Shopping for Software


What software should I purchase for embroidery? Digitizing? Editing? What's the difference?


I've been asked that question a lot over the years. My standard reply is, "It really depends upon what you'd like to do." That may seem like over simplification but it's true! You need to stop and think about how you do embroidery or what you'd like to be able to do with embroidery. Think about those times you were sewing something out and you said to yourself, "if only this design were ________" and fill in the blank. Or do you find yourself unable to locate the design you want to sew out at all? There are two basic types of software available for embroidery: editing software and digitizing software. So let's take a look at both so you can make a more sound decision as to what you want or, more importantly, need.

If you look at them side by side--one might look a little more intimidating to learn than the other--can you guess which one is editing versus digitizing? More buttons means more options but it also means higher learning curve.

Editing Software

Editing software is designed to take an existing embroidery design (also known as a stitch file) and change it up. Editing software works with stitch files and not image files--this is important to remember. Maybe you want to resize it, add lettering, change the colors, omit colors, cut it apart to use only a section of the design, change the density because it's too stiff, color sort, or convert from one format to another. These are all editing features. You're taking an existing design and changing it up to fit your needs and to personalize it. It is capable of reading various stitch file types no matter where you picked up the design. I like to refer to editing software as "multi-lingual."  =)

Digitizing Software

Digitizing software is designed to create designs from scratch--that's to say create a design from an image (scanned image, clipart, or a drawing). Images are not stitch files. Images have no sewing information in them. A digitizing program enables you to create a design with various types of stitches, i.e., satin stitch, run stitch, and various types of fills. The act of creating a design from an image is called digitizing. While digitizing programs have editing capabilities as well, they do best editing designs that were created within the program itself. Their strength is in creating designs from scratch and then manipulating that newly created design to whatever you want. Digitizing programs are not as good at manipulating designs from other sources--that's not their main focus or strength. That's not to say it can't be done--just usually not as easily nor as well.

Here's another little tid-bit. I've found through teaching both types of programs over the years that editing software is normally easier to learn and master than digitizing software. Editing software is considerably easier on the pocketbook than digitizing software as well.

So if you're wanting to just manipulate existing designs from your stash to create something new or to personalize--go with an editing software. If you're wanting to create designs from scratch (images) and willing to spend the time to learn the craft of digitizing, then you'd want to look at digitizing software.

I hope this gives you a little more insight when it is time for you to go shopping for software to make a sound decision as to which type would best fit your needs. Got a question?, please feel free to ask below or share your thoughts.

Have a day blessed with perfect stitches!

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  • Bonnie Welsh - September 22, 2018

    Irene—I can’t tell you how many times people have told me over the years exactly what you’ve just stated. “I wish I knew the difference before buying digitizing software.” Which software do you currently own? Have you tried searching YouTube for videos on your particular software? There might be helpful information there. Never underestimate the value of a good dealer with great classes on software too! =)

  • Bonnie Welsh - September 22, 2018

    Tina—I really like Embrilliance as you can pick and choose various elements of what you want or need and the software grows with you if you want. Also, it works on both PC or MAC. You can find out more here: (no affiliation)

  • Irene Moreaux - September 17, 2018

    Oh, how I wish I had known this about the two different types of software. I spent lots of $$$ on digitizing software not knowing I really should have purchased editing software. Thank you SO VERY MUCH for this information. I still have not learned very much about the one I bought.

  • Tina - September 17, 2018

    So what is a reasonable software that you would suggest?

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