All About Machine Embroidery: Day 17 – Software Part II

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Welcome to day 17 of All About Machine Embroidery. If you are new to this series, you can catch up here.

Machine Embroidery: If you are thinking about getting a sewing machine that includes Machine Embroidery then you will want to read All About Machine Embroidery. I have 31 posts that cover every possible thing you could want to know.

Today, I’m continuing my conversation about embroidery software. Yesterday I talked about inexpensive online software; today, I’m talking about the good stuff.

I’ve said it before, when I bought my first embroidery machine I.knew.nuthin’! And my ignorance cost me $$$$.

So, the different dealers I visited would tell me about a particular embroidery machine and then they would say, “And, you’ll need software.” I’m like, “Huh. Why would I need software?”

And then they’d whip out a box with an embroidery design on it and say that it cost $2,499.00.

Machine Embroidery: If you are thinking about getting a sewing machine that includes Machine Embroidery then you will want to read All About Machine Embroidery. I have 31 posts that cover every possible thing you could want to know.

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I’m wanting to embroidery a baby’s name on a burp cloth and someone is telling me I need to spend $2,500 on software to do this.

Later, I found out that all of the big-named companies have similarly priced software:  Bernina, Babylock/Brother, Pfaff, Husqvara, Janome, etc. It seems that $2500 is the magic number.

Why is embroidery software so expensive and who would spend that kind of money on this, anyway?

Don’t judge me. Now that I own a complete embroidery software suite, I can say that there can be some real advantages to having this software.

For one thing, the lettering capabilities are tremendous. Here’s why, I can take a Bible passage and then type it in any TrueType font and the software would create something that I could embroider. Just dream up a lettering motif and these programs can do it!

All of the high-end programs also Auto-Digitize. If I have a nice vector drawing, all I need to do is import it, upload it and hit Auto Digitize. Then it is ready to stitch out. This is huge – really huge. I promise.

Then, there is auto applique. My favorite. My software (Bernina V.6, recently updated to V. 7) will take a regular fill design and convert it to applique.

Another perk, these programs automatically adjust density and overlapping which make your design look so professional.

Higher-priced software programs can also quilt for you. Yep, there are real quilt patterns that you hoop and then set the machine and it does the quilting. And, there are literally hundreds of these quilting designs digitized for machine embroidery.

The software can automatically break up larger designs. If your machine can only handle a 5 x 7 hoop, but you have a 20 x 20 design, expensive software will automatically configure this and then send it to the machine. It even leaves register marks for second and third hoopings. Pretty amazing.

Resizing, rearranging, and reworking designs are all possibilities.

Basically, the software makes your basic embroidery machine able to do almost anything.

Like this >>>>


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That’s right, you can scan in a picture of your child, grandchild, cat, or dog and the software will digitize it for you. Personally, I think it’s kind of creepy, but if you’re an Elvis fan then it could be really handy.

All that to say, the retail cost is prohibitive for most, but every dealer will have sales where you can get it 25-40% off.

And, all of the big-named companies have a Lite version in the $500-$1,000 range. On sale, it can be a possibility {if you eliminate meat from your diet}. Get on a local dealer’s mailing list to find out when they are having a sale.
It’s still a big investment, but one worth investigating. Do your homework and ask for a demonstration of everything. For $2,500, there should be some dealer-hoop-jumping-through.
If you decide to invest in a complete embroidery software you will have the advantage of upgrading when the newer versions are released. This option keeps you up to date with the latest technology. It is one of the reasons I made the leap.
Lastly, almost all embroidery software is configured for Windows operating systems. Some manufacturers have Mac conversion options. Since I don’t own a Mac, I cannot speak to this. However, there is a new software launching this fall that is built specifically for Mac users. You may want to check it out here.
Tomorrow’s topic:  Digitizing

Thinking about purchasing an Embroidery Machine? Check out my Embroidery Machine Reviews.


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  1. Hi Leslie, as I have commented before, I love this series and have learned so much. Yesterday I was ready to take the leap – today’s blog has be seeing lots of $$$. I cannot thank you enough for truly providing all of these facts so that I really understand what I am getting into. Also, what is a vector drawing? Love your blog and your writing style. Great job – looking forward to your next series whatever it may be!!

  2. Hi Leslie 🙂 Just found you this AM and I’m loving reading each day, learning about what I’m getting into. This summer I purchased a Bernina artista 200 upgraded to a 730, a friend was moving and selling everything….machine, accessories, patterns, books, thread and fabric stash, cabinet, all for an amazingly low price…and then I sold my Bernina 430 so that helped bring the price down. Anyway, now I need to learn how to use the machine! My comment right now revolves around some of your links that are no longer working. Twice you have mentioned Bernina’s free software which I presume is ArtLink 6, that link doesn’t work. Also, I am a Mac user and you are the first one to know or tell me about Embrilliance and I thank you from the bottom of my heart! I do have an old PC that runs Windows 7, but I’m just not as comfortable on it. So, I’m also interested in the link at the end of the above post, but it doesn’t work either! So, just an FYI…and, THANKS again!

  3. Leslie, what a great series! I am taking the plunge with machine embroidery and am so excited. I wish I had found this when I started researching a few months ago.

    I am not sure if anyone has already commented on SewWhat Pro Embroidery Software, but for someone doing home embroidery, on a budget, it is definitely worth a look. It is $65 (Can you believe it?! 😉 ) It does a more than adequate job and (I’ve read, is easier to learn than some of the others). I have some self-taught graphic design experience and probably could have learned Embird or Embrilliance pretty easily, but SewWhat Pro has been super simple thus far. Their Yahoo Group has been really helpful already with very quick tech support while I’ve been learning.

    Thanks for taking the time to blog all of this! It’s the first place I’ve seen all of the information compiled. 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing about SewWhat Pro Software. I will have to look into it. It sounds like a good match for many who are new to machine embroidery.

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