with a range of designs, text and monogram lettering fonts already included in the machine. To set up your embroidery design you select your picture, text and monogram options on the LCD machine interface panel.
  2. Some embroidery machines come with additional designs and lettering fonts on a CD / DVD, and you can select from those designs and load them onto your embroidery machine using a USB thumb drive.
  3. Brother separately sells a large range of embroidery design cards which you can purchase and slot into your machine.
  4. All Brother embroidery machines are able to access the Brother only iBroidery website where over 5,000 embroidery designs (including licenced designs) are available for individual purchase. After you have purchased your design you can transfer it onto your Brother embroidery machine using a USB thumb drive.
  5. A large range of other websites also provide embroidery designs at a cost or for free. Note that for Brother embroidery machines you need to obtain a .pes file which you can load using a USB thumb drive.
  6. If you wish to create your own bespoke embroidery designs, you will need an additional embroidery or digitizing software program. Here is a good summary of the available software packages and their features.  To use these programs with Brother embroidery machines you need to be able to produce a .pes file which can then be loaded using a USB thumb drive.
  7. You can engage a freelancer to create bespoke embroidery designs or to digitize your design using websites such as Fiverr and Upwork.

Where to Buy Embroidery Machines

Embroidery machines can be purchased at sewing and craft shops and also online from amazon.com.

How Much Will an Embroidery Machine Cost?

Approximate pricing for embroidery machines for home and small business use is:

  • Cheap and affordable embroidery machines are priced at $300 to $800,
  • Mid range embroidery machines are priced at $800 to $1500
  • High end embroidery machines are priced at $1500 to $8000.

Pricing for multi needle commercial / industrial / professional embroidery machines can range from $5000 to $30000 plus.

Which Embroidery Machine Accessories Should I Purchase?

Embroidery Machine Thread

The major embroidery threads used are made from polyester and rayon.  Polyester threads are the best option for items which need to be frequently washed (for example clothing, linen and towels), while the more vibrant rayon threads are best used for other less washed items.

The thread used in the bobbin is usually either black or white and is a thinner thread, which makes the back of your designs less obvious.  If you are planning to embroider an item where the back will show regularly, you can use normal embroidery thread in your bobbins.

You can purchase an additional thread stand to hold ten colors of thread which also means that you do not need to wind bobbins each time and it also reduces the likelihood of knotting and breakages – particularly in the more fragile metallic threads.  You can also purchase pre-wound bobbins of embroidery thread.  The specific accessories for each recommended embroidery machine are included in the reviews of each embroidery machine below.

The recommended brands of embroidery thread include the Brother Pacesetter brand, Madeira, Robison-Anton or Sulky.  If you are interesting in trialing other brands then purchase a single trial spool first and test it to ensure that it does not cause excessive knots, breaks and skipped stitches before purchasing more spools of thread.

Each of these brands offer good value embroidery thread kits and sets, as well as specialised packs of metallic threads, and also individual color spools.  When looking at the options on Amazon ensure that the threads you are planning to purchase are specifically designated as embroidery thread in either polyester or rayon.

Embroidery Machine Hoops

A wide range of additional embroidery machine hoops are available.  The specific hoops for each embroidery machine are detailed in the individual embroidery machine reviews below.

Embroidery Machine Needles

Embroidery machine needles do periodically need to be replaced, so it is worthwhile to purchase some spare needles when you purchase your embroidery machine.  The specific needles recommended for each embroidery machine are detailed in the individual embroidery machine reviews below.

Embroidery Machine Stabilizers

To get the best results for your embroidery machine projects it is worthwhile to purchase stabilizers.  For the majority of projects you may need a heavy weight tear away or cut away stabilizer for underneath your project.  The top stabilizer depends on the type of fabric.  For example, if you are embroidering onto knit fabric, towels, velvets you may need a water soluble type of stabilizer to keep the fabric in place.

Many of the stabilizer options are adhesive to easily stick onto your fabric.  If you purchase a roll which is not adhesive you can use fabric spray to adhere the stabilizer to your fabric.

Recommended stabilizer brands include Solvy and Pacesetter.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links.  That means that if you purchase an item after clicking on a link it may mean that we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you!

Best Home and Small Business Embroidery Machines

The below table shows the best home and small business embroidery machines available and the key attributes to consider.

Picture Embroidery Machines Machine Type Price Embroidery Size
Brother Quattro® 3 Trilogy Limited Edition Innov-ís 6750D Combination Sewing/Quilting & Embroidery High End 12" x 8"
Brother Innov-is 2500D Combination Sewing/Quilting & Embroidery High End 10" x 6"
Brother SE1800 Combination Sewing/Quilting & Embroidery Mid Range 5" x 7"
Brother Designio Series DZ820E  Embroidery Only Low End 5” x 7”
Brother PE770 Embroidery Only Low End 5” x 7”
Brother SE400 Combination Sewing/Quilting & Embroidery Low End 4" x 4"
Brother LB6800PRW  Combination Sewing/Quilting & Embroidery Low End 4" x 4"

Best Embroidery Machine Reviews

Brother Quattro® 3 Trilogy Limited Edition Innov-is 6750D Combination Sewing, Quilting and Embroidery Machine Review


Why Buy This Embroidery Machine? The Brother Quattro 3 Trilogy Innov-is 6750D fits nicely into the ‘one machine to rule them all’ category.  If you want to purchase a single machine with a vast range of sewing, embroidery and quilting options with a large range of available designs and an included rolling carry case then this is the machine for you.

Why Wouldn’t You Buy This Embroidery Machine?  If you are looking for a cheaper combined sewing, quilting and embroidery machine.

Who Should Buy This Embroidery Machine?  This machine would be a great option for both home and small business operators.  This machine has the largest embroidery area of 12″ x 8″ so is easily able to handle larger embroidery designs and also has a more user friendly LCD screen.

Cost:  High End

Recommended Brother Quattro 3 Innov-is 6750D Accessories:

Brother Innov-is 2500D Combination Sewing, Quilting and Embroidery Machine Review


Why Buy This Embroidery Machine? The Brother Innov-is 2500D is a great single machine option with good quality sewing, embroidery and quilting options with a large range of designs included.

Why Wouldn’t You Buy This Embroidery Machine?  If you are looking for a cheaper embroidery machine.

Who Should Buy This Embroidery Machine?  This machine would be a great option for both home and small business operators.  This machine has a large embroidery area of 10″ x 6″so is easily able to handle larger embroidery designs and also has a more user friendly LCD screen.

Cost:  High End

Recommended Brother Innov-is 2500D Accessories:

Brother SE1800 Combination Sewing, Quilting and Embroidery Machine Review


Why Buy This Embroidery Machine? The Brother SE1800 is a great more affordable single machine option with good quality sewing, embroidery and quilting options with a large range of designs included which also includes a hard case.

Why Wouldn’t You Buy This Embroidery Machine?  If you are looking for an embroidery area of greater than 5″ x 7″.

Who Should Buy This Embroidery Machine?  This machine would be a great more affordable option for both home and small business operators.  This machine has a medium size embroidery area of 5” x 7”.

Cost:  Mid Range

Recommended Brother SE1800 Accessories:

Brother Designio Series DZ820E Embroidery Only Machine Review


Why Buy This Embroidery Machine? The Brother Designio Series DZ820E is a great embroidery only machine which is the same machine as the Brother PE770 with an additional starter kit which includes some thread, bobbins, stabilizer and an additional two embroidery hoops (4” x 4” and 2.5” x 1”).

Why Wouldn’t You Buy This Embroidery Machine?  If you are looking for a single machine which can sew, quilt and embroider, and you already own many machine embroidery accessories.

Who Should Buy This Embroidery Machine?  If you already own a sewing machine, are new to machine embroidery and do not already have the included accessories, and want to start with an embroidery machine with a larger 5” x 7” embroidery area.

Cost:  Low End

Recommended Brother DZ820E Accessories:

Brother PE770 Embroidery Only Machine Review


Why Buy This Embroidery Machine? The Brother PE770 is a great affordable dedicated embroidery machine with a large 5” x 7” embroidery area.  This machine only comes with basic accessories including a single 5” x 7” embroidery hoop, so is a good option if you already own machine embroidery accessories.  This machine also includes a good range of included embroidery designs and lettering fonts.

Why Wouldn’t You Buy This Embroidery Machine?  If you are looking for a single machine which can sew, quilt and embroider.

Who Should Buy This Embroidery Machine?  If you already own a sewing machine and want an embroidery machine with a larger 5” x 7” embroidery area.

Cost:  Low End

Recommended Brother PE770 Accessories:

Brother SE400 Combination Sewing, Quilting and Embroidery Machine Review


Why Buy This Embroidery Machine? The Brother SE400 is a great cheap single machine option with good quality sewing, embroidery and quilting options with a reasonable range of designs included, and also if you are not intending to purchase a case.

Why Wouldn’t You Buy This Embroidery Machine?  If you want to embroider in an area greater than 4” x 4”.

Who Should Buy This Embroidery Machine?  This machine would be a great cheap option to purchase a beginner level combined sewing, quilting and embroidery machine.

Cost:  Low End

Recommended Brother SE400 Accessories:

Brother LB6800PRW Combination Sewing, Quilting and Embroidery Machine Review


Why Buy This Embroidery Machine? The Brother LB6800PRW is effectively a Brother SE400 machine which has been branded with the Project Runway television series logos, and has the benefit of also including a branded rolling carry case.  The Brother LB6800PRW is a great cheap single machine option with good quality sewing, embroidery and quilting options with a reasonable range of designs included

Why Wouldn’t You Buy This Embroidery Machine?  If you want to embroider in an area greater than 4” x 4”, or dislike having the Project Runway branding on your equipment.

Who Should Buy This Embroidery Machine?  This machine would be a great cheap option to purchase a beginner level combined sewing, quilting and embroidery machine with the rolling carry case.

Cost:  Low End

Recommended Brother LB6800PRW Accessories:

Best Combined Sewing, Quilting and Embroidery Machines

If you are looking for a combined sewing, quilting and embroidery machine here are the recommended options to consider.

Picture Combined Sewing/Quilting & Embroidery Machines Price Embroidery Size
Brother Quattro® 3 Trilogy Limited Edition Innov-ís 6750D High End 12" x 8"
Brother Innov-is 2500D High End 10" x 6"
Brother SE1800 Mid Range 5" x 7"
Brother SE400 Low End 4" x 4"
Brother LB6800PRW   Low End 4" x 4"

Best Cheap and Easy to Use Embroidery Machines

If you are looking for the best cheap embroidery machine here are the recommended options to consider.

Picture Cheap Embroidery Machines Machine Type Embroidery Size
Brother Designio Series DZ820E Embroidery Only 5” x 7”
Brother PE770 Embroidery Only 5” x 7”
Brother SE400 Combination Sewing/Quilting & Embroidery 4" x 4"
Brother LB6800PRW Combination Sewing/Quilting & Embroidery 4" x 4"

Best Embroidery Machine for Hats, Caps, Shirts and T-Shirts

All of the embroidery machines recommended in this article will easily embroider shirts and T-shirts, however some additional requirements are needed to be able to embroider caps and hats.

Brother does not sell any embroidery hoops which are suitable to embroider caps and hats for single needle machines (for commercial multi needle machines Brother do sell a range of hat hoop options), however there are several third party product manufacturers who provide good products to help you in this area for home and small business.  Most of these products attach to one of your existing Brother hoops.  It is very worthwhile to search for videos of how to use each product to ensure you use it correctly.

Below are a list of the machines where a third party hat hoop is available on Amazon.com.

Picture Embroidery Machines Price Hat Hoop Options
Brother Quattro® 3 Trilogy Limited Edition Innov-ís 6750D High End Durkee
Brother Innov-is 2500D High End Durkee
Brother SE400 Low End Hat Hoops
Brother LB6800PRW Low End Hat Hoops

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