A Guide to all things Embroidery

When most of us hear the word embroidery we think of a logo or some other design that is placed on clothing or other accessory with thread. There are many aspects to the process that we will explore here. We will cover some of the basic questions you will most certainly run into when placing an order for your own embroidery project. We will explore what this process is, how long it has been around and some of the many fun things that can be done with it.

What is embroidery? There are two basic ways to decorate apparel: Screen Printing is the use of ink to imprint a design and Embroidery is the use of thread to imprint a design. Embroidery will commonly involve something to do with a company, event or sports team. In most cases embroidery is a bit more high end than screen printing is which is why you will see it used in the way it is.

Embroidery is the application of yarn or thread onto a piece of fabric with a needle. It used to all be done by hand but these days almost all embroidery is done by a computerized sewing machine. Of course if you see your grandmother making a quilt or sewing a design onto clothing by hand that is still known as embroidery.

The history of embroidery dates back over 5,000 years ago to China. Tracing its root to that part of the world and then spreading throughout Europe and then the Americas. Early embroidery was very ornate and would often be reserved for the very wealthy or royalty in the form of decorated gowns and robes. Embroidery can involve the sewing of beads, sequins, or other similar items in conjunction with the thread and pattern being sewn. Much like art and music, embroidery techniques and designs can vary greatly from region to region. There are several types of stitching within embroidery such as running stitch, back stitch, satin stitch, stem stitch, tailor’s buttonhole stitch, and whip stitching. These are things you will not need to know when you place an order with an embroidery shop.

Getting your order ready. There are a few things you will need to know to get your embroidery order ready to pass along to the shop or business that is going to do the work. It is very important to keep in mind that being prepared with a few basic things can give your embroiderer a head start in giving you good results. When you ask a shop “How much does embroidery cost?” the questions we must ask are how many do you need and how complex is your design or logo? (We will use the term logo and design interchangeably). Embroidery pricing is based on how many items you order and something called stitch count. The stitch count is the total number of stitches in your design. You don’t need to know the stitch count but it is good to know that is one of the drivers behind the price. The stitch count in many ways is related to how large and how complex your logo is. Typically the number of colors of thread does not affect the price. The larger and more complex the logo, the higher the cost. The other factor is the quantity of items in your order. The higher the quantity the lower the per piece price.

Almost everyone will have a product ID for each item available to be sewn. This can be found on a website or in a printed catalog. Having all the product IDs, apparel colors, quantities and sizes will help both you and the shop. Also please have your logo ready to send. Our embroidery operations do not create logos so having a PDF or JPG or similar version of your logo will speed the process along. If you want a simple text only design like “Joe’s Bar and Grill,” we can create that for you. Once the logo is provided we can estimate the stitch count and give you a quote. After you approve the quote, we will give your logo to an expert technician who will “digitize” or “set-up” the logo into a digital format that is used to control the computerized embroidery machines. The digitizing process is critical to a good result and must be done by experts to achieve the desired result. The file they generate is typically a “.dst” (not .jpg or .pdf). If you already have this file we can use that directly and you will not need to pay the set-up fee.

Lastly make sure you communicate everything very clearly to your embroidery shop. This includes specifying the thread colors, the location of your logo (most common location is the wearer’s left chest), size of your logo, as well as the delivery date, and other questions you have. If you have an event it is very important for the shop to know that so they can get things done on time.

A typical modern embroidery machine may consist of a single sewing head or multiple sewing heads that work in unison. The video shows 12 embroidery heads sewing the same logo on 12 caps at one time.

We hope this guide helps you and please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or if we have missed anything.

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