Computerized embroidery is not a cheap pastime. In fact, many people use embroidery and sewing as a means to earn additional income and even run a business. Embroidery even makes it way to fashion runways. But before every profit is an initial investment in supplies.
Brother, Singer, and Janome lead the way in both home and commercial embroidery machines. For home models, Brother and Singer are the best choices. Brother is known for its innovative, high-quality products, state-of-the-art accessories, and unparalleled software. This widely-recognized brand offers a variety of machines to suit all skill levels and budgets.
Singer, founded in 1851, lays claim to the invention of the first zigzag machine, the first computerized machine, and the first portable machine. A leader is sewing and embroidery devices, Signer is known for creating easy-to-use models designed for specific needs.
When looking to purchase an embroidery machine, the model you choose should be based on the size and scope of future projects, your budget, and your skill level. To help you get started, read the following reviews. The machines covered include Brother and Singer, a beginner’s model, embroidery-only, sewing & embroidery, and a range of prices. Each machine sells for less than $1,000 and is backed by a 25-year limited warranty.
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Brother PE770 Embroidery-Only
At under $600, this user-friendly machine is worth every penny. The large embroidery area gives you ample space for monogramming large items and allows you to combine designs with less rehooping. Complex designs are easy to see on the back-lit display. This machine’s built in designs include border styles, frame shapes, patterns for quilts, floral designs, scrollwork, and more.
Your design options are virtually unlimited with the PE770. In addition to the built-in designs, you can import designs using either a Brother memory card or a USB stick. The machine has lots of available memory in which to store your uploaded designs for future use. The built-in software allows for extensive editing including features like mirror-image, rotate, and increase/decrease size.
Product features include:
- 5×7” embroidery area
- Built-in memory
- Library with 6 lettering fonts and 136 designs
- USB port and card slot
- LCD touch-screen
- Auto thread cutter
- Auto needle threader
- Quick-set bobbin
- Max embroidery speed = 650 stitches per minute
- 27.8 lbs
- Compatible with iBroidery.com
What do people say about the PE770?
Consumers rave about this machine because it’s easy to use. You won’t have to spend hours reading the manual before you start. They love the automatic threader, a feature that makes this machine great for beginners. The stitch quality is great, but some people thought the built-in designs were too “cutesy.” It is very easy to upload designs purchased online.
The main downside is that the machine is finicky. Common complaints include:
- The display is black and white only, with few editing options on the machine itself.
- Hoop is cheap and hard to fit into the machine
- Hard to wind the bobbin
- Machine doesn’t recognize when upper thread has come undone
- You can’t put additional fonts on the machine
The PE770 is inexpensive for home embroidery machines, but don’t forget to factor in extra software and additional hoops. To take full advantage of the PE770, most people say you’ll need to spend at least $200-$300. This model by Brother is a great choice for those looking for a versatile, quick, dedicated embroidery-only machine to use for their home business for under $600.
Singer XL400 Combo Sewing & Embroidery
The XL400 by Singer is similar to Brother’s SE400, but features a much bigger embroidery area. If you’ll be working on lots of big projects and can afford a $580 machine, this is the best combined sewing and embroidery machine you’re going to find for less than $600. With the XL400, you can create embroidery designs up to 12×20”. The extra space makes it the most effective embroidery machine for monogramming.
Product features include:
- 18.5×11” embroidery area
- 2 hoops
- Library with 5 monogramming fonts, 125 embroidery designs, and 30 sewing stitches
- Connects to a computer via USB cable
- SwiftSmart threading system
- Drop & Sew bobbin system
- 49.1 lbs
- Auto needle threader
- LED lights for bright work area
- Multi-hooping capability
- Built-in tutorials
- 2 auto 1-step buttonholes
What do people love about the XL400?
Setting up the XL400 is a breeze. Customers love the price and the large embroidery area. The built-in lights make projects easy to see. Seamstresses were delighted with the threading system and loved the included presser feet for sewing projects. The embroidery software is able to read several different file types. With the built-in software, you can customize user time. The machine operates quietly.
What are the downsides of the XL400?
This is not a machine for beginners. The learning curve is steep. Customers often complain about the location of the spool stand. The included software is very simple, so you may need to purchase additional software. The LCD screen and space for foot change is small. You cannot control bobbin speed and there is no auto thread cutter. The hoops are flat and plastic, meaning they break easily.
A few customers reported that the tension was off and that the machine had a hard time recognizing the correct hoop was attached. In addition, customer service was unpleasant. All reviews agree that you must read the manual completely before you start, even if you are experienced in the art of sewing/embroidery. Many of the issues, like needles or thread breaking, were caused by operator error. Users recommend investing in software and add-ons one at a time in order to learn how to use them properly. This machine requires patience.
More Embroidery Machines Reviewed & Compared:
|Image||Brand/ Name||Rating (out of 5)||Price||Built in Stitches||Pros/ Cons|
|Brother: SE400 Combination Computerized Sewing 4x4 Embroidery Machine||4.6||$300.00||67||Pros: 4x4 embroidery area; 70 built-in designs; 5 fonts; computer connectivity (compatible with Mac); sewing & embroidery; LCD display; automatic threader and thread cutter; easy bobbin-winding system; light on needle area; soft cover; perfect for beginners.|
Cons: Small embroidery area; machine is prone to breaking; many users agree that Brother has awful customer service.
|Singer: Futura XL-400 Computerized Sewing and Embroidery System||3.5||$549.00||30||Pros: Sew and embroider with multihooping capability, smart threading and bobbin systems, 125 embroidery designs, 5 fonts, and computer connectivity.|
Cons: Not Mac-compatible; not for beginners; not user friendly; not a great choice for intricate designs; comes with a 4x4 and a 6x10 hoop but not a 5x7 hoop; auto threader is prone to breaking.
|Brother: PE770 5x7 Embroidery-only Machine w/ Built-in Memory||4.3||$584.54||136||Pros: 5x7 embroidery area with 6 fonts and 136 built-in designs; large LCD display; built-in memory; design editing features include mirror-image, rotate, and size adjust; automatic thread cutter and easy bobbin threading; compatible with Brother embroidery cards and iBroidery; excellent value.|
Cons: Embroidery-only; does not connect with computers (uses USB); must use high-quality thread only; inconsistent tension; machine has a habit of “eating” fabric.
|Singer: S10 Studio 5.5x5.5 and 2x2 Embroidery Machine with 55 Built-in Designs||4.2||$440.64||0||Pros: Features 55 built-in designs, 3 fonts, 2 hoops (5.5x5.5 and 2x2), 2,800 ready-to-sew designs, LCD touch screen display, automatic needle threader, USB port, built in memory, computer connectivity, and basic design editing.|
Cons: Big learning curve for first-timers; unreliable software; loud; bad customer service.
|Brother: 1034D 3-4 Thread Serger Easy Lay-in Threading w/ Different Feed Home Sewing & Embroidery System||4.6||$203.93||22||Pros: Reliable ¾ thread serger; affordably priced; 22 built-in stitch functions; easy to use; accessories include foot controller, 2 snap-on feet, and soft cove; uses standard needles and regular thread spools; differential fabric feed; adjustable stitch width; great for beginners.|
Cons: Doesn’t do coverlock stitch or chain stitch; prone to breaking; complaints about bad customer service.
|Brother: LB6800PRW Project Runway Computerized Embroidery & Sewing Machine||4.5||$360.82||67||Pros: 4x4 embroidery field; LCD display; 70 built-in embroidery designs; 120 frame combinations; 5 fonts; computer connectivity; automatic thread cutter; compatible with iBroidery and Brother embroidery cards; includes rolling carrying case, 7 sewing feet, USB cable, and soft cover. |
Cons: The only differences between this machine and the Brother SE400 are the price and the rolling case; not compatible with Mac.
|Janome: Memory Craft 350E Embroidery System||3.6||$1,199.00||0||Pros: LCD display; automatic threat cutter; USB capabilities; fast microprocessor; automatic thread cutter; easy to use.|
Cons: Embroidery only; expensive; not a good idea for upholstery fabric; brightness of LCD screen fades in and out during use; “low bobbin” alert doesn’t always work; poor internal memory; bad customer service.
|Brother: PE500 4x4 Embroidery Machine with 70 Built-in Designs and 5 Fonts||4.3||$345.00||0||Pros: 4x4 embroidery field; 5 fonts; 70 built-in designs; computer connectivity; compatible with iBroidery and Mac; includes full line of accessories; easy to learn; LCD display; light on needle area; automatic needle threader; great for beginners; excellent price.|
Cons: Embroidery only; must purchase a good stabilizer; fonts are too small; designs are outdated; users agree the Brother PE770 is a better value.
Brother PE500 Embroidery-Only
Looking to try your hand at embroidery without a huge investment? At just $270, this model from Brother is made for beginners ready to explore the world of embroidery.
- 4×4” embroidery area
- LCD touch screen
- Library with 70 embroidery designs and 5 lettering fonts
- Compatible with iBroidery.com
- Includes accessories and a starter kit
- 22 lbs
- Convenient bobbin winding system
- Auto needle threader
This easy-to-use, entry-level machine is ready to go right out of the box. Using the standard .pen and .pes file types, your design options are limitless. Your workspace will be lit up brilliantly by the built-in lights. At 22 pounds, this machine is a lot easier to transport than the previous three.
What do customers think about the PE500?
Most reviews agree this is a machine designed for beginners. With a starter kit that includes 2 pre-wound bobbins, a medium-sized hoop, 3 stabilizer sheets, 3 spools of embroidery thread, and a small pair of scissors, you can start as soon as you open the box. If you’d like to try your hand at monogramming, you can choose between 3 alphabet styles. The PE500 offers built-in tutorials to view if you need help. Customers love the fact that the bobbin winds smoothly and evenly (this has been a problem in other Brother machines).
The biggest complaint is the small embroidery area. Although it’s more than adequate for learning the basics, you won’t be able to work on any big projects with the PE500. If you upload designs from your computer, there is only space to hold 12 before you have to start deleting designs to make room. The largest letter size you can do without purchasing additional software ($400) is 2.54 inches. Embroidery quality is great, but almost half of the 70 built-in designs are “fancy letters.”
According to reviews, this machine will have you addicted to embroidery and wanting a more advanced machine in no time!
|Top Rated||Best Built-in Designs||Best Dedicated Embroidery System|
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