Although done primarily by machine today, the technique of embroidering - or decoratively stitching fabric - has changed little in 2500 years. The same stitches we use today were used by the craftspeople performing embroidery by hand many centuries ago. But with automated machines and computerized patterns, embroidery today has become much higher speed and repeatable, with density and consistent color mixtures that make embroidered logos and messages rival any other printing technique, while delivering considerably greater durability. In general, customers select embroidery over printing today around three considerations:
The art of embroidery comes down to a stitch, or more accurately, many of several kinds of stitch. In custom embroidery tasks today, embroidery is executed with a variety of machines that vary in capacity, speed, number of needles and threads, and level of automation. But each of these machines is also driven by a pattern that is digitized from your artwork. As your artwork is digitized, important decisions are made that affect the quality and cost of your product. This is because embroidery itself is time consuming, and the cost of time (or labor) and quality are determined by stitch count. Cheaper projects may suffer from a compromise in quality, while less expert embroiderers may not fully optimize the embroidery task and consequently miss the opportunities to save customers money with no compromise in quality. Moreover, differences in both digitization technology and embroidery equipment may limit an embroiderer's flexibility and consequently their ability to optimize both cost and quality. An important part of the right embroiderer for your job is state of the art and well maintained equipment, but equally important is an embroiderer who will work with you to optimize both cost and quality for your particular job.
With today's embroidery production processes the task of optimizing and embroidery job is two-fold. On one hand, it is artistry built on experience, but on the other hand it is also technical skill. That's because a large part of production embroidery now revolves around the computerized digitization process. Digitization turns your artwork into what is essentially a pattern and instructions for the production process. Digitization makes a number of decisions around stitches and stitch count, such as the length of stitches, how non-detailed "fill" areas will be completed, and the number of stitches required per square inch. All of these decisions effect both quality and cost.
But equally important, a high quality embroidery job will also depend on your embroiderer being an experienced artist. Many dimensions of quality and durability will revolve around the experience-based matching of thread, backing materials, fill patterns, and stitch lengths with the characteristics of the fabric or product. Customers who have purchased embroidery previously will likely have encountered an embroiderer who failed to ideally optimize these dimensions, and yielded a project with compromised shape, sharpness/detail, attachment to the fabric, or worse - jagged edges, the appearance of a "badge" shape around the embroidery area, or worse are some of the surface indications of poor job optimization. With today's cutting edge fabrics and materials, such as polyesters and dri-fit breathable performance cloths, embroiderer expertise is more important than ever.
With over 24 years of experience in the apparel and product customization business, we certainly believe we are one of, if not the, best choices for your embroidery project. But regardless of whether you're convinced at this point or not, we also have advice for customers shopping around for the right embroiderer for that special project. We believe customers should look for several things:
While some embroiderers think digitization technology has reduced embroidery to a simple task, in our view, experience and expertise makes a tremendous difference, and can turn the automation of computer digitization into a true optimization exercise that yields the best cost and price. At OpportuniTees, this is our expertise!