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EMBROIDERY Q & A: Tips and Tricks to Save You Time, Money, and Maybe Even Your Sanity

(April 2008) posted on Tue Apr 22, 2008

Stuck on a stitch? Dealing with a daunting design? The advice presented here can help you overcome some of the challenges you may face in the production of embroidered goods.


By Malcolm Eckel, Sherry Higgins

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Q: I’ve been using a stock design to sew on placemats, and it runs fine at the original size. Now my customer wants me to sew it on a napkin at about half the original size. I reduced the design size and am now getting lots of thread breaks and frays. Do I need to adjust my tensions? Or is there something else I need to do?

A: You first want to make sure you’re using the proper file type for scaling a design. You must use an outline file (.bdf, .cnd) for proper resizing of a design. If you try to scale a stitch file (.dst, .pes, .exp, and others), the stitch count will basically stay the same. That means if you enlarge it very much, the design will look very sparse on the sew out. And if you shrink it very much, it will be packed with stitches. You’re limited to approximately ±10% in scalability on a stitch file. Using an outline file gives you a much larger range of resizing options, but some limitations still exist.

Make sure that the satin stitches don’t get too narrow when reducing the size of a design. Satin stitches need to be at least 0.05 in. wide to sew well. If you start with a design that already has satin stitches that are only 0.05 in. wide, the design won’t reduce much at all without creating sewing challenges. Satin stitches that are too narrow cause thread breaks and frays. When they sew out, they look like poor quality running stitches instead of nice, smooth satin stitches. The easiest way to correct the problem is to isolate just the narrow satin stitches and add pull compensation to them. You need to add at least 50-60% pull comp when dealing with narrow satin stitches like these. If you can’t, then you need to redigitize the stitching as a running stitch instead of a satin stitch. Sometimes you can just delete stitches without much of an effect on the look of the sew out.

You have to be concerned about the satin stitches getting too wide when enlarging a design. To correct this in your digitizing software, highlight the satin stitch and change it to fill stitches. The scaling of designs can be very useful, but keep in mind that the design and the stitch types within the design determine the amount of scalability.


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