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What is Commercial Embroidery?

Do you ever look at those cool stitch work designs on clothing and wonder, “how the heck did they do that”? Embroidery has been a popular decoration method for literally thousands of years, but it was computerized machine embroidery that really changed the game. With computerized machine embroidery, you can essentially just upload your design and let the machine do the work for you.

How Does Computerized Embroidery Work?

Computers have been making all of our lives easier for decades, especially when it comes to embroidery. What used to take hours to do by hand with a needle can now be completed in a matter of minutes with a computerized embroidery machine.

Custom Embroidered Patagonia Sweater Vest

Machine embroidery explained by the embroidery experts at Merchology:

  1. Create your embroidery design – have your graphic designer mock up a unique design for your custom embroidery, or simply use your company logo! When you are planning your design, make sure to take into consideration how many needles your embroidery machine can accommodate and how many colors you want to budget for.
  2. Save your custom design or logo – save your file in a format your embroidery machine can read within your embroidery software. For example, a Barudan machine requires a ‘DSB’ file, while a Tajima machine requires a ‘DST’ file. If you are using Merchology for your custom embroidery, don’t worry – we’ll handle this part.
  3. Transfer the file to the embroidery machine – if you are doing this yourself this can be done easily using a USB cable, flash card or directly from the computer running the software.
  4. Inform the embroidery machine about the design elements – teaching a robot may sound counterintuitive, but your embroidery machine needs some instructions before it gets the thread moving. The proper needles, threads, and orientation to use must be selected within the embroidery software. Typically, each of the needles is numbered and threaded with a different color thread. Only one needle with one color will embroider at a time, so an embroidery sequence must be scheduled.
  5. Line up your products – before embroidery the fabric is stretched across frames or loops and slotted into the arms of the embroidery machine. The fabric should be tightly stretched over these frames and secured to the machine. This is actually the part of the machine that moves during the stitching process, not the embroidery heads or needles!
  6. Let the stitching begin – this is the fun part. Once your products are set and your machine is programmed we start the machine and let it run until your embroidery design is completed. Embroidery machines can have anywhere between 1 and 38 embroidery heads with each head having up to 15 needles per head. Time to watch your machines get to work!

Custom Embroidered Hats with Corporate Logo

What Supplies & Equipment do you need for Embroidery?

Now that you have an idea of how the embroidery process works, let’s take a look at what equipment and supplies you would need to start your own commercial embroidery operation.

  • Commercial Embroidery Machine – this machine is the star of the show! Embroidery machines come in many different sizes. Larger commercial embroidery operations often have embroidery machines with up to 38 heads containing as many as 15 needles.

Embroidery Machine Embroidering Custom Shirts

  • Hoops or Frames – this is what you stretch your fabric over to hold it in place before positioning it on the embroidery machine. The embroidery machine moves these during the embroidery process to create your design.

Embroidery Frame Holding Custom Embroidered Shirt

Embroidery Thread

  • Computer & Design Software – you need these to mock up your custom logo or design before you transfer the design file to your embroidery machine.

Embroidery Computer

Next Steps

Now that you know how custom embroidery works check out our complete guide on how we can help your business generate awareness through custom embroidered apparel and accessories. We break down our custom capabilities and explain when you should choose embroidery as your co-branding decoration method. If you have any questions don't hesitate to contact us. For even more information, check out our complete Custom Decoration Methods Guide to find the perfect decoration type for any application.