|Acetate Material: Silk like in appearance and feel. Resistant to stretch
and shrinkage. Fiber-forming substance in cellulose acetate.
|Acrylic Material: Soft and woolly. Appearance varies from smooth and thin
to a thick woven texture. Springs back when crushed.
|Appliqué: Decoration or trimming cut from one piece of fabric and
stitched to another, usually with a satin stitch, to add dimension and texture.
If the appliqué occupies a significant amount of the design, the
stitch count can be reduced. 2) In Schiffli embroidery, an embroidered motif
is usually cut away from the base fabric and then stitched onto the finished
|Arm Machine: Embroidery machine that has an arm or cylinder that the hook
and bobbin are mounted in. Allows the use of special frames for embroidering
caps, socks, inside pockets, etc. The cylinder-shaped arm allows goods to
curve around the cylinder for embroidery.
|Automatic Color Change: The ability of a multi-needle embroidery machine
to follow a command to change to another specified needle with a different
color thread in it. Many embroidery heads have as many as ten needles allowing
the digitizer to program the use of ten different thread colors without
stopping the machine.
|Backing: Woven or non-woven material used underneath the item being embroidered
to provide support and stability. Sometimes referred to as a stabilizer
in the home embroidery market. Backing can be large enough to be hooped
with the item being embroidered, or placed between the machine needle plate
and the hooped garment. Available in various weights and in various types
of material that can be either in precut sheets or rolls. Backings can also
be cutaway, tear-away, or specialty. See also Toppings & 3D-foam.
|Bean Stitch: Three stitches placed back and forth between two points.
Often used for outlining because it provides a bolder stitch appearance
than a run stitch and requires fewer stitches than a satin stitch.
|Bird Nesting: Collection of thread between the fabric being sewn and the
needle plate that generally causes thread breaks and sewing problems. Bird
nesting can be caused by improper thread tension (needle thread tension
too loose); machine not threaded properly; bobbin case not installed properly;
excessive flagging; and poor digitizing.
|Bobbin: Small spool or reel that is wound with the thread used on lockstitch
machines. Bobbins can be wound on the sewing machine or come pre-wound from
the thread supplier. Generally, pre-wound bobbins contain much higher yardage
than machine wound bobbins allowing for fewer bobbin changes. The most common
bobbin size for embroidery machines is a style “L” bobbin, even
though other special large hook machines may use style “M” bobbins.
One of the most common pre-wound bobbins used is a T-16 (V-15) CF polyester
|Bobbin Case: Round assembly that applies tension to the bobbin thread
and holds the bobbin in the machine. The latch mechanism locks the bobbin
case into the hook. It is important that the embroidery machine operator
be trained to properly install the bobbin case in the machine to minimize
costly repairs of the machine. After the bobbin case in properly positioned
to the bobbin case holder in the hook, it should then snap on the spindle
when it is fully loaded. Most embroidery machines use an “L”
size bobbin and bobbin case; even though sometimes larger hook styles are
|Bobbin Tension: Bobbin thread tension should be set so very little thread
is consumed in each stitch. Therefore, the bobbin thread is tight enough
to consistently hold the needle thread down on the underneath side of the
embroidered item. See tension.
|Bridge Machine: Embroidery machine with two shafts, one for the hook assembly
and one for the needle assembly. Sewing heads are suspended from a beam
allowing for larger sewing fields than an arm machine. Bridge machines are
accessible from both back and the front of the machine through the “bridge”.
|Buckram: Coarse, woven backing fabric that is usually very stiff. It is
used to stabilize fabric for stitching and commonly used in caps to hold
the front panel with the embroidery pattern erect.
|Cap Frames: Specialized embroidery frames (hoops) designed to hold finished
caps for embroidering. Cap frames are available for flatbed machines where
the finished cap flattened for sewing and for use on arm or cylinder bed
machines for sewing the cap in it’s natural curved shape.
|Chainstitch: Stitch that resembles a chain link formed with one thread
fed from the bottom side of the fabric. Done on a manual or computerized
machine with a hook that functions like a needle.
|Check Spring: Part of the needle thread tension assembly or tensioner
that assists in properly controlling the needle thread to set a good stitch
with minimum sewing interruptions. See also take-up spring.
|Chenille: Form of embroidery in which a loop (moss) stitch is formed on
the topside of the fabric. Uses heavy yarns of wool, cotton or acrylic.
Created by a chainstitch machine that has been adjusted to form this stitch
type. Also known as loop piling.
|Column Stitch: Formed by closely placed zigzag stitches that are often
used to form borders. Also commonly known as satin stitch.
|Complex Fill: Refers to a digitizing capability that allows areas to be
designated as voids at the same time the design’s edges, or perimeter
points, are defined. The design can thus be digitized as one fill area,
instead of being broken down into multiple sections.
|Condensed Fill: Method of digitizing in which a design is saved in a skeletal
form. A proportionate number of stitches may later be placed between defined
points after scale, density, and stitch lengths in a design may be changed.
See expanded format.
|Cylinder Spring: Refers to machines with “cylinder” beds.
The hook assembly is housed in a cylinder-shaped arm, allowing goods to
curve around the cylinder for embroidery.
|Design: Stitches that compose a pattern or monogram.
|Design Library/Catalog: A computer program that catalogs a collection
of digitized designs kept by embroidery shops allowing an embroiderer to
access the design by subject, stitch count, number of colors, or icon.
|Digitize: The computerized method of converting artwork into a series
of commands to be read by an embroidery machine’s computer. Digitizing
is extremely important and will determine the quality of the finished embroidery.
Every action of the embroidery machine is controlled by the digitized program
including the movement of the pantograph to form various stitches, thread
changes, thread trims, and many other functions. See punching.
|Digitizing Tablet: A computer-aided design device used by digitizers to
plot needle penetration for embroidery designs. Typically, a pencil drawing
of the design is enlarged and then taped to this tablet. The digitizer then
uses a mouse to select stitch types, shapes, underlay, and actual needle
|Disk Reader: An external or internal device used to read the digitized
program that determines the embroidery machine movements.
|Editing: Changing aspects of a design device via a computerized editing
program. Most programs allow the user to scale designs up or down, edit
stitches block by block; merge lettering with the design; move aspects of
the design around; and combine designs or edit machine commands.
|Emblem: Embroidered design with a finished edge; commonly an insignia
of identification; usually worn on the outer clothing. Historically, an
emblem carried a motto or verse or suggested a moral lesson. Also know as
a crest or patch.
|Embroidery: Embroidery is “thread art” used to embellish a
garment, hat or some other product by adding a sewn pattern. Generally,
this sewn pattern includes a design and can also include lettering and/or
|Embroidery Machine: Today, embroidery machines can be defined as computer
driven machines that move a pantograph with hooped items in various directions
to form different stitches. Embroidery machines can be single-head units
or come in multiples of heads with multiple needles per head for production
|Embroidery Point: Unit of measurement in embroidery in which 10 points
equals 1mm or 1 point equals .1 mm.
|Expanded Format: A design program in which individual stitches in a design
have been specifically digitized for a certain size. Designs punched in
this format cannot generally be enlarged or reduced more than 10 percent
to 20 percent without distortion because stitch count remains constant.
|Fabric Grin Through: Where the fabric is seen through the embroidery design
either in the middle of the pattern or on the edge. See also gapping.
|Fill Stitches: One of the three most common stitches used in embroidery
along with the run stitches and satin stitches. Fill stitches are used to
cover large areas and they generally have a flat look. Altering the angle,
length and direction of the stitched pattern can create different types
of fill patterns.
|Finishing: Processes performed after embroidery is complete. Includes
trimming loose threads, cutting or tearing away excess backing, removing
topping, cleaning any stains, pressing or steaming to remove wrinkles or
hoop marks; and packing for sale or shipment.
|Flagging: The up and down motion of the material with the needle that
is caused by improper hooping, the presser foot not being properly adjusted
(too much clearance with needle plate), and improper fabric stabilization
(incorrect backing). Named because of its resemblance to a waving flag.
Flagging generally causes improper needle loop formation that can lead to
skipped stitches and thread breakage. Flagging can also negatively impact
the appearance of the finished product resulting in poor design registration.
|Flat Embroidery: Embroidery that is cut in panels or patches that is framed
in hoops on a flat surface above the embroidery machine’s hook assembly.
|Frame: Holding device for goods to be embroidered. Ensures stability of
the goods during the sewing process. May employ a number of means for maintaining
stability during the embroidery process, including clamps, vacuum devices,
magnets, or springs. See hoop.
|Frame Sash: Part of the pantograph to hold the frames. Also called a sash.
Varieties of sash types include: border, frame, tubular, cap, and sock.
|Framing Press: Machine used to aid the framing or hooping process.
|Gapping: Where the fabric is seen through the embroidery design either
in the middle of the pattern or on the edge. See also fabric grin through.
|Hook Assembly: Stitch forming devise used to interlock the needle thread
with the bottom thread. The hook assembly consists of the following components:
hook base, bobbin case holder, retainer or gib, deflector plate, bobbin
case, and bobbin.
|Hoop: Device made from plastic, metal, or wood that grips the fabric tightly
between an inner and outer ring and attaches to the machine’s pantograph.
Machine hoops are designed to push the fabric to the bottom of the inner
ring and hold it against the machine bed for sewing.
|Hooping: Also called “framing”. The process where the item
to be embroidered is loaded into a hoop. This hoop will later be loaded
or attached to the pantograph for sewing.
|Hooping Board: Board designed to hold the outer portion of the hoop while
the goods to be embroidered are placed over the board to be hooped. Once
the goods are aligned and placed correctly over the outer hoop, the operator
inserts the inner portion of the hoop. Then the hoop is removed from the
Hooping Board and attached to the pantograph for sewing. Helps ensure uniform
placement of the hoop onto the material.
|Jumbo Rotary Hook: Rotary hook, which holds a bobbin case with a much
larger thread capacity than a standard hook.
|Jumbo Bobbin/M Style Bobbin:
|Jump Stitch: Movement of the pantograph and rotation of the sewing head
without the needle moving up and down. Used to move from one point in a
design to another. Also, used to create stitches that are longer than the
machine would normally allow.
|Lettering: Embroidery using letters or words. Often called “keyboard
lettering.” Usually computer generated either on the machine or a
|Locking Stitch: Commonly refers to a series of three to four very small
stitches (1 mm or less) either just before a trim or at the beginning of
sewing following a thread trim. Also referred to as Tie In or Tie Off stitches.
Used to prevent the stitching from unraveling after the embroidery is completed.
|Lockstitch: The name used for a stitch that is formed with a needle and
bobbin thread. The needle thread is interlocked with the bobbin thread to
form a stitch. Also referred to as ISO4915, stitch number 301. On apparel
sewing applications other than embroidery, a well-balanced lockstitch will
use the same amount of needle thread as bobbin thread. On embroidery applications,
this is not true because you never want to see the bobbin thread on the
topside of the sewn product. Therefore the needle thread is held on the
underneath side by the bobbin thread.
|Lockstitch Machine: Machine that forms a stitch using a needle and hook
assembly. Most embroidery machines are lockstitch machines.
|Logo: Name, symbol or trademark of a company or organizations. Short for
|Looping: Loops on the surface of embroidery generally cause by poor top
tension or tension problems. Typically occurs when polyester top thread
has been improperly tensioned. Looping can also occur as the result of a
|Low Speed Function: Setting on the machine that allows the machine to
run at a lower speed than that set by the speed control knob.
|Machine Language: The codes and format used by different machine manufactures
within the embroidery industry. Common formats include Barudan, Brother,
Fortran, Happy, Marco, Meistergram, Melco, Pfaff, Stellar, Tajima, Toyota,
Ultramatic, and ZSK. Most digitized systems can save designs in these languages
so the embroidery machine can read the computer disk.
|Marking: Marking of goods to serve as an aid in positioning the frame
and referencing the needle start points.
|Mirror: A program menu option that allows reverse imaging of a pattern
to be sewn. See also rotate pattern.
|Modular: Machine system where many separate stitching heads or configurations
of heads are controlled by a central computer.
|Monogram: Embroidered design of one or more letters, usually the initials
in a name.
|Moss Stitch: See chenille.
|Needle: The stitch forming devise that carries the thread through the
fabric so it can be interlocked with a bobbin thread. Sewing machine needles
generally have nine basic parts including the butt, shank, shoulder, blade,
groove, scarf or spot, eye, point, and tip. Needles are available with various
points. These include: Sharp points for piercing heavy, tightly woven fabrics;
Ball pointed needles for sewing knits; and, A variety of specialty points
for sewing leather and vinyl. Needles also come in many sizes. Two of the
most common needle size systems are the metric size (i.e.,60, 70, 75, 80,
90); and the Singer numbering system (i.e.,9, 12, 14, 16).
|Needle Bar: Bar that carries the needle up and down so a stitch can be
formed. Each embroidery machine head can have up to 15 needle bars that
can be selected to form the embroidery stitch pattern.
|Needle Plate: The metal plate located above the hook assembly of an embroidery
machine. This plate has a hole in the center through which the needle travels
to reach the hook and form a stitch. Also know as a throat plate.
|Network: 1) To link embroidery machines via a central computer and disk
drive system. 2) A group of machines linked via a central computer.
|Nippers: See thread clippers.
|Offset: The ability to move the pantograph out of the stitching area with
a specific movement and then return to the original point. Used for placing
|Origin: The starting point of your design.
|Pantographs: A part of the embroidery machine that rests on the tabletop
and moves the hoop to form the embroidery pattern.
|Pantograph: The bar, rack, or holder on which frames or hoops are attached.
The pantograph moves in X and Y directions to form the embroidery design,
controlled electronically or mechanically depending on the machine.
|Paper Tape: Media that is made from a continuous reel of paper or Mylar
tape containing x-y coordinate information used to control the pantograph
movement. Computer disks on newer machines have replaced paper tapes. Pattern
storage media that is made from a continuous reel of paper or Mylar tape
containing x-y coordinate information used to control the pantograph movement.
Computer disks on newer machines have replaced paper tapes.
|Pencil Rub: A low-cost way of producing a “sample” of an embroidery
design. Accomplished by placing a piece of tracing paper over a sewn pattern
and then rubbing lightly with a pencil to produce an impression of the embroidery.
|Presser Foot: A metal ring around the needle that touches the fabric inside
the hoop while the needle is down and beginning to rise to form a needle
loop. The main function of the presser foot is to hold the fabric stationary
until the hook point catches the thread loop formed by the needle. It helps
to minimize flagging and therefore indirectly aids in loop formation.
|Pre-Tensioner: Thread tension assembly that is located before that main
tension assembly in the thread path. The function of the pre-tensioner is
to apply a light amount of tension in order to remove any kinks in the thread
prior to entering the main tensioner. See tensioner or tension assembly.
|Puckering: Result of the fabric being gathered by the stitches. Causes
include incorrect density, loose hooping, insufficient backing, or incorrect
|Punching: Conversion of artwork into a series of commands to be read by
an embroidery machine’s computer. Derived from an earlier method in
paper tapes or Jacquards punched with holes controlled the movement of the
pantograph and other commands. While still capable of producing paper tape,
most computerized digitizing systems now store this information on a disk
|Push and Pull Compensation: A degree of distortion built into a design
by the digitizer to compensate for the push or pull on the fabric caused
by the embroidery stitches. This can help prevent a digitized circle from
looking like an egg shape when sewn out. Generally, it is necessary to extend
horizontal elements and reduce vertical elements.
|Registration: Correct registration is achieved when all stitches and design
elements line up correctly. Poor registration can occur when the product
being embroidered had not been hooped properly, improper digitizing, and
|Repeat: Layout used for making emblems or designs on a fabric span that
are repeated at regular intervals.
|Rotate Pattern: Program parameter that rotates the design in 90-degree
increments counterclockwise, with or without mirror imaging the design.
|Run Stitch or Running Stitch: Made when a single stitch is formed between
two points used for outlining, underlay, and fine detail. Also known as
a running stitch or walk stitch.
|Satin Stitch: One of the three most common embroidery stitches used to
produce an embroidery design. Formed by closely arranged zigzag stitches.
Can be laid down at any angle and with varying stitch lengths. Commonly
used for lettering and outlining. Satin stitches can range in width from
1.5 mm to 8 mm, however, the wider the satin stitch, the more susceptible
they are to snagging and abrasion.
|Scale: Program parameter used to expand or condense the size of the design
without changing the number of stitches. A separate scale parameter is used
for each direction.
|Scanning: Scanners convert designs into a computer format allowing the
digitizer to use even the most primitive artwork without recreating the
design. Many of digitizing systems allow the digitizer to transfer the design
directly into the digitizing program without using any intermediary software.
|Short Stitch: A digitizing technique that places shorter stitches in curves
or corners to avoid an unnecessary bulky build-up of stitches.
|Specialty Fill: Allows the digitizer to produce special fill stitch patterns
with a “relief” or motif design within the fill-stitch area.
|Speed Control: Knob on the embroidery machine that allows the sewing speed
to be adjusted up or down. On most modern embroidery machines, the speed
at which the pattern is stitched varies according to the length of the stitch.
Shorter stitches are made at higher SPM and longer stitches are made at
slower SPM. This is necessary due to limitations of the movement of the
pantograph and is also determined by the number of heads and/or hoops being
driven by the machine.
|SPI: Abbreviation for Stitches Per Inch. A system for measuring density
or the amount of satin stitches in an inch of embroidery. See also Stitch
Density. Most of today’s embroidery machines measure needle movement
in .1 mm increments. Therefore a thread space of 4 would be .4 mm in length.
|SPM: Abbreviation for Stitches Per Minute that normally is referring to
the running speed of the embroidery machine. Typical embroidery machine
speeds can vary but generally will be between 500 to 1000 SPM.
|Stabilizer: See backing.
|Stitch Density: Refers to the number of stitches used to give proper coverage
of the pattern without creating a thick, hard area in the embroidery that
may be uncomfortable to the consumer.
|Stitch Editing: Digitizing feature that allows one or more stitches in
a pattern to be deleted or altered.
|Stitchback: Sewing function that traces back through a design so skipped
stitches and thread breaks can be repaired.
|Stock Designs: Digitized generic embroidery designs that are readily available
at a cost below that of custom-digitized designs.
|3D Foam: Foam that is used to add dimension to an embroidery pattern that
is typically used on caps. The 3D Foam is placed on the topside of the pattern
and stitched over with shortened stitches to cut the Foam. The excessive
foam is then pulled away from the embroidery giving a 3D appearance. 3D
Foams are available in various thickness.
|Tackle Twill: Letters or numbers cut from polyester or rayon twill fabric
that are commonly used for athletic teams and organizations. Tackle twill
appliqué's attached to a garment have an adhesive backing that tacks
in place; the edges of the appliqué's are then zigzag stitched.
|Take Up Spring: See check spring.
|Take Up Lever:
|Tape Reader: A device attached to an embroidery machine that enables the
machine to read an embroidery design from 8-channel paper computer tapes.
|Tatami Stitch: Series of running stitches used to cover large areas. Different
fill patterns can be created by varying the length, angle or repeating sequence
of the stitches. Also called fill stitches.
|Tear away Backing: A non-woven material placed under the fabric being
embroidered to add stability to the fabric. Once the pattern is completed,
this backing can then be torn off the design due to the needle penetrations.
Typically used on more stable fabrics such as woven goods. When choosing
a tear away backing, you should test to make sure it tears properly. If
it doesn’t tear easily enough, it may pull out some of the stitches.
If it doesn’t tear cleanly, it can leave an ugly, ragged edge. If
the backing tears too easily, it may not provide enough support for the
|Tension: Refers to the amount of tension applied to the threads by the
sewing machine, which can be adjusted. Many embroiderers use the 2/3 Rule
meaning that if you look at the underside of the embroidery after it has
been stitched, that you should see approximately 2/3 needle thread to 1/3
bobbin thread. Normally this is easy to do because most embroiderers use
a white bobbin thread. Loosening or tightening the needle and bobbin tensions
can accomplish this. Proper machine thread tension is critical to quality
|Tension Assembly: Device used to apply tension to the needle thread to
form a stitch. Consists of a tension post with take-up spring attached,
tension discs, tension release disc, tension spring and tension nut.
|Tensioner: Are the devices on the front of the machine head that controls
the tension on the needle thread. Each needle and thread position has its
own Tensioner and all of them should be set as close as possible to get
quality stitching. The thread tension assembly normally consists of a post,
thread tension knob, tension spring and two tension discs. When the thread
tension knob is turned clockwise, it screws down on the post compressing
the tension spring on the tension discs. This applies more pressure on the
needle thread that is sandwiched between the two tension discs and is against
the post. More tension will pull more needle thread from the underside allowing
more bobbin thread to be seen.
|Thread: Embroidery can be sewn with many types and sizes of threads depending
on the desired finished appearance. Embroidery threads are commonly made
from rayon, polyester, cotton and metallics. Rayon threads are generally
made with a twisted multifilament construction and have a high sheen. Polyester
threads can be made in three different thread constructions including a
twisted multifilament, air entangled and spun construction. Obviously, cotton
threads are only made in a spun construction. Both spun polyester and spun
cotton thread have a “matte” or low sheen appearance. Rayon
and Polyester filament threads have a high sheen. Polyester is stronger
than Rayon and has superior color fastness and abrasion / chemical resistance.
Metallics are filament threads that have the highest luster and are formed
with a synthetic core wrapped in metal foil. Generally metallic threads
do not sew as well as polyester or rayon threads. The most common ticket
size for rayon or polyester embroidery threads is a No. 40, however other
sizes are available. A&E’s Signature polyester embroidery thread
comes in a variety of sizes including a No. 40, 30, 20, 10 and 3004 used
for serging appliqués.
|Thread Break Detector: Device that detects thread breakage and stops the
machine automatically allowing the operator to rethread the needle and restart
the machine. On multi-head embroidery machines, when the needle thread breaks
on one head, all the machines stop. Therefore, using a thread that will
minimize thread breakage is recommended to optimize stitching time.
|Thread Break Indicator: Small light on the front of the sewing head that
flashes when a thread break is detected.
|Thread Clippers: Small spring loaded scissors designed to be operated
with just the thumb and forefinger. Used to clip the thread.
|Tie In Stitches: Small stitches used at the beginning of a sewing cycle,
particularly on satin stitches, to prevent the thread from pulling out of
the embroidery. See also tie off stitches.
|Tie Off Stitches: Small stitches, usually about 1 mm in length that “lock”
the stitches in the fabric to prevent the stitch from unraveling when the
thread is trimmed. Without Tie off stitches the thread can potentially unravel
and destroy the embroidery. They are particularly necessary when making
satin stitches wider than 1.2mm, as satin stitches have a tendency to unravel
more easily than running or fill stitches.
|Topping: Materials hooped or placed on top of fabric that have definable
nap or surface texture, such as corduroy and terry cloth, prior to embroidery.
It provides a smooth surface so that the stitches can be laid down properly
and prevents the wale or nap from interfering with proper stitch appearance.
Includes a variety of substances, such as plastic wrap, water-soluble “foil”
and open-weave fabric that has been chemically treated to disintegrate with
the application of heat. Also known as facing.
|Trimmers: Thread trimming device located under the needle plate in the
embroidery machine used to automatically cut the needle and bobbins threads
before the design jumps from one area to another or performs a color change.
This trimming is done when the needle is out of the work and the take-up
is near the top of its stroke.
|Trimming: Operation in the finishing process that involves trimming the
reverse and top sides of the embroidery, including jump stitches and backing.
|Tubular Embroidery: Embroidery produced on a cylinder bed embroidery machine
that allows tubular fabric or pre-assembled garments (i.e. sleeves). Allows
sewing a part or the garment after it has been assembled, as compared to
using a flatbed machine to sew fronts or sleeves prior to assembly the garment.
|Underlay Stitches: Stitches in a design that are put down before the design
stitches; used to stabilize the fabric or raise the design so that the fine
detailing is not lost.
|Variable Sizing: Ability to scale a design to different sizes.
|Verify: Sample Sew-out of a new embroidery design to make sure the pattern
|Walking Stitch: See running stitch
|ZIGZAG STITCH Stitches that go from one side of an area to be sewn, diagonally
to the other side. Diagonals may be placed closely together to form a satin