Embroidery

One of the most popular methods of printing is embroidery. As you may already know, the simplest explanation of embroidery is that it involves intricate needlework where colored threads are stitched onto a piece of fabric or product (in our case, a t-shirt) to form a design or pattern. As the use of the threads often creates a 3D effect to it, this choice of printing is often used for the printing of company logos. Let’s explore to look further into embroidery, its origins and the processes involved.

Our Recent Custom-Made Apparel – Embroidery on left chest.

1. Origins of Embroidery

Let’s start off by delving into the history of embroidery. Have you ever wonder where and how it came about? Well, truth be told, embroidery is a popular ancient technique with roots dating back to the 3rd century. It was also widely used across the world from China to Sweden. Elaborate embroidery was often seen as a symbol of prestige and wealth. In England, for example, the term English work (or Opus Anglicanum) was coined for fine needlework done on clothing. They are also usually done on expensive materials such as rich velvet. Gold and silver threads were commonly used as well.

Oa084 138a 13. mermaid detail 2560
The Fishmongers’ Pall, 1512 – about 1538, England. © The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, London

This highly sought-after skill for fine embroidery was soon put to danger after the Industrial Revolution. Following the trend of mass production, machine embroidery came to live! It has brought a revolutionary change in the world and today, computerized embroidery machines are used to create the patterns on t-shirts. Computerized embroidery is perfect for bulk production of standardized prints on t-shirts and keeps the costs of printing very affordable.

2. What are computerized embroidery machines?

These machines are computer-controlled machines that can stitch up to 1,000 needles a minute and up to 16 different colors per design. The embroidery machines include an embroidery head. This head can be in singles or multiples in different machines. Multiple needles are fixed into this head. In addition, another feature of the embroidery machine is the frame on which you would affix your t-shirt (we will be touching on this topic further later on in this article). This frame is also known as the panto-graph.

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Brother’s ENTREPRENEUR® PRO PR-1000

3. Process of Embroidery

As we’ve mentioned above, the common use of embroidery printing now is no longer a handmade, delicate piece of design. As demands for standardized printing has increased, computerized embroidery machines are the norm. However, don’t be deceived by the word ‘computerized’. This word may seem to suggest that it is a seemingly easy and automated process, but in reality, the process of computerized embroidery is more than a push button. In fact, the key to computerized embroidery is the digital design file.

  • First, we have to create a digitized embroidery design file (this is a technical step that will be elaborated further later on)
  • This design then has to be saved into a stitch file format that is recognized by the machine.
  • Next, we load the design into the machine and the machine operator has to instruct the machine to use specific needles and specific orientation.
  • There are thousands of needles in which each of them are threaded with a different color.
  • The machine is also designed such that each needle is assigned a number. The machine operator then has to make sure that the right needle number is used at each stage of the design.
  • Now that we have the preparation phase ready, you finally have your design sorted and arranged. The next step is that we have to frame or hoop the t-shirt to be embroider onto the machine arms.
  • If you can’t visualize this, imagine the skin on a drum, that’s exactly how the t-shirt should be framed onto the machine – stretched out and fitted well.
  • The main purpose of doing this is that the frame (or the panto-graph) acts as a form of support. In this way, the t-shirt is firmly secured and then put onto the embroidery machine in a way that it can be moved about when the embroidery machine starts to move and stitch.
  • Often, a paper-like product (or a backing) is also added under the t-shirt to act as an additional layer of support. This is again to make sure that the t-shirt is properly secured.
  • Do take note that the key to avoiding any distortion of your design from the machine movement is proper framing.
  • Now that you’ve got your t-shirt properly positioned. The next bit is the easy bit. Start the machine running and allow the embroidery machine to do its magic. The embroidery is done and you get your perfect shirt with your desired design at the end of it.

4. Creating and digitizing the design into an embroidery design file

Now that we have completed the overview of the process of embroidery, let’s touch on further on the critical part, which is the creation of the design file. This is the hardest bit as the design has to be of the highest quality in order for it to be stitched by the machine well.

  • First, the design has to be interpreted in stitches so that the machine can understand it. In simple terms, the design needs to be made into a machine language.
  • In order to do that, the design/artwork is first scanned into the computer. The digitizer will then use a software to plot every stitch movement.
  • This step of interpretation is very technical. For example, the designer has to consider the type of fabric of the t-shirt. As the t-shirt will move when it is being embroidered, it is important that we plot the stitches in a sequence to avoid as much movement as possible. This is essential for us printers to keep the end design as it was ‘intended’ by our customers.
  • The digitizer has to consider using different stitch types, angles of stitching and colour. The stitches are also created in order of how they will be embroidered. For example, if a design has details with a background, the background is created first.

If you need more visual reference, do watch the video below!

Without being at the risk of sounding too technical, we hope that this has helped answer some questions that you may have about embroidery. The entire production is a rather confusing and complicated process, but with the right software, equipment and technical skills – this process may very well be worth the result! For amazing and interesting printing method, check out our all-over sublimation printing method.

5. Advantages and Disadvantages

To help you make a better choice when deciding on the type of t-shirt printing services, we have also come up with some advantages and disadvantages of embroidery.

Advantages

  • Uniqueness – The design is customized and is ultimately up to you. Plus, the different thread colours give you lots of flexibility in deciding what you want your t-shirt design to look like!
  • Quality – Because of its high-quality result the t-shirt will look professional and sleek.
  • Durability – a quality embroidered design is designed to withstand heat, even when washed in high heat! The colors also tend not to fade away so your design stays intact.

Disadvantages

  • Price – As the mechanics of this method means that each embroidery have to start from scratch, the efficiency does not increase exponentially as compared to silk screen printing. Therefore, the price does not spread across the quantity, and does not become significantly cheaper at bulk quantities.
  • Complex Designs – Embroidery is unable to print designs that have gradient coloring in their logos. If you are looking to do complex designs with gradient colouring, have a look at Digital Heat Transfer Printing or DTG Printing.
  • Individual Names & Numbers – Embroidery method is capable of having small individual names on each apparel. However, for big names & number, the set-up costs is too high, hence not feasible. For this, we recommend Vinyl heat transfer printing.

6. Embroidery can be used on the following Products from our T-Shirt Printing catalogue.

  1. ✅ All T-Shirts
  2. ✅ All Polo T-Shirts
  3. ✅ All Outerwear
  4. ✅ All Singlets & Tank Tops
  5. ✅ All Bags
  6. ✅ All Accessories
  7. ✅ All Business Uniforms
  8. ✅ All Workwear
  9. ✅ All Pants & Shorts

7. Recommendations by MEOWPRINT

By coming this far in our pursuit of knowledge of embroidery, we now understand that embroidery is a popular printing method among our customers, especially corporate companies. This is why we incorporate it into our Instant Quotation pricing for products such as Polo T-Shirts.

By understanding the mechanics of embroidery and studying the past sales data from our customers, we notice that many of them wishes to have a professional customized apparels. Therefore, we have recommended our Polo Shirts with embroidery. They provide the basic needs of looking sharp and good for any events. We also understand that customers receiving quotations from many vendors creates a delay in their day-to-day business operations. To solve that problem, we have incorporated 1 Full Color Logo embroidery of Company Logo into our Instant Quotation on our catalogue, mainly for polo shirts. This transparency not only gives our customer trusts that we believe our pricing are very competitive, but at the same time, boosts their efficiency by removing the delay out of their operations equation.

What is 1 (one) Full Color Logo Embroidery?
1 (One) Full color logo embroidery means that your logo design that you provide will be done in embroidery. Especially when your company logo has many colors to print, an embroidery printing method could be perfect for you. You can refer to the picture below for an easier illustration.

Explanation of 1x logo embroidery

Do not worry if your company logo has many colors, as our embroidery method offers full color embroidery. Now, are you ready to customize your professional corporate wear at afforable prices? Enquire with us today!

8. Recent Projects of Embroidery

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