If you’re asking ‘what is the best embroidery machine to start a business with?’ I’ve got you covered. Below, I explore all aspects of embroidery machinery and share some of my best tips and tricks for finding the best unit for your home business’s needs. Then, I finish off by reviewing my five favorite embroidery machines for home business use.
Embroidery Machines 101: What you need to know
There’s a lot that goes into buying a well-made embroidery machine. As a starting point, it helps to know the various parts of an embroidery machine and what they do.
The anatomy of an Embroidery Machine
Below, I’ve listed the many physical components of an embroidery machine as well as the function they serve. Familiarizing yourself with these components will equip you with the knowledge required to shop for an embroidery machine that suits your needs.
- Arm and Head: The arm and head work synergistically to stitch the fabric. The arm shift hooped materials or fabrics according to preset designs or patterns, whereas the head holds the needle bars, fabric threads, and the needles themselves.
- Cap Frame: A cap frame (sometimes called “hat frame”) is a frame that stabilizes a cap or hat while it is being embroidered.
- Frame Sash: A frame sash (sometimes called a pantograph) is a frame that holds the embroidery arm firmly in place while the arm of the machine is stitching.
- Hoop or Frame: The embroidery frame or hoop holds the material in place while it is being stitched or embroidered and is mounted to the machine’s arm. The hoop ensures that there is enough tension on the fabric to keep the material in place during the stitching process.
- LCD/LED Display: The LCD or LED display is a small screen on electronic embroidery machines that allow the user to digitally control the pattern of their choosing. Further, the LCD display also lets users preview their pattern before they select it to give the user a better idea of what the finished product will look like.
- Needle Bar: The needle bar is the bar that controls the needle’s vertical movement while a garment is stitched.
- Thread Break Detector: The thread break detector is a built-in sensor that detects whenever a fabric thread has snapped or come loose from the machine’s head. Usually, the LED/LCD display indicates where the breakage has occurred.
Types of Embroidery Machines for commercial use
If you’re planning on opening a home embroidering business, you have a few options to choose from regarding the type of machine you can use. Below, I’ve listed the three main varieties of embroidery machines that are used in home businesses, as well as their respective advantages and disadvantages.
Sewing-embroidery hybrid machines
The most common type of embroidery machine for household commercial use, especially among beginners and small business owners, is the sewing-embroidering hybrid machine. These are computerized machines that offer a combination of sewing and embroidering capabilities and have fully adjustable needle settings.
A crafter who uses sewing-embroidery machines can opt for a single-needle or multi-needle setup by adjusting their preference on the control panel.
Although these machines offer the greatest convenience for the average crafter, they can be slower than dedicated embroidery machines for large-scale projects.
Multi-needle embroidery machines
A multi-needle embroidery machine is commonly found in designers’ studios and has emerged as a consequence of technological improvements in the stitching industry. These machines are for serious embroiderers who want to scale up their home business so that they can produce as many embroidered crafts as possible.
In most cases, a multi-needle embroidery machine will have between five and ten needles.
Each needle will have its own thread color, which allows the operator to quickly and seamlessly switch between color choices and material types. By contrast, a single-needle machine requires users to manually remove the thread from the needle and install a new thread if they want to change colors.
Multi-needle embroidery machines often have two attachments for hoops. Therefore, multi-needle embroidery machines make it easy to quickly embroider hoops on garments. However, the downside to this type of embroidery machine is that they tend to be more expensive and they have a much steeper learning curve.
If you need a hand learning how to set up and operate a multi-needle embroidery machine, I recommend checking out this Youtube tutorial. The demonstrator walks you through the basics of using a Brother multi-needle machine and touches on the materials you need to get started.
Single-needle embroidery machines
The standard single-needle embroidery machine involves the use of a flat loading bed and a removable embroiderer device. These machines are ideal for basic stitching projects and can be used to make intricate stitches and patterns using manually-made or computerized designs.
Unlike multi-needle embroidery machines, single-needle units have only one head and one hoop attachment. The needle is kept in a stationary position while stitching at a rate of about 300-900 stitches per minute (SPM). Multi-needle machines, on the other hand, operate at about 400-1,000 SPM. Therefore, the main drawback to using this type of machine is that they usually operate at a slower output than multi-needle devices.
Factors to consider when shopping for a commercial use embroidery machine
There are several factors that you should bear in mind when searching for the best embroidery machine for home business use. Below, I’ve listed a handful of considerations that I wish I had taken more seriously because I bought my first commercial embroidery machine almost two decades ago while I was still in college.
- Ease of Use: You should buy an embroidery machine that matches your experience level. If you buy a multi-needle embroidery machine with all the bells and whistles of a premium machine, you might find yourself discouraged when you can’t figure out how to use it.
- Combo or Discrete: If you want to make advanced designs and clothing items, you might want to consider investing in a sewing and embroidery hybrid machine. These allow you to create more artistic patterns and designs in clothing and are often used by retail embroiderers.
- Hoop Size: The hoop size (which ranges from 100×100 to 360×350) determines how large of a project you can work on. For large items, you’re going to want to seek out the highest hoop sizing dimensions you can find. However, most clothing items can be embroidered with a basic 100×100 hoop size.
- Throat Size: The throat size refers to the space between the body and the needle of the sewing machine. Generally, a larger throat size is indicative of an easier embroidering experience because there’s more room to maneuver the material and arm.
- Font Library: Some embroidery machines only include one font for embroidering text onto materials. For more creative design possibilities, you should seek out a machine that offers several fonts.
- Accessories: A good embroidery machine should be capable of accommodating several add-on accessories that can make the embroidering experience easier. For example, a presser foot pedal and an extended quilting table can go a long way to reducing complexity and streamlining the embroidering process.
Our picks of the best embroidery machines for home businesses
Now that we know what to look for when shopping for an embroidery machine, let’s take a look at some of the best embroidery machines for home businesses.
Below, I’ve listed my top five after several weeks of testing each of them for their performance, ease of use, durability, versatility, and overall value.
Our top choice
The Janome MB 4S is one of the most versatile multi-needle embroidery machines for those who want an all-in-one solution for their crafting projects. The MB 4S is fully computerized and is compatible with over 65,000 colors that can be selected with the touch of a button.
Whether you’re stitching during the day or night, the MB 4S has you covered because of its bright overhead LED light that provides plenty of light to get the job done at any time.
The on-board storage contains 3 MB memory, which might not sound like a lot but it is capable of storing up to 100 unique designs. What I liked most about this machine is that it features an automatic thread cutter that cuts off loose threads so you don’t have to waste time messing around with shoddy threads.
What we love
- Bobbin winding motor helps save time while stitching
- Bright LED lights lets you stitch at night
- On-board memory can store up to 100 unique designs
- Comes with hat hoop and frame to embroider caps
- Higher learning curve than some other machines
- The instruction manual is a bit overcomplicated for some
Our second choice
The Brother SE1900 is a compact sewing and embroidery hybrid machine that boasts a large storage capacity of up to 138 designs and 240 built-in stitches. The SE1900 is computerized and features a large colorized LED screen to help you choose from the dozens of preloaded designs and up to 11 distinct fonts.
Although there’s a lot to like about the SE1900, what I enjoyed most about using this machine is that it features a large embroidery field of 5×7 inches. With the extended embroidery field, I was able to make larger garments and crafts in less time.
What we love
- Easy needle threader and drop-in bobbin loader for less hassle
- 240 preloaded sewing stitches to make creative patterns easily
- Extra large touchscreen simplifies the selection process
- Plastic construction generally doesn’t last as long as metallic devices
- Bobbin loader can sometimes get jammed
Our third choice
The Brother PE800 is a premium single-needle embroidery machine that features all the bells and whistles that makes the Brother brand one of the best in the business. If you want perhaps the best embroidery machine for home business use, the PE800 is an excellent option because it features 11 font styles, 138 pre-built designs, and a USB port to add your own patterns.
There’s very little not to like about the PE800, but above all what I like most about the PE800 is that it features a signature Cyrillic font style. This all-new font style lets you cater to non-English speaking audiences who use the Japanese and Cyrillic alphabets, such as Japanese, Russian and Ukrainian speakers.
The PE800 could be a great addition to an embroidery business owner who caters to a multicultural market.
What we love
- Japanese and Cyrillic font options allows for more creativity in embroidering text
- USB port lets you upload your own designs and patterns
- Large LED touch screen lets you easily pick the design you want
- Heavier than some other units
- Operates a bit louder than I’d prefer
The Singer Futura XL550 is one of the best sewing and embroidery machine hybrids on the market. WIth 215 built-in stitches and 125 preloaded embroidery patterns, there are plenty of options for users to get creative with their designs.
The Futura XL550 comes with a buttonhole maker that allows you to easily create buttons on garments with the touch of a button.
If you’re a beginner or novice embroiderer, you might be glad to find out that this machine features an automatic needle threader that takes much of the hassle out of threading the fabric. With the XL550, much of the hassle of loading and exchanging threads is taken out of the equation.
- Lightweight 20-pound construction
- Drop-in and sew bobbin system makes it easy to load the machine
- Multi-hoop design lets you create patterns up to 18×11 inches
- Warranty only intact if used at or under 110 volts
- Small, non-colorized LED screen
The Janome Horizon Memory Craft 14000 is a worthwhile consideration for those who want a simple solution for their embroidery needs. If you’re running a home business, you probably don’t want to waste time figuring out how to work the machine, load the bobbin, and thread the needle. With the Memory Craft 14000, its fully automated loading system takes care of these functions for you.
In my experience, this machine was near-effortless to use for both sewing and embroidering and features patented anti-snag technology to prevent jams.
The Memory Craft 14000 might be a worthy pickup for those who want an easy-to-use embroidering machine that won’t cause any delays or hassles.
- AcuFeed Flex technology prevents misloaded threads
- USB port allows for the device to load designs from a PC
- Capable of handling sewing and embroidering projects
- Heavy construction (72 pounds)
- Outdated appearance may be off putting to some
There are many high-quality embroidery machines on the market that would make a perfect addition to a home crafting business. All of the machines on this list are good but if I had to choose one device that does everything a commercial embroiderer needs to run a business, I’d go with the Brother SE1900. This sewing and embroidery hybrid machine is capable of both stitching and embroidering with over 240 dedicated stitch designs, and it provides the most versatility for commercial home crafters.