Saturday, August 29, 2015

What is the best machine embroidery program?

I took a little break from my machine embroidery posts, but I'm back today to talk about embroidery programs. Once you get an embroidery machine, you are probably going to want a program to create and edit stitching files.

What confused me most when I began researching the different programs is there are different companies, and those companies offer several different types of programs. There are lots of options available, but I'm going to discuss the most popular ones.

Here are the companies and their programs I researched when I was deciding which program to purchase.

S&S Computing
Monogram Wizard
Bows and Clothes
Super basic

Express- free

Combine Design $11
SewWhat-Pro $65
Essentials $150
Embird $164

Stitch Editing

Enthusiast $180

SewArt $75
Stitch Artist $170
Studio $150

SewWrite $40
Alpha Tricks $105
Font Engine $145
Monogram Wizard $249

File Images
SewIconz $25
Thumbnailer $45
Iconizer $20

When you are first getting started, you want to look at the basic programs, something that will allow you to create words and combine several pictures(stitch files like .PES not jpegs) together. So let's look at the different basic embroidery programs. Please keep in mind I'm still a beginner myself, so I focused on what features were important to me as a beginner.  Also, expensive is a relative term, I have a feeling I'm going to get a comment saying that $200 is very cheap for a good embroidery program. Perhaps it is, but it's still a lot of money to me ;)

SewWhat Pro
·         A lot of features for a great price
·         Includes density adjustment and pull compensation- you have to pay an extra $150 for this feature if you go the Embrilliance route
·         While not as amazing as using BX fonts in Embrilliance, the feature View>Album Icons for merging letters is very useful
·         Workspace is outdated (it looks and feels like a program from the 90s)
·         There is a bit of a learning curve, most features are not intuitive (but there are plenty of youtube videos to teach you the program)
·         Offers the ability to convert any True Type font into a stitch file, but looks HORRIBLE. I thought people were exaggerating on this until I tested it out for myself. It really is bad, you need to purchase embroidery fonts. You won’t ever use the true type feature
Download a free 30 day trial with a limited 60 number of saves
*You may notice S&S also offers a program called SewWhat, in my opinion if you are going to buy SewWhat, you might as well spend $15 more and get SewWhat Pro

Embrilliance Express
·         It’s free!
·         Uses BX fonts  to allows you to type words with the keyboard, instead of placing each letter individually like the other programs
·         Easy to use controls for manipulating words like line spacing, letter spacing, word spacing, and slant
·         Limited features. Pretty much only good for using BX fonts

Embrilliance Essentials
·         Easier to learn
·         Workspace is more intuitive than the other programs
·         Easier to manipulate objects, more control and options
·         If you have a Mac, this is the only program that is native to macs
·         Expensive
·         Does not include density adjustment and pull compensation tool, must buy Enthusiast in addition to Essentials
Download Express version for free, no trial version for advanced features. You’ll have to watch youtube videos to get a feel for the upgrade

·         Includes all the basic features like resizing, editing, splitting,  and printing
·         Expensive
·         I personally hated the interface. Not intuitive at all. I gave up learning this program because it was too frustrating.
·         Offers nothing better than the other programs. Essentials is so much better, and SewWhat Pro is so much cheaper. I personally didn’t even consider purchasing Embird
Download a free 30 day demo program

Combine Design
·         Able to combine multiple designs and save as a single file. Very useful.
·         VERY affordable
·         Only saves PES files, make sure this is compatible with your machine before purchasing!
·         Very limited features
·         Slow to merge each individual letter- BX fonts (Embrilliance) or View Album Icons (Sew What Pro) are much faster
No trial

So which one is best?

Embrilliance Express is pretty close to 1st place because it's free and works so well. It ALMOST convinced me to buy Essentials. Go download it right now, there’s no reason not to. You’ll love it. You'll need to get some BX fonts to use it, but most shops offer BX files with their fonts now.

If you are tight on funds I suggest Combine Design. You can create your words in Embrilliance Express, and combine them with other .PES files in Combine Design. This will keep you happy for quite a while I imagine.

I almost got Combine Design because it was so cheap and I didn’t need anything fancy at first, but I knew I’d eventually want to upgrade so I decided I might as well put the $11 towards SewWhatPro.

Why did I buy SewWhat Pro instead of Embrilliance Essentials? Essentials really is much nicer than SewWhat Pro but the price difference (HALF the cost!) was big. The kicker though was the Density Adjustment/Pull Compensation tools. They aren't a vital tool but useful when you need to fiddle around with a poorly digitized file or when working on a difficult medium.

I hope this helps you decide what program is best for you.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Farewell Summer: Embroidered Top and Box Pleat Shorts

Project Run and Play's theme this month is hand work! So much fun. My readers know how much I looooove embroidery. Remember this dress? or this hoop art? Swoon. I should embroidery more.
For my entry I wanted to sew something that could be worn to preschool, so a top and shorts it was. I've been dying to use this beautiful blue floral print that I picked up at Joann's a few months ago. Doesn't it look Liberty-esque? I picked out my embroidery floss to match the colors of the fabric.
I wanted a tunic that would highlight the embroidery. I wanted to make it obvious that the whole outfit was inspired by the embroidery design and feel. I didn't own anything that fit to my vision so I ended up drafting my own. It's a basic bodice with cap sleeves, the bodice is angled down to a point in the front and back to add interest (and make sure this tunic didn't look too similar to my KCW dress from last spring)
I debated on the closure for the back of the dress for a while. Just ask my sister Jessica. Here's our texts from a week ago:

Me: "What do you think about exposed zippers? Does it look cool or like I don't know how to sew a proper zipper?"

Sister: "I just bought a shirt with an exposed zipper that I love, but it I think it might look weird on children's clothing. You should do a regular zipper"

Yep. Exposed zipper it is. Thanks Jessica!
I like how the modern element keeps the outfit from looking "little house on the prairie"

And the shorts! Anyone recognize them? They are my box pleat shorts pattern from FOREVER AGO! These shorts have a special place in my heart. I graded them up, and they look just as adorable on Christine as they did three years ago. I've wanted to make these shorts into a real pattern for a long time, but I wanted to get a couple easier patterns under my belt first. The pattern is almost ready for pattern testing except it's the end of the summer. I kinda missed the seasonal pattern deadline there. Well, next spring the box pleat shorts are coming to the world!

I wanted to add embroidery to the shorts back pockets to add more handwork to my look. I tried, multiple times. First with a fairy, then a unicorn. I hated them all. It just wasn't meant to be. I think it was the thickness of the twill fabric. It was too thick and made my stitching look terrible. I'll post pictures of the fails soon so you can see what I mean.
Last, but certainly not least, the embroidery. I have so many embroidery patterns I've collected that I have yet to stitch up, it was hard to choose which to use. I ended up choosing to stitch this adorable one by Sarah Jane. I love this illustration, it reminds me of Christine gathering up her summer wild flowers. The butterflies floating away as the last days of summer float away.

As always, check out more fabulous outfits at the Project Run and Play link up. Be sure to check back and vote for the top ten next week!