Software Lessons

Embroidery Terminology

These are some terms that are commonly used with embroidery digitizing. Most of them originated in the commercial world.


What you'll learn
These are some terms that are commonly used with embroidery digitizing. Most of them originated in the commercial world.

Punching a design - Years ago, before computers, embroidery designs were sewn on a machine that was driven by a paper tape. The design was punched into the paper tape, with tiny punch holes representing individual stitches in the design. Paper tapes were necessarily very long, and when coiled up, had diameters of 18 to 24". This expression is still used today to mean digitizing a design.

Embroidery digitizing - The action of converting a graphic design into computerized instructions which tell an embroidery machine how to sew a design.

Single run stitches - Same as straight stitches in ordinary sewing. Single stitches are used to walk from one object to another, to create underlay, and to create outlines

Running stitches - Single run stitches.

Triple run stitches - Same as triple stretch stitches in ordinary sewing. Triple run stitches are used to create outlines.

Bean stitches - Triple run stitches.

Satin line stitches - Same as zigzag stitches in ordinary sewing, sewn very close together, and sewn with an even width throughout.

  1. Satin stitches should never exceed 1/2" width for two reasons: The wider the satin stitch, the easier it can be snagged.
  2. The wider the satin stitch, the more slowly the machine has to sew. Satin stitches that exceed 1/2" will cause the sewing machine to slow down to jerky jumps.

Column stitches
 - Satin line stitches.

Border stitches - Satin line stitches.

Fill stitches - Stitches used to fill an irregularly shaped area.

Weave fill stitches - Fill stitches laid down in a pattern to resemble weaves.

Step stitches - Weave fill stitches.

Stiele stitches - Weave fill stitches.

Tatamis - Weave fill stitches.

Satin fill stitches - Satin stitches used to fill an irregularly shaped area. Satin fill stitches should never exceed 1/2" in width.

Turning angle fill - Weave fill stitches that turn in the direction of the object shape. For example, when sewing the capital letter "U," the fill will start sewing horizontally at the top of one of the legs of the "U," then curve to sew vertically as it gets to the bottom, then curve back to horizontal as it sews up the other leg of the "U."

Embossed fill - Weave fill stitches that have been programmed to lay down in beautiful patterns, such as flowers or bricks.

Objects - Objects are pieces of embroidery. When digitizing, every time the Enter key is pressed, an object is created. When editing an existing design, Digitizer 10000 will break the design into logical objects. An object is actually a description of the piece of embroidery. It has properties information such as size, shape, color, sequence within the design, stitch type and values, and rules for stitching.

Object-based files - An embroidery file that contains information about each object in an embroidery design is an object-based file. .jan files are an example of an object-based file. Object-based files cannot be read by an embroidery sewing machine, but only by digitizing software, such as Digitizer 10000.

Stitch-based files - An embroidery file that can be read by an embroidery sewing machine is in a stitch-based file format. .jef files for the Memory Craft 10000 and .sew files for previous Memory Craft sewing machines are two examples of stitch-based files. Every movement of the needle and every action of the embroidery sewing machine is programmed in the stitch-based file. Stitch-based files are larger than object-based files.

Underlay - Underlay is stitching underneath the actual embroidery stitching. Underlay is critical for three reasons:

  1. It anchors the fabric to the stabilizer, providing a secure surface and minimizing distortion.
  2. It raises the embroidery stitching above the surface of the fabric, giving depth and texture to the embroidery.
  3. It eliminates the need for high density in small areas of embroidery.

Density - Density is a term that means the distance between two stitches. If density is low, there is more space between the stitches than if density is high.


Density is the single most important factor in making embroidery look good. Too little density creates stitches that do not cover the fabric. Too much density creates stitches that bunch up, create lumps, is hard, and breaks thread and needles. The larger the embroidery, the higher the density must be to provide adequate coverage. Density can be lower in small areas of embroidery. Firmer fabrics will require higher density than lighter or knit fabrics.

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