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Machine embroidery is an EXPENSIVE hobby. Machines, software, supplies, blanks, and everything else you need add up quickly. Not to mention, as a beginner, I constantly made mistakes, costing me more money and time.
However, I’m a thrifty gal who can pinch a penny and get the most out of my money.
So, check out these ways to save money when embroidering!
Ways to Save Money When Embroidering
1. Hack Your Stabilizer Use
Save all your excess stabilizer and reuse them for other projects. Not only is this eco-friendly and waste-conscious but it saves money, too.
Here are some of my favorite ideas!
A. Minimize Used Stabilizer
First, use the smallest size hoop for your design to minimize stabilizer required.
And, instead of centering small designs in the hoop, center to one corner so you can later salvage the excess in a larger piece to later use for a smaller hoop.
Consider buying rolls of stabilizer rather than pre-cut sheets so you can reuse small pieces as well.
B. Sew Pieces Together
If your design doesn’t require a super stable stabilizer, you can sew two smaller pieces of cut-away stabilizer together with a zigzag stabilizer to use in a larger hoop.
C. Make Liquid Stabilizer
Water-soluble and wash-away excess stabilizer can be saved and dissolved in water to form liquid stabilizer. I keep a bottle of this near my iron as a starch or Best Press alternative.
D. Stabilizer Window Method
One other way to save stabilizer is by making a stabilizer window.
I first learned of this method from Nancy Zeiman and have used it on occasion when making bulk embroidered items.
To make a stabilizer window, embroider your first object and then cut close to the embroidery line, leaving a hole in the stabilizer. Then, place a piece of sticky adhesive stabilizer bigger than the hole on the back and stitch over that. Keep repeating until you notice a change in stitch integrity!
2. Become a Free Design Lover Plus Shop Sales
While embroidery designs usually only cost a few dollars, the costs add up if you always add new designs to your collection.
Thankfully, some awesome digitizers offer free designs you can download as you learn.
As an extensive freebie finder myself, I’ve compiled multiple lists of where to find free embroidery designs:
- Free machine embroidery designs to download (My favorite sites!)
- Free fonts for an embroidery machine (bx and machine file formats)
- Free applique machine embroidery designs and patterns
- Free embroidery quilting designs
- Free ITH pattern and designs
- Holidays: Halloween design freebies, Thanksgiving free embroidery designs, Christmas free embroidery designs, free Valentine’s Day machine embroidery designs, Free Easter embroidery designs, and free patriotic embroidery designs.
And, once you find digitizers who create designs you love, sign up for their emails and follow their Facebook pages. They’ll often put out HUGE sales, saving you money on your favorite must-have designs.
3. Check Out Free Software or Subscription Options
Besides an embroidery machine, the most significant start-up expense you’ll have is software. However, if you don’t plan to digitize or customize embroidery designs often, there’s no need to purchase expensive software.
Free embroidery digitizing and editing software is plentiful for basic tasks, and free trials are available for premium software.
And, if you need a little more software capabilities but want to binge digitize, check out subscription options like Sierra Software or mySewNet. Pay monthly, only as needed!
4. Save Scraps for Applique and Find Repurposing Sources
As a thrifty person, I save EVERYTHING. For example, I save any fabric scraps bigger than 2″ x 2″ because you never know when the need for a small piece of fabric for machine applique may arise.
Also, I have a box full of old clothes and other household items that I use for applique fabric.
There are so many places to find cheap fabric for repurposing if you’re creative. For example, curtains, tablecloths, pillowcases, denim jeans, and more can be used for practice blanks or for applique scraps.
5. Save Money on Supplies
Shop using coupons for supplies when you can (JOANN and Michael’s always have coupons, and many local shops have sales or email occasional coupons.)
Timing big supply purchases to times like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Prime Day, etc. can also save a chunk of change.
Also, many Amazon brands of threads and supplies (but not all) are surprisingly good quality and can save a lot of money. The only downfall is you can’t see them in person before purchasing, and the color selection isn’t as varied as in-store.
However, I have purchased Brothread, Simthread, Embroidex, and ThreadNanny in regular polyester machine embroidery thread as well as all sorts of specialized types (variegated, UV-color changing, glow-in-the-dark, reflective, etc.)
I have never had an issue with them in any of my machines, although I do prefer KingStar metallics over any other brand and recommend the splurge on that.
I also buy Brothread stabilizer from Amazon, and while some of the options are thinner than more mainstream brands, it’s good quality and works well, especially for practice projects!
6. Buy In Bulk
Buying in bulk can save money if you use a lot of any one supply or blank.
For example, buying your most popular thread colors in humongous spools is less expensive than purchasing small spools.
Just make sure you have a thread stand or way for your machine to accommodate such a large spool.
7. Price Out Wholesale Blanks or Bulk Purchases
If you have a tax ID number, you can purchase blanks wholesale from machine embroidery blanks suppliers and save money. You can also often purchase in bulk and save money, too, even if you aren’t a business.
In addition to online sources, one of my favorite places to find deals on blanks is at embroidery trade shows. I’ve also been known to buy embroidery blanks from Dollar Tree or shop IKEA’s affordable embroidery blanks!
8. Save Money When Purchasing a Machine
A. Shop Around
If purchasing new, shop around unless you are loyal to a specific dealer. I saved $2000 on my newest machine by checking with several local shops, and I don’t regret it!
B. Time Your Purchase
Also, consider timing your machine purchase right when new models come out. Dealers will often clearance their floor models that are being replaced for a great price.
I’ve also gotten great deals when purchasing at sewing conventions or during major holidays, like Black Friday or Prime Day.
Manufacturers also run specials where they sometimes throw in free accessories with machine purchases. (For example, Brother gave me an Apple watch when I bought my Luminaire.)
C. Consider Pre-Loved Machines
One way to save money when making the initial investment is to purchase a pre-owned embroidery machine certified by a dealer or a classroom machine. And, if you’re in a well-populated area, you might even be able to find embroidery machines to rent for free if you’re not ready for the investment yet!
9. Do Maintenance and Troubleshooting Yourself
Taking an embroidery machine in for repair is time-consuming and costly. The wait time for simple repairs in my area is at least one week, and prices start at roughly $100, not including parts.
While some embroidery issues like timing and broken parts need an experienced embroidery machine technician, there will be many times you can save that money by doing repairs yourself.
First, cleaning your machine regularly can stretch your time between regular maintenance sessions. And, learning to troubleshoot issues can prevent the need for a trip.
I’ve replaced my needle threader and taken on troubleshooting steps more times than I can count to save money on professional repair.
Here are some helpful troubleshooting articles I’ve put together if you’re new to troubleshooting:
- Machine embroidery troubleshooting guide
- Embroidery thread breaking troubleshooting tips
- Troubleshooting embroidery bobbin thread showing
- Why embroidery machines skip stitches
- How to keep embroidery needles from breaking
10. Maximize Tax Deductions and Business Benefits
Depending on where you live, tax laws differ. However, it’s worth looking into your possible business deductions if you’re a business.
Our accountant has saved us a lot of money in taxes by deducting things I had no idea I could because I’m not experienced in self-employed tax laws.
Here in Texas, because I make things with my machines that I sell for a profit, I can also purchase new machines tax-free at the time of purchase. Woohoo!
Any other thrifty ideas for cheap embroidery that you have? Let me know! Embroidery machines cost so much that I’m always looking to frugally manage my budget otherwise.