The Cheapest embroidery machines for entry level hobbyists

Embroidery is a fun hobby, but getting into it isn’t cheap!! While having an expensive multi-needle embroidery machine is cool – even the cheapest multi-needle embroidery machine is more than you’d want to spend on an entry level machine!

That’s why today, we’ll be talking about the CHEAPEST embroidery machines! Yes, these machines will offer you the quickest and least expensive way to enter into the custom embroidery hobby.

Brother PE550D – $439

The Brother PE550D is the cheapest new machine you can get your hands on. This excellent little entry level embroidery machine makes it affordable for anyone to get started with embroidery.

cheap embroidery machines for custom designs
The PE550D is the cheapest entry level machine around.

The machine has a 4″ x 4″ maximum embroidery area, and it comes with 45 free Disney designs for your projects. This size embroidery area is great if you need a cheap embroidery machine for hats or a machine for patch making.

You’ll also get 9 built-in fonts (including 3 Japanese fonts) to play with, and the machine’s USB port allows you to quickly and easily upload your own custom designs to the machine, making it one of the cheapest embroidery machines for custom designs.

Video: Custom embroidery on the Brother PE550D

So, why would you NOT get the PE550D? Well, 4″ x 4″ is great for hats, patches, pocket logos, and monogramming, but if you want to create larger designs… this could quickly limit your creativity. If that’s the case, you may consider purchasing a machine with at least a 5″ x 7″ embroidery area for more creative freedom.

Click here to get the best price on the Brother PE550D

Brother SE625 – $369

This machine can sometimes be found for even less than the PE550D. So, why didn’t it make the first spot? Well, this machine is an older model and availability is pretty limited.

cheapest embroidery machines
The SE625 is an older 4″x4″ machine you can sometimes find used

If you’d like to own an SE625… you’ll likely have to buy used and that means being patient. Sometimes these pop up in used inventory if you’re looking, but I’d personally spend a bit more for the new machine and skip this.

Photo: Custom hats embroidered on the SE625

However, the SE625 is ALSO a sewing machine! So, if you need a dual-purpose machine… it might be worth the wait! It’s a solid machine and definitely a great purchase if your budget is really tight.

Click here to check for used SE625 machines

Brother PE800 – $699-$899

This is one of the most popular embroidery machines around, and for good reason! The PE800 offers an upgraded 5″ x 7″ embroidery area when compared to the SE625 or PE550D.

hat and shirt embroidery machine

The machine sells new for $899, but if you’re patient… you could save $200 if a used one pops up.

And while the PE800 is an excellent and affordable machine, possibly the best thing about it is that due to its popularity there are tons and tons of tutorials online to help you learn!

Photo: Custom embroidery on the PE800

All of this content and the large embroidery area make this machine one of the cheapest embroidery machines for custom designs, and uploading your custom digitized designs via USB is easy too.

Click here to get the best price on the Brother PE800

Brother NS1150 – $899

Unfortunately, due to the popularity of the PE800… it can sometimes be hard to find the machine in stock! If that’s the case for you, then consider the Brother NS1150 – which is almost identical.

The only real differences between the PE800 vs 1150E is built-in memory and automatic thread tension. Neither of these are a big deal and the 1150E is a great machine.

Video: Custom hat embroidery on the NS1150

Just like the PE800, this machine also has a 5″ x 7″ embroidery area, leaving you a lot of possibilities for creating custom designs on your embroidery machine.

Click here to get the best price on the Brother NS1150

What makes an embroidery machine cheaper?

Wondering if you’ll be getting your money’s worth with these cheaper machines? Here’s what you need to know.

A cheaper machine does not mean that it is less capable, especially if it’s a quality brand like Brother. When it comes to pricing, here are the things that matter the most for embroidery machines.

Embroidery field size

The biggest factor which determines price is the size of the embroidery field. Smaller 4″ x 4″ machines are the cheapest, but they will also be limiting as you gain experience and want to take on new projects.

For this reason, I’d recommend at least a 5″ x 7″ machine, even if it’s your first one. But, if you really can’t swing it, then you can always sell the 4″x4″ machine later when you need to upgrade.

Single or multi-needle (or multi-head!)

All the machines in this list are single needle. This means that you can only set up one thread color at a time. So, when the machine finishes stitching, red for example, and needs to move on to blue – it will stop and you’ll need to manually re-thread with the next color.

Multi-needle machines allow you to set up multiple colors at once so you don’t need to keep changing them manually. This obviously makes things a lot quicker, especially if you’re filling orders for your store.

However, these machines are really expensive, and if you don’t have $5,000+ to spend… you’ll be getting a single needle.

The priciest machines in this category are actual multi-head machines! These are commercial machines that can not only use multiple needles, but they also can embroider multiple items at once.

What features does it have?

It’s important to think about what kind of items you want to embroider on before investing in a machine. Cheaper machines are ALL flat bed machines.

That means any items you need to embroider need to be smashed flat in the hoop. This works fine for stuff like patches, shirts, hoodies, and even dad hats.

But, it can be a problem if you want to embroider on things like flex fit hats, socks, sleeves, or bulky items which will have a tough time either fitting under the needle of the machine, or being maneuvered.

A pricier free-arm machine makes this a much easier task. Allowing you to connect things like cap drivers that let you embroider all the way around a hat, but this feature also adds to the cost of a machine significantly.