Clear, easy-to-follow instructions
Generous 5 x 7 embroidery area
Full-color touch LCD display
Automatic needle threader
Awkward to store
Only does embroidery
We purchased the Brother PE800 5” x 7” Embroidery Machine so our writer could put it to the test in her own home. Keep reading for our full product review.
If you love the look of embroidery but don’t have the skill or time to learn the craft, an embroidery machine may be just the tool you need to elevate your next project. Without any prior knowledge of stitching techniques or embroidery best practices, I put the Brother PE800 5” x 7” Embroidery Machine to the test over the course of a month to see if it’s a worthy investment for a casual DIY’er like myself. I was excited to test this machine to see if it could replace the cost of commercial embroidery services for my small business.
In the world of home machine embroidery, Brother brand machines are constantly ranked as the most reliable, well-liked, and technologically advanced models on the market. The Brother PE800 that I tested is one of the brand’s top sellers and one of the most expensive models. The PE800 can accommodate designs up to 5” x 7” with the included rectangular hoop and has 138 built-in embroidery designs as well as 11 fonts. In addition to the built-in designs, you can upload your own designs using the USB port, as long as they are in the right format. The design possibilities on this machine are truly endless.
When it first arrived at my door, I was definitely intimated by the PE800 machine. It is much heavier than I expected, and the operation manual looked like a textbook. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of the setup process. The accessories were neatly organized and packaged, and getting the machine put together, plugged in, and powered up was simple. After the initial unboxing, I followed the step-by-instructions in the operational manual and was able to wind and install the bobbin, thread the needle, and set up my hoop in just 30 minutes. At times during setup, I had to refer to the numbered on-machine guidance and display screen prompts, but they were both easy to see and follow.
The design possibilities on this machine are truly endless.
The large, 3.2-inch built-in LCD touchscreen display is, in fact, one of the best features of the PE800. Using the color and touch display you can choose, edit, and view your designs before you press start. You can scroll through the pre-programmed designs, choose fonts, and make your design personal with options to rotate, mirror-image, and increase and decrease the size of your designs. Also, as I was working through the designs the screen would show helpful tips or instructions that helped me understand the process and make the correct adjustments to my design.
With the PE800, you can embroider a large detailed single-color logo in about five minutes.
The embroidery area on the PE800 can accommodate a 5 x 7-inch hoop which comes included with the machine. You can also use a smaller or square hoop (sold separately) if you aren’t working with a large design. The hoop itself is okay. I found it a bit hard to get used to, and I had to do my research with certain fabrics and backings. For the money, I also wished it came with the smaller hoops as well. Using the touch screen, you can ‘trace’ your design before embroidering to make sure it’s centered on your hoop and is within the hoop parameters. When the machine is on, the working area is brightly illuminated. The lighting helps reduce eye strain and allowed me to eliminate mistakes when threading the needle or attaching my hoop.
When testing this machine, I chose a few built-in designs and tried a design of my own. Once I imported my design to the machine, I was able to save them for future use using the memory function. Same thing with the built-in fonts and borders. Once I created a design, I could save it easily for future use. This feature was important to me because I mostly use this machine for repeat designs. After following the prompts, making my edits, and moving my design to where I wanted it to be on my garment, the machine gave me a time estimate before I pressed start. At first, I was shocked at the fast stitch speed. With the PE800, you can embroider a large detailed single-color logo in about five minutes. You can slow the stitching speed down if you prefer.
This machine is easy to use but works like a commercial machine and can handle high output and intricate designs.
Because this is a single thread machine, you have to change the spool of thread during designs when you need to switch colors. The more you use this machine, the more you get used to this process. You can name the colors however you choose prior to getting started or some of the bigger brands are already stored in the machine for your choosing. The Brother PE800 comes with a spool of white thread, a small accessory bag with the standard accessories, a few bobbin cases, a dust bag, and an embroidery frame set. I had to spend about $40 for additional thread colors and stabilizer material in order to do thorough testing. When I’m not using my machine, I store it in a spare room with the accessories stored in their own plastic container. I don’t love that this machine is very bulky and heavy and doesn’t have a hard-case storage box.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the PE800 worth the high price?
This machine retails for around $800. This Brother embroidery machine is certainly worth the high price if you know you will use it. For one-off projects or a casual hobby, I’d opt for something cheaper or suggest a machine that could be used for sewing and embroidery. This machine is easy to use but works like a commercial machine and can handle high output and intricate designs.
Can you upload designs to the Brother PE800?
Yes, you can upload your own designs with the built-in USB port. Your designs must be in embroidery-friendly digital format, like a .pes file or .dst file. To test my designs with this machine, I paid a digitizer to put my files into the correct format which ran about $30 for one logo. Keep this in mind if you’re looking to invest in this machine to use your own designs.
Brother PE800 vs. The Competition
Comparing the PE800 to other Brother models, you might find more value in a combination sewing/embroidery machine and can save money if you’re willing to sacrifice size.
The Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Machine adds the functionality of a high-end sewing machine. It has the same 5 x 7 embroidery area, built-in functionality, and touch screen display. The SE1900 retails for around $1,000. Since these machines are so large and expensive, I’d probably choose this machine over the PE800 even though it’s slightly more expensive because it gives me the option to sew if I needed to.
For something smaller and cheaper, you could opt for the Brother PE550D 4" x 4" Embroidery Machine. The max hoop size is only 4 x 4, and there aren’t as many built-in designs or fonts, but otherwise, it’s the same as the PE800. The PE550D retails for around $400.
Worth the investment.
The Brother PE800 5” x 7” Embroidery Machine is a fair price for its value. While it only has one function (computerized embroidery), it works like a dream and is suitable for both beginners and advanced crafters. The machine has over a hundred built-in designs, customizable fonts, and you can even import your own designs with a USB. You don’t need any embroidery or sewing experience to use and love this machine—it does most of the work for you.
- Product Name PE800
- Product Brand Brother
- UPC 817915024140
- Price $800
- Weight 13.74 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 21.75 x 19.02 x 19.09 in.
- Warranty 25 years
- Material Plastic
- Color White