Computer Drives Embroidery
|December 12, 2005||in Product Reviews|
A review of
Reviewed by Sharon Darling
The Bernina Aurora 440 QE converts to an embroidery machine with the optional embroidery module that includes the snap-on embroidery unit, a large hoop, a template that fits the large hoop for help with positioning embroideries, embroidery foot No. 26, and a USB cable to hook the sewing machine to the computer. Editor Lite Software and EC on PC (Embroidery Control on Personal Computer) software both of which run on your personal computer come with the embroidery system too. As a matter of fact, you need a computer to run the embroidery on this machine.
Installing The Embroidery Software
The software is easy to install because it works like any other computer program installation. Put the CD in the drive and it walks you through all the steps to get the computer talking to the sewing machine. It tells you what to hook up and when to do it.
There is a small device called a dongle that plugs into a second USB connector on your computer that enables the software to run. I’m not all that wild about dongles because they take up extra USB ports on my computer so I have to unplug my graphics tablet and camera to use the embroidery system. If you lose the dongle, the software doesn’t work.
Learning the Embroidery System
Once the software is installed, the system is easy to use. You will learn the few functions quickly especially if you watch the training CD that comes with the computer. I love Bernina videos because they are so well done and make everything seem so easy which they are once you’ve seen the CD.
Even if you don’t watch the CD, you can figure out the embroidery process by watching the screen on the computer. Animated step-by-step instructions appear to prompt you as to the next step in the process. Once you complete one step, the next step appears. This is great if you don’t use the embroidery module all the time because you will be reminded each time you use it.
Click the mouse on the computer on graphic images for control of the embroidery process. You can change the thread color order by clicking on an icon of a spool of thread or by choosing a thread option from a drop down menu. You can position your thread starting spot and align the design within the hoop. I like being able to use the function keys on my computer to show the dimension of the embroidery design for alignment purposes.
Bernina includes embroidery designs in a portfolio to get you started. I tried several types of designs including border designs, satin stitched lace designs, cross stitch designs, floral motifs and quilt designs.
I did a nice floral embroidery for a blouse. I did a lace flower satin stitch design on wash-away stabililzer so I can attach that to a jacket. I did a quilt design with a small piece of batting between the block and the stabilizer to make a trapunto design. I really enjoyed all the different styles of embroidery I could do on this machine.
In addition to using the designs that came with the Aurora 440, I downloaded some free designs and purchased designs online. I tested both the designs in the Bernina native ART format and I got designs in Singer’s XXX format and Pfaff’s PCS format to convert to Bernina ART format. The software did a nice job on all the conversions and designs I tested. I even reduced the size of some of the designs which reduced the number of stitches. I combined designs and added alphabetic characters to the designs. I could even change the size and shape of the designs so they fit my specifications.. (Is this the best job in the world?) The only thing I couldn’t do was to delete part of a design.
Pros & Cons
There are advantages to running the embroidery on the computer rather than running the embroidery the sewing machine alone. The use of the larger screen makes it easier to see and the graphics are better because of the screen resolution. The instructions are better because of the extra space on the screen and the ability to use animation with more computing power. The error messages are more informative because of the larger screen space to elaborate. And it’s easier to update to a higher level of software by buying the full-featured editor program.
This computer-based embroidery system isn’t perfect. There are disadvantages of this system too. You have to have a computer and have it near the sewing machine. You have to have enough work space for both the sewing machine with its embroidery unit and a computer to control the machine. You need repeated access to the computer for thread changes so this makes it inconvenient for anyone else to use the computer when you are doing embroidery. That isn’t a problem for me since Charlie and I each have a computer. I’m lucky enough to have a large enough sewing area with a table right next to my desk to accommodate this kind of machine set up.
The only real down side to this configuration for an embroidery system is if you don’t have a computer at all. It would be an expensive add-on to a sewing machine. I really like the Bernina Aurora 440 QE and I like it even better with the embroidery module. Be sure to put this on your wish list for Santa.