I promised, so here it is - but bear in mind, I've barely scratched the surface of what Stitch Era can do. I haven't worked half the tutorials, either video or PDF, and there's whole areas I haven't explored yet. Not to mention the confusion and frustration about having to pay a rather high premium for 'free' software. But I owe it to everyone here to write up what I've discovered, so you can better decide if having this (wonderful, easy) program is worth the price.
If I had to sum up the program, it'd be with one word : Incredible. I still can't believe I didn't pay over a hundred bucks for this. If I had to sum up what I think of their distribution channel, it'd be with another word I don't wanna use here, much less on a Sunday. So we move on.
The Cd-rom comes wrapped in a piece of paper with the supposed installation directions on it, inside a cardboard envelope. In the States, it's shipped with PayPal shipping via US Postal Service first class mail. The distributor only ships on Saturdays, no matter when you order. I got mine on Thursday (OH to OK), and it may have arrived by Wednesday, but the post office said the mail was missent. The distributor said she had another shipment get the same message. But it arrived safe and sound and unscratched.
I say the installation directions were supposed - not one of the 'automatic' functions worked, I had to manually go in and start it. When I finally got to the 'click here to finish' window, I sat around for ten minutes, then went in m'self and found the boot part of the program, and put in a Windows Desktop icon m'self, too. Thought you should be aware.
But it worked fine, and while it takes a while to boot up on my system (I meet all the minimum system configs, but not all the recommended ones), it works faithfully. I've only had one lockup, and that was due to my system having too much running, not the program. It uses ads to subsidize on the right quarter of the working window, but three of the four are for Sierra, the program's manufacturer. They're very inobtrusive, but require a permanent internet connection, like cable or DSL.
The main window opens with four tutorials that use WinExplorer to run Adobe Reader. And more 'helpful sites' i.e., ads. The first 'tute' is a basic 'how to use lettering' one, and it's thorough and easy. You may wanna have a notebook handy - I've taken a few pages of notes for later. If you can use it, you can use *any* True Type font on your computer... and there are thousands of free downloadable ones. They, and a hefty amount of provided fonts, are available without you doing a thing. All my fonts installed automatically. Here's a stitch-out of my name, using an old Star Wars knockoff font I've had since '03 - As you can see, it did pretty well ! Forgive the slight puckering, I was excited and didn't hoop the slippery polyester scrap very well. There's many shapes there for your text to follow, and you can design your own 'ribbon' for your letters to flow on.
The second 'tute' is one on Stitch Editing, and I played with removing stitches from designs for a while, and adding some. There's also numerous duplication and repeat functions, like circles and kaleidoscope functions. Didn't stitch out any, but it was fun to play with.
The last thing I've done is auto-digitizing. SEU makes it very simple. If you have an image in .bmp, you can open it in SEU, 'vectorize' it, then hit one more button, the 'Art to Stitch' and you have a fully-done embroidery design, ready to go. You can change colors or add them by using the Edit Objects functions - choose 'Select Object', click on the area you wanna change, then select a new color.
Even better, if you change the color *before* you bring it to SEU, it'll assign it a stop automatically. I'd altered the right curls' color in PaintShopPro, when it was still a .bmp, so in this stitch-out, there was a stop for 'em, so they wouldn't blend in with the bulk of the design. Very nice ! You can see the original free vector graphic I used to begin with. It's from http://garcya.us/blog/category/vector-graphics/ , and I've asked if I can share the design file here. Just waiting for a reply back. It lost a lot of detail, sure, but there's a 'digitize by hand' function I've not begun to explore yet. Exported it as a .pes, neat as a pin, to my design folder on the ole hard drive. Ambassador saw it, no problem, and it has all the usual machine embroidery extensions -.hus, .art, .dst, etc.
Honestly, just being able to use my True Type fonts to stitch with is worth the $9. to $15. asked for Stitch Era Universal. But being able to create my own stuff -admittedly simplified, but that took all of five minutes - is priceless. It's nowhere near as hard to use as Explorations Sizer. I'd put it at about PaintShopPro, there's a learning curve, but most stuff's intuitive, and you can noodle around and have fun with it.
So, while I still have much to learn, I know that SEU has much, soo very much, to offer for not a lot of cash. At least if you're in the States. I hate how overseas is always such a tangle...
I give SEU a few hundred stars for ease of use, dependable results, and gentling the learning curve as much as they possibly can. I'd drop off a few for current distribution, but it is still a new program. Maybe Hobby Lobby or JoAnn's will notice and pick up a distributorship soon ! In the meanwhile, if you're curious about digitizing or being able to word out whatever *you* want, but don't wanna lay out a couple hundred bucks, consider Stitch Era Universal. You can always spend more later (goss knows there's plenty of ads for Stitch Era Liberty on this thing !).
Dorrie, heading back to SEU for another tutorial. Hope this helped ! I'll answer any questions I can.