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Brother PE Design Software

PE Design software for a Brother sewing machine

This article is written by Melanie Haigh, Product Specialist at Brother Sewing. It explores Brother PE Design software – what it is and which sewing machines you can use it with. 

What is PE Design Software?

The full version, PE11 is a design suite of tools, templates and files that allow you to fully create your own embroidery design files from images, pictures, ideas and your own artwork giving full control and editing options down to individual stitches. It combines ready digitised font sets and can convert true type fonts too. You can convert a wide range of image files and turn your favourite photos into stitch format including cross stitch, sepia and mono stitching. Applique is easy to create with the in-built tools. Then there is the huge array of built in ready to use designs to get your creativity flowing.

Brother innov-IS embroidery machines

Both sets of software will work with all Brother Embroidery machines. You just transfer your files using a USB stick by saving them within the hoop size your machine allows.

The software is aimed at creative stitchers.  Both embroiderers and quilters can benefit from this design software. There are many machine embroidery quilting files ready to use and you can draw straight into the software or import images to start from scratch.

Wedding planners, creative thread artists, schools and colleges, garment embellishers, clothing designers, hobbyists, and personalising home start ups all benefit from the design packages.

What skills do you need?

A basic knowledge of a computer is needed. Knowing how to use things like Word with drop down menus will be helpful, but you don’t need to be an IT specialist to learn PE Design. Time, patience and regular use are key. There are easy tutorials to work through to get you started and the more functions you use, the quicker you will get going.

Many people who have no background in embroidery design can use the software. Essentially if you can draw with a pencil and paper, you can digitise. It’s just like drawing and colouring only your tools are a mouse and computer.

Lots of people start in embroidery for fun and before they know it they are digitising and making for friends and family and then progress to small business from home.  The software has no limits of use for commercial makes.

What kind of support/training comes with the software?

There is a full printed manual and an electronic version included.  The tutorials walk you through the functions and tools. A full trouble shooting guide is included too.

Some of our dealers offer further training and support and some have classes running in store.  We also have a wonderful tutor who works with many of our stores and now does online tuition too. Ideal if you want to go further or need to learn a specific task quickly.  These are chargeable but many customers really enjoy or prefer to learn this way. https://www.facebook.com/pedesignwithtricia  Tricia puts helpful tips on her Facebook page too!

What is the difference between PE Design 11 and PE Design Plus 2?

PE 11 is the full version – everything is included.  

PE Plus 2 is the smaller version which has less fonts and designs included and has restricted functions. This is ideal for the occasional user or someone who just wants to dabble and create quickly and easily without paying for the indepth editing functions and oodles of inbuilt files.

Some people ask about PE8, PE Next, PE10 or PE Light & PE Plus.  These are all older versions of what we have now so be careful if buying second hand version. Be sure you get the dongle and that it’s compatible with your current PC and windows version. Further support is on the web site. https://sewingcraft.brother.eu/en/support

Does it come pre-loaded with designs? Can you also create your own original designs? Is it possible to purchase extra designs?

As well as the inbuilt designs, you can purchase many ready made designs from web sites selling these. Check on the copyright issues with each seller. If appropriate, you can edit these within PE11 and take elements of different designs to create something new. If you have purchased designs in different formats previously and now have a Brother machine, your software can convert these to PES format and you can continue to enjoy using them. If you happen to have another make of machine too, you can export them into your desired format too.


What are your favourite features of this software?

For me, the software allows me to be fully in control of where my creativity takes me.  One day I may want to convert an old family photo into a treasured gift, another day I may want to make a new quilt design using rockets for a child’s quilt, next I will be making an applique cake for a birthday card and then thinking about helping a friend with a logo on some aprons for her new café! Even if I’ve created something on my Stellaire or XP type machine, I can then import it and carry on editing with all the extra functions. I just love how versatile PE11 can be!


Brother machine embroidery
Tiger by Melanie Haigh

What tips can you share with someone who is just starting to use PE Design?

Make time to learn and explore. Do little and often, bite sized chunks. Be patient and don’t get frustrated if you need to do things a few times before you get it right. Find a buddy who is learning too if possible, locally or online and learn together.

Set up a system to save your files on your PC or external drive.

Start simple, perfect the techniques and then improve your skills with more challenging quests!