So, you're thinking of buying a new embroidery machine? Maybe you have one already and you've outgrown the hoop size (this happens SO much!), maybe you're completely new to machine embroidery but want to give it a go, or maybe you're needing up upgrade to a multi needle machine.
Whatever your position or situation, I have spent over 10 years helping people to buy the machine that is right for them, their needs and their budget so, this is without doubt my area of expertise! Before jumping in and buying the first machine with a deal online or the one your friend has got, consider these points...
1. Maximum hoop size
Check out the embroidery area (this is much smaller to the actual size of the hoop itself) and make sure this is going to be enough for you. This is the one thing you can't (usually) change on an embroidery machine and a 10 x 10cm hoop might sound like enough, but measure it out and then see. It's not that big and I'd say 90% of people outgrow this size of hoop within the first year. Save yourself some money and buy a machine with a larger capacity first time around.
Do some research on the brands you like and the features you want it to have. Look out for features such as...
- jump stitch trimming (saves you having to cut all the jump stitches manually)
- slide on hoops (much easier to attach and the machine will usually recognise the hoop size for you)
- Fully automatic needle threader (does what it says on the tin!)
- Combining designs on screen
- Colour screen
- How you add designs (could be USB, transfer cable, WiFi)
3. Consider an embroidery only machine
There are more embroidery only machines available now than ever, and if you go down this route, you'll get more embroidery machine for your money because you're not paying for the sewing machine side too. If you're considering a combination machine, look at the next option up and see if the embroidery only is a similar price. It usually is. If you don't need a sewing machine too, it's a great option to go for a stand alone embroidery machine. If you don't have the luxury of space or you do need a sewing machine as well, then a combination is still a great option.
4. Don't rule out a multi-needle
If you're thinking of starting a business with your embroidery, seriously consider a multi-needle machine. Yes it's a big outlay, but it will save you time, money and heartache later down the line. Flat bed machines are great, but they are usually designed for domestic use (lots of people do use them for business, make sure to check the warranty for business use) whereas multi-needles are designed for business use. Spend less time changing threads, quick and easy to hoop up garments, hats, caps, shoes without the restriction of a flat bed to tackle.
Consider if you would like to be able to stitch your own designs before you buy a machine. Some machines will have some digitising software built in but most of the time you'll need a seperate software package to digitise designs properly. It's worth thinking about at this stage in case there are any package promotions on if you buy your machine and software together.
6. Find a dealer
I highly recommend finding your local dealer so you can try before you buy. These guys know their stuff and as easy as it is to buy online, you'll need to find a dealer eventually to get your machine serviced. So, support your local dealer and buy your machine from them in the first place. You'll be able to go along with your machine wish list, get a feel for the machines and ask any questions you might have. Most machine brands have a list of their dealers on their websites.
Here's a link to the Brother dealer locator - Brother Dealer Locator
7. Visit a show
If you're not lucky enough to have a dealer nearby, then check out when the next sewing exhibition is on and plan a day trip! Even if it's just for research (and fabric buying!) purposes, you'll get a good selection of machines to look at, experts on hand to answer any questions and you'll be able to get a demonstration too. Check the exhibition website to make sure what machine manufacturers will be attending before you book. Some of the larger exhibitions are worth a two day visit, so many people book a hotel for a night and visit the show over two days. That way you don't have to rush around trying to see everything as well as getting all the embroidery machine info you need.
✰ EXTRA BONUS TIP ✰
Learn How To Use Your Machine - PROPERLY!!
I know that might be obvious to some but there is a surprising number of people who don't learn the basics and come into all kinds of issues. I know reading the instruction book is boring and you'd much rather get on with the fun bit of stitching out your first design but trust me - take an hour to get to know your machine - PROPERLY!!
✓ Make sure you're threading up correctly.
✓ That the bobbin thread is wound properly.
✓ Is your bobbin in the right way around? There is a right and a wrong way, and front loading bobbins are different to drop in bobbins. Check your instruction book!!
If you get stuck, don't despair or give up. There is lots of support out there.
❖ You can go back to where you bought the machine from. If you bought it from a dealer, they will be able to show you how to thread it correctly or diagnose if there are any issues.
❖ Find a local machine embroidery group
❖ Join a machine embroidery Facebook group - you can join mine here - The Bunney & Thread Embroidery Club
❖ Give me a call. I can help you either in person (if you're in London or the South East) or via video call. I have a selection of embroidery machines here so I can demonstrate a technique and if I can see your machine, I should be able to diagnose an issue on your machine too.
If you have any questions about buying an embroidery machine, feel free to drop me a message via any of the methods on my contact page I'd be happy to help!
Happy machine shopping!