The What, How to; Where to of ITH Embroidery

ITH Embroidery is the acronym for In-the-hoop embroidery.

And what does that mean?

Apart from spoiling you, to not really use your sewing machine a lot anymore, the only restriction you will encounter is the size of your embroidery's machine hoop.

Other than that, the sky is the limit!

Enough of the gibberish to best explain ith embroidery, here follows:

 ith embroidery step-by-step

  • Firstly, purchase your ith embroidery design from one of the many sites or shops offering ith designs in the format that your embroidery machine can read;
  • For more on the format of your designs, scroll down for a better explanation;
  • Usually, ith designs are hosted as a separate category, as demonstrated in the image from Planet Applique below. If ith embroidery designs are not categorized, search for the term.
planet applique ith embroidery designs The What, How to; Where to of ITH Embroidery


In my Amazon shop listed below, you will find all sorts of Machine Embroidery supplies, visit the shop here:

For a list of sites offering free ITH embroidery designs, check out an earlier post here.

how to purchase ith embroidery designs

If you are not familiar with how to purchase designs online, here follows a short explanation:

  • Create an account in the shop (usually featured in the top right) and make your purchase/s, or add all the items to your cart and once you check out, you'll be prompted to register/create an account;
  • In the image above, if for instance, you want to purchase the seahorse, click on the image to open up the design. The hoop sizes for the design as well as the different design formats will be listed. Planet Applique has a slider of the photos of each design from different angles as well as the supplies needed, which is quite handy;
  • Click on the ADD TO CART button, and you will be prompted to proceed to the checkout or to continue shopping;
  • When done shopping, click on the checkout sign (the trolley) and proceed to checkout.
  • The system will walk you through the process.  Have your email address, address (for billing) and credit card or Paypal details ready. 
  • Complete your payment details. Once the purchase is approved, an automated email will be sent to the email address you provided, with the payment details, and often a separate email with the download link.
  • Your downloads will also be available from the site you made the purchase from, under account or settings.


I BOUGHT my ith embroidery designs, what now?

  • Thank your for asking!  
  • Click on the download link and download the files to your computer.
  • The files are zip files, and you'll need to unzip it before you upload the designs to your embroidery software program.
  • Your ITH embroidery designs will most probably come packed in 2 separate files - the design file and the tutorial file (step-by-step photo tutorial).
  • Firstly, open the tutorial file and scroll through the process.
  • Secondly familiarize yourself with the supplies needed, the sequences and arrange your different color threads as well.
  • Note the instructions regarding the placement of the fabric - right-side facing up or down, because it will impact the successful completion of your item.


HOW TO transfer THE ITH DESIGN from the download file to your embroidery machine to actually stitch it out?

At this point, you've purchased an ITH design in the format that your machine can read.

Open your design in your embroidery software program.

Save the design to your machine's USB device.

Insert the device to your machine, choose the design and start your embroidery.

In the video below, Planet Applique's Becca, demonstrates how to stitch out the lovely ITH paper pouch.  I don't know about you, but I'm more than happy for the embroidery machine to insert a zipper for me!

For more machine embroidery video's, check out her You Tube account here.

Let's take another example - this reindeer doll design is by Dolls & Daydreams: 

ith embroidered reindeer doll in pink The What, How to; Where to of ITH Embroidery


The stitch-sequence for such an ITH design is:

  • The first step will be to hoop your stabilizer;
  • Four hoopings, will be required:
  1. one to stitch out the arms and legs; 
  2. the second the antlers;  then the
  3. back of the body and head; and
  4. finally to embroider the face of the reindeer and to sew the arms, legs and antlers to the body .
  • In each hooping the placement stitches will be stitched out first (without any fabric on the stabilizer);
  • A placement stitch is an outline of whatever you are going to stitch out. I stitch all my outline stitching in white (except when the fabric is dark);
  • The outline gives you an indication of the size of the fabric you need to place on your stabilizer, step-by-step according to the instructions;
  • All you have to do to finish your doll, is to stitch the small opening in the body closed with some hand stitches.


Your embroidery machine's format

The most important step of this process, is to know which format your machine will be reading.

These are the most popular compatible machines and digitizing and sizing software:

ART - Bernina Artista users

CSD - Singer, Toyota POEM, Viking Huskygram

DST - Tajima, Brother (commercial models), Babylock, Viking, Toyota, Singer, SWF, ZSK

EMD - Elna Xquisit, Wilcom 

EXP - DOS expanded format, older Singer and Husqvarna's, Tajima 

HUS - Husqvarna & Viking 

PCM - Pfaff

JEF - Elna, Kenmore, Janome 

PEC - Babylock Ellageo 3

PES - Babylock, Brother, Bernina

PCS - Pfaff 

SEW - Elna, Janome, Kenmore (Pulse)

VIP - Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff 

VP3 - Husqvarna 3D-design

XXX - Singer

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