6 Best Embroidery Machines for Beginners in 2021

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If you’re new to embroidery, purchasing the best embroidery machine for beginners is a crucial first step. 

However, without any hands-on experience, how will you know what features you need and what will be a good beginner embroidery machine?

I’ve been machine embroidering for a while now and have put together this helpful guide of entry-level embroidery machine suggestions.

Machine embroidery is not an easy hobby to learn, and it’s not for everyone. However, if you commit to the craft and get past the beginner woes, you’ll soon find yourself fearlessly embroidering everything you can get your hands on!

best embroidery machine for beginners

The Quick List

Before we get to the in-depth explanations and reviews, here are my top 4 picks for the best embroidery machine for beginners.

Before Purchasing an Embroidery Machine

Everyone has different crafting backgrounds and expectations, so no one machine will be best for all embroidery beginners. 

Thus, let’s first talk about the differences between embroidery machines and the factors you need to consider to make the best choice for yourself. 

1. Embroidery-Only vs. Combination Machine

While embroidery-only machines cannot sew, a combination machine gives you the power to both sew and embroider.

I have a combination machine because it saves space in my small craft room. Plus, the sewing features like automatic thread trimming, automatic tension, and the monstrous number of stitches were appealing! 

However, if you already have a sewing machine you love, don’t ever need to sew, or don’t want a machine that converts, an embroidery-only machine might be your best bet. 

Decide which type you want, as this will be one of beginner embroidery machines’ most significant differentiating factors. 

2. Personal Use vs. Home Business

Next, sit down and consider your embroidery goals.

Do you want to do only basic tasks like applique onesies for grandbabies? Or, are you planning to start a home business to bring in extra income?

A machine for basic, personal use only doesn’t need as many bells and whistles as a machine that will help pay your mortgage.

When planning to start a home business with your machine, though, know that there’s a sizable learning curve to perfecting your embroidery, so don’t plan to quit your day job immediately. 

3. Embroidery Hoop Size

4"x4" hoop compared to 5"x7" hoop

What size designs do you want to embroider?

Every embroidery machine has a maximum embroidery area and corresponding hoop size. This is the size of the largest design you can stitch at one time. 

While it’s possible to split larger designs with software and then either use a repositional hoop or rehoop your fabric between sections, this takes time and expertise. 

The sad thing about hoop size is prices increase exponentially as the hoop size increases. 

The smallest hoop machines are 4″x4″ hoop machines. You actually can do many things with a 4″x4″ hoop, but larger machines offer more conveniences and more possibilities for designs, like the ability to stitch larger in-the-hoop projects. 

4. Budget

Some embroidery machines cost more than a car! Not to mention you’ll need to save hundreds or thousands of dollars for embroidery supplies, designs, and software. 

When considering the best embroidery machine for beginners, decide the maximum amount of money you want to spend, and stick to it. 

Don’t feel persuaded to spend more than you have. There is nothing wrong with starting small to make sure you like the hobby before you invest thousands in the biggest machine your shop offers!

5. The Cost vs. Convenience Ratio

When considering your budget, know that every upgrade to your machine will cost more. 

Here are some convenient features that aren’t necessary but may be important for you to budget in. 

A. Automatic Jump Stitch Trimming

trim any jump stitches

Jump stitches are the thread trails left when a machine skips from one design part to another.

Basic embroidery machines don’t trim jump stitches, instead only automatically cutting at the end of each thread color. However, more deluxe machines automatically trim jump stitches, so you don’t have to. 

B. Magnetic Hoops

Metal/Magnetic Hoop for Brother/Babylock Embroidery Machine 6'x10' (SA441) 4500D 4700D 4750D 6000D 6700D 1500 1500D 2500 2800D 3500D NQ1400E NQ1600E NQ3500D NQ3600D Innov-ís XP1

If you love the idea of an embroidery machine for quilting, a machine with a magnetic hoop option can be especially helpful when quilting a finished top. 

C. Multi-Needle Machines

Purchasing a single-needle machine means you change the thread color yourself after the machine stitches each section. 

 

Janome MB-4S Four Needle Embroidery Machine with Accessories

Multi-needle embroidery machines, which start around $5k, change threads automatically for you. This is a big-time saver but a huge expense. 

6. Tech Savviness

If you don’t own a computer and are uncomfortable around electronics, machine embroidery may be a trying hobby for you. 

My 90-year-old grandmother, for instance, has sewn for 75+ years and can sew anything on her mechanical sewing machine. No matter how much I help her, though, the computerized aspect of machine embroidery makes learning this machine too tricky. 

Also, do you plan to design your own embroidery designs, or will you purchase them?

splitting designs for 4x4 hoop

Some machines come with basic embroidery software that auto-digitizes and includes masterful onscreen editing features while others have only essential editing functions. 

One thing to know is full-fledged embroidery digitizing software is EXPENSIVE and difficult to use for the not technically inclined. You might find it’s easiest for you to use your machine’s built-in designs and purchase the rest. 

7. Product Support and Help for Beginners

My experience with local dealers in my metroplex is you pay more for a machine from a brick-and-mortar store than you will online.

However, when you buy from a dealer, they help you learn to use your embroidery machine. If you think you’ll need the extra classes and support, a dealer might be a good option if you’re okay paying a little more. 

7. Used vs. New Embroidery Machine for Beginners

If you’re a true beginner, I recommend not buying a used embroidery machine from a stranger. For instance, avoid individual eBay, Amazon, and even Facebook marketplace sellers who offer no warranties.

One place where it’s okay (and sometimes a good deal) to buy a used beginner machine is an authorized sewing and embroidery machine dealer. These experts know how to service machines and evaluate and fix issues before selling. They will also likely offer a warranty on used machines. 

Purchasing certified refurbished through Amazon, eBay, Sewing Machines Plus, etc., will also give you a warranty, and I’ve generally had good luck here. 

Best Embroidery Machines for Beginners

While there are many more expensive and incredible embroidery machines, this list of best beginner embroidery machines focuses on single-needle machines for less than $2,000.

Suppose you want to buy a multi-needle embroidery machine or even the newest Brother Luminaire. In that case, I recommend you visit your nearest sewing machine retailer to try it out first.

My local sewing shops do not stock newer, low-cost machines, which is why I buy many of my machines online. 

1. Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine

Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine, 138 Built-in Designs, 5

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

View on Amazon!

As a Brother sewing and embroidery machine lover, I think Brother (and Babylock) make the easiest-to-use embroidery machines. The interface is more intuitive than Janome or Bernina, and Brother is typically less expensive also. 

If you know you’ll love embroidery and want a big enough hoop size for many tasks, the Brother PE800 embroidery only machine is a great place to start with its 5″x7″ maximum embroidery area. 

Now, just remember, it doesn’t have any sewing abilities. 

However, there are 138 built-in designs, 11 built-in fonts, 10 frames, and 14 borders. That being said, I guarantee you’ll want to collect your own fonts and embroidery designs online. (Check out where to find free embroidery fonts and free machine embroidery designs!)

Like most entry-level Brother embroidery machines, you can import any designs you create or download to the machine using a USB drive. 

Some drag-and-drop editing is available on the LCD color touchscreen, and you can also preview designs there before stitching.

For a larger 6″x10″ hoop machine, check out the Brother NQ1600E, which offers automatic jump thread trimming as well. 

Learn more in my Brother PE800 review!

2. Brother PE535 Embroidery Machine

Brother PE535 Embroidery Machine, 80 Built-in Designs, 4

FeatureSpecs
Embroidery Field4"x4"
Embroidery Designs80 included
USB ConnectionBuilt-in USB port
View on Amazon!

Most days, the Brother PE535 is the smallest, most affordable embroidery machine you can purchase. It’s a great place to start if you only want to tinker with embroidery and don’t want to spend your life savings. 

If the embroidery love bug bites you, these machines resell well, so you can easily upgrade to a bigger hoop machine. 

Like the Brother PE800, the Brother PE535 is an embroidery-only machine, meaning you need an additional sewing machine if you want to do more than embroidery.

Featuring a 4″x4″ embroidery field and 80 built-in designs, the Brother PE535 also has 9 built-in fonts. Of course, you can import .pes designs with a jump drive. 

What’s great about Brother embroidery machines is threading is very simple. There are instructions printed on the machine itself for both bobbin threading and upper threading. And, the instruction manual includes a lot of helpful information and quick-start guides. 

3. Janome Memory Craft 400E Embroidery Machine

Janome Memory Craft 400E Embroidery Machine

FeatureSpecs
Embroidery Field7.9"x7.9"
Embroidery Designs160 designs and 6 fonts
USB ConnectionBuilt-in USB port
View on Amazon!

My local library has a Janome Memory Craft embroidery machine, and it’s withstood the test of hundreds of patrons using it. 

While I’m a bigger fan of Brother due to their interfaces’ ease of use, some embroiderers contend that Janome machines last longer. 

That being said, the Janome Memory Craft 400E embroidery-only machine is one of the best Janome embroidery machines for beginners, thanks to its large 7.9″ x 7.9″ hoop size. 

In addition to the built-in designs, monogramming fonts, and ability to import .jef designs via USB, the Janome MC400Ealso embroiders faster than the Brother PE800 or PE535 and offers automatic jump thread trimming. 

4. Brother SE1900 Combination Sewing and Embroidery Machine

my brother se1900

FeatureSpecs
Embroidery Field5"x7"
Embroidery Designs138 designs, 11 fonts, 10 frames with 14 borders
Stitch Options240 stitches, 10 buttonhole options
Maximum Sewing Speed850 stitches per minute
USB ConnectionBuilt-in USB port

View on Amazon!

The Brother SE1900 combination machine, which I’ve happily had for over a year now, has the exact embroidery specifications as the Brother PE800. What differs between the two, however, is the Brother SE1900 is also a sewing machine. 

As such, it offers 240 built-in stitches (some are very similar to others), 10 buttonhole stitches, and 7 presser feet.

It also has the great user-friendly features of Brother sewing machines (easy bobbin winding and quick-set, top-drop bobbin).

Plus, it includes an advanced needle threader (easier to use than the one on my sewing-only machine), automatic tension settings, automatic thread trimming, and the option for automatic reinforcement or reverse stitches. It also has a knee lifter, which is plain fun to have. 

If you want a larger hoop combination machine, check out the Brother NQ3600D, which has a 6″x10″ hoop and an array of sewing stitches and features. 

Read more in my Brother SE1900 review.

5. Brother SE600 Combination Machine

Brother SE600 Sewing and Embroidery Machine, 80 Designs, 103 Built-In Stitches, Computerized, 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
View on Amazon!

The Brother SE600 machine is the combination sewing and embroidery version of the Brother PE535. As such, it also features a 4″x4″ hoop and includes the same 80 designs and 6 fonts. 

While it’s not quite as spiffy as the Brother SE1900 when sewing, it does have 103 stitches, 10 buttonhole options, and 7 presser feet. It has automatic thread cutting and an advanced needle threader as well. 

As a downside, though, the maximum sewing speed is only 710 stitches per minute, which is less than the Brother SE1900’s 850 spm. 

Learn more in my Brother SE600 review.

6. Janome Memory Craft 9850 Sewing and Embroidery Machine

Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9850 Embroidery and Sewing Machine

Shop on Amazon!

One of the best Janome combination machines is the Memory Craft 9850. 

In terms of embroidery, the machine includes a 6.7″x7.9″ embroidery hoop, 175 built-in designs, and 2 English fonts. The maximum embroidery speed is 800 spm, and design transfer happens via USB. 

One beneficial aspect of embroidery is the embroidery hoop attaches at the back of the machine, so there’s no carriage in the way when maneuvering to trim threads during embroidery. 

The sewing speed is an impressive 1,000 spm, and there’s a maximum stitch width of 0.9mm, which is better than the Brother SE1900. The machine also features 200 built-in stitches and 9 presser feet. 

For serious sewists, quilters, and embroiderers, this machine should be a big consideration!

Beginner Embroidery Machine Suggestions – Final Notes

Do I wish I had a $10,000 embroidery machine with a monstrous hoop? You bet!

However, that’s not financially feasible for my family. With a little extra effort on my part, I can get the job done with my 5″x7″ hoop. I also have to change my threads manually, but I did not have to finance my machine. 

If you only have the budget for an affordable 4″x4″ embroidery machine, there is no shame in that! I started with the Brother SE625 embroidery machine, which has a 4″x4″ hoop, and I was thrilled with it for years. 

The rule of the land seems to be to buy as big of a hoop and as nice of a machine as you can afford. Please only do this if you know you will be committed to learning how to use an embroidery machine and actually plan to use it!

Otherwise, start small and work your way up to embroidery greatness. Happy stitching!

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