At Secrets of Embroidery they have a treasure hunt. If you have an embroidery module for your machine (even if you do not use it) you need to go over there and see the wonderful things the designers have come up with. For $1 one can buy beautiful design sets.
Let me introduce you to the World of Machine embroidery. Sewing machines with embroidery modules or dedicated embroidery machines can sew out wonderful designs. There is a few limitations: The digitized file (a computer file where instructions is "wrote") must be in the language the machine understand to carry out the specific orders. One need to buy the design files in the correct format/language or have a program that convert it. Bernina use ART files. The other limitation is the size of the hoop the specific machine can handle. If you only have a small hoop you have to re-hoop a different area and have different files for each area.
Digitizers buy the Artwork from places that specialize in providing suitable designs. Otherwise they draw designs themselves or source it from other places. Any designs that they use have the restrictions that the copyright holder require. If you buy the design from a digitizer they keep the copyright of the digitized file and you have certain rights depending on the digitizer. Some say it is only for your personal use, some give you the right to embroider their designs on things you want to sell- often with some restrictions.
Just like the longarm machine provide many stay-at-home mothers an income, to digitize designs can provide an income. I am not always so sure about it being a good income- it take long to digitise a design well and unfortunately many people do not respect the right of the copyright holders and think it is all right to share the embroidered files with others. Unfortunately this has led to some digitizers giving this up as a source of income and a big loss in the embroidery world to be without their talents.
I love to buy sets of designs where one can use the different designs of the set in a quilt and you know that they will go well together. I use the embroidery like I would use large scale prints. There is some problems with using embroidery in a quilt. Embroidery show the best against a white background. A brightly coloured design will also look good an a black background. Any other colour background must be carefully considered as well as the combination of thread and thread colours.
If the embroidery take centre stage I do not want to put it on a white background- specially if the design is dainty. All the white look like a Bull's eye. I also want the design to be in a specific place in the pieced design and spill over in specific areas to provide a integrated appaerance. To achieve this I have to digitize the piecing- then I can insert a embroidery file and place it on the "pieced" block where I want it.
It is always a good idea to test the design out to make sure your decisions are correct. When test sewing a design one also need to consider which stabilizer to use. Designs with a high stitch density will need more support and a thicker tear away stabilizer. Delicate fabrics need on going support and an iron on stabilizer or cut away stabilizer might be the types one consider. I do not like to have "paper" in my quilts. Sharon Schamber and Ricky Tims sell on their website a stabilizer they use in applique that become soft when washed. I cannot get it in South Africa and it is costly to import. I like to use a cotton batting to support my stitches specially when I will complete it in a Quilt-as-you-go fashion like my quilt Russian inspiration.