June '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 6 J U N E P R I N T W E A R || 27 measurements. Reducing the amount of space between each row of stitches increases the number of stitches in the shape or design. If you want to decrease the number of stitches in the shape, it is neces- sary to increase the space between each row of stitches. As long as you understand the proper method for adjusting den- sity, you can make educated decisions as to how things need to be adjusted. Since there are a wide variety of substrates and an infinite number of shapes possible, there is no single magic formula that says always use this density value. It will take time, experience, and prac- tice to fine-tune density adjustments for the perfect look. Ideally, the goal should be the absolute lowest amount of stitches without sacrificing quality. UNDERLAY Underlay serves many purposes, but for the purpose of this article, we will consider the use of underlay as a primer. Underlay, combined with top-stitching, can provide the correct look and feel without overloading a design with stitches. Typically, if a design is lacking stitches and the background ma- terial is showing through, the first approach is to add some more stitches to the object and then do another sew out. This process will continue until the proper amount of stitches is in the shape. What also results is a design with entirely too many stitches, a design that puckers, and a design that is susceptible to many more thread breaks, needle breaks, and other production-related headaches. Utilizing a combination of underlay with the top stitching helps counterbal- ance the use of too much top stitching. THREAD WEIGHT The weight (thickness) of thread in use also dictates the density values required for a specific shape. A thicker thread will require less density as it fills an area faster based on the increased thickness of the strand of thread. Many embroiderers will utilize a thicker thread for large fill areas on jacket backs, as it cuts down on the embroidery time. From a production standpoint, a large area with thicker thread can significantly increase production as the same area is filled with less stitches in the design. However, from a cost standpoint, the thicker thread is more expensive than a standard- weight thread, so while there is a savings in time, there is not a true savings in cost. BACKING Proper backing is also very important as the backing, combined with the underlay, provides garment stability. If you don't have sta- bility, even the best crafted embroidery design can pucker. Once again, practice embroidering the same design using different com- binations of backing and examine the end result both before wash- ing and after. While there is no substitution to crafting a design properly, there are some instances where tricks need to be utilized to help get through a design. When dealing with density issues, the typical problem is trying to cover an area that is not cooperating. A prime example is a white fill on top of a black material. In extreme situations, take a piece of white tearaway backing and place it on top of the garment at the point where a problem area of fill is to begin. The fill will stitch on top of the white tearaway backing. After the fill is completed and prior to the border satin stitch, tear away the excess backing. The piece of tearaway backing is then sandwiched between the garment and the fill stitching and acts as a barrier that prevents the black garment from showing through the top stitches. Once again, this should be done in extreme situations. It is not good practice to rely on a Band-Aid approach to create quality embroidery. However, sometimes a deadline just does not wait for a problem to be solved. PRACTICE Take a design that has a mix of stitch types and embroider it on vari- ous substrates. Practice modifying the settings, density, and underlay values until the perfect result is achieved on each substrate. Remember, it takes educated and deliberate adjustments to im- prove your knowledge of the embroidery process. Randomly mak- ing adjustments until a design works only helps fix that one design, but does not offer any knowledge to prevent the same situation from happening again in the future. Density is defined by the amount of stitches in an area. A high density design has more stitches while a low density has less stitches. These charts show how density is represented differently using the metric and imperial systems. Density Value - Imperial Density Value - Metric

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