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How to get Started with Machine Embroidery: Supplies you Need

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.”

How to get started with Machine Embroidery  How to get started with Machine Embroidery  How to get started with Machine Embroidery

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 (SE600) 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!

How to get started with Machine Embroidery-Brother PE770

Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine

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 .

How to get started with Machine Embroidery  How to get started with Machine Embroidery

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.

How to get started with Machine Embroidery  How to get started with Machine Embroidery  How to get started with Machine Embroidery

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.

How to get started with Machine Embroidery  How to get started with Machine Embroidery

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.

Karlie Belle YouTube Channel

Other Machine Embroidery posts you might like:

Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine Unboxing and Setup

Embrilliance Embroidery Software: The Best Program for Beginners

All About Stabilizers for Machine Embroidery

How to Hoop and Embroider a Baby Onesie

Hooping a Shirt for Machine Embroidery

Applique Tutorial from Start to Finish

How to Cut Applique Fabric using Silhouette Cameo

How to add a Name to a Baby Blanket

How to use 5×12 Multi-position Hoop

DIY Craft Table & Pegboard

How I organize Fabric and Blank Clothing

My Favorite Places to Buy Embroidery Designs

How I Built my Sewing and Craft Desk (with mini craft room tour)

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How to get started with Machine Embroidery

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.

Thanks,

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.

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Comments

    • Karlie Belle says

      I know how you feel. It took a long time to save for it, but once I started selling items I had my machine and supplies paid off in a few months so keep that in mind 🙂

  1. Sissy Lou says

    I love your blog! I just found you at between naps on the porch and I have gone down the rabbit hole of reading all of your posts. I have seriously been contemplating an embroidery machine for ages, but I keep holding back…we are a military family and still in the midst of moving around a lot.
    Thank you for being so real and sharing your experiences. You have definitely gained a reader. If you ever add an istagram account I will follow there too–no pressure. 🙂

    • Karlie Belle says

      Oh my goodness Sissy, thank you so much!! You just made my day 🙂 Having an embroidery machine is so much fun! I still have trouble sewing a straight line but with the magic of the embroidery machine, I can make some beautiful things LOL. I hope you go for it and get one. Let me know if you have any questions and I will be happy to help! BTW I’m on Instagram @karliebelle

      • Karlie Belle says

        Hi Alyse! Yes any embroidery machine can make felties. Because they are usually small designs you can do them in a 4×4 hoop and therefore can buy a smaller machine like the Brother PE535 or PE550D. I would still recommend going for the Brother PE800 that also has a 5×7 hoop which will give you more options for other projects since 4×4 can be a very limited space to embroider. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

  2. Florence says

    Karlie, that is a neat story. How many times have I done exactly the same thing…plan to get a cheap model of whatever, & come out with the most expensive one. Or plan to buy nothing & just look, & come out with the most expensive one. In fact, we have friends who went in to an RV supply place to buy RV toilet paper & came out with a motorhome. Ha! Well, I’m getting slightly off-track. The embroidery machine sounds like a dream once you figure out how to use it, and it sounds like you have. Kudos to you for making a business out of it now.

    • Karlie Belle says

      Awesome Debra, what kind of machine do you have? Let me know if you have any specific questions on how to get started with it!

  3. Sarah Brink says

    Thank you for this! I have been meaning to get an embroidery machine for sometime now.. where did you get the fabric for the embroidery on the gown?! I love it!

    • Karlie Belle says

      Yay I hope you get an embroidery machine soon. The fabric is from Hobby Lobby and it’s one of my favorites ?

  4. Lilly says

    I love your blog , thank you for the list of supplies that are needed I also bought a pe770 it was easy to thread, but I’m having trouble with the bobbing threat coming out on top my tension is at 0 , so I have no idea what to do! ?

    • Karlie Belle says

      Thanks so much Lilly! I have had issues with the bobbin thread coming out on top too. Do you buy pre-wound bobbins or do you make them yourself? If you are making them yourself, make sure that the thread is distributing evenly as the bobbin is wound up. Just watch the thread and see if it goes up and down in a nice pattern as the bobbin is turning. Another thing to do is when you place a new bobbin in the carriage and thread it, pull the thread through several inches before cutting it. This step is what solved my problem. Before I was just pulling it through an inch or so and the thread tension was still a little too loose on the end. Hope this helps and please let me know if you have any other questions!

  5. Katrina says

    Thanks for this article! I just asked my husband if we could get an embroidery machine 🙂 you confirmed that I should get PE 770. Now we just need to save up a little. Do have any articles about digitizing images? I would have a good business opportunity if I can learn how to digitize. Thanks again ❤️

    • Karlie Belle says

      Yes Katrina, a PE770 is a great machine to start with. Right now I know very little about digitizing images. What I do know is that you need special software that cost $1000 and up. I haven’t looked into the different software programs available yet but I will be sure to write a post about it when I do 🙂

  6. Pam says

    Karlie, I’ve enjoyed reading all the questions and answers. I’m hoping you can answer my question. I have a Pfaff Creative 4.0 which was given to me. When I try to update it or load a new don’t or design, the computer screen freezes and won’t do anything. My niece fixed it for me once but I don’t know what she did. Can you help me?

    • Karlie Belle says

      Hi Pam, I’m sorry you are having trouble with your machine. I am not familiar with the Pfaff Creative 4.0 but I did a little research on them and the reviews don’t seem to be all that good. The few things I read about having a frozen screen seemed to be due to the power supply but I’m not sure if that is your problem. I would ask your niece if she remembers what she did that time she fixed it for you or bring it to a local repair shop. Sorry, I can’t be of more help 🙁

  7. Karen says

    Oh my goodness!!! The LSU Tiger outfit on your baby girl is precious!! Loving reading your posts-I have owned my Brother PE770 machine since Christmas 2016 and I yet to thread it 🙁 Your posts are giving me the courage to get started. I’m a teacher and have 3 more weeks of school and then I’m going to jump in. Thanks for making it look a doable.

  8. Barbara Johnson says

    Hi karlie your story sound just like me I have a Brother 8500 Pacesetter one needle embroidery machine but desire a four needle that is better and does just about everything I don’t like changing thread for most of my projects so I just use the multi color threads. I am interested in learning how to use stabilization with different Fabric and simple patterns to use for now

    • Karlie Belle says

      Hi Barbara! Yes, I would love a 6 or 10 needle machine but the price jump is huge compared to my lil old machine 🙂 Changing thread can be a little bit of a pain but it’s not so bad. There are 3 main stabilizers I use with most projects. For basic knit shirts, first I use the iron-on poly mesh stabilizer, then I use iron-on tear away on top of that. I like this better than regular cut away because you can’t see the stabilizer through a white shirt. I use regular cut away for thicker materials like jackets and sweaters. I use iron-on tear away for towels and blankets. For some simple designs to practice with, check out this post –> https://stage.karliebelle.com/favorite-places-buy-embroidery-designs/ Several of the places I like to shop offer FREE designs you can download from their site.

  9. Elle Shea says

    Great site! My husband bought me a Brother NX650Quilt Club machine three yrs ago (thinking I was going to retire, but in truth I kept working a little longer). He bought it because I love sewing and wanted to try appliqué and quilting and monogramming, and now that I’ve retired I finally got out this machine to learn to use it, I learn it’s been discontinued and the store that sold it to my husband went out of business. I’m now stuck with this “quilting machine” with NO or very cursory instructions for This $599 embroidery/quilting machine and absolutely no resources to begin. Brother by the way is NOT helpful at all, they refused to take responsibility stating it was a “dealer model” what???) Their blogs and you tube sites are poor and there are none for this machine’s skill set. The instruction manual is so complicated I have to have it in front of me all the time. It told me nothing—-nothing about ALL the other things I’d need or even the type of thread to use to embroider. Any suggestions for resources on basic tutorials? Elle

    • Karlie Belle says

      Hi Elle, I’m sorry your machine is not all that you hoped it would be. I found one site that gives a review of your machine and lists all of its features. In the comments, someone mentions that this machine was replaced with the Laura Ashley NX-800. It also appears that the Brother Innovis-600 is very similar to your machine and I was able to find some YouTube videos that appeared to be helpful when searching for this model. Here is the link to the review of your machine: https://www.sewinginsight.com/brother/brother-nx-650q-review/

      I hope some of this helps. If you ultimately decide you want an embroidery machine or embroidery/ sewing combo machine, I would consider selling your current model and purchasing an SE1900 but then you are looking at spending twice as much. Here is a link to the SE1900 if you would like to check it out: https://amzn.to/2NODhV4

  10. Kate says

    Hi Karlie,

    Happy I came across your blog! Love your story!! I have a Brother embroidery machine and a mac laptop. Do you use a mac or a PC for the design portion of your embroidery? Debating on if I need to get a pc. Thanks!

    • Karlie Belle says

      Hi Kate,
      When I first started I had an old PC that I only used for embroidery, but it died about a year ago and now I use my Mac and the Embrilliance software. If you already have a Mac then all you need is Embrilliance Essentials, definitely don’t need to go get a PC 🙂

  11. Melissa Janelle says

    Hi Karlie,

    So glad I found your blog! I just purchased the brother pe800 and I can’t wait to get started. Can you tell me what other supplies I need to get started? What kind of stabilizers do I need? And what are bobbins? I did purchase a monogramming program as well, and additional sizing hoops. Also what kind of fabric did you start off buying? Scraps or did you start off practicing on t-shirts, and onesies? Sorry for all the questions, a little nervous and excited. TIA!

    -Melissa

    • Karlie Belle says

      Hi Melissa! I’m so happy you got a machine 🙂 For supplies, I recommend almost everything I have listed in the above post just to get started. The only stabilizer that you may not need right away is the sticky back cut away one, I mainly use that for hard to stitch items like bags that I have to turn inside out. The stabilizers that I use for almost every project are the iron-on tear-away, fusible poly-mesh, water-soluble topper, and over the back fusible cover up. I mostly make kids shirts and add names to blankets and towels. Bobbins hold the white thread that stays on the underneath of your fabric. Your machine should have come with 5-10 clear plastic little bobbin holders. You can either buy a big spool of bobbin thread and use your machine to wound them up, or you can buy pre-wound bobbins on Amazon. I mainly buy fabric from Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, Jo-ann’s, and Fabric.com. When buying fabric I only get 1/4 yard. You only need a little bit of fabric for appliques. First I would practice just stitching a name or monogram on a scrap piece of fabric or an old shirt just to get a feel for how the machine works and how to hoop. I have a video on how to hoop and stitch a name on a baby blanket if you would like to see step by step instructions. https://stage.karliebelle.com/easy-beginners-machine-embroidery-project-baby-blanket/ Hope all of this helps and let me know if you have any other questions!

  12. Donna says

    Hi Karley, I am among the those “have the machine, don’t know what to do with”. I have the same machine that you have and I started out ok, then the bobbin thread kept coming out on top.
    I put the machine away over 3 years ago and haven’t touched it since. I would love to get started again.
    Love your blog BTW!

    • Karlie Belle says

      Hi Donna! I have also had trouble with my bobbin thread in the past. I found that after threading it, you should pull a generous amount through to make sure the tension is right. Also if you are winding them yourself, make sure they are consistently going around from top to bottom and don’t bulge out in the middle. I hope you pull your machine back out and try again, please let me know if you have any other questions!

  13. Shirley says

    I bought the Brother PE770 and all the other stuff you listed for me to get started.
    Where do you buy your blank kitchen towels?
    Thanks for the info!

  14. Andrea Derryberry says

    I bought a machine the same one as you, from a girl at work. I bought it to make some things for my daughters wedding, We can seem to find how to monogram with center letter larger or even find pretty fonts. And I only have a large rectangular hoop. Do I need software to download, Welooked for an app like you use for a Cricut but have found nothing. We watched a few YouTube videos but none that helped. At this point I’m ready to sell my machine I’m so frustrated, please help. We have all the backing, thread, blank items to practice on.
    Thank you
    Mother of the bride in distress lol
    Andrea

    • Karlie Belle says

      Hi Andrea, I’m so sorry for your frustration with your machine. Yes, you NEED software to do just about anything on your machine. I recommend Embrilliance Essentials which I have a link to above. Once you have the software installed on your computer, then you need to buy monogram fonts. I have a post about my favorite places to buy embroidery designs click here–> https://stage.karliebelle.com/favorite-places-buy-embroidery-designs/ . You will be able to open the embroidery designs in the Embrilliance software. Once you have the design placement and size that you want, save it to a USB flash drive as a PES file and insert it on your embroidery machine. From there just open it up and it should stitch out exactly like you designed it in Embrilliance. I hope this helps. I know it is a lot to learn at first, but once you get the hang of it, you will be monogramming everything 🙂

  15. Debora Johnson says

    Hi Karlie,

    I just purchased a pe770 but haven’t cracked it out of the box yet. Thx for the list of items. I need to get my stuff in gear so I can ask questions. Thx for your blog. It’s great.

  16. Mary Engiles says

    Hi Karlie,
    Thank you so much for your post. I was lucky to get the Brother se1900 for Christmas, but have been too intimidated to take it out of the box. That hasn’t stopped me from downloading designs for future use…lol. Love the designs by JuJu and they always have terrific sales. After spending the morning reading through all your posts I think I’m finally ready to get my machine out of the box. I can’t wait to start making items for my first grandchild, a boy! (I’d be broke if it was a girl…lol).
    Thanks again,
    Mary

    • Karlie Belle says

      Hi Mary, I’m so excited for you and all the beautiful things you are going to make for your new grandson 🙂

  17. MARIA T Ryan says

    Though I just received my Brother PE800 your embroidery machine should be almost the same. The machine is on my table but I haven’t done anything as yet, just getting the threads and everything I need to run a trial.
    Thank you for the blog and I will comeback with updates.

    • Karlie Belle says

      Hi Maria, good luck with setting up your new machine and let me know if you have any questions that I can help with!

  18. Lizz Sumners says

    Ok so this is GREAT information as I’m a for real beginner!! For budget purposes and I honestly have zero idea what I’m doing… which embrilliance software should I purchase?

    • Karlie Belle says

      Thanks so much Lizz!! I recommend Embrilliance Essentials. It has all the features you need to get started including using BX fonts that you purchase online. Please let me know if you have any more questions!!

  19. KEM says

    Hi! I just got the Brother PE800 for my birthday and really appreciate all of the helpful tips! I am a complete beginner and had no idea what all I needed to get started, so this is all a huge help. One question: I’m looking at the Exquisite embroidery thread and it looks like there are different materials/weights (fine line, polyester, etc.). Do you have any recommendations on what I should get, or sites you could point me to for guidance? I primarily want to monogram baby and kid clothes (I have an 18m old and another on the way). Thank you!

    • Karlie Belle says

      Hi and congrats on your new machine!!For Exquisite thread you will need the polyester which is 40wt. I would get the smaller cones (1000m) to start and if there are certain colors you use a lot in the future then try the 5000m but make sure you have a thread stand. I’ve had my machine for over 5 years and the only colors I have run out of is black and gold (Go Saints! haha) I would order a rainbow of colors to start then add as you go. Also remember for embroidery you will only need white bobbin thread which is 90wt. I Hope this helps and please let me know if you have any other questions!

  20. Tiffany says

    Embroidery has been on my heart for the longest time. I finally decided to bite the bullet and got a machine yesterday. Expect lots of comments (and questions) from your newest follower!

    • Karlie Belle says

      Hi Tiffany and congrats on your new machine!! I’m so excited for you. Be sure to join my Facebook group and follow me on YouTube for my live tutorials on Friday nights. So thankful to have you as a new follower 🙂

  21. Gerilyn Giel says

    Thank you for such thorough information! I am a beginner and the process of choosing which machine to buy is daunting! I’ll be purchasing the Brother 800 tomorrow and will be visiting your site daily!

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Delia

I enjoy watching and learning from Karlie and her friendly, giving demeanor. She instantly becomes a friend! She helped me...

Delia

Karlie Belle
5
2016-05-03T18:05:39-05:00

Delia

I enjoy watching and learning from Karlie and her friendly, giving demeanor. She instantly becomes a friend! She helped me when I bought my Persona and is always available with a lending hand when asked!

Pat

Karlie is the most amazing Embroidery teacher. Her videos are easy to follow, and I have learnt so much. I...

Pat

Karlie Belle
5
2016-05-03T18:07:52-05:00

Pat

Karlie is the most amazing Embroidery teacher. Her videos are easy to follow, and I have learnt so much. I highly recommend her if you want to start learning how to embroider

Carol

Just when I thought I was going to go crazy during Covid, I discovered one of the most helpful blogs on...

Carol

Karlie Belle
5
2016-05-03T18:24:44-05:00

Carol

Just when I thought I was going to go crazy during Covid, I discovered one of the most helpful blogs on the planet. Karlie’s blog enabled me to start a small business. The videos and brightly colored pictures were the best substitute for one on one lessons during a socially distant time when many of us were stranded at home. I had never machine embroidered until I watched her videos and followed her blog and FB. Becoming an accomplished machine embroiderer was my Covid bright spot. Thanks Karlie!!

Kathy

Karlie is the reason why I got back into machine embroidery. I came across one of her sip& stitch tutorials....

Kathy

Karlie Belle
5
2021-04-09T14:06:33-05:00

Kathy

Karlie is the reason why I got back into machine embroidery. I came across one of her sip& stitch tutorials. She is a great teacher and explains things really well. She knows her stuff so if you are interested in getting into embroidery and need a few questions answered Karlie is the one that will help you.
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Karlie Belle