|Applique - 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 impractical and decorate substrates difficult to
|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.
|Birdnesting - Typically caused by inadequate
top-thread tension, top thread not following thread
path, or up-and-down substrate movement under needle
(see flagging), birdnesting describes an accumulation
of thread between substrate and needle plate, and
can result in restricted or irregular substrate travel.
|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
|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.
|Column - Typically used to form borders around
fill areas and for rendering text, the column stitch
consists of closely spaced satin stitches.
|Complex fill - Similar to standard fill,
technique that allows digitizer 'knock out' area(s)
within fill, creating openings or negative space (visualize
|Condensed format - Digital design-storage
format that allows for less limited (than expanded
format) enlargement or reduction in size, scale, stitch
length and density in a digitized design (within stitch-type
limitations), due to proportional number of stitches
being placed between pre-defined points, rather than
individual stitches being assigned specific sizes;
may not be read by all embroidery machines (see also
|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
|Digitizing tablet - The platen or surface
on which original art to be digitized is placed; holds
the artwork flat, allowing digitizer to specify various
design characteristics (see digitizing) by 'tracing'
and otherwise designating them with a digitizing 'puck'
(input device similar to a computer mouse).
|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.
|Emblem - Commonly an insignia, crest or patch-often
applied via appliqué-characterized by a finished,
sewn border that contains text and/or design elements.
|Embroidery - Decorative sewing on fabric
or other substrate that incorporates design elements,
text or other recognition, commercial or promotional
graphics; originally executed by hand, embroidery
has evolved through various stages of technology to
its current state of computer-driven, multi-head,
multi-color embroidery machines.
|Expanded format (see also condensed
format) - Digital design-storage format that assigns
individual stitches specific sizes; selection of this
format typically restricts user's ability to scale
a design up or down because stitch counts remain constant
regardless of final design size.
|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.
|Finishing - Any of a number of
procedures-thread trimming, removal of excess backing
or topping, spot or soil removal or steaming to remove
hoop marks-that are performed between completion of
embroidery and packaging for customer.
|Flagging - As needle moves up
and down, substrate may also move up and down against
the machine bed (resembling a waving flag), causing
birdnesting and poor design registration; typically
due to poor presser-foot adjustment or improperly
|Hook or rotary hook - A circular
device which spins around the bobbin case with a pointed
arm protruding from its body-the hook; is instrumental,
in concert with the needle and upper thread, in forming
|Hook timing - Proper synchronization
of hook's rotary and needle's up/down movement; necessary
to form stitches.
|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.
|Hooping aid or hooping station
- A device used to aid in the hooping process, generally
by holding the substrate and/or hoop as the rings
are engaged, in order to enhance hooping efficiency
|Lock stitch - Sometimes referred
to as a tack or lock-down stitch, it is typically
found at the conclusion of elements such as fills
and columns, or prior to color changes or stop points.
|Looping - Erratic stitch construction-often
due to improper top-thread tension-resulting in loops
on the surface of the embroidery.
|Mogramon - Sewn or embroidered
design consisting of stylized letters-typically three
or fewer-that represent the initial(s) of a person
|Needle - Slender piece of steel
with a point, ball, taper or other shape on one end-to
facilitate penetration of various fabric types-and
a nearby hole (or eye) for thread to pass through.
|Nippers - Small, scissors-like
cutting tool specifically designed for thread trimming,
during finishing of embroidery
|Pencil transfer - Least expensive
'proofing' method performed by lightly rubbing a soft-leaded
pencil on tracing or tissue paper placed over embroidery
|Puckering - Gathering of fabric
due to its tension being less than that of stitches;
typically due to improper thread tension, inadequate
hooping or inappropriate backing.
|Pull compensation - Deliberate
distortion digitized into a design to compensate for
thread pull that would otherwise cause a 1-cm stitch
(for example) to shrink to a .9-cm stitch, due to
|Registration - The proper relationship
and alignment of all colors, stitches and other elements
in a design.
|Running stitch - Sometimes called
'walking' stitch, used for fine detail, outlining,
and quickly covering space between separate design
elements; used primarily for underlay.
|SPM - Stitches-per-minute measurement
used to rate embroidery machine production speed.
|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.
|Scanner - Means of converting
artwork-either transmissive or reflective-into digital
format, to then be further digitized or edited via
|Short-stitch filter - Digitizing-program
feature that eliminates stitches shorter than a predetermined
length, to reduce thread breaks.
|Short stitching - Deliberately
shorter stitches incorporated by digitizer to compensate
for increasing stitch density in corners and curves.
|Special fill - A function available
in some digitizing software that automatically incorporates
special patterns or textures into fill areas.
|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.
|Tape - Archaic (rendered largely
obsolete by digital technology) means of storing embroidery-design
information on a paper (or other medium) tape with
holes actually punched through its surface which are
then 'read' by an automatic embroidery machine; sometimes
used colloquially as a synonym for 'diskette.'
|Tension - Proper top- and under-thread
tension is critical in the correct formation of stitches
(in some cases, adequate tension may be quickly assessed
by examining the underside of an embroidery and observing
a 1:2 ratio of bobbin thread to top thread).
|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).
|Topping - Sometimes known as
'facing,' a material placed on top of the substrate
fabric prior to embroidery-either hooped or otherwise
held in place-intended to neutralize fabric-surface
characteristics such as the heavy nap of fleece, or
the wales of corduroy; after embroidery, excess topping
is removed either manually, or through the application
of heat or water.
|Trimming - The removal of excess
stitches, thread ends and backing during the finishing
|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.