Do not waste your time and money on a home embroidery machine. A home machine has only one needle, so you will quickly become frustrated rethreading the machine for each color change. A home machine can not embroider thick garments (jackets) or caps. A home machine has a very limited sewing field (typically no larger than 5 x 7 inches).
  • Happy Voyager, with 12 needles, 12 x 12 inch hoop, and color LCD control screen.


Do not waste your time and money on home embroidery software. If you can not afford professional software, stick with stock designs and digitizing service bureaus.

Condensed embroidery file formats (e.g. Melco OFM format) are fully editable, if you have the appropriate software. Condensed embroidery file formats are analogous to vector artwork. If you need to resize an embroidery design, be sure you have a condensed embroidery file format. Resizing a condensed embroidery file format will result in a design with a different number of stitches.

Expanded embroidery file formats (e.g. DST) are analogous to bitmap artwork. Resizing an expanded embroidery file format will result in a design with the same number of stitches, but the stitches may be too long or too short, and too dense or not sufficiently dense to embroider well.

  • Melco DesignShop Pro Plus v9. Note: This is the software that Dakota Collectibles uses to digitize their designs. If you purchase Dakota Collectible designs in OFM format, you can edit them with Melco Design Shop.


Many stock designs, including those from both Embroidery Library and Dakota Collectibles specify Madeira Rayon thread numbers. Therefore, if you use Madeira Rayon thread, you won't have to try to match another manufacturer's colors to the colors of your stock design. However, do not bleach rayon thread. If the garment will need to be bleached (e.g. work clothes), use polyester thread.
  • Madeira Rayon 40 weight. For fine detail, use Madeira Rayon 60 weight thread.

Stock Designs

The quality and price of stock embroidery designs varies widely.


The price and quality of digitizing services vary widely. Digitizing services are most often priced based upon thousands of stitches (e.g. $4.00 per 1000 stitches). If the lettering is above or below rather than part of the design, I often remove the lettering before I send the artwork out for digitizing, since I can easily add the lettering myself. This can result in a substantial price savings.
  • Digitizing Mart. When you send designs to Digitizing Mart, be as specific as possible about what you want. What is the maximum number of colors that you want in your finished design (e.g. maximum of 12 thread colors). What kind of thread would you like them to use (e.g. Madeira Rayon 40 weight). What format would you like them to produce for you (e.g. both OFM and DST). What type of garment will you be using (e.g. cotton T-Shirt).


Follow the links to download a sample from each of these books, to get a better idea of whether the book is what you're looking for.