Brother PE-Design 4.0 software for creating your embroidery designs will save you money in the long run over the price of embroidery cards. The challenge of creating your own designs and seeing them stitch out on your embroidery machine is thrilling. You will need a serial port for the reader/writer module and printer port for the security dongle. The dongle is a pass through dongle so you can connect a printer on top of the dongle. Newer notebook computers no longer have the serial or printer ports so you need to be sure your computer can handle the hardware requirements.
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PE-Design 4.0 contains 4 separate programs that each perform certain tasks. These sections are File Utility, Design Center, Layout and Editing, and Programmable Stitch Creator. PE-Design 4.0 will allow you to create a design up to 6x10 inches in size. You can also "export" a design into PCS, HUS, DST formats.
File Utility - here is where you send embroidery files to a reader/writer module to write to a memory card for your embroidery machine. You are also able to read the contents of most cards (there are a few cards that are locked against this feature). File utility also allows you to specify which serial port your reader/writer module is connected to.
Design Center - is almost auto digitizing but you have more control of the design from this section than most auto digitizing software. Design Center also has a fun new feature - photostitch. Photostitch will take a photo or drawing and create an interesting picture. This feature does take some manipulation in order to get the photo right but the results are interesting. I have re-created several painting with Photostitch like Van Gogh's Starry Night and Da Vinci's Mono Lisa. These designs take several hours to stitch but it is interesting to watch the pictures "develop" with each layer of thread.
Layout and Editing - this is the section of the program that you have the most control over your design. You are able to use the "manual" punch tool to create a design. This tool is an advanced feature but the final product is as close to a professional embroidery design as you can create with home embroidery software at a fraction of the cost.
Text can be added to designs in Layout and Editing. Most true type fonts on your computer can be used in Layout and editing with just a click of a button. Editing is a snap through the text editing menu: kerning, spacing, rotation, alignment. Other creative editing for text includes fitting text to a path or transformations - various shapes for the text to fit into like banner shapes. You are able to edit the text so that each letter is a different font, fill, outline, color or size. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
You can also combine several different designs in Layout and Editing to create your own scenes.
Programmable Stitch Creator - allows you to create various fills for your designs. These can be fills or motifs. Fills are solid fills with a design created by needle stops. Motifs are more like lace. Open running stitches create the motif fills. Motifs can make interesting outlines for appliques. Using a blanket type stitch for an applique will make an applique look more handmade.
Brother has recently released a version 5.0 for the PE-Design so this version is no out of date. You still will be able to find it in shops at a reduced price. There are two different versions of the PE-Design being sold. One is the "full" version with the reader/writer box, dongle and software. You will need the full version is you have no older copy of the PE-Design. The "update" version is for those who have an older version of the PE-Design (any version 1-3 will do as long as you have the reader/writer module)installed on their computer.