Starting a new hobby always adds up fast and embroidery is definitely not an exception which is why when I first ordered my machine I sought out a cheaper thread alternative. Popular thread brands add up way too fast but is it really something to skimp out on? Well today I finally decided it was time to do a THREAD WAR and purchase one of the most popular craft store threads for embroidery, Sulky, and see if it is worth the hefty price tag.
Obviously, comparing on cost alone the award would go to New Brothread for one 1,000 meter (1093.61 yards) spool it is $2.99. Sulky on the other hand is $6.99 for 850 yards per spool. Next is material: New Brothread is predominately polyester whereas Sulky comes in various materials. The ones sold at my craft store were all Rayon or polyester nylon blends. For this test the material used for the sulky thread was 100% Rayon at 40 weight. The test thread from New Brothread was 100% polyester at 40 weight. To read all about the difference between polyester and rayon thread for machine embroidery click here. To watch the thread war watch the video below.
Throughout my embroidery journey there has been many struggles, some I have shared others I have not, simply due to if I have found a solution or not. No, this is not a post ranting about the machine however, I must state that the customer service for Brother has not made a good impression thus far. When I first started having issues with my bobbin thread showing up on the top side I read the manual for quick fixes and then reached out to their service department with a photo and description of the issue. All I was given was links to their FAQ section. After three attempts to get a real solution I was then directed to find a service department to take the machine in to be properly looked at. FRUSTRATING.
At this point I even took apart part of the machine to tighten screws and so on that was mentioned in their FAQ section and it did help for a little but within the next project the issue would persist. Let’s also discuss how everything is written instruction with little to no visuals on how to fix these issues either. For instance, check the bobbin thread is extremely vague. All this to say I am striving to help fellow crafters out by sharing my experiences so that you do not have to be at the point of wanting to chuck your machine out the window.
Back to the bobbin error, once my project was 90% finished everything was going well so of course this happened (see image below). The bobbin has needed to be changed so I did, however, once it kept happening I decided to inspect the bobbin once more by taking it out and reinserting it again in a firmer frustrated manner. Then I found it, the root of my bobbin switching issues. Simply put, the arrow guide for the Brother PE550d sucks, it is not accurate. One must act as if they are flossing in-between the mental parts of the bobbin and hear a click of the thread before wrapping it around the arrow. If this all sounds great but is still a little confusing watch the tutorial below for visuals. It makes me wonder if this was the root of previous issues as well, however, only time will tell.
Prior to purchasing an embroidery machine for the first time I had little knowledge as to how it worked including the file capability side. All I kept reading is that it was a learning curve which is why I have been and will continue to update you all as I learn more about the machine embroidery world. Hopefully you are learning from my mistakes or basking in the humorous side of all my mistakes and frustrations, either way here we go again. Primarily the most important thing to know about files is that unless you have what I refer to as a magical machine it will not turn a drawing into an embroidery file instantaneously. Yes, just like narwals it seems like a myth but they actually do exist for only thousands of dollars but who really has a budget these days for crafting (yes, that was sarcasm). Now that our expectations are back on track let’s talk about what we can do without killing our wallet on a fancy smancy machine. Yes, it is the goal but not ideal for the average crafter to start with.
Since we are steam rolling dreams let’s talk about copyrights. They suck, but unless you are only embroidering for personal use they are important to discuss. Want to appliqué with some store bought Disney fabric and sell it? Well, you can’t. Technically you can but is copyright infringement and could end up with platforms closing your shop or taking down your listing. I don’t think it is worth the hassle but yes I do agree that it is stupid that it is not allowed to create something for profit from licensed fabric. You are doing most of the work but in the same sense their name is potentially the whole reason it sells. Yes, all those pretty Disney designs that came with your Brother PE550d are encouraged to be selfishly crafted with, MINE MINE MINE!
So, what kind of designs can you sell or make for that matter? Those beautiful drawings can still be turned into embroidery but it will require some software and a lot of time. If you want to skip all the headaches and large bill try out a freelancer who will create your design in the desired file format for you. If you are wondering why a simple png or jpeg will not work think of it this way, the machine reads directions such as right, left, up, down and those files only give a color to read so the machine doesn’t understand what to do. If you have a Brother pe550d the format needs to be a PES file, check your manual if you have a different machine.
Another route if you are not too picky or wanting your own unique designs is browsing Etsy for some that align with your vision. Not any Etsy digital file will work so here is a quick checklist to make sure you purchase a file that will actually work for you. First, check the size, if it is over 4” on any side it will not fit the Brother PE550d, it will not magically shrink when plugged into the machine. After that make sure the file being sold is in the format of your machine; for mine it is PES. Next on the priority list, make sure that the seller is allowing the design to be sold when put on a physical item, check their description or write the seller if it is not mentioned. If you are selling an item using the design check the color count, if you have the same machine that is how many times you will have to rethread the machine every time.
Watch the video below to see visuals of what to look for as well as a sneaky site that actually gives embroidery files for FREE no emails or memberships required. I even show the final results for a couple of their files.
Interested or recently purchased the Brother PE550D embroidery machine? After purchasing the machine I did as most people do, went to Youtube to teach myself the basics. While yes, there were a few videos available they lacked the teaching aspect; it was more of watch me embroider this item kind of “tutorials”. I crave the basics whenever I try anything new which includes how to thread the machine and most importantly what the heck all the buttons do. Although anyone can read the instruction Manuel to gain this information some people like myself prefer to see it in action as well for a quick reference or simply for a visual. Also let’s be honest, not everyone reads the instruction booklets.
This one has been a long time coming and I could not be more excited to share this new journey with you all. Branching into a new form of art is always a learning curve so it is expected that it will come with mass frustrations alongside joy. First I want to address the mass inflation that has been happening in the crafting world, since people are still jumping onto the hands on art of creating, companies are fluctuating prices so make sure to do some research if you too are looking to start a new craft.