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We ahve a small business and I want to personalize my kids' shirts. What is a auitable model for this type of use?

You should look for a machine that has (at the very lease) a stitching (hoop) area of 5 x 7, or you will be limited to designs no larger than 4 x 4.

Also important is Internet connectivity. UBS port B is direct connection via a cable that comes with the machine and USB port A is a removable flash stick/drive. A is the most convenient, the PC needs to be near the embroidery machine to use the port B cable.

The less expensive machines use machine embroidery reader boxes and rewritable cards only – these are almost obsolete.

Bernina and Husqvarna are the most expensive and are proprietary when is comes to accessories (like additional UBS sticks).

Brother and Babylock are the same family of machines, the most user friendly and compatible with software, including the USB sticks.

Singer – has had an iffy reputation for several years.

They all are basically the same as far as functions. They get more expensive as the luxury features are added on.

You should be able to get an embroidery machine that has the larger stitching area and USB connectivity for around $1,000, or less.

You can buy new or a dealer may have a gently used one that has been traded up for one of the luxury models.

Do buy from a dealer for the support you may need.

Visit as many dealers as you can, watch the demos and then try the machines.

Buy the brand you like best from the dealer you like best.

Don't buy any software from a dealer until you have used the machine and are comfortable with what you can do with additional software – there are companies that have free trials that you can download and test.

For more discussions, you may want to sign up at:

annthegran.com or sewforum.com

Both have a lot of embroidery machine discussions – the sites are free.

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"Good" but "cheap" when talking about Embroidery Machines is an oxymoron, no such critter exists if you are wanting to go with a new machine. I have a Brother 180D. Brother is the only E machine you can get that you have a choice on Disney designs, but not all Brothers just the ones that have D in the name. You may be able to pick up a used one with a sewing field of 4" x 4", for around $400 or $500, but you will soon learn that you want to be able to do larger designs and the machine cannot be converted to do larger designs. My next machine is a Bernina 330 and has a sewing field of 5" x 7" and is large enough for what I like to do. I bought it used two years old for $825. Both machines have been trouble free and the designs looks great when they are done. The biggest thing you want to do is be very familiar with the sewing/embroidery machine repair shops in your area. Call around and see what kind of machines they work on; not all shops repair all machines. Next you want to check their reputation and how well they handle repairs/maintenance and people. It is best to buy from your local shops whether you go new or used as they are usually willing to do their best for a return customer. Do not buy from a shop or store that does not do repair/maintenance, because even if you never have any trouble with your machine it does need to have a yearly check up that keeps it in good working order. When checking out a shop if you are not familiar with any, ask if they have good used machines for sale and check the prices against what you may have found on ebay or elsewhere, don't forget to add the shipping and handling to the ones you found online. From my limited knowledge of the different embroidery machines the ones most widely recommended are Brother, Bernina, and Janome, but all have different temperaments and it is best to try them out before you decide.