|Buzz2Stitches can Write most major home
and commercial formats:
Buzz2Stitches can read these graphic
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
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
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
|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
|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
|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
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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)
64Mb Memory Minimum
16Mb Drive Space
Open USB port