If you’re in the market for a t shirt embroidery machine – you’re in luck! Embroidering shirts is easy to do on any embroidery machine, though it does take a bit of skill and knowledge to get it done properly!
T Shirt Embroidery Hoop Sizes
Even the cheap embroidery machines are up to the task of t shirt embroidery, as long as you’re content with being limited to 4″ x 4″ pocket sized designs.
This is a great size for stitching out business logos on polo shirts or on to baseball caps, but, if you’re interested in a machine for large designs, or you need to produce large quantities of embroidered shirts for sale, things quickly get more expensive.
A bigger hoop is always better, but this quickly drives up the price. So, be honest with yourself about what size you really need for your designs. While I’d recommend at least a 5″ x 7″ hoop to give yourself more options, a 4×4 machine can easily get the job done for smaller projects.
T Shirt Embroidery Machine Prices
Likewise, while a multi-needle machine makes mass producing shirts much faster, since you don’t have to swap out the thread colors manually, it’s also very expensive. The cheapest multi needle embroidery machines will still run you $4,000 – $5,000+, and that’s just not in everyone’s budget!
You definitely don’t need a machine in this price range to embroider on shirts though. Even a budget under $1,000 is plenty for you to get a quality single needle machine that will work just fine!
Even a smaller 4×4 option makes for a good t shirt logo embroidery machine. However, you’ll likely find this size to be limiting rather quickly, so think long and hard before buying one.
Combination Machine vs Embroidery Only
I generally don’t recommend getting combination machines, because it most cases you’ll just be paying more money for no reason. Even if you also need a sewing machine… it’s often cheaper to buy one of each rather than combine them. (However, there are exceptions!)
Flat bed vs free arm machines
All of the machines on this list (and most consumer machines) are flat bed machines. This means that the item you plan to embroider much be laid flat.
For most t shirt embroidery projects, this is fine. However, if you plan to embroider on sleeves or the pockets of a t shirt, this can be pretty difficult with a flat bed, and you may want a free arm machine instead. Though these machines cost a lot more money, so plan carefully!
Below I’ve given my top picks for t-shirt embroidery machines based on features, function, and price!
Best T shirt Embroidery Machine – Top Picks
All of the below machines would make an excellent embroidery machine for shirts. We’ve hand-picked the best of the best when it comes to features, price, and reliability. Here’s our top pick!
Janome Memory Craft 400E – $1,349
The Janome Memory Craft 400E is an excellent single needle embroidery machine for clothing, including t-shirts! I’ve recommended this as an embroidery machine for sweatshirts and hoodies before, because of its generous 8″ x 8″ embroidery area, and the large throat space, which makes it easy to maneuver bulky clothing under.
However, this machine is also great if you want to make large t-shirt designs without spending a ton of money. It’s an excellent value for all of the features and the embroidery are that it offers.
With this machine you’ll be able to stitch designs at 860 stitches per minute, but it also has variable speed which you can dial down as low as 400 for designs that require more care.
You can upload your own custom designs via the USB port, take advantage of the on-screen editing functions to re-size, rotate, change thread colors, and edit designs, and it even has automatic jump thread trimming – a rare feature for machines in the entry level price range.
In short, the 400E is one of the best embroidery machines for shirts. It’s budget-friendly, but still offers enough features that the machine can grow with you when you decide to tackle more projects.
Brother PE800 – $899
This Brother embroidery machine is one of the most popular entry-level machines on the market, and for good reason! This budget-friendly machine offers a large 5″ x 7″ embroidery area, which will allow you to embroider large designs on t-shirts, hoodies, and more.
Not only is it super easy to use, but since it’s so popular there are tons of tutorials online for it. That makes it an extra great pick for beginners, because every question you could have about this machine has already been answered on YouTube.
As you can see above, this machine stitches out beautiful designs. It also offers 7 different embroidery fonts, a USB port for uploading your custom designs, a jam-resistant bobbing, an automatic needle threader – AND it has step-by-step tutorials you can access right on the LCD screen if you get lost!
In short, the Brother PE800 is a fantastic low cost embroidery machine for caps and t shirts if you need something to get you started customizing t shirts, sweatshirts, bucket hats, beanies, and more. It’s a fantastic starter embroidery machine.
Brother PE550D – $439
Looking for the cheapest embroidery machine for t shirts you can get? The Brother PE550D is a 4×4 machine that can get the job done – with a few caveats!
The fact is, a cheap embroidery machine will embroider just as well as an expensive one. What you’re actually paying for with a more expensive machine is mostly the increased embroidery area.
So, if you only need a machine to do something like make pocket logos on polo tees or for making small designs on baseball caps. There’s honestly no reason to purchase a more expensive machine!
If that’s the case for you, then I’d definitely recommend the PE550D, but keep in mind that if you decide you want to do larger designs later, this machine will be severely limiting.
However, this Disney embroidery machine comes with 45 built-in Disney designs (145 designs total), 9 fonts (including 3 Japanese ones if you’re an anime fan!), an automatic needle threader, on-screen editing functions, and a USB port for uploading your own designs.
Janome 500E – $2,399
Need a bigger embroidery area to work with? The Janome 500E offers an expanded 7.9″ x 11″ embroidery area when compared to the 400E if you can spend a bit more money.
The machine features a large LCD touchscreen with on-screen editing options, comes with all the hoops you need to get started, and it works very well on heavy duty fabrics, like faux leather materials.
Its embroidery area is large enough to make beautiful sweatshirt designs too, like this lovely racoon stitched out by a Reddit user.
In short, this is a great machine at a fair price point for the size of the embroidery area, and it’s an even better deal when you compare the 500E vs 550E. It’s large enough that you won’t have to worry about outgrowing the machine and needing to resell it later.
Bernette 70 DECO – $1699
If you’re willing to spend a bit more, then you can upgrade to the Bernette 70 DECO. This excellent machine has an expanded 10.2″ x 6.2″ embroidery area, which is honestly huge at this price point.
This computerized embroidery machine also has some very nice features, which include upper and lower thread sensors, and the Bernina tool box embroidery software for lettering is included for free. (Be aware this is NOT a full digitization software).
The machine is very easy to use as well, making it a great pick for beginners. The only real con of this machine is that it’s a bit slower at 800SPM, but you likely won’t notice unless you’re using it to stitch out a LOT of custom orders for an Etsy store. The needle threader also takes a minute to learn to use.
None of these things are deal breakers for this machine though, and if you want the most affordable home shirt embroidery machines with the largest hoop size possible, this one is a contender.
Husqvarna Jade 35 – $1,399
Interested in a machine that can embroider AND sew? I don’t recommend a lot of combination machines, because I think it’s better to have a machine that just does one job well, but the if you want a machine that does both – The Husqvarna Jade is an excellent choice!
For just a few dollars more than what you’d pay for the Janome 400E, you can pick up this sewing and embroidery combo machine which also features a large 9.5″ x 6″ embroidery area! Yes, an affordable sewing machine that does embroidery!
In addition to the large embroidery area and sewing capabilities, you’ll also get Husqvarna’s “Sewing Advisor”, which selects the stitch, stitch width, stitch length, and sewing tension automatically for your project, a welcoming feature for a beginner.
This machine also comes with a Quick Font wizard which allows you to create new embroidery fonts for your projects, but it’s not a full embroidery digitizing software, unfortunately. However, it does have some editing capabilities that allow you to combine designs, adjust the stitch density, resize, etc.
Additional features include: stitch programming, upper thread sensor, automatic thread tension, automatic thread cutter, included embroidery design editing software and font creation software, free motion capabilities, and more – all at an affordable price.
This is, of course, not a fancy computerized sewing and embroidery machine, and that means it doesn’t have fancy on-screen editing functions. But, if you’re happy to do your editing on your computer and transfer the designs over – you can save a lot of money!
Janome MB4 – $5,499
Looking to start up a clothing brand and need a machine that can create a lot of shirts fast? The Janome MB4 is one of the cheapest multi-needle machines around and it’s a great pick if you need a small business embroidery machine but can’t afford a pricier commercial machine.
It also makes for a great t shirt and hat embroidery machine, stitching out fantastic quality designs on bucket hats, dad hats, beanies, and more.
This is a 4 needle machine, which means you can load up 4 thread colors and the machine will stitch your embroidery patterns without the need to stop. Obviously, this saves a ton of time over a standard machine, where it will stop for each color change and you’ll need to re-thread it.
It also has a generous 9.4″ x 7.9″ embroidery area, allowing you to create large custom shirt designs, and it’s variable speed setting will hum along at a respectable 600-800 stitches per minute.
It handles jump stitches for you, has an automatic thread cutter, comes with all the free hoops you’ll need, and you can use it to customize a lot of products if your brand moves beyond t-shirts later.
However, this is a flat bed machine, which means it’s not the best choice if you also plan to do embroidery on sleeves or other items that can’t be smashed flat. However, you can do some pretty nice embroidery projects with it, which you can see in the above video tutorial.
In short, this Janome industrial embroidery machine is an excellent pick for an at home embroidery business looking to get their foot in the door of custom embroidery.
In closing, while t shirt machine embroidery can technically be done on any machine, it’s important to consider your current and future needs before making a purchase.
Will you need to make large designs, or will pocket tee designs suffice? Will you be making these shirts for just your own personal use, or do you plan to sell them in bulk? Do you plan to embroider anything else like flex fit hats or sleeves that will require a specialized machine?
Knowing what you need before making a purchase is important. Otherwise you’ll likely have regrets.
Tanya, both a nurturing stay-at-home mom and a skilled crafter, is the creative force behind our blog. As the co-founder of Romney Ridge Farms & Crafts, she’s the editor and curator. She also runs the Romney Ridge Farms & Crafts social media accounts where we post new patterns for you to enjoy.