Sewing vs Embroidery Machine

By on April 1st, 2020
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sewing vs embroidery machine
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Thinking about picking up a new hobby but are not sure where to invest your time and money? Sewing and embroidery are useful skills, but in order to do either one, you need to purchase a machine.  These two machines provide wonderful creative outlets, but which one should you buy? Do you need one to have the other? Or can you buy one machine that both sews and embroiders? Where should you invest your time and money? Here’s what your should know when comparing a sewing vs embroidery machine.

What is a sewing machine?

sewing machine
Modern multifunctional sewing machine, isolated on white background

A sewing machine is a piece of equipment that allows you to secure two pieces of fabric together with thread. A most basic sewing machine will sew a straight stitch with various stitch lengths. However, even the most basic sewing machines can perform a variety of stitches, the very least of being a  zig zag stitch.

A zig zag stitch is quite useful for finishing raw edges of fabric that are prone to unraveling.  It’s also useful for stitching knit fabric as the zig zag has a bit more give and prevents the stitches from snapping.

Most sewing machines will also sew button holes. This is quite handy if you plan to sew clothing or even home decor items using your sewing machine.

Many sewing machines also have built in decorative stitches. In fact, even the cheapest ones allow you to select from 100s of decorative stitches. This, in turn, can be a form of embroidery but is very different from the embroidery that can be done on an embroidery machine. Decorative stitching done on a sewing machine must be done in a line, whereas an embroidery machine can stitch in any direction.

One of the most common tasks I do on my embroidery machine is machine appliqué. You can, however, do appliqué on a regular sewing machine. You just need to follow set your sewing machine to a zig zag stitch with a very short stitch length, lower the feed dogs, then stitch around the outside edge of your appliqué fabric.  This is a technique I still use when I’m appliquéing a rather large shape beyond the size of my embroidery hoop.

Sewing machines are NOT expensive. You can actually buy one for less than $100! Fancier machines can cost several hundred dollars and even up to $1000 or more. The more you pay, the more decorative stitches and durability you get.  However, the Brother XM2701 which costs less than $100 even comes with 27 built in stitches and a button holder!

Some great entry level sewing machines include:

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What is an embroidery machine?

embroidery-machineAn embroidery machine is a device that can stitch out designs and patterns onto fabric. The designs can be sent to the embroidery machine directly from a computer, or loaded in via a USB memory stick.

Embroidery machines are great for embellishing clothes and home decor. If you are into monograms, an embroidery machine is exactly what you need. Embroidery machines can stitch regular embroidery designs as well as appliqué designs, where you attach one piece of fabric to a base fabric.

While there are a lot of different levels of sewing machines, when it comes to embroidery machines, the levels of machines are even more vast. A simple home embroidery machine runs a few hundred dollars, but n industrial multi-needle machine can cost several thousands.

If you are new to machine embroidery, consider starting with a reliable basic Brother embroidery machine. They make great entry level embroidery machines that are total work horses. Two of the most popular Brother embroidery machines are the PE535 and the PE800.  You can also get an inexpensive embroidery machine by getting a used embroidery machine through a dealer or an individual.

Some great entry level embroidery machines include:

Sewing vs Embroidery Machine

Sewing machine  Embroidery Machine 
What it does Sews straight and decorative stitches. Most can stitch a buttonhole. Stitches out designs and appliques based on information provided in an embroidery design file.
What it costs As low as $100 or less, but high end machines can be $100 or more. You would be hard pressed to find an embroidery machine for less than $300.  Multi-needle machines can get into the thousands of dollars.
Essential accessories and supplies Thread Stabilizer and embroidery thread.  And there are many other tools and accessories that will make your life easier.

Sewing / Embroidery Combination Machines

Guess what? You can get both sewing and embroidering functionality it one machine. Yes – of course you are going to pay a bit more for a machine that does both than a machine that just sews or just embroiders. However, if you really can’t decide where you want to put your creative energy and your space is a bit tight – then consider buying a sewing / embroidery combination machine.

These machines have a snap-on module that allows you to easily convert you sewing machine into an embroidery machine.  It is actually pretty simple, but if you are going back and forth from sewing to embroidery, it can be a bit of a hassle. But if your space is limited, a combo machine is the way to go.

Some of the entry-level combo machines include:

Happy stitching and happy sewing / embroidery machine shopping!

xo

Julie

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