Best Embroidery Software of 2018

Rebecca Spear ·
Digital Photo Editing & Small Appliance Writer
Updated
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We’ve evaluated pattern-making and embroidery software for three years, most recently comparing eight programs for over 35 hours to find the software with the most freedom to create designs, along with simple interfaces and helpful support features. We found KnitBird to be the best software overall because its clean interface allows you to create and edit embroidery patterns quickly and efficiently. When you’re done creating, you can choose between two export options. Available for both Windows and Mac, it is compatible with most computers. 

Best Overall
KnitBird
KnitBird is a clutterfree, easy-to-navigate program. As a knitting embroidery software, it can help you make intricate stitching designs, but it doesn't allow you to create clothing patterns.
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Best Budget
Intwined Pattern Studio
Intwined Pattern Studio allows you to make charts for knitting, lace, crochet and weaving, and it offers over 200 symbols, stitches and cables to help you design custom embroidery patterns.
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Best for Clothing Patterns
Dress Shop Quick Start
Dress Shop Quick Start is perfect for anyone who wants access to a range of clothing patterns. It allows you to make adjustments to 20 designs, including dresses, skirts, blouses, shirts and outerwear.
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Best Overall
KnitBird’s program makes it easy to create embroidery patterns out of your designs with just the click of a button. You can also move, rotate and flip specific parts of your designs.
There are several pre-programmed symbols for you to use in your charts, but the program also allows you to create your own symbols and add written instructions. When you are done creating your chart, you can publish it in a PDF or PNG format. When you import images, the program's adjustment bar allows you to choose how many colors to use in the converted pattern. This program is compatible with both Windows and Mac computers. Unfortunately, there is no formal tech support with this service and no community forum, but you can contact the creators via email, Facebook or Instagram. There are a few video tutorials on the website that help you see how the program works.
Pros
  • It has an intuitive interface.
  • The program adjusts colors in imported images so you can stitch them.
  • You can add customized symbols and instructions to charts.
Cons
  • There are no clothing patterns.
  • There is no community forum.
  • You cannot call a customer support representative.
$55.00KnitBird
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Best Budget
The program uses vector graphics, so no matter what size you choose for your project, it will never get pixilated. This program has powerful tools to help you design custom projects, and it costs less than many other programs on the market.
While the interface isn't as intuitive as other programs we evaluated, it does provide a wide range of tools to help you create your projects. It supports both in-the-round and flat knitting styles, and there is no limit on the size of your chart so you can create patterns as large or as small as you want. It’s worth noting that some users found the crochet and weaving options limited compared to the other categories this program offers. Additionally, the word processor is very basic and doesn't offer as many features as more advanced programs. This program is compatible with both Windows and Mac systems. When you are done creating your charts, you can export them as a PDF, BMP, JPG, PNG, TIFF or SVG. Should you have questions, there is a FAQs page and a user forum available on the website. You can also email a customer representative.
Pros
  • The stitch library has over 200 symbols for you to use.
  • It is both Mac and Windows compatible.
  • You can use unlimited chart sizes.
Cons
  • The interface isn't as intuitive as others.
  • This software isn't good at charting crochet.
  • The word processor is lacking.
$44.00Intwined
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Best for Clothing Patterns
You can choose between form-fitting, standard, relaxed or casual clothing options. It also gives you access to four sleeve types, 19 necklines and nine closure types. You can even add pockets or change the hemlines or garment length.
It includes a yardage calculator so you can quickly tell how much fabric is needed. When it comes time to print your patterns, this program marks the pages so you can tell exactly where they fit together. Quick Start is the most basic embroidery program offered by Livingsoft. You can also upgrade to the Deluxe or Pro software if you want more patterns or want the tools to design your garments from scratch. The website includes a FAQs page, and you can contact customer representatives via email. Be aware that it can take as long as 48 hours for the company to respond. The site also includes a gallery of other user's clothing creations, and you can purchase additional clothing patterns, including hats and purses. Unfortunately, there are no online video tutorials to help you learn the program.
Pros
  • It comes with 20 pre-designed clothing patterns.
  • It has a yardage calculator.
  • You can download additional patterns from the website.
Cons
  • You cannot create patterns from scratch.
  • This program is only meant for Windows.
  • There aren't any tutorials online.
$49.00Dress Shop
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Best for Home Accents
Filet Crochet v14.2 is a Windows-based pattern design program that helps you create home accents such as tablecloths, wall hangings and curtains. This software gives you the option to either print pre-made patterns or design your own.
It’s available for immediate download or on CD-ROM. Along with the patterns you pay for, there are also several you can download for free from Sand Castle Design. Also, you can upload your own patterns to the Sand Castle website for potential sale to other consumers. Filet Crochet features dozens of ready-to-use patterns with varied themes. When you’re designing your own pattern, you can use the variety of drawing tools and a mirror tool within the program. Once your image is complete, the software automatically determines stitching requirements and fashions the pattern. While this product is not available for Mac OS, we reviewed other programs, such as KnitBird, that are.
Pros
  • Automatically determines stitching requirements
Cons
  • Isn’t available for Mac OS
$39.95Sand Castle Designs
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Best for Expert Users
Bernina’s EditorPlus embroidery software helps expert users create intricate designs. This software lets you use the CorelDraw Essentials program to draw designs by hand, and you can also add digital effects. Another sophisticated feature of EditorPlus is that you can convert any digital image into an embroidery pattern.
Learning to use this software can be complicated given its many features, but Bernina provides an extensive tutorial library. Once you know how to use it, EditorPlus lets you customize thread color, stitch selection and size with precision. You can also learn to create PunchWork, StumpWork and multihoop designs. When you’ve finished your design, you can save completed files to a USB drive or send them directly to your sewing or embroidery machine. EditorPlus is not designed for beginners, and it is not compatible with Mac OS. Also, it interfaces only with Bernina machines.
Pros
  • Has a full suite of sophisticated design tools
Cons
  • Costs nearly $2,500
$2499.00Bernina
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Why Trust Us 

We've evaluated embroidery software for the past three years. Most recently, our comparison included eight programs and took over 35 hours to complete. We looked for a range of software including clothing-pattern, knitting, embroidery, crochet and filet-crochet programs. The software we chose focused in a few of these areas, but no one piece of software covers everything. We wanted a collection of programs that would be useful both to the established pattern makers and beginners alike. While we did not test these programs ourselves, we did look to user reviews and user ratings to determine which programs offered the best features and customer support. We attempted to keep our evaluation fair by looking for common features and comparing the programs against each other.

How We Evaluated 

In order to evaluate the best programs on the market, we chose software that had positive user ratings. Once we had compiled a list of eight programs, we took time to list each software's features and tools to see which ones offered the most creative freedoms within the best user interfaces. We noted programs that offered convenience features, since this increased a program's ease of use. For instance, clothing-pattern programs that offered yardage calculators scored higher than programs that didn't offer this feature.

The organization and layout of each program also went into our usability rating. Programs that are easily navigable and intuitive scored higher than clunky, cluttered programs. Since designing is all about using creativity, software that allows you to start from scratch or make adjustments to existing pieces scored higher than programs that offer little creative freedom. Pricing wasn't taken into account when we compared programs, but we did note whether or not a program was on the expensive or inexpensive side.

We also looked at each company’s support features. Any that offered FAQs pages and user forums scored higher than those that did not offer anything. We also noted whether or not you could contact customer support and gave more points to programs that offered various contact methods.

Important Things to Consider When Choosing an Embroidery Software 

Type of Patterns
When it comes to embroidery software, programs can vary depending on what kind of fibers they are meant to design for. Some programs simply allow you to create or alter pre-existing patterns for clothes. Others feature a range of charting symbols for crochet, weaving, embroidery, knitting and filet crochet. While some programs offer a range of tools, others work best for one specific project type, so look into the features and reviews before purchasing.

Price
Since there are so many kinds of pattern making programs on the market, the price varies drastically depending on the method you're looking at. Generally, embroidery software is the most expensive, with prices reaching up to thousands of dollars. This is especially the case if you’re purchasing software for an industrial embroidery machine. However, consumer-level machines you use at home usually come with a program or a limited number of pre-programmed designs. Before investing in software, you want to make sure whatever program you choose is compatible with your machine.

If want to make your own clothes from unique designs, dress making pattern software tends to be less expensive, though still on the high end of the spectrum, costing hundreds of dollars. Knitting and crocheting software tends to be least expensive and usually costs between $40 and $70.

Support
Technical support for these kinds of programs can often be on the skimpy side. Some programs offer little support at all while others provide multiple means for contacting customer service, FAQs pages, online tutorials and even user forums. If you want assistance from other users, choose a program that offers a community forum since this gives you the opportunity to learn from experienced pattern makers.

Price
We reviewed pattern making software ranging in price from under $25 to nearly $2,500. Since there are so many kinds of pattern making programs on the market, the price varies depending on the type of program you're looking at. For example, programs to make crocheting and knitting patterns are generally less expensive than programs for clothing design. Embroidery software is the most expensive, with prices reaching thousands of dollars. Before investing in pattern making software, you’ll want to make sure whatever program you choose is compatible with your needs and your machine.