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Single needle vs multi-needle pros & cons by embroidery machine technician.

Can’t make up your mind whether to buy a single needle or a multi needle embroidery machine? Single needle vs multi needle. Pros and cons brought to you by embroidery machine technician.

Single needle machines :


Price. If your budget is limited, single needle machines are affordable. Of course there are some single needle machines just as expensive as the multi needle ones but that’s not typical.

Size. If you choose to work at home, you might have just a small space to fit the machine into. These machines are smaller and take up less space than the multi needle ones, you can fit them on a table top.

Simplicity. They are much easier to learn the ins and outs of embroidery, more suitable for absolute beginners. Easier to do day-to-day maintenance and the service or repairs performed by a technician are cheaper.


Productivity. Having just one needle you have to manually change threads depending on how many colors the design has. That’s a lot of non-productive time, if you are embroidering for a living you should keep this in mind.

Life span: Single needle machines are intended for home use, not suitable for large quantity of work. For a hobbyist embroiderer, it will serve many years though.

Hoop size. Usually for single needle machines the biggest hoop is 5″ x 7″, with a few exceptions. Some of them have a 4″ x 4″ hoop only.

Multi needle machines:


Free arm: You can embroider with ease on a wider range of items.

Hoop size. Multi needle machines have bigger hoops , talking now about flat hoops only. From 4″ x 4″ or 17″ x 16″, even bigger with some commercial machines.

Cap frame system (optional accessory) makes a lot of difference when it comes to cap embroidery.

Tubular frame (optional accessory) can also be used on them, useful when embroidering on sleeves or trousers legs.

Productivity: Due to the number of needles, you have much less work to do since the color change happens automatically, based on your color choices.

Life span: Multi needle machines (especially Industrial machines) are heavy build machines intended for industrial quantities.


Price. They are costly, price starting at $6 000 it can reach $16 000 or even more depending on brand, optional accessories and capabilities.

Cost of maintenance, service and repairs. It is expensive since it is best to be serviced by an authorized mechanic. Machine parts are expensive too. The good news is that they very seldom need repairs.

Size: Multi needle machines take up a lot of space, they need their own specially made shock absorbent stand. The stand is optional but advisable, it extends the machine’s life.

Complexity: It’s not easy to learn to work with them. Also harder to do the daily maintenance tasks like cleaning and oiling or the weekly/monthly tasks like deeper cleaning and oiling hard-to-reach places.

Level of noise: High level of noise, due to the robust build. The shock absorbent stand also functions like a rezonance amplifier, like the body of a guitar. It can’t be reduced in any other way than reducing the number of stitches/minute. At the lowest setting (600 st/min) it is bearable but still louder than the single needle machines. You can hear the noise in this video of mine:

That’s in a nutshell my honest review of both single needle and multi needle machines. Hope I made it easier for you to decide which machine will be your next machine. Thanks for reading, Happy stitching!

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