Is a multi-needle embroidery machine a waste of money?

Bridget McPhillips

My guess is you either already are a machine embroiderer using a single needle machine and dreaming of all the things you could do if you just had a multi-needle machine, or you do not have an embroidery machine yet and you are wondering if you should just start with the multi-needle machine.

It is a daunting decision, which machine is the right machine.  There are a significant number of choices, offering differing options.  So how do you choose?

If there was an article to be read on this subject, I read it. 

If there was a thread to follow I followed it. 

Every webpage was studied, stores were visited, over and over again! 

So to answer your question, for me, a multi-needle embroidery machine was not at all a waste of money.  In fact, I believe it was one of the best equipment purchases I have made. 

 Let me just go ahead and put the elephant in the post out there and list all the reasons you are saying "Yea Right" as you read this.

They are too big.

They make so much noise when they operate. 

They are difficult to use.

It would be so hard to have it serviced.

They are so expensive.

You only use this machine to embroider logos on shirts and hats.

You have heard a few of these right?

This is not a question I am going to be able to answer for you, and there is not another blog post, shop owner, embroidery expert out there that will be able to give you that answer either.  We all have to decide what is best for ourselves.

What I can give you is a peek into my journey to the discovery of my own answer. 

I will share all of the things I learned along the way. 

In the end, I know you will find that you can start out on your own journey with a plan to answer the very same question for yourself and end up choosing the best embroidery machine for you.  

SO, here we go!

I started my embroidery journey with the PE770, my first and most beloved embroidery machine.   This machine was a birthday gift to me because the people that loved me were tired of having me research and discuss my research about embroidery machines with them.  Although I have to be honest, this machine was frustrating to use because you could not see anything on the microscopic screen.  This little embroidery machine is a work horse and I still use it today.

After a few years really getting to know machine embroidery, I took a big step in my embroidery adventure and I invested in the Pfaff Creative Sensation Pro (CSP).  I did look at all the brands and even looked at multi-needle machines, but in the end selected the CSP. 

Creative Sensation Pro

Yes, just like you I was hung up on the list we just made.

At this point in my journey I was too caught up in the list of all the reasons why a multi-needle embroidery machine was not a good idea to really consider it for myself.

I had convinced myself that the multi needle machine to be just for people that want to personalize shirts, hats and Christmas stockings. 

I was afraid of considering the multi needle because of what I had heard and because I knew I did not want to sew logos on shirts.

SO the CSP was purchased!

The CSP was a bigger version of my PE770 that allowed me to actually see the design I was embroidering and facilitated some onboard editing.  This machine also allowed me to explore quilting in the hoop, and working with really large embroideries. 

I was still frustrated with the limitations of what I could hoop and how hard hooping could be.

I was also drawn in by the "two machines for one" sales pitch.  The CSP is a sewing and embroidery machine.  In my small studio I though that one machine that would do it all sounded like a good idea.

I do sew, but I have several other machines I use for sewing.  I also very much prefer having an embroidery machine separate from my sewing machine, because I can accomplish a lot more.

I discovered through the years of using the CSP that I wanted more freedom to create and explore embroidery on different things.  This led me back to the multi-needle machines.

In the end, a multi-needle embroidery machine was the right choice for me and  I chose the Janome MB7.

Janome MB7

Here are the realities I discovered that helped me decide that a multi-needle embroidery machine was the right machine for me.

1.  With a single needle machine I was always trying to develop a work around to do what I wanted to do within the hoop that I had for the machine. 

If you are not following me here, I am talking about figuring out how to get big or not flat things hooped and under the needle.  A significant amount of trial and error is involved in this, which in the end results in a significant amount of time being spent, which in the end is a cost.

There are a great deal of options available for different hooping systems with the multi-needle embroidery machines.  Hooping is no longer a stressful situation for me, and I can be much more creative with the things I embellish.

2.  On the multi needle machine your embroidery design can stitch out independently. 

In my case, I can hoop my project, start the machine and it will complete the design with nothing required of me as long as my design has 7 or less colors.  With the single needle machine, I would have to stop and re-thread the machine for each color change throughout the stitch out of the design. 

Now, if you enjoy watching your machine magically create the beautiful design one stitch at a time, this is probably not an important factor for you. 

3.  Size.

So what about size?  I had also not initially considered the multi needle machine because I had hear and read over and over again, "They are so big and impossible to get serviced."

Well, embroidery machines are big machines.  Believe it or not, my CSP requires a much larger table and also requires a significant amount of room around the embroidery arm when it is in operation, especially when using the larger hoops. 

My MB7 is large and heavy, but it is situated in a front to back orientation as opposed to the left to right orientation of the single needle machines.  The footprint of the MB7 is significantly smaller than that of the CSP.

Size and weight might be a concern for you if you are planning to bring the embroidery machine in to a store to be serviced.  I service my own machines for the most part.  If I need to take the multi-needle in to get serviced, I would need help moving it, it is a two person job.  I have found the MB7 to be very reasonable to maintain by myself. 

Make sure you consider this when making your decision.  I have had no problem servicing my own machines, so this was not a big deal to me.  You can also check your area for a service technician that would come and service the machine in your home.

4.  Noise

What about the noise?

My loudest embroidery machine is also my smallest and oldest embroidery machine, my PE770.  I will say that embroidery machines are not quiet.  I think that noise is also dependent on things like the table you are using and where you are using the machine.  I do not find my MB7 to make any more noise that my CSP.  I did test out a few different machines and found the Juki Tajima Sai to be pretty darn quiet if noise is a huge concern for you. 

5.  Multi-needle machines are too expensive.

I just wanted to touch on this.  Budget is really going to be different for every person.  I will say that I only paid slightly more for my MB7 than I paid for my CSP.  The MB7 is really not a super user friendly machine  either, like the Brother and Babylock tend to be.  I was happy with the functionality of the MB7.  I use a computer and software for digitizing and manipulating my designs, so I did not need all of the on board editing offered on some of the other brands multi-needle machines.

6. Multi-needle machines are only used to embroider shirts and hats.

I saved this one for last. 

I do not embroider shirts and hats. 

I use my multi-needle machine for all kinds of embroidery.  Yes, of course you can use it to embroider logos, but it can do so much more! 

I love using my MB7 to embroider on socks, shoes, slippers, knit hats, and mittens.  I make free standing lace.

knit hat and mittens gingerbread

Fairy wing embroidered lace

Fight embroidered socks

I pretty much do all the embroidery I did using the CSP, but now my hooping is not stressful and the amount of time the design takes to stitch out is not dependent on me changing the thread color.

In the end this is how I came to the conclusion that a multi-needle machine was a wise investment.

I hope my story helps you find your way to the perfect embroidery machine.  In the end, only you truly know what is the right answer for you. 

 

Good luck and enjoy your journey! 



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  • Christy Collichio on

    Excellent article, thanks. I’ve been on the fence for awhile now in my desire for a multi needle machine. You touched on all of the concerns. Presently I have 10 Singer Futura 6800 machines and 1 PE770. I think I’ve been spoiled by the software and digitizing capabilities that come with the Singer machine. I want a machine that will allow me to work in the same format. I can save my designs in all types of machine formats now even thought the future machines run in XXX. Have you looked into the Singer embroidery machines?

  • Phillip Adams on

    Hey. I really enjoyed what you wrote and your designs on the hats are good I want to start me a business embroidery clothing hats shoes. I have the funds just trying to learn more but I will be buying a 4 headed embroidery machine will it be a waste of money to start with? Phillip Adams

  • Valerie on

    thank you for posting this. I waz trying to decide which machine to purchase l ast month. I selected a single needle, embroidery only, because I didn’t feel like I had enough info to purchase a multi needle. Thanks in part to this post my next machine will be multi needle. Thanks again.

  • Cristina on

    Thank for posting this article , I’m debating on Baby lock Alliance or Brother Entrepreneur 1000, any one out there have any suggestions?

  • James McGuire on

    Patricia Elledge if you still have your problem with the PR650 I can help



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