How to Digitize Embroidery Designs

Updated April 17, 2017

You've purchased your embroidery machine, stitched several projects, become comfortable with the process and now you're ready to digitise your own embroidery designs. The cost of digitising applications ranges between £65 and £5,200, and the more you pay, the more capabilities the software provides. As a mid-range example, PE-Design Lite is the digitising application used in this article for photo illustrations and steps to digitise embroidery designs. If you choose another digitising application, the steps will be very similar.

Open your digitising software to load or create your design. You can load/open an existing digitised embroidery file or start your own from scratch. To load an existing image file, drag-and-drop the file into the hoop area on the screen or go to the File menu and select Open to browse to the file you want.

With the file opened, you can add text, adjust alignment, sizes, colours, stitch type (satin or fill stitch) and customise to your liking.

If you are using an existing file and tweaking it doesn't produce the results you want, you may need to open and digitise an image file (bmp) to create a digitised embroidery file. Drag-and-drop or browse to select the image file (bmp) you would like to digitise for embroidery. Size and place the image. With the image selected, click the Auto Punch digitising wizard button (or similar tool in other applications).

Once the Auto Punch wizard has established some basic characteristics of size, colours, number of colours, fill stitches or blank areas, and weighting issues, you may tweak and preview adjustments until you see the digitisation results you like. Click Finish when you are satisfied with the results.

With the image digitised, you can add text, embellish, change colours, stitches, stitch order and preview the results in 3D. When your digitised embroidery file is complete, save the file.

Write your digitised embroidery file to your embroidery machine's card and you've digitised your embroidery design, ready to stitch.


With your embroidery machine and the card reader/writer, some software is usually included. This may be enough if you're content with the software capabilities. If you want more capabilities and more control, you'll want a full-blown, dedicated digitising software application. There are many available specifically designed for your embroidery machine and others that function universally for multiple embroidery machines.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Card reader/writer
  • Embroidery Machine
  • Digitising software
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About the Author

Sherry Snider is a technical writer/editor specializing in instructional/educational material, hardware and software manuals and multimedia learning. Most of her work is published in government/training, corporate, and manufacturing industry materials. In addition to technical documentation, She contributes to online and print publications related to travel, technology, crafts and hobbies.