I wanted the highest rated but lowest priced machine that fit a 5x7 hoop. I have a friend who has a machine that will only use a 4x4 hoop and she wishes it was larger...this is exactly why I like to use recommendations from friends before purchasing! This machine was top rated on Consumer Reports and Brother is such a recognizable brand. I actually bought my machine on Overstock.com after receiving a 10% off coupon for signing up for an account with a new email address. I price shopped for a while since it is a hefty purchase, and that is the best deal I found (and I wanted brand new, not refurbished). The night my machine came in I expected to be monogramming Lucy's entire wardrobe within an hour. Boy was I wrong! Is it easy for me to do now? Yes. But easy is NOT a word I would use to describe learning how to use it. Lots of prayers, frustration, and tears...yes I can get emotional about crafting.
I joke with people and say that this is the gift that keeps on taking because I've had to buy quite a few essentials to get it up and running. If you are looking into buying an embroidery machine, here is what I have in my stash.
- Brother 4x4 hoop- my machine came with a 5x7 hoop which I am glad to have the capability to do but most of my projects are baby items so I bought this 4x4 hoop and use it 90% of the time.
- Embroidex thread set- instead of purchasing colors on their own, I bought this set and haven't not had a color when needed. So far I like this thread, it shreds when I'm working with super thin fabric so I think I will test out some other brands but I love how inexpensive it is!
- Wooden thread rack- I have this hanging on the wall above my machine and the thread is in color order. It's really nice to be able to see all of my options and have quick access to it.
- Pre cut tearaway stabilizer sheets- you must use a stabilizer backing on each project and to save time and space, I prefer pre cut sheets. It tends to be more expensive than buying a roll but this is a great deal. I also have the same sheets for my 5x7 projects. I have a roll of cutaway stabilizer that I bought from JoAnn fabric but I don't use it much.
- Spray adhesive- instead of hooping my projects I float them with a spray stabilizer and it is SO much easier!
- Super solvy- for thick fabric items (towels, fleece), using a topper stabilizer makes the embroidery look so much better, and not flat. It's water soluble so dissolves when you wash it but I just peel it away after I am done.
- Bobbin thread- I use white bobbins instead of winding one for each color of thread I have and use this thread. You can also buy prewound bobbins and these come highly recommended (make sure you buy the specific size for your machine).
- Embroidery software- my machine came with preloaded fonts and designs but I can honestly say I will never use any of them. You can purchase tons of fonts and designs on Etsy for as little as $1 but you must have software to load into your machine. I purchased Sew What Pro (works best on a PC) for $65 and am able to create my designs on my laptop, load onto a USB, and pop into my machine. You can get a free 30 day trial before buying. Embrilliance software comes highly recommended for Mac users but I have no experience with it.
- Fonts and designs- like I said above, there are TONS of fonts available for purchase online. I have purchased a few from different shops on Etsy but my favorite is Rivermill Embroidery. You can follow them on Facebook for coupons too. My machine takes PES files only so be sure to purchase the correct file format.
I am 2 months into this embroidery gig and loving it. If you know me at all, you know I love thrifting, especially for baby clothes. I've bought tons of outfits for Lucy for less than a dollar and stitched her name on them, easy peasy! I have done a few gifts for friends and items for family but mostly just playing around with things for my babies. Doing a project can take a good chunk of time (creating the file in Sew What Pro, loading into my machine, and the actual stitch can take a while) so I am not sure if I will offer up my services anytime soon. I did my first fleece lovey a few weeks ago and my first backpack this week! It's fun to experiment and I am proud of myself for actually reading the manual and figuring this machine out. If you are interested in buying a machine of your own or have any questions, shoot me an email!
(I am a sucker for girly monograms, I haven't really done much for Ford....so Lucy overload!)