If you’re interested in learning how to embroider and don’t wish to do so by hand, purchasing a special sewing machine for the task might be your best bet. Embroidery work can be simple or quite complex, so depending on what type of work you’re most interested in, purchasing a special sewing machine can make your life a whole lot easier.
Whether you wish to embroider for a hobby or intend to turn it into a business, you’ll need the right tools and equipment. If you’re wondering, can a sewing machine embroider and make the job easier, the answer is – as a general rule, yes. Of course, it also depends on the type of sewing machine you choose and what you wish to do with it.
Understanding the Basics
First of all, you should be aware that there are three basic types of sewing – straightforward sewing, construction sewing, and embroidery. Straightforward is what you do when you’re hemming a pair of jeans or repairing a tear or rip in an article of clothing. Construction sewing is what you call it when you’re to the point where you can create whole articles of clothing such as dresses, pants, and blouses.
On the other hand, embroidery is considered by most to be a type of art. If you stitch a design such as the outline of a mountain or a flower on a piece of cloth, then fill it in with a special type of thread that is a little thicker than the standard type of thread, this is called embroidery. Most embroidery thread is a 30- or 40-weight thread, and embroidery sewing machines provide repetitive motions to fill in large spaces with thread, saving you a lot of time and soreness in your hands.
Of course, when it comes to machine versus hand embroidery, not everything is perfect with embroidery sewing machines. Yes, they do save you a lot of time and energy, but believe it or not, there are still some advantages offered by hand-embroidery that embroidering with a sewing machine cannot offer you.
Advantages of Embroidering by Hand
If you believe that sewing machines made for embroidery are the only way to go when you’re interested in the art of embroidery, think again. There are, in fact, advantages to embroidering by hand, and perhaps the main one is that you can create truly unique and personalized works of art, even creating designs of your own if you wish. With hand-embroidered pieces, no two will look alike, which means you get to lend ambiance to each piece that you create.
Although sewing machine embroider services are better for the bottom line because you can copy the same design over and over again, hand-embroidery gives each recipient something unique and which cannot be copied or recreated, and they appreciate the effort whether they’re a friend, family member, or a paying customer.
If you’re not completely convinced how unique and special hand-embroidery is, consider how many of these pieces are generally found in your average antique store and how much they are usually worth. Indeed, a hand-embroidered doily, tablecloth, or handkerchief will always go for a higher price than you think, and this is because it was done by an individual using his or her own unique style and not a sewing machine that can mass-produce hundreds of items in a short period of time.
On the other hand, if you embroider by hand it is terribly time-consuming even if you’re creating a small item, which means that if you’re using embroidery as a way to make money, a sewing machine that does embroidery is your best bet. You are also more prone to making errors when you embroider by hand, so creating the same piece to sell to many customers may not happen for you.
Different Sewing Machines Offer Different Features and Benefits
If you decide to shop around for sewing machines that offer embroidery functions, you’ll find there are two main types, regardless of the brand you’re considering, and these include:
- Free-motion embroidery machine: this is a basic zigzag-type of sewing machine with only one needle, which has to be rethreaded every time you switch colors. The embroidery itself is developed manually by the operator by using the different settings on the machine. The process is manual, not digital, which means you cannot mass produce any of the items you’re making.
- Computerized embroidery machine: a computerized machine that stitches and moves from one area of the fabric to another on its own. You can also thread different needles to use at the same time and never have to stop and rethread, unless one of the needles runs out of thread.
Free-motion machines are naturally more time-consuming than computerized machines, and the latter are almost always used in businesses that sell embroidery items. While computerized machines can be used with digital files by using special software, free-motion machines use designs that have to be developed by the user, which means even though you’re technically using a machine to embroider different designs, in many ways it is like embroidering by hand.
So, what exactly do the computerized embroidery machines offer? They offer a variety of services and capabilities, which include being able to:
- Edit various embroidery designs and patterns
- Load the embroidery file into the machine
- Obtain or create a digital design file
- Start and monitor the entire embroidery process
- Stabilize the fabric and move it around during the process
Typically, sewing machines can come with standard sewing options only or with a few embroidery functions as well. There are also machines made just for embroidering, and those range from very basic machines to those that are quite extensive and fancy. If you’re looking to start a home-based embroidery business, you’ll likely not need the fanciest embroidery machine out there, but if you’re a large commercial operation, you’ll naturally want the nicest machine you can afford.
As you can imagine, sewing machines that embroider come in all price ranges, so whether you want to spend $600 or $6,000 or even more, you can usually find it every time, especially if you do your research online.
Specialized Embroidery Machines
When it comes to sewing machines that only perform embroidery services, you always have several to choose from; again, they range from basic to the most advanced functions possible. Some of the types available include:
- Mechanical embroidery machines: these are basic embroidery machines that are usually not very expensive and which are easy to operate. If you plan to operate your embroidery business out of your home, this is a good type of machine to own. They are also good if you are planning for your designs to be basic and uncomplicated, although they do come in industrial models for more complicated designs.
- Electronic embroidery machines: these are lightweight and transportable, and a little more advanced than the mechanical machines. If you’re planning to embroider designs of different types and sizes, this is a great machine for you. They are a step up from the mechanical embroidery machines and can accommodate a wider assortment of designs and capabilities.
- Computerized embroidery machines: because these machines are programmable and can accommodate many extensive and complicated designs, they are much more expensive than either mechanical or electronic embroidery machines. They not only offer an automatic needle-threader and many different needle positions, but they are the perfect machine for people who intend to turn out a lot of different work on a daily basis.
If you’re shopping for an embroidery sewing machine, one of the first things to consider is your options when it comes to the head and the needles. There are essentially two options when it comes to these two things: the single-head, single-needle option, and the single-head, multi-needle option. Each offers something unique to the right user.
Machines with one head and one needle are good enough for all simple designs and even some of the complicated ones. Most of the basic embroidery machines are made with one head and one needle, so they are perfect for beginners and even those with more complicated tasks to complete. But when your projects become more elaborate and complicated, you should consider switching to a single-head, multi-needle embroidery machine. These machines usually have from four to ten different needles, so if your project is filled with many different colors, this is the type of machine you want.
You can still complete multicolored projects even with a single-needle machine; however, you’ll have to rethread the needle each time the pattern changes colors, which naturally will take much longer than projects completed on a multi-needle embroidery machine. If you’re serious about your business and can afford it, embroidery machines with multiple needles is the smart choice for many reasons.
Finding the Best Embroidery Machine
The right embroidery machine is not that difficult to find as long as you first decide exactly what you’ll be doing with it once you purchase it. This way, you can shop for the machine that offers the functions you need, can accommodate the types of projects you’ll be working on, and which comes with the accessories you’ll need once your business starts to grow, even if you have to purchase those accessories later on.