Which Brother embroidery machine you should buy: the PE535 vs PE800.
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If you are thinking about investing in your first embroidery machine or buying one from someone else, you probably looked at the Brother entry-level consumer-grade embroidery machines. These two machines: the PE535, and the PE800, range in price from (currently) $269 to $510 and can be Amazon Primed right to your doorstep in 48 hours. But how do you know which Brother embroidery machine you should buy?
How are these Brother embroidery machines similar?
Before we start digging into the differences between these machines, let’s first talk about how these machines are similar. First of all, these three Brother embroidery machines are consumer-grade embroidery machines designed to be used in the home. These are not commercial machines.
They are also NOT combination machines, meaning that they are designed to be used strictly as embroidery machines. Brother also makes the SE series machines where the embroidery module pops on and off when you want to do machine embroidery and are marketed as an all-in-one sewing and embroidery solutions.
Both embroidery machines are made by a reputable company, Brother Sewing and Embroidery. Brother has been in the business for over a hundred years, so they know at this point know what they are doing. They offer a 25 year limited warranty on these embroidery machines.
Both machines stitch out embroidery files in PES format. If you are new to embroidery you may not know what this means, however once you start buying embroidery designs you will see that almost every designer offers embroidery design in PES format. It’s a very popular embroidery design file format. In fact, you can download any of my designs as well as my free designs in PES format.
Both machines required the same weight bobbin thread: 90 wt. You can either buy 90 wt bobbin thread on a spool and wind the bobbins yourself of buy the pre-wound bobbins suitable for the Brother PE535 and the PE800.
One limitation of both the Brother PE800 and the Brother PE535 is their inability to trim jump stitches. Jump stitches are the stitches between stitched out portions of embroidery designs. More expensive embroidery machines now have the capability of trimming these annoying stitches as it is stitching out a design. With these machines you will need to go back and trim your jump stitches after you finish stitching out a design.
One great new feature of the Brother PE800 and the Brother PE535 is the machines ability to remember where you left off. So if you turn off the machine while stitching out a design, e.g. there is a power outage, or you run out of thread and want to turn off your machine until you are able to get more, the machine will remember where you left off.
In addition, both machines allow you to back up stitches in increments of 1, 10, or 100 stitches which helps when you make a mistake and need to go back and resume stitching.
The Brother PE800 and the Brother PE535 are all available on Amazon. So, if you are strategic about when you make your purchase you can probably obtain one for a great price, for example when Amazon is running one of its specials.
With that said, if you buy your embroidery machine online, you don’t get the support and the training that might be provided by a brick and mortar retailer. But, machine embroidery is not rocket science. And these machines are very popular, so there are plenty of resources online to help you get started with your new embroidery machine. In fact, there are even Facebook groups dedicated to the Brother PE800 and the Brother PE535.
How are these Brother embroidery machines different?
Being that Brother has designated the PE800 and the PE535 with different model numbers, and there is a clear price difference between the two, there are undoubtedly differences between these machines. When deciding which Brother embroidery machine you should buy, it’s important to understand the differences between the models.
Number of Designs and Fonts
Both of the machines come with some fonts and embroidery design. The PE800 comes with 11 fonts and 138 embroidery designs, while the PE535 is sold with only 9 fonts and 90 embroidery designs. This is really not a huge difference. In my opinion the designs that come with the machine are usually pretty tacky and are only useful for testing purposes. Plus, embroidery designs and fonts are not expensive. Just buy what you want.
On Screen Editing
Both of the machines have display screens where you can preview the design you are stitching out. They are both color and approximately the same size. However, one major difference is that the PE800 allows you to edit the design a bit. For example, on the PE800 you can flip, rotate, duplicate and resize a design on the screen.
The PE535 has a maximum hoop size of 4″ x 4″ which means the maximum stitch area is about 3.8″ x 3.8″. This can be VERY limiting. While most embroidery file designers usually offer a design that will fit in this size hoop, you still can’t stitch out large designs.
The PE800 comes with a 5″ x 7″ embroidery hoop which allows you to create much larger designs. For this reason alone, the machine is worth the extra couple hundred dollars.
So, what Brother embroidery machine should you buy?
There are a few other directions you may consider going if you are thinking about buying an embroidery machine. You may consider buying a used machine. There are many people who might have started embroidering with a 4″ x 4″ hoop machine and now want to upgrade. If you are just starting to dip your toes into the embroidery world but don’t want to drop $500 on this new hobby, it might be a good idea to look for one of these machines second hand.
Also, the PE800 is a newer version of the PE770. It offers some new features, most notably its color display. However, the PE770 has a 5″ x 7″ hoop. You may be able to find a used PE770 for a great price from someone wanting to upgrade to a PE800 .
If you are interested in other strategies for buying an inexpensive embroidery machine, check out my previous post on this topic.
Good luck and happy stitching and shopping,
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