Compared to when embroidery was done solely by hand, the embroidery machines of today are a miracle. They can accomplish stunning embroidery in just an hour or two that would take a day or more of work by hand.
Embroidery machines tend to be underutilized, though. Many people who purchase an embroidery machine haven’t reached the depths of all it can do. There are more projects possible than you probably ever imagined.
So, what are the best uses for an embroidery machine? The best embroidery machine uses are customized gifts, family keepsakes, wall décor, decorative pillows, your own custom themed fabric, appliques, and designs to enhance boring, old clothing items.
Even within the list above, there are so many projects you can do. With the modern ability to import any design to your embroidery machine through a computer and USB port, your choices are truly endless.
Let’s explore some of the best projects you can make using your embroidery machine.
How Are Embroidery Machines Different From Sewing Machines?
To start with, people new to the sewing arts may be confused between all the different machines. Embroidery machines, sewing machines, quilting machines, or a machine that combines all three – what’s the difference?
A sewing machine can only sew in one straight line. There’s one needle in one fixed location, and the lines (or slight curves) of your seams depend on the way you move and guide the fabric.
Although this may sound limiting, sewing machines have a lot of design choices in their own right. Many modern sewing machines have at least 100 different stitches to choose from, allowing you more creativity in your seams.
Embroidery machines have different abilities. They can be programmed to stitch different shapes, logos, letters, and other designs. Rather than just a straight-line stitch, these needles can navigate all sorts of curves and stitch lines.
Embroidery machines also require more materials. Rather than just setting up the fabric and sewing, you’ll need to use a hoop and a stabilizer to embroider on fabric.
Machines that are equipped to do both will have the ability to run regular sewing seams, as well as create embroidery designs.
For a more detailed explanation of the difference between embroidery machines and sewing machines, check out our article all about it: Embroidery Machine Vs Sewing Machine.
How To Pick The Best Embroidery Machine
With so many options when it comes to embroidery machines, the marketplace can feel overwhelming. Especially for a beginner, there are several factors to consider that you may not know enough about.
In our article 7 Best Embroidery Machines for Beginners, we go into detail about all the different qualities to look for in embroidery machines. This includes features like a USB port, built-in patterns, and large embroidery space.
We also provide a list of the 7 best embroidery machines that are currently on the market for beginners.
If you’re looking into purchasing your first embroidery machine and don’t know where to start, we highly recommend checking out our article linked above.
7 Embroidery Machine Uses
When it comes to choosing your first project with your new embroidery machine, it can be difficult to know where to start.
You may be so excited with all your project ideas that it’s hard to settle on just one to begin with! You may also be new to embroidery, and unsure of what you can make with your new machine.
The list below is our top 7 recommended uses for your embroidery machine. Although this is not a comprehensive list, this is a great starting point to help you as you begin your journey into embroidery.
1. Customized Gifts
The first thing many people do with their embroidery machine is make customized gifts. These gifts can have a monogram or name of the person who will be receiving them, a specific logo or design that reflects their interests, or even a nice pattern of filigree or lace.
Some of the more common embroidered gifts include towels for newlyweds, a baby blanket or burp cloths for a baby shower, or even monogrammed cloth napkins for a wedding reception.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, though. There are so many creative ideas to make people customized embroidered gifts!
You could also make them a jacket or hat with their name, a fun logo, or even a cute little animal or shape.
If you want to think a little more outside of the box, you can try making someone homemade pins and patches. Use a small design and embroider it in a way that it has a circle or oval border, then create a unique design on the inside.
If you’re also adept at sewing, you could sew someone a homemade bookmark or glasses case, then embroider a fun design on the outside.
No matter what you choose to make, your loved ones will be overjoyed to receive a handmade item with a thoughtful, custom design just for them.
2. Family Keepsakes
Another great use for your embroidery machine is creating family keepsakes that can stay in the family for generations.
With the modern technology now embedded in embroidery machines, you can import any design from your computer into your embroidery machine.
This allows you to create and preserve custom art! Let your child design something of their own imagination, then embroider it onto a cloth that you can frame and hang on the wall.
This is a great way to honor your child’s creation and add a sweet memory to your home décor.
Another beautiful family keepsake is a quilt. Though you’ll also need a quilting machine to make one, you can create your own custom quilt squares to put together into a quilt.
Whether you want to create a quilt for your child’s graduation, wedding, or the birth of their first child, a quilt is a cherished handmade family heirloom that can last for generations.
Why not give it the extra customization of embroidering the designs on it yourself?
3. Wall Décor
As we mentioned in the section above, you can use embroidery to take a child’s drawing and make it into a keepsake wall hanging.This isn’t the only design you can hang on your wall, though.
Embroidery makes for beautiful wall home décor. You can embroider flowers, filigree, monograms, or a seasonal design such as a pumpkin or snowflake. When the embroidery is done, simply frame the fabric and hang it up on the wall.
A great idea for embroidering a piece of décor is to embroider on tulle. Although a delicate and tricky fabric to work with, it can create beautiful embroidered pieces of art. Due to its sheer quality, embroidered designs can have a floating effect on tulle.
If you want to learn more about embroidering on tulle, check out our article about it: Embroidering On Tulle – Is It Possible?
Even if you decide to embroider on a more traditional fabric such as cotton, you’ll have a beautiful work of art that can complement any style of home décor.
4. Decorative Pillows
For another fabulous piece of home décor, try embroidering cute designs or monograms on your pillowcases. Many pillowcases can be dull or boring. Throw pillows are often a second thought, simply placed on a couch or bed just to fill the space.
With an embroidery machine, let your creativity run wild! Buy some fabric and embroider your own beautiful designs. Pillowcases are one of the simplest sewing projects you can do, so it’ll be easy to sew it together after you apply your designs!
You can also use this idea to make custom pillows for family and friends. The gift possibilities truly are endless!
5. Create Themed Fabric
Sometimes, the fabric options at our local craft store fail us. We have an idea for our project in mind, but can’t find the exact right fabric in the selection available. With an embroidery machine, you can create your own custom fabric.
If you wanted a light blue fabric with sparkly white and silver snowflakes, simply buy some plain blue fabric and some glittery white thread for embroidering!
Since embroidering has to happen in one small section at a time, this may not be feasible for large projects. It works better for smaller projects, such as handmade bags, pillowcases, bookmarks, coin purses, tablet sleeves, and more.
You could do this for quilt squares, as we mentioned above, or even use it on smaller garments of clothing.
Appliques used to be a pain to stitch on. With an embroidery machine, they’re super easy! Embroidery machines are the perfect companion to adding appliques to clothing.
Whether you want to add a sunflower made from different pieces of yellow fabric, or a heart made from two broken pieces of fabric to make the whole, you can create any type of applique you want.
Add the applique to your favorite pair of jeans, the back of your denim or leather jacket, or even on the outside of your handmade cloth purse.
Appliques can be added to any fabric piece, and with an embroidery machine, you’ll get all the fun without the headache.
7. Enhance Boring Clothing
Sometimes, pieces of our wardrobe start to feel stale. The plain sage green blouse we bought five years ago just feels over-worn and done. Bring it back to life with embroidery!
Although creating enough custom embroidered fabric to create a shirt from scratch would be a massive undertaking, you can add simple embroidered flair to an already existing clothing item fairly easily.
Try setting pieces of the collar in an embroidery hoop and adding some filigree or lace along the collar.
Another fun idea for embroidering clothes is to add a little design on the bottom of the shirt where it hangs by your side. This is a common place for monograms or other small designs. You could add a floral or vining design along the sleeves of a blouse or t-shirt, or running along the hem of a skirt.
When it comes to enhancing boring clothes, you can do anything you can imagine. Look at embroidered clothing on Pinterest or other crafty websites for ideas. There are tons of pictures with great ideas to get you started embroidering your clothes.
Any boring fabric can be made new again with an embroidery machine.
Other Embroidery Ideas
While our list of the top 7 embroidery machine uses is a great place to start, there are tons of other possibilities out there.
You could try making your own embroidered jewelry, for example. Simply embroider on a water-soluble stabilizer, and when done, you’ll have a beautiful piece of free-standing embroidery to attached to earrings or a necklace.
You can also think outside the box and try embroidering on materials other than fabric. Balsa wood, for example, is a soft type of wood that can be used with some embroidery machines.
Before embroidering on wood, be sure to check your embroidery machine’s manufacturer instructions and warranty. Depending on your machine, this could actually cause damage and void your warranty. Always check your manual first.
Another fun idea for an embroidery machine is to add some flair to your feet. Whether you add embroidery to your socks, shoelaces, or the canvas or fabric part of your shoes, you can add unique designs to your footwear that help you stand out among the crowd.
For more embroidery gift ideas, check out this video by Sewing Report on YouTube.
What Can I Make To Sell With An Embroidery Machine?
Really, anything you make with your embroidery machine can be sold. Some of the more popular embroidered items to sell include monogrammed towels, baby blankets, and custom hats.
If you like to work with children, consider reaching out to a local dance studio or school. Often, the children in dance classes need costumes for their recitals. You can add embroidered designs to the kids’ tutus and leotards!
If you have a lot of down time, you can make homemade quilts to sell. Those are large projects, so you’ll be able to charge a larger amount of money for them if you take on that endeavor.
Any of the gifts or projects listed can potentially be turned into your own embroidery business. Offer to turn your friends’ children’s drawings into family keepsakes, add new designs to old pieces of clothing, or make custom pillowcases.
You can even create a whole wedding-aimed business where you only create monogrammed cloth napkins for weddings. Monograms are big in the wedding business, so get creative and start embroidering!
Can An Embroidery Machine Make Patches?
Absolutely! If your beloved pair of jeans or favorite jacket has a hole, use an embroidery machine to patch it up in a fun and unique way.
This would be done similar to an applique. Choose the type of fabric you want to cover up the whole, and attach it to your base fabric with a stabilizer.
Stitch it on with the embroidery machine, and watch your ruined clothes become new again!
You can also make individual patches that can be sewn or ironed onto clothing. All you’d need to do is embroider the design with a backing designed for however you plan for the patch to be attached to clothing.
This can be a fun way to add excitement to home art or science projects. Just as with organizations such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, you can create your own award patches.
With custom award patches, you can engage your kids in any activity you plan at home!