There are always so many variables in a design [stitch length, underlay
stitching, types of stitches, the digitizers capabilities, etc] that
estimating stitch count can be a challenge. Through experience, I have
gotten to the point that by looking at a design I can get in the ball park
but certainly not right on so I make a habit of adding 1000 stitches to be
safe [and sometimes even that is not enough].
I have a couple of formulas written down around here somewhere that I have
collected over the years. The one I remember off hand is .... width x length
x % covered x 1700.
Draw a box around a design, take the width of this box and multiply it by
the boxes length. Then estimate how much of the area within the box is
covered in stitches [eg 70%] and multiply the box area [width x length] by
this percentage number. Finally multiply everything by 1700 stitches.
Some people use software to estimate stitches. EZ Stitches is the one I
remember but I think there are also others. I have also heard of
embroiderers buying cheap autodigitizing software like Click N Stitch for
this purpose. They don't use the software for digitizing, only for stitch