Some tips on buying the right Hats and T-shirts Embroidery Machine for one’s needs

Best Embroidery Machine for T-Shirts and HatsBuying an embroidery machine for shirts or hats depends on many things like the budget or one’s desired features. That is why doing good research online and finding the right YouTube channels to guide you after buying your chosen model might be all you need. You could also check for some lessons at your nearest shop if you prefer it. 

1. If you are a beginner, know that to successfully embroider you will need all the different thread colors you want to use, some good stabilizer to prevent the fabric from stretching out of shape during the process, some embroidery machine needles, the right size hoop for your design, embroidery design file for your type of machine and, of course, an embroidery machine, which you can choose from below.

2. Always go for the largest embroidery area that you can afford. And not to forget there is a difference between the maximum embroidery area and hoop size. You will easily outgrow a machine that has a smaller hoop size capability. Remember, the higher the maximum embroidery area, the better.

3. The cheaper machines you will find in this article are considered low-end and will perfectly serve beginners and amateurs of all ages. However, if you are starting a small business, you may want to go for the more high-end models and multi-needle machines.

Tips to know before buying your machine that can also help you if you already own one.

1. Before embroidering on your t-shirts and shirts, we recommend you washing and tumble drying the items first to keep them from shrinking after embroidering on them. Besides, giving it a wash will get rid of excess dye on the fabric that could potentially stain your design once embroidered.

2. Study well the different types of stabilizers in the market before deciding on one. Not all of them work for the same purpose and using the right one can make all the difference.

3. Always test the process and the design on some old t-shirt or cap before stitching the final item. Designs with loads of details can easily get puckered if you don’t know what you are doing. If you don’t have much practice, we recommend you going for more simple designs before getting into the more advanced ones. Remember that practice makes perfect.

4. Always use the smallest needle that your machine and design can take since using a larger one might ruin your design. Double-check your machine manual to find out which needle to use. Try to match the size of your design with the hoop size.

5. Use the right hoop size: using a much larger hoop than what the design really needs could turn out in stretched fabric and puckering.

What Machines You Should Avoid Buying to Embroider on T-Shirts, Hats, and Caps

Do you want to know my number one tip for all of you potentially buying an embroidery machine to embroider on t-shirts and caps? The embroidery area of your new device should always be 5” x 7” or bigger.

And why is that?

Well, a maximum capacity of 4”x 4” is going to make the task very difficult. Of course, it could be done if you want to keep embroidering very small designs on your caps and shirts or if you are ready to put a lot of effort into re-hooping once and again to cover the whole design.

I recommend it even less for beginners or if you are starting a home business that will have you embroidering daily. It is not worth the low price. And that’s why I will only be reviewing and comparing specific machines and leaving behind options with a small embroidery area like Brother SE600.

Also, many once Singer-loyal-users of the brand, have complained that in the last decades, the quality of its manufacture has diminished to an unexpected level. Hence, you will only find here quality manufacturers like the Japanese Brother or Janome. These brands are widely used, and finding an embroidery service repair place or replacement parts will be much easier.

Know that a huge mistake people make when rating different devices is judging the product for its price. At The Joy of Stitching, we believe in ratings based on quality and functionality over the price.

After all, it’s a matter of choosing not to advise buying something we would never buy for ourselves.

Top 5 Best Embroidery Machines for T-Shirts and Hats

5. Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Machine

Ideal for: Perfect for Beginners for its low learning curve. #1 Bestseller Sewing and Embroidery Machine.

Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Machine

Budget: $$$
Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star-o


      • Built-in Designs: 138
      • Speed per minute: 650
      • On-Screen Editing: No
      • Area: 5″ x 7″


      • Decorative Stitches: 240
      • Speed per minute: 800
      • Free Arm: Yes

This machine is the perfect multipurpose machine from Brother and the cheapest in its range that can efficiently perform embroidery on t-shirts and hats. It’s especially suitable if you are a beginner in the process of learning how to create your first decorated t-shirts and hats.

With Brother SE1900, the maximum embroidery area is 5” x 7” although this machine can use a multi-positional hoop (12” x 5”) for larger designs, unfortunately, it won’t work with an endless hoop.

Maybe one of the reasons why this model has been a #1 Amazon’s bestseller for so long is the quality of embroidery that offers together with its low price

It is perfect if you are a beginner sewist and when using the right needle size (14), a great tool to create fun designs on baseball caps and hats.

  What is the difference between the SE1900 and the PE800? Embroidery wise, they are just the same. On the sewing side, the PE800 is an embroidery only machine while the SE1900 can also sew and has auto tension and My Custom Stitch.

  If you create your own embroidery designs, know that this unit can only read .pes or .dst formats which means that you will have to convert them first.

  • Best one-in-all machine for beginners
  • Free motion quilting
  • Perfect for home use
  • Cheapest in its range
  • Portable and lightweight
  • The maximum embroidery area is 5” x 7”
  • No free arm for sleeves and cuffs

4. Janome MB-4S Four-Needle Embroidery Machine

Ideal for: Home Business Owners. High budget.

Janome MB-4S Four Neddle Embroidery Machine

Budget: $$$$$$$$
Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star-half-empty


      • Built-in Designs: 50
      • Speed per minute: 10
      • On-Screen Editing: Yes
      • Area: 9.46″ x 7.9″

If you are an amateur or a professional with a big budget, this might be your perfect choice. However, for beginners, this machine is a bit pricey.

Janome MB-4S is the perfect four-needle embroidery machine for all of you wanting to embroider hats and t-shirts. It even has a single head accessory for better working on caps and several hoops to choose from for your t-shirts. This unit makes it ideal for sewists who need a specific machine for this matter. 

With this multi-needle machine, you won’t need to flatten any more caps or hats before performing on them, saving you loads of time to invest in other tasks.

It also comes with advanced on-screen editing functions to make it easier for you to edit last minute, stitch counter so the machine knows when it’s time to cut the thread, embroidery area tracing, extra-large bobbin to avoid changing it every other minute, adjustable hoop positioning for a better-looking design, as well as other functions like sensors on the upper thread and the presser foot or stitch-out time indicator.

Regarding the hoop options that can be used, this unit allows four sizes of Janome hoops and six industry-level Tajima hoops to expand your possibilities and embroider any design you want. All these options you have to buy separately, of course.

If you have your own embroidery home-based business and need an upgrade, this is probably the machine you should have next before going entirely professional and externalizing your production. A big investment that will quickly pay for itself soon enough before giving you big benefits.

  It allows professional formats like .jef+, .jef, and .dst.

  You also have the option, for a bit more money, to go for the Janome MB-7S embroidery seven-needle machine.

  • Single head for hats
  • Time saver thanks to the four needles
  • Jump thread trimming
  • Winds new bobbins while the machine is working
  • Post-thread break auto-return
  • Very easy to learn and use
  • Price is quite high for beginners
  • No foot pressure adjustment
  • Embroidery Only

3. Janome 9850 Sewing and Embroidery Machine

Ideal for: High quality for all levels, from Beginner to Advanced Sewers. Perfect for All sort of Crafts.

Janome 9850 Sewing Embroidery Machine

Budget: $$$$$
Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star


      • Built-in Designs: 175
      • Speed per minute: 800
      • On-Screen Editing: Yes
      • Area: 6.7″ x 7.9″


      • Decorative Stitches: 200
      • Speed per minute: 1000

If you want a solid, excellent quality sewing machine that also does embroidery and free motion quilting, without spending a big fortune, take a close look at this model.

Janome 9850 is highly reliable if you are working on advanced projects since it includes sewing features for all kinds of craft projects so you can continue using it on quilts, curtains, clothes or whatever you wish after you are done embroidering your caps and t-shirts.

For you beginners, this machine will help you with all tasks making sewing foolproof. Of course, there is a learning process but its ease-of-use will drop your jaw. Even a five-year-old can use it when watched thanks to the start/stop bottom. Besides, this sewing and embroidery machine comes with a specific on-screen feature where you can click on the T-shirt icon, and it takes you into a techniques menu, that includes appliqué embroidery, guiding you along the way.

To sum up, if you have a high budget and you’ll be sewing and embroidering non-stop, Janome 9850 is your best option. It’s definitely my number one favorite overall machine and can’t wait for people to stop rating it for the price and start focusing on the 5 over 5 price-quality that it offers.

  • Free motion quilting
  • Stitches are highly accurate
  • Maximum stitch width of 9mm compared to regular 7mm
  • Up to 3MB of memory storage
  • High price

2. Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine

Ideal for: All levels. #1 Bestseller Embroidery Only Machine.

Brother PE800 Embroidery Only Machine

Budget: $$
Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star-half-empty


      • Built-in Designs: 138
      • Speed per minute: 850
      • On-Screen Editing: Yes
      • Area: 5″ x 7″

Brother PE800 is the latest embroidery only model and the upgrade of infamous and past bestseller from the brand, PE770.

The Touch LCD Screen got a nice upgrade from a scale of greys to Color, and it now brings you the possibility to edit your hats and t-shirts designs by allowing you to rotate, mirror image, plus increase and decrease the size of designs. Now you change details last minute and save time from computer editing.

You will also benefit from more than a hundred built-in embroidery designs and high speed of stitches per minute for a fair price.

It happens to be the #1 bestseller on embroidery machines thanks to all its features and its amazing price/quality ratio over quality. Whether you will be embroidering your company’s logo or a t-shirt or onesie for your niece, this unit has you covered since it allows you to use small, medium, and large hoops.

  If you already own a PE770 and want to upgrade, know that any hoop you bought for it is compatible and will snap into the Brother PE800.

  • Good price for its quality.
  • Friendly user
  • Great learning curve for beginners.
  • #1 Bestseller for Embroidery Machines.
  • Embroidery only

1. Janome 500E Embroidery Machine

Ideal for: HIghest Quality for All levels. Perfect for Hats and T-Shirts for its large embroidery area.

Janome 500E Embroidery Only Machine

Budget: $$$
Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star


      • Built-in Designs: 160
      • Speed per minute: 860
      • On-Screen Editing: Yes
      • Area: 7.9″ x 11″

Some of the things you will love about this model is that you can digitize designs straight on the machine saving you loads of time, which is a big plus for any busy person.

Janome 500E is both quiet and fast to let the children take their nap and have the garments finished before they gave up. Besides, the quality of stitches will drop your jaw.

This Japanese product is of great value and for a fair price. Also, know that it comes with a maximum embroidery area of 7.9″ x 11″ which allows you embroidering much bigger designs on t-shirts and jacket’s backs.

A drawback for Janome machines is that accessories can be a bit expensive. However, they are made with such quality that it compensates the price by giving you excellent results and you’ll see that it works out of the box like no other.

Janome machines are workhorses. and if you add the fact that this particualr model has one of the biggest embroidery areas in the market, it becomes the perfect tool for your shirts and t-shirts. This machine will last you a lifetime and its quality can only be beaten by industrial embroidery machines. Besides, they offer you more valuable features than any other machine in the same price range.

  • Large Embroidery area to fit bigger designs.
  • Auto return post thread break.
  • Excellent quality stitches.
  • Embroidery Only.
  • Higher price than bestseller Brother PE800.

Comparison Chart – Best Embroidery Machines For T-Shirts and Hats

  If you’re browsing from your phone, scroll to the sides with your finger to see the full chart.

*Speed Per Minute: referring to the number of stitches a machine can perform in a minute.
**Area: referring to the maximum embroidery area that an embroidery machine can reach.

Buyer’s Guide

   What is the cheapest embroidery machine?

The cheapest embroidery machines that you will find on the market today and that have very reasonable quality for the price are Brother PE535, Brother PE 550D, and Brother SE600.

If you are interested in the models above mentioned,  read this article about the Best Brother Embroidery Machines.

Remember that their embroidery area is limited to 4″ x 4″.

   What is the best sewing and embroidery machine for beginners?

As stated before, our number one choice is the Brother SE600 sewing and embroidery machine.

Nevertheless, if you know for sure that you will keep embroidering for years, know that you can potentially grow out of it soon. A smart thing to do is to invest in a machine like the Brother SE1900 or the Janome Memory Craft 9850 that are beginner-friendly, very easy to use, and are so well designed and manufactured that will last a lifetime.

   What is the Best Brother Embroidery Only Machine?

If you are thinking of an Embroidery Only Machine, I cannot recommend the Brother PE800 enough. It has every necessary feature for a home embroidery machine, and it works like no other for a very reasonable price.

You may want to read all about the Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine.

If you are considering buying a combination machine, you may read this article from the very beginning. If you do, you’ll learn how to choose your new machine depending on your budget and the different features that each model includes. Different models could do the trick for you, so choose wisely.

In a low budget range, we believe that Brother PE535, Brother PE550D, and Brother SE600 could not offer better quality or features.

If your budget is a bit higher, and you are looking for a combination machine to both sew and perform embroidery, a good option could be Brother SE1900.

We have prepared an article about all these Brother Embroidery Machines in case you are interested.

   Types of Embroidery Sewing Machines

Now, let´s choose the right embroidery machine. You need to know that there are, on a broad scale, several types of embroidery machines.

      Mechanical Embroidery Machines

These first embroidery machines are oldies but goodies. These sewing machines are always a good option if you know how to use them and you want to put in the time. They´re the simplest home embroidery machines that you will find in the market and use a rotating wheel to function.

Even though big brands like Brother or Singer still manufacture these, the reality is that they are very limited in features. You will also need to change bobbins if you want to combine different colors. A big perk is that you will stay within a low budget.

     Hat Embroidery Machines

After reading this article on embroidery machines for hats, you have probably realized that specialized machines fr caps do exist. These professional embroidery machines are very advanced and easily distinguished for having a sewing surface adapted to embroider on hats and t-shirts.

Multi-Needle Hat Embroidery Machine

     Decorative Embroidery Machines

A bit ahead of the mechanical machines, automatic embroidery machines will require you to be the creative mind while they do the actual work.

With a wide range of different features depending on the model and the brand, these machines have become the most typical buy for private users since for little money you get outstanding results.

Electronic Sewing and Embroidery Machine

     Computerized Embroidery Machines

Prepare yourself some tea, put your mind to rest, and enjoy the views for these machines will do all the work for you. Meet the best embroidery machine out in the market. Using very sophisticated technology these automatic embroidery machines are very much into fashion right now. They allow you to recreate any design you want out there on the fabric of your choice and hands-on free.

These embroidery machines also have the broadest range of features including multiple needle positions, an automatic needle threader, over a hundred stitching functions, different stitch patterns, a screen display for both width and length of the thread among many others. All of which makes these the best embroidery machines for small business, home business, and home use.

Computerized Embroidery Only Machines: Brother PE 800

Same if they are single-needle or multi-needle, these embroidery machines can even read memory sticks through USB, so you don´t need to do much more than uploading your picture, setting up the threads and features, and put it to embroider for you.

These types of machines will embroider anything you want them to do letters, words and names, monograms, logos, and all sorts of designs. And you will be able to do it on any clothes, fabrics, quilts, and even leather if not done too often.

The single-needle machine is the perfect kind of embroidery machine for beginners. The price goes up a bit from several hundred to a few thousand. But if you have a budget, you will probably find an inexpensive one that does the trick. A higher price but oh so worthy!

     CNC Embroidery Machines

CNC, from Computer Numerical Control, refers to basically all kinds of robotic embroidery machines. From the home use computerized embroidery machines to very advanced professional ones. If it works by itself after programmed instructions, then it is probably considered a CNC embroidery machine.

CNC Embroidery Machine

Professional Embroidery Machines

These industrial embroidery machines are manufactured for more substantial businesses of which its production needs to be made in big spaces like those of fabrics.

Thanks to that, professional machines can be as noisy as they go without bothering any neighbors.

And this is my way of telling you that unless you are expanding your small business soon, you don´t need to invest in one of these to embroider your logo.

   Monogram vs. Embroidery

Even if these two terms sound entirely different, in reality, both of them are used interchangeably.

While embroidery covers any craft design made out of threads stitched into a piece of fabric, a monogram is just a motif of two or more initials put together to show ownership of something or to add decoration to a piece of garment or accessory.

You could embroider a monogram with a regular sewing machine.

However, if you are looking for an embroidery machine for monogramming, you must know that it will also be able to embroider many other things.

Besides, any embroidery machine will be capable of monogramming anything you´d like.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best embroidery machine for T-shirts and hats?

It depends on your budget and the main purpose of the machine. For home use machines and to achieve an excellent quality of stitches, choose any Janome embroidery machine. If your budget is a bit tighter, a very good option could be a Brother embroidery machine.

What is the best embroidery machine to start a small business?

Any Janome model that can embroider will serve you perfectly fine. Brother is also a good brand if you choose wisely.
For hat embroidery small businesses, the ideal machine could help your new business run smoothly since the very beginning.

What is the cheapest embroidery machine?

The cheapest machines that you will find on the market today and that have very reasonable quality for the price are Brother PE535, Brother PE550Disney and Brother SE600. Read reviews.

Thank you for choosing TheJoyofStitching to learn more about sewing machines! We take pride in our research and truly hope that you’ve found the information interesting. Please, feel free to put a comment letting us know what you think. Also, know that if you buy any product through a link on our website we may earn a small affiliate commission that might help us keep the website running. In any case, the price you pay won’t change.

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