Hand Embroidery Vs. Machine Embroidery

You can embroider by hand or by machine, but what are the differences between the two ways, aside from the obvious? Here are some of the differences between hand and machine embroidery, as well as why you would choose one over the other. Even though they use the same hoops, needles, and threads, the processes and results are vastly different. Both styles of digitizing for embroidery include embroidering thread onto cloth (and occasionally other surfaces) to create designs as simple as initials or a monogram to as complicated as wall hangings or entirely embroidered garments. 

Hand Embroidery 

Hand-embroidered items are frequently considered as having a higher value or heirloom quality due to the amount of time it takes to complete them. You can choose colours and stitches as you embroider and make alterations as you go, giving you a lot of versatility as you work. Hand stitching is known for being a lengthy procedure in which you work stitch by stitch. That can be perceived as a disadvantage, but it can also be calming.

The materials are simple and easy to come by, and you only need to know a few fundamentals to get started. Starting out with hand embroidery can be intimidating at first, but it’s actually extremely simple and inexpensive to do so. This approach is simple enough for even children to follow, and the end result is something you built with your own two hands. 


Hand embroidery patterns are available in a variety of forms. There are many free patterns to choose from, and the rest are usually inexpensive. Others are printed in books or as digital files that may be traced and transferred using various techniques. Some of them are iron-on transfers that you may apply to your cloth. 

Thread Types

You can separate strands of hand embroidery thread to change the thickness of the stitches, and you can work with multiple thicknesses or even different types of thread throughout a project. Hand embroidery can be done using a variety of threads, including silk, wool, and cotton, which is the most frequent. 


Embroidered machines can make a variety of stitches, and they can be used in conjunction with hand embroidery stitches. The most frequent stitches are long and short stitch, back stitch, satin stitch, and chain stitch.

Machine Embroidery 

Machine embroidery is a considerably faster procedure, and once you have it going, the machine often handles all of the work for you. The finished embroidery appears to be less homemade and more commercial. This is especially useful if you enjoy crafting but find embroidering with your hands or eyes difficult. 

Because most machine embroidery patterns are pre-programmed, you won’t be able to make many changes to the look. When you embroider several items with the same design, the embroideries usually look the same. 

You can conduct free-motion machine embroidery with a conventional sewing machine with the feed dogs dropped, in addition to typical machine embroidery. This technique is similar to machine hand embroidery, and it is frequently referred to as “drawing” using a sewing machine.

You’ll need to learn how to use your machine and how it interacts with different fabrics to learn how to do machine embroidery, but you won’t need to master stitching techniques unless you’re doing free-motion embroidery, which takes some effort. Sewing machines, particularly embroidery sewing machines, are an expensive purchase. You’re making a commitment to this new craft by purchasing a machine, as well as patterns and tools. 


Embroidered machines can make a variety of stitches, and they can be used in conjunction with hand embroidery stitches. The most frequent stitches are long and short stitch, satin stitch, chain stitch, and back stitch.

Thread Types

Rather than dealing with varying amounts of strands, the thread is available in a variety of weights, allowing you to get the aesthetic you want. Unlike stranded embroidery thread, which may be separated, machine embroidery thread comes in spools and is used as is. For your digitizing, you can choose from rayon, cotton, polyester, or silk.


Machine embroidery patterns are digital files that you load onto your machine. Each brand of embroidery machine uses a different file format, so make sure you’re using the right one. Embroidery machines sometimes come with instructions for mixing embroidery and appliqué, lace, and “in the hoop” DIY sewing projects. 

Patterns usually provide the number of stitches in the design, allowing you to predict how long it will take to stitch based on your machine’s speed. Pattern files can cost anywhere from free to a few dollars, and collections can cost upwards of $40, depending on the size and complexity of the design. Neither style of needlework is superior to the other, so pick the one you want, or master both skills and make items by hand and machine. 

You may achieve new levels of creativity and artistry with an embroidery sewing machine. These machines let you create and transfer designs, as well as apply monograms and ornamental stitching to a variety of fabrics, ranging from apparel to home decor.