Looking for an embroidery machine for sweatshirts or hoodies? The good news is, this is typically an easy job for most machines, but there are a few things you need to ask yourself before you can choose the right one.
What to ask yourself before choosing a machine
How big do you want your designs to be?
However, you will be limited to 4″ x 4″ designs. This is great for pocket logos, but you’ll likely want an embroidery machine for large designs if you want to do custom embroidery across the entire front or back of a sweatshirt.
I’d recommend at least a machine capable of 5″ x 7″ designs, but a 6″ x 10″ is better if you can afford it.
Do you want to embroider on sleeves?
While for embroidering on sleeves seems like it should be easy… it’s actually pretty difficult on your standard flat-bed machine! Because of the way you have to hoop things and many people actually end up slicing the sleeve open and re-sewing it after!
This is fine if you’re doing a single project for yourself, but if you want to sell your hoodies…this is going to be way too much work to do it every time and you’ll likely want to invest in a machine with a free arm.
Do you plan to mass produce sweatshirts or hoodies to sell?
If you’re looking for a machine to start a business, then a multi needle machine will save you a lot of time. That’s because you don’t need to re-thread each and every color when you’re stitching something. However, many of these machines also have free arms, which will allow you to embroider on sleeves, pockets, hats, and other items flat bed machines struggle with.
However, you’ll really need to up your budget if you want one of these. The cheapest multi needle embroidery machines still come in at over $5,000.
That being said, here are my top picks for embroidery machines for hoodies and sweatshirts based on functions, features, and price.
Best embroidery machine for sweatshirts
Janome Memory Craft 400E – $1,349
The Janome Memory Craft 400E is a great compromise between function and price. It offers a large embroidery area that is almost 8″ x 8″. This gives you plenty of room to create intricate custom embroidery designs on sweatshirts and hoodies without your creativity being limited by a smaller hoop size.
This machine also has 11 inches of throat space. If you’re not familiar with this term, it is referring to the space to the right of the needle. So, when you’re trying to maneuver a bulky item like a big hoodie, it’s a LOT less frustrating than on a smaller machine. Likewise, the bed of the machine is also over-sized, making it easier to hoop large clothing items on the machine.
The 400e, of course, also has a ton of other great features, including a USB port for transferring your custom designs to the machine, adjustable speed (400-860SPM), on-screen editing functions, jump thread trimming, automatic thread cutter, etc.
Brother Innov-is NS1150 – $899
If the Janome 400e is outside of your budget, then the Brother NS1150 could be a contender. This machine has a smaller embroidery area at 5″ x7″, but it is a more inexpensive embroidery machine compared to the Janome 400E.
So, what else will you be missing out on by going with a cheaper machine? Well, the throat space is smaller at 7.9″, which may mean a little more wrestling with bulky clothing items to get them to fit. The machine is also a little slower, topping out at 650 stitches per minute.
This machine also does not have a thread sensor, which alerts you if the thread breaks, and it does not have automatic jump stitch cutting like the Janome 400e.
However, if you can live with the smaller embroidery area and less fancy features, then you can get started in embroidery for a lot cheaper.
Brother PRS100 – $4,999
Looking for an embroidery machine for a home business? Then you may be interested in the BrotherPRS100. This reliable and capable machine has a free arm – which allows you to embroider on sleeves, pockets, caps, and tons of other things flat beds struggle with.
This machine also has an 8″ x 8″ embroidery area and variable speed, topping out at 1,000 stitches per minute. It’s a great machine for someone who is looking to grow a business or a clothing brand, and it’s one of the cheapest ways to get real hat embroidery capabilities.
Unfortunately, it’s not a multi-needle machine. That means that you’ll still need to change out the thread colors manually. If you’re interested in a multi-needle machine in a similar price range (and you don’t plan to embroider on sleeves or hats), then I’d recommend the janome MB4 instead.
However, the PRS100 is a fantastic machine if you need to do more advanced embroidery for your brand or an online store and can’t afford a commercial machine that costs $10,000+.
In closing, while most any machine can embroider on a hoodie or a sweatshirt, not all of them can perform certain functions. So, if you want to embroidery on sleeves, or you want to create large-scale designs, it’s important to know that before investing in a machine. Otherwise, you may end up regretting your purchase!
Barb, our resident quilter and embroidery aficionado, weaves a thread of creativity through our collection. Serving as the curator of machine embroidery content, Barb infuses each design with a touch of her artistic expertise. The free embroidery patterns you discover on our site often bear the mark of Barb’s craftsmanship. Let’s get crafting!