Resizing stitch files: Yay or nay??

It’s a good question! Read on and let me know your opinion on resizing.

People always want to change.  Change is good, but not necessarily good when it comes to stitch file embroidery designs.  Should you change the size of the designs that you purchase?  If yes, what is a good amount to change?  Are there any guidelines?  What happens when you change the size of a stitch file?  Read on and find out answers to these questions, and more.

“To resize or not to resize, that is the question”

Hem-it, by William Stitchspeare

First of all, let’s define exactly what a stitch file is for clarity.  A stitch file is an embroidery file that your machine can understand.    If you are creating an embroidery file in your software, you should create a working file (EMB, EOF etc.) that you can change and edit.  Once you have completed your design, you need to save and update your working file (or native file) and then convert it into a stitch file.   Your machine will not understand your working file, your machine needs a stitch file. The other main difference between a working file and a stitch file is editing capabilities.  If you are creating the file yourself, therefore in the working file, you can add or remove underlay, change the density and change the width of stitches.  You can’t do any of this in a stitch file.    In many of my videos I repeat the mantra that helps everyone remember “stitch files are for stitching, working files are for editing”.  If you can remember this, you are on your way!

When you purchase a design from a website, you are purchasing a stitch file.   In general and as a general guideline, you should not resize stitch files.  It is a rule that you may be able to bend slightly, BUT every digitizing website should have a disclaimer that if you change the design in any way, including resizing, then the digitizer is NOT responsible for the outcome.   INCLUDING RESIZING.  Designs are normally digitized for the size that they are produced:  meaning that a small design is created one way, and the same design larger is created a different way.  Any good digitizer will digitize the design twice if there is a big size difference – so if you have a 2 x 2 design, and you want the same design in a 6 x 10, it’s going to be digitized twice, so that each design will contain the right amount of density and detail.  Of course, this rule can also be bent in certain designs:  if it is a very simple fill stitch design, you can easily change the size in any type of file without any loss of detail (really there isn’t any detail in a fill stitch file, but you may still have some density issues).

Some people say that they can resize a stitch file up to 200%, and some people say you should only resize up to 20%.

In my opinion, avoid ANY resizing of stitch files if at all possible, but if you have to, make sure that the design is not too complicated because any design will resize, but the details will not resize.  Nor will the density.  So I am saying Yay and Nay at the same time.   You can resize under certain circumstances, although if at all possible, avoid the resizing of stitch files.

Pro Tip for FSL (Free Standing Lace)

I am going to add a tip by saying that you should NEVER resize FSL for any reason.  FSL is a digitizing technique that is tough to master, and requires that the thread is connected to the other threads a certain way, and not rely on stabilizer or material for stability.  So FSL is created a certain way, and if you resize FSL, you are asking for trouble – it may be too dense, or not dense enough and the design will fall apart when you wash the stabilizer away.

So what exactly happens when you resize a stitch file?

All of the detail work that the digitizer carefully created will be messed up.  In a larger design, you can add a ton of detail work and it will look amazing – you can do shading, outlining and even use satin stitches for detail work.  When you take that design and all that detail work and make it smaller, what looked small in a large design will look large in a small design, if that makes any sense.  If you have a large width satin stitch in a large design it doesn’t stand out too much.  Take that large width in a small design – and it looks huge.  So resizing may make you end up with HUGE detail work and change the whole entire design. 

All that being said, when you send your stitch file to your machine, you can do a bit of resizing at the machine. If you play around with that feature, you will notice that it will NOT let you resize the design by much. If you have to resize a stitch file, in my opinion this is the safest way to get good results. (remember NOT to resize FSL, even a little bit)

Density Matters!! Don’t Break your machines

When you change the size of a stitch file, you are also changing the density.   Designs are digitized to the size that the digitizer wants them to be.  If you resize them, you are running the risk of making a mess, and ruining the design.  If you resize a stitch file design, you can’t blame the digitizer for poor digitizing or offer a poor product embroidery design – you have changed their work, and you have created the mess.  So my best advice is to leave the design at the size that you bought it at for best results, and you should not have any issues.    When you change what the digitizer has created, that is when you are going to have issues.

Yes, size matters.  And so does density.  LOL.

Until Next time

Happy Stitching!


PS another free FSL Flower is available now!

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