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What is a Stitch Map?

Posted by Anna Pritchett on

If you've been in embroidery a while, you may remember life before fancy PDF tutorials. Back in the olden days, we had to rely on the stitch map files. These files are helpful to know how to read even with the existence of full tutorials. You can print the stitch map and add your own notes as you stitch the file so that you remember what you did in your own words.

Let's look at the Daybreak Zipper Bag.


This is the inside of the main folder once I unzip the file and add it to my POP folder.


The Daybreak was updated to offer a Full Front Applique option due to popular demand. As always, the update is FREE for anyone who had already purchased the file. If you haven't downloaded this update, simply log in to your account and re-download the file. 


We are going to look at the stitch maps for the Full Front Applique option. Here is the inside of the Full Front Applique folder. What a mess! The files are all jumbled up. 


Click on the Type tab and the folder will sort itself by file type.


The stitch map files will have a BMP or JPG file extension. In this case, they are BMP type files. Let's select the 5x7 size. 


Here is the 5x7 stitch map. When you click on it to open, your computer will open it in whichever default photo viewing app or program you've designated. In the upper left corner of the stitch map, you will see the file name, the stitch count, the exact size in inches and millimeters, the location at which the design begins and ends in the hoop, the number of colors and thread stops, as well as the date the file was saved.


The rest of the stitch map is literally a *map* to what your machine is going to stitch. The steps are illustrated and numbered. Step 1 is almost always going to be a placement stitch when you are doing an ITH or in the hoop design. 


I created a "cheat sheet" for this design with an explanation of the steps. You can make your own or right-click on the photo and save to your computer for printing. I included notes to remind myself of important details, such as where to add personalization, and when to open the zipper. 


When you look at the stitch map for the Daybreak Full Front Applique before sewing, you will realize that the fabric you put down first at Step 3 will only show ABOVE the "swoop" once you complete the large applique BELOW the swoop. There's no need to guess what is going to happen next in any POP design (or any designer whose files include stitch maps). Taking a few minutes to review the stitch map will save you time and frustration! 



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  • I NEVER opened a stitch map. So glad to know this. thanks for explaining

    Elaine Donnelly on

  • I will have to go look at those maps, thanks!

    Sharlyn on

  • Thanks that helps alot


  • Thank you! I will now use these for better instructions.

    Terri on

  • Very helpful ~ Thanks for taking the time to write the blog post on this -

    BDahle on

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