Everything is getting more expensive, groceries, gas, life in general, but fear not! Embroidery doesn’t have to be.

We live in a very disposable society. Products are often designed to serve their purpose and either “age out” (get obsolete) or wear out because they were made with cheap materials. But there are still many, many companies who make well-designed products and machinery which last a long time. The key point to remember is to purchase the necessary machinery and equipment rather than everything you think you need.  

Let’s discuss how to enjoy machine embroidery on a budget, what is essential, what is not, and where you can find reasonable machine embroidery content and material.

dollar in hoop budget

What Is Essential In Machine Embroidery

Please remember that these are only suggestions. You might find your budget accommodates more or less, but these basics will get you started until you know if embroidery is for you and how you will use it.

Choosing An Embroidery Machine

  • Is new better than old? A used, well-maintained commercial embroidery machine can last 30 years or more. Especially with commercial machines, just because you get old does not mean you cannot perform well.  
  • The actual mechanism of a sewing or embroidery machine is basically the same from brand to brand. The difference is in the accessories, bells, and whistles. An older used machine bought from a dealer may not have a laser cross hair but instead use a rubber band crossed over the arms of a hoop. It is a low-tech (and practical) alternative for centering a hoop, costing just a few cents.  
  • Look at a machine with practical eyes and not be seduced by gadgets. Settling for a USB port rather than a fancier wifi transfer is more cumbersome but more economical.
  • Maintenance: Ask the dealer how old it is and if they maintained it. Most commercial and consumer machines have “lifetime” stitch counters which may tell you HOW many stitches, but a machine with a low stitch count that was not maintained may not be worth it.
  • Warranty: Generally speaking, a dealer will give you a limited warranty of 30-90 days on the electronics but ask them if they can extend it (not for a fee). Many dealers will do so to maintain you as a customer and hope that you will buy a new machine from them later.

How Many Needles Do I Need On My Embroidery Machine?

Technically speaking, one can usually do the job, but a multi-needle machine is always great! Please remember that a design stitches out just as nicely on a consumer machine as a multi-needle, so do not feel pressured because everyone else seems to be getting one. Usually, the only difference is that you save time by not having to switch thread colors often.  

ZSK Sprint 7 Embroidery Machine
ZSK Sprint 7 Embroidery Machine

What Embroidery Machine Brand Is Best?

Brands of machines are just as personal as a brand of car or perfume, or sports team. We like what we like and usually stick with it because it is what we know. However—when shopping for a brand, make sure it is a reputable company you can research with reviews to back it (not promoted manufacturer reviews).  

German, Swedish, Japanese, and American-made machines have good track records, and you can find a lot of support and reviews online and in groups like Facebook. Many less reputable companies take legitimate machines and duplicate parts, rebranding them under their name. You should avoid a company no one can tell you about or a deal that seems “too good to be true.”

A good place to start is to ask yourself why you’re getting into embroidery. If it’s for business purposes, our what is the best embroidery machine for a home business article is a great place to start.

How Much Should I Spend On An Embroidery Machine?

Only your budget can tell you that, but remember that the machine you can afford right now may not be the one you have in five or more years. That time will show you if embroidery is just an occasional hobby or a real-life passion.  

When you are ready to commit to a pro-level machine, know that these will last a very long time and are well worth the money invested. 

When you are ready, you cannot go wrong with a ZSK machine; made in Germany. They are built to last, and with a history of quality, these machines are on the cutting edge of technology. Click here to learn more about ZSK embroidery machines.

What Materials Do I Need for Machine Embroidery?

Buy for what is happening, not what will happen. Often people purchase embroidery supplies like quantum physics. We don’t know where the electrons are right now, so let’s plan for every place they might land.. Likewise, we don’t know what we need right now, so we open our wallets and buy EVERYTHING! We buy what we see others have and experience a lot of FOMO (fear of missing out). Start small and work big.

  • Thread: Start small and buy from a good vendor. Supplies like thread are so enticing… all the pretty colors, but why pay for a color you may not use. Start with only what you need. 
Machine Embroidery Stabilizer Guide

Want to learn more about embroidery thread? Click here to read our Complete Guide to Machine Embroidery Threads. 

  • Stabilizer: Please use a good quality stabilizer. Until you know what stabilizer you like, try an assortment pack! These are generally available from reputable companies, allowing you to see if they work for you.
Machine Embroidery Stabilizer Guide

Want to learn more about embroidery stabilizers? Click here to read our Complete Guide to Machine Embroidery Stabilizers. 

  • Scissors: We often forget they’re an essential tool for creating quality embroidery. You don’t need every kind of scissors, but depending on the type of embroidery you’re creating, we do recommend certain ones! 
embroidery scissors

Interested in learning more about embroidery scissors? Click here for five things you need to know before purchasing embroidery scissors

  • Bobbins: Magnetic vs Paper vs wind your own… Again this is a preference, but consumer machines usually have an included bobbin you can refill to match your embroidery, but you can also buy magnetic and paper bobbins. Magnetic bobbins are designed to fit in the metal bobbin case of a commercial or hybrid machine, and the magnetic ring helps to prevent the backlash of thread.

Where Can I Save Money In Machine Embroidery?

  • Scrap Material
    • Clothing with holes or tears can be upscaled with embroidery!
    • Social media sites with free discussions of money-saving crafting
    • Thrift store finds… Thrift stores are fantastic sources of designer clothing and more- your imagination is the only thing stopping you from creating something wonderful!
  • Notions
    • Buttons – old buttons can be used to jazz up your embroidery.
    • Buy zippers in a roll! Like to do zipper bags? Buy your zippers in a roll and cut off what you need. There are many notion companies which carry these. They come with zipper pulls. You can also replace broken zippers.
  • Don’t toss it!!
    • Water-soluble Stabilizer – save your little scraps of water-soluble stabilizer, and when you need some starch spray dissolve them in water. Apply with a spray bottle
    • Smaller pieces of stabilizer can be used as one layer when using two layers of stabilizer. Place the scraps (do not overlap them) on top of the larger piece of stabilizer (they will be between the fabric and the back of the stabilizer) and hoop.
    • Small colorful scraps! Great for applique- sometimes you’ll have JUST what you need and not have to buy a fat quarter or more.

Interested in learning how to recycle your leftover embroidery stash and fabric scraps? Click here to turn it into usable embroidery material.

Where Should I Not Be Frugal In Machine Embroidery?

  • Thread – Please don’t skimp on thread! This is one area where buying used, or “old” is not worth any price. Thread has an expiration date and needs to be stored correctly, or it can fray and break and make your embroidery experience miserable. Likewise, don’t buy huge collections of “amazing deal” threads with every color under the sun! If you are not going to use them, why spend money? Cheap brands offering unbelievable deals are just that- cheap.
  • Needles – You do not have to buy every needle size (generally, a good 75/11 will be fine), but you do need a good quality needle. Knockoffs, discounts, and “too good to be true” needles are not worth it.
  • Maintenance – Your manual will tell you about maintenance. Yes, maintenance is boring, but not doing it will hurt you in the long run. If you have a commercial or hybrid machine, use a good quality sewing machine oil and buy in small amounts.
  • Training – the old saying “garbage in, garbage out” is valid here. The machine does what you tell it, and if you don’t know what to say to it or the language it understands, you will get painful results!

Where Can I Find Embroidery Training & Software for Machine Embroidery On A Budget?

Training and software are the counterparts of your machine. If you don’t put in a well-digitized design, you’ll never get one out, even with the best machine on the market. Good training and an understanding of the theory of embroidery is equally important.

Our Free Embroidery for Beginner’s Coursre

If you’re new to embroidery, or just want a solid refresher of the basics and essentials to help you get better-embroidered results, we’ve got you covered! Check out our Machine Embroidery for Beginners Guide and Video Classes.

Digitizers Dream Course

Digitizer's Dream Course

The Digitizers Dream Course is designed to teach you how to digitize from beginner to advanced with lessons you can play at your speed at your own pace. This course allows you to pick your specific software. 

John walks you through specially designed lessons and projects. Unlike many other programs, your design gets personally evaluated by John (a master Schliffli puncher and digitizer with years of experience). Not only do you learn how to create quality embroidery, but it also teaches you why to create them. Digitizing theory is taught, which is the key piece of embroidery education!

When working through the lessons, work in order. The lessons build on one another and are designed to teach you skills you will need when you need them. Even though you think, “Oh! I’ve got this!” try to resist the impulse to jump ahead. Working through each lesson will challenge and teach you!

To learn more about our Digitizers Dream Course & what it entails, click here now.

Embroidery Legacy YouTube

The amount of knowledge you gain is incredibly affordable; however, if you cannot afford the Digitizer Dream course right now, consider working through a class at a time or subscribing to our Embroidery Legacy Youtube channel. The content on our Youtube channel is a secret waiting to be told! Don’t forget there are playlists, or you can search by topic.

Click here for free machine embroidery education! On our Embroidery Legacy YouTube channel, we include embroidery quick tip videos, Hatch embroidery education, in-the-hoop embroidery projects, digitizing education, giveaways, and sew much more!

Hatch Embroidery Software

Hatch Embroidery 3 Upgrade

Although there are many great and functional embroidery softwares, we believe you should try them before you buy to ensure you are comfortable with such an investment. At the Embroidery Legacy, we use and recommend Hatch embroidery software. Not only is it listed for an affordable price, but you can also download a free 30-day trial to “use it like you own it.” 

Download your free Hatch embroidery software trial now by clicking here. Did we mention we’ll give you some seriously amazing bonuses too?

Another advantage of Hatch is our Friday Try Day tutorials! Every other Friday, we post a new step-by-step tutorial for a project or technique relating to your Hatch software. Then you share with us your outcome, and your name is entered into a draw for a free ESA font of your choice. Click here to check out all our Friday Try Days. (You don’t want to miss these!)

Machine Embroidery Blog Articles

Blog articles are also an excellent source of free information. 

Did you know we offer over 100 embroidery-related articles? Click here to learn something new! 

With so much to know when it comes to machine embroidery, there is always something new to learn. We have a broad range of topics, from project tutorials to embroidery software to beginner basics, patches, and more!

Machine Embroidery Designs

embroidery designs

It’s always great to find reasonably priced or free embroidery designs (from a reputable company, of course)! 

Did you know our embroidery machine designs are $3.95 with monthly category sales that make these designs half that price? Click here to check out our close to 30,000 embroidery designs for your next embroidery project.

Want to try high-quality, always smooth-running embroidery designs for free? Download our free Embroidery Legacy Design Kit that includes five longtime fan favorite designs by clicking here now.     


Conclusion: Enjoy Embroidery On A Budget

We have touched on a lot of information, but the main takeaway is that you can enjoy embroidery even on a budget. If you are not in a position to have a whole studio stuffed with equipment and notions, please do not feel bad! Everyone starts somewhere, and the most valuable part is your imagination! Here are takeaway points for you to remember.

  • Get a good quality machine but do not be afraid of buying used. Get what you need now and grow into it
  • Buy good quality threads and needles
  • Look for free!!! There are many free projects and videos to train and spark your imagination.

We appreciate being a part of your embroidery journey. We look forward to seeing you again and would love to hear about what you are creating!

P.S. Don’t forget to click here to download your free Embroidery Legacy Design Kit to access your five free embroidery designs and grow your design library, for, of course, free!