Embroidery 101

Machine embroidery is an embroidery process whereby a sewing machine or embroidery machine is used to create patterns  and designs on textiles. It is used commercially in product branding, corporate advertising, and uniform adornment. Machine embroidery can also be done for personal sewing and craft projects.

Appliqué
French term meaning applying, usually by sewing, one piece of fabric to the surface of another. A cut piece of material stitched to another adds dimension and texture and reduces the stitch count.

Backing/Stabilizer
Backing and stabilizer are often used interchangeably to refer to materials, generally non-woven textiles, which are placed inside or under the item to be embroidered. The backing provides support and stability to the garment which will improve the quality of the finished embroidered product. Backings come primarily in two types: cutaway and tear-away. With cutaway, the excess backing is cut with a pair of scissors. With tear-away, the excess is torn away after the item is embroidered. Additional types of stabilizer can be dissolved by water or heat.

Bobbin
A small spool of thread inside the rotary hook housing of a sewing machine. The bobbin thread forms the stitches on the underside of the garment. Bobbin thread holds the top embroidery thread to the garment. The bobbin on an embroidery machine works in the same manner and for the same purpose as on a standard sewing machine.

Digitize
The computerized technique of turning a design image into an embroidery program. Special software is used to create plotting commands for the embroidery machine. The commands are transferred to the machine’s logic head by a designated embroidery language.

Fill Stitch
Fill stitches are a series of running stitches sewn closely together to form broad areas of embroidery with varying patterns and stitch directions.

Hoop
A clamping device used to hold the backing and fabric in place in the machine.

Running Stitch
One straight line of stitches, often used for fine details, outlining, and underlay.

Satin Stitch
Also known as zigzag stitch, a satin stitch is a line, border or edge produced by thread being alternately stitched to either side of a baseline. Satin stitches are generally limited to a maximum of 1/2″ in stitch length before some alternate technique must be used, such as split stitching or fill stitching.

Underlay
A stabilizing pattern of embroidery which, if used, precedes the main body of satin or fill stitching. It consists of one or a combination of running stitches for centering, edging, paralleling, or zigzagging the design area. A money and time saving technique is to use, instead of a large amount of embroidery thread for underlay, a fancy specialty stitch saver patch material that simulates underlay.

Source: Wikipedia