The Sewing Place

Embroidery Machines for Dummies...

Acorn

Embroidery Machines for Dummies...
« on: June 18, 2017, 19:16:30 PM »
 I idly mentioned to Mr Acorn that I would really love to have an embroidery machine, but they cost lots of money (and I always translate equipment money into quantities of fabric...)  He pointed out to me that I am about to inherit a bit of money from his late mother, and that she would have loved the idea of a machine that did embroidery (she would have been mystified, but impressed).

Soooo.... I know next to nothing about them.  I've never seen one in the flesh, and there is nowhere anywhere near me that I could go to investigate them.  Unfortunately my broadband connection is too bad at the moment to be able to watch Youtube (or any other) videos.  Next week, however, I might have the chance to go to a sewing machine centre, and I would like to be much better informed.

These are the things I (think I) know about them:
  • they do embroidery stitches in the same way as my standard sewing machine, in a line with me guiding the fabric (but presumably much fancier, more complicated and varied stitches)
  • they can be programmed to embroider individual motifs, which they largely get on with by themselves, with the fabric in a hoop
  • they come with a certain number of stitches/motifs built in, and others can be purchased and used from usb sticks (or card readers maybe?)
  • umm... that's about it
What I don't know would make a vastly longer list, so here's a few excerpts:
  • can you use any software on any machine, or is it brand/model-specific?
  • presumably a multi-coloured motif is done one colour at a time - can all machines do that?
  • what are the main differences between models (given the vast difference in prices) - other than possible size of embroidery area and number of patterns included?

Is there any other advice you would give to a complete novice?
« Last Edit: July 01, 2017, 19:16:50 PM by Acorn »
I might look as though I'm talking to you, but inside my head I'm sewing.

Eileen

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2017, 19:51:24 PM »
One of the things I feel you would find beneficial is for the machine to be capable of cutting the jump threads.  Otherwise you would have to cut away all the threads that appear as the machine moves from one area to another, this can been a painful experience in my opinion as some of the jump threads may only be just over a quarter of an inch or up to 1-2 inches depending on the design.
Love will always conquer hate 💕💕❤️

Bodgeitandscarper

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2017, 22:02:04 PM »
When I bought my Janome 350e I knew nothing about embroidery machines either, but I seem to have made a good choice.  One thing to consider is how big a hoop it takes, do you want to do big designs?
I don't know a lot about them (and anyone feel free to correct me on anything!), but I think each brand of machine has it's own file type, but practically all the designs you can buy come in all the file types.  Trying to make your own designs appears very complicated and requires specialised software.  All I've done is slightly alter designs rather than do any from scratch.
I don't know that they do embroidery stitches like a sewing machine though, I don't think mine does, but maybe some do.
Multi coloured designs automatically stop for you to change the colour - this can be many times in an intricate design!

BrendaP

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2017, 22:31:03 PM »
I'm another who knows not much more than zilch about embroidery machines, but I'm pretty certain that they all make lock stitches in the same way that just about all regular sewing machines do using a top spool and a bobbin.

There are two types of machine embroidery stitches.  The sort of embroidery that most modern machines can do at least a few examples of, ie lines of fancy stitching based on varying widths of zig-zag and combinations of forwards and backwards movement.  Direction of the lines of stitching is controlled by the sewist. Alphabets also come into this group.

Full blown embroidery machines use a hoop to hold the fabric taut and need appropriate software.  Once it's all set up  and the start button is pressed the machine gets on with it without any further input from the sewist.
Brenda.  My machines are: Caroline a Singer 201K-3 born in 1940, Thirza a Featherweight 221K born 1949, Azilia a Singer 201K born 1957 and and Vera, a Husqvarna 350 SewEasy about 20 years old. Also Bernina 1150 overlocker and Elna 444 Coverstitcher.
http://paternoster.orpheusweb.co.uk/

Jo

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2017, 08:23:21 AM »
I don't have any experience with embroidery machines either, but having just reaserched buying one, I can tell you some of the things that have influenced me :)
First thing to consider is budget. If you want a sewing and embroidery machine, they are usually more expensive. If you just want an embroidery only machine, budget can be lower, but you need the space for two machines.
What you are describing regarding you guiding the fabric sounds more like free motion embroidery, which you can do with any sewing machine. Embroidery machines are fully automatic. You hoop the fabric (the hoop makes sure the fabric doesn't shift), select the design, push the button and the machine does everything else. Depending on the machine, you might have to cut some jump threads mid way.
I have only check Brother software so far. It can open .pes files and export into any other embroidery format. You can open files other than .pes only if you convert them first.
Machines with one needle will always stop for you to change color. There are also multi needle machines that will change the color without your intervention (use a different needle threaded with a different color).
Main differences are:
- max hoop size - the area you will be able to embroider in one go. This doesn't mean you will not be able to make larger designs, only that they will require splitting  the design into sections that would fit in your hoop and rehoop several times. Bigger area is better :)
- speed - embroidery takes a long time :) the faster the machine, the sooner it's done. A large and intricate design can take over 30 min to complete.
- screen - some have larger screens than others. This helps you see the design better, edit etc.
- embroidery designs - they all have dome included, but you can buy (or get free ones) as many as you want. Make sure the machine is capable of reading a usb stick as cards are getting outdated.

I bought the Janome Skyline S9 (Atelier 9 in the Uk). It's the machine that satisfied all my needs and was a decent price (decent when comparing to the Brother V7).
I needed a sewing + embroidery combo. Wasn't too worried about hoop size because Janome has some apps for easy rehooping and aligning, and the largest hoop is fairly decent (17x21 cm).
It also had sewing machine features I wanted (lock stitch, thread cutting, pivot function, knee lift, walking foot etc.).
When I need to make this kind of decision, I usually start from the top down. I look at the most expensive machines to see what they offer and then decide which functions are nice to have and which ones I really need. I then take a look in my price range and see how many of the above I can check. Depending on what's available, I might increase the budget if I consider it's worth it, or I might cut some things off of my "need" list :)
Hope it helps!
Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.

Acorn

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2017, 10:35:13 AM »
Thank you - that's all really helpful.

Does anyone have any experience of the Husqvarna Topaz 25?  I've fallen for it a bit, and have the chance of a good deal (either on a new one or an as-new second hand one with a warranty), but not a chance of getting anywhere to test one.
I might look as though I'm talking to you, but inside my head I'm sewing.

Lowena

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2017, 10:39:35 AM »
What do you all make which needs embroidering?
Triumph of hope over experience :D

BrendaP

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2017, 10:44:30 AM »
Acorn wrote
they do embroidery stitches in the same way as my standard sewing machine, in a line with me guiding the fabric (but presumably much fancier, more complicated and varied stitches)

Jo replied
What you are describing regarding you guiding the fabric sounds more like free motion embroidery, which you can do with any sewing machine. Embroidery machines are fully automatic.

I think Acorn is describing the embroidery stitches which come on most modern regular sewing machines and look like these.

Free Motion embroidery is machine stitching with feed dogs disengaged (or covered) and stitch width set to 0.  That means that the movement of the fabric is entirely controlled by the sewist.  Can be done on any lockstitch machine.

I use the term lockingstitch to describe how the machine forms the stitches.  Not to be confused with lockstitch meaning two or three of these lockstitches worked on top of each other with no space between at the beginning or end of a line of stitching.



« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 17:08:56 PM by BrendaP »
Brenda.  My machines are: Caroline a Singer 201K-3 born in 1940, Thirza a Featherweight 221K born 1949, Azilia a Singer 201K born 1957 and and Vera, a Husqvarna 350 SewEasy about 20 years old. Also Bernina 1150 overlocker and Elna 444 Coverstitcher.
http://paternoster.orpheusweb.co.uk/

Syrinx

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2017, 10:59:16 AM »
General advice is go for the biggest hoop size you can afford.

Then check the stitch speed. Go for as high as possible.

You definitely want auto cut but I think most have this anyway.

You want one with USB rather than card as card not so well supported.

I love my V3, it's great, stitches out well on everything, and quickly. But I did get it second hand as £££.

Brother are considered very good embroidery machines, but you'll be fine with the top brands.

Software is brand specific but buying designs you can pick your file type.

Multi designs are done one colour at a time and it alerts you to change the thread colour. Unless you have a multi needle machine but those are ££££££££s.

Don't worry too much about the number of designs already included, you'll most likely buy ones you like (or they'll be free) - embroidery library and urban threads are very good and stitch out well.

Read up on stabilisers. A poor stitch out is usually down to poor choice or weight of stabiliser, rather than poor digitising.

Mine is currently in need of a service as I've got a dodgy needle housing bolt that has smashed a couple of needles so my repair skills are obviously not enough! But I love how I can set it going, and be sewing with my mechanical whilst it goes.



I use mine for embroidering blocks for quilts, t-shirts, cushions, bags, making things a bit more fun. I keep meaning to do some handkerchiefs for a friend. And I like using it to make little christmas gifts for people that I don't know well enough to get a big present for, but enough that I want to give them something. I often do FSL things for them, or I do a small design that can go in a little picture frame or be used as a bookmark, so it doesn't cost a lot more than the time to digitise and the thread and fabric, but it is a lovely gift (better than some chocolate or another mug!).

I am also planning on using mine (once serviced) to test out some wholcloth designs I've come up with (smaller though!) to see what it looks like stitched out without too much effort from me. Especially as I've been considering using coloured threads for some of the designs. They'll be samplers and probably end up as bag pieces or cushion fronts so won't be wasted.

BrendaP

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2017, 11:16:12 AM »
What do you all make which needs embroidering?

A couple of years ago I was given a sample of machine embroidery with the thought of making it into a cushion, but it's still a sample!

I can see why embroidery machines appeal to some people, but unless you are going to set up in business embroidering club logos and school badges or whatever or have the skills to produce truly unique designs and incorporate them into couture garments they are IMO  expensive toys.

(Ducks behind the sofa!)  We need an icon for that!

« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 11:22:11 AM by BrendaP »
Brenda.  My machines are: Caroline a Singer 201K-3 born in 1940, Thirza a Featherweight 221K born 1949, Azilia a Singer 201K born 1957 and and Vera, a Husqvarna 350 SewEasy about 20 years old. Also Bernina 1150 overlocker and Elna 444 Coverstitcher.
http://paternoster.orpheusweb.co.uk/

Bodgeitandscarper

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2017, 11:28:48 AM »
Yup, they are expensive, but some of us are frittering away our inheritance  :| (Fortunately, a lot of it is invested now so I can't spend it all!)  I've used mine for making some really snazzy fleece jackets, and some cards, and plan to include embroidery on clothes I make.

Lowena

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2017, 11:33:18 AM »
Aha, thanks Bren,Syrinx and Bodgey, I can see that one would not be of any use to me  :(
Triumph of hope over experience :D

Bodgeitandscarper

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2017, 11:39:00 AM »
Aha, thanks Bren,Syrinx and Bodgey, I can see that one would not be of any use to me  :(
But if you're in to quiltering, then you can do some super stippling patterns, and other things for quilts  0_0

Sewingsue

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2017, 12:30:21 PM »
Reads Brenda's post and thinks 'yes, sensible, just a pricey toy you wouldn't use'

Looks at Bodgeit's pic and thinks 'oh, I like that'
Bernina Aurora 440QE, Brother BC-2500, Singer 99K (1938), Silver Viscount 620D overlocker.

Acorn

Re: Embroidery Machines for Dummies
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2017, 14:17:56 PM »
I am a sucker for embroidery on anything - everything - and I do a lot of hand embroidery.  Of course that takes far too long to do much on everyday clothing, or pillowcases for general use.  There are lots of clothes around at the moment with embroidery - often on blue and white striped cotton.  I am viewing it lustfully, but not actually liking any of the clothes themselves...

I also have a pair of cropped denim trousers with self-coloured embroidery around the hems that I would very much like to copy.

I have told Mr Acorn that I will give him a pack of stickers to put on anything that he doesn't want embroidering!

Once I discovered that you can also set an embroidery machine to quilt without having the worry of FMQ I was pretty much sold.  And then Mr Acorn said, 'I suppose this would be the last present my Mum ever gave you'. 
I might look as though I'm talking to you, but inside my head I'm sewing.