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Font Fundamentals.

Adding a name or phrase to embroidery gives it a personal touch, and knowing how to work with different fonts improves placement accuracy and helps guide you to make the best choice when determining which font is right for your project. Read on to learn how font size, density, underlay and stitch type affect the overall stitchout.


A font that is built into embroidery software is usually digitized a specific way. It may or may not have underlay stitching, and it has a specific density and stitch style. When the digitizer of the font decides these parameters, he/she also decides how large or small a font should be created with those parameters. Because of these factors, most fonts have a size range associated with the characters. This is also why it's best to stay within the size range suggested by the font.

Consider the two Arial satin stitch fonts above (A). One has a size range from 8mm to 14mm (slightly less than Vi to 16") and the other 14mm to 20mm (Vi" to almost 1"). The smaller font has a density set at 5. When thinking about satin-stitch density in a font, think about a standard zigzag stitch. The smaller the stitch length number, the closer the stitch. The larger the number, the farther apart the stitch. The same rule applies for font density.

The smaller the number, the more dense the font, and the larger the number, the less dense the font (B).

There's usually no underlay with small fonts. Underlay stitches are added foundation stitches that prevent the upper satin stitch from "tunneling" or puckering the fabric. Because these are such small letters, there's no need for underlay.

With the larger font, the density is set at 4, a smaller number. The stitches are closer together (C). Because this is a larger font, it needs underlay to prevent the fabric from tunneling or puckering.

There are two main types of underlay for satin stitches, zigzag and edge walk. Zigzag underlay is a very loose stitch, slightly narrower than the upper satin stitch. Edge walk is a straight stitch that runs just along the inside of the upper satin stitch (D).

When making small letters bigger, the enlarged letters look ragged along the edge because of the lower density, and because there's no underlay, the fabric will likely tunnel under the letter. When large letters are made smaller, the underlay and higher density makes these shrunken letters challenging to stitch. The needle may shred the fabric because it's stitching too close together, sewing in the same area over and over. Keeping within the font size range helps to make the embroidery successful.

Satin stitch fonts are beautiful. However, if the satin stitch in the lettering ends up wider than 9mm (1/4"), the thread can catch and pull. For these applications, break up the stitches or use a fill font instead. Fill fonts are better for large applications. There are many types, from traditional to specialty. Choose the proper font size and style to best complement the finished embroidery project (E).


Embroidery software allows for professionally placed embroidered letters and words. Audition several fonts before choosing. Look past the original font color; remember that it can be changed later to complement additional embroidery designs. Choose a font style that coordinates with the designs. Some fonts may be too big, some too small. Others don't fit the feel of the design (F). With the font chosen, decide where to place the lettering, around the design or in a stylized shape.

Another great way to personalize with lettering is by adding monograms. There are wonderful monogram programs that teach the entire process of making a monogram. Begin by choosing a monogram style. The most common large monogram design is a three-letter monogram with the family name initial in the center (G). If using a fancy font for the family name initial, it's better to use a basic font for the given and middle initials. Finish the monogram with a frame, side pieces or flourish.


Premier+ Embroidery System provided screen captures, printouts & icons:

Caption: ABC a be 123 Arial 08-14mm

Caption: ABC abc Arial 14-20mm

Caption: Shown here: zigzag & edge-walk underlay
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Title Annotation:software savvy
Author:Grint, Soni
Publication:Creative Machine Embroidery
Date:Mar 1, 2018
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