Change to designer’s colours

The colours of a design which appear on the machine screen or in software may be different from the original colours used by the designer.
This is because there are 1000s of thread colours, and the embroidery formats used to describe embroidery instructions mostly only have codes for about 100 colours or less (see colour in formats post).

But on the 500E it’s easy to change to the designer’s colours. (All the Bernina ‘big bobbin’ machines can do this.)

Of course you need the colour sheet which the designer should have provided.

As an example I’m using a fun Christmas dog design (Embroidery Library d6169).
Here’s the original design, in Madeira rayon thread.
madeira colours

I downloaded the design in .dst format. Some people think of .dst as near to a ’standard’ format, but there are many other formats which have both more colour and more embroidery information. I’m just using .dst here as an extreme example of the need to change colours. (See the colours in formats post to see how this design looks in the other formats that can be used on the 500E.)

Here is how the design appears on the 500E screen in .dst format.
orig dst
This colouring can be extremely disconcerting if you’re not expecting it ! This does not mean something has gone seriously wrong, it’s just a result of the limitations of representing colours in embroidery formats.

.dst format describes where the stitches should go, when to change colour, and when to trim a jump thread. But it has no way of saying what the colour should be. So the 500E has supplied default colours.

The 500E has made the body of the dog in lime green.
One of the delights of embroidery is that you can of course make a lime green dog if that makes you happy 😀
But let’s say you want to use the designer’s colours.

It’s quickest to go through the colours in the order they’re stitched, as that is the order given on the 500E’s colour palette screen, in the colour bar on the Embroidery screen, and on the designer’s colour sheet.

– – –

What to do

From the design overview screen (above), touch the colour palette tab in the inner right menu. colour tab

That gets to the first colour screen, which lists the colours used in the embroidery steps.
steps screen
right – listing of the steps in the stitching sequence, with the colour used in each step.
. . . white box shows step 1 is selected.
left – image of design, with just the selected step colour shown.

Step 1 stitches some stripes in the loose part of the scarf, and has been given magenta colour.
The designer’s colour for this step is a dark green, Madeira Rayon 1369.

Touch the rotating icon at the right end of the selected colour bar. rotating icon

That gets to the second colour screen, which is a thread colour data base screen. On the right there’s now :
– a thread brand menu below the navigation bar,
– a listing of all the colours in the brand chosen, below that.
[sorry this photo was taken in poor light, the grey dog is there on the left]
change brand

Use the brand menu arrows to click through to the Madeira Rayon brand.
Here is the same screen with the Madeira Rayon brand selected.

If the designer just gives colour names, not numbers :
Swipe through the colour bars, and choose a colour by touching its bar.

To change to the designer’s numbered colour :
Touch the search icon at top right, to access the number keypad.

Touch in the colour number (1369).
A green colour bar appears at left.
colour bar

Touch the green colour bar to accept the colour.
The display goes back to the step colours screen, which now shows the designer’s colour for step 1, at both left and right.

The right side colour bar now both shows the colour visually and names the thread brand and colour number.
The left side shows the area stitched in Step 1, in the designer’s colour.

[I don’t know why there are different greens in the last 2 photos – these images have been through many processing steps on 500E, iPad and iMac. The important thing is the 500E knows the specific thread colour.]

So now you can move on to change the colour used in step 2.
Select the second step by :
– click the arrow beneath the embroidery image,
– or touch the colour bar for Step 2 (for later steps – swipe through the step colour bars).

The designer’s colour for this step is Madeira Rayon 1048.
Touch the rotating icon on the colour bar for step 2.
The thread colour data base screen is already set to Madeira Rayon brand.
Touch the icon for the numeric keypad and touch in 1048.
Touch the colour bar to return to the step colours screen.
Select step 3.

And so on.

You can of course do all this to change any of the colours in any other format or design on the 500E.

– – –

Work through all the steps, and you now have the designer’s colour choices correctly represented on your 500E.
This can be done quite quickly. I’m clumsy and make mistakes, but I can do a dozen colours in less than 5 minutes.

When you’ve finished, touch the Design Overview tab in the inner right menu.
And here he is, transformed into the designer’s colours 😀
designer colours

The re-coloured design is represented on the 500E in the same way as any other edited design. And it can be saved, edited and combined like any other design.

Yet another of the amazing things the 500E can do for you !

= = = = =

Colours and formats

The 500E can use these formats : .dst, .exp, .jef, .pcs, .pec, .pes, .xxx

These formats each represent different numbers of colours. None can represent all the 1000s of thread colours available.

Topics :
Example of colours in different formats.
Changing on-screen colours on the 500E.
Colours in .exp format.
Colours in other formats usable on the 500E.

– – –

This is the second of two posts about embroidery formats.
The first post is about formats in general.
This post is about understanding why colours can be so confusing, and what to do about it.

Part of an embroidery format represents which colour should be used in a given embroidery step. Formats differ in how many colours they can represent, and what colours.
For example, follow this link to see a list of which colours can be used in .pec format. The codes are the colour numbers used in the Brother thread brand (nearly 30 Brother colours can’t be coded in .pec, their ‘code’ is 000).

.dst and .exp formats are different, they have no section for specifying the colour used in an embroidery step. So an arbitrary default colour is filled in by a machine which has a colour screen, or by embroidery software.

The trouble is there’s no format which can be read by the 500E which can include more than about 150 colours. While most thread brands include at least 300 colours. (Look at the thread database included under the colour palette tab on the 500E to be amazed by how many thread brands and thread colours are available.) So there can be quite a big mismatch between the colours used in the original design and the colours included in the embroidery file. The designer expects the user to add in the correct colours. (Or to use your own choice.)

Here’s a general piece from Embroidery Library about the problems of representing and converting colours in embroidery formats.
Ignore the last third of that post. It isn’t necessary for Bernina users to use Embird software. See this post for how to change colours on the 500E.

So the 500E (or software) may add default or unrelated colours when colours are missing in a format. Which may look more than a little strange. But it doesn’t mean something has gone wrong, it’s just a limitation of most formats.

You might find this worrying the first time it happens. Knowing how to handle colours is one of the many skills needed by an embroidery machine user ! The general issue happens with all embroidery machines. Modern Bernina .exp format designs have a ‘get around’ for Isacord colours. There is a quick and easy way of changing to other colours and thread brands on the 500E (and other ‘big bobbin’ Bernina machines) (see here).

– – –

An example

I’m currently using a fun Christmas dog design (Embroidery Library d6169).
Madeira colours
The original is in Madeira rayon thread.

I downloaded this design in six of the formats the 500E can read. And then looked at each format in Embrilliance embroidery software.

The missing format is .pec, an old format replaced years ago by .pes. Embroidery Library doesn’t offer design downloads in .pec. Embrilliance software doesn’t either open designs in .pec or save to .pec. I have a few old designs in .pec format, I haven’t yet tried them on the 500E.

The images below are just examples of what you might see when you open your download, so you know if you see something like this that nothing has gone wrong !

Yes, these did all start from the same point. It’s just the format that has changed, and so which colours can be included in the embroidery instructions.
Also design companies use software to produce the different format versions of a design. So the colours chosen are standard translations from one format to another. There isn’t a human sitting there choosing which of the colours available in a given format would be the best match to the designer’s intentions !

dst format
.dst : no colours in format so these are default colours filled in by the software. Other colours may be filled in by different software and different embroidery machines.
exp format
.exp : no colours in format so these are defaults (see below on Bernina .exp files).

Colours are repeated in this design. Hat and boots should be in the same colours but are not. .dst and .exp have no way of saying that the same colour should be used in both areas, so the colours filled in are arbitrary. Also the two parts of the scarf should be in the same colours but are not. And one of the ears is stitched after the body, it too has been assigned a different colour.

The other 4 formats which the 500E can read do usually put the colour in the correct general colour group, but not very accurately.

pcs format
.pcs : small number of colours can be encoded in format, looks as if format does not include instructions which activate the jump thread trimmer.
xxx format
.xxx : small number of colours can be encoded.

jef format
.jef format codes generic colour names such as ‘brown’, possibly the best colour representation but not completely accurate.
pes format
.pes uses ‘Brother colours’. That full colour range includes a good selection of browns, but most of them aren’t included in the reduced colour range (list here).

No format gives a completely correct representation of the colours. With all of them you need to refer to the designer’s colour sheet to get the colours correct.
.pdf, .txt, or image colour sheets are all files you can read on a computer or tablet but not on the 500E.

– – –

Changing colours on the 500E screen

The designer’s colour chart will usually give the thread brand and colour numbers used for the original.

To change the colours you see on the 500E Design Overview screen and in the colour bar on the Embroidery screen : use the colour palette tool in the inner right menu to choose the thread brand and enter the colour number (detailed instructions here).

You only need to choose the thread brand once, then type in the colour numbers. I’m clumsy and make mistakes, even so I can change a dozen colours in less than 5 minutes.
Think of this as part of your embroidery preparation ? along with choosing the fabric and stabiliser, cutting them and hooping up, etc.

You can also change colours in most embroidery software.

Or you may feel you can do a stitch out without taking the time to change the on-screen colours – just substitute your choice of colour as you work. I print out the designer’s listing of colours used in the original and refer to that.

This post has a brief section on choosing thread colours. As I have a motley collection of thread brands I confess I usually choose colours by eye.

– – –

Colours and .exp format on the 500E

Bernina instructions often say you should use .exp format.
.exp format itself does not encode colours.
.exp – that links to a post with technical information about .exp

Modern OESD/Bernina .exp designs include 3 files, not just one. This may be called .exp+ format.
The extra support files add the information missing from .exp format :
.EXP file, which is the actual embroidery,
.INF file (text) with information about object properties especially colours,
.BMP file (image).
The support files with colours are also included in the built-in designs on the 500E. These give specific colour numbers for Isacord thread brand.

Embrilliance software offers a choice of saving a design in either .exp or .exp+.
.exp+ does add .inf and .bmp files with the design.
I don’t know what other design or software companies offer .exp+.

Older OESD designs, and most other design companies including Anita Goodesign and Embroidery Library, don’t add these support files to their .exp format designs. If any design doesn’t include an .inf file with .exp, the 500E will add default colours.

Colours in other formats readable by the 500E

When using .exp format files without support files, and all other formats, you need to refer to the designer’s colour sheet if you want to use the ‘correct’ colours.

.dst and .exp formats represent colour change points but not the colours. Here are technical posts about what is available in these formats :
.exp, see above for the colour ‘get around’ used by Bernina.

The other formats can represent some colours, but not the full range of colour possibilities.

.xxx can represent some colours, I haven’t found how many.

.pcs is limited to 16 colours (I can’t now find where I read this).

.pec can represent about 35 colours (about half the ‘Brother colours’).

.jef can represent 78 colours, and control the length of jump thread cutting.
Designs include generic colour names, not specific thread brands and colour numbers.

.pes – 127 colours, format includes much other information such as about stitch types.
.pes is the most recent Brother format. Many design companies provide their .pes designs with translations of the original design colours into Brother colours. This may use only some of these colours, so some translations can be odd – important to check them against the designer’s intentions.

.pcs and .pec are early formats. I think the posts on .jef and .pes are not fully updated, and the latest versions of those formats can represent more colours.

small aside
There may be companies which make their original designs in Brother colours, the only thread brand which comes in a colour range small enough to all be coded in an embroidery format (example : the .pec format colour codes). Such designs could stitch out correctly without changes, but I haven’t seen any. Most designers like the option of the 100s of colours available in other thread brands, and expect the user to know how to add the correct colours when stitching a design.

– – –

So, unless you’re happy to restrict yourself to using only recent OESD .exp designs and Isacord thread (or can find .exp+), the main message from all this is to use the designer’s colour sheet. Either take the short time needed to change to the correct colours on the 500E, or keep the colour sheet to hand and refer to it often 😀

= = = = =

Threading – bobbin

Topics here, practical tips emphasised throughout :
Set up and use bobbin winder.
Move hoop out of way so can access bobbin case.
Insert bobbin into bobbin case, and bobbin case into machine.

= = = = =

This is the second of a pair of threading posts. The first is about the top thread.

– – –

Using bobbins

This machine comes with a special large capacity bobbin – reduces the trouble of replacing the bobbin when the bobbin thread runs out during a stitch out.

My machine came with a wound bobbin already in the bobbin case, so you only have to learn these steps after your first samples, but I’ll list them here.

Bernina Sewing first steps video
1.10-1.35 bobbin winding
2.00-2.45 using bobbin case

Manual, p.42-5.

Bobbin winding

Lead thread to the bobbin winder – manual p.42

You can use the retractable spool pin for bobbin thread if you need to wind a bobbin while the machine is threaded up for embroidery.

If using the retractable vertical spool pin :
– place a foam pad on the pin.

If winding from thread on the vertical spool pin, or from a cone on a separate spool holder :
– notice the special lead just to the side of the horizontal spool pin, which makes sure thread leads to point 1 from one level.
Pull the thread under the right end of this lead and it snaps into place.
If you don’t use this lead, the bobbin will not wind evenly.

Follow the dotted arrows on the top of the machine for threading the bobbin winder.


Wind a bobbin – manual p.43

Switch the machine on for the bobbin winder to work – and it doesn’t work until the machine has warmed up ! (it does work from ‘eco mode’)

When you start the winding by moving the ‘engaging lever’ next to the bobbin, the bobbin winding screen appears.

There’s a clear demo of what this screen looks like, and how to use it to control the winding speed, in the Sewing first steps video at about 1.20.

Three ways of altering the bobbin winding speed :
– touch the +/- buttons,
– drag the slider,
– turn a multifunction knob.
The hand icon tells you to turn one of the multifunction knobs, the filled circle next to it tells you which knob to turn (in this case you can turn either).
When the icon has a yellow box round it, you can touch it to restore the default speed (which is 62).

Touch the X upper right to leave the bobbin winding screen and return to the design screen.

Bobbin winding stops automatically when the bobbin is full, and the winding screen goes.

Using the bobbin case

Take the bobbin case out of the machine

If you’re in the middle of an embroidery, you’ll want to move the hoop out of the way so you can get at the bobbin case easily.
Touch the hoop icon, left menu. menu hoop icon
Touch the ‘move hoop back’ icon. hoop back icon

Alternatively, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of cleaning and oiling at a bobbin change (routine maintenance post). For that you’ll have to take the hoop off.

Open the bobbin area. Touch the shiny metal piece and the bobbin case springs out.
bobbin case release manual p.43

Insert the bobbin into the bobbin case – manual p.43-4

There’s a clear demo of how to get the thread into the thread guides on the bobbin case, in the Sewing first steps video at 2.25.

Practical tip :
It takes a good yank on the thread to get it past the strong wire spring loop at the right of those thread guides. Look closely at the bottom of the spring and you can see the thread needs to go through a right angle. Hold the bobbin so it doesn’t move, so you can get some tension on the thread to get it past this point.

Insert the bobbin case into the machine – manual p.45

Press on the bobbin case so it clicks in place.
Practical tip :
Avoid touching the shiny metal piece which is the button for getting the bobbin case out (see photo above) or your bobbin case will not stay in !

Use the thread cutter on the right side of the bobbin space, to get the thread tail the correct length.

The manual tells you to bring the thread up after inserting the bobbin case. That is done once the hoop is set up (see instructions in One-colour stitch out post).
The whole purpose is to get the bobbin thread on the top of the work, so there’s no point doing it before the hoop is on.
I’ve learned to do this ‘thread up’ every time I change thread – if I don’t there is always a disaster. . .

– – –

Good, threading completed, that’s the first main stage of the set-up for embroidery done.
The next post is about Hooping up.

= = = = =

Formats on the 500E

The 500E can use these formats : .dst, .exp, .jef, .pcs, .pec, .pes, .xxx

Topics :
About embroidery formats.
Format conversion.

These different formats can represent different numbers of colours, see colours post.

The important things to know :

All ‘big bobbin’ Bernina embroidery machines can use these formats :
.dst, .exp, .jef, .pcs, .pec, .pes, .xxx

Modern Bernina embroidery machines do not recognise .art files. If you use Windows, you can convert .art files to another format using free Bernina ARTlink software.

The big embroidery thread brands (many of them) include 100s of colours, there are 1000s in total. The formats usable on the 500E can’t represent so many colours.
On Bernina machines, the only designs that have colours correctly represented (in Isacord thread brand) are built-in and recent OESD/ Bernina .exp format designs with support files.
With all other designs you need to refer to the designer’s colour sheet if you want to use the ‘correct’ colours, see the colours post. (This is true for embroidery machines from all companies.)

= = = = =

There is a huge amount of information available about formats. This became such a long post I’ve divided it in two :
– this post, on formats in general, and how to convert between formats if you need to.
– a second post about the complex issue of what colours can be represented in embroidery formats (and what to do when they aren’t !). That is where to turn if you’re horrified/ disappointed to find the version of a design that you have just opened on your 500E doesn’t look anything like the original.

Embroidery designs specify stitch positions, colour changes and thread trims, thread brands and colours, etc.
The ‘format’ is the language/code used to describe these features of the design, in a way the machine can understand.
Most domestic embroidery machine companies have their own format, which is supposed to encourage brand loyalty. And formats have developed over the years. So there are now about 30 formats for home embroidery use.
(There are yet more formats for commercial designs. These control multi-needle machines, which can vary from small machines stitching on small areas of garments to huge ones stitching on wide rolls of cloth.)

This multitude of formats can be confusing for machine embroiderers. Especially as Bernina have changed the format they use from .art to .exp.
How-to-do-it articles from Bernina have to be read with care, as many of the older ones use .art in their examples, and that format isn’t available on recent machines.

Here’s a general guide to formats, from Digitising Made Easy.
There’s much detail in this piece from Wiki about specific codes, this information is more for programmers than embroiderers !

The 500E can use these embroidery formats (manual p.28) :
.dst, .exp, .jef, .pcs, .pec, .pes, .xxx
These formats can also be used on other new 5 series machines, and the 720.
Bernina 700E, 770, 790 machines and the 880 can read those and also .sew (an early Janome format).
None of these machines can use .art.

Many of these formats don’t include all the information which can be used by modern embroidery machines. And they can’t include all the thread colours available.

What is sure is that it’s best to buy your design downloads and discs in the format you’ve chosen to use, so you rarely have to do format conversions.
So which format to use for the best ?

.exp and .dst have the advantage that they’re very stable, they can’t get distorted in a conversion process. Which is perhaps why Bernina keeps saying you must use .exp.
But these formats also have big limitations.
They don’t represent colours. So they use the default colours in the software or machine.

Here is technical information about .exp, the format recommended by Bernina.
This piece is not much direct help to embroiderers, but it does tell you .exp can code a colour change but not what the colour is. It also shows that .exp is a small format, it doesn’t code much.
Recent Bernina and OESD .exp designs now include a supporting .inf file which does specify the colours (see the colour post for more on .exp and colours).

According to the above post from Digitising Made Easy, the ‘best’ current format is .emb, used by Wilcom in their Hatch software. But .emb isn’t accepted by the 500E (and Hatch doesn’t run native on a Mac).

Here is technical information about .pes.
You’re not expected to understand all this ! But just at a quick glance you can see that this format codes much more than .exp.
Comparing this with similar information about the other formats the 500E can read (links in colour post), I conclude .pes is the best format to use on a modern Bernina embroidery machine if you want as much design information included as possible.

You may also come across .be format (e.g. it’s saved when you use Embrilliance software). This is an intermediate format, the ‘working file’. It doesn’t control the embroidery machine, it’s used to run the programs that create the embroidery files.

– – –

Missing formats and conversion

The 500E can’t use the old Bernina format .art.
It also can’t use the Husqvarna/Viking group of formats : .hus. .shv, vip, vp3, vp4.
These are some of the other formats it can’t use – there are many more :
cnd, csd, emb, emd, pcm, phb, phc, phd, sew, tap

The trouble is if you have used an older Bernina machine or a non-Bernina machine in the past, you may have a good collection of designs in formats that can’t be read by the 500E.

If you have .art files and use Windows, you can convert them using free Bernina ARTlink software.

I first had a Pfaff, and have many Husqvarna/Viking format designs.
Some design sites sell you only a specific format, so I have many .vip and .vp3 designs. Those need to be converted to a format the 500E can read, if I want to use them now.
Some sites sell designs in multi-formats. I’m glad I was too lazy to delete the formats I couldn’t use when I first bought those designs !

If you have bought designs from Embroidery Library in the past, they let you re-download them in another format for free. (Keep the design reference number, to use for finding designs in your order history.) I was greatly relieved to discover this option when I changed from a Pfaff to a Bernina !

Here is a post from Machine Embroidery Geek about some of the format conversion tools available.

There are online sites which provide a conversion service. has a subscription conversion service, but it can’t produce big .pes designs.

Most embroidery software will do format conversions. e.g. here’s a video from about changing format using Embrilliance Essentials.
(Sadly Embrilliance Convert It Mac does not run on Big Sur.)

(Here’s a database, also from, about which embroidery machines use which formats.)

– – –

Formats may all seem confusing at first. On the other hand, knowing about the differences between them explains why some odd things can happen, especially with colours and fill patterns.

I think Bernina may keep telling you to use .exp, to be sure there are no problems with conversion (and to try to ensure you only buy designs from their design company Embroidery Online / OESD). Presumably the 500E is optimised for .exp. But I get disconcerted by the default colours in .exp designs from non-Bernina sources, and I don’t often use OESD designs. I choose to use .pes when I can, and take care to follow the designer’s colours (see the post on colours in formats).

– – –

minor aside :
Some sources say Bernina machines can only use .exp and .dst. That is not correct, the sales brochures and manuals for ‘big bobbin’ machines all list all the formats at the top of this post. A bit odd to insist on this limitation, as if it was true it would mean many people who know about embroidery wouldn’t want to use Bernina, because .dst and .exp formats do not code thread colours. My guess is that when Bernina decided to give up .art (an outdated format which was difficult to convert to others), then they didn’t want to develop yet another format, and went for a very basic format not linked to any other domestic machine company. Wiki posts linked above say .exp is ‘pure and simple’, .dst is ‘as close to a standard as exists’. But that doesn’t mean they’re ideal for the user. OESD/Bernina supplies a support file for the colours in their .exp format designs. Most other design companies don’t. Though you can change a .dst or .exp file (or any other format) to the correct colours using the colour palette tab on the 500E, which only takes a few minutes (see instructions).

= = = = =

Thread colours, fabric and stabiliser

Main topics :
Choosing thread colours.
Choosing fabric-stabiliser-design combination.


Bernina video about stabilisers.
Bernina e-book on stabilisers.
Bernina embroider-along about 4 main groups of stabilisers.
You don’t need to use OESD stabilisers, there are many brands. And just start with one task type, eg. light-medium density designs on stable fabrics. No need to get every possible stabiliser before you ever start !

– – –

As well as choosing the design, and getting it onto the 500E screen (see the Stitch Out menu for posts on finding your design on the 500E screens), there are usually several aspects of setting up an embroidery :
– changing the colours on the 500E screen to the designers colours (optional), see this post.
– choosing thread colours (note in this post).
– choosing the fabric-stabiliser combination to support the design without puckering (this post).
– hooping up (post on that).

The topics in this post are not specific to the 500E, but I wanted access to easy reminders and the links I’ve collected about them.

Choosing thread colours

No embroidery format can represent all the thread brands and their colours. So designs may look very different on the 500E screen than they do in the original design.
This post is about why that happens, and what to do about it.

It’s easy to translate the colours on the 500E screen to the designer’s colours (see instructions). But I rarely have the original threads used by the designer, as I have an odd mixture of 3 brands. I’m not the sort of perfectionist who only feels happy if I use the exact designer’s colours.
As the design companies use different threads, that could anyway be difficult or expensive (e.g. Embroidery Library use Madeira rayon, Anita Goodesign use Floriani polyester, OESD/Bernina use Isacord polyester).

The 500E includes an amazing data-base of thread colours, so you can translate between brands directly on the machine if you want to – see the colour palette tab in the inner right menu.
I usually do my colour matching ‘by eye’. As I don’t think using the exact colour used by the designer is seriously important unless the design is an accurate picture of something in nature (a bird, a flower. . .). There’s unlikely to be an exact colour match across all thread brands, but you can probably get very close. With many designs you can use any colours you like.

But when I do need to find a good match to the designers intentions, I make 3 printouts to use as a guide to choose between my threads :
– the pdf usually supplied by the motif designer, which gives the total number of stitches and the original thread colours used, with a colour illustration.
And from software (Embrilliance Essentials for me) :
– a full size template of the embroidery,
– list of the thread colours used. Because of format colour limitations, this may be a rather peculiar translation of the colours to another brand, but it does include the length of thread needed (worth knowing if you’re near the end of a bobbin at a colour change).

In the early days I often needed to buy a thread to fill in a gap in my colour range. I find it essential to use a real thread colour chart. I have too many threads chosen from printed or on-screen colours which turned out not to be what I wanted at all. . .

– – –

Fabric preparation

Minimum fabric and stabiliser needed – about 3″/7-8cm wider than the outer edge of the inner hoop, not the embroidery area, so roughly :
Medium hoop . . . . 9″ x 10.5″
Large Oval hoop . . 11″ x 15.5″
Midi hoop . . . . . . . 12″ x 16″
Mega hoop . . . . . . 11″ x 22.5″
(12″ wide stabiliser works well with all these hoops.)

Press the fabric well, this is the last chance to get rid of any creases in the embroidery area !

– – –

Combining fabric and stabiliser

Embroidery stabilisers are essential, as they prevent the stitches pulling the fabric into puckers. They are marvellous, but they’re not miracle products. They do need to be chosen according to the fabric used and the density of stitches in the design. I’m only giving starter information here (plus helpful links).
They also need to be helped by good hooping (see that post).

Stabiliser choice is a huge topic, but there’s no need to know everything about the choices from the beginning.

There are many special uses of stabiliser, but the usual big decision is :
– use tear away stabiliser to support less dense designs on stable fabrics,
– use cut away stabiliser to support :
. . . designs on knit and stretch fabrics,
. . . dense stitching.

I like to have detailed instructions when learning something, and designers only rarely say what stabiliser to use for their project. So I sometimes need to make several samples before finding what works. But there are some general principles.

Try starting with less densely stitched designs, a medium tearaway stabiliser and woven fabric.
If your fabric is very floppy, use fusible stabiliser.

Then get a medium cut away stabiliser to use with somewhat denser designs, and with knits and stretch fabric.

Here’s Bernina’s information about their own OESD stabilisers :
Bernina video about OESD stabilisers.
Bernina e-book on stabilisers.
Full product descriptions on the OESD site.

Also take care with ironing/pressing, as stabilisers are synthetic and higher temperatures may cause puckering. Use a low to medium iron, 2-dot silk setting or less. Beware using temperatures for cotton or linen, even if that’s what you’ve embroidered on.

OESD have a pressing cloth which they claim reduces puckers !
Usable both ways :
– place embroidery face up with cloth on top and press – claims to prevent embroidery texture from being flattened,
– place embroidery face down on top of cloth and press – claims to reduce puckers.

I haven’t seen it myself, but I have heard the Bernina Big Book of Embroidery has full information about stabilisers.


The method of hooping used by most other embroidery machine companies uses fabric and stabiliser separately (see hooping post).
In the Bernina hooping method you have to handle fabric+stabiliser as a single layer, so use either adhesive spray or fusible stabiliser.

The Bernina stabiliser company, OESD, sells fusible stabiliser but the Bernina hooping videos all use adhesive spray.

If using adhesive spray, it’s best to use wash-away.
Use adhesive spray in a box so it does not get everywhere.

When applying fusible stabiliser, press from the fabric side or use a pressing cloth, and make sure you don’t stretch the fabric as you press.

The adhesives may cause problems such as gumming up the needle. Some companies claim this does not happen with their fusible stabiliser or spray products.

If none of those aids is possible in a particular application – I was recently given a sanity-saving tip : use a conventional machine to baste fabric and stabiliser together around the hoop area.
Another option is to use double-sided sticky tape. OESD have both wash-away and leave-in versions. Tape is also much used when making in-the-hoop designs.

Extra support

Fabric type, stitch density, and project can all affect best stabiliser choice.
From the rare cases when companies give information about how much their stabilisers can support, it looks as they go from supporting lowest number of stitches without help upwards in this order : no-show mesh < tearaway < cutaway < fusible cutaway.

There are various recommendations for extra support of dense stitching, so try out what it’s best to add to your combination of fabric + stitch density + main stabiliser.

Fusible cut-away stabiliser is the best at standing up to distortion from dense stitching. If more support is needed, add another layer :
– batting/wadding to support triple stitched quilting.
– Floriani suggest adding tearaway stabiliser.
– Anita Goodesign recommend adding medium weight fusible woven interfacing.
(stabiliser and interfacing are not the same)
Use whatever is needed to support the densest part of the design, not just the average density. For example – text satin stitch is dense, even if there are wide empty areas around it.

Embroidery Library suggest another method for supporting dense stitching. Instead of using multiple layers of stabiliser, use a ‘sturdy’ fabric, such as twill, denim, canvas, duck cloth, heavy linen, faux suede. You do still need stabiliser, but less. Sturdy fabrics are tougher : they can stand up to having more needle holes in them, and it’s less easy for the tension from a large number of stitches to pucker the fabric – to pull it out of shape. Choose a close weave. Fabrics which are made of thick threads loosely woven may be hard wearing, but are not ‘sturdy’ for embroidery as it’s easy to pull the threads out of position.

I found when I was learning about this, that designs which looked good when they were finished might pucker a bit when left for a few days.
I do seem to choose dense designs which need a lot of support !

Special applications

There’s also much to learn about using stabilisers with special fabrics and projects. Lessons 2 and 5-8 in the Bernina Embroider-along are about choice of stabilisers for woven, knit, and textured fabrics, and free-standing lace. Then Lessons 9-12 are projects. You can use any similar stabilisers from any manufacturer.

Those are the main groups of stabilisers. There are also other special purpose ones, such as adhesive stabilisers for difficult to hoop fabrics or items (caps, bags).

– – –

You certainly haven’t got to buy all these stabilisers before you ever start. Choose either woven or knits to start with, then move on through other fabrics as you feel ready for it. Or you can have a happy embroidering lifetime making items all of the same stitch density and fabric type, so you only need one type of stabiliser 😀

It’s lovely to think you can just jump in to making beautiful embroidered items. But it is best to get used to making samples, to avoid disappointment by checking you are using the best colours and support before making the final version. I had to stitch out my first big area of lettering with 3 different stabiliser combinations before it came out without puckering. I suspect I now use too much stabiliser rather than too little 😀

= = = = =

Sequence changes

3 places where you have some control over the order things are done :
– alter the stitching within an embroidery step,
– change the sequence of embroidery steps within a motif,
– change the sequence of embroidery motifs within a combination.

– – –

Change which stitches are sewn within an embroidery step

Use the thread break tool on the Embroidery screen.


Use this if you want to :
– repeat some of the stitches within an embroidery step (perhaps for added strength or because you had to unpick some),
– omit some stitches (I have skipped some stitches of an in-the-hoop design where the stitches on a bulky area were landing in the wrong place – I did that part of the construction on a sewing machine instead).

See Thread break post for more on how to use this tool.

Change sequence of whole embroidery steps within a motif

In most embroidery motifs the different steps are for different colours.

In some embroideries (appliqué, piecing, in-the-hoop, etc.), some steps are for construction. In some of those cases you may be able to add another motif between construction steps by using the colour bar, post in preparation.

Change the sequence of steps using the colour bar on the Embroidery screen.

The colour bar is in the colour used in the current step, and the screen image shows the parts of the motif stitched in this step.

Use the up and down arrows if you want to :
– repeat a whole embroidery step,
– omit a whole embroidery step,
– change the order of embroidery steps.

See Embroidery screen tools post for more on how to use this tool.

Change sequence of motifs within a motif combination

Two options here :

Long term change :
Use the motif re-ordering tool on the Editing screen

See the Change stitch out order post for more on how to use this tool.
This new version of your design can be saved for later use.

Short term change :
Use the colour bar on the Embroidery screen to select the first step of the motif you want to stitch next.
See above and Embroidery screen post for how to use this tool.

= = = = =

Routine maintenance

TLC for the Bernina 500E :

– Change the needle,
– clear out threads and fluff from the thread catcher and around the bobbin area,
– oil the bobbin area.
There’s no one simple rule for when to do these actions.

– – –

Change needle

manual p.37

Bernina suggest changing :
– a conventional embroidery needle every 30,000 stitches,
– a gold/ chrome needle every 90,000 stitches.
The Workbook recommends ‘change your needle every 4-6 hours of sewing time’, but I don’t find it easy to measure sewing time, see later.

Bobbin changes don’t make a good marker for changing the needle – these big bobbins last for more stitches than a conventional needle, fewer than a gold needle.

A main embroidery supplier here (UK) suggests :
– change a conventional needle every 8 hours,
– a Superior/Organ titanium needle lasts 5 times as long. That could be 150,000 stitches !

There are also several cues that the needle needs changing. Sewing Mastery says : “Change the needle as soon as any type of thread break, frayed thread, a skipped stitch, or thread looping occurs”. I also find there’s a thumping noise when the needle is blunt.

Check how many stitches in the next project. Would it be a good idea to change needle before starting ?
Perhaps choose needle type according to how big the next project is ? I recently bought a design which has 250,000 stitches in all – perhaps that isn’t as far beyond the bounds of possibility as I thought !

Find how many stitches in a design :
a. from information supplied by designer,
b. it’s given on the stitching screen of the 500E during stitch out,
c. you can usually get it in embroidery software.

Find the total number of stitches sewn so far by the 500E.
Touch this icon sequence :
number stitches sewn
manual p.60

I log the stitch count when I change the needle and change the bobbin, and at the beginning or end of big projects, so I can keep track of this.

– – –

Clean thread cutter and fluff under stitch plate

Take off stitch plate.
Clean above bobbin hook.

If you leave cleaning the thread cutter for a while, a notice may come up on screen telling you to do it.
The stitches count screen (see above) also records ‘Total number of cut cycles since cleaning’.

Videos showing how to do this cleaning – not on the 500E but on other machines with the big bobbin :
Sarah at Sewing Mastery – 3 min.
Bernina Jeff – 9 min.
They show it’s important to do this using the on-machine instructions, as those instructions include part of the process.

Touch this icon sequence to get to cleaning instructions on the 500E :
access cleaning
manual p.64

On the 500E, moving the thread catcher for easy access is a 2-step process (videos and workbook show 7-8 series machines, which do it in 1-step) :
– touch ‘move thread catcher out’ on-screen link (beeps),
– press the real button with scissors on, above the needle, to get the thread catcher to move.

While there : as well as the thread catcher, clean out lint and any other fluff under the stitch plate (manual p.94)

Finish with another 2-step process :
– touch ‘move thread catcher in’ link (beeps),
– press real button marked with scissors.

(Not the same icons or actions as in the Workbook or the post linked at end here.)

– – –

Clean hook race

Clean around bobbin case area.

good photos – manual p.93-4
Bernina blog post

On recent models it is easier to get the hook race back in (after oiling, see next) :
position the hook so you can see the coloured circle on the hook driver through the hole in the hook (manual p.94).
Here’s a video from Sara of Sewing Mastery.

– – –


Bernina machines do need oiling regularly in the bobbin area.

Use Bernina oil, not general sewing machine oil, or any other type of oil.
Hmm – the oiler could have come with instructions :
– pull off the transparent cap,
– with a light touch, press the 2 light ovals in the dark area.

Good brief Bernina oiling video.
One drop in each place – on the hook race, and the 2 inner circles in the bobbin case holder.
In the bobbin case holder, keep oil away from the central metal circle, and wipe excess off the black area.

Manual p.94-5 has good photos if you like to take it more slowly.

This is the oiling needed by ‘new 5 Series’ machines. Bernina oiling instructions are specific to given bobbin mechanisms. So don’t follow oiling instructions for earlier models.

Here’s a written tutorial from the Bernina blog with information about oiling most Bernina machines.

– – –

How frequently ?

On an embroidery machine it can be helpful to use bobbin change as a rough time marker as, whatever the projects stitched, the same bobbin thread is usually used throughout.

Bobbin change and stitch count ? I’m currently changing the brand of bobbin thread I use, and haven’t yet used a complete bobbin sufficiently often to have a clear idea how many stitches are made with one bobbin. Madeira 70wt thread did 50,000 to 60,000 stitches, so obviously it’s not a very precise number ! I’m now trying OESD 60wt.

There are several yards of thread left on the bobbin when the bobbin icon starts to jump, so there’s no need to renew the bobbin instantly.

Bobbin change and cleaning-oiling ? Bernina say :
“It is recommended that you clean and oil every other bobbin, or every 3-4 hours of actual sewing time.”
Is this instruction left over from the days of smaller bobbins ? or are they talking about the larger bobbins. . .

The trouble with time limits is that I like to take things slowly with many a pause for thought, and I usually run the machine at half speed or less, so my sewing time bears no relation whatever to how much work the machine has done.

Some people clean and oil after every big project, or daily if they use their machine a great deal. How often you need to clean also depends on how fluffy the thread you use is (usually cheaper = fluffier). Sara at Sewing Mastery says to oil each time you sit down to sew. I work very slowly, so not much is done in any one sewing session. Too much oil causes different problems from too little. Obviously this is a matter where you need to take personal factors into account !

The machine does make more noise if you leave oiling for too long !

For now I choose to clean and oil at every bobbin change.

– – –

Bernina blog post about the maintenance guidance on your machine (mainly for the 880).

The machine will also tell you when it needs a professional service, see manual p.102.
My dealer says every 3 years even if it’s not used much. . .

It is worth helping your machine to work well for you 😀

= = = = =

Machine troubleshooting

Here are some links to help with troubleshooting the machine.

For troubleshooting embroidery, see What your sample can tell you – stitch troubleshooting.

Thread nest

How to deal with thread nests must be the most frequently asked question from a new owner on the Bernina 5 series Facebook page. I too spent the first few days with each of my Bernina’s thinking I had bought a lemon.
When I got my 480 I learned :
when top threading, ensure :
machine is switched on before threading.
presser foot lever is up.
After threading :
1. hold thread at spool and needle ends and ‘floss’ to and fro to ensure it’s between tension discs.
2. put presser foot down and pull on thread from needle end, to ensure it is held by tension discs. If it’s not held, completely un-thread and thread again.
(see about half way through Threading post).
When I got my 500E I also found :
After both those tests and attaching the hoop : do a thread up to bring the bobbin thread up above the fabric (see about half way through the One colour stitch out post).

For a written post about more solutions to try, see this from the Bernina blog : all the things you can do about a thread nest.

You may have to clear out thread tangled in the hook race around the bobbin case. Robyn Curd demos dealing with it in this video, from 20.10.
The easy way of getting the bobbin case holder, the ‘hook’, back in the right place is to position the hook so you can see the coloured circle on the hook driver through the hole in the hook (manual p.94).

Some Berninas are fussy about which thread brand they stitch well with. I haven’t heard that with the 500E, and I haven’t had any such problem so far. (I don’t use really cheap thread.)

(The second most frequent question on the FB page asks how to stitch 6×10 designs : use the Mega hoop.)

If the protective plastic won’t come off :
For me it only stayed stuck to the stainless steel arm top surface. I have seen stainless steel cleaner recommended. Only spraying it on direct worked for me, not applying it with a cloth. Spray round the edges of the plastic so it can seep underneath, leave for a few minutes, then pull off from the edge. It needed repeated applications. But it did all come off in the end.

for other issues, try these :

Manual, pp.96-102.

Operating system problems :

Check that all the settings in the left menu are correct. It’s not enough that foot, hoop, stitch plate, needle are correct physically on the machine, the software has to know that they’re correct too !

Sounds simple – but just switch off and then switch on again. Often the machine recovers from getting confused !

Physical problems :

Bernina Jeff (videos, scroll down, most apply to the 500E as well)

Jack Creek Road (videos, not specific to Bernina)

– – –

Why I am writing this

For all the topics covered in other posts, see the black pull-down menu under the header photo.

I hope you find these posts as helpful to read as I did to write 😀

Videos :
Sara at Sewing Mastery has videos which work through the manual of many machines. She hasn’t done the 500E, but the 790 Plus uses much the same software, see from p.3 bottom.

She has also added Bernina supplements to her Embroidery Essentials course, which works through the Anita Goodesign Fundamentals Curriculum stitching 15 main embroidery techniques. I haven’t seen this course, but those use single designs which don’t need editing or combining, so I don’t know how much she goes into the options possible on a Bernina embroidery machine.

These videos (from Material Girls Quilt Boutique) lead you through the Bernina Embroidery Workbook :
Bernina Embroidery Mastery 2
Bernina Embroidery Mastery 3

= = = = =

The manual for this machine – hmm. . .
Here hopefully is what you need to know.
Well, my liking for detailed written instructions is not right for everyone. All this is not best for ‘jump in and have a go’ learners, or for people who need to see a video 😀

If you do greatly prefer videos, Sara at Sewing Mastery has several series on Bernina machines. Her series is now complete on the Bernina 790 Plus, the first machine she has filmed which has much the same embroidery software as the 500E. She has made videos on so many machines that she does very occasionally say something which is wrong (check the manual if you’re puzzled), but the vast majority of the time her videos are excellent and very detailed.

The Bernina 500 series Facebook page is also full of helpful people who answer specific queries.
The most frequently asked question there is about thread nests (loose threads on the back of the work and perhaps around the bobbin case). For advice on those see the machine troubleshooting post.

– – –

I read manuals. When I do something for the first time I like to work through detailed step by step instructions.
For me the exploring comes later, when I know the basics of what to do.
The 500E does many marvellous things, and I want to use it to the full.

But this manual I can barely make any sense of.
I guess Bernina assumes you have easy access to dealer advice.
But in the UK, access to dealer lessons is very rare – my dealer is 200 miles away. So we depend on the manual.
And I’ve found this manual very difficult to make sense of. It’s not written from the point of view of the user.

There’s a pdf version of the manual here.

Happily the machine and software are very much better thought out than the manual.
But this machine is complex, it takes a bit of effort to get to grips with it all at first.

I’m the sort of person who needs to know the general principles and concepts of what I’m doing. And this manual is very much in : ‘if you press this button this happens’ style. Fortunately the workbook is better for giving coherent sequence for doing something. But it too rarely says why you might want to do it.

I also like know a lot about what to do before I try something for real. And this manual and workbook rarely have the answers to my questions. I’ve had to do much exploring. And calm down and recover from much confusion, when I’ve often completely misunderstood how to do something.

I’m also the sort of person who writes things out as part of making sense of them, and writes out my own detailed instructions when they’re not provided. So this is primarily for me. If I can write instructions, then I understand what to do and have a written record to refer back to. If this also helps other people then good, and you’re welcome 😀

Even two years after I got this machine, I am still learning more about basic operations, and adding to this when I do. This ‘blog’ makes a ‘log’ of what I did finally discover is how things work, both the structure of what operations are available, and how to do them. And a source to check when I do something again, to see if I have forgotten details.

Here’s the sequence of tutorials/instructions for myself that I came up with. I have used an embroidery machine (though more than a decade ago), and a Bernina machine with the same bobbin – so I did know how to start, and how to make sense of things without much guidance. But this does mean I may leave out some point that is important for complete beginners !

And I certainly did not get to this point quickly or easily. I’ve been through several cycles of thinking I understood what to do, then finding another nugget of information which made me realise I didn’t understand how it works at all and got plunged back into confusion.
Hopefully I have now gone through enough of those cycles and do know what I’m talking about !
So some of these posts have gone through 3 or 4 versions, when what I thought earlier turned out to be nonsense. . . or when I tried out what instructions there are in the manual and a whole lot of unexpected things happened.

I’m not giving complete information about how to do things in these posts.
I assume you’re looking at the manual pages mentioned.
This is just the things I would have liked the manual to tell me, that I usually had to find out or make sense of for myself !

When I first got the 500E, 2 years ago, after a couple of weeks of desperate and unsuccessful blundering about, I listed several posts planned about what to do leading up to a first stitch out, as this machine is certainly not ‘switch on and go’ :
– general set-up.
– threading.
– hoops and hooping.
– permanent menu, the Home screen.
– selecting a built-in design, the navigation bar.
– doing a one-colour stitch out.
– troubleshooting and maintenance.
I added long term plans for groups of posts on using embroidery designs from the internet, and using the lettering, editing, colouring, and combining tools on this machine.

Two years later many of these posts have been written – see black pull-down Index bar under header photo for these. Many of the posts are still being added to as I find out more. It may be a while before I get down to sorting out how to do accurate placement on the fabric, as it’s not my current priority.

It is marvellous what this machine can do, but I did not find it easy to learn how to do all these things !

[Note : most modern ‘big bobbin’ Bernina embroidery machines have similar firmware and editing functions, so my ‘discoveries’ apply to most of them. There are some things the 535, 570, 770QEE cannot do, and I have tried to mention them.]

= = = = =

Mega hoop

Topics :
Measurements of embroidery area.
3 Positions and 5 Areas of hoop.
Splitting designs longer than 10″/ 250mm.
Changing position during stitch-out, position change and warning animations.

The long thin Bernina Mega hoop, optional but usable on the Bernina 500E, has an embroidery area 400mm/ 15.75″ maximum length, and 150mm/ 6″ maximum width approx.

Marked with 6″ square (red) and 6″x10″ rectangle (green)

(Hoop image from the Bernina USA site. I used Graphic software to show roughly the embroidery design sizes.)

6″x 10″ (150 x 250mm) designs can be stitched in the middle position of the Bernina Mega hoop without moving the hoop.

You can also stitch 6″x6″ (150mm x 150mm) squares, but that can be rather wasteful of materials. I often hoop only the stabiliser, and ‘float’ i.e. baste a piece of fabric onto it.
For 6×6 designs you have the choice of Midi or Mega hoop, but you need the Mega for 6×10.

The Mega is a ‘multi-position’ hoop.
A long design is stitched in 2-3 separate sections using this hoop. There is no need to re-hoop the fabric, instead the hoop can be used at 3 different positions on the machine.
The multi-position Bernina Mega hoop makes it possible to stitch up to 400mm/ c15-3/4″ length designs on Bernina 5 series machines without re-hooping the fabric, even though these machines only have a 250mm/ 10″ length embroidery field.

You can use this hoop on Bernina 7 series and 880 machines, but it isn’t necessary. They can stitch up to 400mm in the Maxi and Jumbo hoops without changing position.

Like the Large Oval and Midi hoops, the embroidery area in the Bernina Mega hoop is not a rectangle, you can’t stitch a design of 6″ width all the way along the hoop.
The largest complete rectangles you can stitch using this hoop are about :
width . . . . . . . . . . length
150mm/ 6″ . . . . . 300mm/ 12″
80mm/ 3.2″ . . . . . 400mm/ 15.75″
To stitch out those lengths, you have to change the position of the hoop.

3 settings and 5 areas of hoop

Left – total area of the hoop which can be stitched when the hoop is in this position.
Right – this area of the hoop can be stitched when the hoop is in these positions.

Use the Var.00 template (purple grid) with the 500E. Template grid lines every 1cm.

These overlapping areas mean when using a multi-position hoop there doesn’t need to be a clean dividing line across the design where the position changes. For example, some parts of the design in the second area may be stitched while the hoop is in position 1, other parts while the hoop is in position 2, and so on along the design.

I have used my Bernina Mega hoop for 6×10″ designs (position 2 only), but haven’t yet used it for multi-position designs. So the next sections are just what I’ve found out so far, not based on stitching experience.

Adding hoop position changes to a row of small designs

When there’s a gap between motifs in a design, for example if it’s a series of letters or a repeated ‘Endless’ motif or other motifs in a row, then the 500E can decide to make a hoop position change in a gap. It tells you when to change, see later.

If you want to make good use of the ‘Endless embroidery’ function, it’s helpful to have a Mega hoop. If you’re making a long border you have to do fewer fabric re-hoopings than with a Large Oval hoop. And you can use slightly wider motifs. The 500E can make all the decisions needed for Endless embroidery – you don’t need any extra software.

Splitting long continuous designs

When there is no natural break in a long (longer than 10″/ 250mm) design, the design needs to be split into separate parts.
This is done using software.
There are several levels of ‘design splitting’.

The simplest design splitting software divides the design into parts along a straight line. This is useful when you want to make a ’tiled’ design, with each section stitched out on a separate piece of fabric.

Some types of splitting make a less obvious join between the parts, and are used in :
– Splitting for ‘multi-hooping’, where you have to re-hoop a large piece of fabric to stitch each section of the design. The 500E has special tools for making positioning more accurate, another topic.
– Combining the parts by multi-positioning on a single piece of fabric which is not re-hooped (as on the Mega hoop).

More sophisticated software can split a design along a curved line chosen by the user.
Some software can divide an existing design into overlapping sections and add position-change instructions to the design file.

Some ‘splitting’ instructions are not about dividing a large design into smaller parts, but about selecting just part of a design. It’s possible to extract a part from any size of design. Some designers don’t like you to extract parts from their designs.

Copyright restrictions don’t apply to the type of splitting needed for the Mega hoop. You’re using the whole design as planned by the designer. You’re just trying to find a way of stitching it out when you only have a stitching area smaller than the design !

These notes apply to splitting designs made by someone else. It may be easier to generate multi-position designs when you do your own digitising.

Built-in long designs
There are a couple of long designs among the built-in designs on the 500E. They include hoop position change instructions. Neither of them is long enough to use the entire hoop.
folder 3, motif 34, manual p.121 (uses 2nd and 1st positions)
folder 10, motif 21, manual p.150 (uses 3rd and 2nd positions)
(If you want to have a look at this – the move-hoop instructions appear even if you just click through the colours on the Embroidery screen without doing the actual stitching. The Embroidery screen insists there must be a Mega hoop on the 500E, but you can use an empty one !)

Imported long designs
If you have an imported design from another designer which is long enough to need the Mega hoop, then you need upper-mid-level embroidery software which does design splitting.

I don’t know about all the software options, but design splitting is listed in the functions of these. I don’t know how sophisticated the splitting is.
Embird Basic (Windows).
Embrilliance Essentials (Mac, Windows).
Premier+2 Extra (Mac, Windows)
Wilcom Hatch Composer (Windows).
Bernina Toolbox does not do design splitting.
(Both Embrilliance and Premier software run on Mac OS Catalina and Big Sur. Premier – make sure you get the most recent version, the old discs are still around.)

As I use a Mac I’m beginning to try out Embrilliance Essentials. Here’s a video about design splitting. The video makes it look easy, but I’m finding it a big challenge to split for the Bernina Mega hoop (not a rectangle) and the Bernina use of .exp format (does not represent colours).

Here’s the beginnings of an example :
split rejoice
(Design from Embroidery Library.)

When saved from the Mega hoop, the design is automatically saved as 2 partial designs called ‘top’ and ‘bottom’. There is some overlap between the 2 partial designs – some of the central area is in one part, some in the other.
I’m finding it a considerable challenge to work out how to do this in Embrilliance so it can be stitched out on my 500E. Plan to write a post when I’ve sorted it out.

Embrilliance Enthusiast. Mega hoop said to be pre-loaded. Looks as if this software may do more sophisticated splitting. From this video, it looks as if you can split a design along a curved line chosen by the user. This claims to result in ‘less visible seams’. The splitting example in the software description looks more complex, there is more detail about it in the manual.

Changing hoop position during stitch-out

When to change position
If position change instructions are included in the embroidery design, an animation on the 500E screen tells you to move the hoop.
Here is the one for moving to position 1 (not the image shown in the hoop booklet).

mega pos1 manual p.100

How to change position
Change the position manually : hold the hoop attachment handles together and slide the hoop along in the attachment mechanism until it clicks in place.

If the hoop is not correctly in one of the click-in-place positions, when you touch the Embroidery tab a ghost hoop screen appears briefly, then it reverts back to the Design Overview screen.

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There is much more that you can do with the Bernina Mega hoop than you might guess from the booklet that comes with it.
More notes to come on this hoop. This post is definitely ‘work in progress’ – there are many options to try out !

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