Embroidery is the process of turning a graphic or text into a needle-and-thread work of art for
application to a garment or other fabric item. Using state-of-the-art software and multi-head
industrial sewing machines, embroidered designs can be simple, one-color designs or multicolored
works of intricate detail. Of all the methods of fabric embellishment, embroidery is
considered to add the most sophistication and a higher perceived value to a garment.
Today’s custom embroidery is a primarily automated process that translates a
digital image into data that guides the operation of industrial sewing machines
capable of up to 1,500 stitches per minute.
DESIGN AND DIGITIZE IMAGE:
Create or adapt a design for embroidery, bearing in mind that simpler designs
with open areas translate best into stitches. Designs with open areas will allow
fabric to drape more naturally. Once complete, the design must be digitized to
translate it into stitch data for the sewing machine. This may be done in-house
using software compatible with your embroidery machine, or outsourced to a
reputable digitizing firm. Send the digitized image to your embroidery machine.
STABILIZE AND HOOP:
Select the appropriate stabilizer for your item’s fabric, apply temporary spray
adhesive, and smooth the stabilizer onto the item. Next, place all layers firmly in
your embroidery machine’s hoop, which holds the fabric securely and moves as
the item is sewn. The fabric should be smooth and flat, but not stretched out of
its original shape. Insert the hoop into your embroidery machine.
STITCH THE DESIGN:
Once you insert the hooped item and send your digitized file, the embroidery
machine does most of the work. It will stop when it’s time to change thread or if
other action is needed. When the machine finishes sewing, remove the hoop,
unhoop the fabric, and trim any excess thread from the stabilizer. Some items
may need a light steam pressing to smooth any creases caused by the hoop.
EMBROIDERY EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES
A computer with specialized software that translates digital imagery, e.g., a GIF or
JPEG, into stitch data to guide the embroidery machine, or the services of a
digitizing company that will translate the image into stitch data for a fee.
EMBROIDERY MACHINE OR SEWING MACHINE:
A wide range of machines are capable
of doing embroidery, ranging from low-cost, consumer-grade sewing machines to
automated, multi-need industrial machines capable of producing complex, highly
detailed stitched graphics.
Many fabric items are suitable for embroidery, from T-shirts and fleece to totes
and hats. Very lightweight or highly elastic fabrics can be challenging to
embroider, with a greater tendency to pucker or wrinkle. Plush fabric such as fleece
require densely stitched embroidery to prevent the fabric from showing between
Even low-end home embroidery machines can make several hundred
stitches per minute, putting tremendous strain on most fabrics. A stabilizer
supports the fabric during stitching to prevent shifting, stretching or distortion.
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