Embroidery is a beautiful way to add delicate accents to clothing and other items like tablecloths and towels. But doing it by hand is time-consuming, especially if you have multiple items to get through.
Modern technology has replaced tedious hand embroidery with machines that can do the work for you. They can monogram pillow cases, sweaters, and nearly anything else. These sewing machine cousins allow you to embroider intricate patterns, thanks to preloaded programs, and make it possible to tackle high-volume projects. Whether you're a hobbyist who embroiders on the weekends or a professional looking to expand your business, choosing the right monogram machine is key.
Considerations when choosing monogram machines
Patterns and designs
Low-cost entry-level machines typically have a limited number of patterns and a few fonts. But even budget embroidery machines cost at least $250. Users should expect a maximum of 50 pattern selections since these machines don't offer the ability to add on or upload new data. Devices at this price point are suitable for occasional embroidery tasks.
Mid-level machines are usually preloaded with up to 100 designs and offer more font selections. Some moderately priced devices may even have USB ports with onboard flash drives to allow you to load additional patterns. These machines can cost up to $600.
If you're looking for a wide variety of patterns and designs, as well as direct access to the web and sophisticated built-in software, you'll need a model that costs as much as $1,000.
Many machines have some kind of onboard memory that holds data for embroidery patterns. Budget models offer a limited choice and don't provide the user with an opportunity to expand it. If you know you won't be satisfied with a small number of patterns to choose from, select a machine that has enough extra storage for your needs.
There's a nearly unlimited selection of patterns and fonts available online. A machine with an internet connection allows you to download new designs.
Affordable machines typically have a single needle. If you plan to embroider with more than one color of thread, a single-needle model requires you to pause and swap out your spool before you can continue. More expensive machines have up to ten needles and can handle multiple spools for effortless switching between colors. Multi-needle machines retail for as much as $7,000, so they're best suited for professional and high-volume use.
Q. I don't have a sewing machine. Do I need one in addition to a monogram machine?
A. You might be able to find a device that can be used for both tasks. Check the specs before making your purchase to be sure.
Q. Is using a monogram machine harder than hand embroidering?
A. The learning curve depends on the person using the machine. If you're adept at using a sewing machine, getting the hang of machine embroidery will be a breeze. If you're a hand embroidery pro, using a machine might require a bit of practice.
Monogram machines we recommend
Best of the best: Brother SE600 Sewing and Embroidery Machine
Our take: Well-priced, quality machine with a nice selection of patterns.
What we like: Offers the ability to download designs. Convenient auto-threading feature. 25-year limited warranty.
What we dislike: Not the best machine for handling thicker fabrics.
Best bang for your buck: Brother SE400 Combination Computerized Sewing and Embroidery Machine
Our take: An exceptionally good sewing machine with connectivity that offers you even more options.
What we like: Many built-in stitches and designs, including five fonts for lettering. A great price for all it offers.
What we dislike: It's not as easy to use with thick fabric.
Our take: Reliable, high-performance device for the advanced user.
What we like: The ability to edit patterns. Convenient SwiftSmart threading system.
What we dislike: The steep price tag.
Steph Coelho is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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