How to get an embroidery design on a computer

By on September 8th, 2023
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How to get an embroidery design on your computer.
free machine embroidery designs

If you’re new to the world of machine embroidery, one of the first things you’ll need to understand is how to get embroidery designs onto your computer. Why – you might wonder – if the goal is to get your embroidery machine to stitch out an embroidery design – would you need to get an embroidery design onto a computer?

Turns out – there are a few reasons why. And in this article I’ll explain both how to get an embroidery design on acomputer and why you need to do in the first place.

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Why do you need to get an embroidery design onto your computer?

Obtaining 3rd party embroidery designs and fonts

If you have done any shopping for an embroidery machine, you may have noticed that many companies advertise the number of embroidery designs that are built-in on the machine. But the reality is that you will likely never use those built-in designs.

When you have a specific project that requires a specific design, it’s unlikely you will be able to find the design you want within the built-in designs on your machine. And, when this is the case, you’re going to need to get the embroidery design from another source.

The same holds true for lettering. Embroidery machines have built-in fonts, so you can build words, monograms and phrases by typing them out on your embroidery machine. But you only get a few fonts and you have limited controls over the spacing, scaling and other transformations you might want to make to your type. Again, if you are looking to stitch out words, phrases and monograms with a look beyond what is offered on your embroidery machine, you will need to get fonts from another source.

AND – in order to access and/or download these 3rd party designs and fonts, you’ll definitely need a computer. Here’s why.

Delivery of 3rd party embroidery designs and fonts

Embroidery designs on CDs

Until the early 2010s, embroidery designs were most often sold on CDs. But (to my knowledge) I don’t believe they ever made embroidery machines that read designs from CD. You would simply, put the CD into the CD/DVD reader/player built into your computer and retrieve the files you wanted to stitch out.

The computer is an essential ingredient for this type of transaction, because you would need to the computer to read the CD as well as get it over to the embroidery machine.

You can still find the CDs full of designs, and they’re perfectly good. Ebay is a great source for used ones – and you can actually find NEW entire storefronts full of embroidery designs on CDs. The issue is that it’s becoming increasingly rare that you find computers with built-in CD drives. Fortunately, you can purchase an external CD drive for very little money that you can plug into your computer via USB. This will allow you to see the files on the CD just as if the CD drive were built into the computer.

Embroidery designs from the Web

These days, most embroidery designs are bought and sold via a website. It’s important to remember that when you purchase designs online, they are not delivered directly to your embroidery machine. They will first need to be downloaded from the website and saved onto a computer.

Once you purchase the design, you will see a link that will give you the opportunity to download it. These links are also available in the order confirmation email that you receive after purchasing the design.

The files you download from a website are stored in your Downloads folder on both a MAC and a PC.

On a MAC – a button to access your downloads is typically located on your dock.

Where downloads are stored on a mac.

On a PC, you will likely find it in under your name within your Finder.

It’s a good idea to create an account on the websites where you purchase embroidery designs. This will make it easier to keep track of your purchases and you won’t have to search through emails trying to find the download link. Also – if you misplace or can’t find the downloaded file, you can log back into the site and download it again.

Editing your embroidery designs

One of the more compelling reasons why you would want to get your embroidery designs onto a computer is to be able to manipulate them using embroidery software before stitching them out. This could be as simple as integrating a name into the design so that you can stitch out the entire composition knowing how the name will be positioned relative to the design.

Two of the most popular embroidery editing programs are Embrilliance Essentials, Embrilliance Enthusiast and SewWhat-Pro. These programs do everything from allowing you to change colors to elements in a design, add text to a design, integrate basting boxes and knockdown stitch areas and more.

However, these programs only run on a MAC and a PC. (SewWhat-Pro is PC only). You cannot run these software on an iPad or your iPhone.

Therefore, having the capability to edit embroidery designs is a very compelling reason as to why you would want to get an embroidery design on your computer.

Transferring embroidery designs to an embroidery machine

The most obvious reason why you would need to get your embroidery design onto a computer is to be able to move that design onto a USB stick. Smart phones and iPads don’t have USB ports. Therefore, it is impossible to send a file from your iPad or iPhone to a USB stick.

If your computer does not have a USB port (the new MACs don’t) – you will need to get some USB-C to USB adaptors so that you can still plugin your USB sticks into your computer.

How do you get an embroidery design onto a computer?

Now that we’ve discussed why it’s necessary to get an embroidery design onto your computer, let’s turn our attention to how.

Uncompressing your ZIP files

Embroidery designs that you purchase online as instant downloads are most commonly delivered to you as a ZIP file. A ZIP file is an archive file format that contains several other files inside of it. Inside the ZIP file you will find all of the embroidery designs in various formats. You will likely also find a text or PDF file about the design that outlines sizes provided and thread colors. You will also likely find an image of the embroidery design stitched out.

Most modern computers come with a built-in utility that will uncompress ZIP files. You simply double-click on the ZIP file and it turns into a folder containing all the files. If your computer does not automatically uncompress the ZIP file when you double click on the file, you will likely need to install a free unzip utility.

There are several free unzip programs for both the MAC and PC (WinZip, 7-Zip, etc…) . Once you have an unzip utility installed, when you double-click on the ZIP file it will automatically open that program and uncompress into a folder.

Organizing your embroidery designs

Bingo! Now you have the embroidery design on your computer. Now you are ready to send it to the embroidery machine, right?

Well, before you do that, you may want to put some time into organizing your embroidery designs on your computer to help you find them. There are several strategies you can use to help you organize your embroidery designs. There is even software you can buy to help you locate them (like SewCat, Sew Iconz, and Embrilliance Thumbnailer).

Backing up your embroidery designs

Don’t forget to back up your embroidery designs. It’s a good idea to store them on an external hard drive or even in the cloud so that you have a backup in case something happens and they are lost. The last thing that you want is to spend money on embroidery designs only to have them disappear from your computer.

My personal strategy is to use Dropbox. Dropbox is a cloud storage service that allows you to store files on their servers. Once you install Dropbox, it looks just like another hard drive on your computer. You can drag and drop file from folders within drop box to any other location on your computer. You can also access your files regardless of whether or not you have internet access.

Another benefit of Dropbox is that you can also access the files from any other computer or device with an internet connection. And – it’s free for a limited amount of storage. Fortunately embroidery file are not very large – so you can store plenty of embroidery designs on a free Dropbox account.

Transferring your embroidery designs from your computer to your embroidery machine

There are few different ways you can go about sending your embroidery design over to your embroidery machine. Some people use software that came with their embroidery machine. These programs allows them to open the embroidery design and send it via a cable or a Bluetooth connection to the machine.

Most embroiderers, however, use USB sticks. They copy the design from the computer to the USB stick and then plug the USB stick into the embroidery machine. Learn more about getting an embroidery design onto an embroidery machine.

Make the computer your best friend

As you can see the computer plays a very important role in the machine embroidery process. Fortunately none of these tasks are very memory intensive so a very basic computer will suffice. But, if you are not super tech savvy, it will definitely help your process if you can get comfortable with the computer.

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How to get an embroidery design on your computer
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