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I love machine embroidery books. The irony is not lost on me that I say this as someone who writes about embroidery online.
However, as my home library will attest, I collect print books like nobody’s business. And, thanks to my library’s interlibrary loan program, I could read all the circulating embroidery books available in my state before deciding which to purchase.
If you love the feel of an actual book in your hands, too, then check out this list of the best machine embroidery books for beginners and advanced users searching for inspiration!
Now, machine embroidery is quickly evolving, so one drawback of many machine embroidery books is that they’re dated. New techniques and materials are now available, and some old supplies are no longer available.
However, even dated books are helpful for ideas and inspiration, so let’s start this list!
Best Machine Embroidery Books
As a note, these books are all about embroidery with an actual computerized embroidery machine rather than free-motion embroidery with a sewing machine.
1. Sewing Machine Embroiderer’s Bible
I hesitated to purchase this embroidery book because the title suggested it would be more about sewing machines than embroidery machines.
However, while there is a section at the end about decorative stitches on a sewing machine, the book primarily encompasses machine embroidery!
I highly recommend this book for the not tech-savvy embroiderer as sections are dedicated to machine embroidery’s computerized aspects. For instance, downloading Internet designs to your computer and transferring them to your machine, plus the basics of embroidery software.
This type of computer help is not covered in other machine embroidery books, and if it is, the technology is outdated.
Even though about 30% of the book deals with computers and isn’t of great use to those of us who live and breathe technology, the rest of the information is still beneficial!
There are tips on stabilizer, needle, and thread selections and even troubleshooting tips for beginners learning to use an embroidery machine.
I especially love how the most common embroidery projects are broken down by the required technique, and each gets a small tutorial section. This is an excellent review of all the things you can do with an embroidery machine!
(*Another book by Liz Keegan (The Complete Machine Embroidery Manual) is very similar to this one, so there is no need to purchase both.)
2. Embroidery Machine Essentials Series
The Embroidery Machine Essentials collection is based around one main book by Jeanine Twigg and includes multiple supporting texts that reference the main book.
If you choose just to buy one book, I recommend the main text, Embroidery Machine Essentials. This is an excellent resource for beginner embroiderers and was the first book I read on the topic because it was in our local library.
Now, the one drawback is much of it is dated. The introductory section especially, since it covers embroidery equipment and software from when the author wrote the book in 2001.
I recommend skipping over these 20 pages and getting to the rest of the 144 pages to find the more useful information.
The next portion of the book covers supplies selection and goes through the logical process for choosing a stabilizer, needle, and thread and ideas for accessories. This is where I learned about thread stands for the first time and bought mine!
The following section introduces the embroidery process–everything from centering embroidery designs to hooping correctly.
There’s also a section discussing the most common embroidery techniques and how to accomplish them.
Lastly, there are 20 embroidery project ideas (nothing I’d ever make but still enjoyable to read about the process) and then a showcase of embroidered items, which is worth no more than glossing over.
The Companion Project Series books are “niche” books, which are fun to read but not as helpful.
My favorite is the Embroidery Machine Essentials Basic Techniques, as it expands more on the topics in the main book.
And lastly, the Fleece Techniques book, while unique, is the same few techniques over and over without much changing. So unless you really love embroidering fleece, there’s no need to add this one to your library.
I also do not recommend the More Embroidery Machine Essentials: How to Customize, Edit, and Create Decorative Designs, because it is dated to software and technology from years ago.
3. Machine Embroidery with Confidence
Nancy Zieman was the quintessential master of fabric crafts, and to no one’s surprise, her machine embroidery books are still instructional and useful years after writing.
Because this book was published a while ago, some materials are no longer around, and there are newer products. I read this book only recently, and I still learned things I hadn’t ever learned before!
The best part of the book is the few pages at the end with troubleshooting tips. So helpful for when you just can’t figure out how to fix an embroidery issue!
4. Modern Machine Embroidery by PicklePie Designs
Modern Machine Embroidery differs from many other books on this list because it is more project-based and less textbook-like.
While the introductory material gives a cursory overview of machine embroidery supplies and techniques, the bulk of the book is project-based. (The designs are included on a CD, and every project has in-depth picture tutorials.
There’s minimal in-depth troubleshooting advice, so if you’re not already comfortable with your machine, I recommend the Sewing Machine Embroiderer’s Bible first to learn the basics in detail. Then, take a look at this book!
Now, if you’re intrigued by the idea of in-the-hoop embroidery projects, this is by far the best machine embroidery book for introducing this technique.
I made the above purse with a design from this book for testing. My daughter loves her little crossbody purse! (And, I used an old sheet set as the fabric.)
5. Machine Embroidery on Difficult Materials
This book is not intended for beginners because the explanations at the beginning assume a working knowledge of basic embroidery terminology.
However, if you know the basics and want to learn more about the more challenging aspects of embroidery, this book is handy!
Of course, introductory chapters describe the differing supplies, but the book’s worth is later.
Here, the author walks through the properties of different fabrics and explains logically why specific designs, stabilizers, needles, and even hooping methods are necessary for the success of tricky materials.
Examples of tricky fabrics to embroider covered here are nylon, sweater knits, vinyl, and leather. While there is some coverage of more basic fabrics like terry cloth towels, this is a supplementary, rather than primary, embroidery text.
6. Digitizing Made Easy
If you want to learn the theory behind creating your own embroidery designs, John Deer’s book is the best embroidery digitizing book I’ve read.
It doesn’t teach you how to use a specific embroidery software, so it is intended for users familiar with their software already.
One thing to note is if you purchase Hatch embroidery software through John Deer’s Embroidery Legacy, he offers free training modules on the theory of digitizing. They are very, very similar to this book.
I ultimately decided not to buy this book, as I had copies of his video versions in my library on his website.
Other Fun Specialty Embroidery Books
If you know the basics of machine embroidery and are looking for more inspiration, here are some of my favorites!
These aren’t really how-to embroidery books but instead specialize in one specific technique.
1. Piece in the Hoop
Piecing in the hoop means using an embroidery machine to create perfect quilt blocks.
Including 40 embroidery designs (and 20 quilt project tutorials), this book explains the ITH piecing process and then has picture tutorials.
This book was a starting point for me to learn how to digitize my own in-the-hoop quilting blocks, which are SO simple to make.
It’s an older book (2010), and I wish I could find out what happened with the author to try to purchase more of her designs! (Her website is no longer a valid URL.)
2. Machine Embroidery Wild and Wacky
These two ladies are gals after my own heart and try to embroider on anything and everything they can fit under their machine.
If you’re looking for unique embroidery ideas, this book is for you.
Not even I have tried to add embroidery to soap, but I will try metal as they suggest one day!
3. Dimensional Machine Embroidery
If you like the idea of 3D embroidery and pushing the limits, check out this resource.
It covers several unique applique techniques and tutorials for cutwork, faux trapunto, mylar embroidery, and more.
After purchasing the book, I found that much of this material is covered in the author’s Craftsy class of the same, so I recommend watching than reading in this one rare case.
And that’s it! Any other machine embroidery books you recommend that include fun projects or new ideas?