Embroidery Machines vs Sewing Machines: Similarities and Differences

Embroidery and sewing machines are two popular tools used in the textile and fashion industries as well as hobbyists at home. While they may seem similar at first glance, these machines have their own unique purposes and functionalities that set them apart. Here’s a bit about each type of machine, what they are for, and why you may want to consider buying them.

Embroidery machines

Embroidery machines are specialized devices used for creating intricate designs and patterns on fabric. They were first invented in the early 1800s by Josué Heilmann, a French inventor. His creation was called the hand embroidery machine. An interesting footnote in the history of the sewing machine, is that with its 1828 creation date, the hand embroidery machine predates the sewing machine by two years. 

Embroidery Machine in Use
An embroidery machine in use, adding an intricate logo design to a hat.

Embroidery machines are used primarily for decorative purposes, such as embellishing clothing, accessories, and home decor items with unique patterns and monograms.

From that early hand embroidery machine, the best embroidery machines available today have evolved into highly sophisticated, computerized machines. They allow users to create incredibly elaborate designs with precision and ease. 

Who should buy an embroidery machine?

A person who should consider buying an embroidery machine is someone who:

  • Enjoys adding a personal touch or intricate details to items like clothing, accessories, or home decor.
  • Is interested in starting a small business or expanding their existing business by offering custom embroidery services for clients, including monogramming or logo designs.
  • Appreciates the precision and efficiency of computerized design input, which allows for more complex and detailed patterns than traditional hand embroidery.
  • Wants to create unique and memorable gifts for friends and family, showcasing thoughtfulness through personalized designs and monograms.
  • Seeks a specialized tool that can enhance their sewing projects by adding decorative embroidery elements that elevate the overall aesthetic and appeal.
  • Desires to invest in a craft that combines technology and creativity, enabling endless possibilities for artistic growth and innovation.

Sewing machines

On the other hand, sewing machines are versatile devices designed for joining fabrics together using thread. The first functional sewing machine was invented in 1830 by Barthelemy Thimonnier, a French tailor. Sewing machines can be used for a wide range of tasks, from basic garment construction and alterations to quilting and home decor projects. While they can also be used for decorative stitching, their primary function is to create functional seams and hems.

Who should buy a sewing machine?

A person who should consider buying a sewing machine is someone who:

  • Enjoys crafting and working with fabrics, and wants to explore the world of sewing as a hobby or potential profession.
  • Is interested in creating their own clothing, accessories, or home decor items, tailored to their unique style and preferences.
  • Wants to save money on alterations and repairs by learning how to hem, mend, and adjust garments themselves.
  • Is environmentally conscious and would like to upcycle or repurpose old clothing, reducing waste and promoting sustainability.
  • Seeks a creative outlet to relieve stress and foster a sense of accomplishment through the process of making something from scratch.
  • Has a desire to engage in a craft that can be both practical and artistic, offering endless possibilities for self-expression and personal growth.

Generally speaking people learn how to sew using a sewing machine first, then later go on to learn how to use an embroidery machine.

Sewing Machine Being Used for a Crafting Project
A sewing machine being used for a craft project.


One thing we’re often asked is if embroidery machines cost more or less than sewing machines. If you’re buying a beginner embroidery machine, expect to pay around $400 or more. High end embroidery machines cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

A good quality, electronic sewing machine for a beginner will cost around $200. High end, sophisticated sewing machines can cost into the thousands.

Embroidery Machines vs Sewing Machines

In conclusion, the primary difference between an embroidery machine and a sewing machine lies in their intended use. Embroidery machines are designed for creating intricate, decorative designs on fabric, while sewing machines focus on joining fabrics together for garment construction, alterations, and other functional purposes. 

Although there are some overlaps in functionality, each machine excels in its specific area, and investing in the right tool will depend on your individual needs and creative aspirations.