Newbie/which Embroidery Machine

tomgirlJuly 24, 2007


I am an inexperienced sewer w/machine. I have a product idea and I think it would be a better route for me to learn to embroider than to source it out somewhere. My quest to find embroiderers has left me frustrated. Here are my questions:

1. Which machine would be easier, yet give me the variety of stitching I need. I will be stitching small pieces and will use more of the alphabet than images, but will use some images.

2. Can I buy a machine to do what I want for under $1000.00? Just curious on how much I will need to spend.

3. How many colors can one use on one image? Do you need to stop and change the thread alot?

I am patient and have great computer knowledge. I am a bead artist. Crafting and art have been my life for my entire life. I am fiffffffffffffffffffffffity. arg!

Any thoughts and opinions would be greatly appreciated!

Love these forums and the gals who share their knowledge! Thank you in advance for your help!

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Hi tomgirl! I'm interested in responses to your posting, because I am also a newbie who is interested in purchasing/learning an embroidery machine, perhaps for different reasons. I am a beginning quilter, and envision incorporating machine embroidery with some quilts, however, I'm about to move out into "the sticks" with very little support available. I have less than a year in the big city to learn SOMETHING about machine embroidery, so I'm interested in knowing which machine to buy. I'm also pretty good with my computer, and enjoy using it. I did visit a Bernina dealer, and they have an "embroidery only" machine (no regular sewing; that might interest you), and it was about $900 with the requisite software. Hope you get some more helpful responses. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 12:45AM
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I too, live in the sticks where mullets are the latest hair style for men. Thank goodness for the internet...."thank you, Mr. Al Gore!" (wink wink) I'd be lost without all of the resources at my fingertips.

I hope some people respond to my question. I'm glad you did! Good luck with your quest!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 1:01AM
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Hey TomGirl,

I do not know much about the different machines. I have a Janome 10001. My husband did all the research and surprised me with it. He never told me what he paid, but I know it was very expensive. It does everything - sewing, quilting and embroidery. He liked it because it is easy to go from sewing to embroidery - no attachments to fumble with. This is my only machine. So the first thing to consider may be: do you want a combo machine or embroidery only. There are days when I wish I had another machine so I could sew while a design is sewing out.

1. I think you should concentrate on the quality of small font size. The smallest font my Janome came with is 1/2inch. I can adjust any design/font up or down by 20%. I wanted to monogram my husband hankies of business shirt cuff and it was hard to get small, clear stitches. Whenever I do small lettering it is a bit of a pain to "clean-up" the stitches and they don't always sew out nice. Generally the fonts sew out better a bit bigger, so if you need really small ... make sure that's a top question when looking at machines. My machine came with 7 built in fonts (all with small, med, or large options). When I bought additional fonts online and added them, I have to bring in one letter at a time, thus alignment is tough. On my built in letters I make a word and bring it in, so the allignment is perfect. I have not bought the computer software to make that easier for me. I can get a customizer and digitizer, the cost is around $1000 ea (?) and I am still uncertain which one does what.

2) One gal, Mary on the Quilting Forum just got the Baby Ellure; I wonder how that one is? I am thinking she may have spent around $1000 based on her post at this forum.

3) Most home machines sew out one color at a time. The machine auto stops when it's time to change colors. It's easy to change colors. I look at thread count and color changes when I select a design. I tend to stay with under 10 color changes - the less the better for me! Sometimes you need to change color and it will stitch out 2 little black dots for eyes which take about 20 seconds, but it is so indredible to watch the designs sew out into beutiful pictures!

Visit an embroidery website called Embroidery Library. Look at some designs and click on color changes, I think this will help you understand the thread changes. On the project link in their website, look at the tutorials, help questions and project ideas. I think you can learn a lot from them. I find myself referring preople to the website a lot, but I am just a happy customer there!

I am always reluctent giving advice because my experience is with only one machine. But now you know a little about the Janome. Perhaps someone will share their knowledge about thier machine?

And when you get your machine let us know about it!
We need to get the forum site active like the quilting forum!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 12:49PM
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1. I'm not sure what you mean by the "variety of stitching" you need. The way a design stitches out is determined by the way it is programmed. You might want to look at machine embroidery sites (Embroidery Library is just one of many) to see the variety available, from single-colour redwork type embroider to free-standing lace.

If you're an artist, then you won't be happy with the look of built-in fonts. They're fine for putting names on towels, but the letter spacing is not pretty and the letter sizes are limited. You'd be better off using editing software. Don't bother with the proprietary software sold by the companies that make sewing machines. It's extremely expensive. There's a program called Embird that will allow you to merge, resize, and edit designs that costs under $120 (and if you want to get into digitizing you can add a module to do that for another $135). With Embird you either buy (or download free) digitized fonts and place the words letter by letter or buy their fonts which allow you to type in the words and arrange their placement. You can merge the words with images, resize them, and so on. They have another module that will digitize any True Type Font (though at small sizes some work better than others).

2. I have a Brother Innov'is 1200, which is a combination sewing embroidery machine; even at US prices, I think it's more than you want to pay, but you can certainly get an embroidery-only machine for under $1000. I haven't tried any other machines, but I've read that the brand is considered to be very user-friendly. Brother tends to be cheaper than the other brands, which is interesting since they manufacture the machines sold by Babylock, as well as the embroidery components for a couple of other brands, so they are worth considering.

Different machines have different means of getting designs from the computer to the machine, so you should be absolutely sure you know what is involved before committing to a particular machine. Read reviews and ask on embroidery forums; dealers aren't always the best source of information.

3. You can use as many colours as you want. It's just a matter of rethreading for each colour change (there are semi-pro machines with multiple needles, but they're much more expensive). My machine is very easy to thread and has an automatic needle threader and automatic thread cutting. Embroidery thread is finer than regular sewing thread; the types usually used are rayon or polyester, as well as metallics. There are a number of different brands and each brand has hundreds of shades (some are Pantone matched if that is a benefit to you). Different machines sometimes prefer different brands, so it's a good idea to try them out before committing to a collection.

I understand that you want to keep your product idea under wraps, but are there any qualities you need? Bear in mind that machine embroidery can be quite stiff. Even with wash-out stabilizers all those little stitches add up.

If you have any specific questions, please post. (A couple of other sources of information are, which has hundreds of reviews of sewing machines and, which has a very active embroidery forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Information about Embird

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 12:21PM
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I am getting ready to buy the Innov-is 1200 as well. It is $1200 here, but will replace my 21 year old machine as well as give me some embroidery capability. Decided to go with the Brother machine after reading some blogs on other sites and Consumer Reports. Kenmore also make a machine that does both (and probably more than the Brother) for about that price -- although you can get monogramming and sewing for about $700.

If you want big designs you might want to look into getting a used machine or older model (ebay or your local sewing center) to save money.

I like the idea of the Brother Innov-is 1200 since it does both and has a lot of "upgrade" capabilities -- should I want to go there -- card slot/usb ports etch...

I was glad to see Mamalu seems to like her Brother sewing machine...

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 3:27PM
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