Machine Embroidery Management is coming to Linux!

I haven’t updated this topic since September, but I’m very excited about the progress so far.  You may remember that one develope, David Boddie, had done some work, with the result that I could build .png files to visualise my patterns within Dolphin, and that we were hoping that the other developer who had shown interest, Purple-Bobby, would join us.  That’s exactly what happened.  David and Robert Forsyth, a.k.a.Purple-Bobby, attacked the problem from different angles, which proved to be very informative, as they could feed on each other’s ideas.

I originally bemoaned the fact that my patterns, in the format .jef, could not be visualised without running Windows.  Some of you may have seen Linus Torvalds’ blog http://torvalds-family.blogspot.com/2010/01/embroidery-gaah.html on much the same subject.  David gave me .png, and Robert gave me .eps files to be used in the same way.  Neither developer can spare huge amounts of time for this project, but although much progress is incremental, sudden leaps forward happen.  It’s this latest leap forward that excites me.

First – an apology to the KTurtle team.  We have borrowed your icon.  This is, of course, temporary, but it reminded us of a X-Stitch pattern, so was the best available until we make our own.

Previewing in Dolphin

So this is a representation of the pattern held in the .jef file.  It’s not so easy to see in a small image, but the pattern is contained on a white background, which denotes the actual extent of stitching, while the yellow border surrounding it denotes the size of the hoop to be used.  The application already can gather a great deal of information about the pattern.  One of the considerations to follow this is whether some of that information could be included alongside the actual preview.  We have to wait to see the practicalities of that.  Meanwhile, take a look at how much information we can already gather:

[anne@anne-laptop JEFPreview]$
./JEFPreview LydgateDesign/ArtNouveau/ArtNouveauPeonies348868.jef
JEF file: LydgateDesign/ArtNouveau/ArtNouveauPeonies348868.jef
Thread count: 31                                                               
Stitch count: 56297 between 86 and 141 minutes                                 
Hoop: B 140.0mm x 200.0mm                                                      
Pattern: 123.2mm x 164.4mm                                                     
Threads Used:                                                                  
 1: 219 Olive Green 14.997m                                                   
 2: 213 Beige 14.748m                                                         
 3: 257 Cocoa Brown 21.986m                                                   
 4: 219 Olive Green 1.572m                                                    
 5: 214 Brown 9.322m                                                          
 6: 219 Olive Green 1.304m                                                    
 7: 215 Wine Red 3.264m                                                       
 8: 244 Cardinal Red 5.764m                                                   
 25: 215 Wine Red 0.594m
 26: 234 Coral 3.267m
 27: 244 Cardinal Red 0.254m
 28: 239 Sunflower 0.203m
 29: 270 Mustard 0.713m
 30: 234 Coral 1.319m
 31: 244 Cardinal Red 0.503m

So we know the number of thread changes, the number of stitches, and approximate time to stitch out.  This is always an under-estimation, because it can’t allow for how much time it takes to thread your needle another 30 times!  You’ll see that already there is a big spread in the estimation – the machine can work at different speeds, depending on the type of materials in use.  Then we have the hoop size and the actual pattern size – corresponding to the yellow and white rectangles in the preview.  Finally you have the thread identification number, name, and amount required for each colour change.

This is an impressive amount of information.  Most of it, if not all, can be obtained from the supplied Windows software, but not all in one place.  You have to access different modules of the software to find some of the information – most inconvenient.  As JEPreview stands it provides 98% of what I need.  I can then simply copy the .jef onto the CF card (the latest version of the machine has USB),  insert the card into the machine and stitch.  Of course, if I want to edit the file, change colours or move elements around, I am, for the moment still dependent on the Windows software.  Maybe one day that will be possible too.

Written by annew in: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,


  • Dangit, you are going to cause me to work with the Husqvarna Viking Designer I USB one that I have.


    The Windows software for it is so badly done, and also costs anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on what you want to do. I really want to do my own custom designs, but that will cost me a few thousand dollars. I have been meaning to try and figure out a way to do custom creations, and you might be on to something here.

    If anyone has questions or what not and if I can help with my hardware on any diagnostics or anything, please do not hesitate to ask.

    Comment | January 29, 2010
  • annew

    From the investigations so far it would seem that all patterns have a similar structure, so it is believed that once we have what we want it should be possible to extend it to other formats. At that point the ability of Robert and David to ask questions of you would be very helpful. In each step they have found the theoretical then asked me to check against the practical, which included running some test on the machine to check the colour coding. I also supplied them with sample patterns, both freely obtainable from the Internet and purchased from Janome and on-line resources, so that they could check their theories against several patterns.

    Comment | January 30, 2010
  • Decalguy

    Very nice article I’m not an embroidery person but do have a very similar problem having to boot windows to see my vinyl plotter files and also run the plotter. I’m still very excited and Thankful for the work the guys put in on this type of software maybe one day us vinyl guys will have a Linux solution.

    Comment | February 2, 2010
  • @nixternal:

    It looks like HUS files are the equivalent to JEF files for Husqvarna, but it also seems like there are more complete designs available as VP3 files.

    Certainly, it would be interesting to dig around a bit and see if those can also be visualised. Maybe we should start a mailing list for these kinds of tools and files.

    Comment | February 12, 2010
  • Dan

    Hello everyone. I was wondering if anyone knew of a gnu or a free piece of software with which I can desing a pattern virtually on the screen with cross stitches or other software that can digitize an image. Thank you.

    Comment | February 12, 2010
  • annew

    @Dan: Googling for ‘linux cross-stitch’ brings up some interesting links, although I haven’t investigated them, including one to KXstitch, where there seems to be a ‘club’ for downloading free patterns.

    Comment | February 13, 2010
  • Anne, congratulations to all of you for the progress viewing JEF files in KDE! Good luck for an editor, but if you ever come along Mac OS X (hey, it’s also *ix), have a look at StitchBuddy: I took the same route: First a plugin to preview JEFs in the Finder, followed by more file formats like PES, DST, EXP, VP3, … , then a plugin to search for embroidery files and finally an editor to change colors, resize, move, delete, …

    Comment | February 26, 2010
  • Miguel

    Em.. this post is about embroidery design software? im looking for linux emboridery software… I read about Xstitch, but do not know if Xstitch drive formats .DST (Tajima)
    Help me please…

    Comment | September 8, 2011
  • annew

    Originally the aim was simply to view existing patterns in Linux. The developers in question also began exploring the design of such patterns. Unfortunately their time is limited, and progress is slow. I am not aware of any software that enables you to design for machine embroidery in Linux. I believe that KXstitch did not progress for quite some time, but is now being ported to KDE 4.x, so that may be the most promising application to watch.

    Comment | September 8, 2011
  • Guy Lessard

    Is it possible to download this software?

    Comment | December 3, 2011
  • What is the current state of this project?

    My wife is struggling with the Singer Futura 250 software, which seems to be second rate.

    She’s willing to test this and offer feedback if that’s possible.

    I’m a GNU/Linux user and can provide some feedback as well, from the standpoint of ease of installation/usability.

    Let me know.



    Comment | December 3, 2011
  • annew

    There’s a lot of work just to get one format working properly and the developers have very little time. Realistically there is little hope of having multiple formats available in the immediate future, though I will make the developers aware of your interest.

    Comment | December 5, 2011
  • Guy Lessard

    Like David, i am familiar with Linux, i am willing to be beta tester for the software.
    Can i suggest a source tarball with a install script so that we can compile to whatever distro we have for the moment.
    For the moment, my wife only needs to visualize the pattern.

    Comment | December 5, 2011
  • annew

    I have emailed the authors regarding this – I believe they will agree, but obviously I need their permission before offering such details

    Comment | December 6, 2011
  • One of the results of this effort is available from a repository at Bitbucket:


    I think that pretty much everything I did is in there. Feel free to ask about any of it and I’ll try to help out.

    Comment | December 6, 2011
  • Feel free to examine the source code, an early version is available here
    It does not have all the features discovered and shown in the post above.

    The later version here http://purple-bobby.co.uk/JEFPreview/

    I don’t have the thumbnail preview and Nepomuk tag scanner available online.

    Comment | December 7, 2011

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