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Want to embroider but don’t want to purchase your own embroidery machine yet?
I totally get that, which is why I used my local library’s embroidery machine before purchasing my own.
Or, are you a home business embroiderer who just had your machine break with an approaching order deadline? That’s no fun!
Thankfully, it’s easy (and sometimes free) to rent an embroidery machine for a few hours of use.
Here are some suggestions for finding embroidery machine rental options in your area!
Where to Rent an Embroidery Machine
First, since embroidery machines are large and expensive, you’re more likely to find a location where you can sit and embroider rather than take a machine back to your residence.
Next, I’m US-based, so I can only speak to my experiences here, but I hope some of these leads might also be helpful to international embroiderers.
Now, here’s a list of places to look for embroidery machines to rent or use for free!
1. City Makerspaces
Many big cities (and some small ones, too) in the United States have Makerspaces.
Makerspaces are basically collaborative spaces that provide machines and tools so you can make things.
What’s great about these Makerspace is that many of them have sewing machines, embroidery machines, sergers, industrial machines, and even long-arm quilting machines.
Dallas, for example, has the Dallas Makerspace, which is filled with sewing and embroidery machines. Many other cities have similar groups and extensive collections of machinery.
So, search for a space near you and start investigating!
The best directory I found for Makerspaces is from the publishers of Make: Magazine, but it’s not all-inclusive–for example, it doesn’t have my nearest Makerspace listed.
Also, I’ve found Makerspaces don’t always keep their web pages complete and updated, so you may need to call or message to find the current machine offerings and opening hours.
2. Local Libraries
Many libraries have Makerspaces, Maker Spots, Gathering Spaces, etc., where you can use craft equipment like sewing and embroidery machines.
For example, in addition to a Janome embroidery machine, my local library also has a long-arm quilting machine as well as sewing machines, sergers, Cricuts, 3D printers, and multiple woodworking tools.
Some libraries even have machines you can “check out” to take home and use.
If you’re a resident of eligible cities, this is a great way to rent an embroidery machine for FREE!
And, even if you’re not a resident, you can likely still use the equipment if you pay a small annual fee.
So, call your library to see if they know of any local libraries with Makerspaces or offer embroidery machine rentals!
3. College Campuses
My undergrad college had a Makerspace and MakerBar for students that contained SO MANY fun pieces of equipment.
As it was an engineering-heavy school, most of the equipment included things like 3D printers, laser cutters, and woodworking and metalworking tools. However, there was one sewing machine!
This got me thinking about the evolution of college Makerspaces. Lo and behold, tons have embroidery machines.
For example, some colleges with embroidery machines in their MakerSpaces include NYU, University of Minnesota, William & Mary, Loyola and Notre Dame, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Texas State (they even have a multi-needle machine!)
While most of these areas are for university-affiliated users, it might be worth checking local campuses near you.
4. Local Sewing or Embroidery Facebook Groups
My city has several sewing, embroidery, and quilting Facebook groups, and you’d be surprised at the camaraderie there.
For example, some thoughtful crafters offer their AccuQuilts, long-arm quilting machines, sewing machines, and embroidery machines for other users who occasionally need access but can’t or don’t want to buy yet.
Many do it out of the goodness of their heart (and love having company with similar interests), while others charge small fees for use. (It is extra mileage on their machines, so I understand charging for anything more than a small project.)
So, ask a quick question in your local Facebook group, and see what happens!
Another option is to join your local Buy Nothing Group, and you might be able to snag a used machine for free.
5. Sewing Shops
Call or visit your local sewing shop and ask about their options.
In my area, I’ve seen the following:
- Rent-to-own an embroidery machine (Kind of like financing, but you aren’t on the hook for payments if you decide you don’t want to keep paying. You just don’t get to keep the machine.)
- On-site machine rentals at your leisure; just set up a time with the shop.
- Studio time rentals based on the shop’s pre-determined schedule
- Sit-and-sews or similar, where crafters can come to the store one day a month or so and can use any machine for a small fee.
Some of the smaller mom-and-pop shops are being put out of business by larger shops and online retailers, so I bet many would love to set up a beneficial rental relationship with you.
6. Fabric or Craft Stores
Stores like Michaels and JOANN do craft classes where users can create a project with machines.
Since most US JOANN stores have Husqvarna Viking embroidery and sewing centers, they definitely have machines on display and offer classes.
While the locations in my area have project-based classes or get-to-know-your-machine classes, they aren’t open for rentals.
But, this is still a way to get acquainted with embroidery machines and see if they’ll be worth the purchase. And, maybe you’ll find a nice, bored sales associate who will let you embroider for a while.
7. Manufacturer Websites or Retailers
Some manufacturers may provide resources for individuals using their brand of machine.
For example, while I haven’t investigated this too far, ZSK offers commercial embroidery machine rentals on their website.
Other retailers, like Bernina Singapore, also offer embroidery machine rentals.
So, look around at the manufacturers in your country and see if there are any options.
When to Buy vs. Rent an Embroidery Machine
Embroidery machines are expensive to buy and maintain and take up considerable space in a craft room, especially if you’re only an occasional embroiderer.
Ultimately, the cost of gas when driving to our library, the limited time frame for use, my supplies-forgetting brain, and the fact that I had to find childcare before going led me to purchase my first embroidery machine within a year of starting to use my library’s machine.
An entry-level embroidery machine costs less than $400, so buying a machine for your space might be more cost-effective than continuing to pay membership fees and gas money if you learn to love embroidery.
Whatever you choose, though, I hope these suggestions of locations offering embroidery machines for free use or a small cost will help you finish your crafty projects!