Brother DZ820E Review: Is this embroidery machine good value?

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The Brother Designio DZ820e embroidery only machine is a great machine if you’re just wanting to start out in crafting embroidered creations.


 Update: Brother DZ820e is no longer available and has been discontinued.

Click here to read about the Brother PE770 which is almost the same as DZ820E.

Have you ever dreamed of making embroidered patches for a denim jacket? Or create personalized gifts for newlyweds or newborns?

If you’ve ever priced a professional embroidery machine, you might think that it would cost you as much as a new car. The good news is that the Brother Designio DZ820e offers a lot of the same functionality for a fraction of the cost.     

Brother DZ820E Introduction

When you start out in a craft like sewing or machine embroidery, you have a fine line to walk. You don’t want to get the most expensive machine because what if you don’t end up enjoying it. However, if you buy the cheapest machine, it won’t work as well, and you’ll get frustrated trying to learn how to craft.

The key is to find the best machine that is solidly manufactured and has the best features for an affordable price.  The Designio DZ820e is that machine.

Key Features of Brother Designio Series DZ820e

What I appreciate about the DZ820e embroidery machine is the ease of use. If you're just starting out, you may be concerned if it’s easy or difficult to use.

Brother built in a lot of handy features so you can get up and running in the shortest time possible.

Also, there are a lot of videos out there to demonstrate everything about the process of setting up the machine and successfully embroidering a project.

And you can import designs into the machine. So it’s capabilities grows with yours. If you ever want to set up a business, you’ll be able to create custom designs and then successfully embroider on just about anything.

And the machine stitches evenly. You have the automatic threader and you have a drop-in bobbin that is jam-resistant. And that’s great for beginners and professionals alike because who wants to have to clear out a jam in the middle of the design.

Easy to Set Up

Professional machines often have multiple needles and require a lot of work to thread it correctly. The DZ820e only has one needle. This makes it easier to thread, and you only have to worry about embroidering with one color at a time.

It also has automatic needle threading and cutting. All you have to do is press a lever and the machine pushes the thread through the eye of the needle.

Flexible and Expandable

There are 136 built-in embroidery designs with six built-in alphabets. This allows you to do a tremendous amount right out of the box.

You can adjust the size of the embroidery designs. So if you wanted to create large letters, you could stitch one at a time on the largest possible setting.

But don’t think you’re limited to only those 136 designs. The Brother DZ820e has two expansion slots.  One is an interface for embroidery cards. They are sold separately and are often collections of designs like birthday or nautical. 

Then you can use the on-screen editor to make personalized adjustments.

Secondly, there is a USB interface. You can create designs on your computer, or download designs from iBroidery. Then you can import them into the memory of the Brother Designio DZ820e. 

Remember, If USB stick is larger than 4GB, the Brother machine can’t read it in and asks you to delete designs. is owned by Brother and allows you to buy one design at a time. They have popular Disney designs. And you will always find current trends. And it’s not just juvenile designs.

There is a large collection by designer Laura Ashley which would be great for embroidering home projects like a tablecloth with matching napkins.                  

Easy to Use

The Brother Designio DZ820e is very easy to use. You set up your design and then place your fabric into one of three embroidery hoops.

So that’s why this machine is so great. You get three embroidery hoops allowing you to create designs successfully in a wide variety of sizes. The smallest hoop is 2” x 3 ” and the largest hoop is 5” x 7”.

And when you’re notified that one color is done, you press a button for automatic thread trimming. Then you use the automatic threading to put in the next color as simple as that.

Other Cool Features

Unlike sewing machines which have one light, the Brother DZ820e has two LEDs for excellent illumination where you’re sewing.

There are thread level alerts so that you won’t run out of bobbin thread in the middle of a design.

If anything did happen while you were stitching a design, the interface allows you to back up a stitch at a time until you get back to where you want to start again.

Pros and Cons of DZ820e Designio

You will need to use high quality thread in the needle and a specialty thread in the bobbin. Otherwise, you won’t get good results, and you may experience a lot of thread breakage.

The DZ820e has on-screen editing so you can make adjustments before you start embroidering without the need of a computer.

Some reviewers felt that the LCD display was difficult to read. Others felt it was quite good. You may want to adjust the room lighting if you’re having some difficulties.

While Brother doesn’t advertise it, people are able to embroider directly on ball caps using a special hoop.

Is Brother Designio DZ820e good for advanced users?

I want to repeat that the DZ820e embroidery only machine is perfect for the beginner. But don’t think it’s only for beginners. The machine is very solidly built and produces high quality embroidery, so it’s perfect for more advanced creators as well.

Can I stitch designs larger than 5” x 7”?

Generally, the answer is no. There are repositionable hoops out there. 

Can I rotate the design?

You can use the on-screen editor to rotate a pattern 1, 10 or 90 degrees. This can be handy if you have an item that you can only get into the hoop one way, and you want the design to be embroidered at another angle.

What format should the designs be in?

The Brother DZ820e only reads in .pes format. If you had another machine, or have designs in another format, you would need to find a conversion program on your computer to convert to PES.

Is there a laser to show the center point?

No, unfortunately. People often print out the design and place it on fabric to get a good idea of where the starting point should be. Other people mark the center of the hoop using rulers.

Then they’ll move the needle to that spot using the adjustment arrows on display.

Is it easy to wind the bobbins?

Yes, there is an automatic bobbin winder under the lid. You insert an empty bobbin, line up the thread, and then slide it over. It’s very similar to a sewing machine.

Can I embroider on the thick material?

You can do with the correct needle. You will have difficulty with lots of thick layers since it wasn’t designed for that. It’s important to test a small pattern to see how the machine will respond.

One person posted that she embroidered on a heavy quilt-lined winter jacket with no problems. So while you could do a few here and there, I wouldn’t recommend it for regular use as you’ll burn out the motor.

Can I embroider on the thin material?

Definitely. You will need to use water soluble stabilizer to make the fabric a bit stiffer. That ensures that the stitches don’t sink into the fabric. As with the thick fabric, run a test on a similar fabric.

So if you wanted to embroider on a shirt, find similar weight fabric and run a test project. Then you can make adjustments with the stabilizer before you work on the final project. 

Also, keep good notes with pictures. You may want to do something similar down the road, and there’s no need to retest something you’ve already solved.

Can I download the pre-programmed designs so I can adjust them on my computer?

No, there isn’t any way to output the pre-set designs. You can only edit them with the built-in editor using the display.

Final Recommendation

You want to get the best embroidery machine for an affordable price if you’re just starting out and want to see how much you’ll enjoy machine embroidery.

Professionals use this as their backup, so you know it’s sturdy and reliable.

You can’t find many used on the market because when people buy them, they use them. Plus, those that you do find are almost the same price as new because they hold their value.

Therefore, you’re better off buying a new Brother Designio Series dz820e embroidery only machine and having the warranty and starter kits filled with all the embroidery thread.   

 Update: Brother DZ820e has been discontinued. Here are some of the other options:

Brother PE770 embroidery machine which is almost the same as DZ820E. Here is the comparison of PE770 and DZ820E.

Brother SE400 sewing and embroidery machine.

Read the review of Brother LB6800PRW (Project Runway) Computerized Embroidery and Sewing Machine.

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