Embroidery is a decorative art form which uses outline and filling stitches to create thread or yarn designs on fabric. Chain stitch, running stitch, blanket stitch, cross stitch and satin stitch have been used for embroidery throughout history. Today, we have sewing machines that are specially made to mimic the outline and filling stitches used in traditional hand embroidery.
Another type of embroidery machine only does embroidery work. Although another machine is necessary to piece craft items and clothing, dedicated embroidery machines are well worth the trouble. These machines take digitized sewing patterns and are able to reproduce the patterns faster and more accurately than either a hand sewer or a free motion machine embroiderer. Often dedicated embroidery machines require specialty sewing supplies including proprietary hoops and specialty threads.
The third type of embroidery machine combines the traditional sewing machine with an embroidery machine. These machines are on the high end and are often very costly, but they do the work of two machines.
Style and technology have changed the art form of embroidery over time, but not the basic stitches. The type of machine needed for machine embroidery is dependent on the needs of the home sewer. Free motion artists may be perfectly content to stay with a traditional machine with expanded stitches, while other embroidery artists may value the precision of a dedicated machine. Machines that combine the two abilities provide the best of both worlds, but at a higher price.