Well, I don't have a question as to which machine to buy, because mine just arrived on Tuesday. I decided on a Janome Memory Craft 9500, which is a sewing/embroidery combo machine. So far, I'm quite happy with it, however, that's an opinion with limited weight, as it is very fresh. But I have a Janome serger and have been pleased with it thus far, and I liked many of the features on the Janome versus other machines offering an embroidery option.
I lost my job of almost nine years this past March due to downsizing, and we just moved out to a 14-acre farm last autumn, so we are really trying to figure out how to make it work so that I can stay at home and generate some income from here. I'm hoping sewing/embroidery projects will provide that outlet. I come from an IT background and my salary loss was fairly significant, but we have made, and continue to make, lifestyle adjustments to try and accommodate that loss. With the 15% unemployment rate here in Michigan, it makes sense to try and start something on my own, because frankly, there aren't a lot of jobs out there! Plus I've had health issues, so working from home is the best option.
I am not sure that in the long term this machine will provide what I need if I do indeed build up some business. Many years ago, (1993-1997), I worked for Melco Embroidery Systems, so I come from a commercial orientation when it comes to machine embroidery experience. I think that probably helps cushion the blow in terms of prices - while $1400 for a home machine can seem steep, compared to the startup costs on a basic machine back then, it seems reasonable to me, all things considered. Even today, a basic Melco setup would cost me about $10k. I remember back when digitizing software could run up to $40,000 (Wilcom) - and like anything, as the technology grows, the prices fall on the older stuff, and things fall into place so that there are more options out there. I'm really glad to see the Embird software being available, and when the time comes, I'll be looking up the vendor who is a member on this site to purchase it.
I've downloaded and installed the SophieSew (http://sophiesew.com/
) software to try and play with it, but so far, it's just been providing excellent crashes.
So I seriously doubt it will suit digitizing needs once I reach that point.
It's been a long time since I've done machine embroidery and so far I'm loving it, but who knows what will happen; I may decide that I just want to do this for fun and not for a living, which is one of the reasons we didn't invest in commercial equipment at this time.
Anyway, I just want to say I think the 9500 is a great piece of equipment based on my research and my experience on it so far. If I find faults with it, I'll definitely document those for review here.