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Machine prices & wishful thinking

Becky-book | Posted in Machine Embroidery on

I have been reading the archives and wishing for an emb. machine…. hubby mentioned he may be getting a fiscal year end bonus… if split up amongst us I could have $800 for a new machine, but can I get anything worth having for that amount?  I know Wal-mart sells something that passes for an emb. machine for about $400, but I don’t want that one!  Am I still dreaming?  Should I keep saving my pennies for something better?  I have a sewing machine that does everything I need except embroidery.

Thanks for any help!



  1. spicegirl | | #1

    You did not mention which SM you have.  I believe there is at least one model of Bernina that you can buy a embroidery module for.   There was demonstration Sunday am on CREATE using both a Bernina Embroidery machine and a Bernina with the module.  Bernina is a sponsor of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting on PBS and this is where I saw the demo - CREATE is PBS in HD.

    Buy the way, I bought a Brother PE 150 from Wal*Mart about five years ago and it is still humming.  I did something bad to my BL Ellegante, so it had to go into the shop.  My little Brother is still going strong.

    Have you found any home embroidery only machines?  Most seem to be combination sewing/embroidery machines.

    Good luck in your search.  Keep us posted.

    1. Crazy K | | #2

      This is for Becky-book and Spicegirl..........Yes, there are embroidery only machines.  I think several of the big-name manufactures have come out with them.  They are much less expensive than the sewing/embroidery combined.  Do some research and see what you come up with.  Part of my suggestion (IMHO) is to get a brand that has a dealer/repair shop close-by.  You'll need the dealer to show you all the bells and whistles and how they work and then if you have problems, you'll need a repair service.

      As for your first question Becky........if it was me, I think I would save up and get a mid-priced machine at least.  I think the very low end ones (if they're sewing and embroidery) don't always have the quality built into them.  Some may be better than others.........

      I got a Designer I and then traded up (within the one year) to the Husq. Designer SE.  They are expensive but I love my machine.  It has power, lights to die for, a great stitch quality, etc.  For sewing and embroidery, they are awesome!  I know not everyone can start off with that.  One thing that some do is to get a lesser expensive model from a dealer (I know Husq. does this.....not sure of others) who does the trade-up thing.  Within the first year, you get your full purchase price toward an upgrade.  Not a bad deal and it gives you a chance to have fun and get used to things while you wait....................

      "Nuff said................Just MHO and I'm sure others have lots of good advice......


  2. sewon | | #3

    Becky, my first embroidery  machine was a simplicity embroidery-only machine. It was the clone of a brother embroidery-only machine, and both machines rock! I think walmart sells the brother.

    The only drawback to both machines (and it isn't really a drawback) is they have only a 4x4 field. There are lots of 4x4 designs - and I use them all the time on my current bigger-field machine.

    I sold the simplicity thinking I was upgrading to a janome 300e (also embroidery only). It was just a piece of junk.

    Now I have a singer xl6000 combo. Great machine, but lots of $

    So, don't dismiss the walmart machine.  It may be perfect for you.

    I don't find embroidery to be very entertaining. I go in splurges, but mostly it's boring. Do you really want to invest big bucks without knowing it you'll enjoy it or not?


    1. User avater
      Becky-book | | #5

      My sewing machine is a Simplicity that I have had for over 15 years now!

      Enjoy or not... that is the question!  I have 11 grand kids, a nice mix of boys and girls, so I always have some body to sew for.  And making special gifts is one of my hobbies (can hardly bring myself to BUY a shower gift).

      Don't actually have the funds in hand to make any purchase so the 'thinking about it' time will continue.

      Thanks for the info.


  3. Crazy K | | #4

    I wrote yesterday but just had another thought.  To do all the fun stuff without having to purchase expensive 'cards' that go with the machines, you need computer software.  It's a bigger expense up front but gives you way more options for the long haul.  I must agree with with the others that you might want to go with the least expensive until you know you enjoy the hobby.  I love it...........I can make one of a kind gifts and personalize things.  Of course, I have 22 grands to make cute things for so that maybe makes a difference.  Some people embroider everything they can get their hands on while others only use it occasionally to personalize something.  How you use it, makes a huge difference.

    There's my nickels worth!! ha ha


    1. User avater
      Becky-book | | #6

      I stopped by a dealer 'on my way home' from another errand and asked a 'few' questions... yikes! my $$$ won't even get me in the door at entry level machines there let alone buy software!

      Any body out there got an old emb. machine they are not using? A good home is waiting! LOL

      Maybe the Wal-mart machine WOULD be a place to start?


      1. Crazy K | | #7

        Yes, maybe the Wal Mart machine would get your started without breaking the bank.  You will be somewhat limited (size) but if you find that you love the hobby and outgrow your machines capabilities, then you can check into a different and more expensive machine.  You might also check with your local dealerships to see if anyone has a 'gently used' embroidery machine where someone else has upgraded. 

        I had a Janome 9000 to start with and didn't do embroidery because I couldn't see spending the money on the embroidery cards..........very expensive!!  Then I got the itch to do some embroidery and decided to stop by a dealership for Vikings.  Well, between the saleslady and my DH, I came home with the Designer I and the software!!!!!  Yes, it was expensive and I about choked when I heard how much but DH knows my love of sewing and making things for people and he encouraged me to get it.  I then upgraded my machine to the Designer SE but the software is still compatible so I didn't have to change that.......thank goodness!  I love my SE....it is great!  I still have my Janome and it sews great and it does do small embroidery designs but I don't have the software to convert and I absolutely refuse to buy the cards!!!!!!!  Stubborn, huh?  Soooo, I use the SE for embroidery and the Janome is a standby for sewing.  I love being able to go to the internet and purchase designs one at a time that I like and not have to pay big $$$ for a collection that I won't use.

        Do your homework and start small.........you can always save for that 'dream machine' later if you find that you absolutely LOVE machine embroidery as so many of us do.

        O.K....that's more than a nickel's worth this time..................


        1. User avater
          Becky-book | | #11

          Thanks so much for your nickle's worth!  I am still doing the research, but I tend to be on the impatient side, I want it all now!  But really I am very blessed to have a good, sturdy sewing machine and a solid (though older) serger that works very well for me! Must keep focused on all the stuff I CAN do and not fuss about what I don't have!

          Thanks for all your advice and for sharing the lovely pics of your embroidery work!


        2. User avater
          MrTouch | | #23

          Hi There. For your small machine? You could get the AMAZING BOX. It is a card read and writter. I had it B4 I went into the Viking stuff. I use the Viking software to create my designs then write them to the AMAZING BOX as well as the D Card Reader for the Viking. The Amazing Box will make cards for:

          Baby Lock - Bernina Deco - Brother - Simplicity - Viking#1+ & Rose - Artisat - Pfaff SingerXL 100 - Elna - Janome - Kenmore - New Home

          It has four card slots on the box and allows you to save in most if not all formats. Do you have the 4D software? I was upgraded to the 3D but did not quallify for the 4D upgrade. I think they will give me $900 for my dongle on a trade up for the 4D package. But I would have to add another $1200 cash. Creating your own designs or digitizing photographs, or anything you see is so cool. Now that is something I can spend all day doing. Have a good day.


          1. Crazy K | | #24

            Hi,  I had the Amazing Box for the Janome 9000 but didn't like messing with it.  I think it was ME but it was very frustrating and didn't always work.  I don't think I used it enough to get the hang of it but after I got my first Designer I with Studio 3d software, I was hooked on machine embroidery!!!!!!  I now have two SE's and the 3d Studio.  I don't know that I will upgrade to 4d...........as the 3d works just fine for what I do.  I don't care to digitize.  The studio lets me combine designs or edit them so I'm fine with that.



          2. User avater
            MrTouch | | #25

            I feel the same way about the upgrade. Though I do not quallify to get it, I am more than pleased with the 3D. I saw the 4D in action- It is way faster and is more as they say user friendly. But 3D is great. To be honest, I am still hooked on FME. Free Motion Embroidery. Any machine that can ZIG ZAG works great. I like it because you can go over your work and add whatever you think you need to make it look better. And you do not have to digitize the changes. The Amazing Box is something else. I had issues with it at first but I made it work. The book that came with it was okay but not so clear on what to do next.

            Take care


          3. MaryinColorado | | #27

            Have you tried bobbin work with thicker threads?  You might like to check out http://www.bonniemccaffery.com  She gives instructions for it.  You work with the right side of the fabric facing down, increase needle tension. skip the tension in the bobbin case or possibly adjust the bobbin tension.

            Also for the embroidery machine, I have one of her kits for DiggiBobbe, it is so cool!  Same technique but in the hoop and programmed designs are nice.

            I got a specialty bobbin case which is white for my Designer 1 as I didn't want to adjust the bobbin tension on the factory preset one for threads like YLI Glamour, Perle Crown Rayon, yarns, etc.  (I adjust the case inside of a baggie so I don't lose that teensy screw)

            Hope this is helpful! 

      2. Pattiann42 | | #8

        Since you have experience using a sewing machine, the embroidery machine should be no problem.....read, read, read and be patient - do samples (they really do not use that much thread!

        If Wal*mart had the Brother and PED converter (for downloading from the Internet) that they have now when I first bought my EM I would have gone for both items.... I believe it will total out to about $800. You can check WM's website, where they show the machines and converter along with extra thread cartridges.  Not entirely sure, but the cartridges are part of the self threading mechanism where you can have thread color two ready to insert while color one is sewing and so on......

        In the meantime, a good book for helping you learn is Embroidery Machine Essentials (How to Hoop, Stabilize and Stitch Decorative Designs) by Jeannie Twigg.  Check for this at Amazon for good prices.   A good magazine is Designs in Machine Embroidery.   Begin collecting supplies when on sale - mostly thread (you know what you like, for example - yellow, pink, rose, greens and light blues for flowers and so on), stabilizer (package has recommendations as to the type of fabric it should be used for) & embroidery needles. The machine will come with a pair of small, sharp scissors and a few accessories.

        There are a lot of designs on the Internet.  I like Cactus Punch and go to the Brother Website for freebies.  Others reading this post will add their favorites.

        I've sewn for many years, but have not had any classes since Jr-High (1955-56).  I got along just fine with the manual that came with my Brother and the above referenced books/magazines and lots of PBS (record and watch later so I can fast-forward through the stuff I don't care for).

        Best wishes and good luck in your search!

        Please come back to the forum anytime you have a question, idea or comment.


        Make that $550 per the WM website!

        Don't be concerned about the smaller stitch area being 4 x 4 inches.  There are ways around that and we will help you when you get to that point.


        Edited 5/15/2007 6:27 pm ET by spicegirl1

        Edited 5/15/2007 6:32 pm ET by spicegirl1

        Edited 5/15/2007 9:17 pm ET by spicegirl1

        1. Crazy K | | #9

          For embroidery designs do not forget to check out Embroidery Library.  They have great designs that are digitized very well and they are very inexpensive.  It makes it even better that you can buy individual designs or whole packs.  Usually the individual designs are better because you often only want one or two out of the pack anyway.  Their most expensive design runs something like $7.99 and that would be a huge, many stitch design.  Most run from $1.00 to about $5.00.......each.  They have new free designs each month (that later become part of their regular line) and they also have a $.17 design or two each month........can't beat that!   I use them nearly exclusively and they are gorgeous!!!!!!!  Go to http://www.emblibrary.com and check them out......and NO, I am not affiliated with them in any way.  I just love their designs and the affordability of them!!


          1. Pattiann42 | | #10

            Thanks....this is good information for all who have a home embroidery machine.

            Edited 5/15/2007 10:06 pm ET by spicegirl1

        2. User avater
          Becky-book | | #12

          Thanks for the info. and advice!  I do know my machine well (been sewing since 1964) and have used several different ones in my lifetime! I do tend to read the book first then play with the machine.  I had heard horror stories of machines that wouldn't work and dealer mess-ups so was more than a little hesitant to buy as complex a machine as an emb. one just off the shelf from Wal-mart.  I suppose I could try it out for a few weeks and then take it back if it doesn't suit my needs!

          Still thinking about IT,


          1. Pattiann42 | | #13

            I don't think there would be any problem if you kept the packing and took it back....ask about the return policy.

            We made three different purchases of DVD recorder/players at WM and took each one back without a quibble.  Decided our second TV was too old for the new fangled gadget and did not want to buy any additional gadgets or black boxes to make it work.

      3. fabricholic | | #15

        I think you could get a used machine from a dealer that would be worth your while. People are always moving up to another machine. I traded in a nice Husqvarna Viking 1+. It was expensive when I bought it, but now, it shouldn't be that much. Unfortunately, the lady I traded it to was retiring. I would call all the dealerships and just ask, if it were me. Marcy

        1. User avater
          Becky-book | | #16

          Thanks, I'll keep that in mind!


  4. JandR | | #14

    I started out with a babylock ellure a couple of years ago - brand new the cost was under $1000.  It is a combo sewing / embroidery machine with only a 4 x 4 embroidery field, but I did find that this size was apprpropriate for 90% of what I was sewing.  Additionally, the embroidery was beautiful and I never had an issue with the machine.

    I would recommend keeping your eyes on E-bay for one of these machines (ellure or esante are great entry level machines for emb), over the brother embroidery only...

  5. MaryinColorado | | #17

    Husqvarna Viking has the Huskystar embroidery only machine, Janome and Pfaff have them too. 

    You can buy reconditioned machines that are usually a great bargain as some people trade up every time a new top of the line model comes out.  I would look for a dealer that offers a guarantee with these.

    With any new computerized machine I would look at every dealer possible.  I'd expect free classes in machine use and software training.  Upgradadable software, sometimes is free like with Husq/Viking, thier Designer series machines are upgradable for free too. 

     The software prices are terminally and deliberately confusing, offering varieties of packages and add ons etc.  You have to really do your research as the computer aspect as ever evolving.  They started out with built in designs, design cards, floppy disks,cd, now cordless memory sticks that go by different names have replaced dongles. 

    Try http://www.patternreview.com, you can join for free, they have lots of info and machine comparisons by owners that is very helpful.  Prices vary from around $400.00 to $8,000.00 for home sewing/emb.  machines.  If you want to sell embroidered items, check out information regarding copywrites.  You will need to design your own or get permission to use someone else's designs.  To make your own you will need to learn digitizing, etc.  The commercial machines may run close to the price of some home machines.

    Hoop size varies with what comes with or can be used on different machines also.  Some deals include boxes of thread, specialty feet, kits, designs,cases, etc.  Watch for sales.  Check the archives here for a wealth of info on this subject also, under "which machine" etx...

    Hope this helps.  Let me know if I can answer any questions. 

    Oh, I also suggest that you go to the websites for all the major machine companies and see what the different machines have in thier line.  http://www.husqvarnaviking.com,  bernina, brother, singer. Pfaff, etc.  that will give you an idea of the different models as the dealers often try to push the top of the line machines.  Most companies offer a large variety of machines.  Mary

    Edited 6/3/2007 11:52 pm ET by MaryinColorado

    1. User avater
      Becky-book | | #18

      Dear Mary,

      Thanks for all the info on machine shopping! But until the hubby's bonus actually appears it is all just wishful thinking (and maybe even then still!) I'll just keep on reading!

      Thanks again for all the wisdom you share on this 'board',


  6. lauriebond | | #19

    I have the singer futura and love it!  I bought it from HSN for around600-700?  I'm not sure of the price as I got it on payments of 150 a month for4-5 months.  Anyway, it works with your PC computer, does not have a computer inside of it and you can pull different embroidery patterns from the internet as well.  It also accepts other models embroidery patterns.  Plus it is a regular sewing machine as well, but I just use it for embroidery purposes.  Hope that helps!

  7. lauriebond | | #20

    just to add some information, you can find that machine on HSN.com. I just looked at the site and didn't find it, but you could call customer service at .800.933.2887 and ask them about it.

    1. User avater
      Becky-book | | #21


  8. User avater
    MrTouch | | #22

    Hi Becky. I am Ron. The first embroidery machine I picked up was from


    It was a Simplicity machine. The price was 100's less than others selling the same machine. I also got the card reader box cause I saved so much money. I did graduate from that machine to the Husqvarna Machine and the software they have. Give it a look and see if they might have something you like. I have ordered many things from them and never had an issue with a order. What size or how large of an area would you like to embroider? Keep that in mind when looking for your new machine. HOOP SIZE. Knowing nothing about embroidery machines when I did get the first one, I soon found out how limited I was to the size of my designs. The next one I picked up uses the smallest of HOOPS to the MEGA HOOP as well as the CONTINUOUS HOOP. One other thing. When I embroider, I use nothing but the Titanium Coated Needles. The speciality threads glide through the needle eye as though it were not there. Plus they last 3-5 times longer than regular needles and resist getting gummed up from sticky back stablizers and spray adhesives. Have a good day


  9. MaryinColorado | | #26

    Have you tried free motion embroidery/thread painting?  As mentioned in another post, it is really cool!!!  You can do this with almost any zig zag capable machine.  You drop the feed dogs like you would for darning, this gives you total control of the "feeding" of the fabric.  It seems easier to learn with scraps of fabric, wrong sides facing a batting layer sandwich.  Practice making scallop shapes, cursive L shapes, loops, write your name in cursive, etc. 

    You can also do this with one layer of fabric but it is more fussy.  You may have to adjust the needle tension.

    I love this book which has excellent instructions and photos of a very creative artist : Thread Magic  The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy. She also has a website, http://www.ellenanneeddy.com which many will find intrigueing!  Enjoy.  I think her book is also available through Quilting Arts Magazine, which is where I first heard of her.  It was out of print for awhile and the prices skyrocketed temporarily, so be careful of independent sellers. 

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