I recently created some graphics with Adobe Illustrator, saved them as PDFs and sent them to a printing company for a quote for part embroidery, part screen print on clothing.

The quote came back with an additional fee for the file to be sent off to someone else, to be prepared for embroidery.

What needs to be done to a vector graphic for it to be embroidered on clothes?

Is it a different software? Is it possible to prepare it in Illustrator, or another Adobe CS5 software to avoid the fee?

2 Answers 2


If you are looking to avoid the fee there are open-source digitizing solutions such as SewArt but it uses raster based images. Be advised that free solutions typically result in poor quality digitizing files.

Now just to make sure you understand the purpose of digitizing is to assign the color and path to the embroidery machine as so:

enter image description here

That said I would advise paying for the digitize fee because better software, hopefully, is being used that will result in a better digitized file. Also, the better software uses vector based files for conversions. If you read the terms some companies will provide the digitized file after the conversion. Personally, it is worth the money to make sure your file is generated properly and is a quality product for your potential clients to see. Shop around though. Some shops will charge $10.00-$100.00 for a file but that also depends on the difficulty, stitch count, pattern, colors, etc. etc.



the best starting point is ALWAYS to ask how the printing company wants the artwork to be delivered. It may be just a problem with i.e. overlapping paths or that paths need to be converted to outlines.

besides that i agree with matt. let them do the conversion for the embroidery. that way they guarantee a quality result.

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