How to get your designs to your embroidery machine

If you’re new to machine embroidery, you might be wondering how to get all those fabulous designs you’re finding online INTO your embroidery machine. Let’s see if we can make sense of this…

Dealing with .zip files

After you purchase a design online, you will download the files which are usually smushed together into a .zip file. If you’re new to .zip files, here’s how to get the good stuff out of them: Unzip on Mac or Windows.

Do I need software?

Most newer machines don’t need any software in order to transfer designs to the embroidery machine. Some machines simply drag/drop to the USB with no special software, while others require embroidery software to “decode” files first. My Viking Designer 1 machine needs that software step and maybe yours does too. Embroidery software is confusing, so I’ve got a separate article on that: Embroidery software.

Newer Machines with USB

After the files are on your computer and unzipped, simply move them to the USB stick that’s plugged into your computer. You can drag and drop or use whatever method you’re familiar with to move files. Then eject the USB and take it to your embroidery machine where you should be able to see those new designs. Need to know what kind of USB stick to buy? I’ve got a video about that: Which USB Stick works for Embroidery Machines?

Older machines with cards

The older embroidery machines still have a lot of milage left on them and can be a great value, but they use a dinosaur of a file system called memory cards. Many of them used proprietary cards that don’t work in any other devices. A card reader/writer is required so you can put your designs from your computer onto the card, then plug that card into the machine. You can still buy these card devices, like this one for Brother machines available on Amazon.

Super Fancy Wi-Fi machines

It’s amazing that in 2020, not every machine uses Wi-Fi to transfer files! I mean, we HAVE the technology but it’s not standard yet. Here’s some options on the market now:

  • Most brands include Wi-fi in their high end machines. Those machines typically cost over $2000 and can run upwards to $15,000 for a HOME embroidery machine. (2022 update – Brother & Babylock added new machine under $2k that use Wifi now)
  • If your machine uses USB, you might like this device that that allows wireless transfer to your USB embroidery machine.
  • The Elna Air Artist is under $400 but it’s a small 4×4 hoop. Hopefully others will catch on and include this important Wi-Fi feature into ALL their future machines.
  • The Eversewn Sparrow has built-in WIFI capability and uses about a 5×7 hoop. It retails in the $800 range and connect to an app on your cell phone.

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