What File Types Are Best for Embroidery?

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Whether providing an image to a digitizer for logo embroidery or transferring an embroidery design from a computer to your machine, having the correct embroidery file format is essential. 

Not all image and embroidery files are created equal, so knowing the differences between the fundamental types will make your embroidery journey smoother.

Let’s dive into what file types are best for embroidery!

What File Types Are Best for Embroidery

What file is best for embroidery?

In short, the best file type for embroidery depends on your intended usage. 

For example, the best files for logo embroidery are vector graphics files, which are provided to a digitizer who then creates an embroidery design from that vector logo file.

In contrast, the best file for editing designs in embroidery software is a native embroidery file.

And, when transferring a design to your machine, you must use a stitch file compatible with your brand of embroidery machine. 

1. Best Files for Logo Embroidery and Digitizing: Types to Use

what file type to use for embroidery

Digitizers take art and create stitches, transforming that art into an embroidery design. 

As such, high-quality files are easier for digitizers to create high-quality embroidery designs from. A high-quality file is also best if you plan to auto-digitize.

The best files for digitizing logos and other designs are vector graphics files, which can be scaled without affecting quality.

So, when a digitizer zooms in and starts to trace areas and create stitches–or an embroidery software generates stitches during auto-digitizing–the cleaner, clearer path lines make the process more exact. 

Examples of vector files include Adobe Illustrator files (like AI or EPS) or SVG files. 

If you don’t have a vector file, no worries, though.

Providing a high-quality raster image file (png, bmp, gif, for example) is the next best thing, and quality digitizers can still work magic with low-quality images. 

2. Files Types for Editing Embroidery Designs in Software

embroidery native files for software

If you want to import an embroidery design to edit or customize in embroidery software, a native file type will allow the most editing. 

Sometimes also called design files, shape-based files, all-in-one files, Grade A files, or outline files, native design files are files created with embroidery software. Embroidery machines cannot read them. 

Native design files contain more design information than regular machine files and can be scaled without information loss, which is why they’re best to use with resizing embroidery designs.

Examples include EMB and JAN, which are proprietary to Wilcom and Janome, respectively. 

3. File Types for Transferring to Embroidery Machines

embroidery machine file formats

When loading a new embroidery design to your machine, the best file type to use is a machine file, also known as a stitch file. 

Machine embroidery file formats are specific to different embroidery machine brands and don’t contain object information like native files do. 

If you’re an embroidery digitizer, providing clients with various stitch file formats is important.

If your software doesn’t allow you to save in more than one format, you can use an embroidery file converter.

In general, common file types associated with major machine brands are:

  • Brother: PES, PEC
  • Janome/Elna: JEF
  • Bernina/Melco: EXP
  • Husqvarna Viking: HUS, SHV, VIP, VP3
  • Singer: XXX
  • Tajima: DST

To note, DST files (Data Stitch Tajima) do not contain thread color information but are commonly used by commercial embroidery machines and are also readable by most home embroidery machines. 

4. Preferred Embroidery Font File Formats

The easiest embroidery font file types to use are BX, ESA, or similar font file types. 

These font files are specific to embroidery software (Embrilliance and Wilcom software, for example) and can be used as keyboard fonts. 

In contrast, alphabet fonts in machine file formats (PES, HUS, SEW, etc.) are individual stitch files that must be added one letter at a time and will not work with a keyboard unless mapped. 

These take forever to add to a design, which is why I prefer my BX or ESA fonts!

Final Notes

As a quick summary, if you’re still curious about logo embroidery files and the types needed for ideal digitizing, remember vector files are best, but raster image files also work. 

For embroidery software, opt for a native file format (when possible) if you plan to resize or customize a design. 

Lastly, only load embroidery designs to your machine in a compatible stitch file format. 


  1. What are the common file types associated with Pfaff machines? Of interest are Creative Sensation series.


    1. Pfaff Creative Sensation series should be able to read these embroidery file types: SHV, .DHV, .VP3, .VIP, .HUS, .PEC, .PES, .PCS, .XXX, .SEW, .JEF, .EXP, .10*, .DST, and .VF3.

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