Artwork for Embroidery

Artwork for Embroidery – Design Tips & Info.

Clothing customisation comes in a variety of forms. And they can all create outstanding results. Without doubt, high quality embroidery is an approach which brings a premium feel to a logo or design. But, whilst quite different in nature, embroidered designs have things in common with great screen printed apparel or stunning DTG t-shirts. One of which is getting your design into the best format for the process. After all, not much point worrying garment choice or colour combinations until the design is in a state that can actually be embroidered. This piece on artwork for embroidery will provide some helpful guidance so you end up with an exceptional finished product.

Why embroider your design?

We ought to briefly think about the appeal of expertly applied thread before looking at the nitty-gritty of embroidery art. As already mentioned, this type of custom decoration has a somehow refined air about it. There’s nothing quite like a professionally embroidered company logo on workwear to boost your business profile. And it’s practical as well as being polished. For one thing, very durable. Especially when added to good quality blank merchandise. Plus, suitable for lots of different clothes. Actually, in certain instances, the best choice for customisation. And certainly a go-to alternative when print isn’t possible.

Preparing artwork for embroidery

Preparing artwork for embroidery

Preparing designs for clothing embroidery.

Okay, here we go, some rudimentary guidelines that are worth following when you want impressive embroidered apparel. We’ll always try to work with what you have and discuss improvements where necessary. But the better the initial file, the faster the progress.

Embroidery image specification.

The standard applications like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are good tools for embroidery designs. For reference, .ai / .eps / .psd / .tif are examples of the files which are created. That said, a wide assortment of software will work so long as high quality images are produced.

Further to that, create those images at 300 DPI or higher. If you’re unaware, DPI stand for dots per inch and refers to the quality and resolution of the image. In essence, the higher the DPI number, the more detailed the image. With artwork for embroidery, 300 DPI is generally considered to be the standard specification. In truth, it’s typically the minimum design spec for most printing jobs as well.

Text and design size when you embroider.

It’s not a good idea in terms of artwork for embroidery to go too small with text. For no other reason than doing so can make it difficult to read. So, work to a minimum of a quarter inch (0.635cm) in height for letters and numbers. Clearly, there is variation depending on the font being used. On the whole, sticking to simpler fonts gives more predictable results. This won’t be applicable where you are embroidering an existing logo but will be relevant to sizing.

It’s a similar story with the detail, lines and so on that make up your design. That is, try to avoid tiny elements, those that are smaller than 0.127cm. Simply because definition is lost when smaller than this. It’s one of the reasons that a ‘distressed’ style in an embroidery design may not be advisable. Often, the textural nature of these images don’t translate well when stitched.

Empty spaces in the design.

Empty areas, particularly in the central parts of your design, can sometimes be problematical with artwork for embroidery. To explain, these ‘negative’ spaces can cause issues with the lines around them. For example, uneven edges and a higher probability of puckering and distortion. So, it’s usually preferable to fill such spaces rather than leaving the garment fabric exposed. However, it varies with each project. Incidentally, this aspect is not to be confused with having a transparent background which is fine.

Embroidering photographs.

Unfortunately, you can’t currently just take a photographic image and recreate it directly as embroidery. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t base your embroidery artwork on one. That’s to say, the photograph needs to be turned into an illustration that’s a simplified version but retains the essence of what you want.

Turning designs into excellent embroidered apparel - artwork for embroidery.

Turning designs into excellent embroidered apparel

Next steps with artwork for embroidery.

Of course, getting the design in an optimum state is only the first stage of transferring it to your chosen garments. There’s plenty more to do once we have the artwork. Admittedly, not things with which you need be overly concerned but useful to know about for context.

What is embroidery backing?

In many cases, a backing may be used in order to stabilise embroidered stitching. This is a specialised material that adds a little rigidity to the specific area of the fabric being decorated. Usually, you may not even register its presence. But it’s often there, barely noticeable, on the inside of your polo underneath the embroidered logo on the outside of the shirt.

What is digitizing in embroidery?

You may or may not have heard of this term. Basically, digitizing is the conversion of your artwork into instructions for the embroidery machine to sew. It’s done using specialised software which you’re unlikely to have. And indeed have no need of because it’s normally something that is provided by your customisation company. In essence, this converted file gives the machine what it needs to actually do the embroidery. For example, the types of stitch to use and a sequence to follow when stitching them. As you can imagine, it’s an essential part of the process. By the way, the skilled folk who carry out this task are, perhaps not surprisingly, called ‘digitizers’.

Types of stitch and thread.

As with hand sewing, there are different sorts of stitch with machine embroidery. Three, to be specific, which have different characteristics and therefore give different effects. It’s not unusual to find all three combined in a digitized file to achieve the best embroidered result.

  • Satin stitch – this is the most common stitch with custom embroidery. By and large used for text and outlines.
  • Fill stitch – an extremely useful stitch. Which is excellent for, as the name suggests, filling large areas. Plus, it’s an economical way of doing so.
  • Walking stitch – also known as running stitch. As a rule, it’s used for those finer details in your design.

Naturally, there are also different types of thread. In the main, two are normally used in machine embroidery. Namely, polyester and rayon. The choice depends on which is most suitable for your particular artwork and brand concept. Rayon is smooth, has a sheen and can give an ‘up-market’ feel to decoration. Whereas polyester is matte in finish and regarded by many as being more practical. In that it’s durable and better resistant to everyday washing etc.


So, how do you prepare an image for embroidery? Hopefully, the above has provided some insight into that subject. Plus some general information. Don’t worry if you still have questions about artwork for embroidery or any aspect of the process. Because we’re happy to answer them and work with you. The aim being to end up with exceptionally crafted custom merchandise.

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