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Embroidery Options & Definitions Guide

There are many methods of Embroidery. Below is a quick list for your convenience. We have only included a subset of all related items defining embroidery, for more clarification; call us at 800 728 7192.
 

Cording:

A technique that employs a single cord that is laid down on fabric and attached with transparent zigzag stitches. These are relatively simple, low-stitch-count designs featuring lots of swirls and curves. Different widths of cording are available to provide a wide range of looks. A special attachment is required for the embroidery machine.

Lycra:

INVISTA's trademark for a synthetic fabric material with elastic properties of the sort known generically as "spandex."

Stitch Editing:

Digitizing feature that allows one or more stitches in a pattern to be deleted or altered.

Boring:

Openwork incorporated into embroidered designs; a sharp-pointed instrument punctures, or bores, the fabric, and stitches are made around the opening to enclose the raw edges.

Pull Compensation:

A degree of distortion built into a design by the digitizer to compensate for pull on the fabric caused by the embroidery stitches.

Registration:

Correct registration is achieved when all stitches and design elements line up correctly.

Trapunto:

A form of 3-D embroidery. An area is stitched to create a pocket between the fabric and backing, which is then stuffed from the back with some type of fluffy filling.

Cartoon:

Finished artwork of an embroidery design to be digitized. Usually six times larger than the finished design size, based on the art-to-stitching ratio historically used in the schiffli industry.

Design Library Catalog:

A computer program that catalogs a collection of digitized designs kept by embroidery shops and allows an embroiderer to access the design by subject, stitch count, number of colors or icon.

Pad Printing:

Pad printing utilizes a flexible silicone rubber transfer pad that picks up a film of ink from a photo-etched printing plate and transfers it to an item. Pad printing is usually used for 3-D items.

Stock Designs:

Digitized generic embroidery designs that are readily available at a cost below that of custom-digitized designs.

  

Condensed Format:

Method of digitizing in which a design is saved in a skeletal form. A proportionate number of stitches may later be placed between defined points after a scale has been designated. With a machine that can read condensed format, the scale, density and stitch lengths in a design may be changed.

Flagging:

Up-and-down motion of goods under action of the needle. It's called flagging because of it resembles a waving flag. Often caused by improper framing of goods, flagging may result in poor registration, unsatisfactory stitch format and birdsnesting.

Petit Point:

Using a grid, like those used in cross-stitch, petit point is a single-angle stitch repeated in the same place until the desired fullness is achieved. Usually very stitch-intensive.

Thread Clippers:

Small cutting utensil with a spring action that's operated by the thumb in a hole on the top blade and the fingers cupped around the bottom blade. Useful for quick thread cutting, but unsuitable for detailed trimming or removal of backing.

  Finishing:

Processes performed after embroidery is complete. Includes trimming loose threads, cutting or tearing away excess backing, removing topping, cleaning any stains, pressing or steaming to remove wrinkles or hoop marks and packaging for sale or shipment.

Frame:

Holding device for insertion of goods under an embroidery head for the application of embroidery. May employ a number of means for maintaining stability during the embroidery process, including clamps, vacuum devices, magnets or springs.

Logo:

Name, symbol or trademark of a company or organization. Short for logotype.

 
Arm Machine:

Embroidery machine that has an arm or cylinder that the hook and bobbin are mounted in. Allows the use of special frames for embroidering caps, socks, inside pockets, etc. The cylinder-shaped arm allows goods to curve around the cylinder for embroidery.

Cap Frames:

Specialized embroidery frames (hoops) designed to hold finished caps for embroidering. Cap frames are available for flatbed machines where the finished cap is flattened for sewing and for use on arm or cylinder bed machines for sewing the cap in its natural curved shape.

Tape Reader:

A device attached to an embroidery machine that enables the machine to read an embroidery design from eight channel paper computer tapes.

Spandex:

Name for many of the elastic textile fibers most often made from polyurethane. Its ability to stretch and snap back to its original form makes spandex ideal for a blend used in garments designed to hold their shape. It was developed in 1959.

Needle Plate:

The metal plate located above the hook assembly of an embroidery machine. This plate has a hole in the center through which the needle travels to reach the hook and form a stitch. Also know as a throat plate.

Pre-Tensioner:

Thread tension assembly that is located before the main tension assembly in the thread path. The function of the pre-tensioner is to apply a light amount of tension in order to remove any kinks in the thread prior to entering the main tensioner.

SPI:

Abbreviation for stitches per inch. A system for measuring density or the amount of satin stitches in an inch of embroidery. Most of today's embroidery machines measure needle movement in .1 mm increments. Therefore a thread space of 4 would be .4 mm in length.

Tatami Stitch:

Series of running stitches used to cover large areas. Different fill patterns can be created by varying the length, angle or repeating sequence of the stitches.

 

 

3-D Foam Embroidery
This type of embroidery gets its 3-D appearance from foam that's placed over the area to be embroidered. As the design is stitched, the needle perforates the foam. Once completed, the unused foam is pulled away. Foam is available in a variety of colors and shapes.

Anti-Pilling
A treatment applied to the garment to prevent pilling, or the formation of little balls of fabric due to wear.

Applique
The use of fabrics sewn onto one another for decoration that adds dimension and texture. Designs with applique are economical because they reduce the number of embroidery stitches needed to fill the design area.

Automatic Color Change
The ability of a multi-needle commercial embroidery machine to follow a command to change to another specified needle with a different thread color.

Back Applique
A piece of fabric used behind a design where the front fabric will be cut away to reveal the fabric underneath.

Backing
A woven or non-woven support material added to the back of the fabric being embroidered. It can be hooped with the item or placed between the machine throat plate and the hooped garment. It comes in various weights in three types: tearaway, cutaway, and washaway.

Balboa Stitch
A technique used to produce tone-on-tone designs that feature the actual stitches as a background and give the fabric prominence. Has an embossed appearance.

Bean Stitch
Three stitches placed back and forth between two points. Often used for outlining, because it eliminates the need for repeatedly digitizing a single-ply run stitch outline.

Birdnesting
Thread collecting between the fabric and needle plate. Can be caused by inadequate upper thread tension, upper thread not going through the take-up lever, upper thread not following the correct path, or flagging (the up and down motion caused in part by improper hooping).

Blatt Stitch
Schiffli term meaning "to feed the yarn", therefore producing a long zigzag stitch with threads lying close together. Adapted for multi-head use; see Satin Stitch.

Blending
A digitizing technique that makes different colors of thread flow together in a more pleasing manner. Relies heavily on variable densities. Gives a design a more realistic, 3-D look.

Bobbin
Spool or reel that holds the bobbin thread, which forms secure stitches on the underside of the fabric.

Bobbin Case
Unit Holding bobbin in a sewing machine. Small, round metal device for holding the bobbin. Used to tension the bobbin thread. Inserted in the hook for sewing.

Bobbin Embroidery
Designs worked with the fabric hooped face down and the specialty thread or ribbon wound onto the bobbin. This is most effective for simple designs or special effects with threads too heavy to be threaded through the needle.

Free-Standing Lace

Digitized so that the threads are interwoven. Embroidering lace requires a soluble backing or topping of the embroiderer’s choice for the substrate. The lace design is embroidered on the soluble product, which is then washed away, leaving just the thread in place. Many of the lace designs require additional work, shaping them into projects such as baskets, ornaments or doilies. 

Photo Stitch Designs

Created from a scanned photo; the photograph is imported into the digitizing software, and with a few keystrokes the design is digitized and ready to sew. The possibilities for uses are endless, ranging from portraits to buildings. A series of run stitches and loose fills are used to replicate a photograph with cloth and thread. Photo stitch designs are popular with individuals and corporations. 

Crystal Heat Transfers

Metallic studs or crystals strategically placed to form a design. While this can be done by hand, most of the time that method is too time-consuming to be cost-effective. Ready-made transfers are available, and custom transfers can also be ordered from some companies. New to the embroidery industry are both stitch designs and appliqués that have accompanying transfers specifically calculated to fit and enhance the embroidery. 

Puff Embroidery

A technique popular in the early '90s that seems to be gaining popularity again. A special thick backing is placed in the hoop under the substrate, usually a sweatshirt. The design itself consists of light fill and blank spaces. The technique works great for names, with light fill separating letters that are negative. In the embroidery process, the blank spaces puff up and the area between them is flattened by the fill stitches. 

Underlay

Stitches laid down before other design elements to help stabilize stretchy fabrics and to tack down high wales or naps on fabrics, so the design's details don't get lost. May also be used to create such effects as crowned, flat or raised areas in the embroidery, depending on how they're laid down.  

Reverse Appliqué:

A process in which the fabric is placed on the underside of the garment, and the garment is cut along the tack-down stitch so that the material shows through. Not nearly as easy as regular appliqué, the process, however, shouldn’t be discounted. The dimension that the technique provides is quite different from regular appliqué, and when your customer wants a unique look, this might be something to consider.

Bean Stitch: Three stitches placed back and forth between two points. Often used for outlining, because it eliminates the need for repeatedly digitizing a single-ply run stitch outline.

Jump Stitch: Movement of the pantograph and rotation of the sewing head without the needle going down. Used to move from one point in a design to another or to create stitches that are longer than the machine would normally allow.

Lock Stitch: Commonly referred to as a lock-down or tack-down stitch, a lock stitch is formed by three or four consecutive stitches of at least a 10-point movement. It should be used at the end of any element in your design where jump stitches will follow, such as color change or the end of a design. May be stitched in a triangle, star or in a straight line. Also the name of the type of stitch formed by the hook and needle of home sewing machines, as well as computerized embroidery machines.

Twill: a sequence of weaving that results in diagonal patterns across the surface of the fabric. Most twills have a 45 degree angle. Classic twills are right-handed twills.

Denim: a left-handed twill construction characterized by indigo-blue colored warp yarns and white or grey colored weft yarns.

Oxford: woven from a small basketweave pattern of repeats that uses a bulky 2-ply yarn in the weft. Most oxford is yarn-dyed, which means the warp is generally white yarn and the weft yarns are dyed a different color. More inexpensive oxford can be made as fabric dye, instead of yarn dyed. In order to get the two-tone appearance of oxford, blended yarns are used for a cross-dye effect (cotton and polyester do not dye the same - the cotton picks up the dye, but the polyester does not.)

Boring: Openwork incorporated into embroidered designs; a sharp-pointed instrument punctures (or bores) the fabric and stitches are made around the opening to enclose the raw edges.

Fancy Fills: A digitizing function that automatically incorporates special patterns or textures into fill areas. Also known as specialty fills.

Machine Language: The codes and formats used by different machine manufacturers within the embroidery industry. Common formats include Barudan, Brother, Fortran, Happy, Marco, Meistergram, Melco, Pfaff, Stellar, Tajima, Toyota, Ultramatic and ZSK. Most digitizing systems can save designs in these languages so the computer disk can be read by the embroidery machine.

Welt: A strip of material seamed to a pocket opening as a finishing as well as a strengthening device; a covered cord or ornamental strip sewn on a border or along a seam.

Drop Needle: A knitted fabric where needles are “dropped” out at regular intervals to created a shadow stripe effect.

Flecked Jersey: A knitted jersey that introduces colored flecks of yarn in the spinning process. The resulting fabric has the appearance of little dots of color scattered throughout.

Gauze: A sheer knit jersey with a transparent effect achieved by using very fine yarns and a very loose knit.

Rib: A double-needle fabric that produces lines of wales on both sides of the fabric. The identifier of a rib knit is descriptive of the number of wales on the face and the back. A 4x2 rib has 4 wales on the face and 2 wales on the back in a repetitive pattern.

Jersey- a single-needle fabric consisting of wales (knit) stitches on the face and course (pearl) stitches on the back

Interlock- a double-needle fabric consisting of rib (knit stitches) on the both the face
and back 

Pique- a knitted fabric with the pattern of diamonds

Waffle- a knitted fabric with a pattern of interlocking squares

Cartoon: Finished artwork of an embroidery design to be digitized. Usually six times larger than the finished design size, based on the art-to-stitching ratio historically used in the schiffli industry.

Free-Standing Lace: Digitized so that the threads are interwoven. The embroidery of lace requires a soluble backing or topping of the embroiderer’s choice for the substrate. The lace design is embroidered on the soluble product, which is then washed away, leaving just the thread in place. Many of the lace designs require additional work, shaping them into projects such as baskets, ornaments or doilies.

Schiffli Machine: A commercial embroidery machine that utilizes the combination of needle and shuttle to form a stitch. Massive in size and excellent for emblem production, the creation of lace, embroidery production on oversized items and production orders of extremely large quantities.

Bengaline: Lustrous, durable fabric with a heavy crosswise rib made from textile fibers in combination. Used to make coats and suits.

Donegal Tweed: Woolen tweed fabric that is characterized by thick, random multicolored slubs.

Madras: One of the oldest materials in the cotton family. Madras is made on a plain-weave background, which is usually white; stripes, cords or minute checks may be used to form the pattern.

Virgin Wool: New wool that has never been used before, or reclaimed from any spun, woven, knitted, felted, manufactured or used products.

CoolMax: The DuPont technology that uses specially engineered fibers to push perspiration to the surface of a garment. Used in many brand-name moisture management systems.

PlayDry: Reebok moisture-wicking technology.

PolarTec: Leading manufacturer of synthetic and technology fabrics. Its products run the gamut from moisture-wicking and insulation to stretch and weather protection.

StretchFlex: Bella’s stretch-fabric technology found in its Alo line.

TempraDry: Moisture-wicking system from WICKid (asi/97125) that uses micro-fiber polyester to keep the wearer cool and dry.

CoolMax: The DuPont technology that uses specially engineered fibers to push perspiration to the surface of a garment. Used in many brand-name moisture management systems.

PlayDry: Reebok moisture-wicking technology.

PolarTec: Leading manufacturer of synthetic and technology fabrics. Its products run the gamut from moisture-wicking and insulation to stretch and weather protection.

StretchFlex: Bella’s stretch-fabric technology found in its Alo line.

TempraDry: Moisture-wicking system from WICKid (asi/97125) that uses micro-fiber polyester to keep the wearer cool and dry.

 Double Knit: A circular knit fabric knitted via double stitch on a double-needle frame to provide a double thickness. Most double-knits are made of polyester. 

Rib Knit: A basic stitch used in weft knitting in which the knitting machines require two sets of needles operating at right angles to each other. Rib knits have a very high degree of elasticity in the crosswise direction. 

Single Knit: A fabric knitted on a single-needle machine. This fabric has less body, substance and stability when compared with double knit. 

Tricot: A type of warp-knitted fabric that has a thin texture made from very fine yarn.

 


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