Best free embroidery software
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Embroidery machines are expensive, so you may be a bit alarmed to see the price of machine embroidery software. But, while some of the fancy high-end embroidery digitizing software is a bit pricey, you can find plenty of free embroidery software that is incredibly useful and may be exactly what you need.
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What is embroidery software?
There is not one catch all task that all embroidery software does. There are many different types of programs that can assist you with various tasks related to machine embroidery.
Probably the most common type of embroidery software is digitizing software. Embroidery digitizing software allows you to create the actual embroidery designs that can be stitched out on an embroidery machine. Digitizing software is the most complex and has the steepest learning curve. It also tends to be the most expensive
Other types of embroidery software include embroidery editing software that allows you to make minor edits to machine embroidery designs, and organizing software that allows you to help you manage your embroidery design collection.
Do you need software to machine embroider?
The short answer is no. Most machine embroidery machines have a set of designs pre-loaded on the machine. Therefore, all you need to do is select it on the embroidery machine touch screen interface and stitch it out.
But, what if you want to stitch out designs you purchased online? Again, you still don’t need software. But, you will need to download the file onto your computer, uncompress it and transfer the relevant embroidery files over to your embroidery machine on a USB stick.
Are there really free embroidery software applications?
Yep! There truly is free embroidery software that will help you accomplish various tasks that is legitimately free and not just a 30-day trial.
Best free embroidery software
Here are some of the best free machine embroidery software tools that beginners and even some advanced users will appreciate.
Ink/Stitch is actually a plugin you can add to the free vector-based drawing tool, Inkscape. A vector-based drawing tool is the type of program used to create logos and graphics comprised of lines and shapes. Probably the most well-known vector-based drawing program is Adobe Illustrator. So, the fact that Inkscape is free is actually pretty amazing.
The Ink/Stitch portion of Inkscape provides a quick and easy way to convert the vector-based shapes into a machine embroidery design. While the capabilities are somewhat limited, it’s a great tool to play with if you are totally new to creating machine embroidery designs.
You can install Inkscape (with Ink/Stitch) on either a MAC or a PC.
The Express version of Embrilliance is a very useful fool for creating words, names, phrases, and monograms with BX fonts. While BX fonts are Embrilliance’s propriety format, many digitizers now offer BX fonts.
To use Express, you simply drag the BX font set into the program and then select it and start typing whatever you want with that typeface. You can even set the text on a curve, make the letters different sizes, etc… Once you build your letter-based design, you simply save it in the embroidery file format that your machine reads and load it onto your embroidery machine.
Unfortunately, with Express, you can not combine embroidery designs with the words you build. For that functionality, you would need Embrilliance Essentials.
Embrilliance Express (like all of the other Embrilliance programs) can be run on either a PC or a MAC.
Embroidery Reader is a free option that allows you to open and view machine embroidery designs in PES format. In this program, you can quickly see what the machine embroidery design looks like on a variety of fabrics and even preview the design using different threads.
As the name implies, this program simply reads embroidery files. You can’t make any edits to them in this program. Put you can preview your designs with different colored threads and backgrounds and then save the resulting changes as an image. Therefore, this is a useful tool if you just want to create images of your embroidery designs for quick previewing.
Embroidery Reader can only be installed on a PC. You would need an emulator program to run it on a MAC.
Embroidermodder is another machine embroidery design editing tool that is free and open source. The only tricky part about this program is figuring out a way to download it. The website takes you to the GIT repository which contains all of the original code. If you were inclined to edit the Embroidermodder code – then this is the place you want to got. But if you just want to download and install the program, you should head to the download available on the Softpedia site.
There are quite a few editing capabilities built into this program. You can remove individual stitches and even entire parts of the design. In addition, you can add stitches to the design.
One interesting capability of this program is that it will allow you to add lettering to a design. Since the lettering options are dependent on the TTF fonts installed on your computer, the results may be questionable.
Embroidermodder will open HUS, PES, DST and EXP files and allows you to save out designs in these formats as well. Therefore, you could actually use this program as a embroidery file format conversion tool.
The most recent version of Embroidermodder runs on a PC or on a Linux machine.
Bernina ArtLink is a free machine embroidery software that is intended to help you get your embroidery files onto your Bernina embroidery machine. But, even if you don’t own a Bernina, it’s still a useful program.
You can open just about any format of embroidery file in Artlink. You can make some basic transformations to the design and change thread colors. Then you can save it out in a variety of ART or EMB formats. If you need to convert it into another format, you would have to use a different program.
If you have a newer Bernina embroidery machine then Artlink is a really useful piece of software because it offers several methods to send your design over to your machine.
When I first discovered Wilcom Trueszier, I though it was just an incredibly useful tool for converting embroidery designs from one format into another. But you can actually do a whole lot more with it.
First of all, Truesizer will open an embroidery file in just about any format you can imaging. Then, once you open it, you can reflect and rotate your design. You can even duplicate it. Let’s say you have a small smiley face design, but you want to stitch out a whole array of smiley faces. Just use the repeat feature and then save out the design as a new name.
Another really cool feature is that this program will provide a preview stitch out of your design. Just hit the play button and you can get a preview of how the machine will actually stitch out the design.
Wilcom used to offer Truesizer as a web-based tool as well as a program you can download and run on a PC. However, now it is, unfortunately, no longer supported by Wilcom. Fortunately, though, you can still get it through some 3rd party websites. And this version will only run on a PC.
Melco DesignShop Sizer
Melco’s DesignShop Sizer is one of the most powerful free embroidery softwares available. The only issue for me was that it wasn’t immediately obvious that it was in fact free. You see, if you go to Melco’s site, you will see their many different programs listed. If you download, install and run DesignShop, you are prompted to enter a license number. However, you can also opt to use just the Sizer version of DesignShop. And this version is, in fact, free.
With DesignShop Sizer, you can do many of the transformations that are offered in the other programs. However, you can also delete entire thread colors, merge designs together and reorder thread colors. Then, you can save out your modified design in almost any embroidery file format imaginable.
The only caveat? It will only run on a PC.
My Editor is another machine embroidery viewing software that is free. It will allow you to import machine embroidery designs from other machine embroidery file formats and modify them as well as clean up the stitches. My Editor can also be used as a file conversion tool as it will read embroidery files in over 15 formats and save them out in these various formats as well.
It can only be installed on a PC.
Explorations Sizer by OESD
Explorations Sizer is primarily a machine embroidery file converter. It can read files in over 15 formats and save them out in numerous formats including DST, PES, HUS, JEF , EXP, XXX.
It will also allow you to make some minor edits to your embroidery designs such as resize, reflect and rotate. This useful little program will only run on a PC.
TesViever free embroidery converter
TesViewer is a machine embroidery file converter that is much like the others already mentioned It will convert your machine embroidery designs from a variety of formats into other formats. You can also use the program to preview a stitch out of your design.
But, here’s the really cool thing… when you go to download the program, you will also see an option to download 100 free embroidery designs. I went ahead and did it. But, the weird thing is, I couldn’t open the embroidery files in the TES Viewer program. I could, however, open them in other programs and then save them out int he embroidery file format of my choice. For this reason alone, I think it’s totally worth checking out.
Once again, this program is free and you can only install it on a PC.
Frequently asked questions regarding machine embroidery software
Is all embroidery software free?
Unfortunately, no. And embroidery software can be a bit pricey. Fortunately, you can try out many of the programs for free for a limited time. Sometimes, these trial versions have a limited use. For example, the trial version of SewWhat-Pro will only allow you to save 100 files. But, a free 30-day trial is a great opportunity to try out different embroidery software applications without fully investing in one.
Why pay for embroidery software if you can get it for free?
Cheaper is not always better. If you are fine with using machine embroidery software that has a limited feature set, then there is no need to spend money on it. However, if you plan to manipulate machine embroidery designs you purchased online or elaborate machine embroidery designs, then you will probably need more advanced machine embroidery software.
What is open source embroidery software?
Open source machine embroidery software is a program comprised of code made available to the public so that they can tinker with it. If you are able to code, you can actually add your own features to enhance the program’s capabilities.
Some of the aforementioned programs are actually open source such as Embroidermodder and Inkscape and the Ink/Stitch extension.
What is an emulator program?
An emulator program allows you to install machine embroidery software on a machine that is not compatible with it. For example, the Windows machine does not natively support Mac software. If you want to run your machine embroidery software on a Windows machine, then you can use an emulator program like Parallel’s Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion.
Is free machine embroidery software right for you?
As you can now see, there are many free machine embroidery software options available online. However, if you plan to radically manipulate machine embroidery designs that you purchased online or create your own elaborate embroidery designs, then it may be worth investing in a more advanced machine embroidery program. But if your needs are less complicated and cheaper is better, there’s no need to spend money on machine embroidery software when some programs offer superb functionality. What will work best for you depends on what type of machine embroidery projects you’re working with and how much control you need over the individual designs. So before making any decisions about which machine embroidery software application to buy, download, or install, make sure to check out these free options to see if any fits your machine embroidery software needs.
What do you think about these free machine embroidery programs? Have I missed any? Let me know in the comments section below! I’d love to hear from you.