A Beginner’s Guide to Automatic Embroidery Machines


As someone interested in the world of embroidery, you may be intrigued by the prospect of an automatic embroidery machine. These technological wonders can help transform your creative embroidery visions into reality with advanced features like automatic threading, touchscreen displays, and hundreds of built-in embroidery designs. An automatic embroidery machine allows you to embroider custom designs onto fabrics with ease once you get the hang of operating it. While the range of options and prices for these machines can seem overwhelming, this guide will provide an overview of what to consider when shopping for your first automatic embroidery machine and recommendations for highly-rated beginner models to get you started on your embroidery journey. With the right machine and some practice, you’ll be creating custom embroidered pieces in no time.

Automatic Embroidery Machines
Automatic Embroidery Machines

How Automatic Embroidery Machines Work

To understand how automatic embroidery machines work, it helps to first understand traditional embroidery. Traditional hand embroidery requires the embroiderer to manually pass the needle and thread through the fabric to create stitch patterns. Automatic embroidery machines automate this process using computerized stitch patterns and a multi-needle mechanism.

Automatic embroidery machines contain digital stitch patterns that can be selected and programmed into the machine. Once a pattern is selected, the machine automatically controls the needles and thread to produce the desired stitch design. Multiple needles allow for a variety of thread colors to be used.

The most common types of automatic embroidery machines are single-head, multi-head, and commercial grade. Single-head machines have one needle and are ideal for home craft use. Multi-head machines have multiple needles and are suited for small business use. Commercial-grade machines are industrial models with higher stitching speeds and up to 12 needles, intended for mass production.

To operate an automatic embroidery machine, you first need to select a pre-programmed stitch pattern or create your own custom design using embroidery design software. The fabric is then hooped and attached to the machine. Thread each needle with the desired color and the machine will automatically stitch your selected pattern onto the fabric. Trim away any excess threads when complete.

With an automatic embroidery machine, you can add beautiful custom stitching to clothing, linens, accessories, and more in a fraction of the time of hand embroidery. These modern machines open up a world of creative possibilities for embroidery enthusiasts and small business owners alike.

Types of Automatic Embroidery Machines: Single-Head vs Multi-Head

There are two main types of automatic embroidery machines: single-head and multi-head. Single-head machines, as the name suggests, have one needle and can only embroider one item at a time. Multi-head machines have multiple needles and can embroider multiple items simultaneously, allowing for higher production.

Single-Head Embroidery Machines

Single-head embroidery machines are well-suited for home use or small businesses. They typically have a compact size and are more affordable. However, they can only embroider one item at a time, so production is limited. Popular single-head brands are Brother, Singer, and Janome.

Automatic Embroidery Machines
Automatic Embroidery Machines

Multi-Head Embroidery Machines

Multi-head embroidery machines contain multiple needles, called heads, that can embroider several items concurrently. This allows for higher efficiency and greater production volume. They are more suitable for commercial use in businesses that require high-volume embroidery, such as promotional product suppliers, corporate apparel companies, and embroidery shops. Leading multi-head brands are Tajima, Barudan, ZSK, and Melco.

Multi-head machines vary in the number of heads, ranging from 2 to 12 or more. More heads mean higher productivity but also a higher price tag and larger size. So you need to determine how many heads would suit your particular production needs and budget. In summary, the choice between a single-head or multi-head embroidery machine depends on your intended use and required output. Both can produce high-quality embroidery, but multi-head machines offer greater speed and efficiency for high-volume commercial work.

Automatic Embroidery Machines
Automatic Embroidery Machines

5 Best Automatic Embroidery Machines for Home Use

When choosing an automatic embroidery machine for home use, consider the following top options:

Brother SE600 Sewing and Embroidery Machine

The Brother SE600 is an excellent all-in-one sewing and embroidery machine for beginners. It features 80 built-in embroidery designs, 6 embroidery lettering fonts, and 103 sewing stitches. The automatic needle threader and drop-in bobbin make the setup simple. Connect the SE600 to your computer to upload custom embroidery designs or download additional options from the Brother website. With a 4-inch by 4-inch embroidery field and embroidery arm for caps and sleeves, this versatile machine can handle most small-scale embroidery projects.

Singer Futura XL-550 Sewing and Embroidery Machine

For embroidery enthusiasts looking to up their game, the Singer Futura XL-550 is a great choice. This computerized sewing and embroidery machine comes with 200 built-in embroidery designs, multi-hooping capability, and a large 6-inch by 10-inch embroidery area. The SwiftSmart threading system and drop-in bobbin simplify the setup. Connect the XL-550 to your PC or Mac to access additional designs and upload custom options. An embroidery arm and multi-function foot allow you to embroider sleeves, caps, and more.

Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine

Dedicated embroidery enthusiasts will appreciate the Brother PE800 embroidery-only machine. This high-quality option features 138 built-in embroidery designs, 11 embroidery fonts, and a 5-inch by 7-inch embroidery field. An automatic thread cutter and thread sensor eliminate time-consuming trimming. Like other Brother models, the PE800 is compatible with additional designs available for download from the Brother website or can be connected to a computer to upload your own custom options. For embroidery projects with more detail, the PE800 is an ideal choice.

The key factors to consider when selecting an automatic embroidery machine for home use are the number and variety of built-in embroidery designs, maximum embroidery field size, computer connectivity, and available embroidery-specific features like an automatic thread cutter or multi-hooping capability. With options from trusted brands like Brother and Singer, you can find an embroidery machine suited to your specific needs and skill level.

Automatic Embroidery Machines
Automatic Embroidery Machines

Key Features to Consider When Buying an Automatic Embroidery Machine

When purchasing an automatic embroidery machine, there are several key features to consider to ensure you select a model suited to your needs.

Hoop Size

The hoop size determines the maximum embroidery area for your projects. Larger hoops, such as those over 5 by 7 inches, can accommodate bigger, more intricate designs and embroidery on larger items like jacket backs. However, larger hoops typically require a bigger, more expensive machine. For most hobby embroidery, a mid-size hoop of 4 by 4 inches to 5 by 7 inches should work well for many projects.

Built-In Designs

Many embroidery machines come with built-in embroidery designs and fonts to get you started. More advanced models may include hundreds of designs, including lace, scrollwork, florals, and quilt patterns. Built-in designs eliminate the need to purchase additional designs separately. However, you are limited to the designs included and cannot add more later. Machines with USB ports allow you to import designs from external sources.

Computer Connectivity

Embroidery machines with a USB port or wireless connectivity to a computer offer more design options. You can purchase embroidery design packs with thousands of designs to import into your machine. Some machines also allow you to create your own custom designs using embroidery software on a computer. Connectivity also allows you to upgrade your machine’s software and drivers.

Additional Features

Other useful features to consider include:

  • An automatic needle threader to save time and frustration.
  • Variable speed control so you can slow down the embroidery speed for curved areas and corners.
  • An automatic thread trimmer to trim excess thread between color changes.
  • A drop feed for free motion embroidery and darning.
  • A well-lit work area, preferably with LED lights, to properly view your work.
  • Accessories like embroidery hoops, needles, bobbins, dust cover, seam ripper, etc.

By analyzing different models based on these key features, you can determine which embroidery machine will suit both your current needs as well as any future embroidery aspirations you may have. Selecting a machine with room to grow into will ensure many years of creative enjoyment.

Top Automatic Embroidery Machine Brands

When shopping for an automatic embroidery machine, you’ll want to consider models from top brands that are known for producing high-quality, user-friendly machines. Here are some of the leading brands in automatic embroidery machines:


Brother is one of the most well-known brands in sewing and embroidery. They offer popular, affordable embroidery machines like the PE800 and SE1900 that are packed with features for beginners and hobbyists. Brother is a reputable, trusted brand that provides excellent product support and service.


Janome is a highly-regarded brand that produces some of the top-rated embroidery machines. They are known for their innovative technology, sturdy construction, and ease of use. Models like the Janome MB-4 and Jem Platinum 720 are powerful, versatile machines suitable for beginners and professionals alike. Janome is an acclaimed brand, but their machines do tend to be on the higher end of the price spectrum.


The Singer is an iconic American brand that has been producing sewing machines since 1851. They offer popular, budget-friendly embroidery machines like the Singer Futura XL-400 and SEQS 6000 that provide a solid set of features for casual hobby embroidery at an affordable price. The Singer is a well-established, reputable brand, especially for beginners.


Bernina is a premium brand that produces high-quality, professionally-geared embroidery machines. Bernina embroidery machines like the Bernina 770QE and 880Plus are sophisticated, high-performance machines designed for experienced embroiderers and commercial work. Bernina machines are top-of-the-line, with a price tag to match. They are an excellent choice if you want professional-grade results.

Choosing a machine from a top, reputable brand will give you confidence in your purchase and provide support for years to come. With options at a range of price points, you can find a high-quality embroidery machine to suit your needs and budget.

FAQs Section:

Common Questions About Automatic Embroidery Machines

Common questions about automatic embroidery machines often relate to their capabilities, maintenance, and overall usability.

What can automatic embroidery machines do?

Automatic embroidery machines can stitch intricate designs onto fabrics and materials using digitized embroidery patterns. They have a variety of built-in stitches and the ability to import additional stitch patterns. These machines can embroider monograms, appliqués, embroidery patches, and full embroidery designs. Some higher-end models offer more stitch options and the capability to combine multiple embroidery designs on one project.

How do I maintain an automatic embroidery machine?

To keep an automatic embroidery machine in working order, perform regular maintenance like:

  • Cleaning the bobbin case and hook area
  • Oiling any moving parts as directed in the product manual
  • Replacing the needle often, at least once every 4-6 hours of use
  • Cleaning under and around the needle plate
  • Ensuring the machine’s firmware and software are up to date

Performing scheduled maintenance will help prevent errors, uneven stitching, and damage to materials. It will also keep your machine running smoothly for years to come.

How easy are automatic embroidery machines to use?

Automatic embroidery machines are designed to be user-friendly for those at any skill level. However, some models do have a learning curve and may require an initial investment of time to become fully proficient in their operation. In general, the more features an embroidery machine offers, the longer it will take a beginner to learn. But with regular use, automatic embroidery machines can become second nature. Following the guidance in the product manual and online video tutorials will help shorten the learning curve.

What embroidery machine is best for beginners?

Q: What factors should I consider when choosing an embroidery machine as a beginner? A: As a beginner, consider factors like budget, ease of use, built-in designs, hoop size, and customer reviews. Look for machines with straightforward controls, comprehensive user manuals, and good customer support. Popular choices for beginners include Brother SE600, Janome Memory Craft 400E, and Singer Futura XL-400.

Q: Are computerized embroidery machines suitable for beginners? A: Yes, many computerized embroidery machines are excellent choices for beginners. They offer user-friendly interfaces, pre-programmed designs, and easy-to-navigate menus, simplifying the learning process.

Do embroidery machines work automatically?

Q: Do I need to manually guide the fabric when using an embroidery machine? A: No, embroidery machines work automatically once you set up the design, fabric, and hoop correctly. The machine will follow the digitized pattern and stitch the design on its own. However, it’s essential to monitor the process to ensure the thread tension and fabric placement are correct.

Q: Can embroidery machines create complex designs automatically? A: Yes, embroidery machines can create intricate and complex designs automatically. They follow the digitized design file, and some advanced machines can handle multiple colors and stitch types to produce detailed embroidery patterns.


As you have learned, automatic embroidery machines can be a worthwhile investment for any sewing enthusiast looking to expand into machine embroidery. With a variety of options at different price points, you can find a high-quality machine to suit your needs and budget. Once you have selected your machine, be sure to also invest in embroidery thread, stabilizer, and embroidery needles to get started. While the initial learning curve can seem daunting, with some practice you will be creating custom embroidery designs in no time. From monogramming towels to embroidering t-shirts, the possibilities are endless. If you follow the tips and techniques discussed here, you will have all the knowledge and tools you need to become a successful machine embroiderer. The world of embroidery awaits—happy stitching!

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