Embroidery unit or not?

Let me warn you this will be a mumble-mumble post…It’s one of those conversations you could have over a cup of coffee or cappuccino at a sewing café…

Illy Cappuccino

I have been pondering about buying an embroidery unit for my sewing machine. Geeky as I can sometimes be I love the idea of connecting the computer to my sewing machine and sending a design instructions that magically get embroidered on a piece of fabric.

Bernina Embroidery software

Unfortunately when I bought the machine I mistakenly thought I could just do this without any optional accessories. Big mistake! Apparently you need an embroidery unit.

What’s the problem with that?

First, it’s super expensive.

Second, I don’t see myself embroidering on a regular basis. At most I would be doing a monochromatic embroidery like I did on my jeans pockets

Monochromatic embroidery

Why am I considering it?

The machine is being discontinued. So I am afraid the embroidery unit will no longer be available.

Some shops are having discounts ranging to 25% off. This in Europe is quite a deal.

I would like to embroider large letters and more complex designs as in the above picture.

So, if you were sitting in a café with me what would you say? Have you ever considered an embroidery unit? Do you have any experience with it?


Disclaimer: I realize these are very trivial thoughts in the current economic climate so excuse me for that.


5 thoughts on “Embroidery unit or not?

  1. Hi! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting on my blog. Unfortunately, I do not have any experience with embroidery machines and so I can’t give you any good advice. 😦

    Two great places to go for help are: http://www.burdastyle.com/ (which I see you already know about!) and http://sewing.patternreview.com/. PatternReview.com has a whole section where people post reviews of different sewing machines AND a special section of their Message Boards devoted to machines. (You may already know about this too – if so, my apologies.)

    I’m sure you can get some great advice from the folks on both sites! Good luck! That does sound like a fantastic discount! 🙂

    All the best,


  2. I’ll tell you my story and maybe it can give you some ideas.

    I bought the top of the line Bernina (180) back in 2000. But I couldn’t afford the embroidery unit at that time. The cost of the machine was a huge stretch for me. I didn’t know that much about machine embroidery (ME) at the time and didn’t think it was something I was all that interested in. I happily sewed on that machine (still am) for 10 years.

    Then I started working in a Bernina dealership and started playing with ME on the newer machines. Like you I love the simpler, monochromatic designs. But I also discovered machine applique and free standing lace and quilting in the hoop and all kinds of other cool techniques that can be done with ME and a computer. But I was still somewhat broke and couldn’t afford an entire new machine with embroidery unit and my 180 is still humming along beautifully.

    So I hit ebay last winter and found an almost new embroidery module for my 180. I still don’t have an owners manual or Mastery guide for it but I have enough experience now with Bernina embroidery that I was able to figure it out for myself. I don’t use it a lot but it is fun to have. I still plan to upgrade soon to one of the new machines (580e) when my budget allows. It is nice to have for making quick last minute gifts too. I have added some cute designs to tea towels a few hours before heading to a birthday party!

    Let me know if you have questions about Bernina ME, I’ll do my best to answer them.


  3. First of all, if we were in a café I would add biscotti to that cappuccino.  Unfortunately I know nothing about machine embroidery, so I can’t chime in with best gadgets or places to get great deals. The question is, how bad do you want this? And is there a way that you can get it for cheaper elsewhere? For example, could you get it from a North American retailer on-line and have it shipped to someone in North America who can then ship to you for cheaper than it would cost to buy in Europe? Also, even if you don’t embroider that much now, do you see yourself getting into it a bit more in the future? I’m not going to lie to you – I would be tempted! I think machine embroidery looks awesome and often think of the fun things one could make (like the border print on my Ginger skirt, for example). Good luck with your decision making.


  4. That design you showed is gorgeous! I could see it being used to create couture style lacy design on tuiles. But maybe that’s not your cup of tea.

    Maybe you should talk to some local dealer or check out the Bernina site to see if the embroidery unit is machine specific or generic across a range of models. If it’s machine specific and your last chance to get it or get a good deal on it, then it might be worth taking the plunge. I suppose you can also check eBay to see how often a second-hand one comes along (do advanced search on completed listing). The question is to seize the day now or wait later.

    I too was toying with the idea of getting a whole embroidery machine recentl. I have a normal Husqvarna sewing machine which I don’t think offers the add-on embroidery option. So for me it would have been even more expensive. So I wrestled with the same question of whether I’d use it enough.

    Maybe dealers should do rent an embroidery machine services so that those of us who don’t do it enough to justify buying one can just rent one for the odd project or two. Or maybe you can start using your embroidery unit to churn out lace for sale! I got a snake print tuile I was hoping to make into simple slip dress with embroidered edges… 😉


  5. Hum. That design is *really* pretty. I haven’t done any embroidery yet, so I’m not sure if my opinion counts. I guess the question is, how bad do you want it? Are you going to be unhappy if you can’t get an embroidery unit later? I’d probably first find out if you can get one on ebay and save some money. If not – toss a coin (then scrap the decision and do what you know you want to)? 😉


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