The 9 Best Embroidery Machines

Updated April 30, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

9 Best Embroidery Machines
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We spent 46 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whether you are a home hobbyist or a professional stitcher selling to stores or online, our comprehensive selection of feature-rich embroidery machines includes something for everyone. Most of today's models come with USB connectivity, online support to make it easy even for beginners, and a variety of preprogrammed stitches and designs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best embroidery machine on Amazon.

9. Singer XL-580 Futura

The Singer XL-580 Futura may be a little too pricey for the average user, but those who can afford it will appreciate the Endless Hoop and long arm, which allow you to create borders on sheets, tablecloths, and other large textiles.
  • can stitch block letters and numbers
  • comes with a knee lifter
  • difficult to get the tension correct
Brand Singer
Model XL-580
Weight 54.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Bernina Bernette Chicago 7

The Bernina Bernette Chicago 7 may not be a model you recognize, but it has a number of handy features that make it a good choice. It can be operated with or without a foot pedal, creates very tight stitches, and has a built-in scissors compartment.
  • backed by a 10-year warranty
  • detailed and illustrated manual
  • periodically skips a stitch
Brand Bernette
Model pending
Weight 26 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Singer SE300

The great thing about the Singer SE300 is that it is easy to use and comes with an updatable USB drive that includes well over 200 designs from the start. With very little training, one can operate it, but you will still need a basic knowledge of stabilizers and thread.
  • built heavy to minimize skipping
  • can add more designs as needed
  • internal gears aren't very durable
Brand Singer
Model SE300
Weight 24 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

6. Brother PE540D

The Brother PE540D comes with 35 Disney embroidery patterns, making it great for creating gifts for children. Thicker items, such as towels, are not well suited to this machine, but it works wonderfully with thinner materials, like cotton clothing.
  • over 100 frame pattern combinations
  • easy to view backlit lcd screen
  • no automatic threading
Brand Brother Sewing
Model PE540D
Weight 22.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. Janome Memory Craft 200E

The Janome Memory Craft 200E is a USB-driven model that allows you to transfer designs and stitches from your computer. To make your life a little easier, it features an automatic needle threader and a multiple folder memory system.
  • modern touchscreen controls
  • stable bed-mounted arm
  • limited to five-square-inch areas
Brand Janome
Model pending
Weight 26.5 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Brother DZ820E

The Brother DZ820E offers a broad range of designs, patterns, and fonts. The machine's advanced threading system and its built-in "how to" tutorials make it relatively easy to learn the ropes and get down to the embroidery.
  • comes with multiple accessories
  • six types of letter fonts
  • large capacity internal memory
Brand Brother
Model DZ820E
Weight 27.9 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Janome 12000 Memory Craft

The Janome 12000 Memory Craft uses advanced Horizon Link technology to achieve professional, sophisticated results. A generous work area easily accommodates large and complex projects, making it a good choice for commercial use.
  • durable stainless steel plate
  • ideal for quilting
  • designed and made in japan
Brand Janome
Model pending
Weight 71.6 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. Brother SE400

The Brother SE400 offers sewing and embroidery functions in one affordable unit that will not intimidate newcomers to the hobby. This popular model has an extensive online community, as well, that shares tips and designs across social media.
  • simple usb connectivity
  • relatively small and portable
  • fast and easy bobbin loading
Brand Brother Sewing
Model SE400
Weight 24.1 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Brother PE770

If you aren't sure how big your future designs will be, go with the Brother PE770, which has a large 5 x 7-inch working area to make sure you can do what you want. This model also has plenty of support on YouTube to help you become proficient in its use.
  • massive built-in design library
  • automatic thread cutter
  • very quiet even at high speeds
Brand Brother Sewing
Model PE770
Weight 27 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Three Types Of Embroidery Machines And Their Benefits

There are three types of embroidery machines, and each is best for a specific application. Free-motion uses a standard sewing machine that operates in tiny zigzag movements. This kind of device can be wonderful or annoying depending on why you need to embroider. If you run a business that requires you to create totally unique patterns every day, such as a custom luggage store where you put terms like people’s names or birthdates on backpacks, you can benefit from a free-motion embroidery machine because you don’t necessarily need perfection so much as freedom. Manufacturers of printed clothing and luggage love embroidery because it lasts longer than screen printing. A free-motion model can be limiting however, because it usually has just one needle, meaning each time you want a new color, you have to rethread it.

In the commercial world, machines with link stitch technology or digitizing capabilities are very popular because they allow for free motion, but they also have a memory that can save patterns and automatically create them. Embroidery machines with digitizing capabilities are quite versatile because, if you need to apply both unique and repeated designs to a product each day (for example, somebody’s last name plus the image of a sunflower) you can use the manual feature to write the name, and the automatic feature to pump out the perfectly uniform sunflower.

The most modern embroidery machines are computerized. They can connect to your computer or laptop, allowing you to access virtually limitless designs and patterns. A computerized embroidery machine is capable of the most complex designs and can produce patterns with multiple heads and threads. Your favorite clothing brand with complex patterns on the jean pockets probably uses one of these because they have multiple needles. This allows them to run several colors at once and work very quickly.

The History Of The Embroidery Machine

A typical embroidery machine today might be about the size of a few desktop speakers or a small fish tank and it can definitely fit on your kitchen table. But the first embroidery machine invented took up about as much space as a big city apartment today.

The creator of this behemoth of a device was Josue Heilmann, and his invention could do the hand work of about four people. The unit consisted of a frame that held the fabric taut, a needle assembly and a handle to maneuver the needle. In order to operate it, an embroiderer would need to use both hands to manage the scribe and needle, and his foot to control the clamps that held the needle. If it sounds like an image from a great Greek legend like The Odyssey, that’s because it looks just like the one Penelope used. Surprisingly, people didn't welcome Heilmann’s invention with open arms. Companies worried that his machine would put too many hand embroiderers out of a job and he only managed to sell two products.

After the industrial revolution took hold, people no longer feared mechanisms that could do work for humans – or at least they feared them less — and several inventors came up with newer, smaller and faster versions of embroidery machines. The year 1911 saw the first multi-head model from the Singer Sewing Company, however, wartime put a halt to the use of embroidery machines for any purpose that wasn’t helping the national cause, so their sales slowed. By the 1950s there was a boom in at-home machines, and the 1980s saw the first computerized version.

Contemporary Embroidery Artists

In an age when everything old is new again, when there seem to be a burgeoning interest in vintage and resale clothing and furniture, it should come as no surprise that a few modern artists have made a name for themselves with the “old” craft of embroidery.

Inge Jacobsen has become widely appreciated because she takes famous consumer images, such as a Vogue cover or a clothing brand ad, and recreates them through embroidery, often altering the original piece slightly to evoke meaning and highlight underlying sentiments. American Express commissioned the artist to do just that with three of their classic cards.

Another fascinating artist is Kirsty Whitlock, who combines recycled materials and traditional, hand embroidery to communicate ideas of social responsibility. Through her art, she brings to light and lightly criticizes the throw away culture in which we live. One famous piece depicts a stock market professional reading an embroidered Financial Times, made from old wire and other materials, disintegrating in his lap.

Izziyana Suhaimi focuses on our current culture of instant gratification, and what better medium to use than the slow and tedious craft of embroidery. She often combines images of contemporary and traditional cultures to show their connections and usually stacks impressively immaculate stitch work over evocative drawings.

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Last updated on April 30, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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