Embroidery Software Buying Guide




Most embroidery, and sewing/embroidery combo machines for the home market come equipped with at least a few lettering fonts, and a selection of designs. That's usually enough to get the beginner started, but eventually most of us want to be able to incorporate more lettering, and design choices into our garment decorating. That's where the additional software comes into play. But there are a few very important things you need to know before you choose your software: Click on "Read more" to continue

1. If your machine has fonts, and designs on-board it's a good idea to work with those while you learn the basics of machine embroidery. Trying to learn how to use add-on software at the same time will just be overwhelming.

2. Learn the terminology of embroidery software -- i.e. the difference between digitizing, and editing...the difference between digitized fonts, and true type fonts, etc. And understand that there is no magic wand included with the software programs that claim to automatically digitize graphics, or photos for you -- you'll still need to understand the process to get a good design file from those automatic functions. I've included a note on design cards, downloading designs, and glossary of terms at the end of this article to help you make sense of all this.

3. You are not limited to using the software that is offered by the embroidery machine manufacturer. In other words, if you have a Brother machine, you don't have to use Brother embroidery software. As long as the software will generate a design file in the format your machine uses, you can use any software you choose. For example, Brother and Baby Lock machines accept files in the PES format, Janome machines accept files in the JEF format, Bernina machines accept the ART format, so just make sure your software can create (export) the necessary file format.

4. Consider your additional equipment needs. Most of the software on the market is for Windows based computers. Now that is not to say that if you have a MAC, you won't be able to use the software of your choice, but you may need to install additional software in order for your MAC to use a Windows based program. Additionally, if your embroidery machine does not have a USB port, you will need a card reader/writer, and a blank card to transfer designs to your machine. If your machine does have a USB port, then you want to make sure that you can transfer your designs -- some machines (most notably Singer) do not have the ability to save designs on-board, but rather require that the computer be connected to the embroidery machine as the source of the design.

5. Think about the specific functions you will need in your software. If what you want to do is import a design, and combine it with some text, then you really don't need a powerful digitizing program. What you're looking to do there is simply editing, and lettering.

6. Understand "modules." Much of the affordable software is not as reasonably priced as it would first appear because you will have to purchase a separate "module" for each function. For example: Embird starts with a Basic program that will allow you to edit, re-size, etc. If you want to be able to add text to the design (or just create text based designs), you need to purchase the Font Engine module as well. If you want to create your own designs from a graphic, or from scratch, then you need to add the Digitizing module. And, if you want to use digitized fonts instead of true type fonts, then you need to purchase Alphabets. So, everything is sold separately, and you  must have the Basic program in order to use the modules. This is not a bad thing, just something that you should be aware of when making your choice.

7. You do not necessarily need one of these stand-alone software packages to transfer design files to your machine. Some machines come with transfer software included that will allow you to transfer designs with a USB cable, or memory stick, while others may require a card reader/writer to transfer designs. Here's an example of how that works:

I have a Baby Lock Ellure Plus that is equipped with a USB port, and a card slot. I also have a Brother PES card reader/writer, and a blank card. I can purchase, and download a design file in the PES format and save it on my computer. I then attach the card reader/writer to my computer through a USB port, and transfer the design to the card that I've placed in my reader/writer. Once the design is transferred to the card (a matter of seconds), I remove the card from the reader/writer, and place it in the card slot on my machine. Now I can access that design on my embroidery machine.

The card reader/writer, and the blank card cost me about $125. The software that is included with that has only one function -- to transfer the file from my computer to the card. Now unless I need to modify a design file, re-size it substantially, or combine it with another design or text, I don't need any additional software.

The point is, if you are working exclusively with purchased design files, and text, you may not need any additional software at all. Give yourself some time to decide if you need additional software, and just how much you need.

Design Cards: Most of the embroidery machine manufacturers offer groups of design files in their format on cards. You simply place the card in the card slot of your embroidery machine to access the files. Determine which file format your machine will accept before purchasing cards. For example, if you have a Brother machine, then you need a card that is in PES format. Some higher end machines will allow you to edit and combine designs, while others do not. If your machine does not allow editing or combining, and you wanted to add some text, you would just do it in 2 steps. Example: you want to place a teddy bear design, and a name on a blanket. Stitch out the teddy bear design. Leave the blanket hooped, and in the machine. Go to your machine lettering screen, create your text, position it, and stitch it out. See? No additional software needed.

Fonts vs Alphabets: With respect to design cards, fonts and alphabets are 2 different animals. When you are purchasing alphabets on a design card, you are getting design files, not fonts. In other words, when you place the card in the card slot on your machine, you will not be able to access those letters through the lettering screen of the machine. A card with 26 letters contains 26 different design files -- it's the same as purchasing a card with say 26 different flower designs. When you are purchasing alphabets as an add-on to your software, you are getting digitized fonts.

Digitized Fonts vs True Type Fonts: Most of the design software programs include a module, or function for true type fonts. This means that the software will accept, and try to process any font you have loaded on your computer. I say "try" because what the software is doing is digitizing your font on the fly, and not all fonts are suitable for embroidery. In most cases, you will need to make some adjustments to those fonts by increasing the pull compensation. That's not a difficult thing to do, I just mention it because I know how frustrating it can be when you're learning how to use the software, and you have no idea why your text is not sewing out nicely.

Digitized fonts are just that -- already digitized as opposed to the software attempting to digitize on the fly. In other words, someone has already taken the time to make all the adjustments so that they sew out properly. These are lettering fonts, not design files, so you would access them in your software through the lettering feature, and just type your text on the keyboard. If you're purchasing software with a lettering feature, check to see which fonts are included, and which are available for purchase as an add-on.

I use both true type, and digitized fonts. When I am creating custom designs for customers, I often need a specific font for their logo so I need the ability to use true type fonts. When I'm creating designs for myself, or using stock designs and text for a customer, I prefer to use digitized fonts. So unless you really must have access to specific fonts, software that provides for only digitized fonts is probably fine for your needs.

As with anything else, it's always a good idea to research, and talk to other users before purchasing embroidery software. As an independent instructor I have seen far too many people come to me with very expensive embroidery software that is beyond the scope of what they need, or will ever use. They purchased it because it's what the dealer told them they needed. One student of mine who could not grasp the software she purchased with her machine actually went back to the dealer, and traded in the machine, and the software on a more expensive machine (and software) thinking that that would solve her problem. Guess what? She still doesn't understand the software because it's so much more than what she needs that it's overwhelming for her.

Most sewing machine dealers are interested in creating long term relationships with their customers so they aren't really interested in selling you something you don't need -- they will guide you in your machine, and software purchase based on your needs. Unfortunately, there are always those few who are only interested in selling what they can right now. If you are buying your first embroidery machine, and the dealer tells you that you must spend and additional $1,200 on software, then run (don't walk) to another dealer.

You can find full information (including demo videos) about Amazing Designs software here. I think this is one of the more user friendly software packages available. If you're a new embroiderer, and want to edit designs, and add lettering to your projects, the combo package that contains Edit 'N Stitch, and Personalize 'N Stitch is a good choice. You can always add Digitize 'N Stitch if you want to create your own designs. If your local dealer doesn't carry the software, you can purchase it from AllBrands.com or click on the Amazon advertisement to purchase there.

Glossary of Embroidery Software Terms:

Auto Digitizing -- The software creates a design file from an imported graphic file. I've yet to see a software program accomplish this with anything but the most simple of graphic designs, so don't expect too much.

Design Files -- These files give the embroidery machine instructions for stitching out the digitized design.

Digitizing -- Creating a machine stitch file. These files tell the embroidery machine what to do -- where to start, how long each stitch should be, what type of stitch to use, when to change colors, etc. It's a long learning curve to digitizing, so unless you're really interested in learning to do that, you don't need digitizing software.

Downloaded Embroidery Designs -- There are many on-line sources for embroidery designs. Most offer some free designs, along with a variety of designs for purchase. Choose the machine format (PES, JEF, ART, etc.), and download the zipped file to your computer. Unzip the downloaded file, and transfer it to your embroidery machine via a card reader/writer, or USB cable, and your design transfer software.

Design Card -- These cards contain embroidery designs in machine specific file formats. The card is placed in the card slot of your embroidery machine; the designs are accessed through the embroidery machine screen. Note: alphabets contained on design cards are not fonts, but rather individual design files.

Editing -- This function allows you to make changes to the design file. These changes can be something as simple as changing the color, or moderately re-sizing the design. You can also add to a design, or remove parts of it. Some editing programs allow you to combine designs, or add text. See File Formats to understand which files can be edited.

File Formats -- Machine manufacturers create a proprietary file format for their machines. Choose design files that match your machine format. Note that DSG files are design files that have not been formatted as a machine file. A DSG file is a "raw" design that can be edited, whereas a machine file such as PES, or JEF, cannot be fully edited. Machine files generally can be imported into your software for re-sizing, or combining with other designs or text. Many software packages provide for converting a machine file to a DSG file so that you can edit. You can save the DSG file, and then export it in machine format. By saving the DSG file as well as the machine file, you have the ability to go back to the DSG file to make changes, or adjustments, and re-export (is that a word?) it in machine format.

Module -- A specific unit of software that you purchase as an "add-on" for your embroidery software. Each unit, or module performs a different function such as lettering, editing, digitizing, etc.

Re-sizing -- Most embroidery machines, and embroidery software allow for changing the size of your design. It's important to note that making significant changes to the size of a design should be done within software so that the stitch count can be adjusted. If for example, you reduced a 4" design to a 1" design without adjusting the stitch count, you would have far too many stitches for the design to sew out properly. Conversely, if you enlarged a 1" design to become a 4" design without adjusting the stitch count, the result would be that there would not be enough stitches to cover the design area.

Stitch Count -- The total number of stitches in an embroidery design.

Transferring a Design -- Moving a machine design file from your computer to your embroidery machine. Make sure you have your machine dealer show you how this is accomplished.

94 comments:

  1. I have an item called a Smart Box by Simplicity. It is no longer made but it was a piece of equip that you could make your own embroidery files and save to a blank disk, then take the disk out and put in your embroidery machine.

    Do you know of any other machine that is used to transfer file to a card like this. USB is not an option.

    Thanks, Dee

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  2. Yes...besides the Brother PES reader/writer that I talked about in the article, there are several other brands. What you purchase will depend on which machine you have. AllBrands carries several brands of reader/writers with blank cards. If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you can click on the little AllBrands link to go there and have a look. Search on "embroidery memory card".

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  3. I just purchased a Brother PE770 and I want to be able to design/digitize my own applique items. Ipurchased a BES embroidery lettering software. I'm afraid to open it because I'm afraid its not what I want...Can you help?

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    1. The BES software does not include a digitizing module, so you would not be able to design your own applique frames. However, it does have several designs that include applique frames. If you're new to embroidery, you should be aware that the skill of digitizing has a long learning curve, and it's essential that you are familiar with the stitching process before you can create a properly digitized design file. The easiest way learn the "ins and outs" is by working with designs, and lettering -- such as those available on the software you purchased.

      One thing you can do before opening, and installing your software is to go to the Brother site and download a trial version of BES. Trial versions a limited in that they don't allow you to save files, but it's a good way of having a look inside the box without opening it. Here's the link to that page...scroll down to the bottom of the page once you get there to find the trial version.

      http://www.brother.com/E-ftp/embroidery/software/bes100e/index.html

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    2. I also recently purchased the Brother PE770. The ELS software came with my machine and I am wondering if there is anyway to transfer some of the fonts I have downloaded to the ELS program. I would love to use the different fonts and monogramming options with the program if I can. OR is there another program I would need?
      Thanks,
      Candice

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    3. The ELS software uses only digitized fonts that are included with the program, and it does not appear that additional fonts are available. I don't know what type of fonts you have downloaded -- generally digitized fonts are created for specific embroidery software, and will load only into that software; True Type fonts are actually graphics and are digitized on the fly by embroidery software that allows for that process; alphabets are not fonts at all, they are design files. If you do in fact have additional fonts, you would need to find a compatible embroidery lettering program to use them.

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    4. I also have the ELS software and was wondering the same question. Were you able to access any of your downloaded digitized fonts with that software? Or does that program not allow them to be used at all?

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  4. This article is so helpful...Thank you! I am totally new to embroidery. I design/manufacture children's backpack. My friend that has been embroidering our backpacks for 10 years now...has just retired. I am going to start doing the embroidery myself to save time and cost. I purchased a Baby Lock BM8. I have NO idea which software I need to get started. We put names and monograms on the bags and that is it! There are different size bags do we need to be able to resize from 1 inch to 6 inches. We offer 6 fun fonts. 2 of the fonts are on the machine already. Any help would be SOOO appreciated!
    Thank you!
    Constance

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    1. I think you'll be very happy with that new Babylock machine. Amazing Designs Personalize 'n Stitch ver 2.0 is a good option. Among its many other great features, it has 126 lettering fonts built in, as well as hundreds of designs. You can download a 30 day free trial at AmazingDesigns.com. If you decide to buy the software, click on the image in the Amazon ad at the top of the page -- it's about $20 cheaper there ($178 vs $199).

      Brother has 2 options, but I'm not sure either of those will suit you as well -- ELS at about $199 does not have as many fonts, or monogram styles as the Amazing Designs, and BLS at about $349 doesn't offer much more than the Amazing Designs software.

      Allstitch.net, and MyEnmart.com are good resources for supplies such as stabilizers, pre-wound bobbins, needles, etc.

      Apparel Decorators Forum at TBiz101forum.com, and T-ShirtForums.com are a great place to gather information, and learn...the folks at tbiz101forum.com are very friendly...the folks at t-shirtforums.com not so much, but there's more information to be had there on embroidery.

      Best of luck, and please feel free to ask more questions here.

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  5. Hello, I am interested in getting a embroidery machine have new embroidered before but have paid to have lots done. If I were to purchase a 2007 SWF 1501 machine that has a floppy drive, what would I need to purchase to make it campatible with a usb port to bring images from my PC? Thank you for a great blog! Annette

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    1. I'm surprised that the 2007 SWF 1501 doesn't have a usb port for a flash drive. I had a 1501C that I bought new in 2007, and it had one. Understand though that the usb port is for a flash, or thumb drive -- it's just to transfer design files to the machine...it does not connect directly to your computer (not without some major software changes). If I recall correctly, adding a usb port would involve changing the entire control panel. By the time all is said and done, you may end up spending as much as if you were to buy a machine that already had a usb port. Depending on where you're located, you can call SWF East, SWF Central, or Mesa Distributors and ask them if it's possible. Also, if you've not purchased software yet, have a look at Stitch Era Universal -- it's a free product. The only caveat is that you have to be connected to the internet to use it, but I've not found that to be a problem. It's a great way to get a feel for commercial grade software before making that big purchase.

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  7. I have purchased a Brother PE770 emboridery machine. I want to be able to edit and/or add text to the design. What software do I need to be able to bring it up on my computer to add text to the design.

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    1. There are several programs to choose from. With Embird, you would need to get the Basic program (around $165), and the Font Engine (around $145) that uses your computer fonts. Buzz Edit comes in a little bit higher at around $190, but that includes some digitizing features, and you would also need Buzz Word (around $130), which contains 30 digitized fonts.

      Amazing Designs software offers a few different choices for lettering. Letter It (about $99) uses only digitized fonts, and only does lettering, whereas Personalize 'N Stitch ($199) also includes monogram capabilities, and around 600 designs. Additionally, you can use Personalize 'N Stitch with Edit 'N Stitch ($199) to allow for design editing as well. If you buy the combo pack of Edit 'N Stitch with Personalize 'N Stitch, you'll save around $30.

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    2. Un fortunately I'm one of the ones that spent to much money and I am looking for a simpler software program,I should have found this site long ago.

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    3. Me too! I have to say, I am thinking of getting an easier program now. Merry Christmas!

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  8. Hi I am new to the embroidery world and I have a Brother PR650E 6 needle. I need to be able to do applique lettering with different fabrics inside. I purchased the BES lettering software and only see the "Wishes Applique" font on there. Are their more options to the applique letters than that? I need to be able to add fabric inside of the applique. PLEASE HELP! A video would be wonderful! Also where is the "pull compensation" function on the BES software you mentioned above? Thanks So Much!!

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    1. You can use any of your fonts for applique by setting it up to have a border with no fill...then set it up the same way you would an applique. That is to say that you will have the machine do a running stitch, set a stop so that you can trim your fabric, then proceed with sewing the border. I don't own this software so I can't look for myself, but I would assume that there is a pull compensation adjustment in the properties window.

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  9. I have PE Design 5.0 with a read/write box. Do other digitizing programs recognize that box and write the files to the Brother Card?

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    1. Although there may well be other programs that recognize it, I believe you need Brother software to use that box and card. You can go to the Brother site and download a free copy of their PED-Basic program -- with that you can move your pes design files from your computer to the card.

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  10. Great article - thank you! Odd question, but do you know what the script font on the back of the Personalize n Stitch 2.0 box is? I LOVE it and can't find it in their font catalog.

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  11. I don't have a box to look at so I can't say. Here is a link to a page on the Amazing Designs site that shows all of the fonts that are included with that program.

    http://media.amazingdesigns.com/files/PNS2_fonts.pdf

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  12. My Husband just bought me the Brother PE 770. I already love this machine, but I am not a software person. I am needing something that just has a bunch of diffrent fonts, that I can enlarge to like 2 inches or larger. I do 3 letter and 1 letter monograms on my girls clothes. I have not jumped into appliques yet but would like to someday. Is there a program that will do both, but VERY simple to use. I just want to turn the machine and computer on and sew. Liel I said I am not a software person so can some one just tell me what to buy? I can loaded it and start getting the pile of clothes on my table monogramed! Thanks

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    1. I think that the Amazing Designs Personalize 'N Stitch program would suit your needs. At around $199, I think it gives you the most bang for your buck. Also, you can download a trial version before you buy. The program includes a good deal of fonts, monogram designs, and even designs. Here's a link where you can view the details, fonts, monogram styles, and download the trial version:

      http://amazingdesigns.com/personalize-n-stitch-2-0

      As for being easy to use...with all embroidery software it's a matter of learning the terminology, and the functions. I don't think any one is easier than the other...there is going to be a learning curve with all of them. Just take your time, and try not to get frustrated. Just like with anything else that you're learning, one day the light bulb will go on over your head and you'll suddenly realize "oh! I get it!"

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  13. I am new to embroidery and have just purchased a Brother PE770 machine. I can use any of the designs included with my machine, but would like to download designs to my computer and to the memory stick, then transfer to my machine. I don't care right now about editing or designing my own designs, just transfer from the computer and then to machine by the usb port. Will I need a software for my computer to be able to do this?

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    1. You don't need any additional software to transfer design files via memory stick. Here's a link to the page on the Brother site that explains how to transfer files:

      http://welcome.solutions.brother.com/BSC/public/us/us/en/faq/faqh/000000/000500/000081/faqh000581_001.html?reg=us&lang=en&c=us&prod=hf_pe770eus&page=FaqEndPage

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    2. Thank you for the information. I am slowly learning some of the embroidery features. I love your site! Thank you for taking the time to help everyone with their embroidery issues!

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  15. This site is great. I have been looking for a font software for my Brother PE 770 that will do circular fonts sm, med and large anyone have any ideas?

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  16. Hi there,
    Thank you for your article. I have a Janome 300E embroidery machine which has served me well. I have purchased several embroidery designs on line for my kids clothes but would like to start designing some for myself. I have never done anything like it before. What software would you recommend?
    Suzie

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  17. I have an innovis 1200 and I have run a business for several years using it. I use EFP for my lettering and transfer to Wilcom Trusizer to convert it to PES. I've gone about as far as I can go for FREE :) The only thing I can't do that I WANT to do is layer designs and as text to my designs. Up until now I have put one first and then lined up the second. It's not a very consistent way of doing it. What software do you recommend for these simple functions?
    Laurie

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  18. Thanks for taking time for sharing this article, it was excellent it’s my first time that I visit here i found a lot of informative stuff in your article keep it up thank you.

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  19. Thank you for your informative article. I was just given a White 3300 embroidery machine. It didn't have a manual or the hoops. I've been researching and found a manual to buy, but need to know which hoops to buy and also where to find a blank card and writer and the additional software since I have an IMac. Any help and info would be greatly appreciated. I'm excited to start using it. It does run well. Thank you, Robin

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    1. I believe the White 3300 is the twin of the Babylock BL60e, and one of the Brother P series machines, so the hoops for the Babylock, and the Brother machines I mentioned should work for your White machine. Most of the software, and card readers need MS Windows to work, so you will need to have Windows, and some utility software for your mac that will allow you to run Windows to use something like the Brother PED Basic that I mentioned in the article.

      The machine itself uses the PES file format (same as Brother, and Babylock). One thing you should be aware of if you're buying designs, or design cards is that the Disney designs may not work with your machine -- those are for Brother Disney branded machines.

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  20. I too have just gotten the Brother PE770 and want to be able to use fonts other than the ones already on the machine. I have lots of TTF on my computer that I use with my vinyl cutter and would love to use some of the same ones. I would like to use this for basic 3 letter monograming and also for some appliques that I will most likely purchase online from etsy and other places. I also have a MAC computer. Thanks so much for your help! -Paige

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    1. Your vinyl cutting experience will serve you well in being able to identify which fonts will embroider well. In the same way that all fonts are not suitable for vinyl cutting, not all are suitable for embroidery.

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  21. Thank you for your quick response. Can I use any other card than Disney? Will the Babylock cards fit my White 3300?

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    1. You should be able to use any Babylock, or Brother cards, or any designs in the PES format. I mention the Disney cards made by Brother or Babylock because I think those particular designs work only on the D (or Disney) models of their machines. If there is a Brother or Babylock dealer near you, perhaps you could take your machine there and ask them if they have a design card you can try in your machine to make sure it's compatible.

      Also...if White machine has a USB port, you may be able to transfer downloaded designs from your computer to the machine via a USB cable without having to use Windows -- I don't have a MAC, so I'm not sure. Can't hurt to give it a try though, huh?

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  22. I'm new to embroidery and I've just purchased a Brother PE770. I know how to copy files to an USB flash drive and the load to my machine. I was under the impression that I could load quite a few different designs (which include many style fonts) but I just loaded a handful of designs and I got a message that said 'memory full and to delete some designs'. How do I get all of my different style fonts and designs loaded to my machine? Do I have to purchase the software in order to copy them to a card and use it that way? I'm confused.

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    1. The sewing machine has enough free memory to hold only a limited amount of additional designs. The easiest, and most cost effective method is to store your designs on your computer and use the flash drive to move designs to the machine as they are needed.

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  23. I have a Baby Lock 6 Needle Endurance Embroidery Machine. I want to purchase software that will do lettering only. I can get Designer's Gallery, but it cost $400. Any suggestions on what software will work with my machine.

    I am glad I found this link. Thanks.

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    1. Almost all of the embroidery software will export design files in several different formats. So any software that will export the design file in PES format will work for your machine. Amazing Designs Letter It is only $99, but all you can do with that is lettering. Their Personalize 'N Stitch program at $199 is a much better value because you can do lettering, monogramming, and it comes with hundreds of designs as well. BuzzWords, Embird, and Embrilliance are also moderately priced. Most of these programs have a 30 day trial available for download, so you may want to test drive a few of them.

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    2. Thanks for the information, I am doing a trial run with Letter It at this time. Pretty easy and I really don't need any more monograms.

      I do have another question, but it isn't about software. Do I or don't I wash my items before I embroider them? Getting too many conflicting answers.

      Thanks.

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    3. Most of the time I prefer to NOT wash my items before embroidering, especially if it is a gift. If you are doing items for resale, then you do not want to pre-wash because that renders it "used" and you then cannot sell it as new.

      Unless the item is something that you know is going to shrink drastically when you wash it, then there is no need to pre-wash.

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  24. Once again thank you for your valuable information.

    When you say, "going to shrink drastically," what fabric would you consider the type to shrink like that? Cotton, terry, fleece, denim, broadcloth? These are the ones I usually work with when embroidering or sewing.

    I have you bookmarked for future reference. Thanks again.

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    1. As you know, that will depend on how the item is laundered. If you wash cotton t-shirts in hot water, and use high heat in the dryer you're going to get significant shrinkage, and puckering around the embroidered area. Some heavier knits will shrink up even when washed in warm water. A t-shirt made of 50/50 cotton/poly is not likely to shrink.

      Fabric that contains Rayon will shrink or tighten up even when washed in cold water (yes, I know those are supposed to be dry clean only, but I hand wash in cold.)

      Ready made items of cotton, denim, and broadcloth don't present problems when washed in warm water. Fleece won't shrink -- that's polyester. Towels washed in hot water will tighten up some, but not so much as to make a properly embroidered monogram pucker.

      Clothes and cotton blankets for infants are often washed in hot water, so with those you might want to pre-wash.

      If your embroidering on fabric off the bolt that you are then going to sew, definately wash the fabric first (unless of course you plan to dry clean the garment once it's constructed).

      Also...the rayon and polyester embroidery threads are colorfast...you don't need to worry about those fading or bleeding, and you can use bleach in the wash without worry of the thread color fading or bleaching out.

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    2. Thank you, thank you, thank you...I don't think I would have been able to find this much information without having to search for days. There are so many conflicting answers to the simple "do I or don't I wash before" question.

      I see you as my "go-to" expert from now on.

      Thank you again. Pam

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  25. I have a brother Pe 770. I am looking to do the very popular 3 inital interlocking font. Is there a software that I can input the letters on the computer, put on a sun and plug it in and be done.? What software do you find best for maybe opening up a little boutique and doing small monograms (tshirts, hats, bows, ect.)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Amazing Designs Personalize 'N Stitch offers lettering, monogramming, and something like 600 designs. Additionally, it contains a fairly large amount of fonts. I think it's a good deal at $199. If you're going to be using designs along with your monograms or lettering, their Edit 'N Stitch program would be a good addition. That one is also $199, but you can buy both in a bundle for around $379. Those 2 programs would certainly be enough to get you started with a small boutique. If you want to add digitizing software at some point, their Digitize 'N Stitch program will work with the other 2. You can download trial versions at Amazing Designs.

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  26. I have a Brother PaceSetter 8500 (PES format) and have been limping along with a PE Design 2.0 on a Windows XP. Because my desktop is about to die, I would like to use my Windows 8 laptop. What Reader/Writer box would you recommend I purchase to continue my machine embroidery hobby? I generally just edit to combine designs and/or add text to designs, but perhaps would like to add the ability to digitize in the future.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You may be able to find Windows 7 drivers for your PE Design 2.0 software, or drivers for PE Basic that will allow you to use your existing card and card reader on your Windows 8 laptop. You'll need to do a Yahoo or Google search.

      If you can't find drivers, and need to purchase a new card reader/writer, and card, I would suggest going to AllBrands.com to explore some choices. There are several good options out there...I use the Brother PED Basic card reader/writer, and card. Amazing Designs makes one called the Amazing Max, there is one called the Vikant Ultimate Box. Prices are sort of all over the place...I chose the Brother because at the time I was able to get the box, and a blank card for around $125 (and I think that bundle is still around the same price.)

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  27. Thank you for a great article. I have Singer Futura FQ-4 (similar to the 400). My machine came with Hyperfont and Auto Punch. It did not come with the editing program where you can change the look of the fill stitch. I've heard of programs like Sew What Pro, and my question is, is Auto Punch a digitizing program? And is Sew What Pro a digitizing program or an editing program? Whenever I have asked this question on other sites, I don't feel like I get clear answer, because your article is so easy to read, I thought you may be able to provide an easy answer. Also approximately how many stitches should you do before you change needles, is it 50,000, 100,000 etc? And if I'm not too obnoxious, one last thing sometimes if I'm stitching a design or letter, once in a while it will miss a row and I have little space missing stitches. What causes this and is there an easy fix? Thank you so much again for your wonderful site.
    Eve
    NJ

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    1. I haven't used the Singer software, but from what I can find the Auto Punch does only auto digitizing, and does not allow for manual digitizing, or editing. Singer has a seperate module for editing.

      It would appear that Sew What Pro is an editing program. Add-ons available for it are an auto digitizing module called SewArt (and according to their site, that module allows manual digitizing as well), and lettering module called SewWrite. It looks like the publisher of that software does offer a 60 trial on their website at SandsComputing.com

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    2. Oh yea...about those missed stitches. Assuming you found those missed stitches before you removed your work from the hoop, you can set the design to start again, stop it on about the first stitch, and scroll through the design to get to the point where you need to re-stitch. If it's just a few stitches, or a small area of fill, I find it quicker and easier to just thread a hand sewing needle, and do it by hand.

      Needles should be changed after about 8 hours of actual sewing time.

      There can be many reasons for missed stitches. Sometimes it's just as simple as the design itself has issues, or it could be that the machine is moving too fast for the design or fabric, and the needle isn't completing its downward action before the hoop moves.

      Because you're using a Singer machine, I would recommend that you use Singer needles. Singer needles are ever so slightly longer than most other sewing machine needles. That extra length may be needed on your machine to properly catch the bobbin thread.

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  28. Thank you so much for an answer I finally understand. I am so appreciative of your help and website.

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  29. Thank you for your article. I just purchased a Brother SE425 and would like to do monogramming with it. I have found many sites with downloadable fonts, etc. in the PES format but not sure how I would get them transferred into my machine. It has the USB cable. Would I need to purchase anything else besides the fonts in order to make it work?
    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. If I'm understanding you correctly, you want to add fonts to the machine that can then be accessed through the lettering function of the machine itself -- that can't be done. Some software publishers provide additional digitized fonts for purchase -- those work within their software only. If you are talking about alphabets, those are design files (see the portion in the article Fonts vs Alphabets).

      It sounds like what you need is lettering and/or monogramming software. Once you've created the design file on your computer, you can transfer it to your machine through the USB port. The easiest way is to save the file from your computer to a thumb drive, and then insert the thumb drive in your machine.

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  30. I am looking into the Brother SE 400. I just want to do 3 letter monogram. And applique. Does it come ready for what Im wanting to do? If not what do I need to get to make it so? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You can do both without additional software, but it will take a little more time, and practice. To create a traditional monogram (with the last name initial being the large in the center, and the first and middle initials to either side), you would first set up and sew out the large initial. Then you would move and position your needle to the left of the large initial and sew out a smaller letter for the first initial; then move and position your needle to the right of the large initial and sew out a smaller letter for the middle initial. You could then choose a frame to sew around the monogram if desired. Of course, you'll use the trace function at each step, before sewing to make sure the letter and frame are properly placed.

      I don't have my SE 400 here right now (my daughter has taken custody), but I believe that there are a few applique files included with that. You can also applique without the embroidery unit attached by using the satin stitch feature of the sewing machine. That will take a little practice. Another option is to purchase applique design files in the PES format and transfer them to your machine via the USB cable.

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  31. I have a Se400 and looking for a good monograming software.what do u think about Wizard plus and will it work with my machine

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    1. Wizard Plus will work with your machine since it can export the design file in PES format. However...I think that at $249 it is quite pricey for a stand-alone monogramming program. I also wasn't all that impressed with the choice of fonts.

      If you're looking for just stand-alone monogramming software, have a look at Amazing Designs "Monogram It!" At $99 I think that is much more reasonable for a one function program. You can purchase it on Amazon by clicking on the "Marketplace" tab on my menu bar. You can also download a trial version at http://amazingdesigns.com/monogram-it-free-demo

      I have to say, I know I keep suggesting Amazing Desings, and it may appear that I do that because I offer that in my Amazon store, but the fact is that I offer that software in my store because I think it's a good value.

      You will also need a method to get the design file from your computer to your machine. I believe that the SE 400 has a usb port, but does not take a thumb drive -- in other words, you use a usb cable to connect your machine directly to your computer. If that's not convenient, then you'll need a card reader and a blank card.

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    2. I'm so glad I found this site because this is the same questions that was running through my mind today when I got the monogram wizard in the mail. So you can transport the designs and monograms through the usb cable? I don't have card or jump drive or anything right now but my se400 is connect to my computer via cable

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    3. I'm not really sure...check your owners manual.

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  32. I was wondering if you could tell me how to combine or merge files to make a 3 letter Monogram...I have a Brother Disney SE270D Embroidery Machine that has its own fonts but if you don't want to use theirs, you have to buy them and I use the PED Basic card writer reader that will write them to the card so I can transfer them to the machine, BUT....I bought some designs and need a software editing program to combine or merge each of the 3 letters together into one file to be done as a Monogram, or I have to try to center it up on my own, one design at a time...I set up Embrilliance.com and merged the designs, thinking that software was free...I finally figured it out, how to merge the designs, however they merged them into a ".be" file which cannot be seen by my PED Basic card reader...so it won't write it to my machine, I don't believe. I also messaged the owner of Embrilliance, and he informed me that I had to have a licensed version, for it to work...(WTH would they have a version that you could set up, that does not work...Not real happy about giving them my money, if I do get to a point to afford to pay more...Why would they do that? I call that a scam...cuz it said it was free...ridiculous...Can you direct me to where and what I need to do, that won't cost me even more...I have already spent a fortune in buying designs...Thanks in advance!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I suspect that you downloaded a trial or demo version of Embrilliance. Many of the embroidery software publishers offer these versions so that you can try the product out before purchasing. Also, when saving a file you need to save or export your finished design to your machine format -- in your case that would be PES.

      Most of the free software I've seen is limited in functionality. There is one that I have used quite a bit called Stitch Era Universal, however after January 1 it will no longer be free -- you will be able to continue using it for $3 per month (or $8 per month if you want extended features). If you want to get the program on a disc rather than download it, then there is a charge (around $15), but even with the disc you'll still have to download all the updates. So even though it takes a good 30 minutes to download, you won't save much time by ordering the disc. Also, you need to be connected to the internet to use the software -- I haven't found this to be a problem. You can go to FreeSierraSoftware.com to have a look and find a dealer.

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  33. Thank you so much for this post!! I am brand new to embroidery and just got my Brother SE400 and I really want to be able to do three letter monograms (I know you have answered a few questions like this already but I'm still a little confused haha). So I want to do the traditional monogram and I found a place to purchase the FONT, and I know that that is different from alphabets, but what I am somewhat confused about is whether or not I need computer software (ie. Embird, SewWhat, etc) or if I DONT need anything except my machine if I purchase a monogram font? Can I just do it using any program on my computer or would I have to do the whole do one letter and reposition deal if I didn't have computer software?

    Thank you!!

    Alley

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    1. Fonts are generally sold as an add on to specific software that uses digitized fonts. Additional or extra fonts cannot be "added" to your machine. So yes, you would need software to utilize the fonts, and the purchased fonts would need to be compatable with your software. However...check that font you're interested in again -- I've noticed that some vendors are using the term "font" when they really should say "alphabet". If the letters are available as a PES file, then they are alphabets (a separate PES design file for each letter) and you can either load a single letter to your machine as you would a design, or you can merge several letters in a software editing program. If they are truly digitized fonts, then the description should indicate which software program they are made for.

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    2. Okay thank you so much! You have no idea how helpful all this has been :) What is your take on SewWhat-Pro software? It's a little cheaper but I think it will do what I need it to, like monogramming and general combinations of designs (like a graphic with words under it).. do you think that is a good option? I just have a hard time paying so much money for something like Embird and all their modules for something that is just a hobby for me.

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    3. The price of $65 is very attractive. It's a little hard to tell from their website what the exact functions are, so I don't really have an opinion. I see there is a lettering module that can be added for $40, so that's a positive. I think it's certainly worth your time to download their free trial version, and see if it's a good option for you. You can download their trial version at SandsComputing.com

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  34. Hello - I love your site! I am new to embroidering and my husband bought me a Brother SE425. I purchased and downloaded some applique patterns and attempted to transfer them from my computer with the USB cable. However, the computer said the file was too large. Does this mean I need a card reader and blank card, as you have mentioned, to store these files and use in the card slot of my machine when I want to use them? Also, I read that you have a SE400 which is similar to mine - I can't find any applique patterns stored on the machine? Do you know how to access them if they are there? Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Perhaps the applique design you're trying to download is larger than 4" X 4"...that is the maximum size of embroidery. And most files for 4" X 4" are actually a little bit smaller...something like 3.85 X 3.85. There are a few free programs that will allow you to size embroidery or applique patterns. One is Wilcom True Sizer, and the other is My Editor -- do a web search to find those.

      It's important to use a sizing program when you want to make your designs larger or smaller so that the stitch count will be adjusted accoringly. If you were to size a 5" X 7" design down to 4" X 4" without adjusting the stitch count, the stitching in the design would be too dense; these programs reduce or increase the stitch count so that your resized design will sew out properly.

      Look in the book that came with your machine to see if it has any applique patterns. EmbroideryDesigns.com has a few free applique patterns, as does SmartNeedle.com. Do a web search for free embroidery applique patterns, or free quilting applique patterns and I'm sure you'll find more.

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  35. I am a complete novice and am looking to buy a machine and software that will allow me to do complex designs. I was in Korea and the man there could take any PDF and turn it into a design for his machine. In my area there is no one who can do this for military units and I was thinking this might be a business opportunity. We still email our guy in Korea to do everything and have it shipped to us here in the states. Do you know where I might start. I have read all the posts and most of it is font related so I just had to ask. You seem to be really brilliant with this and I need an experienced opinion.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. It sounds as though what you're talking about is a commercial machine, and digitizing software. There is a learning curve on these machines, and an even bigger learning curve on digitizing. If you buy a large commercial machine (like a 16 needle machine), you could start with some basic software, and send your designs to a digitizer until you learn that skill.

      I suggest you go to some garment decorators forum boards and look around the embroidery section. You can find a great deal of information that way. Apparel Decorators Forum at www.tbiz101forum.com is my favorite; www.t-shirtforums.com will also yield a good deal of information.

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  36. I am looking into purchasing a sewing/embroidery combo machine. I have looked into the Brother SE400 and SE425. I have been using my sewing-only machine for a long time for small applique projects (with adjusting stitching) as well as all sewing needs, and have liked it, but would like to be able to do monogramming and have a more polished look for our baby girl's clothing as well as gifts and small projects. Would you recommend either of these two machines for that? If so, which one... Also, is there a different machine that might meet my needs better? If so, which one? I would love for the machine to offer three-letter circular monogramming, but am not willing to give 100's more for that capability when it is able to be accomplished with the SE machines as described above.... Any help is greatly appreciated!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The Brother machines are a good option. I'm having a hard time telling the difference between the SE400 and the SE425 -- both are listed on Brother's site, and appear to have the same description. If you're using a very basic sewing machine now, then I think you'll like the additional stitches on the Brother machine, as well as the ability to move the needle position. The stitching on my Brother sewing/embroidery combo is visibly cleaner, and neater looking than those on my Singer mechanical machine. If you're currently using a mechanical machine, I would suggest you keep that as a back up, and to use when you want to sew something heavy like vinyl.

      Getting a machine with a larger embroidery field, or more editing capabilities would cost you at least $1k more, and that wouldn't necessarily get you more monogramming choices. So at this point in time, I think you're better off going with the SE400 or SE425, and putting any extra money from your budget into software that will allow you to create monograms. Even if you decide to upgrade to another sewing/embroidery combo down the road, you can still use the same software.

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  37. I just bought my wife a brother pe770 for xmas. Her and her friend are in a cloth diaper making business and she is pretty talented as far as sewing/serging is concerned, that being said, they want to make custom applique designs for themselves/customers is there one product that might be better then others at a reasonable price? Any you recommend? Her friend normally outsources the design to other people who know how to do it but I figured it might be cheaper and easier for her to do it herself so there isn't a lot of back and forth.

    Thanks,
    a clueless husband

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In order to create her own applique designs she would need embroidery digitizing software. There are several packages to choose from -- I like Amazing Designs Digitize 'N Stitch ($199). Be aware though that there is a bit of a steep learning curve with digitizing software. I suggest she get a feel for machine embroidery before choosing software. She may want additional modules such as lettering. When she is ready to start looking at software, she can download trial versions of the programs she's interested in and give them a test drive before purchasing.

      Meanwhile, there are dozens of on-line sources for purchasing and downloading individual designs. SmartNeedle.com and TheItch2Stitch.com are just a few sites that have a good selection of applique designs. Once the designs are downloaded to the computer (and unzipped if necessary), the design(s) can be transfered to the machine with a memory stick, or thumb drive. That machine also has a card slot, but because it has the USB port she would not need to have a card and card reader to transfer designs -- just a little USB thumb drive. And FYI, when she purchases designs, the format to choose is PES.

      She will need some special supplies for embroidery. Although regular sewing needles will fit in the machine, embroidery needles work much better -- the eye of the needle is slightly larger, allowing more room for the thread to move during that fast up and down motion during embroidery. I like the Schmetz needles. There are tons of different embroidery thread options out there -- some are very good, and some not so much; my favorite is Madeira. As for backings, I buy the Sulky brand when I'm purchasing small quantities at the retail level; for larger quantities (and for the purpose of seeing what's available out there) I like AllStitch.net.

      Because the bobbin thread for embroidery is slightly thinner than sewing or embroidery thread, she will need some of that -- pre-wound bobbins are great, and they come in both white and black (with embroidery, it's not necessary to match the bobbin thread to the top thread.) You'll find these available in 3 versions -- plastic sided, cardboard sided, and no sides -- I use the bobbins with no sides (Fil-Tec Magna-Glide), or plastic sides as I haven't had good results with the cardboard sided bobbin in the "drop in bobbin" style machines.

      Click on my menu tab "Marketplace" to see some of these items (and search for more) on Amazon.

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    2. WOW! Thank you so much for all that info! That's so much more info then I was expecting and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to sit down and type it all up. I will definitely let her know all this and try to surprise her with all this stuff. Once again Michele thank you very much, i hope you have a great christmas and a happy new year.

      a not so clueless husband

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  38. I just purchase the Brother PE 770. I have read all of the comments and replies but I am still unsure of software. Basically I am wanting to do names and monograms. I want to be able to use my own true type fonts as well as the embroidery fonts I can purchase online. What do you suggest?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Although Amazing Designs Personalize 'N Stitch does not allow for using True Type fonts, it contains a large enough selection of lettering, and monogramming fonts that I think it's a good option for you. The thing about using True Type fonts is that you need to realize that not all fonts are suitable for embroidery. You also need to understand about column widths, pull compensation, stitch density, and stitch editing to get a good stitch out on some TT fonts. That means that your software would need to have editing capabilities as well as lettering capability. So unless you need the ability to use specific fonts regularly (like if you were digitizing a logo for a customer), I think you're much better off using software with digitized fonts. If you did find that you needed a specific font for a customer's logo, you could send that particular digitizing job out to a digitizer to create the file for you.

      When you look at embroidery fonts, you are likely looking a alphabets. While some lettering software has additional digitized fonts available for purchase, those would most likely be found of the software vendor's site. I have noticed that more and more vendors of embroidery alphabets are calling them fonts -- they aren't really fonts. Remember...alphabets are a group of design files with each letter being a single file. So if you wanted to use just one letter of that alphabet, you could load the appropriate file to your machine. HOWEVER, if you wanted to use several letters to create a name or monogram, you would need to load each letter as a design into your editing or digitizing software, and then generate a single file. It's not difficult to do, but neither is it as simple as using the keyboard to type in the letters you want.

      The cost of Amazing Designs Personalize 'N Stitch is about $199. That can be used alone or with Edit 'N Stitch which is also about $199. You can view details of this program, see the included fonts, and download the trial version of this software at www.AmazingDesigns.com/personalize-n-stitch-2-0

      If you really want to have the ability to use TT fonts, then you're most likely going to pay more for the software than you did for your machine.

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  39. I'm new to the embroidery thing...Paid to much money for the machine to just let it set...but I have the Baby Lock Ellure Plus and the bes software...I am trying to save a design that is a 5x7, but did have to rotate it..It keeps telling me it's to big for the field..

    Also, I have tried to applique fonts and make them bigger... But when I make them bigger they get all distorted.

    Can you please help me???

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Try slightly reducing the size of the design to something like 4.9" X 6.9". You can do that in the software, or in the machine. That's the only thing I can think of off the top of my head.

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  40. I have enjoyed learning to use my Brother SE400, and I think I'm ready to tackle something new. I want to do 3 letter monogramming for some of my daughter's stuff. I don't know what I need to be able to do that. Can I just purchase the monogrammed initials as an image somewhere and reuse them as needed, or is there a place I can get software that will do it? I don't need anything big and fancy. There are no places within a 100 mile radius of me that offers classes or information about the machine. Thank you!

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    1. You'll need more than an image to create machine files...you'll need some software to create that machine file for a monogram. Amazing Designs has two programs that might fit your needs...Monogram It! at $99 comes with a fairly good selection of fonts, and as the name implies, its sole function is to create monogram designs; Personalize 'N Stitch at $199 will do both lettering, and monogramming, and includes 600 designs. You can download the trial version of either of these programs at AmazingDesigns.com.

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  41. With the Personalize and Stitch can I use the fonts I have purchased from sellers on ETSY? I basically just want something that I can make, resize, merge, etc. monograms and names with but don't want to be limited to the fonts that are on the software or have to purchase from a specific company.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The fonts that you would be purchasing on ETSY are likely alphabets as opposed to keyboard fonts. With alphabets each letter is a seperate design file. Yes, you would be able to bring each design file onto your screen, but you would not be able to use lettering functions such as making the text into an arc or circle -- that's for fonts only. I would suggest that you download the trial version of Personalize 'n Stitch, and go over to Embroidery.com to see if you can find at least a few letters of an alphabet file in the free section to give it all a try. It may work just fine for your needs.

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  42. So really don't really have time to read all of this so bottom line what is the best product for the money? I would love to find one that lets you download your own fonts.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Really? It's not enough that someone else did the research, and product testing for you? If you're too busy, and too important to read the article, maybe you'd be better off sending your items out to be embroidered.

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  43. Hi!

    I bought a blanket from someone who has one of these machines and the stitching was perfect. I was wondering if you know which would be the best machine for me to buy?
    I am looking to be able to embroider images, different types of lettering and have a wide range of different cards to purchase and create my own images. I can give you the link if you like?

    I hope you can help!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Most of the machines available at the retail level produce about the same quality of stitching. The difference in price is usually based on the size of the embroidery field, and additional features. I suggest that you determine what your budget will allow, and take a trip to the sewing machine shop to look at some machines in your price range.

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  44. I have the brother PE770 and I strictly want to embroider fonts/names and monograms only No designs. Can you please tell me what I need in order to do that? I have went on a site before and purchased different fonts and downloaded them onto my computer but I do not have any software yet because I am not sure which one I need? Or if I only need the brother PES card reader/writer and a blank card? If so, where would I find different fonts/monogram styles to purchase? I'm totally lost! Please Help!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I think if you go back through the article, and comments you'll see several references to the difference between fonts, and alphabets. You'll also see that we talk about several different software programs. Most of the software publishers offer a free trial version of their various products -- I think if you download a few, you'll be able to get a good feel for which one will meet your needs.

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  45. This post is now closed to comments and questions.

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