Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Buying an Embroidery Machine
A new craftster friend has been looking at getting an embroidery machine and has been asking lots of questions about models and types and what to look for. I remembered to save a copy of some of the messages I sent her about materials and things. This is the first one where I randomly spell out some of the things to consider when looking at machines. I thought it might be helpful to some of you who are also interested in investing.
1. Hoop size is really important. A 4 inch hoop looks enormous, but it is really small when it comes to choosing designs. I use my 5x8 inch hoop the most. I love the ability to use the big 10 inch hoop. I make purses, do multiples and do large designs on shirts on that one. I could live without the 10 inch hoop but I would not use my machine much at all if I didn't have the 8 inch.
2. Classes. I consider myself an experienced sewist. I didn't think I needed the classes. I did. I would make sure free lessons are a part of the deal.
3. Thread. I'm not quite sure how to explain this. I don't have any idea how other machines work, but my machine works best with only one kind of bobbin thread. I've tried others and it just doesn't work. Check to see if your brand/model is fussy about thread. That said, I use just about anything for the top thread and it is fine if I use the top thread in the bobbin.... I've even made lace using cotton thread in top and bobbin. I just mention it to let you know it might be an issue.
4. Designs. This should be higher on the list. Make sure you can use a jump drive or hook the machine directly to your computer. You need some way to get downloaded designs onto your computer. I don't own, won't buy any of the little cartridge thingies that sell for big bucks and only have 10 cutesy designs. I've only purchased one disk of designs at deep discount and wasn't impressed. I get virtually all of my designs as downloads from on-line retailers or I digitize myself.
5. Format. Make sure you know what format your machine reads before you buy or download free designs. It will save you headaches later.
6. If you can work a design viewing program into the deal go for it. Your computer won't be able to display your designs without some sort of program. The design programmers use weird numbers and letters unrelated to the design to name their files. Not helpful in trying to find what you are looking for. I work with some free editing programs but I would love to have one of the commercial things that lets you see all of your designs and organize them.
7. Screen on machine. I would look for a machine that has a decent screen that lets you see the design. Some brands have little tiny screens that are a big pain to scroll through. Spend some time paging through the screens and looking at how you choose and modify the designs on the machine. You may find the small 2 color ones work for you. I needed the big screen.
8. Needles. get what they recommend and buy in bulk.
9. Stabilizers. Take the class. Ask the questions. Get a sample pack. Spray glue works wonders and is ultimately cheaper than peel and stick. When you get that far, I'll tell you what I buy and why I don't scrimp and stitch scraps together any more. It is expensive but the right stabilizer makes the difference between a project and a disaster.