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What to know about free designs

Author: Lindee Goodall  

Do you think building a stash of free designs downloaded from the Internet is the best way to build your embroidery library? While you can find some well-digitized designs that are free for downloading, the likelihood of building a large library of good designs just this way is extremely small. Here's a short list of reasons why you may want to buy designs rather than rely solely on free ones.

Things to know about free embroidery designs

  1. Free designs from reputable, skilled digitizers are samples. Just like at the grocery store when you can get those samples of some new product, these designs are meant to give you a taste of the digitizer's style or quality. And as a tidbit, it is probably simpler and smaller than the best work the digitizer produces.
  2. Free designs from non-professional digitizers may not have ever been tested. Newbie embroiderers just learning their software are often so ecstatic to have finally produced something in their embroidery program that they want to share it with the world. Is this worth your time to download and sew? Highly unlikely.
  3. Free designs on share-a-design sites are "as-is." While you may find some gems among the pages and pages of designs, many are mediocre at best. How much is your time worth spent searching for the rare design that exhibits both high quality digitizing and eye appeal?
  4. Free designs from the internet may violate copyright laws. That really cute Pooh you downloaded from that design sharing site that has thousands of free designs? Copyright violation. Companies that license the rights to digitize cartoon characters and other licensed designs spend a lot of money and jump through a lot of hoops to have those designs approved. They also have strict guidelines on how those designs may be sold and for how long. If you find cartoon characters, colouring book designs, or other popular branded items, leave them be!
  5. Free designs still cost you time to find, time to download, and time to test. Free designs from non-professional digitizers may require a lot of testing.

Why buy designs?

Professional digitizers earn their living by producing and selling embroidery designs. To get their best designs you will need to buy them. If you are new to embroidery, I recommend not using free designs until you have sound embroidery skills. Why? Because producing high quality embroidery is a partnership between the embroiderer and the digitizer. You can't make a bad embroidery good no matter how good your embroidery technique is without modifying the design itself. On the other hand, if you have poor embroidery techniques, you can easily destroy any chances for a good result no matter how top notch that design is.

So, if you are a novice embroiderer with only basic skills, will you be able to tell if any substandard results are your fault or the fault of the design? Probably not. It's easy to blame the machine when you haven't mastered all the skills you need to predictably get great embroidery every time. So do yourself a favour and eliminate the hardest part of the embroidery puzzle to correct and just use quality designs.