Best Embroidery Machine for Beginners in 2020

Phyllis Stewart
Written by Phyllis Stewart Updated on March 17th, 2021

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We’ve created this guide to share our picks of the best embroidery machines for beginners and what to look for when you’re buying your first.

How to choose the best embroidery machine for beginners

Even if you fancy yourself a quick learner, there are guidelines for choosing your first embroidery machine. We’d suggest considering these points when looking for the right machine for you:

Ease of use when getting started

You mind is probably brimming with potential project ideas. But when you begin embroidering, you’ll want to start with simple projects and steps. If your machine has tons of programs and patterns, it can feel overwhelming, so you could look for other perks beyond the number of designs it offers.

Also, what is your current knowledge surrounding sewing, embroidery, and the machines involved with both? If you already own a Singer sewing machine, for example, their embroidery machine might be an easy first choice for you. Familiarity with similar equipment could be a helpful factor when it comes to ease of use.

In-Depth instructions (and brand support)

There’s a reason our top picks for the best embroidery machines for beginners are all top brands. That’s because we know we can trust companies like Singer and Brother to offer comprehensive customer support. After all, it’s why they’ve been in business for so long.

Along with on-call support, you also get helpful how-tos and in-depth instructions. That type of support is crucial when you’re starting out with your machine. If you have a problem, you know you can figure it out with help from the company.

Warranty coverage and the availability of replacement parts are also essential. With a big-name brand, you know you’ll be able to find spare parts if you need them. All the machines in our review come with a reassuring 25 year warranty.

Want to know more about how embroidery machines work? This video from Brother is a good start.

Number of settings and applications

The larger the number of designs and stitches, the better, right? Not exactly. While it’s nice to have plenty of options for experimenting with embroidery, you don’t always need hundreds of choices.

Instead, look at what features you’ll actually use—and which stitches are helpful for the type of projects you intend to work on. Also you may like to consider what it will take to expand your machine’s design options. Most modern machines are compatible with USB units so you can upload more designs, as inbuilt designs are often very limited.

Additional costs and features

Though many machines feature USB compatibility, downloading and using designs isn’t always easy. Or cheap. The software for many brands is expensive, even if it is the best and easiest option for getting the designs you want, but there are other solutions.

There are places you can find free embroidery designs online. You can also purchase affordable designs that will work with your brand of sewing machine. For example, Brother has its own embroidery design site — iBroider — where owners of its machines can shop for downloadable designs. You can also choose designs from other sites, but compatibility could be an issue. Be sure to check out our rundown of file types to make sure you don’t fall into this trap.

If you want something truly original and unique then may find yourself venturing into the world of embroidery software. This opens up a whole new set of possibilities from converting images, adding your own lettering and even creating your own artwork.

What to look for in an embroidery machine for beginners

You’ll find tons of tempting features in top-of-the-line embroidery machines. The thing is, as a beginner, we imagine you’re looking for user-friendly features and a few basic capabilities. While you want to grow with your machine, you may not want to be overwhelmed by hundreds of options and settings to figure out before you can get started.

So, here’s what we’d suggest you look for when you’re starting out.

Ease of use

Reading through the instruction manual (or watching the accompanying DVD) is a must. But your embroidery machine shouldn’t feel like it requires a degree in rocket science to operate. Many machines feature a built-in touchscreen or LCD screen, which is simple to use, lets you  call up the options and even get help on the machine itself.

Other machines need you to troubleshoot through a variety of steps from the user’s manual. We’d argue it’s better if the machine has a few helpful tips on-screen. That way you may even avoid the missteps that would happen without prompting while you select and place designs.

Dual functionality

So you can’t wait to get going with some beautiful embroidery… but is that the only thing you want to do? Although many embroidery machines are single-use, you’ll also find machines that do both sewing and embroidery.

For example, some sewing machines also feature monogramming functions or embroidery feet. Some offer pre-set stitches for sewing while also including a range of embroidery designs.

If you’re looking to expand your knowledge then dual functions may be worth considering, as the more you can do with your machine, the more you can learn!

Included accessories

A beginning embroidery machine should also come with a few “extras,” in our opinion. After all, if you’re just starting out, you may not have all the equipment necessary to plug in and go. Common accessories for an embroidery machine include:

  • Stabilizer material
  • Extra embroidery hoops
  • Additional needles
  • Embroidery thread
  • Other embroidery add-ons

Having a set of accessories ready when you start will take a few of the bumps out of the road for you and let you focus on the joy of learning and creating.

Our picks of the best beginner embroidery machines

These are our top five picks for the best embroidery machines for beginners.

Our bets overall choice

Our opinion

With built-in designs, a color screen with instructions, and room for expansion, the Brother PE800 easily makes our list. We love the automatic rethreading and reverse features for avoiding and fixing errors, and the lifetime customer support from Brother is a helpful perk. You get a 25-year warranty with your machine, and you can call the support line any time you need assistance.

For newbies, the numbered threading diagram can be a big help, and the on-screen tutorials can help you get your footing when starting out. You might still need some expert guidance though, as not everything is easy peasy from the start.

The 5”x7” embroidery area is one of the largest you’ll find, which is a plus if you expect to be working on larger-scale projects. While the touchscreen is smaller, it is helpful to see your designs in color before you start working.

What we love
  • 138 built-in designs
  • 11 built-in fonts
  • A USB port for expanding your design library
  • Color touchscreen for previewing designs
  • Large 5”x7” hoop
  • Reverse and re-do feature for increments from one to 100 stitches
Watch for
  • The software has an additional cost
  • The screen feels small in comparison with smartphones or tablets
  • No built-in stitches

Our second choice

Our opinion

If you’re just starting out with embroidery, you may feel hesitant about buying a machine that only serves one purpose. Brother addresses that struggle with the SE600, a dual embroidery and sewing machine. It has entry-level and advanced features for two functions, making it an all-around ideal machine for beginners who want to do both.

If you’re the type of crafter who wants versatility in every piece of equipment you buy, this might be the perfect embroidery machine for you. And, as is expected with Brother machines, this one also comes with a 25-year warranty and lifetime tech support.

The true highlight is the ease of use, though. Pre-set designs for both sewing and embroidery make your crafting tasks easier, and the automatic needle threading and drop-in bobbin are nice touches. Like other Brother embroidery machines, this one also allows expansion through the USB port.

Beyond embroidery, you’ll like the SE600 for its built-in sewing stitches. It also comes with seven different sewing feet for various crafting applications. It might take some effort to dial in the machine when you first start out, but the ability to perform a range of embroidery and sewing tasks is a clear advantage. Relatively quiet operation is also welcome, especially if you’re jumpy as a new embroiderer.

What we love
  • Sews and embroiders a range of pre-set designs
  • Comes with 80 pre-set embroidery designs
  • Color display touch screen
  • 103 sewing stitches built-in
  • Drag-and-drop adjustments to designs on the touchscreen
  • USB port for expanding your design library
  • Has seven sewing feet for different applications
  • Operates very quietly
Watch for
  • Stitching is relatively slow
  • The thread tension adjustment isn’t precise—resulting in broken thread
  • Lacks a pressure foot tension adjuster

Our third choice

Our opinion

It’s not quite an embroidery machine, but the Brother Project Runway model has enough features for beginners that it’s worth listing. You’ll find more stitch designs than you could ever use to add stylish touches to your projects, and all with a user-friendly style. You can finish off your sewing projects (including quilting), and go right to monogramming and adding other details.

If you want more versatility with your sewing machine but aren’t ready to spring for an embroidery model, the Project Runway option might be ideal for you. The automatic needle threader helps you get a quick start, and you can swap out the multiple presser feet easily. This model also tells you which presser foot you need for each stitch.

A few accessories are also included, such as a cover and a set of needles. And you also get the 25-year warranty and lifetime support as with other Brother models.

One clear disadvantage of the Project Runway option is that it doesn’t include a color touchscreen. Instead, it’s LCD-only, which limits the functionality a bit. You can still see the stitch previews and other details, but it’s not as intuitive as responsive, full-color options.

What we love
  • Includes multiple presser feet, including a monogramming foot
  • Features a screen to select and preview stitches
  • Drop feed system supports quilting projects
  • Small footprint, so you have room for accessories (or other sewing machines)
Watch for
  • Not a true embroidery machine; no pre-loaded embroidery designs
  • The screen is LCD-only, not color/touchscreen
  • Included LED light isn’t very helpful for lighting your work area
  • Some settings are tough to figure out (such as needle stopping point)
  • No USB port

Our fourth choice

Our opinion

Sinter’s Quantum Stylist 9960 is another machine that’s not technically an embroidery machine, but it will suffice for most beginners. The notable features here are the hundreds of stitch options and the Darning and Embroidery foot.

With so many stitches built-in, you can decorate your projects to your heart’s content—all without a designated embroidery machine. For crafters seeking versatility, Singer delivers with hundreds of built-in fonts and buttonhole designs. The automatic needle rethreading is also handy for quick starts.

Twin needle settings and customizable speed control let you take sewing projects a step further. This is an advantage over the sometimes limited embroidery functions of other machines. The sewing speed is also ideal, at 850 stitches per minute. While some dual sewing and embroidery units lag a little while sewing, Singer has that angle down.

We’re not huge fans of the LCD screen, since eveything else about the Quantum Stylist is such high-quality. The lack of a touchscreen makes the sewing machine feel dated, but it’s nice that it features a backlight control so you can see the designs you’re planning.

A 25-year warranty ensures you can rely on your Singer machine for many years, though the company lacks the support  that Brother offers. It’s also relatively heavy, which could be a drawback but may also be a benefit as it won’t move much on your work table.

What we love
  • Features 600 built-in stitches
  • Includes fonts and buttonholes
  • Mirror imaging capability and elongating functions
  • Includes multiple feet, such as a Darning and Embroidery option
  • Operates fairly quietly
  • Very easy to swap stitch length and style
  • Built-in extension table
Watch for
  • LCD panel for stitch selection
  • Not many detailed instructions for the use of the Embroidery foot
  • Some of the embroidery stitches are a bit thin for decorative work
  • The quilting bar is not compatible with the walking foot (a particular note for quilters)
  • Can’t import your own designs

Final thoughts on the best embroidery machine for beginners

When it comes to embroidery via machine, there are plenty of great options. But for beginners, our clear favorite is the Brother SE600. Its ability to both embroider and sew pre-set designs and stitches is fantastic. Especially if you’re not sure how passionate you’ll be about embroidery a few months from now.

Dual capabilities are a highlight on this machine, particularly if you don’t already own a sewing machine. If you do have a sewing machine already, we’d say a better first-time embroidery option would be the Brother PE800 for its near-endless supply of embroidery designs.

Either way, you get unmatched utility, responsive customer service and plenty of guidance on how to operate your new machine. Of course, with the PE800, you can also expand your designs well beyond what’s included in the pre-sets.

Why not check out our Guide to the best Embroidery Software to see how you can take your embroidery to the next level?

Phyllis Stewart
Written by Phyllis Stewart Updated on March 17th, 2021

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