Sewing vs Embroidery: What’s The Difference?

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Is sewing the same as embroidery? Is a sewing machine different from an embroidery machine? These are some of the basic questions that a beginner usually wants to search for the answer to. I have shared everything that makes a difference between a sewing and embroidery machine. I have discussed the basic difference between sewing and embroidery, sewing needle and embroidery needle, and sewing thread and embroidery thread.

Sewing is a technique mostly used for sewing fabrics together with a needle, thread, and machine. It dates back centuries ago to early instances of craftsmen working on clothing that was stitched together. The intricate designs that can be produced in embroidery are also possible in sewing by using a design onto the surface of the fabric.

Embroidery is the process of making or decorating items with needle and thread work. Embroidery is similar to sewing because it too involves the use of needle and thread to form patterns on the fabric, but also different from how stitching shapes and designs are created as opposed to sewing which only uses stitches and straight lines.

Difference between Sewing and Embroidery

The main difference between sewing and embroidery is in two main aspects: form and content. The shapes are not as detailed in embroidery; they are often more geometric and generally involve more fine lines. Embroidery involves stitching thicker threads through the thicknesses of fabric whereas sewing involves a thinner needle creating a pattern of stitches on fabric. Generally, embroidered patterns can be more intricate, but the end results still come down to the same procedure of starting, sewing, and finishing.

The first thing that differentiates between Sewing and Embroidery is the actual stitching process which differs for both techniques. In stitching, the thread is usually thicker than in embroidery where threads are thinner in order to produce finer stitches.

Another difference lies within the content of the work and how it differs between both techniques. Embroidery involves stitching that is more geometric and generally, finer in detail. Fine lines are created by the use of thin thread whereas sewing involves thick thread through the fabric. There are times when the lines can be either very straight or very curved.

The process of stitching with sewing involves setting the thread onto the fabric and then taking a needle and pushing it through. Once the needle is inserted into the fabric, it is tied to another part of the thread. This process continues until the desired markings have been made on the fabric or items.

In embroidery, threads are thinner and are tied one at a time to create a pattern in thin lines rather than thick lines.

One of the most important differences in sewing vs embroidery is seen on a social and cultural level. It has been said that embroidery is a feminine craft as it is mainly associated with women and girls. The material used for it is also typically softer, alluding to further feminine qualities of embroidery.

On a cultural level, Sewing is mainly associated with men and it is usually associated with industrial-based manufacturing. On the other hand, embroidery has more of a feminine appeal because its material is usually softer and more intricate. It also involves stitching thicker threads through various layers of fabric.

Although both sewing and embroidery are similar in many ways, they are still different. Embroidery involves more fine detail whereas sewing involves thicker lines although the actual process of stitching together fabrics remains the same between both techniques. It is generally seen as a feminine activity amongst women, although men can also create intricately detailed patterns for clothing using embroidery.

Sewing Thread vs Embroidery Thread

Sewing Thread

The thread used in sewing is thicker and is generally thicker than that of embroidery. It is also used to create stronger lines and patterns in the stitching process, especially through clothes materials where it is more often used.

Sewing thread is commonly measured in Tex(T), Denier Count (Td or T), and in Commercial size (V).  1000 meters of thread is equal to 1 Tex and 9000 meters of thread is equal to 1 Td. So, you can say that Tex is used to measure lightweight thread and Td for the heavy thread.

Commercial threads are used to sew heavy upholstery, canvas, or webbing. Set sizes for commercial purposes are 30, 46, 69, 92, 138, 207, 277, 346, 415, and 554.

It is recommended that home sewing machines use V-69, the heaviest commercial size available. 

Embroidery Thread

The thread used in embroidery stitches is thinner and finer than those in sewing. The thread threads are also tied one by one to create fine lines in stitches. In some cases, cotton can be substituted for silk where finer details can be achieved as silk threads are usually thinner, but there are usually fewer alternatives for fabrics where sewing can be done or better alternatives for fabrics where the embroidery is done.

A bigger number indicates a smaller thread size for machine embroidery and sewing threads. The most common thread size for embroidery is 40. Accordingly, most embroidery designs have stitches that are spaced so that size 40 thread can fill the design adequately without gaps or overlapping threads.

Sewing Machines vs Embroidery Machine

Sewing Machines vs Embroidery Machines: Working

This is the fundamental difference between Sewing Machines and Embroidery Machines. The sewing machine chops holes using a screw-on overarm needle, while an embroidery machine uses a mechanism called ‘needle bar’, which does most of the stitching work.

Sewing Machine

The sewing machine will cut or punch holes in the fabric with a revolving, screw-on arm needle. This is also known as “the arm.” A stationary thread is used to stitch through all layers of material from back to front, and then again from front to back. It will then take another thread where it was before (stitching over), stitch, gather up all loose threads by pulling on the bobbins at regular intervals, and finally, trim the thread.

Embroidery Machine

The embroidery machine will use a mechanism called “the needle bar” to sew through all layers of material from back to front, and then again from front to back. It will then take another thread where it was before (stitching over), stitch, gather up all loose threads by pulling on the bobbins at regular intervals, and finally, trim the thread.

These machines are capable of stitching many different types of designs including fine decorative stitches in addition to more coarse cloth sewing. The larger machines will produce larger stitches that can be used for clothing patterns.

Sewing Machines vs Embroidery Machine: Brands

There are a lot of brands of both sewing and embroidery machines in the market which are offering the same products. To make better purchase decisions you must know the most famous and reliable brands. Here is the list of brands that will help you to select the best one.

  1. Brother

Brother is one of the oldest sewing machine manufacturers and has been around for more than 150 years. They have maintained themselves as a reliable and durable brand in the market. 

They have many quality machines and accessories, a good service and warranty policy, and free technical support. 

Their machines are reliable and very durable which makes them popular with beginners as well as professional sewers. They are also known for their many models including the “Micro-lock” Series which has over 100 accessories for sewing different types of materials.

Brother continuously works on the improvement of their products in terms of quality as well as affordability. Some of their models are designed for beginners and some high-end models are for professionals. Their average machine cost starts from $150 to $200 and some computerized machines with the latest models cost between $500 to $700. Brother XM2701Brother SE600Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine: CS6000i,  are some of their most popular models.

  1. Singer

The Singer is a reputed brand for sewing machines and has been around for more than a century. They have many models at affordable prices.

They are reliable and well known for providing great sewing machines and quality accessories at affordable prices. They are a good choice for beginner-level sewers as they offer many inexpensive products, including various quality lower-range models as well as some entry-level higher-range ones.

The Singer is also available in closeouts and sales which makes them even more affordable. It offers some quality machines with reasonable pricing that also comes with a warranty. 

They have both mechanical and electronic machines as well as accessories. 

Their average prices range from $100 to $400 depending on the model and features of the machine. Some of their popular models are Singer Quantum Stylist 9960, Singer 4432, Heavy Duty 4452 Sewing Machine, and so on. Singer products also come with free technical support and a warranty.

  1. Janome

Janome is another top brand for sewing machines and has been around for more than a century. 

They offer a lot of high-end quality machines and accessories at an affordable price range. They are known for providing free technical support to their customers.

Their machines are known for being exceptionally durable, long-lasting and well made.

They offer many different types of models including both mechanical as well as computerized ones. Their features include an oiler, needle bar removal system, ballpoint feed system, dialing stitch selector, multiple width adjustment, and so on. 

Janome products also come with a longer warranty of 3 years which can be extended to 5 years depending on the model being purchased.

Due to the high-quality products, Janome has many professional sewers who use their machines for work. 

The average cost range of Janome is from $150-$300 and some top models are $350 to $500. Some of their popular products are Janome HD 3000, Janome 3160QDC Sewing Machine, Janome 4120QDC Sewing Machine, and so on. 

Janome also makes quilting supplies such as cutting mats, rotary cutters, and so on.

  1. JUKI

Juki is another reputed sewing machine manufacturer which is popular for offering high-quality sewing machines and accessories. They are Japanese and have been around for more than 60 years.

Juki offers affordable products with great quality and many models at an affordable price range. 

They also offer a wide range of computerized machines as well as accessories like presser feet, bobbins, needles, scissors, rulers and so on. In addition to this, they also offer free technical support for their customers. 

Their machines are very accurate and consistent, which makes them the top choice for professionals around the world. Their products are not only for home use but also for commercial use as well. 

They offer a one-year free service warranty on all its products which can be extended up to 5 years depending on the model. 

However, Juki may be an expensive buy as they tend to cost more than other brands but they also offer better features than others in their range. Their average price starts from $200 to $500 depending on the model being purchased. Juki HZL-DX5Juki TL-2000Qi, and JUKI DDL-8700 are some of their best models.

  1. Bernina

Bernina is a Swiss manufacturer of sewing and embroidery machines and has been around for more than 75 years. They offer high-quality products at an affordable price range. They have a higher price range than other brands but their products are highly appreciated for their durability and performance.

There are different types of Bernina sewing machines based on quality, features, and price range which makes them the top choice of professional sewers all around the world.

Bernina also offers great customer service and technical support to its customers which are some major reasons for its popularity amongst professionals.

The average cost of Bernina starts from $400 to $700 depending on what machine you want to purchase. They have a wide range of products and accessories, including quilting supplies. 

Some top models are Bernina B79, Bernina 440 QE, Bernina L 460, Bernina 790 Plus, and so on. 

Bernina also makes embroidery machines that come with many designs and features.

  1. Pfaff

Pfaff is another popular brand in the market and has been around for more than 150 years.

They offer both mechanical as well as electronic machines. They are known for their quality products at affordable prices and provide great service to their customers. 

Pfaff also offers free technical support to its customers and a 5-year limited warranty on all its products. Their machines are known to be highly durable, long-lasting, and accurate which makes them the top choice of professionals all over the world. 

Their top models start from $400 to $1000 depending on the features of the machine being purchased, the model and quality of fabric that needs to be seen along with many other factors like how often it is used, etc.

Some of their top models are Pfaff Creative Performance, Pfaff Passport, Pfaff Creative 4.5, and so on.

They also make clothes and quilting supplies like cutting mats, rotary cutters, quilting rulers, and so on.

  1. Elna

Elna is another top brand that is hugely popular for its high-quality sewing and embroidery machines. 

They offer both electrical as well as mechanical machines. Their products are known to be very durable and long-lasting, without any issues in performance or stitches. They offer great customer service and technical support for their customers which are some of the major reasons for their popularity amongst the professionals. The average cost of Elna starts from $600 to $3000 depending on what machine you want to buy and what material needs to be sewn. 

They have a variety of machines for home use as well as commercial use, and also accessories such as rotary cutters, scissors, needles, cutting mats, and so on. 

Some top models are Elna 7400PX, Elna 7200 Pro, Elna Elnita EF72 and so on. They also make quilting supplies like quilting rulers which are made up of bright colors for accurate measurement.

Their machines offer many great features like an oiler system, multiple width adjustment, automatic needle threader, buttonhole release system, and so on. 

  1. Viking (Husqvarna)

Viking is another leading brand in the market and has been around for more than 60 years. They offer good quality machines at very affordable prices. 

They are known to have excellent customer service and technical support. Their products are known to be highly durable and precise, without any issues in performance or stitches. 

The average cost of Viking starts from $500 to $2000 depending on what machine you want to buy and what material needs to be sewn with a myriad of other factors like how quickly it is used etc.

 Some of their top models include Husqvarna Viking Jade 20, Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q, Husqvarna Viking Designer Diamond and so on. They also make quilting supplies like quilting rulers which come in bright colors for accurate measurement.

These brands are continuously working on their models to cope with the needs of changing technology every day. That is the reason that these brands have a strong image in the market. 

Sewing Machines vs Embroidery Machines: Prices

The prices of embroidery and sewing machines are very high. The variation in price is mainly due to some factors. The price depends on various factors like the brand name and how many features it has to offer.

Normal sewing machines are usually cheaper than those combo or embroidery machines because sewing does not require many difficult features or configurations in a machine. You can find sewing machines with very basic features from $80 to $130 but there are some famous yet affordable sewing machine models available for $150-200.

While embroidery machines are a bit more expensive than sewing machines. Like, you can not get even a very basic embroidery machine for $80 but there are some sewing machines for this price. You can get a cheap embroidery machine for $350. But, if you want a combo (sewing + embroidery) machine then you might need to pay more as per your requirements.

Generally, you get the best deal when buying a new machine from a reputable brand with a strong record like Brother or Singer, etc. 

Here is the list of the factors to consider before buying a new embroidery machine.

  • Designs

Some of the brands also offer embroidery machines with free gifts like embroidery designs, quilting items, etc. These gifts can vary in number and also names according to brands. 

It is always better to have a look at the features of the machine you are planning to buy. You get detailed instructions about it from the salesperson who shows you various models and gives demos on different models to help you choose which model would be a great fit for your need and budget.

  • Embroidery Field

The Embroidery field is the workspace in machines. 

It is where the thread is placed and the needle is used to stitch the design. 

It has different parts, like table area, work area, feed dog, etc. The table area contains a quilted mat which helps in carrying the material as you sew. This would also help in removing the material from it easily if it gets messy. If a machine has a table extension then you would have greater space for stitching and it also helps in holding more material at one time without making any mess that would interfere with your sewing. Some machines also include threading and bobbin alignment systems on their tables which make them very easy to use.

  • Hoops sizes

All machines have different hoop sizes which are basically the frames that hold the material together as you sew. 

The size would depend on the size of the material and design. The hoops generally come in three major types: small, medium, and large.

Some of them also have mini hoops for smaller designs and larger hoops for bigger designs.

The idea is to use the hoop with a diameter that comes closest to your edge-to-edge measurement of your desired design and then increase or decrease it from there depending on your personal preference and ease of sewing.

  • Connectivity

Most machines have “connectivity options”. Connectivity options basically allow you to stitch multiple layers of material together with one machine.

The machine also allows you to stitch multiple designs on the same hoop and then sew them together into a project like a quilt.

This makes the process easier and saves you some time as well as space in your sewing area. The only downside of connectivity is that the stitches might not be perfectly matched or even disappear sometimes with this feature. 

Sewing machines have various settings to make various kinds of stitches, depending on what your needs are.

  • Screen display

Many of the embroidery machines come with large LCD screen displays. This displays the stitch count, stitch length, stitch width, and needle position in real-time. 

The work area comes with a backlight which is useful for dark areas. These screens also display information like how much time before the machine is due for a service, how many stitches are left on the bobbin, and so on. 

  • Additional features

Many embroidery machines also include other functions like thread cutter, buttonhole release system, and so on. 

These are additional features that make your work easier, quicker, and more precise.

Sewing Machines vs Embroidery Machines: Parts

A machine is made up of many parts whether it is a sewing machine or embroidery machine. Many sewing machine parts are the same as embroidery machines and some are different. So, let’s check all those same and different parts and features.

Common Parts and Features

  • Machine Arm

Both of these machines, sewing, and embroidery, do come with an arm. The arm holds the material in place for you as you sew. 

But the arm of a sewing machine is different from that of an embroidery machine.

The arm of a sewing machine has a presser foot on it which is connected to the needle. The presser foot knows where the needle is and moves up and down to make stitches perfectly each time. 

Embroidery machines do not have this feature as their arms are too small to hold the material in place as they move their needles with them. So their needles are connected by thread directly to their arms.

Moreover, you can find free arm in embroidery machines also as there are free arm sewing machines.

  • Automatic Needle Threader

The other common part of both machines is the Automatic needle threader

Threading is one of the most tedious jobs in embroidery machines as it takes a lot of practice to learn how to do it. 

The needle threader helps in this process. It is especially useful for beginners and people who have problems with dexterity.

Automatic needle threaders move up and down automatically and make it easy to thread the material through the machine while making stitches.

However, they sometimes make mistakes and get caught or break down but thanks to the automatic needle threader, you can fix them easily.

  • Automatic Thread Cutter

Most sewing and embroidery machines also have automatic thread cutters which cut the thread for you once you finish the sewing or embroidery.

These are lifesavers as they save a lot of time, especially if you are in a hurry.

You do not have to use other scissors and take a chance of ruining your project or cutting your fingers or hurting yourself while cutting it manually.

Also, some machines’ automatic thread cutters allow you to control how far you want it to go and how much you want it to cut at once.

These are really handy features and make life easier for a lot of people.

  • Automatic Bobbin Winder

Another part that both machines share is an automatic bobbin winder. 

Every time you need to change the bobbin, you need to wind a new one. 

Some of the machines come with automatic bobbin winders especially for embroidery purposes so that you do not have to spend time winding them by hand.

This makes your work easier, especially if you are working on long projects and do not want to keep stopping and winding bobbins.

However, some machines have these features unnecessarily as they take up space and sometimes waste thread from your spool.

But some people like them because they make things easier in their own way so it is a personal choice whether or not you want this feature in your machine.

  • Workspace (Sewing and Embroidery Field)

The workspace includes the area that you are working on. It is important to know what area you are working on because it is directly related to the size of the design that you want to make. It is also a common part of both sewing and embroidery machines.

The sizes of your designs will depend on what kind of material you are using, if you want to make a smaller project then you need smaller hoops and vice versa. 

The area in which your work will be displayed when it is finished is also important because some machines have larger fields than others, so a small design may not show up completely.

It all depends on how easy and comfortable it makes your work process.

  • Screen display

The screen display can be quite large in some embroidery machines and it offers a lot of options, like different colors, zooming and so on.

However, the small screen is not always a bad thing because it allows you to see it without straining your eyes and focus better on your work. 

But when you do embroidery work even for just long periods of time, the small screens can tire you out very easily. 

So it is a personal choice whether or not you want larger screens depending on how much time you spend on your project.

The higher screen resolution also makes the process easier because it displays more details and allows you to get a clear idea of what you are doing.

In sewing machines, the screen display is a single line and they have small screen fonts which hinder the creative process.

  • Bobbin

The bobbin is another common part of both machines. They are used for storing thread and keeping your work in place. 

In sewing machines, sewing bobbins run along the machine arm and stitch the material that you are working on. 

In embroidery machines, they are threaded directly to the machine arm to stitch your embroidery project.

The size of the bobbin is different depending on what kind of material you will be using (thread, floss or ribbon blanks) and how many times a set of bobbins will be used.

Different Parts and Features


Hoop is an important part of embroidery machines, which are used for holding the fabric in place as you sew.

The type of embroidery machine usually comes with different types of hoops including:

  • Tension and feeding systems
  • Tensioners and feed dogs keep your project in place while you sew. 
  • They help to keep the material taut and prevent it from slipping out of your machine as you sew. 
  • The tension system is what holds the material taut so that it does not stretch and get faded or deformed when you sew over it. 
  • The hoop length of most machines ranges from four to ten inches.

Sewing speed vs embroidery speed

The sewing speed is measured in stitches per minute, or SPM. This is one of the most important factors when comparing embroidery machines.

But most embroidery machines do not come with a sewing speed and many models can stitch at different rates of speed according to their needs.

For example, some embroidery machines can sew faster than 500 SPM and some even go up to 1,000 SPM which makes it the ideal machine for faster sewing applications like embroidering caps, hats, pants, and so on. 

The highest sewing speed usually comes from the more expensive models but also depends on other factors like stitch type, thread tension, and needle settings as well as the skill of the person who is working on it.


Embroidery machines usually come with USB ports that allow you to connect them to your computer and share files. 

This is especially useful if you have a large embroidery project and need to load it onto your machine fast. 

But they also come with memory cards or flash drives so if you do not have a computer nearby, no problem – the machine has got you covered.

This is a cool feature that can save your time and make life easier for you when making projects of any size. 

Also, some models even allow wireless connectivity which means that you do not have to use computers at all and can work on it directly from your smartphone or tablet.

On-screen editing

Embroidery machines usually come with an easy-to-use on-screen editing system that allows you to quickly modify settings and stitch as you like.

This is perfect for on-screen off edits and small, quicker projects.

Some of the more advanced embroidery machines have a fully customizable on-screen editor with the ability to even make intricate designs by drawing patterns over your embroidery project.

But again, it all depends on what type of design you want to make and whether or not it is a complicated one.

Sewing Needles vs Embroidery Needles

Sewing needles and embroidery needles are used to create a variety of fabrics. There are many different types of sewing needles that may vary in size, shape, and material. The most common and important difference between the tools is the length of the needles. Sewing needles are long in design and length, which provide long threads for sewing. Different sizes of needles are used in sewing machines.

In the American system, needles range from 8 to 28, with 8 being a fine needle and 28 being a thick, heavy needle. 60 is a fine needle while 160 is a thick heavy needle in Europe.

Embroidery needles, shorter in design with a smaller diameter thread, are mainly used for embroidery and cross-stitch techniques.

Sewing/embroidery needle is longer than embroidery needle; therefore it was thought that sewing needles were not good enough for a beginner. The size of the needle depends on the thickness of the fabric and other factors. Embroidery needles come in three sizes: 75/11, 80/12, and 90/14 (for home embroidery machines, not multi-needle machines).

In modern times, synthetic threads make it possible to use sewing needles for embroidery. It is now common to see both sewing needles and embroidery needles of the same size being used; however, it is important to note that sewing needs have a longer diameter than needlework needs.

FAQ about Sewing vs Embroidery

Can I do embroidery with a regular sewing machine?

Yes, you can do embroidery with a normal sewing machine but features will be limited to some extent. Sewing machines can handle decorative stitching, especially for people who like to use embroidery stitches and want to create unique designs and patterns. The straight stitches that sewers can produce are often used in clothing design, especially when doing embroidery. There is no limit to the number of decorative stitches available and many companies provide instructions if you want to learn more about embroidery stitches. Many companies sell embroidery designs that people can buy separately, so you do not have to purchase an entire machine for learning about different designs.

Another big advantage of using a regular sewing machine for embroidery is that you can create bigger stitches. Regular sewing machines are often used to create larger size stitches which are used in different clothing patterns. Embroidery machines are used to create smaller-sized designs, so they cannot be made any larger.

Manufacturers produce many different styles of embroidery-only machines with built-in designs and stitching devices that are separate from the main machine. These units can only be used to stitch designs provided by the manufacturer, so if you want more flexibility or the ability to use your own choice of design then a regular sewing machine will be better.

Can I sew with an embroidery machine?

The answer to this question will depend on several factors, such as the type of machine you’re using, whether you’re embroidering on fabric or knit fabric, and what kind of stitching you want to do. Embroidery machines typically work on interfacing only. They can’t sew through sewing thread because they don’t have needles.

But in the age of “anything goes,” embroidery has been given a more flexible definition and is now used in many different types of sewing and projects. Some high-end embroidery machines have the feature to remove the embroidery units and adjust the machine to meet your sewing needs.

Is there any Sewing and Embroidery (combo) machine?

Yes, there are machines that can sew through sewing thread and through embroidery thread. But these machines are commonly referred to as sewing machines. For example, Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900QCP is a machine that can do both types of stitching.

It should be kept in mind that you’ll need to purchase an embroidery machine and a sewing machine separately. If you don’t want to make two purchases, consider purchasing the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900QCP; it’s an all-in-one machine. This means it’s a combination of both the sewing and embroidery functions in one unit.

Brother SE600 Sewing and Embroidery Combo Machine, Bernette B79 Combination Machine, and Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Combination Machine are some of the best combo machines.

Final Thoughts

The main purpose of this writing is to describe the difference in the process of using projects and products of Sewing and Embroidery. Secondly, it will help you understand how a sewing machine works as compared to an embroidery machine. This also contains an overview of working, parts, prices, and brands of both machines.

This also contains an overview of working, parts, prices, and brands of both machines. We hope you enjoyed reading this article.

Doing embroidery and sewing are both very different in their purpose, although they’re usually done by the same people. So how do you decide which to use? We broke it down for you.

Happy sewing and embroidery 🙂



I have been working as a seamstress since I was 12 years old, and I would be happy to teach you what I know. I, along with the rest of my team, investigate numerous sewing, quilting, embroidery, and fabric related how-to guides, and present our findings to you.