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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.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Malcolm Eckel, Sherry Higgins


Q: I have a stock design of a shell that I’ve successfully run many times on tote bags. Now I’m trying to run the design on polar fleece, but the stitches are not covering each other. Does this have to do with tensions, or should I change the design in some way?

A: Many stock designs have little or no underlay, which works fine for a stable material like your tote bag, but you’ll normally need to add an underlay to the design when switching to a more unstable material like fleece or pique. The top shell in Figure 3 was sewn as-is, while the addition of a cross-hatch underlay to the shell on the bottom solved the gapping problem.

You can create the underlay by digitizing two light-density fill shapes. Digitizers usually use around 20%, and then change the angle of the fill to 45° on one and 135° on the other. Next, cut and paste both fills to sew first in the design. Looking at the sewouts, you can see that the bottom shell looks much better than the top shell. Both of these were sewn in the same hoop.

The bottom shell still shows a little bit of material in some places because the original punching (digitizing) did not have enough distortion. You need to overlap satin stitches that run side by side. These were just barely overlapped, which is why gaps are being pulled. Since this is a stitch file, you would need to convert it back to an out-line file, but then you could add pull compensation. If you don’t have stitch processing, you could try running the shell with the underlays using a topping, which would most likely take care of the few spots that are showing.


Q: I’m trying to sew a 2-in. letter S on a cap using puffy foam and am not having much luck. It doesn’t look very good, and there are bits of foam sticking out everywhere. How can I make it better?


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