creating a tracing plan for your embroidery design

Create a Tracing Plan

This beginner tutorial will show you how to create a tracing plan for your embroidery design and create an efficient tracing order.

Before I start digitizing any design, I always think about how I want the design to sew out. If you write down that order, then you have the beginning of your digitizing plan.

Here are some other things you need to include in your plan:

  • what the finished size will be
  • the thread colors to use
  • the stitch type for each part of the image
  • and the stitching sequence

Let’s get started with a simple image and create a digitizing plan!

If you would like a PDF written copy of this tutorial,

fill out the email form at the end of this lesson and it will be emailed to you!

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Most of the time, when I create a design, I like to trace an image that I have found and then add details to it. It gives you a starting point as well as helping you to visualize the size and how your design will look.

This tutorial will be using an image from the Backdrop Library in Floriani FTCU.

Step One: Open the backdrop Image

  • click on NEW page icon new_page_icon_floriani_ftcu on the top tool bar (under the word FILE)
  • click on the Backdrop Library tool backdrop_library_icon_floriani_ftcu( on the top toolbar)
  • scroll to image FBD013. Click on the image and OPEN

Step Two:  Determine the finished size of the design

Determine the finished size that you would like the image to be:

Width? _________ Height? _________


• click on the Backdrop tool (on the left toolbar) backdrop_library_icon_floriani_ftcu– this will select the image
• in the properties box, change the width to 3.0 inches and click APPLY.
• make sure there is a check mark in aspect ratio box and it will automatically adjust the image

Step Three: Decide the Stitching Order

You will need to decide the order in which the parts of the image will be stitched. Objects that are “behind” other parts, or “under” other parts, will need to be digitized first.

tracing order for candle

  • the candle is in two parts: the darker blue is “under” the candle drip.
  • the candle base should be digitized first and then the candle drip next.
  • the orange flame is on top of the yellow and on top of the wick
  • the yellow will be stitched first, then the wick, then the orange flame

Step Four: Determine the Stitch Tools to use

Determine which stitch tools you will use to trace each part of the image:

  • run stitch
  • satin stitch
  • fill stitches
  • appliqué

Note any areas that will not be traced.

Step Five: Decide the Thread Colors

Decide the thread colors for each shape within the image.

Step Six: Determine the Tie Commands

After you decide the thread color changes, then you can determine where you will need to have a TIE IN or TIE OFF command for each NEW color change or when you have a jump stitch to a new segment location.

I always add these to the digitizing plan, so that I don’t forget to modify them as I go.

The FTCU program defaults to inserting a BASIC tie for each segment and sometimes they are not needed when there is no color change or jump.

Here is the digitizing plan after answering the above questions.

I like to number each shape on the image and use a chart (like the one below) to keep track of the tracing order:

Fill out the email form below and I will email you a PDF lesson

that shows all the steps to trace this design using this tracing plan.

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Hopefully, this planning technique to create a tracing plan will be helpful to you with your new designs.

I have found that if I take the few minutes to write down a plan, it keeps me organized while I am digitizing. And, it also saves me from having to re-do segments and reordering them over and over again in the sequence view.

You can find more in-depth tutorials and videos showing the exact step-by-step details for using all of the Floriani FTCU tools inside the Embroidery Gatherings Membership Club! There are over 75 lessons to help you learn to digitize with Floriani FTCU.

The lessons will also show you how to resize and edit purchased designs as well as explain lots of “how to do” questions.

The lessons are self-paced written lessons that have a pdf download and you can watch the videos as often times as you would like.

You can find out more HERE!


When you join, your membership is a Lifetime Membership and anytime you have digitizing questions, you can contact me at: Your questions are important to me and I will send you an answer ASAP.

Paula signature-EmbroideryGatherings



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