Buzz2Stitches Digitizing Software

Buzz2Stitches Digitizing Software

Buzz2Stitches can Write most major home and commercial formats:

Buzz2Stitches can read these graphic formats:


Digitizing your own embroidery designs just became very easy!

You've probably been wanting to digitize your own embroidery designs for some time now, but digitizing software has been too expensive and too difficult to operate. Not any more! Now Buzz2Stitches - created by the folks who created BuzzTools, one of the most trusted names in the embroidery industry - makes turning any graphic or clip art into an embroidered design easy! Buzz2Stitches accepts the most common graphic formats and creates embroidered designs in the popular embroidery machine formats.





Reviewed by: Scott M. Ritter - SMR Software Pres.

It seems like it's happened every day of my career: The phone rings, and somebody asks me if I have a software that will convert a .JPEG to an embroidery file. I should have made a cassette recording with the answer years ago, how many hours could I have saved? The fact is, graphic files and embroidery files have nothing in common, you can't just "convert" a graphic to an embroidery file the way you can convert a .BMP file to a .JPG file. There is no common ground.

Creating an embroidery file requires not only a specialized software, but also a highly trained embroiderer who can operate it and make decisions that a computer just can't make - or so it used to be. A month ago, our friends at BuzzTools called excitedly to say that they had a new digitizing software that was almost ready to release. It would take virtually any graphic file as it's source - even photos - and create an embroidery file from it. Yeah, sure. I'd heard this before.

Melco tried to do this way back in 1987. They introduced a program that could scan any artwork and kick out finished embroidery. It was the pinnacle of their accomplishment - for about 6 months, then they quietly withdrew it from the market and pretended it never happened. Since then, numerous companies have come and gone, trying to offer the same "Holy Grail" of  embroidery utility - an automatic digitizing program.

Some companies in the home market began offering "scan and sew" programs a few years back. I'd seen a few work, they were made for the amateur market, and yielded amateur results. So I was skeptical of this new product, despite the reputable source it came from. It arrived a couple days ago, and I've been putting it through it's paces nearly every waking moment since.

I'm rather impressed - and that doesn't happen easily. I've had it digitize a few designs of varying degrees of difficulty, and this performs better than the others I've seen and costs a fraction of the price. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start with the basics...

Buzz2Stitches is actually ridiculously easy to use. Each time you start the program, or by clicking a button on the main screen, a wizard appears that asks a series of questions as follows:

The first screen, simply asks which graphic file you would like to use, and what embroidery format you want to create. For most of our customers, this will be too easy a choice, but I found that you do not want to select .EXP or .DST at this point. These are professional formats, and as such do not contain any color information. If you select one of these formats, all your thread colors get displayed in black. (on screen only, the color change "stops" are there, it's just a little confusing.) I'll bet they will change this soon, but for now, just choose a "home machine" format, and if you want either of these two professional formats, choose your format after the digitizing is done by selecting "Save As..." from the file menu.
Based on which format you selected on the last screen, the second screen offers a list of hoop sizes to display the finished design in. Here you can choose what size to make the embroidered design, so it doesn't have to be the same size as the graphic you used. I'd recommend using a graphic that is bigger than the finished size you want to have - that's just a "commercial printer's rule" for maintaining quality. One neat thing about this screen - you can stretch the design to be taller or wider if you want. Click "Next" to head for the next screen.
Buzz2Stitches can create digitized embroidery files, appliqué or cross-stitch files. I thought that was pretty versatile. If you have a design with an internal area that shows fabric - such as a donut would have a hole - there is a check-box on this screen where you can specify that this will happen. After all, if you have a car with a white windshield and the background is white, you still need the windshield sewn, so you'd make sure not to check the box. But you probably don't want the inside of a bicycle tire filled with thread, so for that design you just place a check in the "Hole Settings" box.
Now we're getting to the part that sets this software apart from others that have tried to create auto-digitizing software. Buzz2Stitches creates stitches and makes choices for your design based on styles you specify. This allows the software to make some critical choices that others choke on. Most clip art will fall into a "Cartoon style" category, which tells the software to make choices based upon large fill areas and a typical "black outline." This works great for simple art, most logos, etc. But choices exist for creating an outline only, text only, illustrations, and even photo-realistic work.
Depending on which style you selected, the next screen offers choices to refine the default settings for that style of digitizing. One of the more important choices on this screen is the ability to determine whether a satin stitch outline is produced, or running stitches based upon the width of the line Buzz2Stitches encounters.
Finally, you can set the underlay choices based on what fabric you will be sewing on, fill and satin densities, and even the underlay density. After using the software to create a few designs, I think I'll be resetting the default value for underlay density a little higher, but that's just my own preference. The stock settings are certainly a good place to start, and considering the fact that the average user hasn't been digitizing for 20+ years, these settings will probably save users some headaches.

The Results:

Original Clipart


When I first opened the software, I started with a design that was, in retrospect, too easy. I asked the software to digitize an outline of the state of Alabama. Needless to say, it created a perfectly digitized design that sewed flawlessly. Still, I've seen other products that couldn't do as well. However, what I wanted to check out was how the software joined the various sharp curves in the outline, and how well the thin outline covered the fill stitching below. From a professional digitizers standpoint - and I was one for many years - this was a critical requisite for the software before I would look any further. It managed to cover the fill perfectly, and the various satin joins were made either the same way as I would have done, or in a more than acceptable manner. Chalk one up for Buzz2Stitches.

Original Clipart


So I decided my next project should be one destined to make the software fail. I grabbed the "eagle head" clip-art from Arts & Letters Express and asked Buzz2Stitches to try and digitize that. I've done the same piece myself on my professional digitizing software that cost me over $10,000 many years back. I remember it took me about    2 -3 hours to complete. I figured I was about to see this new software crash and burn, but to my surprise, about 5 seconds after I clicked the final "Finish" button on the initial wizard, There was a rendition of the eagle.

Mind you, it didn't do the eagle the same way I had done it with my professional equipment. When I digitized that piece, I used a specialty "Feather" stitch that gave the eagle a special 3D look. It was time consuming, and wasn't as perfect as I'd have liked, but it was nice enough that many of the digitizing community of the day "Oo-oohed" and "Aa-ahed" over it just the same. But did Buzz2Stitches crash & burn? Not a chance. I think most embroiderers would be thrilled with these results. The only thing I didn't like about this eagle is that I would have digitized it with a thin, running stitch outline. This one came out with a very thin satin-stitch outline. However, to my surprise - and to the credit of my maintenance of my old 1985 Ultramatic Jr. proofing machine (what can I say? it still runs!) - it sewed out beautifully, without a single thread break. I discovered that you can control whether you get a satin-stitch outline or running stitches on the 5th screen of the wizard, so I grabbed another piece of clip-art and started again.

Original Clipart


OK, I was on a roll. Could I really digitize complex designs that formally took hours - in seconds - with great results? Next I tried a graphic of a stealth bomber. This one would be very small - I had made the eagle 3.5" wide, and it was actually bigger than I would have wanted. - Of course, redigitizing would only be a 10 second job if I wanted to do so. But I adjusted the outline width to get a running stitch outline on this one, and the results were again, very acceptable.

Original Clipart


Next, I wanted to try a different setting. I had been using only "cartoon style" digitizing, so I created a logo, and asked Buzz2Stitches to sew this out using the "Text" style function. I was mostly impressed. The software plotted it's sewing path as well as I would have, used "closest-point" connections and followed most of the rules for digitizing text - until it got to the "g" in "logo." A professional digitizer would normally use a "c" and "bar" digitizing style to create a lower-case "g." But the computer couldn't figure this one out, and created the "g" with fill stitches. I'd guess that most people interested in this software wouldn't care about that, and personally, I realized I could edit this small discrepancy faster and easier than I could have digitized the job, so I was still quite happy.

So how far could this software go? I had a piece of clip-art on my computer that I'd been meaning to digitize for years now. It's an incredibly complex logo for the local high school mascot - The "Grand Rapids Thunderhawks." Where you get a "thunderhawk," I don't know, but I knew I was looking at about 3 days work whenever I decided to digitize this in my professional software, so I found the clip and let Buzz2Stitches have a go at it.

So was I jumping for joy to find that Buzz2Stitches had digitized this incredibly complex piece in under a minute? Sorry, not this time. Oh, it created a piece of digitized work that approximated the art alright, but nothing I'd sew out and wear. I'm afraid this one is just too complex for anything short of a professional digitizer to handle. In a way, it's nice to know that my kind will still be needed for a little while anyway, but at the same time, the Buzz products folks are famous for keeping their software up to date. They issue free updates for customers to download on a regular basis. I wouldn't doubt that you'll be receiving a number of updates over the years for this software that will make it better and better. Eventually - Who knows? Maybe you'll be kicking out complex designs like this with your copy of Buzz2Stitches on a daily basis

Should you Consider Buzz2Stitches?

I've put Buzz2Stitches through it's paces for 2 days straight now, and despite it's simplicity of operation, I'm still finding a tidbit here and there that I didn't see before. I need to mention that I tested a number of additional pieces of clip-art, and usually got decent results, but the software didn't always do things the way I would have done. For example, I had a graphic of a cardinal, and his yellow eye was surrounded by black feathers. Buzz2Stitches liked to embroider the yellow first, and then have the black meet up to the eye. I'd have digitized the the eye on top of the black, I'd get better detail that way. I couldn't find a setting that changed the software's mind, but the neat thing is, if you also own BuzzEdit, the two programs can work together as a single program, and you can change the sewing order to place the eye on top of the black feathers.

Of course there were a few other designs that I digitized and considered an out-and-out failure, but I'd still have to say this is the best auto-digitizing software I've tested yet. One neat thing about a software product that automatically digitizes from a graphic is that if you don't like how some stitches form in the embroidery file, you can edit the graphic to make changes. That's much easier than editing an embroidery file. Of course, the price tag of just $299 is nothing short of incredible. For the home embroiderer who is looking for an easy solution to create their own designs, who has no digitizing experience, this is a God-send. For a professional embroiderer, I'd say you still need a professional digitizing software, but guess what? Even though this software won't do everything you need, it will digitize some of your simple designs in seconds, where your professional software might take hours - This product can pay for itself in a couple jobs. Think about that.

Click here to download the embroidery files I mentioned in this review (zip File)

System Requirements:
Windows XP/Vista/7
64Mb Memory Minimum

16Mb Drive Space

Open USB port

$299.95 Plus S&H

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