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Stitching ORDER: Learn the basic principles of digitizing, and then practice by creating an Ohio Star design.

While each embroidery software is different, digitizing principles are the same. The first step to good digitizing is making a plan. Good digitizers don't just jump in; they think about what part of the design they want to stitch first, second, third and so on, and they thoughtfully plan the stitch types to apply to each area.


To decide the stitching order, consider different criteria. The first is that the stitches should move from the background to the foreground. This should match how an object is seen. For example, in a landscape the sky is farthest away, then the ground, then the animals and grass (A). With a flower, the stem is usually farthest away, then the back petals, the center and finally the front petals (B). How you "see" the object to digitize is the order in which it should stitch, from farthest to closest.

The next order consideration is that it's best to digitize the largest areas first, and then add small details. Often the small details need to be on top of large areas anyway. If the large areas are digitized first, there's a base for the smaller stitches.

The last order factor is that it's preferable to begin by placing stitches in the middle of the design and work out. This is the same thought process quilters use when quilting; they start from the quilt center and work toward the edges, which makes the quilt lay nicely. The same thing is true for an embroidery design.

Not all criteria is suitable for every design, and sometimes the steps contradict each other. That's one of the main reasons to carefully consider how the design should stitch. Each design will lend itself to one or more criterion.

The Ohio Star design lends itself to beginning in the center square and working out toward the edges. The center is also the largest part of the design, so it fits the second criterion as well.

To develop a plan, print several copies of the background image. Mark the stitching order for each design part. It's easier to change the stitching order during the planning stage than after the digitizing has begun. This doesn't mean that the order can't be changed later, after the stitches have been placed. It simply takes more work and time. Also make notes about the style of stitches or thoughts on how to handle the different areas (C).

If working with a complex background that has many components, break it up. For example, if there's lettering and a picture, digitize each part separately, and then combine them after both the words and the picture are created.


Once the plan is in place, begin the digitizing process. Scan or upload the background image to the software, and then begin adding stitches. In the featured example, begin with the center of the Ohio Star. Each embroidery software has a specific method of adding stitches or an object to the design. Read the instruction manual for your specific software to learn the process of adding stitches.

The sample Ohio Star design finished size is 120mm, or 4.7", square. The center square of the embroidery is about 40mm (1 1/2"). The size lends itself to using a fill stitch, as most areas over 7mm-9mm should be fill areas. There are many fill patterns and styles to choose from (D). These choices make the embroidery uniquely yours. As the digitizing skill is learned, these decisions create your signature style.

Once the first object is placed, move on to the next area in the plan. For the Ohio Star, the triangles around the center square are next. Will these triangles be a different color than the center? Adding a color stop at this point is easy; it's harder to put in a color stop later.

Choose a color that's easy to see. It may not be the final color, but that's okay. In the digitizing process, the actual colors aren't important. What's important is that a color stop is included.

Place the next area. When placing this area, think about compensation. The triangle area needs to "cover" the side of the square (E). That way there won't be a gap between the two areas.

The next area to digitize is the right triangle. Think about where the upper triangle stitching ends. Where the previous object ends is where the next object will begin. In this case, the upper triangle begins and ends on the lower-left corner--see the green S for start and red E for end (F). If nothing is done, there will be a long jump stitch from where the upper triangle ends and the right triangle begins. This is bad digitizing. An important part of being a good digitizer is limiting jump stitches.

There are two ways to eliminate the jump stitch: either move the end point to the other side of the triangle or add a running stitch from the left side of the triangle to the right. Where possible, moving the end point of the fill area is preferred (G).

Another digitizing principle that good digitizers practice is using connecting stitches between areas. This means adding a single stitch or a running stitch between two areas. If one area needs to be moved, the second area remains and only the connecting stitch moves (H).The connecting stitch also sets up the next area's placement.

Place the right-hand triangle in the same manner as the first. Make sure to add compensation (overlap the triangle with the square) and move the endpoint if needed. Finish placing the remaining triangles around the design center. Employ good digitizing techniques, limiting jump stitches and adding connecting stitches. Once the middle triangles are created, experiment by changing the fill pattern to add interest and give the design a signature look.

For the final bow-tie-shaped areas of the Ohio Star, think about colors again. Will these area be a different color? If so, add a color change. When a color change is added, there's no need for a connecting stitch. Decide whether the two small triangles that make up the bow tie are created as one or two pieces.

Place the bow tie areas around the triangles using the same principles for compensation, limiting jump stitches, adding connecting stitches and changing fill patterns. Once the Ohio Star is complete, test-stitch the design to see if it performs as expected. Check for sufficient compensation between the areas, unexpected jump stitches and whether the fill patterns look nice in the design.


Premier+ 2 Embroidery System was used for all screen captures:


Complex backgrounds don't lend themselves to small embroidery designs. Simplify a background before creating it in a small version. A complex design that stitches beautifully on the back of a jacket will probably not look great in small form on the front of a polo shirt. This is often true of logos. When digitizing logos, make sure the finished design size is known. If it's small, make sure the background is simplified.

Caption: A basic fill stitch adds a classic note.

Caption: Change the fill pattern to a "quilty" pattern for a stylistic effect.

Caption: Choose a specialty radial fill to make the design unique.

Caption: Move without connecting stitch.

Caption: Move with connecting stitch.
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Title Annotation:software savvy
Author:Grint, Soni
Publication:Creative Machine Embroidery
Date:Sep 1, 2018
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