Digitizing Process

Do you have an image that you want turned into an embroidery design?  Yes, it’s possible — and is called digitizing!

What is Digitizing?

Digitizing is the art of creating stitch files that can be read by embroidery machines.  A digitizer can create files from artwork supplied by a customer or from commercial clip-art.  A digitizer is someone who creates the stitch files.

What is underlay stitching? 

Underlay is a set of sparse stitches outlining the final design added to stabilize, lay down the nap of the fabric and support the stitches to prevent the design from shifting or puckering.  The underlay stitching will be covered by dense stitches and invisible in the final embroidered work.  The most common of these is a grid pattern, although a center or column underlay is often used with small lettering.

What is Density?

Density is the distance between individual stitches in a satin column or rows of stitches in a fill.  The closer the rows are to each other, the more dense an area of stitches is.  This is usually measured by counting the stitches per inch (SPI).

Preparing Artwork for Embroidery Digitizing

A digitizer uses specialized software for this process.  Among many other factors, he/she tells an embroidery machine where to stitch, how to stitch, in which direction, in which order and which color as well as when and where to start, when and where to stop and how close together to place the stitches.  A digitizer has many elements to consider when creating a design.  Different digitizing software packages allow different types of control over a design.

Embroidery Sew-Out & Design Testing

After a design is digitized to an embroidery format, it is tested to see how it stitches out.  Any imperfections are fixed and it is tested again.  A digitizer is a highly skilled artist who has honed his/her craft through many years of experience.  It is a careful process that requires time and experience to be performed correctly.  While some designs are fairly easy to do, those with fine detail, small text and lots of color changes require more set-up time.    The digitizer must know how the stitches will embroider on different fabrics.  A well digitized design will enhance your garment, so it is important to have an embroiderer who provides quality digitizing.

Here are some examples:



This is a set of 4 trees that a customer asked me to digitize for her son’s tallit:

And here are the corners.  They were stitched on white silk with a green border.  Matching atarah has the traditional tzitzit prayer:

What Does it Cost?

Digitizing is an art unto itself and for some, the learning curve is several years.  I have been learning and practicing for several years and I am able to digitize many designs.  If you look at the “new designs” section, almost all of them have been digitized by me.  However, sometimes a design is too complex for me and in that case I use the services of a professional. The cost depends on the complexity, which translates to “how many hours will it take.”  For most logos and designs that are not very stitch intensive, the average cost is $20-$35.  If the design is something that I can use in the future, I will often split the digitizing fee with my customer.  One last note:  not all designs are suitable for digitizing.  I have been sent very intense black/white line drawings with way too much detail. Thread is not the same as ink, so be aware that some requests just can’t be fulfilled.