Embroidery for Fashion: Embroidery Machines vs Sewing Machines

Running a fashion business or owning a clothing line can be quite challenging – however, get it right and you’ll find that it’s definitely a rewarding industry to be involved in. The fashion industry is saturated with businesses trying to leave their mark on it, so, you need to find the perfect niche that will help you stand out. 

Embroidery is used by many within the fashion market. This may be enough to put some businesses off going down this route – but it shouldn’t. There’s a reason why embroidery has stood the test of time and moved along with the industry. It’s popular and it’s flexible to the kind of designs you want to create. 

Your niche and products will get you noticed but they’re not the only factors that success is built on. Solidifying the important foundations of your business, from the right equipment to the right workforce, will help your fashion empire grow. You must choose the right equipment to achieve the results you’ve projected. This post will compare embroidery and sewing machines and will determine which one is better for your business. 

We’ll cover: 

What is an Industrial Embroidery Machine?

There are so many different variants of industrial embroidery machines, it can be tricky knowing where to start when choosing the right one for your business. But firstly, what is an industrial embroidery machine? Well, any machine that’s larger than a single-head tends to be known as an industrial embroidery machine. 

Embroidery machines are used to stitch onto the materials, not actually make your garments. They’re used for creating branded workwear, sportswear and plenty of other personalised items of clothing. However, they can’t make the actual garments themselves, they aren’t used for combining materials to make full pieces.

They’re powerful and capable of turning orders around quickly to meet your customers’ demands and needs. As a business, you need to consider growth and scalability and your equipment has to allow for the growth too. You’re going to need machines in place to deal with the large volumes of orders so that you can continue to meet tight deadlines. 

Industrial embroidery machines are large and typically have two or more heads. Therefore, you’ll need a large space to house them in and work at full productivity. Unlike single-head machines, they’re not suitable for home use. 

Customer needs and demands differ from business to business. So, with that, each business’ requirements from their embroidery machine will differ too. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach that works for various businesses – what works for one business isn’t guaranteed to produce the same results for yours. You should consider all the different factors carefully before investing in an industrial machine.  

What is a Sewing Machine?

Whilst a lot of people get confused, sewing and embroidery are two completely different entities. Sewing is used for tailoring products of varying complexities. For example, jobs can have different sets of seams – from simple to decorative. Whereas, embroidery is used for artistic embroidery, lettering and other intricate designs. 

Sewing machines differ massively from industrial embroidery machines. Firstly, they’re a lot smaller in size. People often start using sewing machines when they’re looking to take interest in a new hobby. They’re not suitable for commercial use, although they’re designed to be used regularly, they’re not made to be run all day like industrial embroidery machines are. 

Their smaller size allows them to be moved around as you like. That means that you could transport your machine around to work on smaller jobs from wherever you like. Having the option to work from different locations is handy and can help you improve efficiency and productivity. However, as the machine is portable, it limits the size of the jobs that you can carry out on it.

Sewing machines stitch materials together, combining them to make a full garment. Although they can create different items of clothing, they can’t embroider. This is a massive drawback if you’re looking to add your branded logo to your product range and if you’re looking to sell embroidered, personalised clothes too.

Sewing machines are cheaper than industrial embroidery machines. This is largely down to them being smaller and not as technologically advanced. This is another reason why they’re so appealing to startup businesses or people who are developing a new hobby. They’re not likely to have the capital to splash out on an industrial machine. Plus, they don’t require all the capabilities either. 

Which One is Better For Your Business?

As we mentioned, the right machine for your business is completely dependent on your business’ individual goals – you can’t choose an option just because it worked for someone else! Unfortunately, it’s not that easy (although we wish it was!) There are various factors that you need to consider before choosing the right one and it’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

Advanced Technology

Industrial embroidery machines are becoming more technologically advanced year on year. Customers aren’t settling for standards and are now expecting businesses to utilise technology to improve design quality and their level of service. Some industrial embroidery machines now utilise artificial intelligence (AI) to help businesses improve their service.

These machines are built to run all day and AI lets you programme your design and repeat it over again so that nobody has to operate the machine during large jobs. The machine will remember previous jobs that have been produced and will suggest similar jobs in the future to save operation time. 

That way, the machine remembers custom jobs and you can focus your time elsewhere rather than having to input it into the machine every time. In turn, this increases business efficiency and turnaround times, which will ultimately delight the customer time and time again. Sewing machines aren’t capable of using AI to this large-scale impact. 

Higher Needle Numbers

The higher the volume of orders that you’re receiving, the more needles you’re going to need to speed up things, right? Well, multi-head industrial embroidery machines can multiply the production output of a single-head machine up to 12 times – that’s a lot of needles all working at once, which guarantees speed. 

Not only does it guarantee speed but it also ensures that a consistent quality is produced throughout your garments. It’s one thing being able to turn your orders around quickly and please your clients, but if the quality is inconsistent and the product looks cheap, they’re going to be far from happy! 

Higher needle numbers give you plenty of capacity leeway too. Whereas, with one needle on a sewing machine, you’re working at full capacity 100 percent of the time. Working too close to your capacity threshold creates great pressure, which in turn, heightens the chances of mistakes creeping into your work and can impact staff morale. 

Team members won’t enjoy coming to work if they feel like they’re constantly under immense pressure and scared to make mistakes. Plus, it’ll create a very tense culture among the team and will impact job satisfaction. Workers are more likely to drag their feet and be unproductive if they dislike their job – FACT.


With sewing machines, you’re limited to a very basic range of products that you can create.. Therefore, they’re not suitable in the commercial world. Whereas, with industrial embroidery machines, you can work on a wide range of materials to create the perfect fashion embroidery.

With sewing machines, you’re limited to a very basic range of products that you can create.. Therefore, they’re not suitable in the commercial world. Whereas, with industrial embroidery machines, you can work on a wide range of materials to create the perfect fashion embroidery.

Cheaper in the Long Run

Industrial embroidery machines are more expensive than sewing machines. However, when buying the larger machine, you’re investing in the future of your business. Buying a machine that allows for growth, means that you won’t outgrow your machine as quickly as you would a sewing machine. Therefore, you won’t need to fork out on brand new equipment as you grow. 

Industrial embroidery machines are durable and built to last. If you maintain your machine the recommended way, they’ll last a long while too. Whereas, if you were trying to use a sewing machine as your primary source for output, you’d be spending a lot of money on fixing or replacing it when it breaks down due to being overworked. 

Not having the right equipment can lead to a damaged reputation and loss of customers. Losing customers means that your revenue takes a hit too, so profitability will be less. This obviously isn’t ideal for your business and without the right equipment in place, you won’t hit the potential success levels that you previously forecasted.

Choose the Right Equipment For Your Fashion Business

Arguably, your embroidery machine is the most valuable commodity of your business. Without the right equipment, you won’t have the highest quality product possible and your service levels will be poorer too. Therefore, you need to make sure that you choose wisely. As, investing in the wrong type of machine can leave your business facing huge costs. 

To help you out, we’ve created a free guide that explains the perfect embroidery machines for startup fashion businesses. From multi-heads to wide-area machines, the guide covers everything you need to consider, so you can be sure that your decision is well thought through before commitment. Grab your copy today!

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