5 FREE Machine Embroidery File Format Converters

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If you need an embroidery design in a different file format, then you need to convert it. 

Thankfully, converting embroidery machine file formats from one machine file format to another is often straightforward.

And, there are so many free embroidery file format converters!

Check out my five favorites below.

free embroidery file format converters

Converting Image Files vs. Converting Machine Files

Before you get too excited about how easy it is to convert files, it’s important to know what you can and cannot convert. 

Converting an image file (.jpg, gif, .bmp, .png, etc.) to an embroidery file cannot be done with basic embroidery file conversion software. The reason is that image files don’t contain stitch information, which embroidery machines need to work. 

To convert image files, you need an embroidery digitizing program or a high-end embroidery machine with onscreen auto-digitizing and editing capabilities.

Thus, this article does not focus on converting pictures to embroidery files but rather on changing embroidery files from one type to another. 

Types of Machine Embroidery Files

Not all embroidery files are created equal, and conversion from one type of file to another might not always yield good results. 

Here’s a quick overview of embroidery file format types so you can understand limitations. 

A. Native Files (Design, All-in-One, or Outline Files)

Native files are created and edited in your specific embroidery software. Examples include EMB (Wilcom), ART (Bernina), and JAN (Janome).

These design files contain the most extensive design information of all file types and can be scaled without decreased design integrity and converted to any other format without information loss.

However, embroidery machines cannot read native design files, so you must first convert or export the design to a machine file. 

B. Machine Files (Stitch Files)

Machine embroidery file formats are specific to different brands of embroidery machines. Examples include JEF, PES, HUS, and XXX for Janome, Brother, Husqvarna, and Singer, respectively.

Machine files are less information-rich than native files as they don’t contain object information. As such, there are limitations to how much scaling you can successfully do within your software. 

Now, you can convert machine files from one format to another (for example, to a PES file from a JEF file), but always spot-check after conversion. If you have a native file format of a design, instead opt to convert this type for more consistent results. 

Also, converting a machine file to the more complex native file type isn’t perfect.

Your software may attempt to recreate the object properties, but you won’t have as much control over a design converted to a native file as you would a design that was created first in a native file format. 

A Note About DST Files

DST files (Data Stitch Tajima) are an old file format that most embroidery machines can read. They are even less complex than machine files and don’t contain thread color information. 

You can convert a DST file to your machine-specific file if you’d like, but the machine file will still not contain color information.

FREE Machine Embroidery File Converters

When I mention machine embroidery file format conversion from here on out, I’m referring to converting one embroidery file format to another embroidery file format. Basically, saving an already-created embroidery file in a different file format with a different extension. 

If you already have embroidery digitizing software, you should be able to convert files easily or save newly created designs in various formats. 

However, if you don’t have software and accidentally purchased the wrong format of an embroidery design or want to convert to more embroidery file formats than your software supports, here are five free embroidery file format converters online that you can use to get the correct file format.

1. DIME Embroidery ToolShed

Dime Embroidery Software

Supported Embroidery File Formats: C2S, CSD, DAT, DSB, DST, DSZ, EMD, EXP, HUS, JEF, KSM, M3, PCM, PCS, PEC, PES, PHC, SEW, SHV, SST, T01, T05, TAP, U01 series, VIP, VP3, VP4, XXX, ZHS, ZSK

Created by Designs in Machine Embroidery, ToolShed is native to PC but will run on MAC with their free MAC dimeTRANSLATOR.

You don’t have to provide personal information to download the software, and it doesn’t take up much space on your computer. 

What’s helpful about dime Toolshed is it supports a wide variety of embroidery file formats, including some of the more obscure file formats for multi-needle embroidery machines. 

And, the free ToolShed software does more than save embroidery designs in different file formats. It also allows users to simulate design stitching, resize designs, filter junk stitches, and change thread colors. 

It also has the ability to set a default thread palette so there’s no need for embroidery thread color conversion charts to use your thread brand for all designs. 

And, if you check your file folders, you can find a selection of free embroidery designs!

The short, helpful manual in the program interface is all you need to get started learning to use the software. 

The software is part of a more extensive suite of premium embroidery software created by dime, which means if you love the software and want to expand to a digitizing or more specialized software, you can! For instance, adding modules like My Fabric Designer, My Block Piecer, and My Lace Maker. (You can try all these free in the software but cannot save files.)

2. My editor

my editor free embroidery file converter

Supported File Formats: ART, CND, DST, DSZ, DAB, EXP, HUS, JEF, KSM, M3, MLS, NGS, PEC, PES, PCM, PCS, SAS, SEW, SHV, SST, SWF, TAP, TBF, VIP, XXX, and a few others.

Created for PC, my editor is the free embroidery software created by the company Wings Systems.

While not a digitizing embroidery software, in addition to converting embroidery file formats, my editor allows users decent control over the editing of embroidery designs. 

Valuable features include aspects such as generating a printable template of an embroidery design, editing stitches, previewing embroidery stitch-outs, exporting an embroidery design to an image file, and resizing embroidery. 

Their software’s native file format is .ngs, so be careful when you edit or create new embroidery files that you don’t download in that format. I had accidentally set my software up to save in .ngs format instead of exporting in .pes format, which meant my Brother embroidery machine wasn’t reading any of the designs I was editing. 

3. BERNINA ARTlink 9

Bernina ARTlink 9 software

Supported Embroidery File Format Types: ART, CSD, DST, EMD, EMB, EXP, GNC, HUS, JEF, PCS, PCD, PCM, PCQ, PEC, PES, SEW, SHV, VIP, VP3, XXX

BERNINA ARTlink 9 is a small teaser to their more professional embroidery software. 

ARTlink allows embroiderers to open embroidery designs in various formats and export them in just as many. 

In addition, other functions of ARTlink include previewing designs, creating templates, and previewing stitch-outs in slow motion. 

What’s great about ARTlink is it can also read EMB files, which are native to Wilcom products.

Wilcom recently discontinued their free Wilcom TrueSizer software, but thankfully, this software can be used as a free replacement.

You must register for the software by creating a Bernina account and giving your email, full name, and location. 

Overall, this software is nothing earth-shattering, but it’s free, simple, and easy to use. 

4. Ink/Stitch

Inkstitch can convert embroidery files also

Embroidery File Format Extensions (Reading): DST, DSZ, EXP, EXY, FXY, JEF, KSM, PCD, PCM, PCS, PHC, PEC, PES, SHV, SEW, VP3, XXX
Embroidery File Format Extensions (Writing): DST, EXP, JEF, PEC, PES, VP3

If you download the open-source, vector-based graphics program Inkscape, you can add the Ink/Stitch extension for embroidery design conversion, customization, and creation. 

Ink/Stitch is the best free digitizing software option currently, as it allows users to create embroidery designs from scratch. However, it carries a learning curve if you want to do more than convert embroidery files from one format to another.  

Their current list of supported embroidery file formats isn’t as comprehensive as most other programs. Still, in addition to running on PC, it’s an embroidery file converter for mac operating systems. 

I highly recommend giving Ink/Stitch a try if you want to learn to digitize and create your own embroidery designs but have no budget for software. 

5. StitchBuddy

Stitch Buddy HD

Embroidery File Format Extensions (Reading): DST, EXP, JEF, JEF+, JPX, KSM, PCD, PCS, PCQ, PEC, PES, SEW, VP3
File Formats (Write): JEF, DST, EXP, PCS, PEC, PES

One of the best embroidery apps for Mac, iPhone, and iPad only, StitchBuddy converts embroidery designs between the file formats listed above. It performs other embroidery editing functions like thread color management, stitch modifications, and stitch simulations. 

There are two versions: StitchBuddy Mac for Apple computers and StitchBuddy HD for iPads and iPhones. 

The one caveat of StitchBuddy is file saving and other app features are only free for designs under 1,000 stitches. To save larger designs, you must make an in-app purchase, which is $49.99 for Mac and $9.99 for iPhone or iPad. 

Free Trials Worth Checking Out

So, if none of the above programs fit your file conversion needs, here are several software options that might do the trick. 

WilcomWorkspace Studio

WilcomWorkSpace Studio online

Replacing the free Wilcom TrueSizer, WilcomWorkspace now costs $49/year or $4.08/month and offers basic functions. 

There’s a 14-day limited trial where you can examine the software, but unless you plan to use Estimator or other Wilcom products, I recommend just sticking with the above-listed free software, which can do more things.

One big bonus of WilcomWorkspace, though, is it is an online embroidery file converter rather than software downloaded to your device. 

SewWhat-Pro

how to convert files in sew what pro

SewWhat-Pro is an affordable embroidery editing and customizing software with a 30-day free trial.

What’s excellent about SWP is you can also batch convert large groups of embroidery files in their listed formats

You can also learn more about this software in my SewWhat-Pro software review!

BuzzXplore

BuzzXplore, created by Buzz Tools, is an embroidery management software used to convert design file formats and do other tasks. You can access a 21-day free trial if you’re interested in using it to manage your embroidery files. 

Embroidery Design Converter

I’ve never needed to explore this embroidery converter tool, but for a free trial and reasonable purchase price of $14.08, you can convert folders and subfolders of embroidery designs at one time. 

Hatch 3

hatch embroidery software review

I use and love Hatch 3 Digitizer, the most complex of Hatch’s four currently available levels. It currently comes with a 30-day free trial where you can export all designs, converted or created, in the format of your choice. 

I have a Brother embroidery machine, so I’m always using it as my default pes file converter. 

 

There’s no need to invest in expensive embroidery software if you only need to convert embroidery design files from one machine format to another.

These free embroidery file format converters will do the trick in almost all circumstances, so get started resaving your stash of embroidery designs. 

Still onfused about file formats? Check out this guide for what file types are best for embroidery!

22 Comments

  1. My main software is Hatch and for quick go-to conversion,resize, applique, merging overlays ,I use SewWhat Pro64..one of the best software I ever used

    1. Yes, I love SWP also! It opens so much quicker than Hatch on my computer, and I can make a basting box or nap-tack stitch so much faster, too.

  2. I bought some cd’s a few years back for Hus format. I have purchased a BAi 15 needle embroidery machine. I need to convert the Hus format and I’m so confused. What is the simplest way to do so. I have no software on my PC to do this.

  3. Hello, Thanks for your great article. I am a complete newbie to machine embroidery. I only want to use the embroidery function on my Janome MC9850 now and again. However, I have downloaded some files to try out and they have downloaded as pdf and not jef. Will any of the recommendations above deal with converting the pdf to jef? thanks very much, Hariet

    1. Unfortunately, a PDF does not contain stitch data for embroidery machines, so you will have to use digitizing software to create an embroidery design from the PDF. You can try redownloading the files and see if there are any machine embroidery file formats that you could convert to a JEF or contact the digitizer for that file type if it was a design you purchased.

  4. Are there any free software out there? I’m totally new to embroidery. I’ve recently bought the brother se600 and expect it in the mail next week. I’ve downloaded a few designs from creative fabrics? I believe it is called. All the designs ive downloaded from there so far they all come in pdf format but says it can be converted to pretty well all formats. I need pes. I’m not sure how to do this with my phone. Can it be done by phone? To convert the files to pes format and transfer to machine?

    1. I have a post addressing free software: https://www.sewingmachinefun.com/best-free-embroidery-software-digitizing/

      Unfortunately, no free software will take a pdf design and automatically convert it for you to pes. (You need digitizing software for your computer with either auto- or manual-digitizing capabilities. Manual digitizing also has a big learning curve, although you can digitize the design manually stitch by stitch yourself from PDF to PES for free with Inkstitch.) Also, for the SE600, there’s no phone app that does it for you.

      If you have a Creative Fabrica subscription, there are like 40k+ embroidery designs in pes files included with the subscription, so I recommend downloading those. Even if you don’t have a subscription, there’s a section with free embroidery designs on their website that will all include the pes files. If you’re only downloading PDF files, you might be downloading from the graphics section rather than the embroidery section.

      1. Creative fabrica has so many files oh my gosh. I gave it a go with my machine and it’s awesome.
        Your posts are always the ones I come back to read, thanks for the help with your wonderful and informative web page 😀

        1. Thanks! And yes, I love Creative Fabrica–so many options, and they’re usually really good quality designs, too!

          1. I had never heard of Creative Fabrica. I don’t know whether to thank you or not!

  5. Hello,

    I’ve heard about inkstitch on a YT channel, and I was wondering if the equivalent but for illustrator did exist ? If I understood correctly, inkstitch digitizes vector designs from Inkscape and turns them into stitch designs ? Does the same exists for Illustrator ? Because pe design is way too expensive for me and also as a graphic designer, I know my illustrator, so I’d rather use it, but if it doesn’t exist, then I’ll use inkscape to create my embroidery files.

    1. Yes, you’re right. Inkscape does the vector design, and then the Inkstitch extension turns them into stitch designs.

      The “equivalent” extension for Adobe Illustrator would be the Embroidery i2 for Adobe Illustrator plugin. (It’s pretty pricey, though, also.)

    2. If I were you, I’d open my finished vector file in Inkscape, and use the Inkstitch extension to convert it to embroidery. There’s no need to have created the file in Inkscape, but that’s the free and easy way to convert!

  6. Hello, im a graphic designer and I would love to start embroidering designs. I design in the adobe programs (illustrator), what software can I use to digitise the .svg or other formats. Because I design in Adobe, it doesn’t need to be fancy. Anyone have any ideas?

  7. Buenas tardes me gusto mucho la información que diste, no sabia que habia convertidores gratis… estoy empezando en esto. Quise ver el archivo PDF que dejaste sobre “Cobertizo para herramientas de bordado DIME” pero no sale la información.
    si podrías ayudarme con eso, por favor.
    De antemano te agradezco.

    1. When you open the software, a screen will pop up. The bottom right has an icon that says “User Manual.” The manual can now be found there.

    1. BX fonts are proprietary to only Embrilliance, so you can only work with them in Embrilliance as far as I know. If you download the free Embrilliance Express, you can at least save any wording you create from the .bx files in the .pes format.

    1. Since OFM is proprietary to Melco, you’ll probably need to have Melco software to do it. They have a free DesignShop Sizer that may let you convert to PES, although I’ve never used that software before so make no promises. If not to PES, you can probably convert to DST at least, which most machines can read. Although, the color info won’t be maintained in the case of the DST.

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