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Embroidery Terms

3D FOAM Foam that is used to add dimension to an embroidery pattern that is typically used on caps. The 3D foam is placed on the topside of the pattern and stitched over with shortened stitches to cut the foam. The excessive foam is then pulled away from the embroidery giving a 3D appearance. 3D foams are available in various thicknesses.

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 amount of embroidery stitches needed to fill the design area.

BACKING  A woven or nonwoven 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.  Backing is often called stabilizer.

BIRD NESTING Collection of thread between goods and needle plate that resembles a bird's nest. Its formation prevents free movement of goods and may be caused by inadequate tensioning of the top thread or flagging goods.

BOBBIN
  Spool or reel that holds the bobbin thread, which forms secure stitches on the underside of the fabric.  A special lightweight embroidery thread is generally used when sewing out embroidery designs.

BOBBIN CASE Small, round metal device for holding the bobbin. Used to tension the bobbin thread, it is inserted in the hook for sewing.

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

BUCKRAM  A woven fabric treated with a glue substance to stabilize fabric for stitching. It is commonly used for caps to hold the front panel in place.

CHENILLE  A form of embroidery in which a loop stitch is formed on the topside of the fabric. Heavy yarns made of wool, cotton, or acrylic are used. Some designs are digitized to look like chenille.

COLUMN STITCH A series of zig-zag stitches placed closely together to form a column. Also known as a steil stitch or satin stitch.

CONVERSION SOFTWARE Programs that read information and translate it from one machine to another. Embird is a popular conversion software.

CUSTOMIZING (editing) Manipulating an embroidery design using rotation, mirror imaging, merging one design into another or resizing.

COVER SEAMING  A two-needle stitching that runs around the armhole and base of the band at the bottom of a shirt, sometimes used for set-in sleeves of sweat shirts. It is a feature most often found in heavyweight and super heavyweight sweats.

DENIER  The international system for numbering silk and man-made filament yarns and fibers. The low numbers represent the finer thread sizes and higher numbers, the heavier yarns.

DESIGN Stitches that compose an embroidery pattern or monogram. Often called embroidery designs.

DIGITIZING  The process of taking artwork from any source, including your original drawings, and turning it into a language that a computerized embroidery machine can translate into stitches. A modern term for punching, it is a method of programming a design. Artwork is converted into a series of commands to be read by an embroidery machine's computer.

DOWNLOAD Transferring a file from the Internet to your computer.  When you order designs online, you generally need to download them.

EDITING  Changing aspects of a design using 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, and other features. Embird is a popular editing software.

EMBROIDERY Embroidery is “thread art” used to embellish a garment, hat or some other product by adding a sewn pattern. Generally, this sewn pattern includes a design and can also include lettering and/or monograms.

EMBROIDERY MACHINE Today, embroidery machines can be defined as computer driven machines that move a pantograph with hooped items in various directions to form different stitches. Embroidery machines can be single-head units as used by the home embroiderer or come in multiples of heads with multiple needles per head for production embroidery applications.

EMBROIDERY UNIT The machine part that holds and guides the hoop so you can embroider.

FILL STITCH
  A series of running stitches commonly combined to cover large areas. Different fill patterns can be created by altering the angle, length and repeat sequence of the stitches.

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.

FORMAT Machine specific readable information.  The format is identified by the last 3 letters, or file extension of each design file ie, .PES, .HUS, .JEF etc which relate to the machine brand that design format can be used with.  A conversion program like Embird can be used to convert designs from one format to another.

HARDWARE The physical parts of a computer - monitor, chip boards, processor, disk drive, etc. If you want to use CDs, downloaded Internet designs or original artwork, you must have a computer, cables to connect it to your sewing machine, and sewing machine software to tell the hardware what to do. When you buy disks, software, or other add-ons it is important that they're compatible with your existing hardware.

HOOP (n) A plastic frame that attaches to the embroidery unit to hold the fabric taut while stitching. Generally speaking, you want the smallest hoop that will accommodate your design in order to keep the fabric taut. Larger designs are becoming more popular so you'll want several hoop sizes.

HOOP (v) The process of placing the fabric and/or stabilizer into the embroidery hoop. One of the most common reasons for a poorly stitched design is improper hooping.

LETTERING
  Refers to the embroidery of letters, either made completely with stitches or a combination of cutout applique pieces and stitching.

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.

LOOPING Loops on the embroidery surface 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.

MARKING Marking of goods to serve as an aid in positioning the frame and referencing the needle start points.

MEMORY CARD A computerized, machine-format- specific card that fits directly into your sewing machine and works with the built-in computer to stitch out designs. Cards can be purchased with designs already on them or you may purchase blank cards to transfer designs from disks, CDs, the Internet or your computer, using hardware and software for your specific machine. Cards aren't interchangeable unless you have a converter box or conversion software.

MIRROR A program menu option that allows reverse imaging of a pattern to be sewn. See also rotate pattern.

MONOGRAM Embroidered design composed of one or more letters, usually the initials in a name.

MOSS STITCH  See Chenille

NAP  A fuzzy or downy surface of fabric covering either one side or both, produced by brushing loosely twisted yarns.

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. There are special embroidery machine needles available.

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.

ORIGIN The starting point of your design.

REGISTRATION
  This refers to the ability to line up details and parts of designs with each other.

ROTATE PATTERN Program parameter that rotates the design in 90-degree increments counterclockwise, with or without mirror imaging the design.

RUNNING STITCH  A series of single stitches forming a line. One stitch which goes Point A to Point B. A running stitch is often used for fine details, outlining, and underlay. Consists of one stitch between two points. Used for outlining and fine detail. Also known as a walk stitch.

SATIN STITCH  A zigzag sewing action where two stitches form a column. It is often used for lettering, outlining, and detail. A satin stitch is normally anywhere from 2 mm to 12 mm.

SCALING Ability within one design program to enlarge or reduce a design. In expanded format, most scaling is limited to 10 percent to 20 percent because the stitch count remains constant despite final design size.

SCANNER A device that takes a computer-readable picture of artwork and brings it into the computer memory so you can digitize the design with your software.

SHORT STITCH A digitizing technique that places shorter stitches in curves and corners to avoid an unnecessary bulky buildup of stitches.

SOFTWARE Programs and/or files that the hardware uses to learn or perform different tasks.  This means embroidery designs, or embroidery programs to view the designs with.

SPECIALITY FILL  A fill stitch capability that produces a fill with a relief or motif design within the fill-stitch area.

STOCK DESIGNS  Digitized embroidery designs that are commercially available for general use by embroiderers.

SPI Stitches per inch.

SPM Stitches per minute.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS What your computer's hardware and software, operating together, can support. System requirements are printed on software packages, design disk cards and packs, CDs and other computer accessories. You need to know what your system can and cannot support, as sometimes a system isn't capable of handling new software without adding memory or disk space.

TENSION
  The 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; metallics, which have a high luster and are composed of a synthetic core wrapped in metal foil; and acrylic, which has rayon's sheen.

THREAD CLIPPERS Small cutting utensil with a spring action that is 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.

TRIMMING
  The action of cutting loose thread, removing backing, etc., from the final embroidered product.

UNDERLAY STITCH  The stitching action that will attach the backing to the fabric being embroidered. It also supports the top embroidery for a more lofty, dimensional look.

UNDERLAY Used under the regular stitching in a design. The stitches are placed to provide stability to the fabric and to create different effects. Underlay is normally a series of running stitches or a very light density fill often placed in the opposite direction from the stitching.

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