What’s Best? Hand Embroidery vs Machine Embroidery

Embroidery is a useful tool to enhance the attractiveness of any product. But should you use hand embroidery or machine embroidery?

There is a common notion that hand embroidery holds more value, mostly sentimental and aesthetic.

Likewise, the majority of masses believe that machine embroidery is more accurate and time-saving. You might have heard that the only difference between machine vs. hand embroidery is in the method used, but that is not true.

If you’re starting a new business and you want to use embroidery as an essential component for designing your products, knowing the differences between hand embroidery vs. machine embroidery will help you decide the best alternative for your needs.

Hand Embroidery vs Machine Embroidery

We used both techniques to get a complete idea about the pros and cons of each. Before we get into an analysis of the differences, here is a brief background of each of these two methods.


1. What is Hand Embroidery?

Like most of the handicraft techniques, hand embroidery offers excellent versatility and customization. Even if artisans create the same pattern using the same colors, there are subtle differences that add a certain uniqueness to every product.

what is hand embroidery

Hand embroidery almost always employs the use of an embroidery loop or frame made from plastic or wood. The purpose of this loop is to stretch out the fabric, thereby helping you prevent distortions and skewed designs.

One of the most significant advantages of hand embroidery is the option to modify the design or thread work during the stitching process.

You start by creating a pattern, and halfway through, you feel like the texture should be flatter or bulkier. You can separate or combine the thread strands to make certain parts of the pattern more delicate or heavy, respectively.

You can add a lot of detail and varying texture to your embroidery when it is done by hand. It is because of these benefits that hand embroidery is preferred by skilled artisans who indulge in meticulous projects.

Which is better hand embroidery or machine embroidery

You can use a variety of stitching techniques in hand embroidery such as cross-stitch, running stitch, chain stitch, satin stitch, and blanket stitch.

Centuries ago, hand embroidery was more straightforward and used only threads, but today, it involves other materials like pearls, sequins, beads, and quills.

There were no machines at the time of the advent of embroidery in ancient China and Sweden.

All the historical embroidery work was done by hand and used for various purposes like decorating fabrics, reinforcing clothing, creating folk art, and recording significant events.

2. What is Machine Embroidery?

Technology has touched every sphere of modern civilization, including embroidery. Gone are the days when hand embroidery was the only method at your disposal.

Machine embroidery is used extensively by many businesses today in the mass production of tees with a simplistic design.

hand vs. machine embroidery

Machine embroidery uses a consistent process that results in the same design each time. Even if you use machine embroidery on hundreds of tees, they will all have the replica of the specific design.

You do not have the flexibility to edit a pattern when the embroidery process is underway. Embroidery machines use digitized patterns from software containing a comprehensive collection of embroidery designs.

You can choose from thousands of designs and select the color and depth you want in the finished product. Machine embroidery provides accurate designs while saving time and human effort.

Machine Embroidery vs Hand Embroidery

There are a few limitations of machine embroidery that you should keep in mind. The thread used in machine embroidery is a bit heavy, and you do not have the flexibility of changing the texture by combining or separating the strands.

When you choose a design and the color, the machine will create multiple copies of it.

If you have to create designs that are unique to a customer’s tastes or needs, machine embroidery might not be the best option due to its limited scope of modification.

If you have to produce large quantities of T-shirts for the general population, machine embroidery can be a blessing in terms of saving time and cost in the long-run.

3. Summary of Differences

Now that you have an idea about each of the two techniques, let’s get to machine embroidery vs. hand embroidery.

differences between hand embroidery vs. machine embroidery

  • Machine embroidery uses a thread that is heavier than the yarn used in hand embroidery. Hand embroidery allows you to combine or separate thread strands from altering the depth and texture of various parts of a pattern, whereas machine embroidery maintains the same thickness and feel throughout the design.
  • Hand embroidery adds a personal and artistic touch to the product. It is a time-consuming and intricate process that results in unique products that can cater to the specific needs of a customer. Machine embroidery is used to create professional, simple designs in relatively less time. It is ideal for large-scale production of T-shirts that are exact replicas of a specific design.
  • Hand embroidery offers a great deal of flexibility and versatility. You can edit the design as you are creating it – changing the color, depth, texture, and the overall pattern is all possible when embroidering by hand. Machine embroidery is meant to adhere to a set prototype and does not provide any run-time flexibility or versatility.
  • Hand embroidery requires a lot of experience and practice. If you have recently been acquainted with the thread and needle, you will need considerable time, effort, and patience to get your designs right. Machine embroidery is friendlier to beginners. You need to select a design from thousands of options in the software, choose the colors you want, and the machine will do all the work for you.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to hand vs. machine embroidery, it is undeniable that these are two very different methods, each with its pros and cons. To be able to ascertain, which is the better alternative for you, you should focus on your requirements.

Embroidery adds a lot of value to otherwise mundane and ordinary items of apparel and everyday life. Whether you choose to go with hand embroidery or machine embroidery, you’ll be creating designs for your customers. So, be sure to select the technique that allows you to satisfy your customers.

Till next time!