Embroidery can give apparel that sophisticated edge and a sense of ownership to the wearer. Who wouldn’t want the name or the logo of their team or company stitched across a tee, polo, jacket, backpack, or hat? At Scalable Press, we’ll put stitches into just about anything. But before you submit your design to us for an embroidery order, here are 5 things you should know before we sew.

1. Save your embroidery design as a .DST

Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way. We use Tajima embroidery machines, so the design file for an embroidery order needs to be in a .dst (Data Stitch Tajima) format.  If you’re not familiar with this format, we can also convert your artwork so it’s stitch-ready. The process of converting artwork into an embroidery-friendly format is called digitization. If you’re looking to go the digitalization route, this short video can show you how to submit a digitization request.

2. Ditch the fine print and lines

Nobody reads the fine print, and that goes double for embroidery. So stay away from small text and opt for a point size that’s at least 0.25” high and 0.05” thick. This will ensure your text is legible. We also recommend a sans serif font and using all caps for the best results. Script and serif fonts are harder to read, particularly when using a smaller point size. For added readability, we suggest limiting the characters to no more than 20 per line.

Speaking of lines, we recommend lines for a regular satin stitch to be no less than 0.05”. For thinner lines, we’ll use a run stitch (a single line of stitches). Just note that fine lines might not turn out as expected and may look like dotted lines, so you might want to darken your fine lines and details to ensure they show up on the finished product.

3. Keep your graphics simple

Embroidery can’t capture the fine details that you’ll get with DTG or screenprinting because the design has to be translated to stitches.  So keep your design simple. Complicated designs with borders, backgrounds, and secondary text can create problems and get expensive quickly. And the nuances of complicated designs simply can’t be recreated in thread. This means that distressing, textures, and gradients may get lost during the embroidery process, so it’s best to avoid those stylistic features. If you decide to go with these effects, we can do flat embroidery. Just note that extremely thin parts will likely be run-stitched.

Also, consider the size of the artwork space. For hats, the maximum print size is 5” wide and 2” tall. For garments, it’s 4.5” wide and tall for the left/right chest and 3”x3” for the left/right sleeve. If you want a discernible design, make sure your design is scaled to the space provided.

4. Choose a quality fabric

The type of fabric you choose can affect embroidery. For instance, hats have limited space to embroider, so it’s important to check the specs of the front of the hat so you can size your design appropriately. The material you choose also matters. Embroidery on a knit beanie will look different than it will on a polo or work shirt. That’s because the material on the beanie is fluffier, so the finer details will be lost easier than they’d be on stiffer fabric.

5. Opt for contrasting colors

You want your design to show up, so think about how the color of  thread you’ve chosen will stand out against the color of the fabric. It goes without saying that a dark thread won’t pop against a dark color of fabric, so go for contrast. We use high quality super bride polyester (40 Wt) thread, available in 15 standard colors. However, we can order additional colors if your project calls for it.

For more information, check out our Embroidery Reference Guide

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