Embroidery Gatherings

Getting Started in Floriani FTCU

Where to Start with FTCU?

Everyone is so excited after they purchase Floriani FTCU.

Now you can edit designs! You can change colors, you can resize the design, you can add elements to create a new design.

Oh….and the thought of being able to digitize your own ideas is amazing!

So you jump right in and install the program on your computer. You open the program and the workspace screen appears all grey and you think…now what do I do?

Where do I start?

I have this amazing digitizing program and I don’t even know what to do with it.

It looked so easy when I saw the demo. But now, I can’t remember what to do. Oh, no!

You click on a few icons, searching for some kind of activity to show up on the screen and nothing makes sense. Confused? Overwhelmed? So you close the program and think, “I will come back tomorrow when I have more time to figure this out”.

And tomorrow, you come back and click around a bit more and a few things show up on the screen. Ok, now you are getting somewhere. Wahoo! But you think,  “I want to do ….xyz….and I wonder. How do I do that?”  Hmmm….

Sound familiar? I bet it does.

I get emails EVERYDAY from FTCU users who write and ask “WHERE DO I START?”

Well, let me help you get started.

Everyone wants to jump in and start tracing an image right away. But how can you do that if you don’t know how to use the stitch tracing tools or even where to find them. Oh and what about how to select a shape or resize a shape or change the thread color. There are basics that you need to learn first and it will make your whole process sooooo much easier if you know these tools before you start tracing!

Here are some basics things you need to know first.

Step One: Learn the Workspace Tools

  • how to open a new page
  • how to select shapes
  • how to use the selection box to move, resize and rotate designs
  • how does the sequence view work
  • all those tabs in the properties box

Step Two: Learn the Stitch Tools

  • practice the Run stitch tool
  • practice the Fill stitch tool
  • practice the Satin stitch tool – and remember there is 3 different kinds of satin tools – each one is used for different reasons
  • practice the Applique tool
  • practice the Text tool

Now you are ready to start digitizing your own images!


Follow these steps and you will be on your way to digitizing your first design

Step One:  Open a Background Image to trace

  • click on the NEW PAGE icon at the top of the screen
  • on the left toolbar, click on the BACKDROP tool icon
  • navigate to the file that contains the image you want to trace > select the image and open it
  • now it will be on your workspace
  • while it has the selection box around it you can resize it in the properties box – type in either the width or the height – it will adjust accordingly

Step Two: Make a plan – what shape do you trace first?

  • background shapes should be traced first
  • think in layers – work from the “back” to the “front”
  • draw a sketch of the image and number the shapes in the order they need to be digitized
  • make notes of the stitch type that each shape should be
  • make notes of the thread colors you would like each shape to be

Taking 10 minutes to make this plan will save you lots of headaches in the long run. It not only helps you to organize your design, but your design will also stitch in the correct order. You don’t want to trace the “eyes and nose” first and then find out that they stitch out underneath the skin color!

Step Three: Trace the image using the Stitch Tools

Here are the basic digitizing steps to follow.

Select your stitch tool from the top toolbar and use these 5 steps for every shape that you trace.

  • select the stitch tool on the top toolbar (run – fill – satin – applique)
  • left click on the thread toolbar (at the bottom) to select your thread color
  • left click and trace the shape – placing nodes along the outline of the shape – RIGHT click when you are finished to generate the stitches
  • in the sequence view, select the segment that you just traced and on the left toolbar, select the SHAPE EDIT tool – now you can drag and edit the lines of the shape
  • while the shape is still selected, select the COMMAND tab in the Properties box and edit the tie ins and tie offs as needed

Now you have just traced your first shape segment. You can repeat those same 5 steps for every segment of the image.

Step Four: Save your Design

After tracing and editing your design, you will want to save it in two kinds of files. Save the design first as a WAF file format. This is your “working” file. If you need to change the design later, open this file and make your changes and then re-save.

When you are ready to embroider your design, save the design in whatever machine format that is read by your embroidery machine brand.

It’s important to remember that a WAF file format contains all of your digitizing information. This is the file you will want to use to make any future changes to your design.

To save a WAF file:

  • at the top, click on FILE > SAVE AS > navigate to the location where you would like to save your design
  • in the file format box, make sure the file format is WAF
  • click SAVE

To save in your machine format:

  • at the top, click on FILE > SAVE AS > navigate to the location where you would like to save your save
  • use the drop down menu and select the appropriate file format for your machine brand
  • click SAVE

These are the basic steps of  How to Get Started tracing your first design. Of course, there may be some advanced editing that you may need to learn to do.

The most important piece of advice I can give you is to practice, practice, practice and more practice!

Find a simple design to start and move on to more complex images as you become more comfortable. Don’t try to digitize an image of your dog that has a million colors and shading for your first design. Especially when you are first starting to learn to digitize. Start SIMPLE and build your skills and you will be successful!

Would you like step-by-step written lessons and videos to help you get started practicing Floriani FTCU?

You can find over 75 written lessons and videos in the Embroidery Gatherings Membership Club.

One of the best reasons to join the community, is to have a place to ask your questions and get answers right away.

Click here to join and get started right away!

Learn to digitize embroidery designs -join the Embroidery Gatherings Membership Club

If you would like a free PDF copy of this lesson, please fill out the form below and it will be emailed to you!

Paula signature-EmbroideryGatherings



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10 thoughts on “Where to Start with FTCU?”

    1. Hi Jackie,

      I am not familiar with Creative Express. I only focus on digitizing with the FTCU software. However, it is my understanding that if you own Creative Express AND FTCU, they are incorporated within the same workspace screen and there is no need to “go out” of creative express to use FTCU. Sorry, I can’t explain anymore than that for you. When I started using FTCU they never had the Creative Express, so I have never used it. I have always used just the FTCU software and love it and never needed anything more than that.
      ~ Paula
      Embroidery Gatherings

  1. Theresa S. Bowen

    I am having difficulty activating the FTCU software. I have the trial software downloaded but cannot get an activation number. How is that done.
    Thank you,

    1. When you purchase FTCU you should of received an activation code. If you do not have that code, then you will need contact Floriani Software support to get an activation code.
      ~ Paula

    1. Hi Judy,
      At the end of most of the blog posts or Digitizing Practices there is a form to fill out to request the pdf lesson. That will add your name to the Embroidery Gatherings mailing list and you will receive any email updates that I send out.
      ~ Paula

  2. I guess I am ready to start learning what I am doing instead of just winging it Please send the PDFs and I will faithfully follow each step Thanks, Cora.

    1. Hi Cora,
      You can get any of the PDF tutorials by filling out the form at the end of the post (above- near my name). The pdf will be sent to your email.

    1. To receive the free pdf for any of the Digitizing Lessons, just fill out the subscribe form at the end of this tutorial and the pdf will be emailed directly to you. Thank you ~Paula

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