There are 2 groups of software tools which can help with your embroidering. They are for :
– knowing what designs you have.
– editing to change designs.
If you have a big collection of designs on your computer and no longer know what they all are, Bernina ARTlink is a free download for Windows with design information, placement, and printing, plus simple editing tools.
Convert It, Mac, not free, no editing except change thread colours, does the same on a Mac.
Not necessary if you have editing software, which includes these tools, but very useful for keeping track of what you have if you don’t want to go as far as editing yourself. (I transferred a big collection of designs from a PC with embroidery software to a Mac without. Until I got Convert It, Mac I just had a big collection of numbered unknowns. It’s marvellous to be able to see them all again.)
Do you find yourself wanting to change a design ? Entirely optional but it can be fun. The most likely changes are :
– adjust the size,
– add lettering.
You can do both of those on modern mid-price embroidery machines, without needing separate embroidery software.
On lower-mid-price machines you can edit single designs (re-size, rotate, flip) and produce text, directly on the machine. Design and text have to be stitched out separately.
Mid-price machines also have simple options for combining, so you can group several designs or design and text in one hooping.
If your embroidery machine does not have any design changing tools, or for more control over design changes (and a bigger screen to see what you’re doing !), you do need a computer and special software.
No need to start with full-scope embroidery software. Most software is modular, so you can start simple and add more tools if you find you want them.
For some you can download a free manual so you can get an idea of how you would get on with it. Or look for ‘independent / 3rd party’ tutorials and videos – often much easier to understand than the official manual !
Most embroidery machine companies have their own design editing software, though it is not essential to use it for their machines. May be given free with machine purchase.
Babylock Creator for Windows only.
Babylock Embroidery Works for Windows and Mac.
Babylock Palette for Windows only.
Bernina Toolbox for Windows and Mac.
Brother PE-Design for Windows only.
Husqvarna/Pfaff/Singer/Viking Premier+2 for Windows and Mac.
Premier+2 has a free download version which does simple editing and colour changes.
Janome Digitizer for Windows only.
‘Machine Independent’ editing software works with most embroidery formats.
Several companies offer embroidery software for Windows, a well-known one is Embird (advanced modules include photostitch, cross stitch, user controlled digitising).
Embrilliance runs on both Windows and Mac (advanced modules for user controlled digitising only).
(see later on digitising)
Stitch Buddy and DRAWings Snap are apps for iOS. You have to export your changed design to a computer for transferring it to your embroidery machine. I haven’t used these and don’t know about other tablets and phones, as I prefer a bigger screen for editing !
Ultimately you may want to do your own digitising – make your own designs without starting from someone else’s. Either auto-digitising (easier – give the software an image and it produces the embroidery instructions), frowned on for quality by purists. Or digitising from scratch (with more control over the details).
Some software can produce instructions for cutting machines to cut fabric shapes.
I haven’t tried Embird or Embrilliance, but as far as I can see neither of them does auto-digitising. For that you need to go to software from the machine companies.
Although I love machine embroidery and often change a design a bit, I’ve never felt any desire to do digitising (I have done auto-digitising once !), so I’m not the right person to give advice.
So, in summary, if you can’t edit designs on your machine and want a free download try out of software for simple design changes (re-size / rotate / flip, change colours, no text), there’s Bernina ARTlink for Windows and Premier+2 for Mac.
If you want more editing functions, such as adding text, or combining designs, then software from the machine companies is very much more expensive than from the independents.
For digitising, the top level of software from most companies will do that. I don’t know about all the software, but for digitising on a Mac I think the choice is between Embrilliance Stitch Artist and Premier+2 Extra or Ultra.
And if you want to do auto-digitising, again as far as I know, tools for that are only in software from the embroidery machine companies.
There are so many attractive ready-made embroidery designs, there’s no need to make your own.
But modern machines and software do make it easy and fun to make changes to designs if you want to.
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