Getting More Out of Your Cheap Digitizing Embroidery Software




Introduction: Getting More Out of Your Cheap Digitizing Embroidery Software

Several years ago I purchased some digitizing software for my Husqvarna Designer I.  I didn't buy the top of the line software, but what I did buy (4D Embroidery Extra) didn't work as well as I thought it should.  I expected it to be able to give me a nice stitched pattern from a simple/cartoon drawing, but I had a lot to learn.  Being stubborn and without enough funds to purchase the top of the line software, I determined to get my money's worth.  After some research, and a lot of trial and error, I found a way to improve the results from my software without any extra money... but with a lot of effort.  This Instructable may help you get better results from your existing software if you want to invest the time, I made it for a friend who wanted to know how I made the dragon in the main image.

Step 1: Overview

Here are the big issues I had with my software:
1.  Any raster format image (jpg, bmp) has to be very clean without any extraneous pixels or colors to process well
2.  Colors - the software tries to make like colors the same and blend them all into one stitch section, or turn light colors into white which can be accidentally deleted when removing "background" color
3.  Black is always treated as an outline area and by default the software will try to narrow black areas, or not be able to stitch the area at all
4.  "options" don't appear to make much difference and satin vs. fill stitches can be applied haphazzardly
5.  While making the images for this Instructable I found that my "new" computer could process images the old one couldn't (more processing power makes a world of difference).  The Chinese image of the birds crashes on my old computer.

For best results you want to have a clean image in a vector format (for a good explanation of vector vs. raster files see this video by artexlabel ).  You can spend a lot of time cleaning up raster files (which I did initially) or go for a vector format image which will digitize better. 

My 4D software only reads WMF vector files.  I used Libre office to export to WMF - cause it is FREE! (, But the main thing is to have a graphics program that supports objects and can save or export to WMF.

Step 2: Good Digitize With a Vector Image

1.  I took a line drawing from Lora Irish's "Great book of dragons"
2.  In Libre office draw, I traced each discreet area I wanted stitched with a "freeform line filled" (yeah this takes forever if the image is big).  You don't have to trace the lines exactly, just make sure foreground objects are right sized, and you can be sloppy with the objects lower in the image stack
3.  I then color coded the areas in alternating primary colors to ensure the software would not blend them together
4.  I exported the file into WMF format then impoorted into my software
5. Once I have a decent image design, I color changed areas so that they look how I want the final design to stitch out (Note:  the dragon's underbelly which in the design is dark brown was stitched in variegated thread)

Step 3: Other Images

Images of another successful dragon

Be the First to Share


    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest
    • Maps Challenge

      Maps Challenge
    • Fandom Contest

      Fandom Contest

    8 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I started with embird, and than used few other embroidery can see my few designs at

    Do you think it is better to digitize from vector images rather raster ?


    Reply 3 years ago

    When I wrote the Instructable I was using Husqvarna software from 2008, it didn't process the raster files well, even 8-bit .bmp had issues. The vector format allowed me to get good results from autodigitizing. I bought Wilcom's Hatch software in Dec 2016 and still ended up using a vector image because I had the same issues with .jpg. It all depends on your software and the results you get, but a vector doesn't have extraneous bits of color or data that will make a messy design.


    4 years ago

    What is the cheapest way to make my own embroidery patterns for machine embroidery?


    Reply 4 years ago

    Ive been using the sewart and sewwhat pro demo bc they give you a month trial. So far i like it and youtube helps. I have not purchased my machine yet to do a trial run but ivw had other embroiders comment how much they loved it.

    THAAAAAAAANK you soooooo MUCH for your tutorial. The WMF format is an absolute improvement to the digitizing process. WELL DONE :o)


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hooray! So glad it helped :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I feel your pain. We have the Brother machine and it seems like you can either use their clip art or pay 10x what you did for the whole machine for decent software. :(

    You might try inkscape instead of libre office. (It is the free equivalent of adobe illustrator) It has a built-in "trace bitmap" tool to automatically convert to vector. There's also a stand-alone program called autotrace that's a little less user-friendly but does a spectacular job of converting raster images to vectors.

    (By the way, PNG is not a vector format.)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the info, I will definitely try one of those for my next project. Also, thanks for correcting me on PNG, I removed the reference from the tutorial.