Dear Domestic Embroidery Machine Manufacturers

Your machines are amazing. There is so much I could do with one! I could render a vector-based animated movie, convert each frame into a simple embroidery file, and sew out a frame at a time as a quilt. It would be amazing. I want to do that so much! And your domestic embroidery machines could do it. They are reasonably priced – a few thousand dollars is quite reasonable for a machine that can do that, and many are priced even lower. Such potential! The artist in me is drooling.

But the software. For some reason you sell software for insanely high prices. All I need is software that converts common vector formats (like .eps or .ai) to an embroidery file, and allows me to size it to fit your hoops, and get it into your machine.

To do that would cost me a minimum of $900*. And is Windoze only. Brother’s PE Design NEXT (which is the minimal “level” of software I’d need for my simple vector-to-stitches conversion) appears to cost about $1,000.  But I’m not sure – Brother’s web site doesn’t say, and they don’t offer it for sale online, only through “dealers.”

I understand it costs money to develop software for your machines. It also costs money to develop the machines. That’s why you sell the machines. Here’s a tip: The more useful your machines are, the more you will sell! Under the current regime of ridiculous embroidery software prices, you are selling fewer machines. I am not buying your potentially amazing machines because of the software issue. And I really really want an embroidery machine and would be happy to pay many thousands of dollars for one. I’m a ready and eager customer! But no sale.

I would buy one if I could design my own stuff for it.

Imagine a sewing machine that shipped with a limited set of licensed Disney® dress patterns, with a few more online you could download for $5 to $20 each. But sewing your own dress pattern would require expensive proprietary software, closed-source of course so it can’t be improved or debugged or customized. Or how about a sewing machine that uses only proprietary fabric? Which the sewing machine company has a monopoly on, so they sell it for $500 a yard? Sewing machines are popular and diverse because fabric is inexpensive, widely available, and can be used in any machine. The cheaper fabric is, the more sewing machines sell. Expensive proprietary fabric would mean fewer machines would sell. But that is exactly the idiotic business model embroidery machine makers have locked themselves into.

The more useful your machines are, the more you will sell!

Sewing machines are great because you can sew anything with them. Computers are great because you can make anything with them. Computers+automated embroidery machines would be great if you could embroider anything with them, but you can’t. Embroidery software for my Mac is $2,299!

Functional, accessible software makes your machines more valuable. Expensive, restricted software makes them useless.

Let me repeat: functional, accessible software makes your machines more valuable. Expensive, restricted software makes them useless. Which is a pity because they have so much potential.

*P.S. Yes I know there is Embird, which would “only” cost me $309 ($164 basic module + $145 font engine, to convert vector files) to be minimally useful for me (maybe – I can’t even be sure of that). Plus the cost of a PC (which isn’t actually that much because PC manufacturers, unlike embroidery machine manufacturers, know the value of their product increases the more useful it is, and so they encourage lots of software and even support Free Software so they sell lots of PCs, thus driving the price down further even while their manufacturers’ profits increase – think about that!) But Embird only converts  EMF, WMF and CMX   vector formats, so I’d need yet another program to convert a .eps sequence (or .ai or .swf) first.

There is also this Free svg-to-pcs (Pfaff) converter which I tried with this pcs-to-pes converter a few times and it didn’t work. And also doesn’t have stitch editing or further control. But it is promising.

Even the mighty Linus Torvalds knows about the embroidery software problem, but it’s still not fixed.

 

23 comments to Dear Domestic Embroidery Machine Manufacturers

  • Could’nt agree more. This is crazy.

  • Brace yourself, free app called Embroidermodder 2 is WIP :)

  • @Alexandre – the last update of Ebroidermodder was 2006, and the description says it’s for modifying existing designs, not converting vectors into stitches. Is Embroidermodder 2 something completely different?

  • The last update was in 2012: http://sourceforge.net/projects/embroidermodder/files/embroidermodder170/

    Embroidermodder is a design app indeed, and v2 is an upcoming major update by a different team of developers. Regarding conversion from EPS, SVG etc. — I haven’t looked at it for a while, so I’m not sure. You can ask Josh and Jonathan about it, though. They are awesome folks.

  • You’re right – I misread “06” as “2006.” How do I get in touch with “Josh and Jonathan”? I see no contact info on http://embroidermodder.sourceforge.net/ but aparently my reading comprehension is not great these days. ;-)

  • Nina,
    You should have my email now from the comment form. Trying to contact people thru sourceforge email relay unfortunately isn’t straight forward. There are exciting things happening in the development area and we have many great features coming.

    I have an old yellowed cutout of Nina’s Adventures “Think outside the Box” from back in high school :) Its good to get in contact with you. Alexandre gave me the heads up. It would be great to collaborate with you on some of your design ideas.

  • Great! Thanks! I emailed you.

  • [...] Click here to read the rest of the blog post google_ad_client="ca-pub-1933878761893180";google_ad_slot="1013574267";google_ad_width=468;google_ad_height=60; [...]

  • TG

    Monopoly pays, Nina.

    And don’t mention proprietary fabric to the manufacturers, because they’ll think it’s a good idea, preferably patented and controlled by chips restricted by the DMCA…

  • I am a free motion quilter, and you really hit the nail on the head as to why I have zero interest in an embroidery machine. It’s fascinating how sophisticated the machines have become, but I have absolutely no interest in having a machine that can put existing (can costly) doodles and designs onto my quilts. I would immediately change my mind if I could easily turn MY doodles and designs into embroidery.

  • Michelle R.

    You’re so right! I have a popular Brother embroidery machine that I got from my husband for Christmas. He bought a large accessory pack to go with it. Neither of us knew we’d need software too! A friend of mine has a very expensive Huskvarna Viking embroidery machine and invited me to attend a seminar about how to use that type of machine and their software. We both thought I’d walk away with some inspiration, which I did. I was told by an instructor there that I was in luck. I could buy their software and use it with my machine! Woohoo! What? It’s 30% off today only? What? 30% off makes it only $800+??? That was more than the cost of my Brother machine! I have since purchased a simple lettering software from Amazing Designs called Letter It ($99 eBay). It does everything that I want it to do since I really wanted to personalize and monogram. I can add lettering to any design that I have, and I have many to keep me busy. I’m sure I’ll want to graduate to more complex things, but for now I’m happily using my embroidery machine!

  • I completely agree with all of the points you have made here. The software for these machines are so expensive, almost absurdly so.

    Might I suggest you take a look at EQStitch? It doesn’t handle your use case of converting vector images, but it supports a large range of embroidery machines and is at a much lower price point:
    http://electricquilt.com/online-shop/eqstitch-embroidery-software/

  • Breanna

    Please post a follow-up if you find anything! I was looking at getting a embroidery machine, but I hit the same realization you did with the software. My workflow is exactly the same too, where I am using a Mac and creating vector artwork with Illustrator to be digitized. There’s NO WAY I want to use any of those gaudy embroidery designs that come with the machines or can be downloaded either, so an embroidery machine is useless until I can make custom designs.

    I just don’t understand how sewing machines have technologically advanced so much, yet the software is expensive, not that great, and many don’t support .eps or other common vector format conversions. Embroidery could be so much better…

  • Lorraine

    I agree. I have the Husqvarna Viking 3D professional which is now obsolete. Viking won’t even answer any questions regarding the 3D. They told me I had to upgrade to 4D before they would assist me. Now, they are up to 6D software. I can’t afford the software. The 3D will only work on Windows XP. It won’t work on my new computer (windows 7). I don’t know what software to get. the sewing machine/software companies figure if we want something bad enough we’ll pay their price. well, not me. I will keep looking, but will continue to use my 3D on my old slow computer.

  • Colleeny

    Would kill for a useable embroidery machine for small quanity of unit/team badges for some of the scouting and roller derby groups I am involved with.

    The software makes it a no brainer.

    Waiting for some genous to mach an android app for that.

    DOH
    Colleeny

  • Teginder Ravi

    I reckon Embroidery is not a very easy task which can be done with the help an app. an app is no match with year of expertise. it takes years of practice to Embroider a patch perfectly

  • Janet DeRhodes

    I just pulled my old embroidery machine out. Its a Brother Pacesetter 8200. My PE Design software is version 2.0, windows 95! My designs are on floppy disc if you can believe that. I had a good laugh until I realized I am at a loss as to where to go from here. I’m not interested in digitizing. I would rather purchase a design from a company like Amazing Designs. I’d like to Monogram too. I really do not want to upgrade to a newer machine. I was hoping to get some advice on the software available now. Any help would be appreciated.

  • Barrett Revis

    I do my own designs, I do my own lettering. I don’t need other people’s designs, I don’t need fonts. I don’t need to have my design “automatically” digitized using criteria I cannot control. I just need to be able to take a vector based image and digitize into a format one of these machines can reproduce while having some control over the stitching and color. I keep hearing that learning to digitize embroidery will take me years. That’s what they said about Photoshop, and I learned THAT over a weekend. Of course I had many years of experience as a professional photo re-toucher. I also have many years of experience embroidering by hand, so I’m pretty damned sure I can apply that knowledge if I can find some reasonably priced software… (@ Nina: I adore your work!)

  • Learning to digitize embroidery takes years because the software is such crap. Nothing is properly automated so you have to do everything manually if you want it to look remotely OK. It’s really stupid. To anyone familiar with decent graphics software, like Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Inkscape, etc., existing embroidery software is an outrage.

  • frank

    we use this program. it works ok and the price is ok.
    it is a steap learning curve like adobe programs. so you have to have some software experience to use it.

    http://www.stitchera.com/

  • Siora

    Did you try Corel Drawings? It works with .eps and .ai basic vector files without any problems and it’s way more professional than the usual software you get with that “for home use”-embroidery machines. Maybe it’s because of the typical buyer being not that keen on (or even capable of?!) making own embroidery designs of very high quality…?

  • Adrienne

    Singer has a software called Autopunch that comes with their Futura line. It has a program that converts vector files to embroidery files.The language it reads are .wmf files and .emf and it can also read a .bmp image. I dont really know the difference. I just know that I can doodle on a piece of paper scan it into my computer and then open it up in the Autopunch program. The problem is that the machine sews out poorly and it is fraught with issues. The good thing is that you can save the designs in any language that Other embroidery machines can stitch out in. So I design with the Singer software and stitch out with my Babylock Spirit which sews like a dream. You are lucky that you can play with the software and get something good. I am terrible with the vector stuff. It also has a software that turn photographs into embroidery design, but you have to be good with Photoshop in order to eliminate the unnecessary shadows and reflections. The embroidery brand that most of my embroidery friends really like is Compucon. They sell great software. I have the photograph one.

  • Beth

    We have been using THREADS embroidery software for a while now.. it has full digitizing, lettering and editing software… I would highly recommend it. (http://www.threadses.com/)

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>