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What to look for in am emb. machine?

anneweaver | Posted in Machine Embroidery on

I want to buy an embroidery machine, but I don’t know what to look for in a machine.  I’ve checked various manufacturers’ sites, and all the descriptions sound roughly the same.  I know that some of these machines are the TOL models, and others are entry level.  How do you differentiate one machine from another?  They all seem to have a number of pre-programmed designs, and all seem to be able to take a memory card with more designs that you can either buy or create using a separate piece of software on your computer.  They all seem to have the same stitch area – about 4″ x 4″. 

I know this is a dumb question, but what’s the difference between a TOL embroidery machine and the ones at the lower end of the spectrum?  Is it reliability?  Stitch quality?  Ease of use?

I’d like to get into machine embroidery, but I’m wary of making too large an investment before I know how much I’ll like it.  But, I also want to make sure I can get a machine that will, hopefully, grow with me.   Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!



  1. Guest | | #1

    Having just bought one, I had a crash course on things to look for:

    easy threading

    automatic needle threader (you'll be changing thread alot)

    maybe a built in thread cutter

    Many machines have a larger field than 4 x 4  (4x4 is plenty big for me)

    easy to understand manual.

    consider machines that let you pop in a floppy disk, then you don't have to get embroidery cards or a converter for freebies or things that come on a CD.

    I own a PE150 . The machine cost 350 and by the time I bought some cards, a converter box , new threads, and stabilizers I realized it is NOT a cheap hobby. The PE 150 is a stand alone machine that is not TOL in any way but I am very very happy with it. I use a fancy brother PC6000 machine for regular sewing and I like having a different machine to sew with while I embroider on the other. Let us know what you buy.

    1. anneweaver | | #2

      Thanks for your advice!  I plan on visiting the local Brother dealership soon, maybe this weekend.  I'm glad to hear you like your PE150, as that is one of the models I'm considering. 

      I'll be sure to take a close look at the manual to make sure that it's easy to understand.  (Wish I'd done that when I bought my serger - might have saved me hours of grief!)  It's also good to read that it's not a necessity to have a machine that both sews and embroiders.  For some reason, I was getting hung up on trying to buy a machine that both sews and embroiders, when I already have a sewing machine that I love love love love love and didn't really plan on using the embroidery machine for anything other than embroidery.

      By the way, what kinds of projects do you use your embroidery machine for? 


      1. Guest | | #3

        so far I have been using the machine to embellish clothing I am making.  My favorite project was to take plain white linen and cover it with swirls and x's in  cotton thread and then make linen pants from the fabric. I also used the dragon fly motif that Threads magazine sells to run along the sleeve and pants leg of linen tunic and pants. And their stars which are like figures in a Klee painting.

        pocket toppers have been put on cooking and sewing aprons and I made a wonderful old fashioned ruffled pinafore that was embroidered with lily of the valley.

        I bought the amazing box ( on ebay) in order to download internet designs and get them onto a little card for my machine. I think that is the only drawback to the PE 150, but considering the very low price, it is only a small obstacle.

        I have put monograms on napkins and towels and even discovered that the embroidery was great for patching children's clothing, I just put a design over the stabilized tear and voila !

        If I am going to pay alot of money for a machine, it will be either the Elna 945 or Babylock Evolve serger.

  2. mem1 | | #4

    Consider a Janome 300e which is similar to the brother machine but you dont need th magic box and all you need is a flash card and reader box which you useto read a CD or down load from the internet. It cost me about 45$ Australian dollars .

    The stitch quality is wonderful and it can use the largest giga hoop and has a middle sized hoop as well as the 4x4 hoop. I have one and really am very happy with it although changing threads is a pain it s ok .

    1. becca | | #5

      Hi- I wonder if I may pick your brain about your 300 Embroidery machine. I am thinking about getting one, but am quite pathetic about computers. How do you get the designs from the computer to the machine? You find a web site and a pattern you like, load something called a flash card into the computer and download it, then put the flash card into the sewing machine and do the embroidery? I don't want to get tangled up with a salesperson until I know a bit more...I didn't see many designs on the Janome site that interested me, so I know I will have to hunt for them elsewhere.... thank you!

      1. SewTruTerry | | #6

        I can't tell you what machine to buy but I will tell you that you should shop for the dealer as well as the machine. My dealer was a godsend to me.  I can not tell you how many women I know that told me they bought a serger or embroidery machine only to have it still in the box months and years later.  My dealer not only did not pressure me into one machine or other but also talked me down in machine until I knew that I would love embroidering.  And they also took the machine out of the box and had me sewing on my own machine before leaving the building.  I was "sew" excited about the machine I stayed up until 3 am embroidering on anything I could lay my hands on. My DSH had to drag me to bed. 

        1. becca | | #7

          Thanks for the insight, Terry. I think I will go to the store and get the demo and take it from there. My DH has given his blessing so I better strike while the iron is hot :-)

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