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Travel back in time 100 years, and you might find folks sitting around a table hand-embroidering cloth items together. But who has time for that today?
If you like the idea of monogramming or embroidering items — but you don't have years to devote to the pursuit — a monogram machine is an excellent compromise.
Modern monogram machines make embroidery easy; the hardest part is picking the right one for you.
At BestReviews, we examined hundreds of monogram machines, analyzing consumer data and weighing the pros and cons of each model in order to identify the top five on the market.
In our pursuit of the best, we never accept “free” samples from manufacturers. We want to be your go-to source for honest, unbiased product recommendations and reviews.
Please check out the matrix at the top of this page to discover our favorite five monogram machines. And if you’d like to learn more about monogram machines in general, please continue reading this shopping guide.
Monogram machines are so named because you can use them to monogram items such as linens and handkerchiefs. But monogramming isn't all they can do; these machines perform other types of embroidery, too. As such, might hear others refer to them as embroidery machines.
A monogram machine looks like a regular sewing machine, but it doesn’t sew; it embroiders.
Modern monogram machines are computerized. They include a range of built-in fonts and embroidery patterns; you select the pattern you want from the machine’s LED display.
Some monogram machines offer fewer than 50 built-in designs and just a few fonts; others offer 100+ creative choices.
Entry-level monogram machines usually offer 20 to 50 built-in designs and 2 to 5 fonts with no way to download or install extras.
Mid-range monogram machines usually offer 50 to 100 built-in designs and 5 to 8 fonts. You may have the chance to add more creative choices via a USB drive.
High-end monogram machines usually offer 100+ built-in designs and 8 to 12 fonts. They may offer a direct connection to the internet (for the purpose of downloading new designs), or they may link to your computer so you can design your own patterns with special software.
How many designs do you want your monogram machine to offer? The answer depends on how much embroidery you plan to do. We recommend a machine that allows you to install or download extra patterns for increased creative freedom.
All monogram machines have LED screens on the body that allow you to select fonts and embroidery patterns, but some are easier to use than others.
It's normally quite simple to select a built-in font or design, but downloading new ones is a bit trickier. If you're not sure that your computer skills extend to designing your own digital patterns or downloading them online, we recommend a machine with an ample number of built-in options.
If you want to create your own embroidery patterns, look for a monogram machine that can be connected to a computer and used in conjunction with embroidery design software.
Monogram machines have a maximum area in which they can embroider.
Basic models tend to have a smaller embroidery area, usually around 4” x 4”.
High-end models tend to have a larger embroidery area, often up to 8” x 12”.
The size you require depends on how you wish to use your machine. If you just want to do some basic monogramming, a small embroidery area would probably suffice. However, if you plan to create elaborate pieces of embroidery, you would probably appreciate a much larger embroidery area.
You'll need to choose a hoop of an appropriate size for your machine’s embroidery area. Some monogram machines accept only their own branded hoops. Others will accommodate generic hoops.
Basic monogram machines include a single needle on the stitching head. Every time you want to change color, you must stop the machine and change the thread.
If this doesn’t appeal to you, consider a multi-needle model. These machines have four to ten needles on one stitching head. Each needle can be threaded with a different color, so you needn’t stop and start for multi-colored designs.
Multi-needle monogram machines cost more money, but they're worth the splurge if you plan to regularly embroider patterns with multiple colors.
Some monogram machines have automatic threaders that remove the hassle of threading your needles. While it's a handy function to have, we wouldn't discount a decent machine just because it doesn't include an automatic threader — unless there's a good reason why you need one, that is.
Automatic threading proves particularly useful for people with poor eyesight or who lack the manual dexterity to easily thread a needle themselves.
If you’re looking for new embroidery patterns to try, check the internet. Many websites offer free or low-price patterns you can download for use with your monogram machine.
Before beginning a project, perform a test stitch on a similar piece of fabric. This is especially crucial if you’re going to be embroidering on material that can't be easily replaced.
Before you start a new project, ensure that the size of your intended design fits in the maximum embroidery area of your machine.
A dull needle can cause snags. Replace each needle after eight hours of embroidery.
If you’re embroidering a high-density pattern, we recommend you use a sturdy material. (The density of an embroidery pattern refers to how many stitches it has in relation to its size.)
Even entry-level monogram machines can cost a handsome penny. Expect to pay $250 to $400 for a basic monogram machine with a 4" x 4" embroidery area and 20 to 50 built-in patterns.
If you want a mid-range model with 50 to 100 built-in designs (plus more available for download) and an embroidery area of roughly 5" x 7", expect to pay $400 to $600.
When embroidering a monogram on a towel or piece of linen, place your stitching on the side that doesn't have the label. Also be sure to place the monogram on the opposite end of the label.
A high-end monogram machine will set you back as much as $600 to $1,000. For this amount of money, you’ll benefit from a larger embroidery area — up to 8" x 12" — and 100 to 300 built-in embroidery designs.
The majority of high-end models allow you to design your own embroidery patterns and connect straight to a computer or transfer patterns via a USB drive.
If you prefer cotton thread over standard embroidery thread, any 30 wt. cotton thread should work just fine.
Multi-needle monogram machines are terrific, but they’re costly. You can expect to pay $2,000 to $7,000 for a machine with 4 to 8 needles.
Our advice: unless you have a large budget or plan to do an extraordinary amount of embroidery in numerous colors, multi-needle monogram machines are best left to the professionals.
Q. Is it difficult to learn machine embroidery?
A. Let's put it this way: it's easier to learn machine embroidery than it is to learn hand embroidery. That said, there is a bit of a learning curve with monogram machines.
A person who feels comfortable at a sewing machine might find it easier to learn the ins and outs of a monogram machine than a sewing newbie. But once you’ve set everything up and selected your pattern, a monogram machine does most of the hard work for you.
Q. How do you know when to change thread colors on a monogram machine?
A. If you're using a single-needle monogram machine to create a pattern with more than one color, you'll eventually need to change the thread. Color changes are built into the pattern, so your machine will alert you when you need to change the color. At this point, simply clip the current thread, remove the bobbin, and attach a fresh color spool.
Q. Can I also do regular sewing jobs on a monogram machine?
A. Most monogram machines can only do embroidery; they’re not made for regular sewing. However, there are a few multi-purpose models out there that can be used for normal sewing tasks, too.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.