Digitizing for embroidery

Embroidery files need to be digitized

One facet of ordering embroidery that creates confusion is the issue of digitizing. Many of our customers new to embroidery don’t know what it is and are startled to learn that they need to pay for it to boot.

Part of the confusion is the word “digitizing.” Some people assume that if they have a digital computer file, like a jpg of the logo they want embroidered, they’ve already taken the digitizing step. Unfortunately, no. When you supply artwork in a “digitized” format, such as a jpg, that does not mean that it has been digitized for embroidery.

Digitizing for embroidery is different from all other digitizing processes; it is specific to the output of embroidery. It’s the creation of stitching instructions written in a computer language that the embroidery machines require to operate. Said another way, digitizing converts a graphic and/or text into a data format that the embroidery machines need to have to run.

Digitizing for embroidery is a sophisticated skill. The person doing it is literally telling the machine how and in what order to lay down the stitching to get the desired output. If done incorrectly, the stitching will not lay down properly. It might create imperfections that are both unattractive and that can lead to premature wear or fraying, especially with repeated washings.

It pays to wisely pick your digitizer. Many companies have been sending their digitizing overseas, and the quality coming back has been inferior. This is especially true for more complex tasks such as gradient color blends. We use trusted service providers who stand behind their work.


In most cases, the digitizing fee is a one-time expense. Once a file has been digitized, we can use it over and over. We can also customize it, such as adding some text, for a modest editing fee.

When we need to digitize something for embroidery, we plan ahead for the possibility of using the file for different uses. When a client places an order for a pocket logo on shirts, for instance, we anticipate the possibility that the logo might at some future point be used for hats. By digitizing the file for multiple purposes, we potentially save the client the cost of digitizing a file for a different purpose.


You can also save money by using art that has already been digitized. This is the embroidery equivalent of clip art. We have thousands of images available, and if we don’t have what you need, we have many other resources for finding what you’re looking for, such as these.

Here is one site.

Here is another.

It costs nothing to go to these sites and poke around. If you find something you want to use in an embroidery project, call us. Let us know what site you were shopping from and what the item number of the graphic is. We will take it from there.

It’s also fun to go on these sites having absolutely no idea what you want to create. When you see some of the fabulous designs, ideas may spring to mind of what you would like to see in a finished embroidered product.


If you simply want to embroider something in text, you can have us embroider using a pre-digitized font. This could save you the expense of having the text digitized. We have a brochure on our Downloads Page showing the pre-digitized fonts available. It is a pdf file.