Over the years, I’ve had literally thousands of people ask me: what is embroidery digitizing? Although the answer to this can be rather complex, in the very simplest of forms:

Embroidery digitizing is tracing artwork with stitches using embroidery software to turn it into embroidery files.

what is embroidery digitizing

In terms of machine embroidery, digitizing is transforming pre-existing artwork into an embroidery design file that can run on your embroidery machine, by applying stitches to that artwork in your embroidery software. In other words, embroidery digitizing is using embroidery software to create a machine embroidery design file with a series of commands that tell your embroidery machine how to stitch out that design.

Now, if you’d like to try digitizing for yourself, I highly suggest you check out our Free Embroidery Digitizing Made Easy Challenge.

Although the explanation above is rather simple, I assure you that there is a lot more to embroidery digitizing than meets the eye. Embroidery digitizing is like painting with stitches, and just like painting, certain rules apply. Digitizing is all about the physical attributes of machine embroidery and learning how to use digitizing software to get the results you want. Choosing the appropriate stitch type & stitch directions is where the real learning curve is involved.

What all can I digitize?

 This is where the real fun is involved.

You can digitize just about any piece of artwork or image imaginable to turn it into your own custom embroidery design!

Whether it be your children’s drawings, a company’s logo, or an image you found on the internet, chances are you can digitize it.

In fact, when I owned and ran one of the world’s largest production digitizing houses, I started seeing everyday objects in stitches and thinking about how I would digitize them. For example, I would look at a matchbox and map out how I would digitize the logo on it.

Now keep in mind, there are some limitations in place. Unlike printing something, machine embroidery has more limitations in place given we are dealing with physical mediums like thread and fabric. That said, you couldn’t digitize the Mona Lisa onto a 2 inch patch and expect the same level detail.

Do I need to be artistic to digitize?

you don't have to be an artist to digitize embroidery

Another question I often get, is, “do I have to be artistic to digitize my own embroidery designs?”. The answer to this is:

No, you don’t have to be artistic to become a digitizer.

Remember that as long as you know the basic rules surrounding it, digitizing is like tracing but with stitches. I can barely draw a stick figure myself, yet I’ve won over 30 awards for digitizing in the commercial industry and have done work for thousands of large corporations. Although I’m not an artist, I would certainly consider myself ‘creative’. You can be a very creative person and still not be an artist. Every machine embroidery hobbyist I’ve met I would consider to be creative. This means that you’re just as qualified to become a digitizer as anyone else!

How long does it take to become a digitizer?

This is another question I get quite often. In my opinion, this is a bit of a loaded question. If I were to tell you it took a few weeks, but you only practiced 5 minutes every week, I would most certainly be lying to you as you wouldn’t have invested a significant amount of time. Like almost anything in life, the answer to this really depends on the question:

How much time are you willing to invest?

Like any other hobby, the amount of proper instruction & the positive results you experience will directly reflect your amount of interest you have in learning. Things like underlay stitches, understanding the three basic stitch types (running, satin & fill), push & pull compensation, and density are all key aspects that must be considered when learning how to transform artwork into an embroidery design.

I understand that some of these words (or all of them) might be new to you and seem foreign. The main thing to remember is that much like painting, digitizing is an art form that simply requires patience and, of course, a guiding hand from the right instructor. If creating or editing your own custom embroidery designs is something you’re interested in, this is where my online interactive digitizing education will prove an invaluable resource for you. Having over 10,000 students take my online interactive lessons and given the fact that I’m the world’s most awarded embroidery digitizer, I’m happy to say that I can get you past the learning curve quickly & easily. Which is why we have proven results.

Which embroidery digitizing software should I use?

Ok, so we’ve established that you can digitize almost any image, you don’t have to be artistic to digitize, and that like anything worth pursuing, it takes time and determination to learn.

The next piece of the puzzle is which software you should use to digitize? To properly answer this question, I highly suggest you check out my other blog article, “what is the best embroidery digitizing software”?

It breaks down some of the key factors you should consider while looking into digitizing software. However, for now, I would suggest you download a free 30-day trial of Hatch embroidery software through us to make sure digitizing is something you’d like to pursue before you financially invest in it.

I want to try digitizing. Where do I start?

Embroidery Digitizing 101

I would highly suggest you checkout our free Embroidery Digitizing 101: Cheat Sheet video course. You’ll learn a ton more about embroidery digitizing including:

  • What goes into creating designs with some basic digitizing theory
  • The layout of any design with the 3 main stitch types
  • How to hold your designs securely in place with underlay
  • Avoiding stiff bullet proof designs with density
  • Making sure designs line up properly with registration
  • How to avoid jumps & trims with mapping
  • Sew much more

Another great place to start if you don’t yet own embroidery digitizing software is with a free trial. I would highly suggest you try it first see if it’s something you’re interested in before moving forward & purchasing.

For that reason, as I mentioned above, I highly suggest you download a free 30-day trial of Hatch through us today. By doing so, you’ll also receive access to our Embroidery Digitizing Made Easy Challenge. In this free Challenge, you’ll follow alongside me in 7 bite-sized video lessons and create 6 designs yourself from start to finish! This Challenge is a free way to challenge yourself and try embroidery digitizing if you never have before.

Conclusion: Is embroidery digitizing for you?

The thing about embroidery digitizing is that it’s like olives… some people really like it, some people really don’t. Either way is fine! I realize that digitizing is not for everyone; it’s either you love it or hate it.

So is embroidery digitizing for you? Well, there’s only one way to find out…

Before you invest any money in digitizing software, I highly suggest you download the 30-day free trial of Hatch embroidery software through us here at Embroidery Legacy to see if digitizing is something you’d like to move forward with. I’m even sweetening the pot & throwing in some free digitizing lessons (with artwork you can load in) so you get the full digitizing experience.

If you enjoyed this article or have a question, please feel free to comment below now.