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I'm new to sewing and don't know too much about it & the machines, but I'm looking for something that will let me do different fonts and adjust the size of the stitching. Hoping for something that's no more than $400.. Would Amazon or perhaps Walmart sell ones like this? Thanks

There are two major methods of machine embroidery — free motion, where you guide the hooped fabric, and can be done on any sewing machine, and computerized, which requires a special machine. I do some free motion embroidery — here's sort of the great grandfather of textbooks of machine embroidery. free motion on a treadle machine: http://archive.org/details/singerinstructio00sing and the best modern book I know of: http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Book-Machine-Embroidery-Creative/dp/0801976480/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1 done just before embroidery machines became commonly available to home sewing.

The other method is computerized embroidery, and there are several types of machines there: combination sewing/embroidery machines like http://www.bernina.com/en-US/Products-us/BERNINA-products-us/BERNINA-Sewing-and-Embroidery-Machines-us/BERNINA-8-Series-us/BERNINA-en (this one was a mere $12.5K when it was first released) or more reasonably, http://www.amazon.com/Brother-SE400-Combination-Computerized-Embroidery/dp/B003AVMZA4/ref=sr_1_1?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1359239253&sr=1-1 and embroidery only machines like: http://www.amazon.com/Brother-PE770-Embroidery-Memory-Stick-Compatibility/dp/B002MQI2NM/ref=sr_1_2?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1359239253&sr=1-2 or a multihead (many needles at a time) machine like: http://in.bernina.com/product_detail-n3-i258-sIN.html which sews many colors at the same time, and is typically used by an embroidery business.

Most of the people I know who do computerized machine embroidery have started with a 4×4" hoop combination machine, then discovered that 1) they wanted a bigger hoop and 2) if they didn't have another machine, they couldn't sew while the machine was laboriously stitching out a design. The folks I know who bought embroidery only machines plus a sewing machine didn't pay much more (if any) than the ones who bought a single combination machine, and most of them seem happier with their initial purpose.

On top of the machine, you usually wind up buying several types and weights of embroidery stabilizer, perhaps a digitizing program so you can make your own designs, another program to help convert predigitized designs into a format your machine can use, and thread. Lots and lots of threads. So the machine is only the tip of the iceberg.

If you can, see if you can find a basic machine embroidery class where they supply the machines. There's a fairly steep learning curve at first, I understand, and see if it's something you really want to invest in. Me? I'm happier doing embroidery by hand.

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I am interested in learning the basics, and how, so wondered if any of you may have book suggestions on to learn what it entails, what materials are neccessary, ectera. Any suggys?

As well as the library, (which I was also going to suggest), you could also try doing some 'research' on Amazon. Look up a few titles there and read the customer reviews. Also have a look at your local bookstore's craft section and see what type of thing looks right to you. Take you time in choosing though, do more than a quick flick through. There's nothing worse than spending a mint on a book that really doesn't work for you!! That's why libraries can be great – you can make book-choosing mistakes for free.=)

Country Bumpkin's A-Z books are lovely (although maybe not that suitable for beginners – good eye candy though) and I also have the Anchor Beginners Guide to Freestyle Embroidery by Christina Marsh, which intros simple stitches in groups and has samplers and designs you can use for practise. Of course, there's also a lot of info on materials, techniques and so on as well. Here it is on Amazon UK:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beginners-Guide-Freestyle-Embroidery-Crafts/dp/0715314823/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242897802&sr=1-1

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I am looking to buy a embroidery and sewing machine and i am not sure which one to get as there are many out there. I have never worked on a sewing machine and really don't do that much sewing however i would like to be able to make a quilt also. I do the hand embroidery and cross stitches and while i love it i would like to be able to do different patterns of like my pictures and things like that without it takeing me two years to finish a project. Does anyone have any suggestions?

This is akin to asking for a car, when you really want is a Bat-mobile that can travel on the air, road and water. Nevertheless, there are a few things you could look for to make your dream come true.

There are many reviews and buying guides on the web:
Embroidery machines: http://www.galttech.com/research/household-DIY-tools/best-embroidery-machine.php
Sewing Machines and Patterns Review: http://sewing.patternreview.com/news

Whichever machine you select, get the machine's manual. There is a common assumption that machines are all the same, but it's not true. Used machines can be wonderful, if they've been well cared for. But it does you no good to assume all machines need oil (not true), or to miss out on the machine full creative ability.
Sewing Machine Manuals: http://www.mastersewusa.com/

You can make Couture-level garments on a straight-sew machine, but most modern sewing machines offer more than one stitch. It's creative use of these that make them powerful. I'm speaking of ordinary sewing machines that adjust stitch length, have a Zigzag or other cover stitches, plus whatever geometric or floral designs. For truly giving these options a workout on ordinary sewing machines, I suggest the public library. Seek out books on Decorative Machine Stitching
Fine Machine Stitching http://www.amazon.com/Fine-Machine-Sewing-Revised-Embellishing/dp/1561585866/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257164512&sr=8-2

And consider Bobbin Work. Many an artist has used a simple machine to create amazing works. If the thread, fiber, or ribbon is too thick to go through the needle, why not run it through the bobbin?
Bobbin work: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/5025/bobbin-work-when-threads-are-too-thick-for-the-needle

On any machine you're considering, ask if the Feed Dogs can be lowered. Fabric is advanced under the sewing machine's foot by way of a moving metal assembly that pulls the fabric through in one direction only. If you can lower the feed dogs, you can move in any direction opening an entire world of creativity. Seek out web articles and books on Free-Motion Embroidery or Free-Motion Quilting it's a world of hoops and stabilizers – but the work can be done on ordinary sewing machines that have the option of lowering the feed dogs.
Anatomy of a sewing machine: http://www.a1sewingmachine.com/image/basic%20sewing%20machine%20parts.jpg
Watch a video on free motion technique: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/3833/video-manuels-free-motion-embroidery-technique
Be advised: Manuel is working on an extraordinarily FAST manual machine. But it you note the hoop, the rotation of it, the turning of the work, it will make other Free Motion Embroidery directions make sense.
How to do free-motion embroidery http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_c/C-213.pdf

Machine quilting can be done on any straight sew machine. Some are just better at it than others because they have greater torque, or a larger arm. And these are great when you want to throw money at it. But artists can get a lot out of simple machinery if you learn the concepts of what you want to do. You do not need thousands of dollars to start.

Embroidery machines are quite amazing and you'll be deciding between a bunch of Disney or the ability to digitize your own designs. Give some thought about the size of your work, what parts you need done for you, what magic you expect of the machine – and I greatly encourage researching what other artists have done with machine embroidery. You might just find they use a less expensive model (than what the dealer is telling you) to achieve their work.

The Art isn't just in the machine, it's in you.