What Is Machine Embroidery Digitizing?
Author: Deb Schneider
Machine embroidery digitizing is an art form. Using embroidery digitizing software, a skilled
embroidery digitizer transforms an image or text to stitches, creating the image in a file format
an embroidery machine can read.
That's a fine definition but the reality is somewhat more involved.
Just as typing words into a word processor does not make one an author, being
able to open digitizing software on a computer does not make the operator an embroidery digitizer.
Embroidery digitizing is not a click-the-button-and-sit-back process.
Digitizing an image for embroidery requires an artist's ability to see the big
picture and the smallest of details. Experienced embroidery digitizers mentally dissect each image,
breaking it out into sections and layers, noting how each section relates to the others, how the
colors blend and merge and how the shadows play with the light to create the mood or atmosphere the
Then the digitizer utilizes the software's tools to separate those sections for
redrawing or resizing, stitching in underlay and overlay threads, assigning stitching sequences,
using thread to apply shading, and colorizing. The design is reassembled to create that original
impression, as much as is possible, in thread and it is ready for its first sew out.
Sometimes digitizing an image to thread is often not possible nor feasible.
Thread is three dimensional; it is not oil paint or digital pixels. An embroidery digitizer must
have an artist's creativity and problem-solving skills. A digitizer's canvas is the computer
monitor, the keyboard and mouse are the brushes and the embroidery digitizer's pallet is the
But the embroider's canvas is the fabric, her brushes are the machine, needles
and thread and her pallet is the program produced by the digitizer. The machine is only a robot
awaiting instructions and then doing precisely what it is told to do in the order it is told to do
it. Ruling out mechanical problems or operator error, if a pattern does not sew out correctly it is
not the machine or embroider's fault.
So the digitizer's work is not confined to a computer screen.
Knowledge of fabric types and the push-pull factor of each is also required. The embroidery
digitizer also needs to know about needles, thread, and stabilizers and, perhaps most importantly,
must creatively expand the 'boundaries' of machine embroidery.
A professional embroidery digitizer's attitude is: "Nothing is impossible!"
And that is what makes machine embroidery digitizing a fun and rewarding
About the author:
Deb Schneider is a machine embroidery design digitizer and PE-Design digitizing instructor offering
her <a href="http://www.windstarembroidery.com">machine
embroidery designs, Redwork embroidery designs and appliques</a> on her