Sunday, 5 August 2012

Embroidery Digitizing: Why Outsource?

Embroidery Digitizing: Why Outsource?

There are million issues that require your attention in your business and not just enough time in a day. In such a situation, delegation comes as a blessing. But have you ever considered outsourcing, getting other businesses to do your tasks? Digitizing, a key part of the embroidery business, is something that can be easily and practically outsourced.
Here are a few reasons why outsourcing might be a good option:
  • It saves time. Time is an integral asset to a business and it is best if it is utilized wisely. If you don’t have enough human resource, digitizing would take up a lot of your time, which you can use for other tasks that you are better equipped to do yourself.
  • It is comparatively less costly. Getting skilled human resource that is good at digitizing will cost you a lot of money. While acquiring, training and paying a specialized digitizing staff will be expensive, outsourcing can be done at an amount much less. Another area where you can save cost is on the digitizing software. Buying the software yourself is going to be too pricey and would increase costs if digitizing is kept inhouse.
  • Allows for better quality work. When a specialist company that does mainly digitizing does the work for you, the results will always be superior in quality than when you do it in-house. Instead of spending time and energy on something that is out of your area of expertise or to induct more human resource, outsourcing allows you to not focus on it and do something that is more relevant to your experience.
  • Focus on Core Competencies. As a company grows, administrative functions also grow. Managing back-office operations and administrative functions takes the time and energy out of any organization. Outsourcing will free you from having to manage the digitizing portion of your business, and help put your focus back on your core competencies. This will give you more time and opportunity to grow your business.
  • Distribution of Risk. Outsourcing your digitizing will also reduce the risks of going into an additional portion of your business that can be better handled by a more capable company.
To sum it all up, outsourcing your digitizing will allow you more time, labour and finances to focus on what you do best and take on new work. Most importantly, outsourcing your digitizing work will allow you to get a knowledgeable digitizing expert to your create top quality designs that will please your customers to no end.

Embroidery Digitizing

An important part of custom embroidery is digitizing.  Digitizing is the process of converting artwork into a stitch file that can be read by an embroidery machine and interpreted as different stitch types. So what are the steps that lead to a perfectly digitized design?

Preparing Artwork for Embroidery Digitizing

The digitizer has to analyze the design to find out if it needs to be edited for embroidery. Artwork designed for print media can not always be embroidered properly; they have to be simplified first. Other changes that may need to done are resizing the image, eliminating outlines and enlarging small text.


Once a design has been modified using a graphics software, the file is used as a template for an embroidery program to create a stitch file. The digitizer will then have to decide how the pathing in the logo will run. The sequence of stitches in a design is known as pathing. The execution of the design is greatly determined by the pathing. If the sequence in the embroidery isn’t correct, the design might have gaps and turn out to be uneven. The pathing also effects the length of running time of a design on the machine. Though this might not seem important, a design with a shorter run time will be less costly.

Assigning Embroidery Stitch Types

Next, each section of the design is assigned stitch types based on what stitches will best represent the artwork.  First, the digitizer adds the underlay stitches.  Although underlay stitches are not visible in a finished logo, having the correct underlay stitches is necessary for creating a great looking logo.  Underlay helps stabilize the fabric to the backing, lay down the nap of the fabric so that the remaining stitches have a smooth surface to embroider on and also add density to the design.  Stitches tend to sink into the fabric or the fabric shows through the design if the underlay isn’t proper.Although there are only three basic stitch types: run, satin and fill stitches, there are variations of these stitch types.  For example, fill stitches are used to cover large areas; but, the digitizer must decide what type of fill stitch to use, the direction of the fill and where the fill should start and stop in the design. The type of fabric the logo will be embroidered on must be considered when the stitches are being decided and appropriate adjustments should be made.  Stitches will sink into fabrics such as polar fleece and lay on the surface of denser fabrics such as nylon.  A logo that was originally digitized for denim won’t look as good when embroidered on a pique knit where the stitches sink into the fabric.

The Push and Pull Factor

“Push and Pull” is another important aspect of embroidery. While being embroidered, it is possible that a design may move. This will cause shifting in some stitches. There is higher chance of shifting when using long stitches, heavy fabric, tightly wound bobbin thread and large areas of thread. The digitizer should rectify the effects of “push and pull” and make adjustments.

The Embroidery

Even though it might seem that left chest business logos are easy to digitize, designs that have detail, small text and color changes take more time to set-up. It takes a lot of time and experience to correctly digitize designs as it is a very exacting process. The digitizer must be aware of how different stitches will appear on fabric as compared to when he sees them on the software. A well digitized design will make your logo look better so it is important to hire someone who does quality digitizing.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Embroidery Knowledge

Appliqué — Decoration or trimming cut from one piece of fabric and stitched to another to add dimension and texture. If custom Embroidery appliqué occupies a significant amount of the design, the stitch count is lower.  
Backing — Woven or non-woven material used underneath the item or fabric being embroidered to provide support and stability for the needle penetration. Best used when hooped with the garment, but also can be placed between the item to be embroidered and the needle plate on flat bed machines. Available in many styles and weights with two basic types (Cutaway and Tearaway). 
Birdnesting (Birdnest, Birds Nest) — Accumulation of thread caught between the embroidered item and the needle plate, often caught in the needle plate hole and hook assembly. Formation of a birdnest prevents free movement of goods and may be caused by inadequate tensioning of the top thread, top thread not through take-up lever, top thread not following thread path correctly or flagging goods. Bobbin — Spool or reel that holds the thread used to form the underside stitching.
Boring — Embroidered goods that have been punctured with a sharp pointed tool known as a bore, the edges of the hole produced by the bore are embroidered, the hole is enlarged by the embroidery.  
Buckram — Coarse, woven fabric, stiffened with glue, and used to stabilize fabric for stitching. Commonly used in caps to hold the front panel erect.  
Cartoon — Artwork used for embroidery punching. Also called an enlargement.  
Center Line Input — When the embroidery software creates a satin stitch around a single line entered by the digitizer.  
Complex Fill — Refers to a digitizing program that allows areas to be designated as voids at the same time the design's edges, or perimeter points, are defined. The design can thus be digitized as one fill area, instead of being broken down into multiple sections.  
Compensation — Digitizing/Punching technique used to counteract the distortion caused by the interaction of the needle, thread, backing and machine tensions. Also a programmable feature in some software packages.  
Condensed Format — Method of digitizing where a design is saved in a skeletal form, so a proportionate number of stitches may later be placed between defined points after a scale has been designated. If a machine can read condensed format, the scale, density and stitch lengths in a design may be changed. See expanded format.  
Digitize — Modern term for punching, reflecting the computerized method of converting artwork into a series of commands to be read by an embroidery machine's computer.  
Editing — Changing aspects of a design via a computerized editing program. Most programs allow the user to scale designs up or down, edit stitch by stitch or block by block, merge lettering with the design, move aspects of the design around, combine designs and insert or edit machine commands.
Emblem — Embroidered design with a finished edge, commonly an insignia of identification, usually worn on outer clothing. Historically, an emblem carried a motto, verse or suggested a moral lesson. Also known as a Crest or Patch.  
Embroidery — Decorative stitching on fabric. Generally involves non-lettering designs but can also include lettering and/or monograms. Evidence of embroidery exists during the reign of Egyptian pharaohs, in the writings of Homer and from the Crusaders of the 12th century. It has evolved from hand work to manual sewing machines and from handlooms and schiffli machines with hundreds of needles to high-speed, computerized multihead machines.  
Expanded Format — A design program where individual stitches in a design have been specifically digitized for a certain size. Designs punched in this format cannot generally be enlarged or reduced more than 10 to 20 percent without distortion because stitch count remains constant. See condensed format.  
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.  
Flagging — Up and down motion of goods under action of the needle, so named because of its resemblance to a waving flag. It is often caused by improper framing of goods. Flagging may result in poor registration, unsatisfactory stitch formation and birdnesting.  
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. See hoop for more information.  
Hook — Holds the bobbin case in the machine and plays a vital role in stitch formation. Making two complete rotations for each stitch, its point meets a loop of top thread at a precisely-timed moment and distance (gap) to form a stitch.  
Hoop — Device made from wood, plastic or steel with which fabric is gripped tightly between an inner ring and an outer ring and attached to the machine's pantograph. Machine hoops are designed to push the fabric to the bottom of the inner ring and hold it against the machine bed for embroidering.  
Hooping Device — Device that aids in hooping garments or items for embroidery. Especially helpful for hooping multi-layered items and for uniformly hooping multiple items.  
Lettering — Embroidery using letters or words. Lettering, commonly called “keyboard lettering,” may be created using an embroidery lettering program on a PC or from circuit boards that allow variance of letter style, size, height, density and other characteristics.  
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 all columns, fills and at the end of any element in your design where jump stitches will follow, such as color changes or the end of a design. Lock stitches may be stitched in a triangle, star or in a straight line. Lock stitch is also the name of the type of stitch formed by the hook and needle of home sewing machines, as well as computerized embroidery machines.  
Logo — Name, symbol or trademark of a company or organization. Short for logotype.  
Looping — Loops on the surface of embroidery generally caused by poor top tension or tension problems. Typically occurs when polyester top thread has been improperly tensioned.  
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.  
Marking — Marking of goods to serve as an aid in positioning the frame and referencing the needle start points.  
Monogram — Embroidered design composed of one or more letters, usually the initials in a name.  
Needle — Small, slender piece of steel with a hole for thread and a point for stitching fabric. A machine needle differs from a handwork needle; the machine needle's eye is found at its pointed end. Machine embroidery needles come with sharp points for piercing heavy, tightly woven fabrics; ball points, which glide between the fibers of knits; and a variety of specialty points, such as wedge points, which are used for leather.  
Network — To link embroidery machines via a central computer and disk drive system.  
Paper Tape — One punching format. Continuous reel of paper or Mylar? tape containing x-y coordinate information in Binary, Fortran or other numeric code to control pantograph movement. It is currently falling out of favor and has mainly been replaced by computer disks.  
Puckering — Result of the fabric being gathered into small folds or wrinkles by the stitches, caused by incorrect density, loose hooping, having no backing, incorrect tension or a dull needle.  
Registration — Correct registration is achieved when all stitches and design elements line up correctly.  
SPI — Stitches per inch; system for measuring density or the amount of satin stitches in an inch of embroidery.  
SPM — Stitches per minute; system for measuring the running speed of an embroidery machine.  
Scaling — Ability within one design program to enlarge or reduce a design. In expanded format, most scaling is limited 10 to 20 percent because the stitch count remains constant despite final design size. Condensed or outline formats, on the other hand, scale changes may be more dramatic because stitch count and density may be varied.  
Scanning — Scanners convert designs into a computer format, allowing the digitizer to use even the most primitive of artwork without recreating the design. Many digitizing systems allow the digitizer to transfer the design directly into the digitizing program without using intermediary software.
Short Stitch — A digitizing technique that places shorter stitches in curves and corners to avoid an unnecessary bulky build-up of stitches.  
Stitch Editing — Digitizing feature that allows one or more stitches in a pattern to be deleted or altered.  
Stitch Processing — The calculation of stitch information by means of specialized software, allowing scaling of expanded format designs with density compensation. A trademarked software feature developed by Wilcom Pty. of Australia.  
Stock Designs — Digitized generic embroidery designs that are readily available at a cost below that of custom-digitized designs.  
Tackle Twill — Letters or numbers cut from polyester or rayon twill fabric that are commonly used for athletic teams and organizations. Tackle twill appliqués attached to a garment have an adhesive backing that tacks them in place; the edges of the appliqués are then zigzag stitched.  
Tension — Tautness of thread when forming stitches. Top thread tension, as well as bobbin thread tension, needs to be set. Proper thread tension is achieved when about one-third of the thread showing on the underside of the fabric on a column stitch is bobbin thread.  
Thread — Fine cord of natural or synthetic material made from two or more filaments twisted together and used for stitching. Machine embroidery threads come in rayon, which has a high sheen; cotton, which has a duller finish than rayon but is available in very fine deniers; polyester, which is strong and colorfast; metallic thread, which have a high luster and are composed of a synthetic core wrapped in metal foil; and acrylic, which is purported to have rayon's sheen.  
Topping — Material hooped or placed on top of fabrics that have definable nap or surface texture, such as corduroy and terry cloth, prior to embroidery. The topping compacts the wale or nap and holds the stitches above it. Includes a variety of substances, such as plastic wrap, water-soluble plastic “foil” and open-weave fabric that has been chemically treated to disintegrate with the application of heat. Also known as facing.  
Trimming — Operation in the finishing process that involves trimming the reverse and top sides of the embroidery, including jump stitches and backing.  
Variable Sizing — Ability to scale a design to different sizes.


Monday, 31 October 2011

what is a Merrowed border?

Merrowing, sometimes known as overlock sewing or overlocking is the process of wrapping thread around fabric, yielding an efficient and uniform stitch.

Today I was emailed an example from an emblem site that is looking at the difference between a wax finished border and a merrowed border.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Digitizing is a critical, initial step

Digitizing is a critical, initial step in the embroidery process.
While some designs are simply lettering or monogramming keyed from pre-programmed alphabets, others are custom designs that are generated from customer supplied art. An average entrepreneur with moderate computer skills can learn how to lay-out and manipulate lettering. However, the skill sets necessary to convert art into custom designs are not quite as simple.
The big question that all embroiderers face is whether or not they should learn how to digitize in-house, or outsource their digitizing.
First, let's quantify the digitizing process and then explore what options are available.
The process of digitizing high quality, fluid running designs is an art. It is acquired through training, practice and understanding fundamentals of graphic design. The best way to assess a contract digitizer is to consider their hours or years of full time digitizing experience.
Even though our present level of technology offers some automatic features such as “auto vectoring” and “auto digitizing” software, these features alone are a means to an end. While this software can convert very simple graphics into fundamental designs, they cannot convert typical or complex art into a finished, fluid embroidery design. In the hands of a novice, these features can render some simple embroidery. In the hands of an accomplished digitizer, these features can be used as tools to quickly render limited sections of art into stitches and speed up the digitizing process.
Now that we have quantified the process, let’s look at the pending criteria.
  1. For any start-up process where the embroiderer has little or no prior embroidery experience, custom digitizing should be outsourced. As with any business start-up, there are many skills to learn. Outsourcing the digitizing task saves time, improves quality and adds profitablity to new embroidery business. How well the embroidery performs and how it looks will be controlled by the design, thread condition, machine condition and operator skill sets. By depending upon a skilled digitizer, you can ramp-up quicker and reach higher production yields.
    For the beginning embroiderer, it is also wise to consider purchasing new embroidery machines, rather than used, if at all possible. New equipment brings a factory tuned machine into the equation, reducing risk and thus improving production objectives.
  2. For any existing embroidery operation, the decision to digitize in-house or outsource can be assessed with the following considerations:

    Volume of designs
     – A skilled, full time digitizer can produce approximately 1 to 2 left chest designs per hour, depending on size and complexity of design. That’s 3 to 6 designs per day. By contrast, a beginning digitizer may produce 1 to 3 designs per day. If your demand reaches these numbers, an in-house digitizer could be a good economic decision.

    Type and size of orders
    – An embroidery shop who processes numerous, single piece orders will consume a lot of designs. Orders that vary the material or application of designs may require a lot of editing to get the best performance on all jobs run. Shops that provide mostly personalization would consume very few custom designs. Shops who process mostly large orders will also consume fewer custom designs.

    Customer types
    – While some customers allow a lot of discretion on the part of the embroiderer, others are more particular about the design details. In order to service these customers, an in-house digitizer or at least and in-house editor is a must.

    Control desired
    – Every shop has different management styles and control comfort levels. Those with more tolerant levels may chose to work with an outside digitizer whereas those who prefer tighter control should employ an in-house digitizer.

    Graphic art skills in-house
    – Digitizing requires a certain temperament and certain computer graphic skills to succeed.
The bottom line: Every embroidery shop will benefit from high quality digitizers that dazzle their customers, while generating a nice profit from fluid running designs. Whether you choose to outsource or not, a fast, reliable and highly skilled digitizer will bring positive results to your business.

Vanda Stitch