Basic Training: Organizing Embroidery Designs 10+ Tips To Get Your Designs Organized

Avoid searching for embroidery design files by creating an organizational system. Use visual reference guides, digital sorting systems and a backup of all designs to easily find inspiration and begin stitching at a moment’s notice.

Lead image Basic Training: Organizing Embroidery Designs 10+ Tips To Get Your Designs Organized


  • Create a binder to file design information sheets for easy visual reference. Having every design in your collection at your fingertips makes it easier to find designs when you’re ready to begin embroidering.
  • Most designs, whether purchased on a USB drive, a CD-ROM or as a digital download, come with a printed information sheet. This sheet includes a thread chart, sewing information and design images rendered at full size. This information sheet may also include the name of the collection, the digitizer (if applicable) and the company that sells the designs. Store each information sheet in a protective sleeve in a binder (A).
  • notebook Basic Training: Organizing Embroidery Designs 10+ Tips To Get Your Designs Organized


  • Review the various information sheets to determine how to categorize your designs. Organize them using a system that makes sense to you. Some general categories that might work well with any design collection include: animals, appliqué, baby, floral, fonts, freestanding lace, geometric, holidays, novelty, quilting and redwork. Choose categories that work best with your personal collection; if you have many different holiday designs, organize the designs by holiday. If something falls into more than one category, copy the information sheet and store it in both categories.
  • Alternatively, keep the sheet in only one category and add sticky notes to the other categories as reminders. Organize categories using tab dividers and create an index listing categories to use as the binder’s first page (B).
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Packaging Problems

  • There are a variety of different machine embroidery companies, which means there are a variety of packaging styles. Some designs arrive on a CD-ROM while others are distributed digitally or via a USB drive. Often, once the information sheet and design files have been removed the packaging is no longer needed. If so, recycle the packaging material. If the packaging is needed for vital information, use the following tips to keep it organized.
  • Choose a packaging type that you prefer and use it for your entire collection. For instance, if you like the look of DVD cases, CD-ROMs and USB drives fit easily into a DVD case. Purchase empty DVD cases at office supply stores and store the designs inside the case (burning digital downloads to CD-ROMs as needed), keeping identifying packaging on the outside. Label the DVD case with the design name and number on the exterior for future reference.
  • Use the binder of information sheets to store CD-ROMs. Purchase CD-ROM storage sleeves at office supply stores and place them with the information sheets in the binder.
  • Research USB drive storage options if you prefer to keep all designs on USBs. Some USB storage systems hang on the wall and allow the drives to dangle, while others incorporate plastic storage boxes. Whichever storage device you choose, make sure to label each USB drive with the design name and number.

Electronic Organization
Storing and organizing embroidery design files on the computer is easy and requires the least space. Keeping all design files in one file makes it easier to create backups and find designs as needed.

  • Begin the organizing process by placing all of your design files in one folder; label the folder “Embroidery Designs.”
  • Within the folder, create category folders. Label them using the same naming conventions used to create the binder. Within each category folder, createindividual folders for each design or design collection, labeled with design name and number (C).
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  • Keep the design file original names in case you need to contact the company regarding a specific design later. Create a naming rule that allows you to add descriptive terms to the design file name. For instance if a rose embroidery design file’s name is “” rename it “”. Placing an underscore after the original name and then adding your own description allows you to quickly recognize each file as it appears.
  • Save zipped files as original backups only if you plan to edit the designs using embroidery software. Keep the zipped files in the same folder as the design or design collection.
  • To view the designs saved on your computer while browsing, seek out design cataloging software or embroidery editing or digitizing software with cataloging features. These software programs convert designs to JPEGs to view them as images (D). The ability to view your collection on the computer will come in handy as you search for a design for your next project.
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Storage Solutions

  • Always have a second form of storage available in case your computer crashes or the discs/USB drives fail.
  • To create a backup of a CD or USB stick, copy the design files and any other important files, such as .pdf documents containing sewing information, to a file folder on your computer.
  • To backup design files on the computer, copy the embroidery designs folder onto a removable hard drive. Removable hard drives are USB-connected hard drives with anywhere from 50 gigabytes to a terabyte of storage. Removable hard drives are more reliable for storage than optical media (CDs or DVDs) because they’re less likely to fail.
  • Alternatively, copy the embroidery designs folder onto a cloud-based storage system. Cloud-based storage is internet-based storage. Many services, such as DropBox, SugarSync and Google Drive, allow you to store files online for free or a small annual fee. Storing files online provides extra protection as these systems regularly backup and protect your data. This method of backup also allows you to access your files from any computer with Internet access. §


Find category inspiration on your favorite embroidery design websites. See how they organize their designs to help you determine how to organize yours.


If not already listed on the information sheet, add the embroidery collection name and number.


Extract all ZIP files before storing in a folder. In Windows, right-click the file and select “Extract All,” and then follow the prompts to save the files. On a Mac, double-click the zipped file; the uncompressed files will open in the original zipped file.

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One Response to Basic Training: Organizing Embroidery Designs 10+ Tips To Get Your Designs Organized

  1. Pat says:

    Consider adding the same info to all files in a folder (I add the name of the vendor if not included in the file name). There is software (often free) available to do this renaming easily (e.g. NameWiz.)

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