Monogramming Machines vs. Embroidery Machines

Sponsored by ColDesi

There’s really no difference here. Monogramming is just a subset of embroidery as a whole. People use the word “monogramming” to describe what the machine is primarily used for. That’s why you’ll find ColDesi uses either term to describe the Avancé 1501C, a commercial embroidery machine and/or monogramming machine.

You may find some people refer to a smaller embroidery machine with fewer needles as a monogrammer. Still, there’s no difference in the technology or limits to the application of either one.

Embroidery jobs

Let’s look at two embroidery jobs and two monogramming jobs and notice how they’re different.

Embroidery: Fanny pack with a ColDesi color logo

ColDesi embroidery
The Port Authority Hip Pack is a readily available blank, and embroidering a company logo on it makes it a very popular and profitable project. Once you’ve put a logo onto one of these, the retail value goes up to between $10 and $15 each.

Embroidery: A full-color sew on a patch

This embroidery project is much more complex than the fanny pack logo, but that complexity brings profits and shows the advantages of a commercial multi-needle machine.

This design features even more colors than the ColDesi logo design and is has over twice the number of stitches. Both are important differentiations from traditional monogramming. Most monogramming machines are dedicated to simple three-letter, one-color designs.

When you look at the two designs done for the examples, the number of colors and style of the designs is what separates them from traditional monogramming. But the same machine that did those two is also the commercial embroidery monogramming machine that sewed out the next two examples.

Commercial monogramming jobs

The block lettering monogramming style in this How to Embroider Monograms on a Towel video is a more contemporary take on monogramming. Still, the basics are the same—three stylized letters.


Towels, sheets, cuffs, and handkerchiefs are the traditional spots for monogramming, but these kinds of larger, more dramatic jacket monograms are trendy too.

The only difference is in the number of colors and style of the designs

As you can see, these are two very different monograms, but when you compare it to the processes of creating the custom fanny pack and the custom patches in the first section, you see that:

  1. It’s the same commercial embroidery monogramming machine in all four examples
  2. The only difference is in the number of colors and style of the designs

Now that you’ve seen there’s no difference between what you need to make monograms versus any embroidery design, let’s see what makes a commercial embroidery machine “commercial.”

Commercial vs. consumer embroidery machines

There are three main differences between consumer machines—made for hobbyists—and commercial machines made to power a monogramming business. And if you think of your home sewing machine, you’ll start to understand the differences right away.

No. 1: Number of needles

Consumer machines almost always have just a single needle. That, coupled with the lower price, makes them very attractive to startups who don’t understand the reasons for multiple needles.

Because most monograms are one color and a single-needle machine uses one color of thread at a time, it seems reasonable that is enough. A commercial embroidery monogramming machine has fifteen needles attached to 15 different color threads. You may be asking yourself why you need so many colored thread spools and needles.

If you’re making the occasional monogrammed pillow for friends and family, or even a two- or three-shirt order once a week, you probably don’t. But if you’re in business or plan to be in business, you need to consider that you might have a dozen or more orders outstanding every day.

Imagine being in the monogramming business and getting 20 orders for four monogrammed hand towels—all different designs and colors. With a one-color machine, you’re swapping cones and rethreading every time you start a new job. And be honest, if you’re a home embroiderer now, how long does it take you? Can you imagine threading that needle eight times a day?

When you are a busy monogramming embroidery business, you don’t have time to change threads every time you need to change colors or change jobs. Time is money, and single-needle machines use a lot of it because of this limitation.

No. 2: Embroidery field size

Here’s what you may not know yet. When you are selling your embroidery or monogram services, part of what you’re charging for is the number of stitches. Single needle monogramming machines have a typical embroidery area of about 4″ X 6″. Even the ones dressed up like commercial monogramming machines only have a 6″ X 12″ or 8″ X 12″ field. A business-made machine has a 22″ X 14″ field size.

So, why do you need a larger embroidery area? Remember when we mentioned most pro embroiderers charge by the number of stitches? Simply put, a larger embroidery area means you can offer bigger designs with more stitches.

Bigger designs mean higher prices, and if you do it right, a lot more profits from every job. You get the added benefits of being able to offer things like:

  • Full jacket backs
  • Large patches
  • Blanket embroidery
  • Quilting panels
  • Draperies and table runners

No. 3: Caps, hats, and more caps

It’s hard, and many times just impossible, to monogram or embroider onto caps and hats with a consumer machine. An industrial or business machine does cap embroidery and cap monogramming as part of its everyday operations.

On consumer machines that can handle them, you’re generally restricted to monogramming unstructured or soft caps only. Commercial systems not only do both unstructured and trucker style caps, but they also do soft ones just as well. And they typically come with more than one cap frame—a hoop specifically for embroidering onto caps.

Final difference

Consumer machines are for hobby use, and that means the components are designed to be run for a few hours in the evenings or maybe a few weekends a month.

Commercial embroidery monogramming machines are made to run a business. That’s all day, every day.

Think about the difference between a small motorboat made for tooling around the lake versus an ocean-going yacht. Yes, both basically do the same things, but that motorboat isn’t going to last long on the high seas. Not because of features—because of how the boats are built.


Mark Stephenson


Mark Stephenson is the director of marketing at ColDes, a provider of customization equipment including UV printers, T-shirt printers, and embroidery machines. Mark is also a co-host of the Custom Apparel Startups Podcast.

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