Open Source Machine Embroidery

Gear Threads Is The Mr X Stitch Machine Embroidery Column - Presented By Urban Threads!

Welcome to Gear Threads, the best in machine embroidered art .

Today brings something a bit more behind-the-scenes, but if you’re as into shaking up the machine embroidery world as we are, this’ll be relevant to your interests.

Open source cross-platform programs allow you to create and edit embroidery designs for digitized embroidery machines. Ink/Stitch is the leading software in this field, but Embroidermodder remains a popular choice.

For some users, this may not mean much — you’d use it for day-to-day tasks much like any other digitizing program (and part of the goal is to create a cost-effective option for this). But for those of a programming persuasion, open source software would allow anyone with the skills to tweak and dabble with the software, creating new features like a mad embroidery scientist.

InkStitch Patch by @danielkschneider


Ink/Stitch was developed in 2017 and is the most feature-rich open source embroidery software. It allows you to plot designs with Satin and Fill Stitch, with several stroke stitch options, and to export your designs in a wide variety of formats.

This flexibility gives you the power to create your own designs for patches and other embellishments, and the software aligns your colours to over 60 thread manufacturers so you can produce your designs with relative ease.

Open Source Machine Embroidery
Clinton Poker League patch created with Ink/Stitch by @lexelby

Ink/Stitch is definitely aligned to the maker/hacker ethos and their website is full of tutorials that will help you get to grips with the software in creating specific embroidery types.

If you want to dive deep into the open source embroidery concept, there are even instructions on how to make your own embroidery machine!


Software developers Jonathan Greig and Josh Varga created EmbroiderModder in 2014, and although it has several versions, it does not seem to have been updated recently.

Embroidermodder features
Click for a biggie to read about the program’s features.

Greig and Varga have experience with computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM), embroidery formats, and operating and programming for various computer numerical control (CNC) equipment. Grieg says he fell into machine embroidery when asked if he could use his technical skills to solve a stitchy problem. He found an early version of the program, modified it to suit his needs, shared it with Varga (one of the original creators of Embroidermodder), and next thing he knew he was part of the project.

3D rendering
3D rendering of a design helps users visualize what it will look like stitched.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, EmbroiderModder was brought to life and had a few iterations. However it seems that there has been no new progress for quite some time, so while it remains an option, if you’re starting out with open source embroidery software, Ink/Stitch seems to be the logical choice!

In conclusion

In an industry that’s so proprietary, open-source software is a step in an exciting direction, laying the groundwork for machine embroiderers to get creatively involved on a new level and approach their craft not only as consumers of machines, software, and design files — but also, if they’re so inclined, as producers of whatever they’d like those things to become.

As the maker movement continues to grow and evolve as as wearable technologies increase, we can hope that the open source embroidery movement will thrive and empower new ideas in machine stitching.

After all, if someone could make this amazing embroidery machine made of a sewing machine and Lego back in 2014, imagine what they could achieve now!


Urban Threads - Unique and Awesome Machine Embroidery Designs

Gear Threads is brought to you from the offbeat gals at Urban Threads. Created by illustrator Niamh O’Connor, Urban Threads is revolutionizing machine embroidery one edgy, elegant, innovative, and/or offbeat design at a time. Discover the future of digital stitchery at

Share The Love

Want More of the good stuff?