The 5 Best Cheap Embroidery Machines

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I began my machine embroidery journey with an entry-level machine and later upgraded to a bigger hoop machine. I have no regrets starting out with a small machine I could afford, even though I eventually traded it in. 

Purchasing an inexpensive–but reliable–machine is a great idea for beginners and even advanced embroiderers who don’t plan to use the added features or hoop space of pricier machines.

Check out these comparisons of the best cheap embroidery machines! 

Factors to Consider

Being ridiculously thrifty isn’t always the best, so here are some recommendations before purchasing your next machine. 

1. Combo vs. Embroidery-Only

With a combination machine, you can embroider designs and sew, quilt, add decorative stitches to projects, and accomplish other sewing goals. Embroidery-only machines only embroider and are less expensive than combo machines. But, you must have a separate sewing machine to sew. 

2. Hoop Size For Designs

embroidery hoop sizes

A machine’s hoop size corresponds to the maximum embroidery area your machine can handle in one stitching session. While it’s possible to split designs and embroider in phases on machines with smaller hoops, it might be worth investing more to get a machine with a bigger embroidery field.

3. Design Import Method

design import on embroidery machine

Pricier machines offer WiFi design transfer, while the cheapest machines will have USB transfer or require a connection to a computer. 

4. Brand Loyalty

brother brand embroidery machine

In general, Brother makes the least expensive embroidery machines. I own Brother machines and highly recommend them. However, everyone has their own brand preferences.

The next least costly machine brands are Singer, Eversewn, and Baby Lock. (For loyalists, I recommend checking out the Eversewn Sparrow X2 or the Singer Futura XL400.) Once you start looking at brands like Bernina and Janome, which have die-hard sewing fans, you’ll find a smaller selection of entry-level embroidery machines and, thus, higher costs.

The Best Cheap Embroidery Machines

While the Brother PE535 is usually the cheapest embroidery machine you can buy new, spending additional money on an upgraded machine with additional features might be worth it if you plan to embroider larger designs or want more than just USB design transfer. Other inexpensive machines include the Brother SE600 and the Brother PE800, which I’m also describing below. 

1. Brother PE535 Embroidery Machine

Brother PE535 Embroidery Machine, white

FeatureSpecs
Embroidery Field4"x4"
Embroidery Designs80 included
USB ConnectionBuilt-in USB port

In general, the Brother PE535 is one of the cheapest embroidery machines available that’s also easy to use. Just note that it’s an embroidery-only machine. 

It comes with a 4″ x 4″ embroidery hoop and 80 built-in designs, although additional designs are easily imported via a USB port on the side of the machine. There are also nine built-in fonts, 6 of which are in English.

If you’re concerned about the small hoop size, check out my post: what can you embroider with a 4″ x 4″ hoop? As I mentioned, I started with a 4×4 hoop, and many designs I’ve stitched on this blog have been done with a 4×4 hoop!

The Brother PE535 boasts a color touchscreen where you can edit thread colors and preview design changes before setting your machine to stitch. You can further edit the size, angle, and letter spacing and even put letters on arcs onscreen.

Fun automatic features like the automatic needle threader make changing threads on multi-colored designs faster and more straightforward, especially for users with poor eyesight or shaky hands. (Still not as helpful as a multi-needle machine, which changes threads for you, though!)

The updated Brother PE545, which has wireless design transfer, was released in Fall 2022. It’s more expensive, and the PE535 is still not yet discontinued, so I’m keeping the PE535 listed for now. 

2. Brother SE600 Sewing and Embroidery Machine

Brother, SE600, Computerized Machine with 4" x 4

Key FeaturesSpecs
Embroidery Field4"x4"
Embroidery Designs80 included
Stitch Options103 stitches, 10 buttonhole options
Maximum Sewing Speed710 stitches per minute
USB ConnectionBuilt-in USB port

The Brother SE600 is basically the PE535 with sewing features. It’s a cheap combo machine that replaced its predecessor, the Brother SE400, with significantly improved user-friendliness. 

Like the PE535, the SE600 includes 80 embroidery designs, and you can add extra designs you purchase online or create in your software through the side USB port. Again, all editing happens on the color SmartScreen, and my review of the Brother SE600 combination machine gives detailed information about embroidery features. 

Like the PE535, you can’t stitch more than one 4″x4″ design at a time, but using the repositionable hoop can allow stitching up to a 4″x6.75″ in two sessions. 

As for sewing, there are seven presser feet and 103 stitches. What stinks a little is the Brother SE600 only sews at a maximum speed of 710 stitches per minute. 

However, it has automatic sewing thread trimming, a decent work area, some quilting perks, and the ability to sew foot-free using controls rather than a foot pedal. 

Brother also just released an updated Brother SE700 with wireless design transfer. It’s more expensive, so you’ll have to decide if the added cost is worth the added features. 

3. Brother SE625 Sewing and Embroidery Machine

My Brother SE625 embroidery machine

FeatureSpecs
Embroidery Area4"x4"
Embroidery Designs80 built-in, 200 on CD
Built-in stitches103 stitches
Maximum Sewing Speed710 stitches per minute
USB ConnectionBuilt-in USB port

The Brother SE625 is the near-identical twin of the Brother SE600. However, it’s a different color and includes 200 embroidery designs on a CD. (Read my Brother SE625 review to get an idea of those additional 200 designs!)

Besides the color and extra designs, these two machines have identical specs. Prices fluctuate for the Brother SE626 vs. SE600, so if you like the idea of a combination sewing and embroidery machine, just check which costs less that day.

Usually, the Brother SE600 is more popular on Amazon, whereas the Brother SE625 is more popular at Walmart. I purchased the Brother SE625 because it was $30 less at the time. (Previously, I had been renting an embroidery machine from our local library.)

Walmart has also recently started selling the Brother SE630 combo machine (very difficult to find in-store but available online) and the more updated Brother SE725, which, like the SE700, has wireless design transfer. 

4. Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine

Brother PE800 Sewing Machine, One Size, White

FeatureSpecs
Embroidery Field5"x7"
Embroidery Designs138 designs
Maximum Embroidery Speed650 stitches per minute
USB ConnectionBuilt-in USB port

The Brother PE800 embroidery-only machine is a little more of a splurge than the other machines I’ve covered here, but it has a larger hoop.

If you’re starting a home business and plan to embroider larger designs more frequently, choosing a larger hoop size (or investing the $5k+ in a multi-needle machine) will save time. Time is money, and this is one of the best embroidery machines for beginners who know they want to embroider bigger things!

As for aspects, the Brother PE800 includes an impressive 138 built-in embroidery designs and 11 fonts, although only 7 are English characters. Like the SE600 and SE700, the PE800 has a USB input for jump drive design import. (Find more details in my review of the Brother PE800!)

Like the SE600, the PE800 has onscreen editing and automatic features, including an automatic thread cutter (sewing only–not embroidery jump stitch trimming, bummer), advanced needle threader, automatic default tension, and a quick-set top-drop bobbin.

brother se1900

If you want a sewing and embroidery machine with a 5″ x 7″ hoop size, check out the Brother SE1900, which I purchased when I wanted a bigger hoop than my Brother SE625 offered. 

Lastly, the Brother PE800 also has an updated version, the Brother PE900. It has automatic jump stitch trimming (woohoo!) and wireless design transfer. Thanks to those added features, it’s MUCH more expensive right now, though. 

5. Brother PE550D Embroidery Machine (Disney)

Brother PE550D Embroidery Machine, 125 Built-in Designs Including 45 Disney Designs, 4" x 4" Hoop Area, Large 3.2" LCD Touchscreen, USB Port, 9 Font Styles

Very similar to the Brother PE535, the Brother PE550D embroidery machine only differs because it’s one of Brother’s Disney embroidery machines. Thus, it has an extra 45 built-in Disney designs for Disney lovers–choose from Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and more of the gang.

Otherwise, like the Brother PE535, you get a 4″ x 4″ hoop size, onscreen editing, USB design transfer, the same number of non-Disney designs, and nine built-in fonts.

I will say that one helpful thing about Brother touchscreens is that the built-in tutorials remind you how to thread the machine, set it up for embroidery, etc., which is helpful for beginners who don’t want to keep pulling out a manual. 

And, if you’re into character-themed embroidery machines, you can also check out the Brother LB5000M and LB5000S, which are Marvel- and Star Wars-themed combination embroidery machines, respectively. They do cost a bit more because they sew as well.

What’s a bummer is Disney files and trademarked characters on Brother embroidery machines are for personal use, so you cannot sell products you create with them.

New vs. Used Machine Considerations

Embroidery machines are a little like cars–as soon as you drive them new off the lot, they lose a decent percent of their value. If you are on a very tight budget, you can usually find a great deal on a used embroidery machine at a local sewing store or online at eBay, Amazon, or Facebook, for example. 

While purchasing pre-owned from third-party sellers (an authorized embroidery dealer is an exception) decreases your expenses, you aren’t assured it is a good embroidery machine.

Most used embroidery machines aren’t covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, and you don’t know how the machine was treated by its previous owner. If it was not maintained properly, there’s a chance it may fail after you purchase it.

My general recommendation when deciding new vs. used is: unless the deal is a steal, only buy it if you can try it out before purchasing or are given a very lenient return period. 

 

Overall, embroidery is not an inexpensive hobby. In addition to purchasing a machine, you also need thread, stabilizer, needles, and the materials you’re embroidering. Not to mention digitizing software to create your own embroidery designs from scratch.

By purchasing a cheap embroidery machine, you can have some money left over to spend on awesome accessories to get you started designing and embroidering new projects! (If you’re lost, check out my post on embroidery machine supplies for beginners so you’ll know exactly what you need.)

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