Anyone out there have an opinion about sewing machines that embroider? Curious if there are any standouts in the crowd. I know how to use a sewing machine, but embroidery and machines that embroider are new. Also, anyone use inkscape to create embroidery designs? Is there better software. I googled these things and know what is out there. Just looking for this communities insights. It is usually well rounded. and informed!
I can’t make a specific recommendation and sewing is a very small part of my interests, but I can share that my $1000 Singer computerized sewing machine that has lots of fancy embroidering options is nowhere near as good as a dedicated embroidery machine, so I would recommend against getting a regular machine that does both.
It’s fantastic for many things (especially basic serging with a provided attachment) and embroids (?) good text and the simple designs in its library, but not suited to larger designs because the motion control (I’m sure there’s a “correct” term) is not on-par with the dedicated machines.
I used Amazon reviews to choose it, suggest the same for an embroidery machine.
Software for embroidering is specific. You could use Inkscape for design, but there’s still another step involved to generate stitch paths, which will be either an embroidery-specific program or proprietary software specific to the machine.
My only first hand experience with it, is dealing with embroidery vendors, and they all have made it sound like they have to manually draw those stitching paths themselves. However it’s been several years so maybe someone has finally managed a decent “auto-stitch”.
Last year we got a couple of Brother PE800 machines at work. (For use by one of our CS courses; in one of their assignments they wrote C++ programs that generate embroidery files for the machines.) I played around with them some and they’re pretty cool. It’s a very inexpensive machine but still very capable. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it or a similar Brother machine to someone who wants to get their feet wet without spending a huge amount of money on a fancier machine.
You do need to use dedicated embroidery design software, not Inkscape. (Unless there’s some Inkscape plugin I don’t know about.) I played around with the demo versions of a few programs but not enough to make any good recommendations. (After all, we were mostly writing our own software to generate simple patterns, so we weren’t looking to buy anyone else’s software.)
The format is (generally) PES files, from what little I know, but you can convert them using (wait for it…) the Inkstitch extension! (along with several other apps or online convertors)…
I worked with a Bernina embroidery+sewing machine several times ~12 years ago, including some formal training. A lot of machines will only embroider purchased designs. The third-party software for this one let me create my own. I don’t remember the name of the software off-hand. I could do the base design using standard vector applications (Corel Draw, Inkscape, AI, etc.) but, the stitching fills had to be set in the software. The software was dongleware (required a USB “key” to work) and, was not particularly pleasant to use. You need some awareness of how embroidery works with regards to types of stitches, length, direction, etc. to get good results.
While selecting the machine, I got demos of half a dozen machines from different manufacturers. I am sure there has been a lot of change since then but, the Bernina machine itself was very good, a standout at the time.
For the hobby user (quality commensurate with cost):
- $$$ Bernina or Pfaff
- $$ Brother
- $ Singer
They typically come with, or make you buy, their own proprietary software packages to produce PES files semi-automatically depending on your artwork and have built in basic images and fonts. You can also have an embroiderer create the files for you (they sometimes call them “tapes”) higher quality but not cheap.
A Bernina or Pfaff I would rely on 100% for either sewing or embroidery in a semi-pro setting. A Brother is fine if you didn’t need to use it daily. Singer quality has unfortunately fallen immensely since their glory days and I wouldn’t purchase a modern one.
Any of these home machines are limited by the size of their “throat”, ie you’re not going to embroider the middle of a blanket.
Would recommend going to a dedicated sewing machine store (or large Joann with the Bernina/Pfaff mini store) and ask for a demonstration. The limitations of the process are surprising.
Probably explains why the Singer I paid close to $1000 for has a feature list similar to a Janome I had seen on a show, but fails to deliver. Ah well, at least I got to learn some new skills the hard way! lol…
I was interested and did a lot of investigation years ago both on embroidery and weaving machines. both are potentially amazing, but yes more information is needed than is in a SVG file. I even played with an invention to move the shuttle by magnetic field as the tunnel it travels is open only on the ends and the automatic machines were shooting it back and forth like an arrow with the difficulties easy to imagine,
In the end 90% of the market was hats and shirts with names and logos rather like cake and wedding stuff you see so much of.
My current machine is the Husqvarna Designer Epic. Software is made by them and far cheaper than what I paid years ago. Think last time it was $600 or $800 for the software. Paid $2,500 at the highest for a prior version. After several purchases over the years, the newest is fantastic, and my final version. Nice the price is now more affordable.
The machine was like $13k in 2014 or 2015. There are less expensive ones in their line, but this has a large sewing area, handles very large hoops, and does more than most will need.
This is an expensive hobby with a huge learning curve on the software. I have mostly purchased designs, but have done a few of my own. Stitch by stitch, and sometimes a bit of auto-digitize. Manual creation is always best.
Thread, hoops, stabilizers, software … I have most everything, but it is shocking when you are starting up.
Different machines use different file types. Mine is VP3 and VP4. Software can convert most. Older HUS and VIP are Husqvarna. PES, DST, CSD, EXP, FMC, JEF are others. Some are able to be converted, some need different software. If digitizing your own, you use compatible software.
Mine is for fun, some quilts, baby gifts, etc., etc. Just for fun.
I have a Brother Embroidery/Sewing Machine. I also belong to several sewing clubs.
I walked into this hobby in 2002. Through the years, I have personally known over 500 women who has or had a top of the line embroidery/sewing machine.
I have never known or heard of anyone designing their own embroidery designs with a software that was not associated with a certain machine. PE DESIGN is the software for Brother.
I highly recommend you visit a sewing shop that specializes in these machines.
A Brother Luminaire is the top of the line. It costs over $10,000 (ten thousand.)
Purchase from an authorized dealer and make sure they offer unlimited FREE classes for the machine and the software. These machines are so advanced and it will take at least 10 different classes to learn how to correctly operate and navigate the machine.
I also own a Singer, but it’s a model 15 from 1951. It can go forward and backward, and even has an electric footplate. (It’s one of the first electric models.) But it can’t embroider. (And I use it way too often. Works great.)
Sounds like operator error to me…
Thanks for the insights! This sounds complicated. I thought making my own stitching patters would be easier, sounds like there are a lot of choices to be made. Perhaps I will start looking at somethign like Brother then grow from there. Don’t think I am at the 10000 dollar mark yet. Sounds like going to a store is a good idea. Maybe I can find a used one, too. Hmmm…lots to think about.
There are a LOT of used machines available from all the different dealers. So often people trade in their current machine at a huge loss. Getting a used one from a dealer could open a door to classes or discounts on accessories.
Also, there are a lot of multiple needle machines out there. There are repair shops that often have used models for sale. I’ve never looked at them personally.
I have an idea. If you live in a town that is big enough to support sewing machine dealers I would contact them to find out if they have any sewing clubs. Start going to the club meetings and make some friends. These ladies and maybe a few men are going to be honest.
I know this might be difficult to believe but it is the truth. Some of these sewing shops have professional people selling their machines. They are sleek just like a used car salesmen!!!
When you walk into the store you are going to be their best friend. They will absolutely insist you sit down and use the machine. An hour later you are financing or giving them your credit card. You just purchased a $10,000 (ten thousand) machine!!!
The women who belong to local quilt guilds are also extremely knowledgeable about these machines. This is not your GrandMa’s quilting guild. These days the high majority of quilts are done on an advanced embroidery/sewing machine.
If you purchase a high end machine please be aware this is a very expensive hobby!!! It becomes an addiction.
These are 2 of my art quilts. The art quilt with the house is a 3 dimensional quilt. Both art quilts have machine embroidery.
Just purchased the Epic 2. Learning curve, yes, but oh what a machine!! Also have a 10 needle Brother PR1000e for the big jobs
Congratulations! That’s awesome!!! You will really enjoy it! Have thought about a multiple needle machine, but, I so seldom get to do any crafts, I’m afraid it would just be more lost space, with an occasional thrill.
The groups are a little quiet right now, but it’s a great place to ask questions, search out a question, or download various help files.
Also, please feel free to send me a message if I can help in any way.
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