Like many aspects of garment design, embroidery is an art form.
You could say it’s an ancient art form, with roots dating back as far as 700 AD. With nothing more than a needle and thread, people worldwide often used embroidery as a decorative method on clothing and fabric as a sign of wealth or higher class status. Additionally, embroidery was and continues to be a practical technique used to reinforce seams and hems.
Thousands of years later, we are still using embroidery as a popular technique for clothing design and reinforcement. However, we have much greater access to the beauty of embroidery than ever before due to the development of machine embroidery during the Industrial Revolution. Since then, the process has even become digitized, making it a more accessible and efficient process.
The most critical aspect of creating an embroidered garment is to start with the digitizing process. Digitizing means converting your artwork, such as a logo signature design, into a file that resembles stitch marks (conveniently called a stitch file). This kind of file allows the embroidery machine to read the stitch marks and follow a more precise pattern on the garment.
With this in mind, it’s important to create a digitized file with the final result in mind. For example, the file you create to embroider on a hat will look different than the file you create to embroider on a stretchy fabric, like a knitted sweater. The file for the hat will be curved, with thinner, tighter stitches, while the file for the knitted sweater will be flatter with a design that allows the embroidery to stretch with the fabric. Knowing what you’ll be stitching on will strongly determine the final digitizing outcome. In addition to starting with the end in mind, there are two other key tips for stunning embroidery.
Tips for Embroidery Success
- File Formats. Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop files are ideal for digitizing as they allow for higher resolution images that make it easier on the digitizer. It’s important to note that the quality and resolution of the original format matter. While many digitizers can work with a Word or PowerPoint document, there is often quite a bit of work that goes into redesigning the logo or emblem into a higher resolution document. It’s this middle step of redesigning artwork that adds higher digitizing fees. If you cut out the middle process, you can cut down on your fees.
- Lettering. If the lettering in your design is too small, it may end up looking ‘squished.’ Those tiny details that can be done in other forms of artwork are much more difficult in the embroidery process. To ensure that your letters show up crisp, make sure that your letters are at least ¼” tall.
A Quick Look at the Embroidery Process
Thousands of years ago, embroidery was a painstaking and time-consuming process done by hand. Today, the approach is much more simplistic.
- Step 1: Create the design for the embroidery. This is primarily executed by the client or person wishing to have the logo or emblem embroidered. However, some custom apparel shops do offer help with artwork.
- Step 2: Digitize! The next step is to convert the design into a digital file format that an embroidery machine can read. This part is almost exclusively covered by the custom apparel shop and can sometimes result in additional fees, should the original file be more complex to work with.
- Step 3: Prep the embroidery machine. This step includes transferring the digitized file, adding the proper needles and thread, and scheduling the embroidery sequence.
- Step 4: Prep your product. Whether it be a shirt, hat, or another garment, the fabric must be stretched using frames or loops before the machine can operate.
- Step 5: Stitch away! This part is as simple as pressing a button and watching the magic happen.
Embroidery is both an impressive and economical way to spruce up any garment. While we may not use embroidery as a sign of class ranking these days, we can still appreciate the professional and distinctive nature of embroidered imprints. Unlike printed items that require special care due to the risk of fading, embroidery will not fade. You can enjoy the design for years to come with very little concern for problematic wear.
At Jersey Ink, we can create colorful and breathtaking embroidery for your garments. With the ability to add up to fifteen thread colors to one image and the knowledge of our in-house design team, we stand ready to create sharp, notable artwork to wow your community.