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What type of machine and why?

cinderelladressmaker's picture

Hello fellow sewers!  I am starting my hunt for an embroidery machine.  I would like to know what kind you have and why you like it, or don't like it? Also, I would like to know your opinion about the 'ease of use'.  Thank you so very much!

ljb2115's picture

(post #30668, reply #1 of 67)

I have owned a Janome 300 for five and one-half years and have never had an ounce of problems with it.  This model has been superceded by the Janome 350 which I have also used and will demo at our local quilt show June 5 and 6.  These are stand-alone machines and use both a 4x5" hoop and a 5"x7" hoop.  Very versitale - uses ATA compact flash cards, the 350 also can accomodate a memory stick,.  I am not too sure about all the virtues of the 350, but the 300 has 90 built-in designs, monogramming capabilities, on and on. 

Look for a good dealer who will give lessons, has back-up advice and possibly has an embroidery club.  In actuality, I never had a lesson with my machine, just brought it home and looked at the instruction book, then took off and haven't stopped since.  The instruction book is on a par with all sewing machine instruction books, being that they are translated from another language, but overlooking small glitches, I can find no fault. 

I have embroidered on everything from incredibly thick bath towels to very lightweight Swiss batiste.  I would also recommend subscribing to either Creative Machine Embroidery or Designs in Machine Embroidery.  These magazines contain a wealth of information, especially to a novice.  Get good advice about stabilizers, (a must) and keep a good supply of needles and you will be good to go.

In a few months you will be surrounded with more embroidery thread, stabilizers, notions than you ever knew existed.  But I have fun with this machine.  It is a break from alterations and custom sewing. 

Good luck. 

cinderelladressmaker's picture

(post #30668, reply #2 of 67)

Thank you very much ljb2115 for taking the time to answer my question.  Thankfully for me, I live in a large city.   I will have to take the time out to go to different dealers and actually try out the demos.  We have a large sewing show in the fall and that would be the ideal time to try them out and also get a good deal!  I believe in paying for quality, but I don't want to pay for something that will frustrate me.  I also don't want to pay for a machine that comes with so many bells and whistles that I won't  utilize.  I want a machine that can connect to my computer and also one that I can use a usb stick with.  Also, I would like to be able to easily access designs on the internet.  Wow, I sound greedy!  It seems that Brother has a good reputation, but my mind is boggled by all their choice.  I will continue my quest for now! Stay well!

ljb2115's picture

(post #30668, reply #3 of 67)

I am not very computer savvy - DH does all that for me.  I could not embroider if I didn't have him to download, etc. for me. I just haven't taken the time to learn that step, but he assures me ANYONE can do it.  The Janome doesn't have too many bells and whistles - just enough to get by.  I do not work for the local Janome dealer, just happened to purchase this machine and fell in love.  The rest is history.  Please keep me posted on your quest.  The local dealer is incredibly generous to the local ASG and quilt guild.  I believe in staying local - if I can.

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #30668, reply #4 of 67)

you can do a "search" here, we have had several discussions on embroidery machines. has machine reviews written by owners that should help alot

test drive!  try to find a local dealer that you feel a good rapport with

local "brand" licensed repair wizards are a Godsend, often can troubleshoot over the phone too and save you the trip/shipping/$$$$$

free "know your machine classes" are expected these days (as many as necessary for you)

I love my Husqvarna Designer I sewing/embroidery machine and have had it for many years.  It's solid and very reliable.  I finally bought the professional software package and love it too.  

Take your time and enjoy the search!  Hope you find the perfect machine for you. 

Alot of the expense is in "accessories"  such as hoops, stabilizers, needles, designs, thread...start small and build up or try to get a package deal with several hoops included in the original purchase.  They often have special deals at Christmas/Mother's Day, etc.  Mary

cinderelladressmaker's picture

(post #30668, reply #7 of 67)

Thanks Mary,  I have looked on this site and  Some of the reviews on this site are from a while back.  I am interested in current reviews as the machines/features change so rapidly, as with anything electronic or computerized.  Also sometimes on a site I can't be sure if the review is coming from someone who has a vested interest in the product.  I want people like you to give me your opinions about the pros and cons of different machines.  Afterall, we unfortunately learn from our mistakes, but we also love to share our good finds!

Stay well,   Cindy

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #30668, reply #8 of 67)

It's funny how you mentioned the changing technology.  As we speak, Husq./Viking is getting ready to put several new machines on the market and most likely their competitors will be doing the same. 

It seems that with computers, the prices don't keep escalating out of control, but with sewing and embroidery machines the prices have really gone through the roof with no consideration for the reality of the economy. 

Have you decided wether to get a comercial or a home machine yet?  Have you discovered what your preferences are yet? 

I like the front loading bobbin, thread paths I can follow without standing up, quiet and sturdy workhorse, good technical support, a dealer that is supportive of their clients and provides certified repair (preferably gold standard certification), good warranty, variety of stitches and size adjustment of decorative stitches, good lighting, good ergonomics, lots of feet (I have a foot fetish, tee hee), large foot control, hard cover, portable wheeled case, free learn your machine classes plus help and pointers from time to time, as well as other creative continuing education classes at a fair price.  Oh, and "cruise control" is wonderful!  I love the Pfaff or Husq./Viking Profession software!!!

You may prefer knee control or drop in bobbin.  The important thing is to find the machine that is just right for your needs and you are on the right track by doing the research before you buy and test driving to make sure it "feels good" too. 

I couldn't manage without my serger either.  So if I was in the market for a new machine and didn't own a serger, I would spend less on the sewing/embroidery machine so I could get a serger with coverstitch too.  Just sharing my thoughts here, not trying to push you in any direction at all. 

Tore out the carpet in my studio finally and am reorganizing everything once again.  I seem to do this once a year.  Oooooooooh, it would be grand to have one of those wonderful huge quilting tables that folds up small and holds two machines and has lots of drawers and cubbys!  But then, I would have the delimma of deciding whether I'd prefer to get a long arm quilting machine which would take up the whole room! 

There's always something to wish for!  The important thing is to appreciate our blessings and enjoy them,  especially the love of creating and the ability to do it with whatever tools we are blessed to have.    Mary

cinderelladressmaker's picture

(post #30668, reply #9 of 67)

Thanks Mary for your indepth message.  I do appreciate it!  Yes, so you know exactly what I mean by up to date opinions.  Last week I was telling a dealer that I had wondered why the prices hadn't yet gone down as they have with other electronic gadgets.  She said "well these machines do a lot", I said, "but computer parts are very cheap".  I do agree with you about the prices.

I want a home machine.  I don't want to pay the price of a car for one.  I am a dressmaker, but don't think that I will be doing lots of embroidery.  I want a foot control and lots of feet (I have a shoe fetish!!!) and a front loading bobbin sounds ideal.  I want a decent sized screen and one that I can hook up via usb to my laptop.   I want one that will work with the 'digitizers' I see on the internet.  I hear Singer is crap.  My main sewing machine is a Pfaff and it is a work horse.  I understand that the Pfaff and Baby Lock are expensive.  I keep hearing good things about Brother and Janome.  It seems most of the Brother machines are combos.

My fear of making the purchase is similar to purchasing a computer.  I fear I will put out  a lot of money on one and then in a few of years it and the accessories will become obsolete?  And damn, I expect those prices to go down. 

The quest continues!  With much appreciated input like yours, I will one day be successful! 

Stay well in beautiful Colorado!    Cindy                                                                  

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #30668, reply #10 of 67)

Thank You for the well wishes.  My brother and I spent a wonderful day in Estes Park where he used to live.  He is a glass lampwork artist and makes beautiful hummingbirds and columbines (Colorado state flower) so it was about 12 hours of business mixed with pleasure and great scenery!  We also watched a young very talented young artist blowing glass bowls and vases with such grace.  It was fascinating, like watching a dance, then chatting with him and listening to the two artists discuss thier techniques...I couldn't resist buying a "witch's ball" from the shop in blues and purples to hang in my studio window.  It was the lovliest day I've had in ages!  Mary

Sorry for getting off subject on this thread, but I couldn't resist sharing my cheerful experience. 

cinderelladressmaker's picture

(post #30668, reply #11 of 67)

Actually Mary, it is not too off topic for me.  My sister owns a stained glass studio!  Her website is   Does your brother have a website?  I have always loved glass.  I guess you and I just happen to be people who love colour and being tactile!?  Great talking to you Mary!  Again, stay well!

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #30668, reply #13 of 67)  He mostly sells retail but does a few festivals.  My grandson (12) is running the Boulder Boulder 10K race today with 50,000 other people!  wahoo!

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #30668, reply #14 of 67)

Ooooooooh!  The stained glass is beautiful!  I love it!  Thanks for sharing!  I will share the website with my brother, he also loves stained glass and makes a few pieces from time to time.   Love eyecandy as well as tactile!  Mary

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #30668, reply #12 of 67)

he he, I have a shoe fetish too!  One thing I love is that most of the feet for the Husq/Viking Rose sewing/embroidery machine that I bought over a decade ago, also fit on my Designer I.  The new Professional software works on most home embroidery machine formats as well as both my old and newer machines though one "speaks" Hus and the other VP3, as well as the Designer SE my dil has. 

You might want to consider a "gently used" machine that has been gone over by a dealer and cleaned and checked out well.  Some dealers even provide a warranty and classes with these machines that were traded up for the latest or top of the line machines.  When I bought the Rose, it was a classroom model and is still like a brand new machine, just older technology.  I gave it to my grand daughter, but she keeps it here, my grandson's really put it through it paces learning to sew and embroider too.

Jessie3's picture

(post #30668, reply #16 of 67)


I am Sonja, I too took the advise of Mary in Colorado, She is a very smart lady, I listened very carefully, and made a very good choice, and you will make a good choice for you.  She stressed that the key is to get a dealership that has GREAT support, sit in on a class or two.  I looked and did my homework for about 6mos. (it doesn't take that long, i just wanted to pay cash, you get a better deal with some freebees,stabilizer, thread etc......)  I chose a Babylock (Model:Ellegante2 BLG2)due to the support they offered, every dealership is different, the people make the difference. I had my heart set on a Viking, but my viking dealership did not impress me. Also,I like the extras they offered too, like, the people they brought in for retreats, Nancy Zieman, Elenor Burns, Martha Pullen, etc....  Also FYI, Brother and Babylock ARE the same machine, the only difference is that Brother has the exclusive rights to disney embroidery designs.  But back to the point I am satisfied/happy with this machine.  I wish you lots of luck and patience while making your decision.


cinderelladressmaker's picture

(post #30668, reply #17 of 67)

Hi Sonja,  Thank you so much for the message.  You are so right about the service from a dealer.  I usually purchase my electronic items based on that.  I just received a brochure from Brother.  I did not know that Brother/Babylock were the same company?  Thanks for that info.  Wow, the Ellagante!  Isn't that the Mercedes of embroidery machines?  I don't think I want to spend that much though.  As mentioned, I want the embroidery to enhance my dressmaking, not take it over.  You are right about Mary in Colorado.  She is helpful, insightful and I have enjoyed my conversations with her!  Sewers are helpful and friendly by natue.  I love the way we are not competitive, but work as one big team.  Thanks for the luck and patience!  Warm regards,   Cindy

Jessie3's picture

(post #30668, reply #18 of 67)

Hi Cindy,

Let me know what you end up getting. 

I hadn't sewn in 25yrs , way too busy with 2boys. Guess I jumped in with both feet buying the Ellegante, but I thought I may not get the opportunity to buy one with all the bells and whistles again since I am thinking of retiring soon (I am not old enough to retire I am just tired of working in the hospital and other venues won't hire RNs they say they can't afford us, but I am worn out). So my point is, I may not spend that kind of money on a hobby again, but who knows. 

I have been wanting a serger and from what I have seen the baby lock has one of the best with the jet air threading, its a must see! Do you have one? 

Take Care and have fun,


Edited 5/28/2009 12:00 am ET by Jessie3

cinderelladressmaker's picture

(post #30668, reply #19 of 67)

Jet air threading, heaven, pure heaven!  I have a Bernina serger.  It is a great machine and I am a mechanically inclined person, but changing thread colours, terror!  Nurses have never been paid enough or treated properly.  There rate of pay is disgusting.  My best friend is an oncology nurse.  All she does is upgrade her education and for what.  At this point she has spent as much time in school as a doctor!  Hopefully when the economy turns your work hours and choices will pick up?  Good for you then to spoil yourself with the Ellegante.  You deserve it.  Stay well and happy embroidering!

Jessie3's picture

(post #30668, reply #24 of 67)

Thank you for your nice email.

 I can't complain much about the pay, but,yes it could be better, it is the work load.  Anyway, thank you for your well wishes.

Hope you get what you want! Let us know what you decide to get. 

Happy Sewing!


MaryinColorado's picture

(post #30668, reply #22 of 67)

I'm an RN too, had to give it up because of the physical strain and damage though my heart was still in it.  It was a difficult transition, but buying a new sewing/embroidery machine got me through it.  Then I got a serger, what a wonder!  I love my serger the most!  There are so many creative things that you can do with it, so far and above finishing seams and hems.  Serger Secrets and Secrets to Successful Sewing have some great information for techiniques and garment making with the serger. 

The grandkids learned to sew and embroider on the Viking Rose and though it still "lives" at my house, it belongs to my grand daughter now.  I "moved up" to the Designer I and love it.  I am so glad to hear that you got your Ellegante before retiring from nursing!  It's a wonderful long term gift to yourself, you deserve it after all the years of giving to others.  Enjoy and cherish your blessings!  Mary

Jessie3's picture

(post #30668, reply #23 of 67)

Thank you for the nice email.  The physical demands and mental demands on Nurses are tough these days, I work in a hospital, out pt surgery.

What kind of serger did you get?

  Also I want to tell you that if it weren't for YOU I would have probably made a mistake in my purchase.  I so desperately wanted a Viking like yours but there was no support that I could see.  When I get this one (Ellegante) mastered I will get a Viking, hopefully I will know more about the sewing and embroidery features that I can figure the Viking out on my own.  I am still learning about stabilizers. 

What are you working on now?

Hope to hear from you soon, HAPPY SEWING!


Edited 5/30/2009 4:59 pm ET by Jessie3

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #30668, reply #25 of 67)

I'm so glad that you are happily learning all you can about your machine, enjoy the process, the journey is half the fun! 

I always have many projects going at once, most with no deadline so I can work on whatever catches my Muse's interest at any given moment.  Ah, if it were only that whimsical...I almost forgot that the reason I started working this way in the first place...intermittant and unpredictable physical limitations.  How's that for waxing poetic? 

I have completed many red embroidered rose petal  and green leaf appliques.  It will be a giant rose with the stem and leaves going all the way to the hem of a long denim coat for my daughter.  There are also some rosebuds along the way.  Placement is the biggest issue as the stems and a few buds will be embroidered directly onto the denim.  Then I am making her a long scarf out of the red bali batik I used for the rosepetals.  I think I will embroider a longstemmed rose on the front too.  This is on my mannequin.

On the cutting table, I have quilt squares that I am trying to figure out how to lay out for a throw.  (On top of that is a pile of fabric because I am also reorganizing the studio and had to empty out some drawers to move a dresser and hutch.)

In a little basket is the makings for a tiny faery doll with a painted silk cocoon for a hat. 

Clamped to a cafe rod is a dragonfly and dandelions artquilt with many techniques and my first attempt at beading on fabric. 

There is another wallhanging gifted to me by the owner of my favorite quiltshop that is hanging over a rod (that's supposed to be my design wall) awaiting fabric tube  for the back so I can properly hang it. 

There's a crazy quilt for my oldest grandson with fabrics and embroideries of his interests and memories of high school that I hope to finish by July, but definitely before he graduates next year...oh dear, I do have a few that MUST be completed within a reasonable time frame...tee hee

Oh, and a panel skirt with drawstring waist waiting for just the right fabric, a pair of blue gauze pants that need a waistband with matching buttondown tank blouse, a jeanjacket with the cuffs cut off waiting for embellishment, 2 sundresses I made last year that are now too big,  a soon to be scarf made of thread and water soluble stabilizer at the serger....Are you storry you asked me what I'm working on yet?  tee hee 

 I'll just stop there even though there are more, they don't qualify as UFO's because this is just the way I work and try not to let it get too chaotic and messy either as I can't work in a messy studio!  That's probably the biggest challenge for me so I am always reorganizing better methods and better containers.  I think that part comes from being a nurse, we always have to know exactly where everything is and reasonably accessable, etc.

Oh, I have a Husqvarna/Viking Huskylock 936 Serger with Coverstitch that I adore!  My dil just got the Huskylock 910 this week and is signed up for free classes.  I gave her a workbook written by the "Serger Lady"  Linda Lee Vivian  there are serger specific patterns on her website and other great info.  (Kwik Sew also has many serger patterns) 

I'm a major chatterbox this week, sorry if it's excessive.  Mary


gailete's picture

(post #30668, reply #26 of 67)

Mary, I don't have that much going on myself, but I finished my dress last night, and got to wear it to church today, so time to clear off the work table. I opened up my quilting UFO box as I want to make my BIL a quilt. I have this feeling if I put the UFO box away and start from scratch it will go faster, but I have so many leftover pieces that were sewed into small blocks in all different sizes, I'd really like to use some of them up. Discovered 12 quilt blocks from a friendship block exchange from about 20 years ago, quilt blocks from when I was trying to work my way through Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts!!! and then quilt blocks I made just for fun, and then all these other oddball blocks that I want to sew up into something that my BIL will enjoy.

I am like you though too, I go where the muse and health let me on any given day. By the end of the night, I will be thinking on totally different ways of making him a quilt and even though the fabric on the dress I just made was hard to work with, the dress (with NO buttons or zippers) was a very comfy dress and FIT!!! so I would like to make it again in some different fabrics. But then tomorrow is an EGD and Tuesday a CT Scan so everything is going to get behind. It is nice to always have something creative to either be doing or thinking about. What do people (with poor health) who don't sew do with themselves, especially when they don't read either? I think I would have to shoot myself if the only thing left was watching TV 12 hours a day! At least I have a great collection of books and magazines to stimulate my brain and I always see something new every time I go through them.


KharminJ's picture

(post #30668, reply #27 of 67)

Blessings to you for this week's health care adventures! I hope they don't find anything unexpected!


gailete's picture

(post #30668, reply #36 of 67)

I ended up waking up Monday morning sicker than the proverbial dog and am still recovering, so all my tests got canceled and haven't had the energy yet to try and reschedule. One of the tests I'd been waiting 6 weeks for and one was because they found something unexpected on my gallbaldder sono. I'm not a real happy camper.

Sunday evening before getting sick I pulled out all my premade quilt blocks of assorted sizes and sorted them into same size stacks to try to figure out how to make my BIL a quilt from some of them. I'm currently derailed from sewing but as I feel better hopefully some ideas will pop into my head. I think it would probably be easier to start from scratch and let someone else in 40-50 years have a go at the blocks I've already made. Many of them have happy memories of me teaching myself to piece the different blocks. No rule that says we have to use up everything is there?


cinderelladressmaker's picture

(post #30668, reply #37 of 67)

Hey ladies, just an update on my search for an embroidery machine.

Thanks for all your help and suggestions! I have spent hours on the internet and the phone with my local dealers about Janome and Brother. Just when I get excited about some different Brother machines, they are already discontinued! The Brother 8500D and the Brother Ult2003 both caught my fancy and both are discontinued.
I am now looking at Janome 350E. I don't believe I want a combo. I already have a number of sewing machines.
The combo's seem to be made for quilters. I don't quilt. I am going this Saturday to a dealer in my city whom I know and seems to have the best prices here. He carries both Brother and Janome. One thing I have learned is also one of the reasons the search has taken so long. As with anything electronic/computer related, they become discontinued or obsolete. I want something that I can still update with downloads and software in a few years from now. These pieces of machinery are too expensive to only be able to use for a few years. I have the chance to purchase a used Brother 8500D for a good price, but I see some of the new Brother accessories aren't compatible with it. So welcome to my dilemma. I do know that when I physically test the different machines, that will tell me a lot. I also want one that is user

friendly with a USB stick and that I can use my scanner with. I realize that the software for the digitizing capability is expensive, but there are some decent  programs out there for a good price.
I will update you after my demo tests. Again, thanks so much for your input! Cindy

P.S.  Gail, I hope you get feeling TOL soon!

ljb2115's picture

(post #30668, reply #40 of 67)

I get to "play" with the Janome 350E Friday and Saturday at our local quilt show.  I am taking all types of fabrics, towels, stiff and regular felt, paper, etc to demo.  This will be a learning experience for me; I have the 300E, so probably won't have any trouble.  I will report back, probably Monday or Tuesday on the whole experience.

I should clarify a bit -   Mostly my projects are "blanks", which are purchased pieces.  As a rule, I never embroider on my garments - just goodies for the house and for gifts; therefore most of my projects are small.  I will embroider free-standing lace and lots of redwork, as we want to keep the machine running to generate interest and redwork is a one color deal.

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #30668, reply #43 of 67)

Are you working at the quilt show?  I was wondering if you work for a Janome dealership?  What stabilizer do you like to use for your freestanding lace?  Have fun this weekend.  I look forward to hearing about the quilt show!  Mary

ljb2115's picture

(post #30668, reply #47 of 67)

I do not work for the local Janome dealer. He and his staff bend over backwards to support the local ASG chapter and our local quilt guild. (I did purchase my 300 Efrom him.) I am doing this as a favor to the owner as a thank-you from both groups.  I am as we speak (other than making a big mess) getting all my samples ready to pack.  I have had this machine for five and one-half years and have done far more embroidery than I realized.  Most is small stuff, as I don't really like embellished clothing, but I have saturated the relatives with towels, monogrammed purses and the like.

As for the free-standing lace, I use VILENE which is not very available on a local basis.  I purchased mine from the Sewphisticated Stitcher, but it really gripes me that I must have a min. $75.00 order to get the Vilene.  Vilene washes out well and quickly.  Another good product is the Floriani line.  Look at independent quilt and sewing shops for this.  I have some fab. sticky wash-away from F.  Horribly expensive but good.  Sulky is also good, has a heavy-duty which holds up well w/lace.  Badgemaster is another good product for very heavy lace, but takes a while for the substance to wash away.  This is good for stiff free standing items (like my Christmas snowflakes and the Chriswell and Zundt bowls. 

The Sulky lightweight water-soluable stablizer is great for toppings on towels, fleece, flannel, etc.  It tears away and in most cases does not need to be laundered or soaked before using or giving. 

If I haven't been through enough, email me back and will elaborate more.

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #30668, reply #49 of 67)

I think Badgemaster and Vilene are the only two on the market that I haven't tried.  I've been machine embroidering for years, but have only done a little bit of free standing lace.  I was thinking it would be fun to make some snowflakes for gifts this winter.  Mary

ljb2115's picture

(post #30668, reply #50 of 67)

Check Criswell Designs and Zundt for some very nice snowflakes.  Criswell (Chriswell?) is more moderately priced, Zundt is very pricey.  Both are nice designs.

I enclose snowflakes in my Christmas cards with a little gold thread through one of the outer loops.  People think I am the greatest!

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #30668, reply #53 of 67)

Thank You for sharing that wonderful idea!  I love it!