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How To Buy Embroidery

These days anyone can buy an embroidery machine and set up shop with very little money. Unfortunately, embroidery is much more of an art than a science, which means than it takes a lot more than a shiny new machine and some software to do a quality embroidery job. This guide will help you to understand what it takes to produce great looking embroidered designs.

Creating Your Embroidered Design

The most important part of any embroidery job begins with the designer or (sometimes called a digitizer). Their job is to take your logo or design and convert it into a series of stitches that will be stitched on a garment. While there are software programs that make this job easier, there is no software program that can reproduce the talent of a good designer (even though many software companies claim otherwise).

Elements of a High Quality Embroidery Design

sample embroidery logo of coffee cup

Thread Used for Embroidery

Generally speaking, there are two types of threads used for embroidered designs, Polyester and Rayon. Rayon produces the best looking embroidered designs, however it can be prone to breakage during stitching and it is slightly less durable than Polyester. Polyester is quite durable, however it does not always produce great looking designs on all types of fabrics. Many people choose Rayon over Polyester thread because it looks consistently good on all fabric types.

Choosing the Right Thread Color

Choosing the right thread color is probably the most important thing you will need to think about. You need to be concerned with how the colors in your design will look with the color of the garment that you choose. In general, less contrast between the garment color and embroidery color is best since this tends to hide imperfections in the stitching caused by laundering.

The threads in fabric form a "grid" with series of microscopic openings. The thread that makes up the embroidered design is passed through these small openings as the design is stitched. Fabrics that have relatively large openings (knits) tend to cause the edges of the design to be slightly imperfect. An experienced embroidery designer can optimize the fill stitch so that your design will look great on a wide variery of fabrics.

Fill Stitch Explained

Filled in areas of the design are made up of tiny stitches arranged in a particular pattern. If there are too many stitches, they will tend to pull on the fabric and create small gaps in the fabric around the outside of the design. To few stitches and the fabric will show through the design. To make matters worse, some fabric types are more sensitive to stitch fill than others. For example, a design may look great when stitched on a woven baseball cap, however when stitched on a polo shirt the results may be disappointing. An experienced digitizer will create a design that provides an optimal stitch fill for a variety of fabrics.

Backing Material Options

Backing materials provide support and structure to an embroidered design and are critical to a long lasting design. A sheet of backing material is placed behind the area where the design is applied. The design is then stitched through both the fabric and the backing material.

There are two types of backing material Tearaway and Cutaway. As its name suggests, tearaway backing can be torn off without tools after the design is stitched. Cutaway backing must be cut around the design using scissors after the design is applied. It is very important to match the backing to the type of fabric being embroidered. Tearaway backing is typically used with woven fabric such as dress shirts. Cutaway backing is used on knit fabrics. As you would probably guess, tearaway backing is the easiest for the embroidery shop since it is so easy to remove. Some less reputable embroidery companies use only tearaway backing or worse no backing at all! A quality embroidery job should be using backing that is appropriate for the fabric.

What Is Topping

Some fabrics such as fleece, have a rough texture with many "loose" fibers (fibers that stick up). Sometimes these fibers can get caught in between the stitches of the embroidered design and look bad. To prevent this, a transparent sheet of topping material is placed over the fabricc in the design area. The design is then stitched through the topping, fabric, and backing material. When completed, the topping material is removed by spraying it with water. Topping is not always needed and depends on the type of fabric being stitched. Similar to backing, less than reputable shops will skip the topping to save time.

Choosing The Right Apparel

Brand, color, and style of the apparel is completely up to the consumer. Our online catalog has been carefully curated with products that offer the best value and quality. Like many products these days, there are high quality brands and not so great quality brands. If you are going to spend $3.50 - $5.00 to stitch an embroidered design it makes little sense to stitch it on a garment that will wear out after a couple uses. When ordering a large number of garments it makes sense to get a sample of the garment that you will be buying so you can judge the quality of the garment for yourself. A reputable embroidery shop will arrange for a sample to be shipped to you for review. Remember to ship the sample back when you are finished with it or you may end up getting charged for it (samples are usually not free).

Working With Stock Designs

A good embroidery company will have a book or catalog of Stock Designs. Stock designs require very little in the way of setup and stitch very well on a variety of fabrics. Most stock designs can be made 10% larger or smaller as needed. Stock designs are the best way to save money on a custom embroidery job.

Where Can I Stitch Embroidered Logo On My Garment?

The locations you can apply an embroidered design vary by the type of garment. The embroidery charge is based on the number of locations you choose. Most people choose to embroider the primary location since it is the most visible, however there is no limit to the number of locations to embroider. The default embroidery location for jackets and shirts is on the left chest.

The following table describes possible locations on different types of apparel:

Garment Primary Location Secondary Location Locations Available by Special Request
Short Sleeve Shirt Left Chest Left Sleeve Center Back, Right Chest
Long Sleeve Shirt Left Chest Center Back Right Chest, Upper or Lower Arm
Baseball Hat Center Front Center Back Over Clasp Left Side
Bag Center Front Center Back Call for other options
Blanket Lower Corner Straight Lower Corner Diagonal None
Kids/Infant Front Chest None None
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