How to Easily Create Text on an Embroidery Machine Without Investing in Expensive Embroidery Software (and making some sweary retro dish towels, if you want them:)

If you have an embroidery machine and want to easily create text, BX fonts may be your new best friend. Here's how to use them, and my files for some sweary retro dish towels.


Don’t you hate those blog posts that have to tell you the entire history behind a recipe or project before they get to the point? I’ll get to the point about how to create strings of text on embroidery machines using BX fonts, and THEN give you my schpiel.

The “nitty-gritty”: if you have an embroidery machine and want to customize strings of text with fonts that aren’t pre-installed on your machine but don’t want to invest in expensive embroidery software, your solution may be to use BX fonts.

The BX machine embroidery format seems proprietary to Embrilliance, but you can use it with their free version. Here’s how:

Using BX Fonts for embroidery

  1. Install Embrilliance Express on your computer

    You can download the program here. The program is free. It’s the same platform as for their paid software and won’t do a great deal, but it will allow you to create text using BX fonts. Unzip the program and run the installer. When you open the program, you’ll be prompted for a serial number. Just enter nothing, press “done.” The program will tell you it’s running Express Mode and you’ll then be on the main design screen.screenshot of embrilliance

  2. Let’s enter some text and install a font.

    By default, you’ll have one font in your system: block text. Click the “A” at the top of the screen to enter text. In the right panel, you can change the text you want in the box labeled “text.”

    To install your font, simply click and drag your .bx font file onto the yellow screen in Embrilliance. You’ll get a message that the font was installed. Once that’s done, while you have your text selected, you can change your font from the drop-down menu on the right.

    You can find many BX fonts online either on Etsy or embroidery websites for purchase — they generally don’t cost much per font.
    Twinkle Twinke Sparkle Font in Embrilliance Software BX fonts for embroidery

  3. Edit your text and colors

    Oh no! You’ll notice that the text here exceeds the bounds of the orange box — that represents my embroidery hoop size (which you can set in Edit>Preferences). I need a machine that can do larger embroidery. But since I don’t have one, I’ll need to ensure that my text fits within that 4″ x 4″ space. Sorry to tell you this, but BX fonts come in particular sizes. This is a 1″ size font. I’ll need to enter separate text for each new line, and then I can click and drag the text around to place it. It’s pretty easy and intuitive to do if you’re at all familiar with image editing software.

    You can click on the “color” tab to change your thread color so your machine with stop and prompt you when it’s time for a color change. You can choose from just about any available embroidery thread brand and color that you can imagine.changing the embroidery thread color

  4. Save your file

    Once you’re done, go to File and you can save your working and embroidery file from there. You can choose from most machine embroidery formats. I have a Brother machine which uses the .PES format. Once I save that, I can load the file to my machine and it will embroider the text that I’ve entered and prompt me for the appropriate color changes.Saving and exporting text created with BX fonts for embroidery

My Sweary Retro Dish Towels

My embroidery/sewing combo machine is not new — my daughter wanted one a few years back, and it never got much use. But now, with additional time on my hands, the machine is finally seeing use. In fact, I’ve been inclined to embroider everything in sight.

So what did I use my newfound text embroidery powers for? I started simply: with dish towels.

My spouse has a problem with me moving a particular towel in the kitchen so I used a Harry Potter font to create “The Towel Which Must Not Be Moved.”

Then, I’ve always liked sacastic retro Anne Taintor stuff and had this old dish towel around:

I couldn’t find many embroidered vintage women, but I found one set on Etsy that was just perfect. It’s one color, stitches up very nicely, particularly on a black flour sack towel, and really does have a vintage look. Plus, one particular image — of a woman standing at a stove and staring longingly into a saucepan, was perfect fodder for a caption.

So here’s my towel:

And I liked it so much, I decided to make my husband a beer towel. Again, I found a retro guy on Etsy.

Want the files?

I’ll definitely be stitching more items from the set of vintage women! They’re easy to do and stitch up nicely. Sadly, I can’t add them here as they’re items for sale on Etsy. If, for some reason, you wanted the PES files I used for the text here, you can download them below. Each block of text, as I mentioned, is 4″ x 4.”

A word of warning — the Sparkle font is fun (it looks kind of like Fontdiner Swanky) and has a retro look…but it has lots of little jump stitches that you’ll need to snip.

For now, using BX fonts has given me the ability to personalize a bunch of things for household items and holiday gifts. But I can foresee a time in the near future that I may want to start investing in some embroidery software.

For now, using BX fonts has given me the ability to personalize a bunch of things for household items and holiday gifts. But I can foresee a time in the near future that I may want to start investing in some embroidery software.

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