A Recipe for Success
There are many ingredients that are essential for producing an embroidered design suitable for your special projects. In many ways, stitching out one of our designs can be compared to baking a cake. Just as in baking a cake, it is essential that all of the key ingredients be included if you want to achieve the desired result. Some of the key ingredients of embroidery include: design quality, stabilizer selection, hooping technique, thread tension adjustment, thread trimming, and test sewing. Incorrect application of these ingredients is similar to not including the right amount of flour when baking a cake. The result in either case is often disappointing. Because we want our customers to be able to achieve the best results possible, we have included the following tips related to some of the key ingredients of Embroidery.
We have put substantial effort into testing and validating each one of our designs to insure that any problems that our customers may have is not a direct result of the design itself. Each one of our designs is tested multiple times and we include scanned images of actual design stitch outs on both our website as well as at the first of this document in order to demonstrate the results that can be achieved if all of the key ingredients of embroidery are correctly combined.
Stabilizer Selection and Use
Proper selection and use of stabilizer is one of the most important ingredients needed to achieve your desired results. When a design is stitched out, it will cause distortion in the fabric on which the design is being stitched out. This distortion if not minimized, will results in misalignment of the design outline as well as other features. If you are having trouble with misaligned features or gaps in between fills the problem is most likely a result of improper selection and use of stabilizer or poor hooping technique. The two images of the Taxi design below demonstrate the impact that stabilizer use and hooping technique can have on a design. In both examples the same design file was used but the outcome of the results varied greatly because of differences in stabilizer and hooping technique.
The main reason for using stabilizer is to try to minimize fabric distortion that occurs as the design is being stitched out. The type of stabilizer used as well as method used to attach the fabric to the stabilizer has a big impact on the quality of the finished work. As a general rule the denser the stabilizer used the less the design will distort while sewing it out. It is also important to note that the more securely you attach the fabric to the stabilizer the less it will tend to move while the design is being stitched out. All of our designs include underlay stitching which helps to attach the fabric to the underlying stabilizer. This bond between the fabric and stabilizer can often be further enhanced by using either adhesive sprays or stabilizers such as Wet N Set which include some form of adhesive.
The method used to hoop your stabilizer and fabric will have a big impact on how much the fabric is able to move while the design is being stitched out, and consequently how well the outlines and other features align. Ideally, you want to fix the fabric and stabilizer in the hoop as securely as possible. Once placed in the hoop the fabric and stabilizer should be taut like the surface of a drum. If there are any wrinkles in the fabric or the stabilizer, it will move while the design is being stitched out and the features of the design will not align (see taxi example above). You should also keep in mind that different fabrics may require different stabilizers and hooping techniques to achieve the best results. If while test sewing, you experience alignment problems, you may want to try a different stabilizer or hooping method.
Thread Tension Adjustment
Excessive tension can lead to thread breaks and distortion in the design. While not enough tension can result in the bobbin thread pulling through to the top of the design or loose loops of thread in the fill areas. One of the easiest ways to determine if the thread tension is properly adjusted is look at the back of the finished design. You should notice that the top colored thread is pulled through to the back of the design along the borders of the fill areas. The amount that the top thread is pulled through to the back of the design should be somewhere between 1/16th and 1/8th of an inch. If the top thread is not being pulled through at all or only slightly being pulled through it is a sign that the bobbin tension may need to be tightened. Conversely, if you observe that the top thread is pulling through by more than 1/8th of an inch or that loose loops of threads are present in the fill areas, the top thread tension may need to be tightened.
Although it may seem tedious, we recommend clipping thread jumps in between color changes. It is often easier and produces a better result than waiting until the design is completed and many of the jump stitches are partly stitched over.
Because of the sheer number of factors which can negatively impact the quality of your embroidered designs, we highly recommend that you first test sew each design on a scrap piece of the same type of material that you plan to use for your project. By doing this you will be able to make adjustments, (stabilizer, hooping, thread tension, etc…) if needed, to assure that the design will stitch out correctly on the material that you intend to use for your project. We wish you the best of luck and hope that these tips help you achieve the results that you desire. We also love to see examples of projects that people have completed using our designs. If you have any project that you’re especially proud of please email us a picture of it. We would love to see it.