What type is best for you?
There are many factors to consider before buying an one. The types of projects you do, whether you are a hobbyist, a serious enthusiast or a professional, will all affect the machine you end up picking.
But first, let’s take a look at the types of embroidery machines available on the market today. There are three broad configurations. These are:
- Single head, single needle
- Single head, multi-needle
- Multi-head, multi-needle
Single head, Single Needle Embroidery Machines
The single head single needle machines look just like your usual sewing machine having a flatbed bottom and a removable embroidery unit. It has a single sewing head with a single needle. This type is relatively easy to use and often a starting point for beginners. Some are computerized to help in creating more intricate designs.
During embroidering, the single head machine’s needle remains stationary, and the embroidery arm moves to create the desired design. There is only a single point of hoop attachment. The hoops are usually smaller than that of a multi-needle and typically range from 4 X 4 inches to 8 X 12 inches. Single needle models often have speeds ranging from 300 to 1000 stitches per minute.
The main plus of this machine is that it is easy to use and great if you are just a hobbyist who enjoys making embroidery items for friends and family.
However, this type of machine is not the most efficient if you sew as a source of income. Let me explain what I mean. Let’s say you decide to start sewing to earn extra income or as your primary source of income. You’ll find yourself having to embroider several of the same patterns and have to change threads each time you come to a new color stop. This is not an efficient way to work on embroidery projects.
Another drawback to this type of machine is that there are limitations if you want to hoop ready-made accessories and garments. Take the pocket of a tote bag, for example. If you’re going to embroider the pocket, you’ll most likely have to remove it, embroider it and sew it back onto the bag. This is because of the flatness of the machine’s bed and limitations on the hoop. You’ll agree that this is not the most efficient way to work.
If you only sew for a few people, then this type of embroidery machine is best for you. However, if you want to embroider and earn an income from it, this is not your best option. You’ll need a multi-needle option.
For those who run a sewing business from home or are serious hobbyists and crafters, a multi-needle is a game-changer. This type of machine is a perfect tool to have for anyone who wants to complete larger projects in a faster time.
There can be up to 10 needles on this type of machine, and each of the needles can hold a different color of thread. This means that you don’t have to stop embroidering and change threads when you need to work with a different color thread like you would on a single needle machine.
You’ll often find 2 points of hoop attachment on a multi-needle embroidery machine. It usually has larger hoop sizes ranging from 4 x 4 inches to 14 x 14 inches. You can expect speeds between 400 to 1000 stitches per minute and much higher speeds for heavy-duty models.
The main advantage of this type of machine is that it finishes multi-colored embroidery patterns faster, easier, and with a higher degree of precision than single-needle machines.
This machine also comes with the ability to add additional hoops, which make it easier to embroider on the pockets of apparel and bags, the leg of a pair of pants, sleeves, etc. And you won’t have to destroy any seams to achieve this.
This type of machine is also a favorite for embroidering on hats.
There aren’t any negatives with this type of machine. Perhaps the only thing you’ll complain about is the cost. It is more expensive but worth every penny if you consider what you can do with it. A lot of complex tasks can be completed at just the press of a button.
There are commercial, single-head, and multi-needle machines that have more than 10 needles. These often have larger sewing fields in terms of both depth and width.
The last type of is the multi-head, multi-needle machines. If you embroider hats a lot, then this type is the only way to go.
These are commercial machines and very expensive. They are usually made up of many embroidery machines hooked onto a single unit. This allows you to work on multiple projects at the same time.
If you work on large orders or simply want to have a much faster machine, then a commercial model may be the only way to go. It may be expensive to purchase but will pay off big in the long run.
So, in conclusion, if you only do the odd embroidery from home as a hobby, then the right model for you is the single-head, single-needle machine. But if you start sewing and embroidering to earn extra income, or work on large quantities of embroidery, then a multi-needle embroidery machine is your best option. If you also want to embroider in unusual places such as pockets, inseams of pants, sleeves, and hats, then a multi-needle machine is what you need.
Tips for Picking The Best Embroidery Machine For Your Needs.
- Brand: What embroidery machine brand should you get? In general, most of the name brand machines are well built. Perhaps the most well-known sewing machine brands are Brother, Singer, Janome, Juki, Babylock, Tajima, Barudan, and Bernina. All of these brands produce quality embroidery machines. A good brand will provide excellent customer service, multi-year warranty, and after-sales support.
- Purpose of the machine: Are you buying a machine to use at home or for business. If you want to earn income from your embroidery work, you should consider a commercial machine. They are designed to be workhorses that can hand large amounts of work and continues use.
- What functions do you need? Are you looking for a computerized option with loads of automated processes, or are you looking for a mechanical embroidery machine? Modern embroidery sewing machines come with many functions such as automatic threading, automatic thread cutting, presser foot sensors, bobbin winding, etc.
- Throat Width Size: A lot of modern machines come with throat widths that rival those of long arm machines. This gives you a lot of room to maneuver your work during sewing and allows you to work on larger fabrics. You might want to consider a machine with a lot of throat room.
- Standalone or Combination? Some come with an embroidery unit that can be detached from the machine’s body when not in use. These types of machines are combos. You can sew, embroider, and quilt with one machine. So you’ll have to consider if you want an embroidery alone machine or a combination machine. If you already have a sewing machine, then there might be no need to get a combination machine.
- Hoop Size Choices: It will have multiple and large hoop sizes. Machines that have small hoop sizes (less than 300 X 300) will significantly limit the kind of “hooping” you can do.
- Accessories: A good machine will have the ability to take on a wide array of accessories. It can even accept attachments from other brands. The more accessories you can add on to the machine the better
- Built-in embroidery designs: Most modern embroidery machines come with built-in designs. Some have hundreds of embroidery designs that are pre-loaded on the machine. Some machines do not allow the ability to add your own designs to the memory of the machine. They should have computer connectivity so you can add your own designs or premium embroidery designs that you can buy or download from the internet. At the very minimum, you should be able to add designs via a USB memory stick. Some will even allow you to manipulate embroidery designs directly on the machine’s LCD screen.
- Design Software: Some brands offer design software that allows you to create and digitize your own designs and then transfer them to the machine. Some machines only accept designs from their proprietary software. The top embroidery machines should allow you to add designs bought from the internet or those made with other software.
- Support: Some machine brands offer special classes to machine owners where they are schooled on the various functions of the machine. Some even offer advanced embroidery and stitching classes to owners. The top machines will have a good support system that teaches you everything you need to know about your new machine.
- Warranty & After Sales support: A good brand believes in the quality of its products and will offer a warranty that reflects that. Look for multiple years of warranty and excellent after-sales support. There should be parts readily available should you need them. And a telephone support service is essential.
How much should you expect to pay?
I know we are living in tough economic times, and most of us do not have disposable income lining our pockets. However, an embroidery machine can be a significant investment, so it is important to get the best. And to get the best, you should expect to pay higher than average for it. Let’s look at it this way, would you want to buy a cheap machine that breaks down in a few months or will like the one that can last for more than 10 years.
I know we have become a society that has gotten used to throwing things away and getting a new version of the same product year after year. But an embroidery machine doesn’t work that way. For the best multi-needle computerized versions, you should expect to pay upwards of $10,000. A single-needle will cost $500 to $10,000. A decent professional commercial option can cost upwards $20,000. What you get in the end will depend on your budget, the purpose of buying the machine, and the type of machine you want. Our advice? Avoid cheap machines.