The Case of the Mysterious Store Bought Embroidered Shirt…Part 2

ESI (Embroidery Scene Investigations) presents:

(cue mystery music)

The continuing mystery of the embroidered store-bought shirt!  In part 1 we discussed the mystery, and have made a few conclusions so far.

In summary:

1.  The shirt was purchased (not by me, but as a gift for Beatrice) in a real brick and mortar store, without a licence, and the shirt is not an officially licenced product.

2.  The shirt looked great when it was purchased, not so much after the first wash!

3.  The shirt was stitched on a tear away stabilizer and looked great off of the machine, but once washed, tear away stabilizer fails to support the stitches, resulting in gaps and lettering issues.  Evidence showed supporting this fact in Part 1.

In this case presentation, I will determine some of the issues with the large letters and the mistakes that were made, and of course how we can solve the mystery of the large satin letters.  I present to you Exhibit 1, the large lettering:

Exhibit 1: Large lettering

I made this picture quite large so we can clearly show the evidence.  Let’s start at the beginning on the letter C.  There seems to be a mysterious line through the body of the letter C.  It does not look good, that’s for sure, but how could this have happened?  Evidence shows that the mysterious embroiderer stitched the lettering twice, but was not able to line up the stitches properly.  Let’s examine how this happened.

We can identify the stitching as satin stitches.  We know by the Laws of Embroidery, that satin stitches pull the material more than any other stitches.  If you watch your machine stitch a satin stitch, you can see that it stitches from one side to another, and will pull the material in toward the centre of the satin stitch.

Laws of Embroidery:  Long satin stitches have issues, so there are also embroidery laws for the length of the satin stitch.  The proof is in the fact that if you make your satin stitches too long, your machine will not stitch them.   Your machine will not want to stitch long satin stitches – some software will not even show them on screen  – you can see the underlay, but no covering stitches.

The other Law of Embroidery that comes in to play here is that the longer your satin stitches are, the less coverage you have.  If you have long satin stitches on a design, you will be able to see the fabric through the material.  Satin stitches that are too long will able to be pulled, picked or caught very easily, resulting in the damaged thread and ruined embroidery work.

By applying those Laws of Embroidery, I propose that the mysterious embroiderer simply made the lettering too large, and once the stitching was completed realized that the stitches were not “thick” enough, and the navy blue t-shirt material was showing through.  Rather than finding out what the actual issue was that caused this, the mysterious embroiderer simply stitched the letters once more,  trying to get the satin stitches to cover.  Because the mysterious embroiderer was not using the correct stabilizer, the pull compensation is clearly an issue here – the first time around for the letter C worked but was thin.  The second time around for the letter C, you can actually see the pull compensation – look at the body of the C and you see the line, the edge of the 1st letter C and the second C did not line up properly, and you end up with out of registration lettering.  Judging by the feel of the letters and the bulk of the thread that is left, I am going to propose that the mysterious embroiderer also adjusted the density -to make the long satin stitches denser (meaning that there are more stitches), resulting in an out of alignment, raised and a rather bulky letter.  The large letters do not stay flat and have lots of puckers and bends.   I present to you Exhibit 2, showing the wobbly line and the thickness of the lettering, and how uneven the stitching has become.   The lettering appears to be flatter in some areas and thicker in others.

Exhibit 2: Too much thread, messy lettering

Evidenced in Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2 is the rogue thread that has become detached from the back of the embroidery.  This is a very dangerous thread!  If you were to pull on it, the whole letter would pull out!  The position of the rogue thread is also suspicious:  normally letters end at the closest join to the next letter, but this letter ended sort of in the middle of the letter, far away from the letter S.  There is a great and easy solution to solve the problem of unravelling threads and they are called tie out stitches, and a tie out stitch should have been inserted into the original embroidery.  However, a tie out stitch was not used because the letter was stitched more than once, so the mysterious embroiderer thought that the letter was thick enough, and I would also guess that the embroidery machine was making quite a bit of noise at this time trying to stitch through all of that dense thread.  I propose that the embroiderer simply stopped the machine, trimmed the thread, and advanced the machine to move on to the next letter.

The large letter S was done in the same way.  There are threads pulling in the middle of the S, the serif on the letter S are crooked and wobbly, thick in some places and thin in others and the whole letter appears to have a ragged edge to it, not to mention all of the puckers and the pulls on the t-shirt itself.  If you look at the bottom left of the S, you can see that the top of the serif is thinner than the bottom of the serif.  All in all, the letter S is not acceptable at all.

Let’s look at the last large letter I, and this I has some big issues.

1.  The top and bottom are curved.

2.  The second stitching of this letter has created gaps, loose threads and pulled threads.

3.  There is a large amount of puckering as well as “bowing” from the lack of stabilizer and the large number of stitches in this letter.   It would be impossible to have this letter sit flat on the shirt.

In conclusion, we can solve the mystery of the large lettering by using the correct stabilizer to provide your satin stitches with enough stability to keep flat and look good.  We do not recommend double stitching any satin stitches, as you will have results similar to this.  You must use the tie in and the tie off stitches in your work, they help prevent threads unravelling.  Most software will have this feature built in, so you need not worry about it.  Large lettering with large satin stitches should be avoided at all costs.  I would recommend that if you are working on lettering, and the satin stitches are too long, you can change the size of the lettering, or you then you can change the type of stitch to a fill stitch, and you will have crisp clean lines.

PRO TIP: Always do a test stitch of your work before you stitch on an actual garment or gift.  You will be able to recognize these errors and fix them by making changes to your design BEFORE stitching the final product.  A little bit of time before will save you tons of time after!  Doing embroidery correctly is worth the time and effort learning so you can end up with beautiful work that you can be proud to say that you stitched.

Thank you for joining me for Part 2 of this case.  We have solved the biggest parts of the mystery so far!  The mystery of the stabilizer is solved, and the mystery of the large and messy lettering has been solved.  Join me for Part 3 when we discuss the small lettering and lines of satin stitches.

I hope you will be able to solve your own embroidery mysteries and embroidery mysteries that you see online or around you.

Until next time,

Sherlock Sue

Solving Embroidery Mysteries for 18+ years

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