Top 9 Embroidery Software Programs: Unleash Your Creativity

By
reviewed
Reviewed by
Last updatedLast updated: January 26, 2021
Sewing Land is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Sewing Land is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

Even the best embroidery machine is pretty much useless in the absence of a top-quality embroidery software. There is a large selection of embroidery software available out there, but it can often be difficult to choose the right one, mostly because different brands of embroidery machines use different software. To choose the best embroidery software for your particular needs, you need to pay attention not only the features it comes with, but also to the compatibility of the software with your machine. The choice becomes even more tricky when you’re looking to purchase software that you can use on multiple embroidery machines.

With embroidery machine software, you can choose from a wide selection of embroidery designs and patterns, as well as design your own for complete personalization of your embroideries. You can also digitize various designs you may already have in other formats, so embroidery software is surely something you need to have if you want to take the next step into the creative world of embroidery, whether for fun or business purposes.

To make the selection process easier, we spent days researching the best embroidery software on the market, looking at multiple factors such as what and use it for, file formats compatibility, and operating system compatibility. Below you will find a comparison table outlining the main features of the software that made it to the top, together with detailed reviews of each of the software. In the end, have a look at our buying guide that summarizes everything there is to know about purchasing the best embroidery software. Now, let’s have a look at the ones that made it to the top.

Top 9 Embroidery Software Programs Review 2021

Features
  • Compatible with: Mac OS & Windows XP
  • Use for: creating and editing designs
  • File formats: ART, ART42, ART50, ART60, CND, CSD, DST, EMB, EXP, EXP+, HUS, JAN, JEF, JEF+, PCS, PCM, PES, PHB, PHC, PHD, SEW, SHV, TAP, VIP, VP3, XXX, Designer 1

Extra features: includes Level 1 and Level 2 software, includes a wide range of stitches

Our best all-around choice is the StitchArtist Level 3 Digitizing Embroidery Software created by Embrilliance. This program is compatible with PC and Mac computers and allows you to create machine embroidery designs from scratch, something that comes in very handy when you’re looking for an embroidery software to use for commercial purposes. You can start creating your designs by using some of the existing artwork incorporated in the software or simply by drawing with stitches. Many of the users who reviewed this product like the way you can control the shapes and set the properties of the stitches to create designs that are completely unique.

According to the manufacturer, StitchArtist has been designed for ease of use and the digitizing process reflects this. Even though this software has a learning curve that many have found rather steep, this tool allows you to concentrate on your designs by taking the difficulty out of the software. You can find numerous videos and tutorials online, which complement the instruction manual provided. Once you get the hang of it, sky is truly the limit when it comes to creating completely custom designs for your customers.

This software comes in three levels, suitable for different skill levels. If you are a hobby embroiderer wants to create stitches that look professional without breaking the bank, Level 1 includes everything you need to create appliqué designs or for unifying various elements for design compositions. Levels two and three are designed for production for those who are looking to create more sophisticated designs or who use the software commercially. StitchArtist 3 is a rather pricey proposition on enthusiasts, but the embroidery designs you can obtain with it are second to none.

What we liked:

  • Highly customizable designs
  • Available for both PC and Mac
  • Instant stitch generation

What could be better:

  • Price
  • Difficult to master

2.

Embrilliance Essentials, Embroidery Software for Mac & PCBest Embroidery Software for Beginners

Features
  • Compatible with: Mac OS & Windows XP
  • Use for: monogramming and basic design editing
  • File format: ART, ART42, ART50, ART60, CND, CSD, DST, EMB, EXP, EXP+, HUS, JAN, JEF, JEF+, PCS, PCM, PES, PHB, PHC, PHD, SEW, SHV, TAP, VIP, VP3, XXX

Extra features: resizes with automatic stitch recalculation, spiral text, text enlargement

The Embrilliance Essentials, Embroidery Software for Mac & PC lets you control the editing process in detail, while allowing you to overlap your design and resize your creations with automatic stitch recalculation. Most of the users who reviewed this software reached the conclusion it is very easy to use even if you have never used this type of software before, even though you may need more than just basic computer skills to operate it.

The software is available for both PC and Mac and is easy to connect to a computerized embroidery machine. According to numerous reviewers, this is one of the best embroidery software out there for removing under-stitching. The software is ideal for adding monogramming and basic design editing, which makes it an excellent choice for beginners.

The powerful text formatting function of this software allows you to add lettering in monogram, circle, and multi-line modes. With this software, you can even spiral your text, something that is not often available with other types of software. You can also colorise your designs or you change just one of colors in your design. Merging designs is easy with this software, because it includes an entire library of stock elements and shapes that you may include into your creations. Another thing that many users love about software is the fact that it comes with many levels of “Undo” functionality, which means that you can step back through changes with ease.

What we liked:

  • Compatible with both PC and Mac
  • Easy to follow simulator
  • Easy to use even for beginners

What could be better:

  • Requires some computer skills
  • Price

Features
  • Compatible with: Mac OS & Windows XP
  • Use for: creating designs
  • File formats: ART, ART42, ART50, ART60, CND, CSD, DST, EMB, EXP, EXP+, HUS, JAN, JEF, JEF+, PCS, PCM, PES, PHB, PHC, PHD, SEW, SHV, TAP, VIP, VP3, XXX, Designer 1

Other features: a limited set of stitch types, shipped to you on a physical disk

An embroidery software is a must-have if your creativity is beyond the built-in designs in embroidery machines. The Embrilliance StitchArist level 1 allows you to customize and digitize your own designs in the simplest way possible. You can use it with most of the embroidery machines out there and it is compatible with Windows and Mac PCs.

The StitchArist Level 1 is an entry-level program best suited for beginners or hobbyists. It’s very straightforward to use. You don’t need a computing degree to be able to use it.

In fact, unlike most software, you don’t have to go through an inordinate number of steps to create a design. Its steps are simple to follow and they allow you to focus on your creativity. The user manual has detailed descriptions of the basics.

Another distinguishing feature of the program is that it allows you to complete various embroidery tasks in a single mode.

It features all the elements you would need to create a composite design including a few useful stitches and their corresponding properties. Additionally, it has simple filled shapes, applique, running stitch design, and backgrounds that allow you to draw, edit, set the color, width and stitch style of your design as well as adjust its size and sequence for stitching.

Overall, this is one of the best standalone software programs that you can get to burst the seams of embroidery creativity as a beginner or a hobbyist.

What we liked:

  • Best for beginners and hobbyists
  • Easy to use
  • Single-mode feature-Quick completion of tasks
  • It has all the elements needed to create a composite design
  • Both PC and Mac compatible
  • Can be used on various embroidery machines

What could be better:

  • Suits beginners only

Features
  • Compatible with: Windows 7/ 8.1 /10
  • Use for: lettering and monogramming
  • File format: PES, PHC, SEW, JEF, HUS, PCS, DST, XXX, EXP, SHV, VIP, VP3, ART

Extra features: use for 4″x4″ and 5″x7″ hoops, 25 lettering fonts & 5 monogramming fonts, merge designs

An easy-to-use software suitable even for those who have never used an embroidery machine before, the Brother Initial Stitch Embroidery Lettering & Monogramming Software includes a variety of useful editing tools such as reshape, resize, flip, centre, and align tools. One of the reasons many users love this software is the fact that it is compatible with most brands of home embroidery machines and is very easy to master in just a couple of hours.

The software lets users review their designs on a variety of background colors, and you can also choose your own imported fabric to see exactly how the design would look before stitching. Compatible with PCs running Windows 7 and later, this software comes as a prepaid download, so you will need an Internet connection to redeem the activation code and download the software. You can use this software with any model of Brother embroidery machine, as well as with machines from other brands that use the file format specified in the manual. Many users mentioned that the budget friendly price makes this software attractive for beginners, and that you get a lot for your money since it features 25 built-in lettering fonts and five monogramming fonts.

What we liked:

  • Easy to learn
  • Works with all Brother embroidery machines
  • Multiple editing tools including resizing

What could be better:

  • Not compatible with Mac
  • Requires Internet connection for activation

Features
  • Compatible with:Mac OSX 10.5 & Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8
  • Use for: making alphabet designs
  • File format: ART, ART42, ART50, ART60, CND, CSD, DST, EMB, EXP, EXP+, HUS, JAN, JEF, JEF+, PCS, PCM, PES, PHB, PHC, PHD, SEW, SHV, TAP, VIP, VP3, XXX

Extra features: maps fonts to your keyboard fast and easily

 

The Embrilliance AlphaTricks Embroidery Software can be used on a Mac or PC machine, it has a host of useful features and it comes at a great price point. The AlphaTricks Embroidery software allows the user to convert their existing stitch filer per letter fonts into the equivalent Embrilliance platform functionality. So, when you use this software you can arrange and type your letters easily. There is no need to place your letters manually to create complete words and form monograms. This is a great time saver when you’re working on complex embroidery projects using letters.

It’s easy to get started with the Embrilliance AlphaTricks Embroidery Software because there is a free demo to test it thoroughly before you make a final purchase. Even pèople that have little experience with Embrilliance as a company or a negative impression should give this software a try. It has a great deal of functionality and it is well worth the modest investment. Another key feature is the excellent online support, if you do encounter a problem it is solved quickly and this gives you peace of mind. There is an online tutorial to help you get up and running quickly and the price is very reasonable.

What we liked:

  • User friendly interface
  • Great selection of fonts
  • Works on Mac and PC
  • Excellent support
  • Great price

What could be better:

  • Instructions are absent but there is an online tutorial
  • The size of the fonts cannot be adjusted

6.

BuzzEdit v3 – Embroidery Design Editor Best Embroidery Software for Automatic Borders

Features
  • Compatible with: Windows 7/ 8/ 10/ Vista/ XP
  • Use for: embroidery stitch editing, basic digitizing and customization
  • File formats: compatible with all formats

Extra features: automatically creates borders and wreaths, stich editing, auto-hooping

This powerful embroidery software and stitch editor is compatible with Microsoft Windows 10 and earlier and is one of the best choices out there for those who are interested in embroidery stitch editing. With the help of this software, you can easily add, delete, or move stitches while also being able to digitize objects to edit them further. Users love the appliqué function of this editor that allows you to finish your designs in one step, as well as the Continuous Border Wizard that allows you to create continuous borders with perfect alignment every time.

One of the best reasons to purchase the BuzzEdit v3 is the fact that you can use files in just about any format and save your designs in various formats as well, which are compatible with many of the embroidery machines available on the market. Moreover, this software allows you to enlarge your designs and shrink them to obtain the perfect size with just a couple of clicks, while also letting you change colors and print out your designs in their real size.

BuzzEdit v3 has a print worksheet function that lets you select the threads and colors with ease. Moreover, it features a Wreath Wizard, which coordinates label designs and wreaths and sorts the colors automatically to save you time.

What we liked:

  • Compatible with all formats
  • Superb embroidery stitch editing
  • Design resizing feature

What could be better:

  • Not compatible with Mac

7.

Vikant Ultimate Explorer Software 1.04 PlusBest Embroidery Software for Windows

Features
  • Compatible with: Windows 7, 8 and 10
  • Use for: transferring embroidery designs to and from cards
  • File format: PES, PEC, PHB, PHC, HUS, SHV, VIP, VP3, JEF, JEF+, SEW, DST, EXP, XXX, ART(v1-3), EMB(v1-6), JAN(v1) and other

Extra features: automatic un-zip. 3-D view to see the thread texture of the design

The Vikant Ultimate Explorer Software 1.04 Plus allows you to automatically resize your embroidery design right down to the stitch and hoop sizes. You can also convert your embroidery designs into different formats to save space on your hard drive. This functionality includes formats, such as: Brother, Bernina Deco, Baby Lock, Simplicity, Viking, Pfaff and more. The Ultimate Explorer 1.04 Plus reads a wide variety of embroidery file formats, including: PEC, PES, PHC, PHB, SHV, HUS, VP3, VIP, JEF, JEF+, DST, SEW, EXP, ART(v1-v3), EMB (v1-v6), XXX, JAN (v1) and many more! In fact, there is no limit to the number of designs that you can write to your cards other than the available card space. An auto Unzip 3D viewer allows you to see right down to the texture of your embroidery design.

The The Vikant Ultimate Explorer Software 1.04 Plus is compatible with Windows 7,8, 8.1 and 10. Although you cannot digitize your designs with this program you can easily transfer them with the Ultimate box software. As well as resizing you can Mirror and Rotate your designs easily. This software can be upgraded to work with Ultimate Boxes that have a USB connection. Even if you are using a USB to Serial converter cable you cannot use the upgraded software without a dedicated USB connection. This software can be a little complex, but you can find full instructions on the installation process at the Vikant-emb downloads page.

What we liked:

  • Works with a very wide selection of embroidery file types
  • You can resize, rotate and mirror designs

What could be better:

  • Will not work on a Mac
  • The installation process is complex

Features
  • Compatible with: Mac OSX 10.5+, Windows XP, Win-10
  • Use for: reading embroidery designs
  • File formats: ART, ART42, ART50, ART60, CND, CSD, DST, EMB, EMD, EXP, GNC, HUS, JAN, JEF, JEF+, PCS, PCM, PES, PHB, PHC, PHD, SEW, SHV, TAP, VIP, VP3, XXX

Other features: realistic 3D view, works with .svg, .fcm(Brother Scan ‘n Cut), .studio (Silhouette Studio) and .scut4 (Sizzix eClips)

The Embrilliance Thumbnailer Embroidery Software is extremely helpful if you’re one of those creative people that tends to lose their created designs after using them. This software allows you to browse the embroidery designs in Explorer on a PC and in Finder when working on a Mac. If you’re using a Mac you can even look at your work using the Finder Preview function. When you can check your designs by browsing through your folders it’s a real time saver and you’re less likely to misplace a design that you love.

When you install the Embrilliance Thumbnailer Embroidery Software on your computer you are not limited to that single machine. The software license allows you to install the software on as many computers as you like. In fact, you can even use the installation program to install the software on a PC and a Mac if you use both types of computers in your home. The software interface is very user-friendly and Thumbnailer is compatible with 28 different embroidery file formats and as an added bonus this software comes with an extra 6 quilting formats.

What we liked:

  • This software is very simple to use
  • Beginners and advanced users will appreciate the clean design
  • Thumbnailer works on PC and Mac
  • The software license allows multiple installations
  • This price is very affordable

What could be better:

  • The initial setup can be a little technical
  • There is no free demo to try
9.

Janome AcuStitch SoftwareBest Software for Janome Embroidery Machine

Features
  • Compatible with: Windows; Janome MC14000, 12000, 15000, 9900, S9, 400E, MB7, MB4
  • Use for: transforming decorative stitches into embroidery files
  • File formats: n/a

Other features: simple settings, easily makes beautiful shapes such as Polygons [corner alignment], Radial Shapes [centering], Circles and ellipses [joining start and end points] etc.

The Janome AcuStitch Software is a great program to arrange your stitching patterns into a variety of shapes, add fonts and import embroidery designs. The options are impressive, they include: 17 creative shapes, 11 fonts (3 cryllic), 46 border design stitches, 117 stitch patterns, 102 normal sewing stitches, 2 letters and 3 monograms. A hoop selection feature allows you to change the hoop directly from your program menu while you work inside the software. The stitch patterns include: Decorative 30, Heirloom 23, Pictograph 13, Long 7, Quilt 33, Play 3 and Applique 8.

Editing is simple when using this software, you can copy, resize, paste, flip vertically and horizontally, center your designs, layout corners and do your lettering. The background grid can be altered from 1mm up to 30mm with a 10mm default setting that matches the hoop template. Every change can be saved to a USB key until you’re ready to stitch it out on your machine. The Vikant Ultimate Explorer Software 1.04 Plus has a minimum system requirement of Windows 7, 8.1, 10, at least 512mb of RAM and a DVD drive to install the software from disk.

What we liked:

  • A large variety of stitches, fonts and patterns
  • Easy to import embroidery designs and add fonts

What could be better:

  • This software doesn’t run on a Mac

Things to Consider

Without effective software, you may not be able to use all the functions of your embroidery machine. Even though many of the embroidery machines you can purchase these days come with their own library of designs and built-in software, you may quickly find that those designs are not quite enough for those who are highly creative. If you require embroidery digitizing software, you may find it rather tricky to choose the best software for your needs. Below is a buying guide that will help you make an informed choice.

Advantages of choosing top-quality embroidery software

One of the main benefits of having a top-quality embroidery software installed on your computer is that you are no longer limited by the designs offered by your embroidery machine when it comes to unleashing your creativity. Even though the designs that come built in embroidery machines might be enough for people with embroidery as a time passing activity, if you are serious about your hobby or if you are doing embroidery commercially, you need software that does more than simply storing some designs and stitches. For example, you may need a program that allows the use of scanned images so you can create the exact designs your clients want. Some of the most powerful software programs for embroidery allow you to create complex designs by yourself.  Finally, you may need software that allows you downloaded images from specialized websites.

Features to consider when choosing embroidery software

540_001As you would expect from any kind of computer software, there are multiple features to consider when choosing the best digitizing software for embroidery machines. Some of the most essential factors to look at before deciding which software would work best for you include its compatibility with the operating system of your computer, whether it is a suitable choice for commercial embroidery, the format uses for uploading and downloading files, as well as the price range to make sure it is within your budget.

Operating system compatibility

Many of the embroidery software products available on the market are compatible with both Windows and Mac computers, but you need to check on an individual basis to make sure your preferred option will work on your computer. You may find that many of the low priced and by the choices out there are only compatible with Windows computers.

Even if you are looking for embroidery software that works on Windows, you need to make sure the software is compatible with your version of the operating system.

Key functions

Brother Luminaire Innov-is XP1 Sewing, Embroidery, & Quilting MachineSome of the key functions you need to look for when shopping for the best embroidery software program include the ability of editing and creating designs as well as the existence of a monogramming and lettering function. If you want to create your own designs or edit your own creations or designs that you have downloaded from the Internet, you need to make sure the software you choose has the capability to edit and resize everything according to your needs. If you are looking for quality software to use for monogramming, you should make sure that the one you choose has all the text patterns you may need or special functions that you can find in Embrilliance Essentials or  Brother Initial Stitch software.

Because different embroidery machines use different formats to import and export design files, you need to make sure that the software you choose can handle the formats used by your particular machine.
You need to make sure that the embroidery machine has the ability to read the files created by the software, and also check whether you are existing designs you may have in your collection can be read by the software as well.

Commercial embroidery software vs. home-use

Depending on whether you use your embroidery machine at home as a hobby or as part of a business, you may need different features and functionality from your embroidery software. For example, our best all-around choice, the Embrilliance StitchArtist Level 3 Digitizing Embroidery Software for Mac & PC is a wonderful choice for those who are looking for a wide variety of functions and features that may optimize their designs used in a commercial way. However, the same software maybe a bit too much for someone who only uses an embroidery machine as a hobby, not only when it comes to price, but also because it may take a lot of practice to master the software. A simpler solution such as the Embrilliance Essentials, Embroidery Software for Mac & PC would be a better choice for embroidery enthusiasts.

 Price range

Embroidery software varies in price from under $100 to over $700, so it’s important to keep in features and functionality you need before deciding what kind of money are you willing to spend on this type of program. As a rule of thumb, you should not skimp if you are planning to use the software commercially, but you shouldn’t overpay for a software with complex functionalities are a home user who is highly unlikely to use all of them.

Free embroidery software vs. paid:

brother-luminaire-innovis-xp1-sewing-and-embroidery-machine-[4]-7207-pYou can find free embroidery software online and many users decide to use that first before buying dedicated software. However, keep in mind that paid versions of software offer better customer support and instructions, and you also benefit from getting all future updates. This is particularly important for those who are using the software commercially. You should also remember that a free application might not be a suitable choice for all your needs, with many free versions of paid software allowing you to access just the basic features to get a taste of the product. Generally, paid software is the way to go for both home users and professionals because it offers more functionality and better options, together with working smoother and allowing access to responsive technical customer support.

FAQ

The digitizing software you purchase does not interact with your embroidery machine, which means that you need to know what kind of files your machine can read before making a purchase. You should check the formats the machine reads by having a look at the manual provided by the manufacturer. If you have a collection of existing designs that come in multiple formats, it would be a good idea to make sure that the software you choose can read them all.

Resizing and aligning embroidery designs is not an easy task, as you need to change the stitch properties and change the settings of the underlays to avoid distortions. Depending on the software you use, you may need to complete one or more steps for digitizing and resizing.

Most of the times, you can use embroidery software on multiple computers, which comes in handy for businesses or families who want to share the program. Check with the manufacturer beforehand to confirm, though, because sometimes usage is limited to a single computer.

Again, this depends on your embroidery machine. Some models allow a direct connection to your computer, where you can import and edit the designs. Others require the use of a USB flash drive. In any case, you need to make sure the formats are compatible with the software.

Not all software allows you to split designs, and this is often a feature that you find on higher-end software, such as out top choice, the Embrilliance StitchArtist Level 3.

Our Verdict

No matter what type of software you need, it’s important to look at all the features and functionality it provides before making the choice. If you are looking for a complete solution that works well for professionals and enthusiasts alike, our top choice is the Embrilliance StitchArtist Level 3 Digitizing Embroidery Software for Mac & PC, which features a multitude of options while being available for both PC computers and Mac. If you are looking for the best embroidery software for beginners, the Embrilliance Essentials, Embroidery Software for Mac & PC as everything you need to get started right away without hindering your creativity.

Finally, those who are looking for a straightforward software that allows you to complete various embroidery tasks in a single mode may have a look at the Embrilliance StitchArtist Level 1 Digitizing Embroidery Software for Mac & PC .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *