Impressions - Embroidery 2023 - 13

These badges were digitized
in-house, to meet the urgent time
demands of the television program
they were produced for. Photo
courtesy of Erich Campbell
the unique value proposition for your business, then outsourcing the less
creative work gives you time to focus on your core value to your company.
If, on the other hand, you are a business development machine and find
dealing with digitizing is not only unimportant but impedes your ability
to chase down new business or solve customer problems, getting more
of it handled externally may make the most sense.
Making the Most of Outsourced Digitizers
No matter how involved you get with digitizing, you're likely to hire for
the occasional outsourced design. When you do, there are a few things
you can do to make sure you and your digitizer are on the same page
and you get to your desired result.
* Clearly communicate all pertinent information. This includes
finished design size requirements, garment material, color, style
and any special instructions. If your digitizer doesn't ask these
questions, you'll be getting an " all around " file with generalized
settings that may or may not work with your garment. The critical
question is whether a design is made for caps or flat garments, as
caps always require special sequencing.
* Work with a digitizer who is willing to provide " working files "
for your embroidery software platform if possible. Resizing of
machine-formatted stitch files can work, but only with software
that processes stitches well. Otherwise, your details and density
will suffer. Similarly, even minor edits are almost impossible with
expanded stitch files. If you think you'll need to change anything
about a design, including updating an event year or date in the design
for future orders, the original digitizing file is critical. Remember,
digitizing file formats are not universal. One software platform
will not open files from another.
* Test your design on the intended combination of stabilizer, thread
and garment material that you'll use in the final design. How a
design runs on a stack of stabilizer sheets is vastly different from
how it will run on easily distorted knits, thick sweatshirt materials,
coarse canvas or light shirting. Everything from the direction of the
fabric grain, how a fabric stretches, its thickness and the contrast
to the thread colors in a design can affect the look of the finished
decoration. Test the design in the " environment " of the actual order.
Watch it as it runs, taking note of any odd behavior at the machine.
Only then can you provide reliable information that lets a digitizer
make meaningful alterations when things go wrong. Obvious gaps
in the design, misplaced stitches, inefficient multiple uses of a single
color, areas of excessive density and unevenness in lettering can all
be addressed when paired with sample
pictures, pertinent measurements and
a hint toward the objects in the design
sequence that " misbehaved. "
The best outsource digitizers will have similar
values in terms of what makes in-house digitizing
valuable. They will be responsive, answer questions
in a reasonable amount of time and engage in
open, reliable communications. They will offer
production control, ask pointed questions about
the application of your design and respond to
the needs of your production setup. They will
be creative, willing to use special techniques
or offer solutions as needed. If your digitizer
doesn't fulfill these criteria, it may be time to see
if your decorator friends know one who does.
Digitizing can make you feel out of your depth
when you first consider it, but it doesn't have
to be as difficult as it seems. With dedication
and curiosity, anyone who wants to digitize can
break down the seemingly monumental task of
interpreting art into its elemental building blocks.
Learn to control the simplest assemblage of stitches reliably, and you
can build on that knowledge by analyzing designs, experimenting with
settings, and applying decoration to different fabrics. If you maintain
that wonder you first felt when watching a machine layering stitches
into a design, you'll soon develop a sense for how these discrete lines
and layers of thread come together to create a design.
That said, even if you never decide to digitize for yourself, the knowledge
of what goes into the process will help you communicate more clearly to
those who do, making you more effective as an embroiderer. Whether you
stop at name drops or seek the dizzying heights of artistic interpretation,
the foundational knowledge of how thread, needle, fabric, stabilizer and
stitches interact will always serve you well. 
Erich Campbell is an award-winning digitizer, embroidery columnist and educator,
with more than 20 years' experience both in production and the management of
ecommerce properties. He is the program manager for the commercial division
of BriTon Leap. To reach Erich directly, go to his web site at
Always be sure to test and see how
a new design actually runs on the
machine you plan on using
A Special Supplement to impr essions

Impressions - Embroidery 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Impressions - Embroidery 2023

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