The digitizing process is the programming of the actual design. Editing, which is manipulating the design, is done after digitizing. While knowing how to digitize efficiently is important for the shops that want to undertake this step (you can send your artwork to contract digitizers), knowing simple editing techniques is crucial for flexibility and control.
A computerized embroidery editing system is one of the most valuable tools an embroiderer can own. Using an editing system, designs can be easily set up and shown to the customer prior to stitching. Color changes can be added or subtracted and designs and lettering can be modified.
The beginning embroiderer or an embroiderer looking to add new equipment should closely examine the user-friendliness of editing software before making a purchase. Questions to ask are: How quickly can data be imported into the computer? What steps are required to modify a design? Can information be sent directly to the sewing peripheral as well as being saved to disk or flash drive?
When Ordering Custom Digitizing
Careful ordering of custom designs will simplify editing and often will eliminate the need for extensive editing. Give your digitizer some background information so that he or she can produce the best possible design for your purposes. Your digitizer should know the fabric the design will be sewn on, backing and topping to be used, type of thread and sewing speed.
When ordering a design that will be used in multiple applications, always order the design for the most difficult fabric to be sewn.
Before You Edit
First, prepare a preproduction sew-out making sure that the following variables are the same as they will be in production; fabric, backing, toppings, threads, needles and sewing speed.
Each time you change the above combination, a preproduction sample should be prepared and examined for editing.
When to Edit
Examine the pre-production sew-out for the following correctable problems; uneven stitching, round letters that look skimpy, inconsistent letter height, gaps between outline stitching and fill stitching, stitches that are unraveling, additional color changes required and small letter and detail that looks distorted.
Editing with Underlays
Many sewing problems can be eliminated or remedied with the correct underlay. Underlay makes embroidery three-dimensional. It raises the embroidery above the surface of the fabric to produce a rich appearance. Underlay keeps colors from blending into one another and keeps edges sharp and crisp. When the proper underlays and densities are used, the embroidery will be soft and flexible. Stiff, “bullet proof” embroidery has too much stitching.
There are four types of underlay: center-walk, edge-walk and running stitch all of which consist of walking stiches; and zigzag which has left-to-right stitching.
- Center-walk underlay can be used whenever the column width is narrow such as in letters less than one inch tall or border stitching around a fill-stich area.
- Edge-walk underlay can be used for wider columns. This underlay lays a running stitch just inside the edge of the column stitching and keeps the edges sharp and crisp.
- Running stitch underlay can be used to keep fill stitching from sinking into the fabric. They are usually perpendicular or at a 45-degree angle to the top fill stitching.
- Zigzag underlay can be used when you want to build the thickness or raise the center of the column only.
Problem 1: Uneven Stitching
Uneven stitching can have two causes. First, use the zoom feature on your editing system to determine if the stitches are indeed uneven or if the problem is caused by the stitches sinking into the fabric. This can be done manually or in the parameters screen of your editing software program.
Problem 2: Round Letters Look Skimpy
Use the zoom again and carefully look at the stitches. A round letter such as an “O” looks better if some short stitches are added to the outside edge of the letter. These stiches are shorter and do not stretch across the width of the column. This stitch increases the density on the outside of the letter where addition stiches are needed without piling stitches in the center of the letter. If the stiches appear nicely spaced, use an additional undelay toward the outside edge of the letter to create a crisp edge.
Problem 3: Inconsistent Letter Height
Uneven letter height is caused by either the lack of compensation or over-compensation of the push-and–pull factor. Embroidery causes distortion of the fabric, making rounded letters look small and tall straight letters look taller. A digitizer compensates for this by digitizing some letters larger and some smaller. The distortion factor varies with each fabric causing the inconsistent letter height. This is easily fixed by moving the mark points that determine the height. In the case of column stitching, add column width. You could also change the backing to a more stable backing to minimize the effects of push and pull.
Problem 4: Gaps Between Outline Stitching and Fills
This problem is easily solved. Extend the fill so that is slightly under the outline stitching. Alternatively moving the outline stitching closer to the fill and over lap the fill slightly. In the case of column stitching, simply add column width. In addition, you will want test different backing to see if changing the backing solves the problem. Careful hooping will also improve your registration.
Problem 5: Unraveling Stitches
At the beginning and ending of each letter or color change there should be a lock stitch. Lock stitches are a series of three small stiches that tie down or lock the end stitches in place. If you trim between letters that were digitized not to be trimmed, you may find stitches releasing, this happens because there were no lock stiches at the end of these letters.
Problem 6: Adding a Color Change
When adding a color change, it is important to add a lock stitch at he the end of the last color and at the beginning of the new color.
Problem 7: Distorted Small Lettering
Small lettering can usually be improved by inserting a center-walk underlay. Round letters such as g, b or o, etc. may need additional underlay to make the edges look sharp. Lettering with very dense corners can be improved by removing the short stitches. (This is especially true for lettering that you are reducing in size.)
Simple editing as mentioned above could eliminate hours of frustration, improve the quality and increase customer satisfaction. If you don’t have an editing system, seriously consider getting one. If own an editing system, make sure you spend time learning how to use it.
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