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Do you speak embroidery?

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Embroidery Lingo

Let’s talk embroidery!  Do you know the lingo?  There are quite a few embroidery terms, short forms, and verbs that we need to be using properly to speak the embroidery lingo properly.  Using the correct terms will help everyone understand your comment or question better, and it will also help you make more professional posts and statements.  Also added in this list are some things that you should be doing in everyday embroidery.  Embroidery is a skill that you must learn!   I am not the Grammar Police, but I do see the same mistakes made over and over again – and as we discussed in the blog two weeks ago, presenting yourself and your business in a professional manner AT ALL TIMES, in every post and everything you do online is paramount to increasing your business.  After all, first impressions are lasting impressions – and social media works the same – even if we are not in person anymore, people do read what you write, and if you don’t present yourself properly in a professional manner, that is what everyone will remember.

I know everyone can read their manuals and find out these definitions, but I am not going to copy and paste any manual – I am going to explain everything in terms that everyone can understand, somewhat of a guideline to speaking and doing embroidery.

Stabilizer:  This is what you use under your embroidery to provide stability for your embroidery designs on your machine.   There are many kinds of stabilizer, just as there are many different fabrics:  you must make sure that your stabilizer is the correct thickness and type BEFORE you hoop.  Hatch has an “auto fabric” feather that will tell you exactly what stabilizer you need to use. Listen to Hatch’s suggestions and your embroidery will look much better, and last much longer too!

Hooping:  I know I sound like a broken record here, but I am going to keep saying it until everyone has heard me.  HOOPING IS PART OF EMBROIDERY.  You must hoop stabilizer AND the garment/material that you want to embroider.  Floating is an option and yes, it may work, and it may look OK, but it is certainly not as good as it should be.  Seriously.  I am confident that my embroidery will look great through many wash and regular wear – because I have the proper stabilizer and I have hooped everything properly.  I go for the best, so I take the time to do my best.  Learn how to hoop.  Some projects may be difficult, but it will be worth it!

WSS:  This stands for water-soluble stabilizer and it is one of the most over-used stabilizers around.  It is not actually a stabilizer – it does not stabilize your garment/fabric in any way.    WSS was designed mainly for FSL, and that is what you should be using it for!  You can also use it to help hold the stitches up (a bit) when you are stitching items like towels or anything with a high nap, but you will get much better results with a light fill stitch, stitching first to hold down the nap (also called Hatch Smash).  You do NOT need to use WSS for stitching designs on t-shirts or sweatshirts or jeans.  You are simply wasting money and time.

FSL:  Free Standing Lace is one of my favorite things to do in embroidery, as long as the embroidery is designed well.  The FSL design is made up of only thread – that is to say that you are not embroidering on any material, just some WSS, and when you have finished the design, you soak the design in water and wash the WSS away and you are left with a beautiful design.   I have noticed over the years that FSL designs have changed quite a bit!  I have done a few designs, and my machine was not happy going through layers upon layers of thread to stitch through. I do not continue to stitch when my machine doesn’t like it – I am not going to break or wear my machine down because of dense stitching.  When you are stitching your FSL design, your machine should be happily stitching, no banging, no thread breaks, and no design separation.  I have noticed quite a few people posting designs where the FSL has come apart, or parts have separated from the design, and even been “punched out” of the WSS before it is done!  That is not how FSL is supposed to be!  Some FSL designs are merely a crosshatch design with satin stitches over top and a few layers in between too – while they may be nice-ish, they are not going to hold up well and they are not going to make my machine happy.

ITH – In the Hoop Embroidery Designs: ITH is the short form for in the hoop – which means that the embroidery design is comipleteted in the hoop. Some ITH designs need some sewing when they are finished stitching, but they are still considered ITH. You can make bags, purses, zipper purses and even cute stuffed animals. Anything goes! My favorite place for ITH designs is Kreative Kiwi! Her designs are fantastic! If you want some fantastic machine embroidered ITH mugrugs or coasters, Kreative Kiwi is the place to be. You will love doing ITH once you try it!!

IT’S GRAMMAR TIME!

Embroidery vs. Embroider.  Ok, this is a bit of a grammar police paragraph, but it is worth mentioning.  Some people write “I am going to embroidery this design”.  Embroider is a verb (verbs show action) so the correct sentence is “I am going to embroider this design”.  Embroidery is the name of the skill that we are learning “I am learning embroidery”  or “I am learning to embroider” are both correct.  Of course, there are exceptions to all grammar rules, but that is the basics.

Digitizing:  I see this word spelled incorrectly all the time.  You digitize, or you learn to digitize, and I am digitizing.  It is not digitalizing.  Grammar police, again, but there it is.

Jump stitches:  When you are learning to digitize, one of your main goals is to get rid of as many jump stitches as you can.  Jump stitches are literally “jumping” from one object to another.  A jump stitch can be long (a no-no) or shorter (between letters in a word), some are acceptable and some are not.   Jump stitches between letters are fine, as long as they are not too long!  Again, if I am doing an embroidery design and there are huge jump stitches (my old single needle machine did not trim any stitches) I will STOP stitching that design.  If you have jump stitches everywhere, your needle foot may get caught on them and you might break your machine. If I am working on one of the big machines which trims, I still hear and see all that trimming going on, so I know that the design was not optimized properly – and that means that the digitizer did NOT take the time to digitize properly.

Connections or connecting stitches:  These stitches are what you need to eliminate the jump stitches to keep your design optimized.  You must learn optimization if you are a digitizer – you must!  You need to make running stitch connections between objects so you don’t have an excessive amount of trims or jumps.  Anything less than a maximum effort on optimization is not acceptable.

Optimization and optimizing your designs:  This should be the final check of your design that you are about to stitch.  Do you need to make connections with running stitches?  Is your design set out in a logical manner?  Do you have tons of unnecessary color changes?  Do you have tons of jump stitches?  Does your machine stitch one color at the top, then trim, and then move to the bottom and back up again? If your machine is doing any of these things, your design is not optimized and therefore not finished!  Take the time and finish it!

Design Registration:  This term has to do with your hooping skills, which includes using the correct stabilizer.  If your design is “out of registration” that means things don’t line up, your fill stitch is pulled back from your outline, or things are misaligned.  These issues are not usually the digitizer’s fault, more often than not it is the embroiderer’s fault!  If you don’t hoop everything and stabilize properly things will move around and pull.  Keep things looking sharp and exactly where they should be by learning hooping skills.

Hopefully, that will helps some people that are struggling with some of these terms.  If you don’t understand WSS and what it stands for, the whole process of FSL will be confusing!  Hopefully explaining these terms will help some of the new people understand some of the terminologies that we use in embroidery.

Now you speak some of the embroidery lingo!

Until next time,

Happy Digitizing

Sue Brown

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3 thoughts on “Do you speak embroidery?”

  1. WillieMae Charles says:

    Sue thank you for the lesson. It is something we can all learn and if we have forgotten we are being reminded.

  2. Clarice says:

    I appreciate this very much.

  3. Karan Page says:

    I’m new to all these terms but quite glad I knew most of them. Keep up the good work, you enspire me to push myself to do things I think I can not do.

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