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·         Workspace is outdated (it looks and feels like a program from the 90s)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.


  1. Thanks so much for this article. It made my desision much easier.

  2. great article!!! thanks for the info

  3. Be focused and stick to point are the key factors of writing. This article does with full retention. Skeletal Embroidery Design

  4. I am thinking of purchasing Embrilliance Enthusiast. Although there is no free trial, I see there is a money back guarantee.


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  6. crafting Zuzzy - great article!
    Appreciate all your time in researching along with your preciseness in the comparison grid and company product girds.
    I decided to go ahead with the freebee from Embrilliance Express....copied your link but could not finding the Express free download on their site. Looked under their products list. Searched low to high $$, no results. Went to home page and searched & searched; still no embrilliance express. Finally just typed in the google search engine embrillance express software and was able to locate the free software download.
    I clearly understand Embrilliance is trying to sell their products. However, making their site more user friendly would go a long way in my final decision to purchase their product or not.
    Again, many thanks to you for all your time & energy in researching embroidery programs.

    1. For what it's worth, from the home page, just go to the Downloads link. On that page there's a section called "Embrilliance platform", "The ONE download for Express, Essentials ..." So one download gets you the range of products, which initially operates in free Express mode, and which you can pay to upgrade. I agree this is not spelled out terribly well if you're hunting based on "free".