Embroidery with Illustrator

Friday, I should have been playing the FML theme song. I found a plugin that is compatible with illustrator, and it only works with the PC version of my CS6 license exclusively for Mac … FML!!!

The tutorial seems like what I wanted, but it’s more expensive than the Bernia software: 

After some research I was able to answer the question: How much would it be to get a CC license and buy the Embroidery i2 plugin? Looks like it would be $20/mo for a year for Ai CC. Two years of that would exceed the price I paid for multiple programs, but they are only licensed for use on my Mac, not my PC … even so. DANG!

There was someone asking about the Embroidery i2 plugin a few years ago on the Adobe forum.. my response is as follows: 

I’ve been heavily researching this topic… The tutorial video looks like it would be perfect .. However, it’s not compatible with my version of illustrator on the operating system my license is for… so to pay $20/mo for a program I already have and pay $3500 for the plugin PLUS annual fees of $1500… *sigh* it’s everything I’ve been looking for and “surprisingly” its NOT affordable (for an amateur such as myself). Figures, I think more and more every day Embird Embroidery Software is winning. In response to the other comment, Embird and programs that are compatible with vector drawing don’t auto convert. Certainly, auto conversion/ auto tracing is not ideal… just like in Illustrator. However, when you import your vector file the goal is to use the vector paths/curves to make the design the way you want it sewn.. without having to re-draw a logo (which is not advised). Embrid PLUS Font Engine Plug-in = $400-$500 (How to Import Vector Graphics with Embird. Unfortunately, the trial version of the software doesn’t let you try it out and I have yet to see a decent tutorial on it). However, my findings are that this combination is the obvious choice. Even with this illustrator embroidery plugin; you would still need to learn how to use the plugin like any other embroidery software. So you might as well buy a new program, built for the trade, that fits your budget. Additionally a software with numerous free tutorials available to help you learn how it works. Sadly, Embroidery i2 for Adobe Illustrator was too good to be true 

Sounds like I need to buy Embird. I don’t think my 2003 Embird license and my 2003 Font Engine is compatible with the vector import feature. The menu is totally different now, and I can’t figure it out if it does or not..  which is a bummer. Perhaps, I could buy the base program and Font Engine Plug-in (with vector import feature) for my birthday, at which point I would feel better about spending that kind of money.  In the end, it would be worth it. 

Embroidery Software and Getting Started

Lately, I’ve had a need for a creative outlet. Recently I was inspired to look into how embroidery sewing machines work. More specifically, what would be needed to turn a vector drawing from Adobe Illustrator into an embroidery design compatible with my machine. I recently got a Bernina Artista 200, and it has been upgraded to be flash drive compatible. The upgrade turned my machine into a Bernina Artista 730. The internet alludes to the fact that these machines are more particular on what size of drive it wants to work with. In fact, the .exp files are quite small and do not need much space. So I was left with the question, what can you do to convert a large flash drive (from a trusted brand/ aka not a cheap one from China) into a small flash drive that is compatible with the sewing machine?

IMPORTANT note: most small flash drives–especially the ones that come from China or a similar areas–are NOT safe, and could contain computer viruses. I have many flash drives from trusted brands that I use all the time. A workaround this problem, is to format your flash drive and “partition” the available space to the size you need. I took an 8GB flash drive and told the drive it only has 256MB to write to. This way the flash drive acts like a small drive that will be compatible with machines that only want a smaller flash drive, like the Bernina Artista 730. I found a WordPress blog called Time Science that walks through how one might accomplish this, How to Downsize a Flash Drive..

I learned that the Official Bernina USB Stick is not necessary from Hoop Lah Carolyn Keber’s Blog, in her article Bernina USB Data Pens. Carolyn uses an Embroidery Program called Embird and she saves her designs as .exp files. I learned about Embroidery File Formats on youtube from Ultimate Stash Embroidery. He taught me that the embroidery master files types are .dst or .exp and they will work using any embroidery machine as well as the file type that is specific for your machine, in my case that would be .art, .pec, or .pes.

I also learned on Carolyn’s Blog about the free software available on the Bernina website for design transfer. It’s called ARTlink 8, I downloaded it and have yet to play with it. Seems like a promising way to write the file to the drive vs. drag and drop. My attempt to download .art files from the Bernina website and drag them to the flash drive I formatted was unsuccessful. I’m thinking the “write to machine” function is necessary for the files to be visible to the machine. I also don’t think I plugged in the drive before tuning my machine on, which was recommended.

My quest started by wondering if I could take a design I created with Adobe Illustrator and use an embroidery plugin to automate the design and not need an expensive hard to use embroidery software. I’ve learned that an embroidery software is needed and I can use my Illustrator skill set to trace a design with the Embird Studio and using the digitize tools. I’ve learned that this program is capable of auto trace, and if the density map shows green and yellow vs. red it will work OK. Just like in Illustrator the trace option is not as good as re-drawing your points with the pen tool. Embird has a tool like the pen tool that will help you define the outline of your design, and then add stitching to fit the design. It also has shape tools and layers similar to the Adobe Illustrator workspace. Once you are finished you can save the .exp file. Then use a program that can transfer the .exp file to your memory stick, like ARTlink 8. Turn off the machine and plug in the drive (Use flash drive as a transfer device, do NOT store your designs on it.. This tip is based on–the amount of time the drive takes to transfer depends on how many designs are on your stick. Keep it Simple Silly!). Turn on machine an click the USB button, on the Bernina this will be on the touch screen. Now use you machine to print the design to the hoop size it was created for.

I’ve learned on the internet Embird is the embroidery software I have been looking for. Instead of investing in the $2,500 Bernina Software (Version 8). Embird also seems more intuitive for someone who already is experienced with Adobe Illustrator, such as myself. All the programs I’ve found have a trial version, so you can always try it out and see if it’s worth a couple hundred dollars. If you only need it sporadically you can keep using the trial version on a virtual computer, or format your computer when you want the trial program again. Embird also has packages you can buy on top of the base program. However, if you don’t need it you don’t have to buy it. Where as, the Bernina Software comes in a big intimidating package; they expect you to get lessons from your local dealer, on top of all the fees you’ve already been hit by…   If I bought all the features Embird offers it might add up to $1,000. Again, I don’t need all the tools Embird has because I have design tools that I am already competent at using. Who knows, maybe later down the line I will feel the need to try the other perks Embird offers.

I found several tutorials on youtube helpful to decide on Embird Embroidery Software. So far, I really like the tutorials by, OML Embroidery. Here’s one of many tutorials I found helpful, Embird Quick Tip: how to digitize like a pro!

Happy Sewing!