Brother PE800 Review – Comparisons, Pros & Cons
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The Brother PE800 embroidery machine is packed with embroidery designs, features, and accessories and includes a sizable 5″x7″ embroidery field.
I first started with a 4″x4″ hoop machine and later traded up for a 5″x7″ machine after my first year of embroidering. While the smaller 4″x4″ hoop size is okay, the 5″x7″ opens up many more opportunities!
However, as an embroidery-only machine, the Brother PE800 does not have sewing capabilities like its combo counterpart, the Brother SE1900. (I love mine!)
However, with the Brother PE800, you’ll get a dedicated machine for your home embroidery needs that will accurately and efficiently stitch your projects.
Check out this in-depth Brother PE800 review to see why I think it’s one of the best Brother embroidery-only machines on the market!
Brother PE800 Review of Features
Here are some of the main specs of the Brother PE800 embroidery machine to give you an idea of what it can do.
- Weight: 17.64 pounds
- Dimensions: 17.5″ x 9.5″ x 11.8″
- Embroidery field size: 5″x7″
- Maximum embroidery speed: 650 stitches per minute
- Built-in embroidery designs: 138 designs total, including 10 frame shapes, 14 border styles, and 11 lettering fonts (7 English, 3 Japanese, 1 Cyrillic)
- LCD color touchscreen: edit and preview designs on the 3.2″ x 1.8″ screen
- Lighting: LED light above the workspace
- Warranty: 25-year limited warranty
What comes with the Brother PE800 embroidery machine?
The following items come in the box with the purchase:
- Embroidery machine and unit, power cord
- Embroidery foot and embroidery hoop (5″x7″)
- Embroidery bobbin thread (poly 90 weight)
- Needle set
- Accessories: 4 bobbins, 3 screwdrivers, 4 spool caps, scissors, cleaning brush, 3 spool caps and thread spool insert, spool net, and seam ripper
- Dust cover
- Operations manual, quick-start guide, and embroidery design guide
If you want to start embroidering immediately, you will need more supplies. Check out my post on embroidery machine essential supplies to learn more about picking the right stabilizers, threads, software, and more for your embroidery machine.
Full Brother PE800 Review & Questions Answered
Here, I’ll showcase the more popular features and answer common questions about the Brother PE800 embroidery machine before giving pros and cons.
(And if you’re new to embroidery, reading how to use an embroidery machine may help you get an idea of what embroidering entails.)
First, there are several convenient automatic features on the Brother PE800.
When setting up and using a new machine, it’s always nice when the machine helps you out! That’s why I love some of the automatic functions here.
1. Automatic Thread Cutter
While you can cut the threads manually by pressing the trim threads button or using a pair of embroidery scissors, you can also enable the automatic thread-cutting function. After every sewn color, the machine will immediately cut the thread for you.
It does not cut jump stitches, though, which are threads of the same color between sections of an embroidery design.
2. Automatic Needle Threader
The automatic needle threader facilitates needle threading using a small lever with a hook to catch the thread and pull it through the needle.
Since this can be difficult to learn to use for some people, you always have the option to thread the needle manually instead.
3. Quick-Set, Top-Drop Bobbin
The bobbin is wound easily on the top of the machine, and the bobbin is installed from the top of the embroidery workspace.
The beauty of a quick-set bobbin is the Brother PE800 pulls the bobbin thread up automatically when you start sewing, so you don’t have to do that yourself!
4. Automatic Default Tension
When restarted, the Brother PE800 resets each time to an automatic default thread tension setting. You can then readjust the tension on the LCD screen to match the needs of your new project.
After selecting the proper tension, you can save that value with your pattern.
Thus, when you stitch the design again, the PE800 automatically resets the tension to the value used the first time when you retrieve that saved pattern.
What are the built-in designs on the Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine?
I bet you’re wondering if you’ll be able to do anything with these built-in designs or if you’ll need to find your own!
Brother’s downloadable embroidery design guide provides the exact list of included designs. So, ahead and check out the design guide, and I’ll help you navigate it. (Spoiler alert, you’ll probably need to buy or make more designs. I rarely use my built-in designs!)
Now, there are 138 built-in designs, including floral, holiday, decorative designs, and more. These designs are found on pages 4 and 5 of the design guide. You’ll also notice that 26 of these designs are actual floral letters. They are ornate and pretty, but they count as a part of Brother’s boasted 138 designs.
If you want in-depth information about each design, scroll to page 18. This shows you how many colors per design, when to change threads, and the expected time to embroider the design. To give you an idea, an Easter bunny rabbit design has 10 color changes and takes approximately 14 minutes to embroider.
11 fonts are included, only 7 of which are English letters. 3 are Japanese, and 1 is Cyrillic. Check out what Cyrillic letters and numbers look like here on Wikipedia.
Page 38 of the embroidery design guide shows an overview of what the fonts look like side-by-side, but you can view them in more detail starting at the bottom of page 5. The fonts aren’t very decorative, so I almost always monogram with fonts I have within my purchased embroidery software.
There are 10 frame shapes and 14 border designs. The frame shapes start on the bottom of page 16 and include a circle, square, diamond, oval, 2 orientations of rectangles, 2 shield-like shapes (one looks like a guitar pick and the other a badge), heart, and octagon.
If you look to the right of the shapes, you’ll see the 14 border designs you can add for each.
More Details When Embroidering
This is a single-thread embroidery machine, so you must manually change the thread after each color.
Changing threads isn’t too difficult, but it won’t go as fast as if you purchased a multiple-needle embroidery machine. The touchscreen will guide you on when to change colors and which color to thread next.
This is a computerized, embroidery-only machine, so no foot pedal is included. You will use the buttons on the front of the embroidery machine to control your stitching.
There’s also a start/stop button, a needle up/down button, and a thread cutter button.
Settings for stitching, such as changing stitching speed, the size of the embroidery frame you’re using, and default needle position, for example, can be changed within the embroidery settings on the LCD touchscreen display.
What can you select and edit with the Brother PE800’s LCD touchscreen?
The color touchscreen provides you with so many options! Here are a few of the things you can do with it.
You can select your desired pattern when you first turn on the screen. Choose from:
- A built-in embroidery pattern or floral alphabet pattern
- A built-in character pattern from one of the 11 fonts
- Or, a built-in frame pattern with a fun border design
You also have the option to use your own pattern:
- One saved in the machine’s memory
- A pattern saved to a USB drive you’ve inserted into the side of the machine.
Editing the pattern can be accomplished using just the touchscreen as well! You have the option to:
- Change pattern size – enlarge or shrink both proportionally and disproportionately!
- Rotate the pattern 1, 10, or 90 degrees at a time
- Change thread colors of a design
- Combine embroidery patterns, letters, and frames together and move the parts around the area with drag-and-drop editing
- Make a horizontal mirror image
- Change the thread density on letter and frame patterns
- Add letters to an arc
Once you’ve selected a pattern and edited it, you can preview it and check the pattern position on your hooped fabric. And if you like the way things look, go ahead and save it to the memory or your USB drive for later use!
If you have problems remembering how to use your Brother PE800, built-in tutorials can be accessed via the LCD screen.
How do you import embroidery designs on this Brother 5×7 embroidery machine?
You can find designs anywhere online, or you can create your own using embroidery digitizing software. While the Brother PE800’s default file format is .pes, you can also import .dst, .phs, and .pen files.
Once you find a design you want, simply save it to a jump drive in a compatible format. Then, plug the flash drive into the built-in USB port on the side of the machine to access your designs from the LCD touchscreen.
Does the Brother PE800 come with software to create your own designs?
No, there is no included digitizing software with the Brother PE800. You must purchase your own if you want to design from scratch. Prices range from free to more than the cost of the machine.
My favorite free embroidery software is Ink/Stitch, which is an extension of the free, open-source Inkscape. If you’re unfamiliar with vector graphics, you may be hopelessly lost in learning to use it. But, if you are familiar with or are very motivated to learn vector graphics, it offers SO MUCH for free.
Other popular embroidery software options include Embrillance, Hatch Embroidery, SewArt, and SewWhatPro.
There are MANY different embroidery programs, and most offer free trials. So, try as many as possible to see which one does what you want in your price range. (I’ve written an entire post reviewing the best embroidery software options if you want to learn more!)
If you don’t purchase your own software, you can find designs for free online from reputable sources, or you can purchase designs from Etsy, iBroidery (Brother’s online store), or other online embroidery design stores.
Is it a good embroidery machine for a beginner?
Setting up and threading the Brother PE800 is VERY easy!
In general, Brother sewing and embroidery machines are some of the simplest to thread. Instructions are found in your user manual, the quick-start guide, and on the body of the machine.
The bobbin is wound on the top of the machine and is a quick-set bobbin, meaning you don’t have to draw the bobbin thread up yourself. Hints and reminders for threading and setting the bobbin are located on the top and bottom of the machine in case you forget. Threading the upper thread involves following thread guides and imprinted numbers on the machine.
The manual is very informative, and there are countless YouTube tutorials for this popular Brother PE800 embroidery machine. In the beginning, there’s a bit of a learning curve for beginners, and many issues you have may be user error. Make sure to educate yourself before and while using your machine!
I don’t hesitate at all to recommend the Brother PE800 to beginners! However, if you’re not sure embroidery will be your thing, this is a big financial investment. As an alternative, consider checking out the Brother PE535, which is usually half the price. It’s got a 4″x4″ embroidery area, which will mean more rehooping, but it’s a much smaller investment.
Brother PE800 Pros and Advantages
- Fast, reliable Brother computerized embroidery machine
- Combine and edit patterns on the touchscreen – monogram and stitch a design together
- A fairly inexpensive embroidery machine with accurate stitching
- Perfect for small home embroidery businesses
- Easy and uncomplicated to use
Cons to the Brother PE800
First, the Brother PE800 is a dedicated embroidery-only machine. Meaning, if you embroider a monogram on a dress and then want to stitch some rick-rack on the bottom, you have to switch to a sewing machine. This will take up more space in your craft room.
Some users point out that the machine only works well with certain threads and doesn’t always provide quality products. This is true for most embroidery machines and sewing machines if you are still learning. Selecting an appropriate needle and thread weight and type compatible with your fabric to be embroidered is very important! So is picking the appropriate machine embroidery stabilizer and making sure to hoop the fabric in the frame correctly.
The advanced needle threader isn’t always reliable. Every once in a while, I have to turn on and off my machine and play with the presser foot lever to get the needle aligned in the correct orientation.
You do have to rethread after every color change. However, unless you invest significantly more money into a multi-needle embroidery machine, changing threads will be standard on all machines under $5000.
And lastly, some users wish that the Brother PE800 5×7 embroidery machine had a larger embroidery field. Just know that even though the area is smaller than many other embroidery machines, you can still split embroidery patterns and rehoop in between, stitching multiple sections to make one large design.
Comparing the Brother PE800
Here’s how the Brother PE800 stacks up compared to other Brother embroidery and combination machines.
Brother PE800 vs. PE900
The biggest difference between the Brother PE800 and PE900 is the Brother PE900 is wireless LAN enabled, meaning you can wirelessly transfer embroidery designs from a computer. The Brother PE900 is also compatible with Brother’s newest embroidery app, Artspira.
The PE900 also cuts jump stitches (SO convenient) and includes more designs and fonts (193 designs and 11 fonts vs. 138 designs and 13 fonts.)
Brother PE800 vs. SE1900
When comparing the Brother PE800 vs SE1900, you’ll find the SE1900 offers more but at a much higher price.
While the Brother PE800 is a dedicated embroidery-only machine, the Brother SE1900 is a sewing and embroidery machine. As such, the SE1900 includes 240 stitches and 8 sewing feet, allowing you to sew and quilt with it.
In terms of embroidery, you still get a 5″x7″ field with both and the exact same 138 built-in designs, 11 fonts (7 English), and 10 frame shapes. You access machine features through the color LCD display and can edit your pattern on the screen. Both machines also provide the ability to import whatever designs you want via USB. I’ve owned this machine for a while now, and I love it!
Read my full Brother SE1900 review!
Brother PE800 vs. SE600
You’ll find several key differences comparing the Brother PE800 vs Brother SE600. Here’s a handy chart comparing the two machines:
|Brother PE800||Brother SE600|
|Sewing/Embroidery?||Embroidery-only machine||Sewing and embroidery machine|
|Maximum embroidery area||5"x7"||4"x4"|
|Built-in designs||138, plus 11 fonts||80, plus 6 fonts|
As you can see, the Brother SE600 is a sewing and embroidery machine, whereas the Brother PE800 is an embroidery-only machine. The Brother PE800 also has more built-in features, a larger hoop size, and is a more expensive machine. Both machines allow for pattern transfer on a USB, and using the machine and color LCD touch display is very similar.
Read my full Brother SE600 review for more in-depth information! I started learning to embroider on the Brother SE625, which is very similar to the SE600.
Brother PE770 vs. PE800
If you loved your Brother PE770, you’ll probably love the Brother PE800 even more.
The Brother PE770 has been discontinued and replaced by this more advanced Brother PE800 embroidery machine. Specifically, in comparing Brother PE770 vs PE800, you’ll find the PE800 has a color LCD touch display compared to the black-and-white Brother PE770 display, and it comes with a few more design editing capabilities.
Furthermore, instead of the 138 designs and 11 lettering fonts on the Brother PE800, the Brother PE770 has only 135 designs and 6 lettering fonts. There are still 10 frame shapes on both, but the Brother PE800 has 2 more frame border designs.
Both machines operate similarly and have the same 5″x7″ maximum embroidery field size. Both also allow you to import your own designs via a USB flash drive.
Brother PE800 Review – Conclusion
My pick for the best embroidery machine for beginners, the Brother PE800 is packed with designs, fonts, and frames, and allows you to import your own designs.
It’s also easy to set up and use, affordable, and a dependable machine for your home business or craft corner. I don’t think you can go wrong with it.
Overall, I hope this Brother PE800 review answers your questions and helps you pick the right embroidery machine for your needs!
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