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Need help with selecting right equipment

Gillian | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hello! My sister and I want to go into the embrodiery business. We plan to make baby products (bibs, towels, burping cloths).  We are also planning to make quillows. We are new to sewing but we are both very creative. We have been investigating sewing machines, sergers and embrodiery machines. Needless to say, we have gotten a lot of coflicting information. We want to get started right away but we don’t know what equipment we should buy to get started.  Which brands do you recommend?


  1. ctirish | | #1

    Everyone you talk to is going to suggest the machines they use and love.  I love my Baby Lock eveolve and ellure but I would also like a Pfaff because they hold the fabric together well so your seams are always even and I would like a Bernina 200E because they have so many feet and embroidery designs that are a little bit more compicated And a Brother Innovis 4000 because they can do Disney designs and the other BAby Lock serger that does the Imagine wave stitch.  And then of course I owuld like a blind hemmer and any other new machines they have come out with while I have been writing this...(LOL)

    If you are starting a business- there are many commercial machines out there. If you are just starting out and not sure about this venture then you could use some home machines. If you are going to be doing this full time then I would suggest getting separate machines to do separate tasks.  A sewing machine, an embroidery machine, a serger, a cover stitch machine,  and maybe a blind hemstitch machine.  If you can afford it of course. Having separate machines saves you time by not having to make the changes mecessary to convert them from on use to another use. If you are only going to have two machines, a sewing machine and a serger then I would go to a reputable dealer that carries several different makes of machines to try them out.  I would go for the high end machines if you can - Bernina, Viking, Pfaff, Brother, Baby Lock and Janome.  The other task I would do is to contact your local library and see if they can do some research and come up with a list of "things to look for when purchasing a new machine" . There have been several articles done over the past couple of years and they should be able to find the magazines or articles they were in.

  2. User avater
    blondie2sew | | #2

    Another thought to add to this is also look in consumer Reports. I am sure at one time or even online they have reviewed sewing machines and such. Just a thought I had while reading your plea and the other great response!! I can agree I love what I love however I am only my opinion and there are a lot of great machines out there.

    This is an investment so make sure you invest your time and just take your time. Which ever you choose make sure the dealers have a great Free unlimited usage classes for you. And trust me if you are spending that kind of money you need to be learning your machine and not feel guilty about bugging them!! I think I was either in the store or calling them 3 or more times a week when I first got my machine and I did it again when I got my first serger.

    Hope this helps

    Edited 10/7/2006 1:18 am ET by blondie2sew

    1. ctirish | | #3

      You are so right about getting a machine where they have FREE classes to learn how to use it. I took the classes twice  when I bought my new machine, so many things had changed since my last machine (1975).  I too spent a lot of time on the telephone and in the store asking questions and getting demonstrations on their machines.  I do not think I would buy a machine other the internet unless I was sure I could sew on it without a problem. I have thought of buying a lightweight machine for the occasional quilt class I take where you only need straight stitching.

      1. User avater
        blondie2sew | | #4

        I don't have the problem of taking mine to class as I sew on a Pfaff 1475 which I love love love and of course it is not very heavy compared to the other huge machines out there. And I own a Pfaff 4872 serger which again love it. That one I got just 3 years ago. I agree with you I have been checking in with internet and if you don't know how to use the machine it is not worth it besides you don't get the warranty like you do with your local dealers. plus that free unconditional training. I am now in the process of getting my 10 year old daughter a Pfaff smart 200c. She started sewing last Christmas as we got her her first machine and sewing lessons and stuff Of course the wonderful people at Quality gives a full 1 year upgrade (purchase price of what you paid) so with our fair specials that just went on and it hasn't been a year I got this machine for a steal!! As you can see I consider myself a Pfaff snob however like I said before there are some other great machines and other features out there, Which you had listed in your first post I totally agree with those being the better of all!! Connie

        1. ctirish | | #7

          Connie, I found out some interesting information today on Pfaffs. I took a class with Jennifer Stern who does wonderful embroidery. Jen mentioned that whenever her Pfaff needs a software update she does not have to pay for it. They notify her and she goes to their website and downloads it to her machine. Then Joanne who has an older Pfaff said that she can take her machine into the dealer and they do hardware updates for her for free. I was impressed, I now whenever Bernina comes out with an update, everyone has to pay for it - if they choose to get it. I should be pro-Bernina, they are built in Switzerland and I am part Swiss but I was surprised about the Pfaff.  Another reason to but from a dealer where you are treated well.   jane



          1. User avater
            blondie2sew | | #9

            I did know about the updates to the newer pfaffs you can get that through the website, I too thought that was a cool advantage. However I did not know about the older pfaff's I will have to check into that next time I get mine serviced!!! Thanks for the tid bit of info!!You are great Jane and I appreciate your comments and all your encouragement.ThanksConnie I will have to tell you about my cool costume I made for my 5 year old this week I finished it. A mermaid costume. I consider myself an advanced sewer. However sometimes I still think I am a beginner however I tell you what I even impressed myself with this costume I made her.I will make sure I take pictures. Is posting them on this site easy?Have a great day!!Connie

          2. cjtinkle | | #10

            There is a difference between updates and upgrades.  Bernina does not charge either, for updates.  They are free from your dealer.  Software updates are also free, an can be downloaded from the Bernina support website.

  3. MaryinColorado | | #5

    I would get some books on sewing business, I think Martha Pullen's website has some.  I'd check the libraries, small business assoc, better business bureau, etc.  You can save alot of money if you can buy wholesale.  I'd do alot of research before investing in any equipment. 

    Check out patternreview.com's posts on different equipment.

    Embroiderymag.com has lots of info.

    I would keep the overhead as low as possible at first of course.  You may be able to find good reconditioned machines.  Several people trade in great machines just to get the newest top of the lines. 

    You have to get permission to use embroidery designs, most are only for your personal use and it is illegal to sell items with them on.  Might be a good idea to pay for digitizing classes with someone else's equipment before investing in the wrong machine and software.

    Best wishes in your endeavor!  Hope it works out great!  Mary

    1. fabricholic | | #6

      I agree with Mary. Do alot of checking before purchasing machines. How new are you at sewing? I don't want to sound discouraging, but I hope you both take some classes and get the feel of everything before spending the money. Do you have a good customer base where you are located? Have you thought of how much profit would be coming in and if, this did not work out, who would get the machines? I know you can do this, I am just concerned about you jumping in head first. Good luck.Marcy

  4. ctirish | | #8

    I just thought of something, there are shows that move around the country called ISS - Imprinted Sportwear Shows.  They do a lot of teaching about the Embroidery Business. You should also got http://www.embmag.com - it is a magazine for the embroidery / monogram business and industry. There magazine is free if you qualify, which is easy if you are starting a business - just fill in all the checkmarks about being the head of the business and being the one who makes the buying decisions.  There are a lot ads in it because it is free to industry, but it does do good primers and a couple of times a year you get a great softcover book of all of the places you can buy blanks. When you go to these sites and see the low prices compared to a retail store for golf shirts and kids things, you will be surprised.  Good luck, jane

  5. ValerieJ | | #11

    I don't think the brand will be as important as how you define your business. Is this going to be a full-time endeavor? Or are you hoping to make a little money on the side? How much money do you and your sister need to make to cover your expenses and have a comfortable living?

    You need to answer these questions because they will help you identify the types of equipment you need and how you are going to operate.

    For example, I think all home machines will only embroider one item at a time. Most, if not all, will require you to manually change the thread colors. If this business is a sideline, and you're doing just a couple of individual items, that might not be a problem. If you're trying to make a living at it, you'll need to be getting orders for multiples of an item, and with home equipment you may not be able to complete the orders fast enough to make any money.

    If you are planning to live on what you make, you may want to explore purchasing embroidery blanks for many items. You can purchase all kinds of things in bulk and then provide just the embroidery. Again, trying to make every item from scratch is likely to limit you to small, individual orders, which might not support the lifestyle you want.

    I've mulled over starting an embroidery business from time to time, but realized I'm not too interested in the marketing part - I just want to play with the equipment! However, some of the best advice I came across was to find a job working with someone in this business so that I could see what it takes to run one successfully. I never did that, but just the suggestion made me think more about the demands of self-employment.

    Good luck to you!


    1. ctirish | | #12

      Has anyone noticed that we all wrote good replies to gillian and she has not read one of them?


      1. User avater
        blondie2sew | | #13

        Great observation. I didn't realize that until you posted it!! Hmm wonder what happened?

        1. ixs | | #14

          I would think the first thing one would practically think about would be a small business class, perhaps taught by the county extension service; I took a class that laid out most business procedures, which was very informative.

          Has anyone thought that if one uses a home embroidery machine for commercial purposes that it might negate any warranty???

          I do know there are businesses that sell used commercial embroidery machines.

        2. ctirish | | #15

          I don't know what happened to her, maybe we will hear from her in the future.


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