Machine embroidery designs– custom design or ready-made?
This is a question every embroiderer had asked at some point. I share my view.
There are millions of ready-made embroidery designs and thousands of websites offering them. Prices vary, you can find good designs for as low as $1, you can find freebies and high priced too. All you have to do is search for the design you want, with a suitable phrase, and you get hundreds of hits. It is worth going 2-3 pages through the hits, the websites showing on the first page are not necessarily the best pages, the results start with sites which have paid advertising. Many designs serve as a base for your personalization, like split monograms, frames, steeple blocks, etc, You can also combine designs- this needs basic knowledge and ownership of digitizing software.
If you can’t find anything suitable (a custom logos or other custom machine embroidery designs), you have to either hire a digitizer or make the design digitizing yourself. Depending on how often you get custom orders, you might be better of if you hire a digitizer instead of doing the digitizing yourself. If you have custom orders frequently, you should consider buying an advanced digitizing software and learn digitizing.
If you consider hiring an embroidery Digitizer, you can find a complete description and tips here: https://embroideryshelter.com/hiring-an-embroidery-digitizer/
I am going to talk about obvious and less obviousembroidery puckering causes and prevention.
We already know the most common causes, which are:
Incorrect hooping technique
Incorrect stabilizing method and inadequate stabilizer
Incorrect thread tension, either bobbin or upper thread, or both
The following little known factors also have a big influence on how the design sews out:
The hoop size in relation to the design
The embroidery thread weight and thread type
The design stitch density/complexity for the type of fabric used
The needle size and condition
Embroidery puckering: causes and prevention, in more detail:
I write in detail about every issue, in the order they were mentioned.
The most common causes:
Incorrect hooping technique: many embroiderers use the “floating” method. I recommend this method only when you have no other choice, for example when you are embroidering caps or narrow garments like socks, gloves, etc. In this case, I recommend using temporary glue and pins, the stabilizer to use should be cut-away. In all other cases, you should hoop the stabilizer and fabric together, between the “rings” of the hoop. The use of a temporary glue is recommended in the case of flimsy fabrics like quilter’s cotton, etc.
Incorrect stabilizing method and inadequate stabilizer: in many cases, people are using the stabilizer they have at home, no matter what kind of fabric is used or the design density. A more dense design with large filled areas and/or short dense stitches requires a firmer cut-away stabilizer, or at least 2 layers of tear-away, one layer with fibers in the opposite direction to the other layer. Designs that have more stitches have more pucker potential than designs that are more open.
Incorrect thread tension, either bobbin or upper thread, or both: We all know that the satin stitch has to show on the reverse side, 2/3 the bobbin thread and 1/3 the embroidery thread. But is that all? What if the ratio is correct but both threads are equally too tight? The fabric will pucker. Make sure that both threads are correctly tensioned.
Poor digitizing: For custom projects, choosing a good Digitizer is crucial. If you buy online ready-made designs, check the digitizer’s feedback before buying. I know that many of you prefer cheap or free designs but remember: you get what you pay for. There are exceptions: reputable sites will offer free designs for you to try them out, that way they prove they are trustworthy. If you do the digitizing yourself, you might already know how to digitize properly. A few words to keep in mind: you always digitize for the type of fabric you’ll be using! If you are using multiple different types of fabric, you must do adjustments for each fabric, which means you should make the same design with 2-3 or more settings. If you have more filled areas, never go towards an already filled area, start the second one to sew outwards, away from the first area.
Embroidery puckering: causes and prevention– less knownfactors:
The hoop size in relation to the design: Choose the smallest hoop the design will fit into. The bigger the hoop, the more movement the fabric will have, then displacement, and possibly puckering will occur.
The embroidery thread weight and thread type: Rayon, polyester, or cotton? 40 or 35? All the threads have their own strengths and weaknesses. Polyester threads stretch more, they don’t snap too easy. Due to this characteristic, the polyester thread will pull the fabric more than other threads. Threads that stretch have a greater pucker effect than threads that snap if pulled too tightly. Rayon thread snaps easily when pulled tightly, giving you nightmares when embroidering a dense pattern. You have to think about it when digitizing or buying a design, will Rayon thread be suitable for that design? Cotton thread is not stretchy, doesn’t snap easily but is prone to shrinkage. You won’t see the puckers before the first wash, which usually happens when the garment is already handed over to your Customer. Ouch…you possibly have lost a Customer. Conclusion: You can prevent puckering if you use polyester thread and a design that has the proper pull-compensation or if you use Rayon thread with a less dense design. Avoid cotton thread. Thread weight: Thicker threads cause more fabric displacement which results in puckers and/or cupping. (Cupping is when the embroidery stands out in a 3D-like way from the fabric) Use a high-quality thread with low-friction and with even unwinding tension for smooth flow of thread to the sewing area. The most commonly used thread is 40.
The design stitch density/complexity for the type of fabric used: As I said earlier, for different designs you need different fabrics and vice-versa. You can’t embroider heavy complex designs to light fabric. Try to avoid heavy, stitch-filled, shaded designs. Instead of stitch-filled areas, choose the applique method when possible.
The needle size and condition: Ballpoint needles will penetrate the fabric between the fabric threads while sharp needles can easily catch the fabric, distorting it. The same happens if the needle is dull. Also if the needle is too thick, it makes bigger holes than necessary, not only distorting the fabric but also cutting/ weakening the stabilizer. For organza, silk, light quilters cotton use 70/10 and 80/12 for poplin, rayon, medium weight cotton.
Machine speed: The higher the sewing speed, the greater the distortion. Set the speed to the lowest setting, especially if you use polyester thread. No harm to use the lowest speed when using rayon either, you will have less thread breakage. Remember: it’s always better to get the embroidery right the first time than using the high speed and have a puckered embroidery.
Thank you for reading my article “Embroidery puckering: causes and prevention“.
Hiring an embroidery Digitizer. The insider’s guide to how an Embroidery Digitizer can improve your Embroidery Business.
In general, when people are looking for a digitizer, they have a design in mind and want it digitized as soon as possible, done perfectly and within a budget. These three things are not compatible, you must decide: do you want a good result, or a quick job done cheaply.
If you go for good quality, you should have it done by an experienced digitizer who is also an experienced embroiderer. How else would a digitizer know in detail what you need? If it’s your first time to use the service of a specific Digitizer, ask for a reference or a portfolio. Digitizers can be found by a recommendation, by a Google search, or in embroidery groups on Facebook. Pinterest is also a good idea, use keywords, and follow hashtags.
What people are forgetting is that when hiring an Embroidery Digitizer, the Client has duties as well as rights.
Provide a clear high-resolution image of your artwork, JPEG or PNG format. If you have a vector format it is better.
If you don’t have a photo of an artwork and you require the Digitizer to do the artwork too, you must have an agreement at the start in that regard. You’ll be charged more because that takes extra time, effort and talent.
State the type of fabric you will embroider the design on.
Give the size and orientation of the hoop you use for embroidering that specific design.
Give the dimensions of the design itself, that should be a close approximation.
Specify the date/time you want it ready
Specify the machine format you need.
Discuss all the details before awarding the job. If the Digitizer did the artwork, you must approve it before the digitizing process.
Sign an agreement that you won’t sell the digitized file to any 3rd party.
Negotiate a price you are both happy with before the work starts.
Pay the agreed fee as soon as you got the file. Best if you pay by PayPal, it’s instant.
Very important that you must have enough embroidery knowledge for getting the results the Digitizer got when embroidering the same design and you saw in the photo that was sent to you.
If you are a beginner, should be no problem, only you must tell the Digitizer that you need more detailed advice /instructions.
Handle the artwork strictly confidential, do not publish it in any media.
Sign an agreement of non-disclosure of the artwork and sign for the exclusivity of the digitized file (not to be sold to any 3rd party)
Accept the negotiated price before the work starts.
Upon agreement of the artwork (if done by the Digitizer), do the digitizing process and present the software’s 3D image to the Client.
Upon agreement to the software’s image, sew it out and present a close-up photo of the embroidery.
Do corrections to the design if needed, before the deadline.
Do revisions (within reason)
Respect the deadline.
Upon the design’s approval, supply the design file in the machine format the Client needs.
Include to the Zip file a photo of the design and a worksheet with instructions, colors and color changes, number of stitches.
When hiring an embroidery Digitizer, good communication is crucial. The Customer and the Designer should answer each other’s questions as soon as possible. It’s in the interest of both parties to keep communicating at every phase of the digitizing process.
A few more thoughts:
A good design has to sew out beautifully, but also have the less possible jump stitches and color changes, that will save you time up to 25% in some cases.
A good Digitizer is not always expensive, a bad Digitizer is not always cheap.
When hiring an embroidery Digitizer, you two should co-operate, both of you are equally contributing to the design’s success.
The best Digitizers are human too, they make mistakes but they admit it and do the required correction(s). A pleasant tone is desirable from both the Client and the Digitizer.
A good work relationship starts with the first pleasant experience. Having a long-term work relationship with the same Designer will help the Client’s Business grow.
Can’t make up your mind whether to buy a single needle or a multi needle embroidery machine? Single needle vs multi needle. Pros and cons brought to you by embroidery machine technician.
Single needle machines :
Price. If your budget is limited, single needle machines are affordable. Of course there are some single needle machines just as expensive as the multi needle ones but that’s not typical.
Size. If you choose to work at home, you might have just a small space to fit the machine into. These machines are smaller and take up less space than the multi needle ones, you can fit them on a table top.
Simplicity. They are much easier to learn the ins and outs of embroidery, more suitable for absolute beginners. Easier to do day-to-day maintenance and the service or repairs performed by a technician are cheaper.
Productivity. Having just one needle you have to manually change threads depending on how many colors the design has. That’s a lot of non-productive time, if you are embroidering for a living you should keep this in mind.
Life span: Single needle machines are intended for home use, not suitable for large quantity of work. For a hobbyist embroiderer, it will serve many years though.
Hoop size. Usually for single needle machines the biggest hoop is 5″ x 7″, with a few exceptions. Some of them have a 4″ x 4″ hoop only.
Multi needle machines:
Free arm: You can embroider with ease on a wider range of items.
Hoop size. Multi needle machines have bigger hoops , talking now about flat hoops only. From 4″ x 4″ or 17″ x 16″, even bigger with some commercial machines.
Cap frame system (optional accessory) makes a lot of difference when it comes to cap embroidery.
Tubular frame (optional accessory) can also be used on them, useful when embroidering on sleeves or trousers legs.
Productivity: Due to the number of needles, you have much less work to do since the color change happens automatically, based on your color choices.
Life span: Multi needle machines (especially Industrial machines) are heavy build machines intended for industrial quantities.
Price. They are costly, price starting at $6 000 it can reach $16 000 or even more depending on brand, optional accessories and capabilities.
Cost of maintenance, service and repairs. It is expensive since it is best to be serviced by an authorized mechanic. Machine parts are expensive too. The good news is that they very seldom need repairs.
Size: Multi needle machines take up a lot of space, they need their own specially made shock absorbent stand. The stand is optional but advisable, it extends the machine’s life.
Complexity: It’s not easy to learn to work with them. Also harder to do the daily maintenance tasks like cleaning and oiling or the weekly/monthly tasks like deeper cleaning and oiling hard-to-reach places.
Level of noise: High level of noise, due to the robust build. The shock absorbent stand also functions like a rezonance amplifier, like the body of a guitar. It can’t be reduced in any other way than reducing the number of stitches/minute. At the lowest setting (600 st/min) it is bearable but still louder than the single needle machines. You can hear the noise in this video of mine:
That’s in a nutshell my honest review of both single needle and multi needle machines. Hope I made it easier for you to decide which machine will be your next machine. Thanks for reading, Happy stitching!
Note: Thread nesting mostly happens due to operator error.
1)- Switch off and unplug your machine.
2)- Check if your needle is bent or dull, if it is then replace it. Plug in your machine and switch it on, do a stitch check. Your problem might end here. If it doesn’t, go to step 3.
First and foremost I recommend the use of thread net. Cover your spool with thread net while embroidering, no matter if your spool is placed horizontally or vertically on your spool holder. We all know that the embroidery thread is silky and slippery, it unravels while stored, so what is keeping it from unraveling while embroidering? Very often it slips (unravels) too fast and comes out from between the tension discs. In 80% of the cases this is what is wrong, the loose thread results in nesting. Sometimes the opposite happens: the thread gets tangled around the spool holder pin, it can’t go further and becomes tight then gets caught, bending and breaking the needle. Try this first, it is the easiest and more than likely the only thing you have to do for solving thread nesting problem. Only if this solution doesn’t work take the following steps:
3)-Remove the upper thread from the entire path.
4)-Clean the path with special attention to the tension disk.
5)-Re-thread the upper thread, making sure you follow the path correctly. All this time you must have the foot up and the needle in the highest position. You might have the problem solved at this stage, plug in and switch on the machine and check. If the problem persists, go to step 6 but make sure to have your machine switched off and unplugged every time you do adjustments.
6)- Remove the bobbin and bobbin case, clean the bobbin area and check the bobbin case for possible thread caught under the tension spring. Make sure the foot is up and the needle is in the highest position while doing this.
7)-Place the bobbin and case back, pay attention to the correct bobbin orientation. Also, make sure the bobbin is the right one for your machine and is wound evenly. If all ok with the bobbin, plug in and switch on the machine. Start sewing, check for nesting. Should be ok but if the problem is not gone, then for solving thread nesting problem you have to go to step 8.
8)- This should be used only if nothing else works. Adjust the upper tension, tighten just a slight bit at a time. After every tightening check the seam again. Keep in mind, don’t mess with the tension unless is absolutely necessary!
Is your thread nesting problem solved? Leave a comment! Questions also welcome, I’ll answer ASAP.