When I had my first little girl, I got some embroidered items at my baby shower for her. I don’t know if it was seeing “Abigail” stitched on something for the first time or all the hormones , but I fell in love with all things embroidered after that. I guess it took having a baby for me to discover all of the adorable things out there that are embroidered. In the south everyone loves a good monogram here, but when I began noticing appliqued baby onesies, bibs, and burp cloths, I got a little obsessed (again, I blame hormones ). I began talking to my aunt about how much I love it and she said “Let’s look into doing machine embroidery ourselves.”
She was willing to buy the machine as long as I figured out how to use it. Best. Deal. Ever! So I started researching to find out everything I could. It was a little hard at first and I didn’t really understand it at all. There are sewing/ embroidery combo machines, several different hoop sizes, and single needle vs. multi-needle machines. One thing was for sure, they are expensive! I almost ordered the smallest machine Brother makes (SE625) because it was the cheapest option at $370. I’m so glad I didn’t though!
We ended up going to a sewing specialty store that had all different kinds of machines and the salesman talked my aunt into buying a Brother Duetta 2. At the time this was a top of the line single needle machine and cost $4,000, (and if you didn’t catch the fact that we went in to buy a basic model and left with a Cadillac, just know that the salesman was very good :))
Brother Duetta 2
We hurried home to set up our new Cadillac and quickly realized we really had no idea what we were doing. At the store they showed us how to use the pre-loaded fonts and designs that came on the machine, so we used a scrap piece of fabric and played around with those features. After doing more research, watching a few youtube videos, and A LOT of trial and error, we learned about stabilizers, thread, hooping, toppers, applique, and software for designing.
After using my aunt’s machine for about a year and really falling in love with embroidery, I saved my money and bought a machine of my own. Now that I knew more about the machines and what features I actually used, I bought the most practical and least expensive version of what my aunt had, the Brother PE800 (newer version of the PE770). At $600 it was still a big chunk of change. Plus I still had to buy thread, stabilizers, software, an extra hoop, plus a few other supplies. All together it was right under $1000, but well worth the investment.
**Update- Since the pandemic, the price of this machine has fluctuated tremendously. Unfortunately, they are no longer available for $600. The Amazon price now can go as high as $1200, which I do not recommend you pay that much. When Sewing Machines Plus has them in stock, they are always $849.99. They offer free shipping and no tax charged if you live outside of California 😁. Also there is another machine that is exactly the same as the PE800 but can also work as a sewing machine. It is called the SE1900, for only $150 more, it is well worth the investment!
I used it to make birthday, baby shower, wedding and Christmas presents. Everyone loved their gifts just as I had for my baby shower, and it only cost me a few dollars for the items that I embroidered. I made things for my little girl and started monogramming my own things. Next, friends and family started asking me to embroider things for them and paying me for it. Before I knew it I was making something every night after Abigail went to bed. My husband nicknamed my craft room “The Sweat Shop” and we still call it that now .
When I was researching how to get started with machine embroidery I was not able to find a site or blog that had everything laid out for me. I went from place to place getting little bits of info and putting it all together myself. So I want to make it a little bit easier for you to get started today. It’s still going to take some time, practice, and loads of patience but I am here to help guide you along the way. Over the next few weeks, I will teach you about different stabilizers and how to use them, how to hoop your item, how to applique, where to find cute designs and blanks, and how to use computer software to customize your designs.
Supplies Needed to Get Started with Machine Embroidery
Today I will share with you the supplies you will need to get started. These are things that I bought and currently use. By no means are these the only options you have, I’m just sharing the items that I know and have had success using. If you have any suggestions on items that you love please share with us in the comments below.
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- Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine If you are looking for the next step up from the PE800, the machine I would recommend is the Brother Innov-is NQ1700E. This machine has both a 5×7 and 6×10 hoop so you can do bigger projects. Also it has extra features like it stitches faster than the PE800 so you finish things quicker and it cuts you jump stitches, which just trust me on this, you will LOVE this feature . This machine in a nice jump up from the PE800 but still much more affordable than fancy multi-needle machines that cost $$$.
- Exquisite Embroidery Thread (Floriani, Pacesetter, and Sulky are also great brands)
- Iron-On Tear-Away Stabilizer
- Water Soluble Embroidery Stabilizer & Topping
- Self-Adhesive Sticky Peel N Stick Tear Away Embroidery Stabilizer
- Fusible No-show Polymesh Plus Embroidery Stabilizer
- Cut Away Machine Embroidery Stabilizer
- Over the Back Fusible Interface (For coving the back of embroidery designs so that threads don’t rub against the skin. Great for baby and kids!)
- Heat N Bond Lite (for the back of fabric appliques to help prevent wrinkling)
- Therm O Web Spray N Bond Quilt Basting Adhesive Spray
- Disappearing Ink Pen
- Tide Pen for removing marks when finished
- Embroidery Snips
- Spool of Bobbin Thread or you can purchase Pre-Wound Bobbins
- Thread Holder
- Mini Iron
- 75/11 Ballpoint Needles
- Set of Hoops If you get the PE800 it will come with one 5×7 hoop. This set comes with 4 sizes including the large multi-positional 5×12 hoop. Check out this video to see how to use this large hoop.
- Embrilliance Software This is the software you will need in order to use any cute embroidery designs or fonts you purchase off of Etsy or other sites. Essentials is the best program to start with, also Thumbnailer is great so you can view your designs while searching in folders on your computer. Enthusiast is an add on to Essentials once you would like more features. StitchArtist is digitizing software to make your own designs. It comes in 3 levels which makes it much more affordable than other programs which run around $1500 . You can read more about Embrilliance here.
- Fabric for appliques
- Items to embroider (shirts, onesies, blankets, bibs, burp clothes, towels, bags, etc.)
Almost all of these items can be found on Amazon. SewingMachinesPlus.com is also a great place to find machines and supplies. I buy fabric at Hobby Lobby, Walmart, JoAnn’s, and Fabric.com. Blank items can be found almost anywhere like Walmart and Target and I have some online resources that I will share with you in a later post.
If you have more questions please join my Facebook group for embroidery and vinyl crafts discussion and motivation.
Visit my YouTube Channel for video tutorials.
Other Machine Embroidery posts you might like:
Well, that’s it for now. I hope you stick around to learn more about machine embroidery. And if you are already into embroidery let me know how you got started and the machine you use.
The post contains affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. All opinions are my own and I only promote products that I use and love.