For old-school crafters, embroidering often means of spending hours needling colorful floss through a hooped piece of fabric. And though the traditional embroidering method may be relaxing, it may be worth investing in an embroidery sewing machine to give your hands a break.
“Time-saving is the greatest benefit of embroidery machines,” Nina Owens, a representative for Michaels, tells The Spruce Crafts. “Plus, they make it easier to do repetitive and repeat designs, which is great for small business owners.”
But even if embroidery is more of a hobby than a side-hustle, Owens notes that using an embroidery machine tends to result in more precise results than doing it by hand. That's because a machine lets you create and transfer designs or add monograms and decorative stitching to all kinds of fabric.
Below are the best embroidery machines.
Janome Memory Craft 500E
Touchscreen makes design editing easy
Extension table adjusts for project size
Cannot tackle larger projects
Creating unique pieces has never been easier—or quicker. The Janome Memory Craft’s full-color touchscreen makes it easy for you to import and edit your own designs. And with the ability to add up to six fonts, the possibilities are endless. Of course, if you're less creative when it comes to designing, the machine’s library includes 180 patterns ranging from classic designs, to floral alphabets, to Sashiko designs.
The machine’s compact size makes it difficult to tackle larger projects like quilts, but that also makes it a breeze to store.
Dimensions: 7.9 x 11 inches | Weight: 20 pounds | Included Stitches: 0 | Attachments: Automatic Thread Cutter | Power Source: Electric, USB Cable Power
Uten Portable Sewing Machine
Easy needle threading
Quick-set drop-in top bobbin system
Though it is advertised as a sewing machine, the UTEN 2685A has embroidery capabilities that are perfect for the beginner, but can also help experienced users handle a variety of tasks. The LCD touchscreen includes a series of functions, such as reverse button and memorized needle up or down buttons. It also includes automatic tension and stitch length and width to take the guesswork out of your crafting.
Dimensions: 18.3 x 14.2 x 10.5 inches | Weight: 15 pounds | Included Stitches: 200 | Attachments: Not Listed | Power Source: Corded Electric
Best for Beginners
Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine
Large 5” x 7” embroidery area
Full color touch-screen
Only does embroidery
An easy-to-use machine is essential for those who are just starting out, and the Brother PE800 fits the bill. The instruction manual is easy to follow, allowing crafters to get their project started within 30 minutes of setup. The Spruce’s Deanna McCormack, who has no prior knowledge of stitching techniques or embroidery best practices, tested the Brother PE800 and raved about the machine’s ability to help crafters. “As I was working through the designs, the screen would show helpful tips or instructions that helped me understand the process and make the correct adjustments to my design,” she wrote.
The machine is a bit large, so you want to make sure you have the room to store it. But the machine’s size provides a larger embroidery area so you can take on bigger projects.
Dimensions: 21.75 x 19.02 x 19.09 inches | Weight: 14 lb | Included Stitches: Not Listed | Attachments: Automatic needle threader | Power Source: Electric, Treadle Power
Best for Monogramming
Brother PE535 Embroidery Machine
Easy to use
Ideal for small designing
Ready-to-go patterns perfect for beginners
Intended for U.S. customers only
No sewing capabilities
When it comes to monogramming, you want a machine that offers a variety of fonts—and the Brother PE535 delivers on that. Crafters can choose from nine fonts, including three Japanese options.
Each unit comes with an instructional DVD and bilingual user manual that allows you to set up and use the machine without complications. It also features 80 built-in designs and 10 frame patterns, though it’s easy enough to import your own designs via the USB port.
Dimensions: 21.2 x 16.5 x 15.51 inches | Weight: 15 pounds | Included Stitches: Not Listed | Attachments: Not Listed | Power Source: Electric, Treadle Powered
Best for Quilting
Easy to use
With 80 built-in embroidery designs and 103 built-in sewing stitches, the creativity is endless with the Brother SE600 combination machine. Customers note that it’s super easy to go from sewing mode to embroidery mode, making it easier to complete quilting projects. Plus, the seven easy-to-swap sewing feet, which include overcasting, monogramming, and blind stitch, ensure your project turns out smooth.
Though it’s a bit pricier than other machines, the features make it worth the cost.
Dimensions: 21.18 x 16.54 x 15.51 Inches | Weight: 26 pounds | Included Stitches: 103 | Attachments: Not Listed | Power Source: Electric
Best for Embroidery and Sewing
Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Machine
Base storage for easy organizing
Particularly effective on thin, stretchy fabrics
Takes a 60 weight bobbin thread
Intended for U.S. customers only
Sewing feature not ideal for thicker material
Having a machine that does double duty is ideal for avid crafters, particularly those with limited space. The Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Machine includes an advanced needle threading function that easily pushes the thread through the needle and a jam resistant drop-in top bobbin, which keeps tangles to a minimum. With 138 Built-in designs and 11 embroidery fonts, it is great for novice and intermediate crafters alike.
Dimensions: 23.19 x 13.43 x 11.54 inches | Weight: 22 pounds | Included Stitches: 240 | Attachments: Automatic Needle Threader | Power Source: Electric, Treadle Power
EverSewn Charlotte Computerized Sewing Machine
Easy to use
Stitch speed is comparable to larger, more expensive models
May struggle to adjust the thread tension
Despite its small size, the EverSewn Charlotte offers a large number of functions. The automatic needle threader and cutter makes it easy to get projects started, while the machine’s speed—650 stitches per minute—allows you to get things done quickly. Customers rave about the machine’s ease of use, which also makes this a great, more affordable beginner machine.
Dimensions: 15.5 x 7 x 11 inches | Weight: 16 pounds | Included Stitches: 70 | Attachments: Automatic Needle Threader and Cutter | Power Source: Electric
We love the Janome Memory Craft 500E Embroidery Machine (view at Amazon) for a variety of reasons, but the highlight is its user-friendly LCD touchscreen that makes it easy to import, edit, and create your own designs. Perfect for casual crafters and advanced artisans, it’s worth every penny. If, however, you’re looking to save some money, the UTEN 2685A Sewing Machine (view at Amazon) is worth looking into.
What to Look for in an Embroidery Machine
While it’s great to have a machine that’s specific to embroidery, Nina Owens, a representative for Michaels, notes it’s best to have a machine that can do both embroidery and regular sewing stitches. Not only does this make completing projects easier, but it also maximizes the space in your crafting area.
Machine Size and Portability
If you have a permanent place in mind for your embroidery machine, make sure to measure the space beforehand. If you’ll be storing and toting it with you, then you have to consider the weight as well. You’ll also want to look for an option that comes with a case if portability is important.
The majority of embroidery machines on the market allow you to import your own creations. But if you’re just getting started, then you may want a machine that includes a variety of built-in designs as well. You’ll also want to note the maximum embroidery design size for the machine and see if it fits with the designs you plan to create.
“For designers and those wanting more options, the ability to program or upload additional designs is a must-have,” Owens says. To that end, make sure the machine has the ability to connect to a computer or upload files from the thumb drive to be able to add more designs and/or stitches.
How do you use an embroidery machine?
While much of the process will resemble sewing on a sewing machine, you’ll need to make sure you use an embroidery needle. You’ll also want to choose the appropriate thread—embroidery thread is different than regular ol’ sewing thread—as well as fabric.
If your machine has both sewing and embroidery functionality, make sure you’re in the correct mode. Then once you have your design in mind, embroider away!
Can you embroider with a sewing machine?
The answer, unfortunately, is no. As Owens explains, embroidery machines have a hoop or frame system that holds the fabric tight, like a hand-embroidery hoop does. This holds the fabric under the needle and allows it to more automatically create designs from either the pre-programmed stitches/designs or ones loaded to the machine.
Can you sew with an embroidery machine?
It depends. Some embroidery machines are intended solely for embroidery, while others are combination machines that can perform both functions.
Do I need a single-needle or a multi-needle embroidery machine?
This also depends on your embroidery goals. Single-needle machines are generally cheaper and, according to Owens, perfect for someone who does embroidery as a hobby. If, however, you plan to make multi-colored designs—and lots of them—you may prefer a multi-needle machine. This way, you can load up each needle with different colored embroidery thread and complete projects more quickly.
Why Trust The Spruce Crafts?
This article was written by Leah Rocketto, a lifestyle writer and editor for a decade. To select the best picks for your consideration, she sorted through dozens of customer and third-party website reviews, and consulted Nina Owens, a representative for Michaels. Owens has become an expert in all elements of crafting, including embroidery.