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Gallery Connection December 2009

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes words are all you’ve got.  This month let’s talk about the letters used in embroidery. Specifically, there are two basic types of lettering used in embroidery: Pre-digitized letters and True-Type auto-digitized letters.
 Let’s start with True Type letters. True Type letters, originally developed by Apple Computers are the mainstay fonts used in computing. There are also OpenType fonts, a later Microsoft and Adobe technology, which are similar.  The fonts describe the letters by drawing the outline of the letter. This outline can be used to create an embroidered letter. The sample below was created using the Letter tool in MasterWorks with the TTF option on an Arial Bold font:
 TT as Satin FIll
Notice that the letters have no “strokes” which is to say that the stitches all run in the same direction. They’re not very pretty, but there are some programs which can improve upon the result using an automatic branching of the satin stitches. The sample below was created using the ‘Import True Type artwork option in MasterWorks, then applying the ‘Auto Column’ stitch type. Notice how the letter ‘t’ now has proper stroking:
 TT Letters 3D
Here’s a view that let’s you see more of the stitching that runs underneath the letters:
 TT Letters
Now, let’s take a look at the letters professionally digitized. The following is the Block font created using the MasterWorks Lettering tool:
 LW Letter 3D
It’s interesting to note that the digitizer of this font stroked the ‘t’ all the way across. Also notice that the ‘s’ has stitches that radiate around the letter more evenly. Let’s take a look with 3D turned off:
 LW Letter
One obvious difference is the underlay. When digitizing, a person can choose to underlay a letter as a whole letter, then apply the satin stitch objects, whereas automatic modes will often provide an underlay under each satin stroke as it is generated. This does affect the smoothness of smaller letters.
One area of disagreement on lettering exists among embroiderers, and that is the connective stitch between letters. Commercial embroiderers want to have a short-stitch-length running stitch between letters, whereas home embroiderers prefer a tie-off and a jump. The tie-off and jump takes more time and the needle may come unthreaded when jumping only a small distance. So the commercial embroiderers use a short run stitch. This stitch will burrow the thread down into the fabric, and does not show very much. It is generally acceptable. But one thing is not acceptable, and that is to simply jump between letters and not trim it afterward. So if you see a jump between the letters, you will want to trim it, even if your machine didn’t. In fact small jumps should not trim while sewing and some machines are smart enough to know that. Now you know.
As this is my December column, I guess there’s one thing left to say:

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Posted in Brian's Articles and News 10 years, 7 months ago at 1:46 pm.

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