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buying a new embroidery machine

brotherdrowned | Posted in Machine Embroidery on

I had a Brother 8200 for years and really enjoyed it. I mainly downloaded designs from the internet to use. Last September Hurricane Ike took my house, all my possessions including my embroidery machine. Now I am wondering if I can afford to replace it, and which machine would be best for me. I started off with the PE Design, but since I rarely used it, updated with PE Basic. What machine and format is the most user friendly for the price?


  1. Palady | | #1

    Though I'm unable to offer you information on an embroidery machine, please accept my concerend thoughts at your certainly difficult encounter with Hurricane Ike.  Life does throw us curved balls which have to be dodged.

    Please keep us updated on what your decide after other members post to you.


  2. Pattiann42 | | #2

    So sorry for your loss.

    We had some damage also...........in SW Ohio - go figure!

    I like Brother and Babylock.  They are easy to learn and compatible with all software programs.

    Many new embroidery machines now come with USB connectivity; USB port B direct connect, a cable for hooking up to the PC and/or USB port A, a removable flash drive.  These are used for sending designs stored on the PC to the embroidery machine.

    PE Basic is a card reader unit for Brother (pes) and not an upgrade of PE Design.

    The rewritable card units (like PE Basic) are becoming obsolete in that they are not compatible with Vista 64 (most will work with Vista 32) and older versions of Windows.

    I recommend the USB connectivity option and a stitching area larger than the standard 4 x 4 (100mm x 100mm).


    I strive to learn something new each day.

    Edited 2/3/2009 12:36 pm ET by spicegirl1

  3. joyfulneedles | | #3

    My condolences also on the damage from Hurricane Ike.  My brother had some major damage but didn't lose everything. 

    In answer to you questions about an embroidery machine.  I also say look for something larger than 4x4.  The designs in that size are also harder to find.  I would guess the designers are have a lot more fun with a larger space.  Some of the ones only slightly larger will not be accepted to download on my embroidery card.  I have a Babylock Proline and it has a 4"x4" design area.  I have been trying to decide if I want to spend the money to upgrade.  But I sure do have fun with.  If you have PBS-TV; Sewing With Nancy is doing a series that started last week in our area on machine embroidery.  I laughed when her guest was using her magnetic hoop.  When I checked those out last year, I found the price started at $500.00.  That was not in my budget.  I will be interested to hear what you decide to buy. 

    1. brotherdrowned | | #4

      To you and the others who posted, thank you for your caring posts. I could just kick myself for not taking my machine with me when we evacuated. We did it so many times in the nine years I lived there, that packing up everything only to come back and have to unpack it again, seemed like such a bother. Especially at 3:30 am when we noticed water across the road and left. Three hours later people were being rescued from floating vehicles. Ike caught everyone unaware, the surge came in 20 hrs ahead of the actual storm, and our houses were lost the day before. I spent some time researching Brother, saw the new Quattro, fell in love with it. The bad news is the price; it was difficult to find it, but it is in the $10k range, and unfortunately out of my range! I would like to stick with Brother because my favorite website has all the designs I purchased stored, ready for me to download again for no extra charge. Maybe if I'm lucky I can find a used one. I miss embroidering so much!

      1. KharminJ | | #9

        I am so sorry to hear of your incredible losses! May the Universe grant you blessings in proportion. I just saw a "Sewing With Nancy" episode from last year where she interviewed the founder of "The Sewing Machine Project": http://www.thesewingmachineproject.org

        They may be able to help with your quest to replace your beloved Brother. Love and Hugs! Kharmin

        1. brotherdrowned | | #10

          Thanks for your good thoughts! I researched the new Brother machines, the Duetta and the Quattro, and the prices were steep for me. So this is what I did: placed an ad in our local online classifieds, asking for a used Brother 8200 or similar machine. I was elated to get a response from a wonderful lady who finally decided to part with her 8500 after upgrading to a Duetta. She included many extras, at a price I could afford. So now I feel like I am one step closer to regaining the lifestyle I lost; I've been downloading my old favorite embroidery designs, and stocked up on thread. All because this kind lady saw my ad and now its a happy ending to my story!

          1. KharminJ | | #11

            Oh, I'm so glad to hear that! Bright Blessings ~ Kharmin

    2. Pattiann42 | | #6

      I don't have the magnetic frame hoop, if that is the one you saw, but do have the original and jumbo magna hoops and if interested, you can get them a lot cheaper at http://www.shoppersrule.com.

      You make a low offer and it will be accepted or countered - no obligation to purchase.

      The more expensive ones are for the multi-needle machines - http://shoppersrule.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?


      Edited 2/4/2009 9:39 am ET by spicegirl1

      1. joyfulneedles | | #7

        Thank you for the information.  I will probably wait till I can get something with a larger stitch area.  I was already to get another machine last year when the bottom dropped out of the economy.  But I have plenty of software to keep me busy for a long time;.

      2. AAC | | #8

        To Spicegirl1,Thanks for the information on Shopper's Rule, I just left there and among all the things listed it's a great place to find those extra feet for my sewing machine.Sharing good information is what this site is all about. Thank you THREADS for giving us this wonderful site!

        Edited 2/6/2009 1:03 pm ET by AAC

  4. pc3 | | #5

    I hope your life is getting back to normal. I live in the 100 miles of the gulf coast that hasn't been hit in the last 10 years, so we sort of feel we have a bulls eye on us.

    I have two brother machines, both an Inovis 4000 which is a great sewing and embroidery machine. It is great and I have had it for 3 years now and it has over 30,000,000 stitches and have only had minor repairs that had to be done. But I just bought a PE750  which is strictly an embroidery machine. This thing was relitively cheep, I paid $750.00  for it but it is a work horse. I am a designer and sell my designs on the internet, so I spend about 5 hours a day or more sewing out samples for pictures. I have taught classes also and worked with all types of machines and I think Brother or babylock  is the best for ease of use, and price.

    Pam Caldell

    Pam's 3D Designs

    1. Teifi | | #12

      Hi Pam,

      I am a new member, and new to machine embroidery. I wondered if I could follow up on your post about the Brother 750E? Like you I have a Brother sewing machine which I love and am thinking of buying the 750E model you will have been using for some months (I think?).

      I just wondered if you still liked it or whether any glitches had surfaced?

      Any advice you could give would be really appreciated.



      1. CC49 | | #13

        I am also very interested as I have purchased a Brother 700II with a USB port. Right now it is on layaway and I'm hoping to get it paid off within the next month. I am so excited!!! I am hoping that everything I have read about this machine is correct but would love to hear from someone who actually has one for some additional input.

        1. Teifi | | #14

          Hi CC,

          You sound as excited as me and I haven't even got as far as layaway!

          The US and UK models seem have different names but I am guessing that you have picked something similar to the one I fancy.

          I found a great site for embroidery patterns via Threads too - link below in case you haven't seen it yet.


          Have you been given any useful advice on a good starting choice for a stabilizer or on thread? I am very tempted by a Madeira Treasure Chest containing 194 threads including metallics and bobbin threads but it is £215 (say plus $400)!

          Let me know how you get on when you get started - I would be really interested.




          Edited 11/8/2009 9:52 am ET by KorkyKat

          1. brendainmi | | #15

            I would give serious consideration to Metro thread. My Janome is loving it and the price is great. Use an thread spool holder. Have had no problems with it and love the price. I would think there would be a xmas special coming up soon.

            brenda in MI

          2. Teifi | | #19

            Hi Brenda

            Just to say thanks for the advice - Metro thread does look really great. Unfortunately I can't find a UK stockist, which is extremely galling as it is a fraction of what I will need to pay here.

            However I will continue to look and pester my local store, to see if they can't be persuaded to try a new line!

            Thanks again


          3. brendainmi | | #22

            Thank you for sharing the link and your hard work. Who ever is telling you your brain isn't right might need their own examined.

            brenda in MI

        2. Teifi | | #27

          Hi CC,

          I hope you are well and you now have your machine?

          Mine arrived about three weeks ago so I thought I would post a few first impressions. Much of the following might not be of help to you now but I thought it would be worth a post for anyone following on our footsteps.

          I bought a Brother 750E, which came with an extra 130 designs on a free memory stick. The first observation I would make is that this is a quite a big machine, once its embroidery carriage is attached. Think a sewing machine sized space plus half as much again. It is a very nice looking machine and simple to operate. The instruction book is reasonably good but doesn't cover everything in a lot of detail. For example there is a tension setting included in each design when you load it but I can't find any info about this.

          The electronic help included on the machine is very good and I would recommend using it until the threading and bobbin winding become second nature.

          The designs preloaded onto the machine don't appear in the main instructions, instead they are included at the back of the USB handbook. I didn't find them at first and was slightly panicky as a result, as the black and white screen doesn't give much of clue to the design beyond its outline. When you scroll through the touch screen and select a design, and then return to the main menu you get this alarming 'delete design' message. All this means it that the machine is removing it from the 'working' memory, not that you will lose the design forever. It took me whole minutes to reply to this message when it first appeared!

          The free designs on the USB key aren't described anywhere, and even Brother couldn't tell me what they would be. However once you have the key there is a handy PDF which shows all the design and prints easily on a colour printer. They are actually a pretty good set - I can post a copy of the PDF if anyone needs it.

          Having got the machine the first job is winding the bobbin, and it is really critical to follow the instructions carefully. I thought I had, but hadn't and getting bobbin tension wrong leaves you with a very loopy finished design, as the bobbin thread comes through onto the top of the work, spoiling the effect. The trick seems to be to let the bobbin run for a few seconds against the metal post once it is full, as this seems to sort out the tension. Embarassingly it was my non-sewing husband who finally worked out what I had wrong!

          Bobbin loading is the typical easy-peasy Brother drop in system.

          Top threading is also easy, as Brother number the various the threading points so that you can see what order and what to thread at a glance. That said I would use the electronic help until really familiar.

          The machine has autothreading of the needle which is really good - works first time, every time.

          The machine has Brother satin and country threads, Madeira and Guterman info loaded and it is very easy to change between these in the settings menu. Once set you get the shade number displayed but there is also a handy function which just gives a colour description, which makes substituting colours easier.

          This machine has a 5" by 7" hoop and hooping up is pretty easy, although inserting the hoop onto the carriage is a bit fiddly. Thin and medium weight fabrics will hoop up easily but fleeces and thick fabrics can only be embroidered using an adhesive film stabiliser, so they can sit on top of the frame. They will fit into the hoop in the normal way but the hoop won't then sit into the embroidery carriage, as there isn't enough clearance.

          Once you have set your colours (Brother, Maderia etc) the design will tell you what to thread up next. If top or lower thread run out its stops and tells you what it needs. It has the usual rather annoying Brother 'beep', which you can switch off. On the other hand it is useful to leave on and then you can wander off and do something else while it sews. The beep suddenly reminding you that you were doing something before coffee/cooking/chatting on the phone distracted you!

          The machine has an auto thread trimming function. This is useful although it takes a bit of getting used to as it isn't obvious the thread has been cut. A small pair of angled scissors are handy to apply gentle pressure to pull the cut end (1in or so long) through. Brother supply a small straight pair but they are too blunt and clumsy to be of much use. Checking whether the thread has actually been cut matters, as the handbook specificaly warns against trying to trim a thread which has been already been cut. I have also found that the auto trim occasionally doesn't work for reasons I haven't been able to fathom as yet.

          The machine is quiet in operation and the quality of the stitching is very impressive. I'll post some photos of examples in the next update, as I am trying out some downloaded ones as wel as the Brother versions, to see how they stitch out. It stitches at 650 stitches per minute and this is plenty quick enough for domestic use.

          Finally a word on extras. Unless you have space to leave this machine out permanently I would recommend a hard case for the machine. Brother don't make any kind of case for the embroidery unit, but I found a generic overlocker bag (mine is the 'SewEasy' brand) will take the carriage, instructions, threads and stabilisers safely.

          My machine cost £685 ($900 plus dollars approx) but I have found in practice budgetting for around another £150 (say at least $200) is more realistic. This covers: Bobbin thread (I bought Brother) A starter pack of thread. The 40 satin thread pack from Brother is reasonable value (around £70) and includes all the colours needed for the preloaded designs (and the extras on the memory stick as far as I can tell). The extra cash also covers packs of stabilisers. For trial runs 'Tear Easy' is the cheapest option but I have found that the Guterman Sulky range gives much better results in terms of quality. In these first weeks I have already used 'Totally Stable' iron on and their adhesive film version. I also have the heavy duty soluble version as I want to make a few lace items. It all adds up, expecially if you can't persaude the shop to include a case/overlocker bag in the deal.

          Anyway, hope this helps or is at least of interest!


      2. gailete | | #16

        I have a Janome 300E so can't talk about the performance of those models but did want to mention that I have a huge list of embroidery sites ALL with freebies that you might want to look into. Embroidery Library as mentioned by another poster is a fantastic site and you can find more here: http://www.moonwishessewing.com/embroiderydesignsites.htm

        Have fun with your new machines when you get them!

        1. Teifi | | #17

          Hi Gail,

          Just to say thank you for sharing the website - what a great resource! You will have saved me hours of hunting (and have found many that I would probably be unlikely to find).

          Thanks again


          1. gailete | | #18

            I had to find some way to keep track of them since I'm now officially over the hill and my brain doesn't work as well as it used to! I didn't have access to the url earlier, but here is another one of my sites that has an even bigger list of machine embroidery designs sites http://www.squidoo.com/gailetesews . It is kind of far down the page, but worth visiting. I don't maintain my sites as well as I should as I am sick way too much, but I like being able to help share information that sure wasn't around back when I got a sewing/embroidery machine (Janome 8000) back in 1990. We have come so far since those early days when there wasn't even stabilizer available--many ladies used coffee filters!

          2. Teifi | | #20

            Hi Gail,

            You are way too hard on yourself - the link is a huge help. As a complete newbie (is that the right word?), it is really difficult to work out where to start.

            I have already spent many hours trying to find resources, basically to allow me to confirm or revise my choice of machine. Your list has helped me shortcut a lot of that searching, as well as highlighting some great places to go back to for patterns.

            Even if you would like to have time to spend improving the links, it really desn't devalue what is there. Had I produced it I would definitely feel at least a sneaking sense of pride!



          3. gailete | | #21

            Colleen, Thank you for those kind words. I have been chronically ill for the last 8 years and it is still hard to remember what I used to be able to do in comparison to what I am able to do now. I'm glad the list was of help and I hope others find it so also. I tend to go for lovely desings and not so much 'cartoony' kids types designs as I have no little ones to sew for any more and my lists will reflect that.

            Gail (whose mother wanted to name her Colleen!)

          4. Teifi | | #25

            Hi Gail,

            I am so sorry to hear of your illness. If it is of any consolation it is not obvious in your posts at all.

            I have now ordered my machine (the Brother 750E) and heading back to 'Hatched in Africa' to make up my wish list, for when skill matches ambition (!) In fact this website is an example of one I would doubt I would have found without your help. Such wonderful designs, I really can't wait to be good enough to do them.

            Anyway I'll keep you posted on progress.

            Thanks again



          5. gailete | | #26

            I love Hatched in Africa designs! They are gorgeous and they have lots of freebies. Make sure you sign up for their newsletter and you will find out about them. Lots of the different website have newsletters that they send out which helps you hear about free designs.

            Don't worry about your skill level. Machine Embroidery is EASY to learn. The hardest thing may be learning to use the proper stabilzer and getting your design to end up where you want it (especially when adding other items). Much easier to learn how to do machine embroidery than to actually learn how to sew well.

            Have fun!


      3. pc3 | | #23

        Good morning,

        I have had my machine for about a year now and I love it. I also have an Inovis 4000D and in comparing them, I actually like the way the 750 embroiders better. It is used every day sewing out samples for my web site. So it gets very heavy use. I have not had any problems with it and am thinking of picking up another one in the near future. I would recomend it to anyone.

        Hope this helps,


        1. Teifi | | #24

          Hi Pam

          Thanks so much for the information. I have ordered my machine today and I am so excited!!

          I am especially proud of myself for remembering embroidery thread (I forgot threads completely when I bought my serger - much 'dratting' resulted from that omission) AND bobbin thread.

          I have even got small quantities of stitch and tear and soluble stabiliser to try out and see what I like/works well. (I want to do mainly linens and towels although I would like to do a lace bookmark as a gift for a friend).

          I am so glad you like your machine and thanks for helping me decide on mine.

          I'll post some updates and pictures for others as I get to grips with and try a small project or two.

          Thanks again


          1. Teifi | | #28

            This isn't an active thread
            This isn't an active thread right now but I am posting some further info in case others come looking for advice, as I did.

            I have now had my Brother 750E for around 3 months and have done quite a few small projects. I am still really happy with it and my initial impressions have largely been confirmed.

            This is an easy machine to use, the only thing to be really careful of is getting your bobbin tension correct. I am not sure if it applies to all embroidery machines but certainly this one is somewhat unforgiving. However if you follow the on screeen help and remember to hold the bobbin down as you set it up in the bobbin case everything will be fine. It isn't difficult, it just needs a bit of care.

            If your embroidery has the appearance of lots of loops of bobbin coloured thread (rather than nice sleek, vivid embriodery)then bobbin winding and position in the bobbin case are the first things to check.

            On the subject of threads, although I like the Brother versions, I would probably buy Madeira or Guterman next time, as it is difficult to convert designs bought from the Internet to Brother colours (although thread conversion charts are often offered they don't usually cover Brother threads). It is far easier to use these designs if you have the correct colours to hand.

            So, onto results. This machine makes good lace and embroiders really neatly. Some patterns do tend to take colour from one area to another without a break meaning that you have to trim away threads. This is easy with small, sharp scissors.

            Setting up in the hoop is straightforward. I have continued to find the Guterman Sulky range of stabilisers very good. I have attached photos from my latest two projects to give some idea of quality. Both of these were done with 'FilmoPlast', which is ideal for items which won't fit into the hoop or where the fabric surface would be marked by hooping.

            The pirate costume is for my husband's 3 year old grandson (Leo!). The fabric is duchess satin, the text and parrot are designs which came with the machine. The Jolly Rodger came from the Embroidery Library (www.embroiderylibrary.com).

            The jacket forms part of a set for his new baby grand daughter (Celia) and the butterflies again came from the Embroidery Library. The fabric is (apparently) an eco fleece made from recycled plastic bottles. I think my local fabric store may be gettibg a bit carried away with this description - I thought all fleece was made like this?

            Anyway, photos follow.


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