What is the Best Embroidery Machine for a Home Business?

What is the Best Embroidery Machine for a Home Business?

This is the question everyone who’s thinking of starting an embroidery business asks themselves. In fact, I’ve had hundreds of people ask me this exact question at events alone (which isn’t surprising given one of my most popular live seminars is “How to make money with embroidery”). In my opinion, the answer is slightly different depending on the person. I’ve found that to give you an accurate answer, you first need to understand some embroidery business basics & qualify your intentions.

So here are some points to consider:

  1. Flatbed vs. Multi-needle machines?
  2. The exception: Do you need a multi-purpose machine?
  3. Who’s your target market & will you need embroidery machine attachments for your business?
  4. Which machine brand is best for your home embroidery business?

single head embroidery machine

 1.Flatbed Vs. Multi-Needle Machines?

Are you certain this machine will be used for a business and not a hobby? I always ask this question first because it shows me which road to point you down right away. If you’re thinking about getting into embroidery specifically because you want to start a business, a flatbed machine is usually not the way to go!

flatbed machine for embroidery business

First off, flatbeds aren’t designed or engineered for commercial purposes. The fact that the embroidery is running on a flat surface means that it’ll be very difficult to embroider any tubular items (tubular meaning something like a shirt or sock where there’s an inside to it. Instead of something like a towel where there’s a front & back). As an example: if embroidering on a sweatshirt, you’d need to turn it inside out and create a bowl, moving all the excess material out of the way as it embroiders. Then your full-time job would be to sit and watch the machine run the entire time… The second you walk away is exactly when the machine would sew into the material hanging over.

Another huge downside is that flatbeds can only run one color at a time. This means that for designs with multiple color changes, you’re continually having the machine stop so you can pull the next color of thread through the needle. This goes against one of your basic rules as an embroidery business owner: If your machine isn’t running, you’re not making money!

Any person considering embroidery as a business should start with the right tool for the job: A multi-needle machine. These machines usually have anywhere from 6 to 15 needles on the embroidery head. Because of this, once the design is programmed into the machine, it’ll change colors automatically and continue running from beginning to end without stopping. These machines can also run at higher speeds, on heavier items and most importantly, they’re more friendly for tubular items. A multi-needle machine will have a tubular arm with a rotary hook bobbin case at the end. This means you can slide/fit almost any item you want over this tubular arm and the excess material hangs down & out of the way. Even small items like onesies, EB bears, pockets & socks can be embroidered on this machine.

Now the best part about multi-needle machines is that you load the design, select the colors, place the tubular item on the machine, press the start button and then you WALK AWAY. This allows you to do other things to grow and benefit your business instead of baby sitting your machine while it embroiders.

redline embroidery machine reviewredline embroidery machine stitching quality

2. The Exception: Do You Need a Multi-Purpose Machine?

Although I usually recommend multi-needle machines, there are some exceptions. Depending on your target market, it might be important to you that the machine you buy is friendly for embroidery but also includes sewing or quilting features. For example, I’ve met successful business owners who focus mainly on the cosplay market. They make 1-off customized costumes that require 1 or 2 small embroidery designs but a lot of customized sewing.

If you’re looking for a high-end machine that will be used for multiple purposes, then cross a multi-needle off the list as all they do is embroider. At the same time, if someone doesn’t plan on focusing on sewing or quilting within their business (or already has a decent sewing- or quilting-only machine), an embroidery-only machine like a multi-needle is the way to go. Taking the other factors out and looking at an embroidery-only machine like a multi-needle usually means you’ll either save money or get more bang for your buck by getting more features.

Now if you already own a high-end multi-purpose machine & are looking to add another embroidery machine, then I would strongly suggest your next purchase be a multi-needle. Why? Well once again you don’t have to babysit it… Owning two high-end machines that need full-time babysitting makes no sense. Keep one machine to sew and quilt on and have a multi-needle that you can load and walk away!

3. Who’s Your Target Market & Will You Need Embroidery Machine Attachments for Your Business?

If you’re looking to start a home embroidery business, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Who is my target market?
  2. On what items / garments would my target market like to embroider on?
  3. What hoop size & attachments will I need to meet my customer’s orders & needs?

These questions are extremely important to answer before you consider moving forward with any embroidery machine so please take the time to carefully answer them. Once these questions are answered, you can then find a machine that’ll meet that criteria within the budget you have to spend.

For the most part, if you’re looking to start a home embroidery business you want to keep expenses to a minimum. Although some of the features built into the high-end home brand machines are amazing (such as positioning stickers for placement and projected simulated embroidery images directly onto the item you’re embroidering), you pay for them. In most cases, these high-end features are bells & whistles which are cool for hobbyists but take away from your bottom line as a business owner. Why? Because they’re NOT necessities. When I ran 2 of my commercial embroidery factories in the 1990’s we didn’t have any of these bells & whistles. Yet we still managed to pump out over 10 million pieces of embroidered goods per year to become one of North America’s top 100 volume embroidery producers.

As a business owner you’ll want to ignore the bells & whistles and instead focus on the attachments and max hoop size you think you’ll require. For example, if you plan to embroider on caps, you’ll want to find a machine that has a cap attachment. And if you plan on embroidering sweaters or jacket backs, you’ll want to find a machine with a large enough max hoop size. Make sense?

My personal suggestion is to look at a machine that already comes with all the necessary attachments included plus a large max hoop size, like the Redline 1501. Why? Because an order for 60 T-shirts can easily turn into an order of 60 caps when you have the right tools for the job. The last thing you ever want to do in business is turn down an order or get stuck having to buy additional attachments / a whole new machine.

Here’s a video showing what all the Redline includes straight out of the box:

Please note that most machine brands don’t include all attachments for free. Also, most attachments don’t work with flatbeds / multi-purpose machines, only multi-needle.

4. Which Machine Brand is Best for Your Home Embroidery Business?

I categorize machine brands into 2 main sections:

  1. Home Machine Brands
  2. Commercial Machine Brands

Home Machine Brands

You might’ve noticed that when it comes to “Home Machines” I’ve tried my best not to mention specific brands. Reason being is that most of the reputable home brands in the industry have a strong following and users can be very protective as to which is best. However just so we’re on the same page, some examples of what I’d consider home brands are: Brother, Janome, Bernina, Viking, Babylock, etc.

In general, home brands are more expensive but come with great local support as they’re primarily sold in store via “dealer networks”. That being said, the main reasons why you may want to consider a home brand is if you’re new & struggle with learning new things (basically if you think you’ll need lots of 1-on-1 assistance).

Although I greatly respect the Brother brand in particular, if you’re looking into a home brand, I think you should pick the brand based on the support and education the dealer / store provides. Meaning that almost all popular home machine brands produce quality machines, but sometimes you might consider one brand over another based on the reputation and support of the dealer you’re purchasing from. With all the online resources available today it’s also relatively easy to do your homework and compare brands and the features they offer. And as always, show me the money… I’m a tiny bit responsible for this one, but I’ve found that most successful dealers these days are “event and show” driven ones. Which means that if you do want to purchase from a physical store (or dealer) you’ll usually find the best deals on machines at a consumer show or at an event the dealer is hosting. Most times you’ll get a great price, great financing and a bundle of goodies thrown in. If you’d like to see the list of events we have happening to help you hunt for a deal on a home machine, click here.

Tip: Thinking of purchasing a Home Machine used? Buyer beware! You might be buying someone else’s problems. If it’s a local transaction, I’d ask the seller if they would be willing to have the machine looked at by a local dealer technician; if they have nothing to hide, it shouldn’t be an issue. Purchasing a used machine from a dealer is usually a much safer way to go and you can find yourself a great deal. Many of the machines they sell are “last year’s model”.

Commercial Machine Brands:

Generally speaking, commercial brands don’t come with as much 1-on-1 support as home brands, but they’re literally made for pumping out production. Plus, some emerging commercial brands have machines that are both built to last & extremely affordable.

Starting out as a commercial multi-head embroiderer in the early 80s with over 136 heads in production, I’ve seen multi-needle manufacturers come and go. I’ve also seen machine quality evolve and improve considerably over the years. To be honest, years ago I would only consider purchasing what I considered to be the Cadillac of commercial brand machines which were Tajima, Barudan and ZSK. To this day I have great respect for these brands and if you’re willing to spend top dollar (they aren’t cheap) you’ll never regret your purchase. I’d generally recommend these brands for anyone operating a large-scale embroidery factory but not necessarily a home embroidery business. Why? Because unless you’re knocking out a huge quantity of production, it can be hard to recoup your initial investment & begin making profits.
embroidery legacy multineedle factory

The reason why I said, “years ago I would only consider” was because at that time most “offshore” machines being produced had terrible reputations and quality. Today, like many other industries, things have changed considerably, and the quality of many competing products do reach my expectations for quality and longevity.

One up & coming commercial brand which has recently caught my eye is Redline. Operating out of Texas, their 15-needle Redline 1501 machine meets all my expectations with regards to quality, price and support—So much that we’re now officially endorsing their machine as an official ambassador. For less than $8000 (yes you read that correctly) their 15-needle machine runs up to 1200 SPM (stitches per minute) and comes with every attachment you could possibly need. Click here to learn more about the Redline 1501 machine now.

redline machine embroidery attachments

Conclusion: What Machine is Best for Your Home Embroidery Business?

The answer to this question depends on a few different factors. But overall, if your business is primarily focused around embroidery (not sewing or quilting), I’d strongly recommend a multi-needle machine. Not only will it allow you to embroider on more garment types with its tubular arm & the different attachments available, but it will also allow you to set it and walk away. This translates to more time focusing on other aspects of your business & less time babysitting the machine throughout the stitching process.

In terms of a specific machine brand, this depends on the level of support you require and how much you’re willing to spend. In general, home brands aren’t cheap because they’re primary sold in store through authorized dealer networks. However, because of this, they often come with top notch assistance & 1-on-1 training. Commercial brands may not provide as personalized of a learning experience (you’ll likely learn online or have questions answered over the phone), but they’re built for production and some are extremely affordable (which helps your bottom line).

If you’re looking for my suggestion, I’d highly advise you to check out the Redline 1501 machine (click here).
Not only is it built to last with quality parts & a solid metal construction, but it also comes with a ton of included attachments which allows you to embroider on almost any garment imaginable.

Plus, it’s one of the most affordable machines on the market… and the faster you can pay off the capital invested into a machine, the faster you’ll be profitable. Click here to learn more about the Redline now.

P.S. If you do end up purchasing a Redline, don’t forget to use our reseller code DEER19 to also receive a large Echidna Hooping Station FREE ($349 added value).

I hope this article has helped you narrow down your options & best of luck in your future embroidery business! if you have any questions please ask away in the comments below!

By | 2019-06-29T15:39:30+00:00 June 29th, 2019|Embroidery Business|8 Comments

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  1. Michelle Chatterson June 29, 2019 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the highly informative information. I hadn’t heard of the Redline brand before watching this and I will be looking into this awesome machine for future investment in my business.

    • Embroidery Legacy June 29, 2019 at 5:02 pm - Reply

      My pleasure Michelle!

      They’re certainly up & comers, they attends a lot of trade shows throughout the USA but don’t have a huge online presence yet. I’ve personally heard nothing but good things from the Redline machine owners I’ve talked with. Best of luck in your embroidery business 🙂

  2. Danie Duchesne June 29, 2019 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    Hi John, I am a home embroiderer/hobbyist looking into buying a multi needles. I have owned a flatbed embroidery machine for more than 13 years so I well know the limitations. Before your article above, I happened to watch a youtube video comparing the Redline with the Brother, Babylock and Janome machine. I thought the video was interesting but in Canadian dollars, the Redline would come up to about the same price as the Brother though the Redline would have more hoops and the stand. I wasn’t able to find much information about the editing capabilities of the screen of the Redline and I am concerned with support (which I understand would be done online) and maintenance. I can learn to do basic maintenance but if bigger issues arise, where can I turn to? Shipping the machine back to Texas would probably cost me a leg! Does Redline have agreements in Canadato offer repairs and maintenance across Canada?

    • Embroidery Legacy June 30, 2019 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      Hey Danie,

      The Redline would come with more attachments, although a Brother would likely come with more bells & whistles. One of which, would be more editing capabilities built into the “screen” or control panel of the Brother. Although to be honest, I’m a big believer in doing your edits in an embroidery software program rather than directly on a machine’s screen. This depends on the degree of edits you plan on doing, but from my experience doing them within a software program give you more control which usually equals better results.

      With regards to support & maintenance, I agree I think you could do most basic maintenance yourself. Support would be done online. If a bigger issue were to arise, shipping back across the boarder would likely not be easy given you’re in Canada. In this case, your best bet would be to find a machine technician who could do an in-home visit or consult a local sewing shop (even if they didn’t sell you the machine, they likely wouldn’t turn down your money to fix it). I know there are a number of commercial machine technicians scattered across Canada & may be able to provide you with a name / number depending on where you live?

      At the end of the day if the price is about the same, it really is a trade off as to which is most important to you: more attachments or local support. I hope that helps!

  3. Sharan Dudley June 29, 2019 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    thank you this was very interesting, i have only started embroidery, I am a free motion girl, but I have recently bought a embroidery machine that i can free-motion with as well. I have fallen in love with it. I also have fallen in love with digitizing. I am going to your digitizing workshop in Brisbane Australia. And very much look forward to it and hopefully meeting you.
    Thank you for all the help you give in your videos, they have made my journey wonderful. Hope to see you in Australia.

    • Embroidery Legacy June 30, 2019 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      My pleasure Sharan. I appreciate the kind words 😊

      I’m happy you’ve come to love embroidery & digitizing! The more you learn the more fun they become.

      Glad to hear you were able to get a ticket to the Brisbane workshop before it sold out. I’m sure you’ll learn a ton & I’m looking forward to meeting you there!

  4. Noelle August 21, 2019 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    Hi! Very informative!

    Wouldn’t you say that Janome has a higher quality of stitches than Brother machines? From my experience, machines like Brother PE800 or latest PE770 are awesome if you are a beginner. However, I noticed that this post is specified for home business machines and. yet, you recommend Brother over Janome. I am curious to know why as I am the lucky owner of a Janome MC9900 and wouldn’t change it for the world.

    I always love interchanging knowledge and learning from experienced users.

    Anyway, great post and wish you the best 🙂


    • Embroidery Legacy August 29, 2019 at 2:58 pm - Reply

      Hi Noelle,

      Thanks for commenting!

      In all fairness, I would say all the major brands of home machines stitch well with regards to stitch quality. Assessing if one brand stitches better than another would be a hard call given there are so many models of each.

      I do recommend Brother machines in this post specifically because I haven’t had the chance to personally own or use all of the other brands out there. Although I have taught in multiple stores that sell Janomes & have heard good things, I was referring to my personal & positive experiences I’ve had over the years using Brother machines.

      Hope that helps clear things up and thanks for letting others know about your experience with Janome 🙂

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