If you’re trying to digitize embroidery designs for free on a Mac.. you may have found out that things are not exactly easy. Many software packages are not made to run on it, and if you can’t run on it.. no custom designs for you. Fortunately, there is free embroidery software for Mac available, and these 3 programs are definitely worth your time.
Free embroidery software for Mac options
InkScape + InkStitch
Inkscape is a drawing type of program, BUT there is also a free extension for it you can download which allows you to work on embroidery files – It’s called InkStitch.
While it does take a bit of work to install it and the instructions are a bit outdated – it is the best free option for Mac users, because unlike other software – it does not come with limitations.
This program is a full-fledged embroidery design suite at no cost! While the easiest way to create designs with it is using SVG files – you can also turn even a hand-drawn piece into an embroidery design file with a bit of work.
Unfortunately, none of the free software does auto-digitizing – this means you’ve got to do it the old fashion way and get busy tracing and manually shaping your designs.
Ink Stitch allows you to: Digitize designs, edit and move things around, get realistic renders of your designs, do lettering, use multiple stitch types, convert to important embroidery file types (like for Brother machines), and access thread manufacturer color palettes for accurate design colors!
There’s definitely a bit of a learning curve here, but there are also plenty of tutorials and videos online which can help you. So, if you’re determined – you can learn how this thing works in an afternoon and get busy making your own custom designs with this free embroidery digitizing software.
Embroidery Tool Shed
This software is free, and it WILL work on MAC using a work around program. You’re not limited like with some other software, but this one is really ONLY for doing light editing.
It has realistic previews, thread color swaps for different manufacturers, easy re-sizing and rotating, and it also allows you to change the background color so you can preview what your thread color choices will look like on different color fabrics.
However, it’s not a full-fledged design suite like the other two options. This software is NOT for making custom embroidery designs – only really for editing existing ones.
It’s also a bit annoying to install. You need to install the program, AND install their “translator” in order to get it to run on Mac, but it does work!
If you’re like me and you don’t need your embroidery software to do everything – just enough to make minor edits and be easy to use – this is a good pick.
Especially for re-sizing or changing formats. We have some free PES embroidery designs in 4×4 but if you needed a different size or file type, it’s easy to change sizes with Embroidery Tool Shed! Click here to get the program. It’s a good Mac alternative to Wilcom Truesizer for Windows.
PS. If you can’t find it when you install it do a broad search for “embroidery” in your Finder, because it did not put the icon for the program anywhere accessible and I thought it did not work at first, but it is there!… somewhere.
Stitch Buddy is “free” in that it allows you to view, edit, resize, and change thread colors, etc. BUT, this program is severely limited in the free version – limiting you to 1,000 machine embroidery stitches for designs which you are exporting!
If you’ve been embroidering stuff for any amount of time, you’ll know that’s almost nothing.
However, I’m including it anyway, because the full version IS very affordable at $50, and it’s a lot more user friendly than Ink Stitch. If you’re not good with software, then you may prefer to spend a bit on this cheap embroidery software rather than use InkScape.
I’d say usability-wise, it’s about on-par with the Embroidery Tool Shed, but this one is also a full-featured embroidery suite, unlike that program which is only for minor editing.
While it does cost a bit of money, it’s much cheaper than pretty much every other embroidery software option out there and it’s a lot more user friendly than the other choices are. Click here if you want to check it out.
PS. If you really had your heart set on another software package – then it’s possible you could still use it. Depending on what kind of Mac you have, you may be able to dual-boot Windows.
This creates a separate operating system installation on your machine – you will essentially now have two desktops (one for Windows and one for Mac OS).
As of now, the new M1 Macs “allow windows” but most of the programs do NOT support it. If you have an older Mac then you can do a native dual-boot like the good old days and run any software that you want to. (But this could quickly change as more and more software providers release updates!)
Let’s get crafting!