If you frequent the Forums here at AnnTheGran or any other site, you will often see users asking which software for embroidery is the best. Some people even attempt to answer that question and some people know that there is no answer for it.
The reasons are (but not limited to):
- It depends on what you want to do
- It depends on what machine you have
- It depends on how much you want to spend (they are all expensive including all software for computers)
- It depends on what level computer user you are
- It depends on what day it is. . . . .
If there is one thing clear to me, it is that embroidery is moving at the speed of sound. It changes daily, has new innovations hourly and excitement from newbies (as well as experienced users) are driving the entire craft forward to exciting and new heights. I am so delighted to be a small part of that change. You must be a little pleased as well - after all - look at your first projects and your most recent projects. You will see your advancement in understanding and quality. That is really terrific!! Now, compare that to dusting your furniture - do you have the same satisfaction?
I do want to get the information together for Catalog Xpress (CX) and AlphaXpress (AX) in one place for you to bookmark and refer back to from time to time. We cannot remember everything and frankly, I even check back to ascertain information when I work with AlphaXpress (the one I use daily). Even using it daily, I can forget a shortcut that could save me time.
Recap for Catalog Xpress (Don't forget that there are other freebies and tips in with the CX and AX information):
- Making Notes for your designs. Among the BEST features of CX is the Notes feature. It allows you to keep information regarding changes, issues or anything you may want to keep. I keep things like the place where I purchased the design, the cost of the design and even how many times I have done the design.
- Using Search and what CX does and does not do. Search has a lot of methods for your use, not just by name. It is so useful that you can find a design very quickly. Additionally, many users have a question about where designs are kept on their computer. CX does not "hold" the design, it is data about your designs only. That is also explained in the link called Search.
- When you need to Resize CX is a great help. Your machine software may not be able to do an adjustment of more than a small amount. CX can do resizing, up or down as much as you like. Of course, it also adjusts the stitch count. You just need to be sure you are going to still have your design as you want it to look. That is where a 'discovery sew' can tell you if your design will be successful.
- Format and Converting a format is complex and not taken lightly. I have had some software convert and mistakes can occur. CX is excellent for changing your format. You may get a new machine that does not use your old format or find a design that has to be changed. Make sure you can trust your conversion software.
- Creating your own Colors with CX is quick and very important. You may want to change a rose from red to green to match your color scheme, but seeing is different than imagining. It can be quite interesting to make a change. Furthermore, if the background is dark, like denim, and your pattern is also dark, you may not get the 'WOW' factor you really want. A detail may be lost if the color is not right.
- The feature of Multiple Sorting is possibly not well known but could be the best of the features. You can place a design in multiple places. For instance, if you have a design with a kitten in a flower bed with a butterfly, you can place it in those three different places and be able to find it three ways. You don't have to remember what the theme actually is about, it will come to you in multiple ways. And, if you are thinking butterfly but when the kitten comes up with it, you may see that it is even better for your project than the one you originally were considering. This blog has the Bonus of how to use "Word, Excel, Power Point and other Microsoft applications FREE!
- I use the Arrange Designs frequently in my business because while I want to use the most appropriate design for a project to sell, I also want to use the one with the least amount of stitches or color changes to minimize my time and effort. This money savings will make me more profitable. I can also arrange my designs by color - Catalog Xpress automatically does this as it reads the colors so I don't have to plug in the information, it is already there. Size is another facet that I can use. After all, a large design on a little girl's pinafore just may not be the right one.
- Many software programs can print your designs, but with Catalog Xpress, printing is flexible. You can print any size from a thumbnail to a full page and any where in between. This makes a great method to have the designs when your PC is not working or if you would like someone to see what you have available. It is portable and easy to manage.
- Combining Catalog Xpress and Alphabet Xpress. This is really a great way to create a personalized design. With just a touch of a link, you can take your design and add lettering from Alphabet Xpress. This is easier and faster than combining methods. You can see your design and change either the design or lettering with one program.
After giving Catalog Xpress a good look over, I began going over Alphabet Xpress and the great features it has available. Even if you have used Alphabet Xpress for a while, there may just be a tip or two for you to find among these aspects. Even when software has a good tutorial, I have often found that there are elements hidden here and there that are rarely in books. I suppose there is no way for a developer to give every instance of what you may use or need. I love to poke around the drop down menus to see what I can use to my advantage. I hope some of these items will help you make the best and highest use of your Alphabet Xpress Software. And, if you don't have it yet, I really do recommend it!
- Buying Fonts is one of the first confusing things that a newbie faces. I know I was so confused on this one that I spent money unnecessarily. Who needs that? This blog is to help us all understand the differences between monogramming and fonts AND a good font vs. a mediocre font. I discuss how creating words, especially sentences and long writing is really best done with software. Adding letters one at a time is time consuming and can be a significant problem. One of the great things about AnnTheGran is that they do put these two software programs on sale from time to time.
- This program allows you to REALLY view the stitches. You can almost see the thread fiber molecules themselves. You can see how the stitches lay and you can switch to a different font if the stitching is not to your needs for your project. Some fonts are smoother or more ragged, so this allows you that view before you place one stitch on your fabric.
- Fonts can be customized to your hearts content. Take a single letter, word or group of words and make them standout in unusual ways. With AX you can take a single letter out of the middle of a word and make it 5 times the size of the rest of the letters. AX will adjust the spacing and you will have a unique project to be proud of.
- Creating a lengthy thought with AX. You can even do something as long as a Paragraph with AX. It does happen that I do hankies for brides and they want to tell someone special just how they feel on their most important day. I created my own messages for brides to their mothers, fathers, father-in-laws and even flower girls. I can change a single word on any of them quickly and easily. Again, one letter at a time would be too time consuming.
- My blog called Leather and Lace is one of my favorites. I don't digitize for a number of reasons, one of which is understanding 'Pull Compensation.' Pull compensation is tricky and a really experienced, knowledgeable digitizer can make a fantastic design. However, some digitizers have had this issue, then when you sew out your project and it is not as you expect, you think that you have done something wrong. Not necessarily so. Every software that I have seen for creating designs has what is called a "Recipe." That recipe calls for adjustment to the stitching. For more info on this, read the blog. AX, IMHO, does a good job on this issue.
- AX allows you to see stitching and what I call Reverse Engineering. This allows you to see the underlay and how the stitching will be laying. It is great to be able to see a design in its rawest form. You will learn what constitutes a good or bad design. If you are going to put in your time, effort and soul into a project, you want to have the best of the best to create your vision. AX is a great tool to help you know what you are looking at.
In all honesty, as I was putting this blog together, I had to scan over my own information and guess what- - - my review reinforces my recall of all the options for these two great software programs. It helps me to remember that there are features I don't use everyday, but can make good use of from time to time.
If you love embroidery, get the best equipment available to make it a true pride and joy.