All About Machine Embroidery Formats & File Extensions

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Do all those file extensions seem like some crazy alphabet soup? What do they mean? How do they work? What the heck are they anyway?

File extensions are those characters (usually 3) following the period (“dot”) at the end of a file name which designate which programs can read the file. Windows programs may not read a file without an extension.

Not normally in use on Macintosh prior to OS X but now we Mac users have extensions too. (They were there previously, we just didn’t see them.) To read them, we say “dot PDF” (naming out each letter) or just “PDF.”

In the past, home embroidery software often only recognized their own preferred format; embroidery machines the same. Today’s machines and embroidery programs are more “multi-lingual” and can read many formats in addition to their native format.

On the subject of “native files,” it’s important to understand that many programs have a “working” file format and another one that is used by the machine.

For example, .BE is the working file format for Embrilliance and Embroidery Works. Even though no machine can sew this format, you still want to keep it because it has special, magical properties (all native files do).

When you’re ready to sew a design you’ve made or modified, simply save it out in your machine’s preferred format. I usually just save in DST because I know it will work on all my machines.

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Fine Print: Lindee G Embroidery is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Lindee G Embroidery is also an affiliate for Embroidery.comNancy’s NotionsEmbrilliance, and Craftsy. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, which helps to offset the cost of running this site. 🙂

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

For the bare bones basics, you need to know:

  • What format your machine sews (see your manual or the list below)
  • How to convert a design in another format to your machine’s preferred format if your machine can’t read it (see your software manual or if you don’t have software, I recommend Embrilliance Essentials)
  • How to unzip a downloaded file (see this YouTube video if you need help with that: How to Unzip Embroidery Designs using Windows Explorer
  • How to transfer a design to your machine (see your manual)

Obviously there are many other things you need to know to use an embroidery file and fortunately that info is easy to find these days!

HOW TO UNZIP EMBROIDERY DESIGNS USING WINDOWS EXPLORER

OTHER IMPORTANT FORMATS TO KNOW

Two other formats you need to know about are .zip and .pdf. Neither of these are embroidery file formats. The .zip format is commonly used to compress files and make them easier to download.

Some browsers will automatically extract files during the download process, but most will not. You must extract the files before you can sew them.

PDF files are commonly used for any documentations or instructions. Most computers and mobile devices can read a PDF.

A third format, BX, is a new kid on the block. This is a revolutionary keyboard font format that works EXCLUSIVELY with Embrilliance and Embroidery Works.

Think of it as a stitch version relative of TrueType font that only works in those programs and no others (embroidery programs or not). They’re well worth learning about because they infinitely expand your embroidery font choices and they’re so much easier to use than manually aligning individual characters. Just search this site for “fonts” to learn more!

ABOUT THESE LISTS

This post only provides a reference list of embroidery formats. This list was started over 20 years and I update it when I remember to do so and I’m aware of some new format out there.

Note: This information has been compiled from many sources. If there is an error, please let me know!

HOME FORMATS

ExtForDisk FormatFile Format
Poem Designer MacMacStitch
AY!Adorable You!DOSObject
ARTBernina Artista & OESDDOSObject
BEEmbrilliance & EmbroideryWorksDOS & MacObject
BXEmbrilliance & EmbroideryWorksDOS & MacKeyboard font file
BLFMaster WorksDOSObject
CANViking digitizing fileDOSObject
EMDElna XpressiveDOS
EOFVector embroidery formatDOSObject
GENObjectDOSObject
GNCGreat Notions variant of Melco DOS CondensedDOSObject
HUSViking #1 Plus, RoseDOSStitch
JEFJanome 1000, Kenmore ergo3 19010DOSStitch
JEF+Janome 1100DOSStitch
OEFOESD CondensedDOSObject
PCDPfaff 9mmDOSStitch
PCMMac Pfaff formatMacStitch
PCQPfaff Maxi stitchDOSStitch
PCSPfaff 7570DOSStitch
PECBernina Deco, Babylock, Brother, Simplicity (created when files saved from card to computer)DOSStitch
PELBernina Deco, Babylock, Brother, Simplicity (Line drawing made in stage two of the Design Center)DOS
PEMBernina Deco, Babylock, Brother, Simplicity (Map of stitching lines (both outlines and fills) created in stages 3 & r of the Design Center)DOSObject
PESBernina Deco, Babylock, Brotherher, Simplicity (format required for card or floppy)DOSStitch
PHCMachine formatDOS
PMD*Mac PfaffMacStitch
PMUBrotherDOSUtility
SEWJanome, Elna, Kenmore, SimplicityDOSStitch
SHVViking Designer 1 & II, Platinum Plus—special disk structure for machineDOSStitch
SPX9mm & Maxi Pfaff C-VDOSStitch
SSPStitch Shop ProDOS
VIPPfaff 2140, 2144 & Viking Designer seriesDOSStitch
VP3EmnetDOSStitch
XXXSinger XL 1000 & 5000DOSStitch

CROSS STITCH FORMATS

ExtForDisk FormatFile Format
ARXArtista Cross stitch add-onDOS
CSEWin Stitch (Cross Stitch)DOSStitch
ECFCross stitch formatDOS
KRZViking Cross Stitcher, Kreuz, Uli’s Cross StitcherDOSStitch
PATPatternMaker Cross Stitch, PC-StitchDOSStitch
SCWStitch Crafts Gold (Cross Stitch)ch)DOSStitch
TBXTurbo Cross (Cross Stitch)DOS
WBXEasy Cross (Cross Stitch)DOS

COMMERCIAL FORMATS

ExtForDisk FormatFile Format
10OToyotaDOS
ASDMelcoDOSStitch
BDFBE-100DOSObject
BROBits & VoltsDOSStitch
CNDMelcoDOSObject
DATBarudanDOSStitch
DS2BarudanDOSStitch (Beat 900)
DSBTajimaDOSStitch
DSTTajimaDOSStitch
DSZTajimaDOSStitch
DSZZSKDOS
E01EltacDOSStitch
~ E36EltacDOSStitch
ELAGeminiDOSStitch
EMBWilcomDOSObject
EMTWilcom template fileDOS
EMXWilcom Cross Stitch FileDOS
ESDWilcom (old)DOS
EXPMelcoDOSStitch
EXYEltacDOSStitch
F01FortronDOSStitch
~ F36FortronDOSStitch
FDR 1.44BarudanDOSStitch
FXYFortronDOSStitch
KSMPfaffDOSStitch
KWKBrotherDOSObject
M3JukiDOSStitch
OFMObject format (Bernina Artista, Melco, Wilcom)a)DOSObject
PCHversions may vary for readabilityiltyDOSObject
PDCPuntoDOS & MacObject
PMUProelDOSStitch
POFPulse Signature outline fileDOSObject
PSFPulse Signature stitch fileDOSStitch
PUMProelDOSStitch
REFCompuconDOSObject
SSTSWFDOS
STCGunold APSDOSStitch
STICapitol AutomationDOSObject
STXData StitchDOSStitch
T01Wilcom (old)DOSStitch
T03Wilcom (old)DOSStitch
T0OToyotaDOSStitch
TAPHappyDOSStitch
WCNPulse Signature art fileDOS
XXXCompuconDOSStitch

NON-DOS FORMATS (REQUIRES SPECIAL DISK FORMATTING SOFTWARE)

ExtForDisk FormatFile Format
CNDOld Melco CND (non-DOS)Non-DOSObject
FDRBarudanCPMStitch
FMCBarudanCPMStitch

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