Embroidery Designs for beginners: where to start

Machine Embroidery Designs for beginners: where to start

What is a digital embroidery design?

 A digital embroidery design it’s a vectorized template that allows us to indicate to our embroidery machine all the specifications we wish to see in our embroidery. For instance, the type of stitch, the amount of stitches, thread colors, shapes, and letters. In other words, this template is the translation from the image we want to see in our garments to the language that is understood by the embroidery machine. 

Which are the available formats for an embroidery design?

We have to take into account the format accepted by our machine, because not all the brands can “read” all the formats. There is a reason for the numerous types of formats out there, and it has to do with the competitive race between brands for the fidelity of their users. They want to be exclusive, and they need to limit the users choice when it’s time to buy a new machine: if you have been using a Brother’s for three years, you may have a big collection of .pes formatted designs. So if you would like to keep on using them, you may feel more inclined to buy a new model from the same brand instead of a Janome (or any other brand). Whereas format conversion is not impossible, it is advised to be done by an expert, because the automatic conversion offered by some embroidery softwares is not exactly perfect. Some parts of the design might get lost in translation. Therefore, it will have to be thoroughly checked.    

There are three main format types:

  • Expanded File Formats: These are the oldest formats available, and also the smallest files in size. They are commercial embroidery machine formats such as .dst and .exp., read by all brands. They do not contain thread color information. This format consists of simple x and y movements for your embroidery machine to follow.  
  • Machine File Formats: These formats are the ones we talked about some lines above, they are specific towards different embroidery machine brands. They define shapes, colors and stitches. They include .jef, .art, .hus, .vp3, .vip, .pes, .pec, .xxx, .pcd, etc. If you want to know what format belongs to each machine, see this post
  • Native File Formats: These file formats can not be read by any embroidery machine but can be read and written by embroidery software. These are the best “working files” to edit a design with and are later converted into a machine or expanded file formats to run on your machine.     

Embroidery digitization: hire a pro or do it yourself?

If you have an embroidery business, and you have to constantly edit designs, change sizes, change colors, and whatnot, it is a great idea to start learning how to do your own edited designs. At least, the most basic ones. Once you start doing it on your own, that will have a nice impact on your earnings, you would not be depending on other people’s time and you won’t be sending the design back and forth until you get what you had in mind. Sometimes, when you outsource the work, some setbacks may appear. We share with you  below some of the best tools on the market for digitizing embroidery designs.

The best embroidery design softwares

There are many kinds of editing programs, though sometimes we just start using the one that came included when we bought our machine. Even though those are professional softwares, they may seem too complex and overwhelming at the beginning, and end up in frustration. Hence, it is important to know that there are other options, and some of them are beginner friendly.   The programs I would like to recommend are easy to learn, and all of them have many online tutorials that you can easily search and find: 

  • TrueSizer, Wilcom’s free editing tool, perfect to start and to find out if you are patient enough to make a simple edition before spending money on a more advanced software. TrueSizer allows rotations, size modification, mirroring, change formats and more. Go check our related post to learn how to easily download it!
  • Wilcom has several different softwares that satisfy different needs, and they are all really useful. I would like to enlighten the Embroidery Studio Lettering because it might be really handy for those embroiderers with no graphic design notions that work with big groups, such as schools or enterprises. If you usually have to handle a big amount of garments with many different names, letter fonts, even enterprise logos, this software will suit you just right. It includes more than 200 fonts and it allows to easily combine logos with letters, on a much more simplified interface than Wilcom’s other versions.


  • Embird offers a complete edition program with many official tutorials to learn from, which is a great guide for beginners. Moreover, you can get a free-trial for 1 month, so it is good for those who are hesitating about it. At the end of this period you will have to register and pay for the subscription. Embird has many plug-ins with new options for you to make a more complex design as you learn to manage the software. Sadly, the plug-ins are not for free, but you can decide what feature you want to add  to your interface. 

If design software is not for you, below I’ll tell you about other options for your embroidery business that may interest you.

The best embroidery digitizing services

If you don’t give a second thought when it comes to paying a little fee in order to get a well done job, or even if you don’t have the time or the patience to learn how to use an embroidery editing software, there are many websites where you can get the touch-ups you want to add to your design for a small fee, like our own site! Once you send the request with the desired modifications, you  will be given a budget and you will have the results in 48 hours approximately. An easy and fast way to have your own set of embroidery designs!  In Free Embroidery Designs we offer all the kinds of services so you can decide which one suits you the most: 

Free Embroidery Designs

We have our own guide to help you download your first free designs: click here to see the post where we tell you how to do it, step by step. It ‘s pretty easy! Do you have more than one machine in which you would like to use these designs? No problem, we offer our free designs in a package that includes a variety of formats, like the versatile EXP, DGT, DST, HUS, JEF, PES, SEW, XXX y VP3, ensuring the best quality in all of them.

Customized Embroidery Designs

The more solicited style of designs are those who have a name printed, or a meaningful date, or a personalized special message. This kind of design is at one time pre designed and customizable. In order to obtain the final design of your choice, you will fill a formulary to specify the name or message you want to add, and this will be sent to the designer. He will send you back the final personalized image, ready to embroider. In Free Embroidery Designs, we have many customizable designs! Would you like to take a look? Click here!

Embroidery Digitization Service: Convert an Image to an Embroidery File

Most of the time, we find inspiration on a random image, while navigating the web, by checking Instagram, you name it! We see a beautiful image and we imagine it on our shirt, our wallet, with nice and shiny colors…A unique decoration is worth double. And then we think: how can I send this to my machine if it’s only a .jpg or .png? First, it has to be translated to our machine’s language. In these cases, we’ll need to build our embroidery design from scratch. We have to go from image to vectorized template, in whatever format our machine needs. This, I’m not gonna lie, might be complicated. Some advanced design abilities are needed to achieve good quality. Editing is one thing, but making it all on your own it’s just not for everybody. Luckily, this is the most common service to ask from a professional designer If you want to improve your business and add some exclusivity to your work by making unique creations, click here and we’ll be glad to help you! 

Other websites to download free machine embroidery designs

We talked about many options for choosing a design for the work entrusted to us. The simplest way is downloading a free pre-made design from one of these useful websites that offer large quantities of amazing designs in the format we are looking for. Some of them even offer more exclusive non customizable designs for very little money.  Find the design that best represents your idea. Here, some websites with beautiful designs, ready to download for free: 

You are not sure of which of these options is the more suitable for you? You can contact us and we’ll be happy to help you.    What do you think? Did you like this post? I sure hope so! And I hope it helps you to continue expanding your embroidery business Until next time,  Mary

3 thoughts on “Embroidery Designs for beginners: where to start

  1. msalicrup says:

    no se que es formato pero no puedo bajar diseños me conecto a un usb de computadora a maquina embroidery & sewing se 425 la reconoce pero no baja el diseno

  2. [email protected] says:


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