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Multi-Needle Monday

Long-time single-needle machine embroiderers often tell me they are intimidated by multi-needle machines. I completely understand because I used to be petrified of any machine that didn’t look similar to my trusted mirror-imaged c-shaped machine. CShape1-1

You know, needle on the left, flat bed under the needle extending to the control panel on the right. It’s always been a source of comfort to sit at any single-needle machine and instinctively know where to place the fabric, how to select a stitch, raise the presser foot and turn the fly wheel.

Now, a multi-needle machine appears to be an entirely different animal. The needles – four, six, ten, twelve or sixteen – span across the width of the machine each with their own presser foot. The flywheel exists but is not visible from the front of the machine. And there is no bed, just a throat – and a skinny one at that!Multi-1

It doesn’t seem to resemble a single-needle machine until you remove its casing and stand next to it.  MultiNeedle1-1

This photo shows you just how similar a multi-needle machine is to a single-needle machine. And once you locate its basic functioning parts, it’s no longer a mystery.  It has spool pins, tension discs (one for each needle), a bobbin and a pantograph (the part of the machine that holds and moves the hoop).

Your goal when using a multi-needle machine is the same as a single-needle machine. You want to hold the fabric securely in the hoop and stitch beautiful embroidery designs. Since I’m fairly new to multi-needle machines, I’m going to share my experience with you on a series of Multi-Needle Monday blog posts. I encourage you to ask questions and share your journey on exploring multi-needle machines with me. Learning together, we can tackle and tame those big machines!

Let’s start off with this question: What is your biggest fear about operating a multi-needle machine?

Related posts:




  • Marge

    Threading!! What do you do when the same color is used more than once in a design?

    • Kim

      Marge, Your question just threw another piece of fright into me lol. I assumed that if a color was used more than once the multi-machines would just go back to the needle that the right color was on…but now that I think about it that wouldn’t really make sense unless somehow I ‘programmed’ the machine to tell it what thread to use each time…yikes! Which also prompts, do multi-needle machines have to use special embroidery patterns based on how many needles a machine has.

      Thanks for the thought!

      • Marge

        LOL it was a caffeine moment. I would love to be able to afford a multi-needle machine. To dream!!

        • Debra

          Hi Marge I thought the same thing, but as they say patience is a virtue. I kept checking the sewing machine stores and found one a year ago that was a 4 needle, still over my budget. This year we were in the area so on a whim I asked my husband to stop in so I could take a look. The same machine was still there we did some dealing and I got it for 2700, the price of a sewing machine. They has taken it in as I said a year ago on trade now I guess they just wanted to get rid of it. So have patience and you will find one 😉

      • Nancy L Owens


        I finally bought a 10 needle and love it. You do not need special designs for this machine. You can even embroider with one color if you want.

        As far as threading you do program each color no matter how many times you use that color. But it is easier than you think. You do everything on the screen. It takes maybe 10 minutes at the most.

        To me it was a no brainer to get a 10-needle. I spent most of the day babysitting my Ellisimo just to change the color of thread and change broken needles. It is so nice to program the machine on the screen, press start and walk away to do other things. If something happens, thread breaks, need a new bobbin, or anything else the machine will stop. It won’t start up until you fix the problem and press start.

        I was a little intimidated when I first got the 10-needle, but after the first 2 days I figured out it will not blow up!!! You just teach yourself to do a few things differently. Believe me it is well worth the learning curve. Be patient with yourself. Play around with it and stitch out some samples. A word of good advice don’t take on a job that you have to stitch multiple things for a client. Start out small. You are bound to make mistakes. But this is how you learn. I have had my 10-needle for about 2 years. I am still learning about it.

        Last words of advice is buy your machine from a reputable dealer. Take advantage of any classes they offer on the use of the machine. I would also recommend getting some software. You don’t have digitize a design, but getting software to catalog and keep track of what you have. Most basic software offers along with cataloging, you can resize, move, mirror image, and the capabilities if you want to take portions of one design and add it to another. If you get software, most companies will offer online training. There are several companies that have software at various prices. They all have the basic things I talked about. You need to ask yourself what you are going to do with your machine. Are you going to start a business or just embroider for family & friends. One of the features I have with my 10-Needle is that it has a camera in it. My Ellisimo has one and they are great for lining up designs to stitch in the correct place. This is a real time saver.

        I hope this has helped. I do not work for any sewing machine company. These are things I have found out on my own. Another idea is to watch in your area for Sewing Events. Most design companies will have various events through out the country. If you can attend they are well worth the price. Most are 2 days and are hands on. You make different projects and then you can keep them. These events give you a look at the various designs and actually stitch them out. These events also give you a chance to work on the different machines. This is good if you are thinking about getting a multi needle machine.

        I am sorry I am so long winded. I have felt as you are now. Please don’t despair there is life on the other side of a multi needle machine’s 🙂

        • Kim

          No worries about being long winded, I loved reading about your experience and know what you mean about spending so much time watching a design stitch out. I have a Bernina Deco 340, and actually by biggest fear is the dealer question. I bought the Deco about 7 years ago now from a very reputable, well established dealer. A family owned business that had operated for over 100 years and when the banking crisis hit they fell hard and had to close the doors. There really isn’t anyone else in my area that I feel as good about.

          I will keep reading and venturing out to see what I can find – thanks again for the input.


        • Peggy Schroeder

          You said you have a 10 needle machine with a camera, I have a 6 needle Babylock, and it does not have a camera. My repairman says he has some strickly embroidery machines, but they don’t have a camera. Do you think the camera is that important? What brand of machine do you have? I am thinking of replacing either my Ellegeo or my Brother Ult with the Babyock Ellissimo Gold, but then maybe I would be better off just going to a 10 or 15 needle machine. Any suggestions?
          Thank you for your help, I appreciate it.

          • Nancy Owens

            Hi Peggy,
            I have Babylock Ellisimo, and the Babylock Enterprise 10 needle. The camera is in both. I use the camera all of the time. It is great for lining up a design that has multiple designs. I found I was spending to much time babysitting the Ellisimo. I bought the Babylock 6 needle. It drove me nuts not having the camera. I had the 6 needle less than a year. I sold the 6 needle and bought the 10 needle. I do use all of my machines. I have been known to have them all sewing at the same time!
            Once you have sewn or embroidered with the camera you will not be able sew without one.

            Keep me posted on what you decide.

            Nancy Owens

          • Clem

            Hi Peggy. If you don’t want to spend money on a new machine, check online at the babylock website. There may be an upgrade to get a camera for your machine. I had a brother six needle and was able to upgrade it. It is not as expensive as a new machine. I eventually bought a baby lock enterprise and love it. Just a thought.

        • Judi Clark

          Does anyone have a 9 needle Tang machine?

        • Kay

          Just got my brother entrepreneur 10 needle. I’m very concerned about doing my in the hoop designs. I’ve how do u set the machine to stop so u can add fabric etc. use same thread etc. I don’t have class til Monday n so want to do something besides samples with iT!!!!!

          • Noella

            This is late in coming, but when you are doing an applique, which is what I’m assuming you are meaning by adding fabric, the design should have a stop command. As to colour changing, each color is noted as a needle. ie white could be colour 1, black colour 2, red colour 3. No matter how many times it’s called for, the machine selects that color. Unless you have more colours than needles, you don’t need to worry about it.

      • Connie

        If it is exactly the same color number (for instance Floriani 703), it automatically knows that is what is threaded on a certain needle and will use that needle when the design calls for that thread number again. The key is that when you set up the designs, if it isn’t a priority that you use a very slightly different color and there are more colors than 10, to try to settle for 10 colors by making a little modification. I have found that often if the design is 12-13 colors, I can modify it to use just 10 pretty easily with no degradation to the design.

      • Nancy Jayne

        I’ve had my 6 needle machine almost 4 years now, and it still scares me a little bit. But using the same color more than once isn’t too difficult after all. You are right in that you do tell the machine which color is on which needle and then it is programmed into the correct sequence. And no, no special patterns are needed – I’ve embroidered designs with 30, 40 or more colors. The machine does the first 6 colors, then stops and tells you to change the colors and begin again.

      • Faith Kinkner

        In your software you can program the software to sew all of the colors on the same needle or color. You can move the the sewing order also to make the sew out more efficient.
        I hope this helps with the fear, I have had a 6 needle machine for about 12 years and I love it. I also have a single needle machine but I do most everything on the 6 needle. My 6 needle machine is older but it works great and it has been very low maintenance.

    • mary Hutson

      That really IS the biggie. Ive started using one a few months back…the best way to get your design and machine to play nice together {in my opinion} is to have the colorchanges just exactly the way you would want and the machine will intuitively do all the colors the colors that are used more than once…what does this mean??use your software {I have pe design} and change the colors over to correct before you sew it out. Some people can put it in without unscrambling the colors, and just go by your chart, but I am afraid that it will not know to use a same color again this way…maybe someone knows the secret?

      • Jane Hall

        Although I’m sort of a “newbie” to this machine — here’s my solution until I get more classes………..I use the blue “reserve stop” function/key after every color — and then I can push the “thread yellow wand” button right beside the speed per minute button and choose which spool number (1 thru 10) that I want to use next, and that takes care of the “repeat or return” to thread color. A little bit “primitive” perhaps — but I’ve certainly managed 83 hours of usage on this lovely machine — and will be getting more education in February coming up!

        • Janet Arnold

          Forget all the custom thread palettes and confusing nonsense.

          Here is my “no stress” method of assigning thread.

          Print out a color sheet. look through YOUR thread stash and pick a color for each numbered color stop. Write down the number of YOUR thread next to each color.

          Put a post it note over the color bars on your screen. With the design in the machine and ready to sew, press the +/- spool icon, look in the color list for the first color; copy the number on to your color sheet next to the thread color for that color stop. This the needle number where you will put that color. Now you have three numbers. A color stop number/a thread number or name/needle number.

          Push the +/- spool icon again and put the next number on the color sheet. Do NOT go down the list as it appears on the screen. You WILL get confused. Push the +/- button for each color. You can keep track of where you are with the little fraction at the middle of the page. The top of the fraction will be the same as the number of the color stop on your color sheet. Continue doing this until there is a needle number next to each color.

          Thread the machine using the sheet. When you get to the place where you need to change what is on the spool the machine will stop so you can change the colors….they are on your sheet so you can remove and replace.
          Janet Arnold
          List Owner:
          [email protected]

          • Jane Hall

            Thanks, Janet Arnold!!

            When my life gets settled back down from the holiday rush — I’ll certainly try using your method of the sticky note attached to the screen and start the process. I currently do write down my color choices and their numbers next to the printed out color sheet — however, I’ll be pleased to carry out your recommendation! Thanks much!

          • joyce lockyer

            Wow, Thank you! I am going to try this today! I am new to embroidery and decided to start with the Babylock ten needle. I love it and it has been great. But figuring out which spool to place what thread has been a bit tricky.


        • Sheryl Reames

          I am intrigued by you explanation. My machine is not called lovely very often.
          That is because I have not found the correct classes. You have given me inspiration, I will try multicolor embroideries again 🙂

      • Nancy Jayne

        If I need to re-use a color, I just change the number in the sequence, without actually moving the thread. It is easier to do than it is to explain.

    • Pat

      When you load a design the machine tells you which color to assign to each needle. It then changes colors as needed. If your design has more colors than the number of needles on the machine, the machine will stop and prompt you to change threads.
      So fun, so fast.

    • Dee

      The multi needle designs are so smart that they know that the same color will be used again and knows which spool it is on!! don’t have to tell it. And……..if you do another design – and use some of the same colors – it knows that they are already on your machine and which spools they are on. It will only tell you which ones are different that has to be changed out!!

    • Lucy D

      I got my brother 10 needle about 6 months ago. I’d sewed on them at some of the sewing and embroidery shows my sewing store put on but I had never threaded one from start to finish. The first time was a BIG job – then I learned the trick of tieing the new thread to the old one and then pulling it through which saved a ton of time. I still struggle the most with changing a broken needle and when I have to change the frame to accomidate a different hoop size. I also am terrified of the hat frame! I hope to take a new users class this year. I’m looking forward to your tips!

      • claudia hermansen (Create with Claudia)

        When changing a needle, Make sure you have a hoop with some white fabric underneath the needle. That way if you loosen the screw too much and it falls out, you will find it. I lost one and could not find it. I had to take out another and go to the ACE hardware store and have them look at it and find one. I bought 6 and keep them in a ‘snack’ baggie with an additional tiny screw driver taped to the back of the machine. I did the same with a stack of needles. (I tend to lose stuff so I have at least double of almost everything!). I am no longer antsy changing needles. @ years and I haven’t used the cap hoop yet but that is my goal this January. I have the possibility of a contract for hat embroidery! I need to make the machine put me into the green! I have spent way too much on design and stabilizer stashes (but that is part of the learning process).

  • Donna Smith

    Wow, I am excited about these posts. I have been lusting over multi needle machines for a while and have no idea about them. Looking forward to your future posts. Great topic.

  • Jacque

    Everything – it looks so intimidating.

  • Debi Smith

    I’m excited too. I have had a single needle for two years and love it but after doing 25 totes with multiple colors am beginning to realize the benefit of multi needle. Very intimidating. I will be watching with enthusiasm.

  • Patti

    The initial investment cost. Would love to set up a small business.

    • Nancy H

      me, too – when I win the lottery and can afford a wonderful large machine

  • Pat Jeffries

    I own the Enterprise (10 needle). I’ve had to teach myself by trial and error because the place (90 miles away) doesn’t give classes, they give you a lot of info that you forget by the time you get home. The book that came with the machine is almost worn out. I do love my machine and I’m not sorry I got it. I am looking forward to learning the right and easy way to use the machine.

    • Dee

      There are several yahoo groups and fb pages for the multi needle machines – I would encourage you to become a member – lots of great info – always so friendly to answer questions, etc.

      • Pat

        I’ve never been on You Tube but I’ll be sure to check it out.
        I’ll see about getting the book that Nancy suggested too.
        Kim good luck on getting a machine so you can write a instruction that we can understand I’m sure Baby Lock is sending you a freebe right now.

    • Karen

      Don’t forget to check out YouTube. There are many videos that can help!

    • Nancy L Owens

      Dear Pat;

      I to own a Enterprise 10 needle. When I bought my Enterprise I contacted my dealer to order the “Baby Lock Inspirational Guide to the Enterprise” This is a marvelous book. It is a notebook with very good pictures that covers just about everything in the Owners Manual.

      I have found out that most Owner Manuals that come with anything are written for Rocket Scientists!!!!! I am not one.

      I really recommend you contact your dealer, and have him order one for you. It is well worth the price. It saves much time and frustration.

      • Kim


        Unfortunately, almost all companies consider documentation/manuals as a after thought. I am a tech writer in my mundane life and while I can usually decipher the supplied owner manuals it is still a struggle that we shouldn’t have to deal with considering the cost of our toys.

        On that note, I am willing to trade my tech writing skills to any company willing to supply me with the multi-thread machine to document :). lol


  • judit z

    How do you set stops on Brother 620 to stop even when I am using the same color.?
    I wan to do a crazy quilt. But I have six needles and do not wan to change it continually to different colors just to make it stop if possible.

    • Dee

      There is an icon that shows a hand – you just push it when you are editing the colors, etc and it knows to stop before the next color! I use that all the time as I do lots of ITH projects on my multi needle machine

      • Kay

        That’s what scares me The ith. I go to first class in a couple of days. Can’t wait

  • Dee

    If you are interested in a multi needle machine or you have one – I would highly encourage you to seek out and join the yahoo groups for the multi needle machines. You can find out lots of info – asks all kinds of questions, etc.

    Also – if you have a multi needle machine – read the manual over and over and highlight or mark pages that you will need to go back to. Your book will become your friend!!

  • Jackie Wattson

    I have had my Babylock Enterprize for 2 years now and I love it, but I remember being very
    intimidated when I first got it because there was really no classes to speak of in the town I lived in then.
    Since we just moved to Tenn and I have spent a lot of time packing and unpacking getting my sewing room together its been a while since I have used it and I look at that machine and ask myself do I still remember how this works.
    I hope so cause I got some stuff to finish.

  • Marge

    Don’t worry–its just like riding a bike. You get on and go!

  • judit z

    SSo using Brother 620 and doing a crazy quilt in hoop, when I do the placement, then the tack down and then the stitch out how do I tell it to stop even though I am using same color thread for a particular block or peice? I understand about stops between colors but when you just need to stop for placement and tackdown of same color How is that done?

    • Carolyn Brown

      When you need the machine to stop for placement, tack down etc go to the second screen and at the bottom you should see an icon that looks like a spool of thread with 6 colors next to it. It is to the right of the ‘density icon,’ Press that icon a new screen appears.

      At the top you can see how many color changes with + or – icons next to that. At the bottom you will see a ‘hand’ icon. Press the hand icon. That will make the machine stop after that color has stitched. Press to + again and touch the hand icon for each color you need the machine to stop on. I hope that helps.

  • Linda Roff

    I have both the 10 needle and 6 needle machines. I started out with the 6 needle then got into doing shirts for a company and they had 10 colors in the logo and I spent most of my time changing thread. The 10 needle has been a big time saver and much improved my production time. What I cant figure out on the 10 needle is I have a 14″ frame and would like to know what program I need to be able to use it it has to be a program that will split the design because it sews one side then you have to turn around the hoop tomdo the other half . I have only been able to use the designs programed into the machine and I have the fire dept thar want me to do the backs ofnsweatshitrs for them and I need to know how to set up the design somthe machine will split it .

    • Joyce Hardiman

      I had this same issue and kept creating designs and then they would say to big for my machine. took me several times of reading my manual to not miss the sentence that I have to use the software to split it before loading it to my machine. Create your design in the software of your choice then bring the design into hoop works and it will split it for you. You then load the first half of the design and stitch it out; the machine will prompt you through then adding the 2nd half even telling you when to rotate the hoop and you can stitch out the 2nd half. Last year I took a quilt class called stitcher’s garden. It is all about learning how to use the feet that come with your sewing machine- it was a great class, but I decided to challenge myself even further and create all of the blocks on my 10 needle. When I was done I had created 2 quilts one using the blocks that I had created with the sewing machine and the other using blocks created on my 10 needle. Just push yourself to learn more and more and give yourself permission to have fun. I have done crazy quilt blocks; lots of shirts, skirts, sweaters, purses, bibs and other ITH designs. I am always trying to see if I can figure out how to do something with my machine. I love it- and I have the best dealer even though she is almost two hours away- I drive because of the service. There is a dealer closer but no comparison between the two. Oh and my worst fear- that I would somehow sew through my finger – yep did that and survived. 🙂

    • Clem

      I, too, have a 10 needle. I was asked to put names on some shirts. How do you know where to place the names? How far down from the shoulder? How far from the center? This is what I struggle with.
      When I was using my 6 needle ( I did not do names on shirts with it either 😉 ) the machine “knew” I when I would use a color more than once, and left that color on. Remember, the machines tell you what colors to use, it does not tell you that you cannot just put a different color on the spool. When I want to use my own choice of colors, I did not always use my software, I just changed my thread. 😀

      • lisa campbell


        • Clem

          Let me know if you find the name of that thing on you tube please.

  • Vickie

    Biggest fear – there are so many it is hard to say one is the biggest. What if a thread breaks, or isn’t properly threaded. Will the machine move on to the next thread and the colors will be all wrong? Then there is hooping. I’ve enough fears with the standard hoop. Of course, none of this means I wouldn’t want a multi-needle. I’ve jumped in with both feet to unknown territory before.

    • Clem

      If the thread breaks the machine stops. When you change the thread, just go back about ten stitches. If it is not threaded properly, it won’t go and tells you “check upper and bobbin thread” smart machine! 😉

  • Diana kohle

    Threading it and hoping the tension is correct.

  • Janny

    Love this, and I’m so glad you are tackling this topic because Ihave an Amaya, I’m looking to feta single needle soon, so I’ve done things a bit backward!

    My intimidation came when I saw all those needles!!!! But the reality is you use only one at a time, no big deal really.

    I’m looking forward to learning more from your adventures into multineedle world! Thank you

  • Janny

    Don’t you love spell check with an I-pad! I don’t believe I’m interested in feta cheese when it comes to embroidery! (I don’t even like cheese!)

    • Clem

      Love spell check on the IPad 😉 lol

  • susan

    I have a HAPPY 12 needle & a VIKING single needle. I have no problem w/the VIKING single needle. I have meny problems w/my HAPPY. How do I get back to a previous stitch, what if I have to go back because it screw-up. I can’t find my way back & be in the right position. HELP

    • Gina

      I also have a Viking single needle which I took to like fish to water and a BabyLock 10 needle that is like Greek. The terminology didn’t make sense to me. It seemed the manual took things I should know for granted and I was going in circles re: sometimes you have to “saw” your thread into the tension disk to make sure it’s in there all the way, otherwise you spend a lot of time re-threading with no success. Thank heavens for the compassion of our fellow machine embroiderers whom like to share their experience and knowledge. A few days, box of cookies,couple pots of Tea and I am now on my way, greek no more at this point. Your comments are great keep up the communication.

  • claudia hermansen (Create with Claudia)

    a little over a year ago, I traded in my Hus Diamond for a slightly used 6 needle! Best decision ever! (I have 2 small Brothers (4×4) that also sew and never would use all the features on that fantastic machine. Also I got tired of forever changing threads! I thread it like a serger when changing threads using top stitching titanium needles (big hole and strong)and uses a baby moniter so when it is time to go to the 7th color, etc., or it stops making noise or makes a strange noise, I can check on my big baby. The skinny needle plate is great for small things, tubular things, etc. I purchased a ‘slide in’ table to give bigger things support so I don’t stress out the hoops. It isn’t as portable as the other machines but I found a service man that was even more reasonable than taking the other machines to a shop. He even taught me how to service my machine (I purchased the service manual on the internet and am from a family of mechanics). I am a happy 6 needler!

  • I started my first embroidery adventure with a Brother 620 seven years ago. Everyone told me to buy up – so I did! Last spring, I purchased a Brother Entrepreneur 10 thread. Now, I keep TWO going at the same time! I watch people use single thread machines and it makes me tired. They are slow.

    I do not own a business – this is strictly a hobby for me. I do make many gifts and can crank out professional looking projects fairly fast.

    Truthfully, the most important thing to consider when buying a big machine is finding a reputable dealer that you can call to answer your questions. I think I have pulled out my direction manual one time in seven years. I felt the hardest part of this whole embroidery stuff was learning how to use the software and stabilizers. My machines are EASY.

    • lisa campbell


  • Lulie Felder

    Greatest fear is doing a I-color design but using
    color different from last item I finished and selecting
    The correct needle bar so that the. correct
    needle will see out the design! I have the
    EMT6 PRO from BabyLock and it seems to work
    perfectly, but there is so much to learn!

    Also, I use Fast Frames and am scared of
    placing design in wrong place or too close
    To edge of frame! I love Sulky Sticky, and Dawn
    Dishwashing liquid and hot water cleans frames
    Easily and quickly! I love all info shared

    • Clem

      Lulie, you should do a trace when you use the fast frame. Saves the anxiety!! Use the button that looks like a square. I think your machine has one?

  • Mary

    I would be happy just to have the Ellisimo Gold. 🙂

  • Linda Seemann-Korte

    Whew! all those needles to thread would be a nightmare!

  • Sharon Lee

    I have 2 single needle embroidery machines and reading these posts make the 6 and 10 ten needle machines seem a lot less scary. Maybe I’ll get brave and trade the smaller one in on a 10 needle. Thanks for all the posts.

    • lisa campbell


  • Jacqueline Curtis

    I had a Diamond and knew all the lovely things that it could do, but the reason that I bought it was the large sewing field. Until I started to sew out the design that I bought the machine for and found that I would still have to split the design in order to sew it was the day that I decided that I was going to buy a multi-needle machine.
    Now I have a 16 needle Amaya Melco and absolutely love it. I should say that I have two of them. Once you assign the thread colors to the needles and start it sewing it is an absolute dream. It sews faster, for the most part than a single needle machine, plus you aren’t constantly having to change thread. I do all of the same things that I did with the single needle-lace, applique`, quilting, in-the-hoop items and just about anything else.
    I love being able to do some items that I wasn’t able to embroider on the single needle machine, because there wasn’t a way to put it in the machine. Well worth the cost and I would have bought it earlier if I would have only known how neat it was.

  • Pam King

    The first machine I ever owned. An baby lock enterprise. I love it. Still learning but very easy. Can’t imagine changing threads all the time. I also purchased masterworks II. And pallet 9. Love digitizing my own designs. My dealer gives unlimited machine classes but they are an hour and a half away I use my manual to software but rarely to the machine. All directions I need are programmed in the machine

  • Shirl R

    Sorry, no multi-needle for me. That might be a consideration if I started an embroidery business, but my Babylock Ellegante is strictly for pleasure. I enjoy sitting at a machine that looks like a machine and I love changing the colors and watching the design stitch out.

  • Denice Weys

    From reading the post so far these machines sound less problematic than single needle machines. For those who own bouth I wonder if you would comment please.
    And my greatest fear is the threading issues.

    • Clem

      The first threading takes a while. My machine has numbers where the thread goes. After that you just cut your thread close to the spool, change your thread on the spool, tie the two threads together and pull it through everything except the needle. Really easy and fast. Usually, when the thread breaks, you only have to put it through the last thread guide and the needle.

  • Martine

    I have a humble 4-needle machine and love it. It looked an impressive monster when set next to my Designer1, but it is easy to use. The round shanked needles need to be put in with attention to detail compared with the foolproof flat shanked ones. My only regret is it has only 4 needles and I’d love to have more. But I don’t think I am worth such an expensive one as I don’t embroider for profit but for fun.
    I bought the Quick Snap hoops a couple of years ago and these are nice (apart from the red plastic screw tops) for difficult to hoop projects.

  • Maga

    Wow what an explosion of comments. Thank you to Eileen for starting this “thread” and to everybody who is sharing their thoughts. I am at a cross roads – old Bernina combi machine that is starting to go so will be in buying mode soon and have been hankering after a new sewing machine and a new embroidery machine instead of a combi. Now I will never find a dealer where I can see a machine let alone try one so have to rely on internet reviews AND help from fellow owners in internet groups. The lack of dealer/tech support is the most frightening thing about choosing a sewing machine let alone an embroidery machine. Now I will be checking prices on 4/6 needle machines as well as single needle stand-alone ones.

  • fashionedbyrose

    The inability to feed/shelter/clothe my family if I bought it.

    • Carolyn

      I bought my Brother PR600II used from a reputable dealer. I would never have been able to afford a new one, but I sell at Craft Fairs, and I have paid for my machine in 3 years with profits.

  • terri

    My fear is maintenance. I know what to do when my sewing/embroidery combo machine breaks a thread or has bobbin issues. And if I can’t figure it out, I can pick it up and take it to one of the 3 dealers in my town. I doubt that I can pick up a multi needle machine and I’ll bet a “house call” would be expensive and would take several weeks to schedule an appointment. I love new technology, but I think I’ll stick with what I know this time.

  • Nancy Weber

    My fear of multineedle machines is having to buy different needles, thread in special cones and all new hoops to fit. Not to mention the amount of space needed. I have 2 single needle machines and they work just great for me. Hugs. Nan W

    • Carolyn

      Nan, your two single-needle machines take up more room than a multineedle machine…..just taller!! Needles? Not much different…. just a few more, AND you won’t have to change them as often as a single-needle machine because each will not be used as often! Special cones? Optional, you can buy larger cones if you want, but you don’t have to, you can use the same threads as your single-needle machine. As for hoops, they come with the machine, and are no different than yours except they attatch on both sides unless you get into “special” hoops, like the cap hoop. If you do a lot of embroidery, you will see how much time you save with a multineedle machine. I have both a single needle and a multineedle. I love them both for different reasons. Hugs back at ya! Carolyn

      • Gina

        good answer, I couldn’t have said it better.

  • Donna Lockwood

    I have a Brother 1000-e. Learning to use it was a big learning curve. I was afraid that I would break it and have to hire someone to deliver it to a repair shop. It weighs 90 lbs and My studio is on the second floor.
    I did find a local authorized repairman who makes house calls and provides training. This was very helpful. My biggest problem now is preventing puckers. I don’t have this problem on my one needle machine.

    I belong to both yahoo groups and have learned a lot there. I am looking forward to this feature on Eileen’s blog.
    Donna, Bolivia, NC

    • Rose

      Hi Donna, I’m also from NC and planning to buy a 10 needle machine but wanting to know if house calls for repair is available in the triangle area. I will not be able to bring the machine to the shop for repairs. How did you find your house repair aervice?

  • Enis

    Fear of the unknown! I’m sure with use and lessons the machine would become more familiar to me and would no longer install fear.

  • Joann Holtzapfel

    I purchased a Janome MB4 (4 needle machine) last April in order to have a larger embroidery field. It has been very intimidating, but I am figuring it out as I go. I love having everything lay nice and flat, such as sweatshirts. I did stitch thru my finger last week, but all is well now. I do lots of in the hoop projects and have figured out how to stop when needed. All in all, I think we are going to be OK!!

  • Shanon D

    I would love to have a multi needle machine. I just don’t know if I could figure out how to do all of the color changes. For example, the last design I did before Christmas, had probably 15 different colors but 50 thread changes. How would the machine know if 1 color is used twice but under part of the design and over another part of the design?

    • Carolyn

      Remember, Shanon, the machine operation is computerized. It embroiders in ascending numerical order. The computer remembers what color you have “assigned” to what needle. It reads the first colors according to the number of needles. I have a Brother PR600II with 6 needles (older model but still very reliable). After the 1st 6 colors embroider the computer advises where to put the next colors, minus the duplicate colors from 1-6, and remembers what needles duplicates colors are located. However, with 50 color changes, you will probably need to move some colors on and off more than once, which may change the needle on which they have been previously. My machine does not have all the newest colors in the thread range. That doesn’t matter just as long as I know what color the machine shows corresponds with my list of the colors I am using. I hope this isn’t too complicated, because it’s not. Be kind to yourself. You didn’t learn to driver a car the first time you got behind the wheel.

  • Royce Zook

    I have a Baby Lock Enterprise and have gotten to know it quite well. I have just found out why there are so many different designs for the frames. Doing names on zipper front hoodies, I wanted to use the smallest frame to save on stabilizer but find the original Baby Lock frame is too deep which causes hoodie sleeves, etc. to be in the way of the movement of the needles. I must use a flatter, more shallow, frame for clearance. Fast Frames provides one answer.

    I guess my biggest fear is getting excess fabric, like the hoodies I mentioned, caught up in the pantograph or the needles not in use when the frame moves. I have placed large designs on the backs of the hoodies, having to use the largest hoop, but the needles never came close to the edges of the hoop, except, of course, when loading the hoop onto the carriage.

    As for threading, changing threads, I use the tail of the thread I’m replacing by tying it to my new thread and pulling it through to the needle or I use the serger threading wire to thread new thread into empty paths.

    I wouldn’t trade my 10 needle for any other machine. I enjoy using it very much.

  • Ruth Thompson

    My greatest fear is threading a multineedle machine. I have no idea how to do it and can just see everything getting tangled and knotted up and wrecking a beautiful piece of embroidery. This happens every so often with my single needle machine and it would just break my heart if I broke a big multi-needle machine. If I had one I know that I would learn to use it and thread it correctly, but not having one it scares me!

    • Carolyn

      Threading a new color is easiest if you use the tie-on method. You waste a bit of thread, but it keeps everything threaded correctly. Cut the thread from the spool that’s on the machine, leaving enough to tie the end and the end from the new color spool together. Place the new spool on the machine spindle. Clip the thread close to the knot. At the needle, pull the thread out of the needle eye, and gently pull the thread through the threading mechanisms until you get to the knot of the joined threads. Cut off the knot, and let the thread relax (it will uncurl). Then just thread your needle! Wha-La!

      • KarenW

        Carolyn – thanks for that explanation. I had seen pictures of the threads tied together but didn’t fully understand the process. this time – “the words were worth 1000 pictures”.

    • Nancy L Owens

      Dear Ruth,

      Please don’t be afraid of threading a multi needle machine. Most of them will thread the machine automatically. The best way to avoid thread tangles is to tie the new color to the existing color and pull the thread through to the needle. Once you get to the needle you push a button for the particular needle position that is changing. After that you push a another button and it threads the needle. Very fast and easy.

  • Doree Shandera

    I love my 6 needle. I don’t use it as much as I should, but it is so very easy to use and I find the hooping is much more forgiving.
    Going to have to get on it again.
    Happy New Year everyone.

  • Joanne Banko

    Thanks Eileen, it’s great to see this topic discussed and also great to see how many helpful stitching friends are sharing advice and tips. That’s the beauty of this blog . . . sewing and sharing. While I have no real fear of the multi needle I must admit the sound was a bit scary at first. Now I know that same powerful sound means the machine is geared up to embroider almost anything.

  • Rhonda Higgins

    I learned on a commercial embroidery machine years ago. All I can say is bite the bullet and jump in with both feet. Play with it and don’t be afraid of it. Just remember you were probably a little scared when you first started out on you single needle machine.

    I finally have my own 6 needle machine after being away from the commercial business for the last 20 years.

    • KarenW

      Rhonda – may I ask which 6-needle machine you jumped in with? I have a single-needle Brother PE770 but typically work with multicolored designs which require me to babysit the machine. Want to step up to a multi-needle but the $$ is a consideration. Don’t want to make a wrong purchase. Thanks in advance! Karen W

  • Berenice

    Hmmm… I have been drooling over these every year at the County Fair. My hubbie is very patient and stands and listens to the sales pitch. Maybe after #1 & #2 daughters are out of college. I really like my Diamond, but another toy is always nice! I will be checking back on Mondays for more inspiration!

  • V

    I am used to precision positioning after the hoop is placed in my single needle position (Move point A in the design to match up with where I want that point to be on the fabric already in the hoop, then choose point B and touch rotate (clockwise or anticlockwise) until I get that point to line up with where I want it on the fabric in the hoop). My hooping does not have to be perfect – I can correct rotation, and up/down/left/right with my machine.
    Are there multi needle machines that do this too?

    • Royce Zook

      V, my multi-needle can show me the background fabric, needle position of any location I choose in the sewing area and can find a predetermined location of my choice. I can rotate with no difficulty. The only thing my machine does not have is the needle position laser which I have considered getting but haven’t quite seen the real advantage yet. The one thing I use the camera for more often is to reposition a restart when I have thread breaks. I have even helped a friend re-hoop and reposition a fouled up stitch out after removing from the hoop, removing knotted and looped stitches and reloading to complete a design she was going to toss. No one could tell she had restarted after that far into a design. These new “home level” multi-needles are very friendly – just frightening to look at!

  • V

    reading the questions & comments about multiple colours: can’t a multi-needle machine follow a stitch pattern that says use colour 1 for the the 1st part, use colour 2 for the 2nd part, use colour 1 for the 3rd part, use colour 3 for the 4th part, use colour 2 for the 5th part, use colour 4 for the 6th part and so on?
    just like a single needle machine would …

  • darlette

    Wow have been dreaming of a multi-needle machine. not seen any in
    action at a dealer. Have you ever noticed every little gadget,machine,add-on, software has a big learning curve these days? As I read blogs, I find I am content with my OLD 2002 Babylock Ellago. Only regret is no internet or flashdrive conn & uses 3 1/2 ” floppy but does much the same…..still a 10 needle..WoW

  • kevin

    Hi, Thanks for this really appreciable but I want to start a very small embroidery business, because money is tight I can’t spend too much on a machine.Please recommend a user friendly machine.

    • claudia hermansen (Create with Claudia)

      I have a table at a local Friday Farmer’s Market and embroider with my small lightweight Brother 4×4 field hoop small kitchen towels while people are mulling around. I wear a shirt with my logo on it and show them I can make their logo too, etc. I have a picture of me and my 6 needle machine, and some of my products pinned to a flannel board propped up against a wall. On my table covered with a bright fleece cloth are more products. What I don’t sell become gifts. I prefer to do ‘custom’ embroidery on customer’s products. I demand half ($) up front, have a form for them to fill out and sign, and make a copy that is their receipt upon delivery. I have lots of business cards for them to give to their friends as well. I just started in October doing this and have been as busy as I want to be.

  • Yvonne Carrington-Buss

    After attending a “How to Start an Embroidery Business” class at my local sewing center I purchased my Brother PR1000e about 18 months ago. The first month I threaded it and and stared at it too afraid to turn it on! Since it came with a free wheeled cart I just pushed it around in my sewing space. The only way you learn is to jump in and start. My initial difficulty really was that the machine was smarter than I was! It does remember what colors are where from a previous design so once you figure that out and put new colors where it tells you to (via flashing led lights) you’re on it. As another poster stated you just tie a new color on at the spool pins and pull it through all the guides until you get to the automatic needle threader.

    I also have a Husqvarna Viking Designer SE which serves me well for all my other sewing needs but I was working it to death doing so much embroidery on it. The Brother machine does a spectacular job of embroidering with the stitches laying beautifully and perfectly on everything I do. I’ve purchased extra hoops and they really don’t cost any more than what I paid for the optional ones for my Husqvarna Viking. I do shirts for a small business and it is great to be able to hoop one while the other is sewing. I purchase large spools of thread online or at conventions and they are actually less expensive than purchasing through my local sewing and craft stores. Doing a baby bodysuit or child’s small tee shirt on it with the free arm means I don’t have to “nest” the shirt and then sit and hold it as it stitches out. I can be hooping my next item instead.

    My particular machine does not have a bobbin winder so bear that in mind. Again, I purchase bobbins at sewing conventions or online and am able to find colored ones for those in the hoop projects that require the same color on both sides. As I said, I can wheel mine around but 2 people can pick the machine up easily and my husband can “bear hug” the machine from the back to load it into our vehicle. One thing I was warned of at a convention last spring was to not use titanium needles. They noted that if you have a problem you want your needle to break rather than do some serious damage to your machine. Have to say I’ve only broken one a couple times on heavily stitched designs. Needles are cheaper than repairs!

    Determined not to be relegated to the dark far reaches of our home for my little embroidery business endeavor, I had my husband build me a large 3 panel screen out of door panels from Ikea to park my big baby behind when necessary. Wheels are your friend when you own one of these but I usually just have it sitting out where it is convenient to use.

    I believe the real advantage of these large machines, and I’m sure all brands are pretty much the same, is that they are exclusively designed for doing embroidery. Since I’m more of an embellisher than seamstress this is what works best for me. I continue to discover features but learned that once you become familiar with the basics, reading the manual or going for help makes more sense. The latest generations of these machines are pretty amazing. They are real work horses for embroidery.

  • Carol Howell

    WOW!!i too, have dreamed of owning one of these machines. I love to embroider. I am encouraged by everyone’s comments.

  • claudia hermansen (Create with Claudia)

    I am lazy and even pull it thru the needle! I have not had problems with that as long as I am gentle, hold the needle with my mosquito clam[s and pull the thread from the back of the needle. I gave my machine a Christmas present and changed all the needles, threaded dental floss thru the thread paths to clean out any thread dust and had the machine serviced (first time in 2 years). (My needles are top stitching ones so they have a large opening for the thread). My service man was impressed on how clean my machine was (even inside)and for a few $ more,
    taught me how to service it myself!

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  • Barbara Chastain

    I have to ask this question so many have these multi needle machines and they are very costly do most people usually finance them or do they get loans else were to purchase them or do the stores or companys have financing ? Was wondering I want a multi needle so. bad I have 2 single needles and get tired or threading all the time just not sure if I can afford a multi needle couldn’t pay cash that’s for sure I am a single parent. So question is how do you all do this?

    • Royce Zook

      This is a good question you ask. My dealer often has financing offers which answer the need. One I use is the zero interest for a defined number of months. It works for me most of the time.
      For the Enterprise purchase I used a little more creativity. My spouse had put the halt on my spending more on sewing, surging and embroidery equipment. I had bought her a new sewing machine, traded it up four times until we got the Ellisimo. I saw the Enterprise and had to have it. What’ll I do? My only real toy, just for me, was a Gold Wing Trike fully equipped with a utility trailer for our trips. I decided maybe I could get more use from the 10 needle. I sold the trike for more than enough to pay for the Enterprise but I was offered a long term zero finance when I purchased, so, I took it, put the money from the Trike sale into an account to earn interest and I’m paying the zero finance monthly payments. I got my machine, use it much of the time and feel I “outsmarted” my spouse – – – or did I?
      Barbara, sell that trike! Or work with your dealer, they may have a plan that will just fit your situation. If you find you can get one, try to wear it out!

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  • Betsy

    I am retiring in a few months and I want to start an embroidery business but there are so many machines out there it boggles my mind. I want a multi-needle machine and am thinking it should be at least a 10 needle one. What is the best machine from your point of view? I love this blog.
    Thank you,

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  • Rose Dickey

    I am NEW to embroidery. I am looking at the various machines. I would like for this to develop into a profitable business venture (at least part time). I’d like to get input from people on whether to go ahead and purchase the 10 needle machine and learn on it or is it better to start on a small machine?
    Thank you

  • Gregory Maciejewski

    Regards for taking the period to discuss this, I feel strongly about that and love learning even more on this issue. If achievable, as you gain knowledge, would you mind upgrading your website with more details? It is extremely great for me.


    Am a Nigerian, I reside in Lagos. I am presently a civil servant but hopping to retire in no distant future. I hope to set up a mini business in embroidery line. Which machine will you recommend for me and how can i get good training. Will you recommend used or new machine for me.

  • Lee Ann

    I have just bought a new Baby lock 10 needle machine and I have found it is a little bit intimidating after using a 1 needle embroidery machine. My problem I am trying to figure out what is the best embroidery softwear to buy, that will do it all.

  • Diabar

    Hi, Having researched multi-needle machines for awhile now, I just want to remind everyone that there are just a few manufacturers who make the machines that are sold under several other brands’ names. So there are some real similarities between various machines. Of course, there can also be differences between machines that look alike. (I don’t have any dealers within 100 miles who sell multi-needle machines, so I won’t have much live help learning to use a machine. So I have been copying, cutting, and pasting a lot of data to compare machines.)

    That said, youtube is a Wonderful Resource when you need help of about any kind, for about anything there is! If you don’t know how to do something look on youtube. (I found many people are afraid of youtube because it seems like a time waster. It isn’t.) Vimeo is another great resource. And search for “video > _______”, you’d be surprised how much is out there. Each company has videos, but youtube throws a lot of different videos at you to choose from.

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  • Heather

    Buying a new machine. Would live feed back on Janome 4needle. And babylock multi needle. Help please!!!!!!!!!

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  • Jodi

    Can you do continuous embroidery .. also can you do quilting in the hoop… Thanks

  • Jodi

    Can you do continuous embroidery .. also can you do quilting in the hoop… with the multi needle..

  • Carol Hertzler

    Does anyone have a dust cover pattern for the 10 needle embroidery machine
    Babylock Enterprise or Brother Pro1000 same size


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