Embroidery Glossary

DSCF1872-crop-300Applique - A separate, pre-cut piece of fabric that is decorated (or decorated and then cut), and applied to another piece of fabric, typically a garment. Appliqués are frequently used to reduce overall embroidery stitch counts, execute reproductions of which embroidery is incapable (such as continuous-tone printing) and decorate substrates difficult to embroider directly.


Backing - Typically non-woven material (sometimes referred to by brand name 'Pellon') applied beneath material being sewn to increase fabric stability and support stitches. Available in both tear-away and cut-away styles of various weights, backing is generally hooped with the substrate or otherwise positioned between substrate and embroidery machine throat plate prior to stitching.


Bobbin - Spool or reel that holds bobbin thread (or 'under thread') in bobbin case. Bobbin thread works with upper thread to create stitches.


Buckram or buckram lining - Heavy woven material, stiffened with glue or other substance, commonly found inside the crown of certain caps, used to lend shape to the cap; sometimes useful as substitute for other backing.


Chenille - Type of embroidery-commonly found in appliqué and athletic applications-characterized by a design surface comprised of heavy loops of thread; sewn with heavy threads or yarns, chenille is created on specialized embroidery equipment.


Digitizing - Historically (and colloquially) referred to as punching, the digital means of converting artwork into the vector commands-readable by an embroidery machine's computer-that determine needle penetrations, color changes, stitch characteristics, start and stop points, etc.


Editing - Limited form of digital design manipulation that typically allows user to edit stitches or blocks of stitches, incorporate text, scale up or down, reposition design elements, add, delete and modify machine commands, etc.


DSCF1849-crop-300 Emblem - Commonly an insignia, crest or patch-often applied via appliqué-characterized by a finished, sewn border that contains text and/or design elements.


Fill - Large design area typically covered by series of running stitches, the pattern of which may be varied in terms of stitch length, angle and density.


Hoop or frame - Device used to stabilize the fabric in that area of substrate to be embroidered; typically composed of two concentric, wood or plastic rings, the inner of which fits tightly within the outer-with the fabric in between-stabilizing the fabric and holding it in close contact with the machine bed during embroidery.


Monogram - Sewn or embroidered design consisting of stylized letters-typically three or fewer-that represent the initial(s) of a person or organization.


Running stitch - Sometimes called 'walking' stitch, used for fine detail, outlining, and quickly covering space between separate design elements; used primarily for underlay.


Satin stitch - Closely spaced stitches, similar to zigzag, except that they alternate between straight stitches and angled stitches (rather than all angled) of varying length, angle and density.


Scaling - Proportionately enlarging or reducing all elements in a digitized design.


Stitch editing - The alteration of one or more stitches in an embroidery design, accomplished as a function of digitizing or editing.


Stock design - Similar to clip art, a 'generic' embroidery design available in digital format at a lower cost than a custom-digitized design.


Tackle twill - Text characters cut from twill fabric with an adhesive backing; typically used for athletic applications, the backing allows the character to be tacked in place-appliqué-wise-then its edges finished with zigzag stitches.


DSCF1875-crop-300 Thread - Typically a fine-gauge synthetic-but also of natural materials, for certain applications-cord used for embroidery stitching; made of two or more filaments twisted together for strength and other characteristics; available in a wide array of colors and performance attributes, as well as various specialty threads (such as metallic).


Trimming - The removal of excess stitches, thread ends and backing during the finishing process.


Underlay - Stitches applied prior to other design elements to either A) neutralize fabric-surface characteristics (see also topping); or B) to create special design effects such as depth and dimensionality.


Zigzag - Stitches that progress in an alternating-angle (zigzag) fashion; typically used for final stitching on appliqué and tackle twill.