Although I would not say I am anywhere close to being an expert at embroidery, looking back I have learned A LOT. If you recently purchased a machine or are curiously researching machines, this next mini series is full of helpful information to get you started. Today’s focus is on digital embroidery files, which seems like an easy concept, however, there are things that can may catch you off guard if you are not careful. First realize that each machine has a set size limitation so depending on how large your embroidery field is depends on which files the machine is able to read successfully.
Browsing on Etsy for instance can be full of roller coaster emotions if the field size is a basic 4 X 4 like the Brother PE550d as creators customize sizes to the design and it is never a one size fits all. Files sold in a multisite bundle also does not guarantee that it will include a size that works for every machine either. For 4 X 4 there will be files that may say 3.85” X 3.80”, 4” or they may even just say 4 X 4. After the test shown in the video below, my rule of thumb is to make sure it is no larger that 3.90” X 3.90”. If it says 4 X 4 or 4” for the size I will message the seller and ask for the distinct measurements or move onto another file. It is a bit weird that a 4 X 4 machine really cannot do 4” by 4” but it is just how it works. To simplify, it take the embroidery hoop and before the curves is primarily the active feild.
Once the file has the correct size listed in the description, the second step which is just as important as the size, is making sure the file format comes in your machines language. File formats are found in the manual and on the manufacture’s website. Typically formats vary by brand for instance most Brother machines read PES files. The easiest way to explain it is each format is a different language and if you try to use one that is different that what the machine knows it will not understand it.
Finding out if it is a quality file often times comes with experimentation and eventually building up a trust level for the seller. I will look for review photos over shop files since they tend to show you the design on a finished product rather than a digital photo. If the specific design you are wanting does not have a review photo look at other review photos for other files in the same shop.
Some shops will have a 100% satisfaction guarentee which is great, however, I have tried both shops with and without this and it does not mean anything in terms of if the files are quality or not. In fact some of my most trusted digital embroidery file shops do not have any type of guarantee. The reason for not having a guarantee is simply to limit the amount of fraud rather than not trusting their products. Even if the shop does not guarantee a refund if the file has a flaw, communicate with them. Often they are willing to help you but if you don’t reach out they will assume you are a satisfied customer.
No matter what always test new files first on a scrap piece of fabric. Instead of viewing it as a waste of time use this test to really analyze the file. Test colors, take notes on if there is a trace layer or not (used in appliqué files) and if the borders match up etc. There are many factors to consider and each file is unique so even if you’ve bought multiple files from the same digitizer it is wise to do a quick sample.