To resize or not to resize, that is the question!

That is actually a good question, and it gets asked over and over again with many different answers.  My answer is NO.  Don’t resize anything at all, not even a little bit.

There, I said it loud and clear and you should too. Again?  DO NOT RESIZE EMBROIDERY DESIGNS.

There are only a few rules that I consider unbendable or unbreakable in embroidery.  I can bend some rules and still end up with amazing embroidery.  This, however, is not one of that kind of rules.  It goes hand in hand with the big one “DIGITIZE AT THE SIZE YOU WANT YOUR FINAL DESIGN TO BE”  and I think sometimes I sound like a broken record saying it over and over again!  These rules are vital to good embroidery, whether you created the file yourself, or you have a PES stitch file – the size has been pre-determined, and you should not change anything except for colors!   Let me explain.

Digitizing the file yourself.

Some people are aware that you should not change the size of a stitch file for any reason or any amount.  Some people think that downsizing a mere 10% will not matter, or even 20% will not matter(note to self:  it matters!!).  But what if you digitize the design yourself, can you take a large design that fits into your 8×10 hoop and click on it and size it down to a 4 x 4 hoop?.  Technically, you can, I guess, but you won’t have nice results when you try and stitch it out.  Yes, Hatch is very powerful and will compensate for the dense stitching, but there is more.  A satin stitch on a large design looks very different than the same satin stitch on a very small design.  If you have detail work in a large design done in satin, when you make it smaller, that detail work is now a thick mess and becomes the focal point of the embroidery.  Do that a couple of times and you have a mess!  So, just because you digitized it and have editing capabilities with your EMB files, there may be limits as to resizing.  You do have a better chance in resizing an EMB design in small amounts (as opposed to doing this with a stitch file) but you still have issues.  My advice?  Digitize at the size you want your final design to be.

WARNING:  what you see on your computer screen is not exactly what you will get when you stitch it out.  It may look “fine” or OK on your computer screen, and entirely different when you go to stitch it.  While the embroidery programs make things look great, it can’t compensate for actual thread, using the right stabilizers and hooping properly.

Let’s look at an absolutely perfect example of what I am talking about.

design created by Linda Rayburn, posted in Hatch Facts Facebook Group

design created by Linda Rayburn, posted in Hatch Facts Facebook Group

This is a design created by Linda Rayburn, digitized in Hatch and is a native EMB file.   This is the exact same file, no changes except that one is bigger than the other!  Do you see the difference? All the differences?  There are so many!!  Lynda digitized the smaller design, decided that it looked good on screen and stitched it out and of course was not happy with it.  She then resized the design to be larger – not much larger, but larger still – and BAM!  THERE IT IS – THE EMBROIDERY SHE WAS LOOKING FOR!  IT IS BEAUTIFUL!  And she is happy with the results.

You cannot argue with me on this one, people.  It is right there in front of you!!  Clear as day!!

digitized by Linda Rayburn, proper size

digitized by Linda Rayburn, proper size

digitized by Linda Rayburn, same design, small size

digitized by Linda Rayburn, same design, small size

Let’s look at the design a little bit closer.  How about we look at the satin stitches in the design – the bigger design looks perfect for satin stitches.  That is because they are the right size.  Now look at the smaller sized one – they do not look as nice, they have issues and nothing is very clear.  Let’s look at the running stitches inside the letter.  The large design looks sharp, clear even spacing and is a beautiful accent to the letter.  Now look at the small one – the lines look off – it is not very neat and tidy, is it?

Great work, Linda – your design looks beautiful – and as she stated in the Hatch Facts group – it is a lesson that she won’t soon forget.   Ahhh, that is music to my ears!!!

Resizing a stitch file

So clearly you can see the issues with resizing a native EMB file that you have digitized yourself completely and had all the editing capabilities including density compensation.  When you are using a stitch file, you have a total of zero for editing capabilities – except for changing colors.  With so much less editing abilities and any density/stitch file compensation, what do you think happens when you resize a stitch file, even a little bit?  Yes,  a mess is what you get.  No matter what you do, you will have a mess, even if it is just a little bit!! Every time you make your stitch file even a tiny bit smaller, you are introducing errors and changes that you don’t want)

Another rule to remember (write it down along with the others today)  STITCH FILES ARE MADE FOR STITCHING, NOT EDITING.  And resizing is editing.  So next time you think about clicking that button to make a stitch file smaller or larger, think about it before you do it – and accept nothing less than excellent embroidery.  After all, anyone can stitch out OK or “just fine” embroidery, it takes attention to detail, time and patience and above all no shortcuts to have great embroidery. After all, you have spent time and money to learn embroidery and embroidery digitizing, why not have excellent results?  Why take a shortcut and have OK results, when you can take a bit more time for excellent results.

I am going to leave this one here for now, for everyone to ponder and accept.

Until next time, Happy Digitizing!



  1. DigiWhat says:

    Perfect, thank you for explaining :)

  2. Glenda says:

    Hi, i want to learn digitising. Can you point me in the right direction in regards to a basic, easy and reasonably cheap program. I have just had major surgery and now have a few medical problems to contend with, so i want to keep occupied, as dieing 3 times after being on table for 6.5 hours, i am feeling a little down.
    I look forward to hearing from you, as i am very new to embroidery i have a lot to learn and it is exciting

    • Susan Brown says:

      Hatch is the best embroidery program around! You can get a free trial on this site ( and there are classes, blogs, FAQ and a facebook group to help you out with getting started! Have fun with Hatch!

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