How to Analyze an Embroidery Design

  • Are you an embroiderer?
  • Do you want better embroidery results?
  • Would you like to be able to just look at a design and tell if it’s worth sewing

Dear Embroidery Enthusiast, Chances are when you bought your embroidery machine you were shown how easy, fun, and quick it was to create beautiful embroidery. Hoop up a piece of fabric, thread up the machine, punch a few buttons—and Voila! A beautiful embroidery materializes right before your very eyes.

And chances are that since you’ve purchased your machine, brought it home, and starting embroidering your own projects, you’ve had some less than successful results– or maybe even downright disasters.

What happened? Did you blame it on the machine? On the design? On your technique? Do you even know what to blame it on? Embroidery lasts the lifetime of the item you sew it on– and if the result is bad, that lifetime may have just terminated abruptly.

With embroidery and fabric, it really is a “til death do us part” marriage. So just because you have a design, some thread, a machine, and some fabric doesn’t mean they are good marriage partners. Embroidery can be fun and there are things to look for when pairing designs with fabric, thread, needles, and stabilizers. If you know your embroidery technique is sound, then you need to start looking at the design.


Here are some of the things you need to look for:

  • How big is the design?
  • How many stitches are in the design?
  • How dense or open is the design?
  • What types of stitches predominate?
  • Are there a lot of varying stitch directions in the design?
  • Does the design have running stitch outlines?
  • Does the design have a lot of layering?
  • Does the design have excessively small details?
  • Is there proper underlay to support the design?
  • Is there proper compensation to offset the distortions of sewing?
  • Will the design overpower the fabric?
  • Will the fabric overpower the design?
  • What kind of stabilizer will you need to support this design on your chosen fabric?

Well, I could go on and on but I think you get the idea. Would you like to embroider smarter? Would you like to get inside the head of a professional digitizer and see what they’re thinking about when they create designs? If so, you’ve come to the right place!


When I owned Cactus Punch, the bulk of our business was digitizing creative, production-friendly embroidery designs targeted for the home embroiderer and niche professional embroiderers. Today, there are “billions and billions” of designs but many of them are not sew-worthy.

Embroiderers aren’t taught how designs are constructed. The manual that came with your embroidery software does not teach this. You’ll only learn this from an experienced, professional digitizer who has trained other professional digitizers.

When I returned to the embroidery industry in August 2008, I realized I couldn’t simply build another “Cactus Punch.”

Embroiderers don’t need more designs. They need to know how to make their current designs sew better. They need to be able to sort out which designs are worth sewing in the first place.

I don’t know anyone who has too much time.

Why waste it sewing a bad design? Or worse, why destroy a perfectly good garment with a bad design.

I had always wanted to write a book but didn’t have the time. Plus, I wanted control over the book’s content. I’ll admit, it sure would have been nice to work with an editor and an artist!

Many embroiderers were begging for a book on digitizing. Many wanted to know how to produce better embroidery. There are a lot of good books that teach the basics, written by embroiderers. I realized that Anatomy of a Design was what was really needed.

Anatomy of a Design will dissect a design and show you just how designs are built. Plus, you’ll learn a few “exploratory surgery” techniques to help you decide with the patient is worth saving or can be saved at all. Understanding the inner workings of a design will help you make better fabric and stabilizer choices.


You too can produce better embroidery when you have a better understanding of how designs are constructed and the effect those stitches have on fabric. Why waste time sewing designs that will never work on the fabric you’ve chosen—or for that matter on any fabric no matter what you do? What’s stopping you? Get your copy of Anatomy of a Design ebook now!


Don’t you love being able to check out a book before you buy it? I easily spend hours in my favorite book stores flipping through books trying to find the one that best matches my interests and desires.

That type of browsing isn’t possible on the internet without giving the product away so to let you get a better look inside my new ebook Anatomy of a Design: How to Think Like a Digitizer & Become a Better Embroidery, I’ve extracted a full chapter along with the introduction and the table of contents to give you a free sample of just what you’ll get in the full version of the ebook.

In the full version of the ebook, the table of contents entries will link right to their respective pages. Other links in the sample should work correctly. Be sure to check out the sample embedded video on page 83. There are two other videos in this ebook. The full version also includes links to the designs featured in the ebook.


  • Anatomy of Design is an e-book designed for embroiderers who want to understand what’s going with designs and therefore make better choices when selecting designs, fabric, stabilizers, and threads. A free sample chapter is availabe.


This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.