When you watch the embroidery machine work, it may seem pretty simple. The embroiderer puts the item to be embroidered into a hoop (to hold it stable), loads the hoop onto the embroidery machine, presses the start button, and the machine starts stitching. Easy! Yes, that part is easy. It is the set up of the project before hand that determines the quality of the final embroidery. Certain parameters, such as speed, tension, colors, etc., are set by the embroidery machine operator before starting. The instructions for how the embroidery machine sews the design are created by a digitizer.
The Art of Digitizing
Stitching is a three dimensional process whereas printing uses two dimensions. To start, an image is loaded or created in a computer graphics program. It looks great on the screen. When printed, it looks just like it does on the screen and often better since printers can print smaller "dots" than monitors display. Then it is converted to stitches. It still looks great on the screen. The stitch image can be printed and it looks great. But, then it is stitched on the embroidery machine and it does not look so good. What happened?
To avoid the problem, an understanding of how a stitch is formed is necessary. A sewing machine creates a stitch by using two threads. The top thread comes off of a spool from the top of the machine and is fed through the needle. The bottom thread comes from underneath from a small spool called the bobbin. The needle comes down through the item to be stitched, a bobbin hook spins around catching the the thread in the needle "tying" it to the bobbin thread. When the needle comes up, it gives a little tug to secure the two threads. This tug is what causes problems! As the thread is tightened, the fabric is squeezed leaving a very slight distortion in the fabric. Over hundreds and thousands of stitches, the distortions are amplified. When a seamstress stitches a seam to make a garment the problem is usually not noticeable. However, when stitching graphics or text, the problem is often significant.
Fabrics have different stretch characteristics due to the way they are manufactured. Many fabrics stretch much more in one direction than another. Where the screen shows a nice round circle when stitched, it often becomes an oval due to the nature of the fabric when stitched. Therefore, an image stitched on a knit fabric generally looks different when stitched on a woven fabric because of the different characteristics of the material. There are further considerations when stitching on a fleece or terrycloth material to be sure that the stitches do not get lost in the material.
Another issue to consider is the density of the stitches. Too few stitches and the fabric shows through, which does not look good. Too many stitches and the embroidery becomes "hard" and does not move with the fabric.
These are some of the primary issues that need to be considered when a digitizer is creating a stitch file for the embroidery machine. There are many other subtle issues as well.
Basic lettering and/or using one of our stock designs are available at little or no cost.
Good custom digitizing is available at reasonable price of $75 for up to 10,000 stitches. Most left chest sized designs are under 10,000 stitches.
Great custom digitizing is available. The cost is determined based on the complexity of the design. On large orders (approximately 300 or more items), this may save money since we discount the cost of the embroidery because this will generally run faster with less problems.
Embroidery Price List