Monograming with built-in fonts
If you use the fonts and letter designs built-in to the Brother SE400, you have to stitch each letter separately because you can’t change the size of the individual letters in a “word.” You can set the size of the pre-programmed letters to small, medium or large on the Layout screen. And then you can resize to a certain extent with the size buttons. But you can’t size the letters individually. So if you want a monogram with a large center letter, you have to stitch the letters one at a time, setting the size for each.
If the complete monogram is less than 3.9″×3.9″, it’s easy to adjust the placement because you just move the layout using the positioning keys in the Layout – Adjust screen.You don’t have to re-hoop and the machine stitches a little stitch to help you line up the letters. See the Operation Manual on page 146 for instructions.
Going beyond the built-in styles
If you don’t like the built-in letters or want them smaller or larger, or want a fancy monogram, for example on a towel with letters in a diamond or circle, you’ll need a monogram alphabet design set. It will include three sets of letters: the large center, left and right that you can put together into three letter monograms. Some of them also have designs for borders or flourishes.
Each letter comes in a separate design (PES) file and the SE400 can only stitch one file at a time. See my tutorial on transferring design files from your computer to the SE400.
There are two options. You can stitch each letter separately and learn how to line them up. This isn’t so difficult if all three letters fit inside the 3.9″×3.9″ embroidery area.
If you want a really big monogram that won’t fit, your only option is to split the design, rehoop and stitch each section separately. But it’s not easy to get the sections lined up and spaced correctly.
The quickest and easiest way is to combine the letters using embroidery editing software, save the design as a PES file, transfer it to the SE400 and stitch it all at once. This will give you a nice design and you won’t have to fuss with spacing and lining up the letters. This only works if the whole monogram is less than 3.9″x3.9″.
Embroidery Editing Software
I can’t recommend particular software because there are so many choices that I can’t keep up with and because so much depends on individual needs and preferences.
Many people like Embird. Some people say Embird is very powerful, but has a steep learning curve. Others prefer different software as less expensive and easier to use. You need the Basic Embird for combining letters from alphabet designs. There are also add-on modules for lettering. One lets you take ordinary fonts from your computer and convert them to embroidery designs. You can also change the shape for a circular or diamond monogram, etc.
People also like SewWhat Pro.
Both Embird and SewWhatPro have free thirty-day trials so you can try it before you buy.
If all you want to do is combine letters, have a look at Combine Design. I haven’t tried it, but it was recommended by one of the ladies on SewForum. At $10 it’s much more affordable than the others (but also much less powerful), and it’s nice and simple to get started. If you go to the site, there is a link to a Youtube video showing how it works. http://www.bowsandclothes.com/index.php?url=sewing/CombineDesignSetup.php
You can use special monograming software. I don’t know anything about them because I prefer general purpose software that I can use for other things.
I use Embrilliance because it runs on my Mac as well as on a PC. Embrilliance Essentials has 12 built in Alphabets that you can use to make text, names or monograms and you can resize the lettering and the program adjusts the stitch count as you resize. It also offers some different style options for making monograms from the built-in fonts. It’s also very easy to learn and use.
Emblibrary has some of my favorite and most helpful tutorials online. Here are two on monograming and while you’re there, check out the others on stabilizers, etc.
Standard Monogram Rules & Placement for various types of items: http://www.emblibrary.com/EL/elprojects/Projects.aspx?cs_productid=pr1352&cs_catalog=elprojects
Monogramming Techniques (video and written instructions with photos): http://www.emblibrary.com/EL/ELProjects/Projects.aspx?productid=PR1103
Monogram Letter Design Sets
Basically monograms are either 1, 2 or 3 letters which are combined or merged together. Many designers offer monogram letter design sets online. Since the maximum embroidery area of the SE400 is 3.9″x3.9″, I would suggest you look for alphabets that have several sizes such as 0.5 to 3 inch.
Depending on the width of the letters, for a three letter monogram, you maybe able to use a 1 and a half inch or 2 inch letter as the middle letter and .75 inch letters or 1 inch for the left and right letters so that all the letters fit in your 4×4 hoop.
Having several sizes of letters for one alphabet gives you lots of options to play with when making monograms.
Here are just a few examples of alphabet designs:
Emblibrary has a variety of styles and designs: http://www.emblibrary.com/EL/Browse.aspx?catalognavigationbreadcrumbs=emblibrary;alphabets&showtop=true
Digi Stitches: http://www.digistitches.com/fonts/
Here is the Natalie Monogram Framed Font: http://www.digistitches.com/natalie-fancy-frame-1-monogram.html
Bold and thick letters: http://www.8clawsandapaw.com/bold-thick-embroidery-fonts.html
Large letters: http://www.8clawsandapaw.com/infinity-monogram-alphabet-embroidery-design.html. This set comes in sizes from 1″ to 6″. The largest ones are too large but there is a 3″ one. The 4″ one may or may not work since the actual maximum size for the SE400 is 3.9″. You could scale it a little with embroidery software. If you don’t have software, try the free Wilcom TrueSizer.
8 Claws And A Paw has other large ones too: http://www.8clawsandapaw.com/large-fonts.html and many other styles too – http://www.8clawsandapaw.com/embroidery-fonts.html
Vine style Interlocking Font: http://www.theitch2stitch.com/Intertwined-Vine-Interlocking-Monogram-Embroidery-Font_p_515.html
Hang To Dry has appliqué letters as well as alphabets: http://www.hangtodryapplique.com/alphas/
Purchasing digitzed Alphabets allows you to choose the style of letters and size of letters you would use the most.