Options emphasised in bold.
Links to more information about :
More embroidery techniques.
What other embroidery machines offer.
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These options are available on most embroidery machines. Where relevant, I’ll relate the possibilities to the 500E.
Start with using built-in 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 a usb stick and downloaded designs.
Many many designs available to buy on-line. 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, dreams, cute, humour, fantasy, goth, steampunk . . . ).
Just some of the biggest design sites :
OESD (a Bernina company).
There are so many design riches already available.
Using ready-made basic designs, in which your involvement in the stitching process is just to change thread colours, may fill your embroidering dreams.
But there are several avenues for adding to what you can do with your embroidery machine.
Some techniques need more actions from you in preparation for embroidering, some need more involvement during the embroidery process.
Explore to find what you enjoy – the process and the result 😀 ♥️ 👍 ♥️ 😀
Use different machine embroidery techniques.
Embroidery Library (Projects) and Anita Goodesign (Customer Centre) above have extensive photo tutorials and videos on different techniques. Try appliqué, lace, patchwork piecing, quilting, zippered purses, face masks . . .
There are also formal on-line video classes (not free), from such as :
Martha Pullen/The Sewing Collection.
Sewing Mastery/Heirloom Creations (class on the Anita Goodesign fundamentals sampler).
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 a 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.
Bernina have optional ‘presser feet’ for using your machine to :
– cut out fabric shapes for appliqué,
– paint fabric,
– add crystals,
which can enhance your embroidery designs. There are a few built-in designs using these tools on the 500E (manual p.151-5). More designs can be bought on-line from the Bernina designs company OESD. Plus there’s Windows-only software for using those tools to make your own designs (Design Works).
(In the UK the tools and supplies are very expensive, and I have seen comments that Bernina has not kept the software up-to-date.)
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 (for Windows only, there is other software for Mac).
But ARTlink 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 for editing designs on your computer.
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 wealth of embroidery 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. The big differences with Bernina 7 and 8 series machines are in the hardware. They 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). On the sewing side they have dual feed. They’re also bigger and heavier machines, difficult to move from one position to another or take to a class.
Mostly the 7 and 8 series 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 (the top Bernina machine) includes ’embroidery shaping and distortion’ to change existing designs, and ’stitch designer’ to make your own decorative stitches.
There are even more expensive Top Of Line 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.
People who love playing with technology love these machines. But these machines aren’t essential for doing those editing tasks.
Tablet size screen : Several of those companies also have cheaper machines with tablet-size screens, without the super-power technologies. It’s even cheaper to have an embroidery machine with small screen, and see your designs full size using embroidery software on a computer !
Auto-digitising : You can do auto-digitising (make an embroidery instructions file automatically from your own image) using software on a computer. It isn’t necessary to have an embroidery machine that can do it, see software options post.
Tablet apps and wi-fi : 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. I haven’t tried them, I prefer editing on a big screen.
With these 2 apps 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 and bag 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 things I can do with my 500E 😀
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