What embroidery digitizing software should I buy? Pros and Cons
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After stitching out dozens of designs on your embroidery machine, are you beginning to crave the ability to make your own embroidery designs? I mean how great would it be to stitch out anything you can dream up and not just other designer’s creations? If this is where you are in your machine embroidery career, it’s time to start looking into purchasing some embroidery digitizing software. But which embroidery digitizing software should you buy?
Acquiring digitizing software is a serious investment, and should therefore warrant a bit of research. Surprisingly, there are quite a few embroidery digitizing software applications on the market. My goal here is to take a little bit of the pain out of the process and share some of the pros/cons and costs of the most popular ones. But, before you start shopping for digitizing software, you should ask yourself…
Are you really ready to digitize?
Digitizing is not rocket science, but there’s also a bit of a learning curve associated with how to do it. Anyone can learn to digitize. But It helps to be comfortable with computers and moving files around. And, if you have a background in graphic production, that will give you a HUGE leg up when learning how to digitize.
Digitizing is an art form. It takes practice and a lot of test stitching. It’s not as simple as some of the software marketing materials claim it to be. For example, some digitizing software touts its ability to simply import a bitmap and automatically convert it to an embroidery file. While this is true, the results are questionable. This is because when the computer does the digitizing for you, you have no control over the order in which elements are stitched, the stitch density, start and end points, etc. And, usually humans are better at making these decisions than computers.
So, don’t buy into the marketing hype, and take the time to research all of your options. Also try before you buy! Fortunately, many of the most popular digitizing software programs offer a free trial period to allow you to see what you like. And take some time to really think about your digitizing needs.
Why is embroidery software so expensive?
Once you start looking at all of the different embroidery software, you may wonder why it is so expensive. It’s pricey because it is a small market. A company that makes embroidery software is not exactly Microsoft. There is a limited audience for the product, so in order to survive, the price tag must be a bit higher.
But look closely. Not all of it is that expensive. Programs like SewArt and Embrilliance are relatively cheap. Also, some programs allow you to buy in modules (like Embrilliance), so you can by the less expensive version and then gradually upgrade as your needs increase. Another factor to consider is upgrades. When you purchase SewArt, you purchase a lifetime of upgrades. You never have to buy the new version.
Assessing your embroidery digitizing needs.
Different digitizing software makes sense for different people based on their specific needs. Here are some additional factors you should consider before choosing a embroidery digitizing software.
- Budget – Digitizing software starts at $75 and goes up to $1000+.
- Operating system – Most digitizing software only runs on a PC. If you are not willing to install a Windows simulator like Parallels on your MAC to run a PC software, then your options are limited. Only a few of the most popular digitizing software run natively on a MAC.
- Capabilities – What do you need this program to do? A few of the programs are sold as different level packages. You can buy the first level and if it doesn’t do enough, you can simply upgrade.
- What types of designs you want to create – I personally am not interested in creating photo realistic looking embroidery files. Most of the designs that I create are simpler without a lot of layers and stitch complexity. So, I probably take advantage of only a small percentage of my digitizing software’s capabilities. A software that specializes in complex textures and photorealistic effects would definitely not be my jam!
Most popular digitizing software
So, here’s a summary of 9 of the most popular digitizing software including pros and cons of each. The intention is to help you start figuring out where you want to invest. I’m also including some links to specific training associated with that software so you can know where to go to learn more about it.
One more important note, once you decide which digitizing software you want to buy, be sure to purchase it through the company who makes the software or a reputable dealer. You will find many digitizing software packages being sold on eBay, sometimes very cheaply. Often these are pirated copies. If you see “dongle not required,” in the listing, it’s often an indication that this is a pirated copy.
Good luck and happy shopping!
|Name||Compatibility||Notes||30 day trial?||Modules||Training||Price|
|Hatch Embroidery Digitizer by Wilcom||PC only*||Considered a high level digitizing software because it offers a lot of control over how designs stitch out. |
If you are looking at Hatch, go through digitizingmadeeasy.com to purchase. It is the same price and you get the level 1 lessons and certification lesson as well as extra fonts free. Also, the instructor, John Deer, (who wrote the book "Digitizing Made Easy") is fantastic.
|yes||The four levels of software are: Organizer, Personalizer, Composer and Digitizer. The Digitizer is the only program that will allow you to manually digitize.||Hatch offers many videos on their website.||For the full version (Digitizer) of this software the cost is: $1099.
|Embrilliance||MAC or PC||User-friendly. In Stitch Artist 2 - you can easily create embroidery files from SVG files.||No, but they do have a 90-day money back guarantee||Essentials will allow you to combine designs and manipulate lettering. |
Stitch Artist 1, 2 and 3 are digitizing softwares. The higher the level, the more tools are included. You can start with level 1 and upgrade as needed.
|Features and functions: http://sewbubbles.teachable.com/p/introduction-to-embrilliance-essentials-webinar-replay Embrilliance YouTube Channel||$139 for Essentials
$169 for Stitch Artist Level 1
$369 for Stitch Artist Level 2
$649 for Stitch Artist Level 3
|Embird||PC only*||Some find the software difficult to use, but some people love it. Does not have Bezier curves.||Yes, but you can't save anything you make during the trial period.||The Digitizing module is for digitizing but you must buy the basic license before getting any modules. The Font Engine module allows you to convert any TTF font into an embroidery file.||A basic Embird digitizing class||$149 for a Basic License. The cost for additional modules varies. The Digitizing module (Studio Digitizing Tools) is $150. Font Engine is an additional $|
|SewArt Embroidery Digitizer||PC only*||They promote the fact that the software will convert bitmap and vector images to embroidery files. Not a full-fledged digitizing program.||Yes||SewArt Embroidery Digitizer is their digitizing software, but they sell other programs such as SewWhat-Pro, an editor that allows you to view, edit and convert embroidery files, and SewWrite that is a lettering and monogram editor.||$75 for SewArt Embroidery Digitizer
$65 for SewWhat-Pro Embroidery Editor
$40 for SewWrite Embroidery Lettering and Monogram Editor
|Janome MBX||MAC or PC||Only available via dealers or on resellers like Amazon.||No||n/a||Janome has some webinars on their website.||$1199 for the full Janome Digitizer
$499 for the Jr. Digitizer
|Brother PE-Design||PC only*||Easy to use, but not much support available.||Yes||n/a||A series of YouTube tutorials on PE-Design 10||Brother PE Design 10 Approximately $1000.|
|Designer's Gallery||MAC or PC||You can start with level 1 and if you need more features, upgrade to the next level. Only sold through Babylock Dealers.||Yes||Three levels of digitizing software: Creator Level 1, Creator Level 2, |
Creator Level 3
|Less popular than other digitizing software but there are Facebook groups dedicated to helping each other with the program.||$239.99 for Creator Level 1
$499.99 for Creator Level 2
$749.99 for Creator Level 3
|Floriani Total Control U Digitizing Software||PC only||Very comprehensive list of features.||No||Three different pacakages: Floriani Embroidery Suite, Floriani Total Control Pro, Floriani Total Control U||Many tutorials on their site. They are also known for providing excellent support.||$4299.00 list price for highest level software: Floriani Total Control U but sold for less on various websites.|
|Stitch Era Universal.||PC only||It used to be free.||Yes - you can download a 7-day demo version. And, you can stop the subscription if you don't like the product.||Three different levels: Express, Standard and Liberty||Romantic Recollections offers 1 on 1 support with Stitch Era Universal.||Pricing is based on a subscription model. Express: $2/month, Standard: $8/month, Liberty: $16/month|