The Basics of Commercial Embroidery Machines and Supplies

Choosing the right commercial embroidery machine is an important business decision, but it is certainly not the only decision you need to make.

This primer gives you tips and hints for getting everything you need for your commercial embroidery system, either new or used!

Buying a commercial embroidery machine will take time and a little patience. After all, it will be the basis for your successful business, and requires a fair amount of research to find a system most suitable for your needs.

single head commercial embroidery machine

Consider the hunt for a commercial embroidery machine like looking for a new job. It is more than just picking the tools; it is also discovering the right company with all the right training, support and warranties.

To begin, a well-defined business plan will help you decide if you want to create an embroidery monogram business, T-shirt direct to garment printing business, commercial embroidery business or an online home embroidery business. Remember, many commercial embroidery startups began simply, with one single-head embroidery machine operating out of the home.

A question to ask in the search for a commercial embroidery machine is whether to buy new or used. Then you can move to equipment and your next crucial decision, which device will be best suited for your business model.

Searching for a commercial embroidery machine: new or pre-owned?

One way to start looking for a used commercial embroidery machine is online on industry websites or boards like Craigslist. There you could get a system that will better suit your budget.

Deciding on a used embroidery machine can be a little tricky. Buying a used machine, like any other equipment, price is the biggest issue, but that is just the beginning.

Will your workload require a single-head, 4-head or 6-head embroidery machine?  Perhaps you will need more on the lines of something higher-volume.

For the price you pay, what you get is important, especially when it comes to things like accessories. Paying rock bottom for a used commercial embroidery machine gives you fewer benefits if you end up spend top dollar on all the other essential items. If you do go with a previously owned machine, make sure you get at least  a few standard hoops or frames, so you can get started.

Buying a certified pre-owned commercial embroidery machine through a reputable distributor like ColDesi Inc. can give you some other benefits, such as assurance of quality. Often, this is the best way to get a system that operates properly from the beginning. Many companies will sell equipment in a package with everything you need.

No matter where you get your commercial embroidery system, it is useful to look at the specific parts of the package.

In addition, the manufacturer can also be your source for accessories on an as-needed basis. Some used models come with things like cap frames and a number of hoops. Going with an individual party and you may not get you everything you need. The overall value of a used embroidery machine depends on the extras you get.

Avancé 4 Head Professional Embroidery Machine
Avancé 4 Head Professional Embroidery Machine

Generally, if Durkee hoops are included, there should be two of each size for every head. With them, you can hoop one garment while one is sewing and re-hoop the machine quicker.

Computerized embroidery machines have more options than ever before, so it is necessary to understand the features available before you start your embroidery business. For example, single head embroidery equipment like the Avancé 1501C is perfect for embroidery startups.

The Avancé 1501C is the best for new embroiderers, or for an existing shop that wants to add capacity quickly because of its low cost entry price and 2 YEAR 100% trade up guarantee. This durable system is ideal for monograms, names, left chest designs and full-size jacket backs.

One of the advantages of buying new is the having the latest technological advances. Older embroidery machines have simply not kept up!  One notable example is floppy disks. Earlier generations of commercial embroidery systems still accommodated floppy disks.

This can a problem for commercial production. A floppy disk holds only 430,000 stitches, while the smallest 256K USB drive can hold up to 83 million stitches. Try finding a floppy disk technology in a world of Bluetooth wireless and USB ports. Current professional models like the 1501C come with a 200 design or 2 million stitch on board memory AS WELL as accomodating a USB drive or Ethernet cable direct hook up.

Do not forget the accessories!

There are other fixtures available for both your system and your business. While they are not mandatory, they are able to make your business a lot easier. The most popular accessories are:

Hooping board

Hooping boards fix the embroidery in the same spot on several shirts. They speed up the process considerably. In addition, an All-In-1 Hooper can take the place of five different boards.

Specialty sewing kits and hoops

If you want to decorate heavy jackets, blankets, canvas bags, you need a strong double height hoop to hold the garment, and a table on the device to support the garment.

The nerve center of modern commercial embroidery machines—the computer.

Most commercial embroidery software works with PCs. Ideally you should have a computer dedicated solely for your business. Some software will not function properly on all operating systems. For example, not all programs are compatible with Windows 8. Always make sure of any compatibility issues. Buying a used embroidery system from individuals may include a computer in the sale, others will not.

Software is the heart of creative embroidery

Unless you already have embroidery experience, your best bet is purchasing automatic digitizing packages. Most of this software works with Windows XP and later.

Sierra’s Stitch ERA Liberty is a user-friendly suite of design and digitizing tools that allow you create new embroidery designs fast and easy. The software had both automated functions and the ability for precise control over each element of the design.

Supplies make the difference

Never sweat the details by forgetting to get everything you need. This means things like a variety of polyester threads, topping material, backing, bobbins, and needles. Do not overlook other notions and maintenance items like scissors, sewing snips, sprays and liquids.

Her’es a great example of what a smaller embroidery business supply kit looks like. Brand new from Colman and Company

A list of stock designs

Stock designs are not necessary to starting a successful embroidery business, but they may prove very helpful. Several companies offer collections of designs or color catalogs with detailed images, sizes and stitch counts.

Use them as a sales tool, or even a way to present basic options for your customers. Stock designs are also good as a jumping off point for customization in digitizing and design software. With a stock list of patterns, you can give your customer as a quick solution, one that is less expensive than custom digitized designs.

Choosing the right commercial embroidery machine doesn’t not need to be difficult, especially when you have information from people you can trust. The professional staff at Colman and Company can not only help you find everything you need in embroidery supplies, but they can also help you choose the right tools to make your embroidery business a complete success!

For questions and more information, contact one of our embroidery experts at, or call 800-891-1094.

Do you have any tips for getting your commercial embroidery business off the ground? Let us know in the comments!

Resource Guide:

Here are some great articles, products and sources of information to help you get started learning the basics of Professional Embroidery: