Is machine embroidery expensive?

By on January 17th, 2021
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Thinking about getting into machine embroidery, but worried about the cost?  Yes – an embroidery machine is not cheap. In addition, there are quite a few extra accessories and supplies you will need to actually do the embroidery.  So, is machine embroidery expensive?  And if so – how much are we talking about? And, is there any way to offset the cost of owning an embroidery machine?

How expensive is machine embroidery?

The embroidery machine

Obviously, the most expensive part of machine embroidery is the machine. Probably the least expensive machine you can buy is around a few hundred dollars. However, a machine in this price range will only have an embroidery area of 4″ x 4″. Machines with larger embroidery hoop areas as well as multi-needle machines will cost thousands of dollars.

Tools and accessories

Besides the embroidery machine, there are few tools and accessories that will make your machine embroidery process a lot easier. Fortunately, none of them are very expensive. For example, a thread stand (which I think is pretty essential) is about $12.  Appliqué scissors? About the same price. Check out these 10 essential tools for machine embroidery that don’t come with the embroidery machine.

Supplies

A lot of the required supplies may cost you a bit up front but will last you quite a while.  For example, a large collection of machine embroidery thread, embroidery bobbin thread and some of the essential stabilizers will likely be at least $100. But these essential supplies should last you quite a while.

Consider a used machine (and excess supplies)

If you are patient (and lucky) you may be able to score a great deal on a used embroidery machine. Someone cleaning out an estate may be more interested in getting rid of the embroidery machine than getting a good price for it. I’ve heard several stories of people picking up embroidery machines at estate sales and the seller throwing in a bunch of thread and other supplies with the machine.

used Brother embroidery machine on Facebook marketplace

I did a quick search on Facebook marketplace and found a Brother HE-1 embroidery machine for $250. This is a very basic machine with only a 4″ x 4″ hoop, but a great one to get started with machine embroidery.  Brother makes high quality machines and this particular machine is “barely used.”  If I were in the market for such a machine, I would at least see if the seller would come down on price a bit.  I would also inquire about extra accessories and supplies.  If this seller is looking to quit machine embroider altogether, I would think she would be wanting to get rid of all of it.

Check out this previous post on how to buy a cheap embroidery machine.

Brother Embroidery Machines and Accessories

Can machine embroidery actually save you money?

There’s no doubt an embroidery machine is a big investment. But I believe if you use it strategically, it can actually save you money in the long term while allowing you to be creative and build a new skill.

Let’s just say you invest in a solid starter embroidery machine like the Brother PE800 that will run you at least $700. Because that machine comes with a 5“ x 7“ hoop, you can do quite a variety of projects with it, many of which will make great gifts.  (If $550 seems like too much – you may consider the Brother PE535 which is quite a bit cheaper.  Check out the differences.)

Just think about birthday gifts. In my experience, it seems like most parents spend between $20-$25 on a kid birthday gift. This usually comes in the form of a gift card (which is how I can so easily assess the value).  But there are tons more meaningful and personalized gifts you can make for just about anyone that will run you less than $10.

And when I say $10, I’m including the cost of thread and stabilizer. Yes, I know it takes time to embroider a gift, but how many times have you had to make a special trip out at the last minute to pick up a birthday gift? Just keep a variety of blanks in your house.

Let’s do the math

So, if you save $15 per gift. You will have saved enough to cover the cost of the embroidery machine after making 37 birthday gifts.

Don’t think you’ll make that many birthday gifts this year? what about hostess gifts? Holiday gifts? Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, anniversaries, engagementsweddings? I know I have at least 37 gift giving opportunities in a year.

My embroidery machine has saved me in a pinch many times when I had to come up with a gift at the last minute. In fact, just as I was leaving town to visit a friend, I whipped out a pair of monogrammed ponytail holders and a monogrammed umbrella to bring to her kid as a gift. Total cost: pennies. Cute factor: priceless.

Plus – what about party favors? You can make tons of cute birthday party favors on an embroidery machine. BAM!  Another money saving opportunity.

So if anyone gives you grief about spending money on your “expensive” hobby, show them the math, and soon they will see what a great investment an embroidery machine can be.

Can I use my embroidery machine to make money?

Sure! Offering machine embroidery services is a great home-based business.  Just be sure to learn the craft well before offering to monogram anything your neighbors and friends bring your way.  Once you get up to speed on your machine, you can quickly recoup the cost of your machine by embroidering for other people.

Interested in learning how to price your embroidery work? Check out this previous post on pricing embroidery services.  And, if you are really interested in setting up an embroidery business, check out these 20 business tips for starting an embroidery business.

But, what if you hate machine embroidery?

So, let’s just say that you start investing in machine embroidery and you really don’t like it.  My personal belief is that sometimes learning you DON’T like something is more helpful than discovering that you DO.  The good news is that you can easily sell your embroidery machine on Facebook marketplace or Craigslist for close to what you paid for it.  And if you got a REALLY good deal on your machine – you may be able to turn a profit on it.

So, is machine embroidery expensive?

Yes, and no.  As you can see now, it really just depends on how you go about it. But, if you are really interested, cost is not a factor that should prevent you from jumping in.

Happy stitching, everyone!

xo

Julie

Essential Supplies for Machine Embroidery
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