Start with using designs on the machine, without changing them, to learn the basic operations of this machine. (See the post on a one-colour stitch out.)
Then use downloaded designs, without changing them, to learn how to download and transfer designs.
Here’s a post on using downloaded designs.
Many many designs available to purchase. Whatever you love, whatever your favourite style, you can probably find someone who loves it enough to have made embroidery designs featuring it (pets, cars, hobbies, sports, lifestyles, fantasies . . . ).
Just some of the huge design sites :
OESD (a Bernina company).
There are so many design riches already available.
Using ready-made designs, in which your involvement in the stitching process is just to change colours, may fill your embroidering dreams.
But there are several avenues for adding to what you can do with your embroidery machine, if you feel that’s what you would enjoy.
Some techniques need more actions from you during the embroidery process.
Or there are all the possibilities for changing a design.
Explore to find what’s best for you.
Use different machine embroidery techniques.
Here’s note from OESD on different types of embroidery design.
Embroidery Library and Anita Goodesign above have extensive photo tutorials and videos on different techniques.
When you know what you love, searching can be rewarding. You may find small design companies which share your design style and specialise in what you love, perhaps crazy quilting, bags, quilts, in-the-hoop designs. . . Though designs and support information can vary greatly in quality.
There’s also learning about the stabilisers needed to stitch on different types of fabric. There are Bernina videos and e-books on stabilisers.
Bernina video about OESD stabilisers (many other stabiliser companies too).
Bernina e-book on stabilisers.
Or find out how to stitch on ready-made items such as tees and caps. . .
It may be easier to stitch on garments and bags with the 500E as it has free arm.
Some links on this about 2/3 down the first Hoops post.
There’s a hoop aid for stitching on caps, a “cap buddy”. Also used for stitching on other complex 3D shapes. The Bernina Hoop-n-Buddyz is not a hoop itself but is used with the Large Oval hoop.
Some links on using it about 2/3 down the second Hoops post.
When you see a design, do you immediately want to change it a little. . .
Explore all the editing possibilities on the 500E, see the Editing tab in the black pull-down menu above.
You can change designs, and combine designs together, and/or combine with text.
Perhaps the easiest and most used alteration is to change the design size, see about half way down the main Editing post.
You can do much more editing on the 500E than you can in free Bernina ARTlink 8 software (Windows only).
But this basic software is useful if you want to see designs at full size, or print out placement templates and colour lists.
For a wider range of editing options, if you find you enjoy adapting other people’s designs to match your own ideas, get mid-level embroidery software.
Here’s a post about Bernina software.
Make your own designs
If you find you want to make your own designs from scratch, you need digitising software.
Bernina’s digitising software is among the most expensive on the market.
See this post for a range of other software options. You can use any software which produces formats which can be read by the 500E.
Change up to another machine ?
With the 500E there’s a lifetime’s huge wealth of embroidery machine possibilities to explore 😀 but you may be thinking you could do yet more with a different machine.
In terms of the types of machine embroidery you can do, there isn’t much advantage to changing to a bigger machine.
Nearly all the different types of embroidery technique can be done in a 4″x4″ hoop.
The main advantage with more expensive machines is you can stitch bigger embroideries. Bernina 7 and 8 series machines can embroider a wider area (8″ on the 7 series, 10″ on the 880, compared to 6″ on the 5 series), and have a much bigger screen (7″ wide compared to 4.3″ on the 500E). But they’re also bigger and much heavier machines, difficult to move from one position to another or take to a class.
Mostly they can do the same design editing as the 500E. There are some increased firmware abilities :
– the 880 Plus, 790 Plus and 590 can include decorative stitches in embroidery designs.
– the 880 Plus includes ’embroidery shaping and distortion’ to change existing designs, and ’stitch designer’ to make your own decorative stitches.
The 500E can do most of the currently possible on-machine editing in the Bernina range.
Bernina sewing machines also have optional tools for cutting out fabric shapes for appliqué, painting, and adding crystals. Plus there’s software for using those tools to make designs. (Bernina with optional tools) According to the manual, these can all be done on the 500E.
There are much more expensive TOL machines from other companies, which do include other technologies. These machines have tablet sized screens.
– scan and auto-digitise on the machine (BabyLock, Brother)
– develop a design and transfer to the machine using apps on a tablet or phone and wi-fi (Husqvarna Viking, Janome , Pfaff). TOL Husqvarna and Pfaff machines also have 13″x14″ hoops.
But those design editing tasks can easily be done by people who do not have one of those machines.
You can do auto-digitising using software on a computer, just not direct on the embroidery machine, see software options post.
There are machine independent apps for editing designs on a tablet or phone. From the on-site descriptions it looks as if in both Stitch Buddy and DRAWingsSnap you may be able to edit parts of a design, which you can’t do direct on the 500E.
Though you can’t use wi-fi to transfer designs direct to your embroidery machine, you have to do the transfer using a computer and usb stick.
I don’t know how the editing features of the TOL tablet-wifi apps compare to these.
As a quilt lover I do occasionally dream of being able to stitch out larger designs, but I’m a long way from having worked through all the options open to me on my 500E 😀
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