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Glossary

Aetzing
The process used to create schiffli laces. The base fabric is dissolved, leaving the threads that have been stitched together to form the lace.

Anti-Pilling
A treatment applied to the garment to prevent pilling, the formation of little balls of fabric due to wear.

Appliqué
1) Decoration or trim cut from one piece of fabric and stitched to another to add dimension and texture. If appliqué occupies a significant amount of the design, the stitch count is lower.
2) In schiffli embroidery, an embroidered motif, hand cut or aetzed away from the base fabric.

Automatic Color Change
The ability of a multi-needle commercial embroidery machine to follow a command to change to another specified needle with a different thread color.

Backing
Woven or non-woven material used underneath the fabric being embroidered to provide support and stability. It can be hooped with the fabric or placed between the machine and throat plate and the hooped garment. Available in various weights and in two basic types: cutaway and tearaway.

Balboa Stitch
A technique used to produce tone-on-tone designs that feature the actual stitches as a background and give the fabric prominence. Has an embossed appearance.

Bean Stitch
Three stitches placed back and forth between two points. Often used for outlining, because it eliminates the need for repeatedly digitizing a single-ply run stitch outline.

Birdnesting
Bunching of thread between goods and needle plate that resembles a bird’s nest. Formation of a bird’s nest prevents free movement of goods and may be caused by inadequate top thread tension, incorrect threading or flagging goods.

Blatt Stitch
Schiffli term meaning “to feed the yarn,” therefore producing a long zigzag stitch with threads lying close together. Adapted for multi-head use; see Satin Stitch.

Blending
A digitizing technique that makes different colors of thread flow together in a more pleasing manner. Relies heavily on variable densities. Gives design a realistic 3-D look.

Bobbin
Spool or reel that holds bobbin thread, which helps form stitches on the underside of fabric.

Bobbin Case
Small, round metal device for holding the bobbin. Used to tension the bobbin thread. Inserted in the hook for sewing.

Bonnaz
Chain-stitch machine developed in the 1800s. Named after French inventor Emile Bonnaz. First manufactured by the Cornely Co. of France.

Boring
Cutting technique that punctures holes into embroidered designs. A sharp-point instrument bores the fabric, and stitches are made around the opening to enclose the raw edges.

Buckram
Coarse, woven fabric stiffened with glue, used to stabilize fabric for stitching. Commonly used in caps to hold the front panel upright.

Cartoon
Finished artwork of an embroidery design ready to be digitized. Usually six times larger than the finished design size, based on the art-to-stitching ratio historically used in the schiffli industry.

Chain Stitch
Stitch that resembles a chain link. Formed with one thread fed from the bottom side of the fabric. Done on a manual or computerized machine with a hook that functions like a needle.

Chenille
Form of embroidery in which a loop (moss) stitch is formed on the top side of the fabric. Uses heavy yarns of wool, cotton or acrylic. Created by a chain stitch machine that has been adjusted to form this stitch type. Also known as loop piling.

Column Stitch
Formed by closely placed zigzag stitches. Often used to form borders. Also known as steil stitch. See Satin Stitch.

Complex Fill
Refers to a digitizing capability that allows areas to be designated as void at the same time the design’s edges are defined. The design can thus be digitized as one fill area, instead of being broken down into multiple sections.

Condensed Format
Method of digitizing in which a design is saved in a skeletal form. A proportionate number of stitches may later be placed between defined points after a scale has been designated. With a machine that can read condensed format, the scale, density and stitch lengths in a design may be changed. See Expanded Format.

Cording
A technique that employs a single cord that’s laid down on fabric and attached with transparent zigzag stitches. These are relatively simple, low-stitch-count designs featuring many swirls and curves. Different widths of cording are available to provide a wide range of looks. A special attachment is required for the embroidery machine.

Cover Stitching
Using two needles to overlap threads underneath, covering the over-edged seams with smooth-seamed layers of threads.

Cross Stitch
Regular bean stitch movements forming X’s in rows or within a box shape to form geometric designs. Creates a handmade appearance.

Crystal Heat Transfers
Metallic studs or crystals strategically placed to form a design. Can be done by hand, but it is usually too time-consuming to be cost-effective. Ready-made transfers are available, and custom transfers can also be ordered from some companies.

Debossing
Depressed imprint created by a machine pressing a dye into the surface of fabric or material. Popular in leather decoration.

Density
Number of stitches in a specific area. Determines the total thread coverage in a design.

Design Libary/Catalog
A computer program that catalogs a collection of digitized designs kept by embroidery shops and allows an embroiderer to access the design by subject, stitch count, icon or number of colors.

Digital Imaging
Also called direct-to-garment printing from an inkjet printer. A scanned image or computer-generated image can be used. The process is similar to printing paper in a standard printer. The latest advance in this technique is the ability to print on dark colors, which had previously been possible only through screen printing.

Digitizing
The computerized method of converting artwork into a series of commands to be read by an embroidery machine’s computer. See Punching.

Digitizing Tablet
A computer-aided design device used by digitizers to plot needle penetrations for embroidery designs. Typically, a pencil drawing of the design is enlarged and then taped to this tablet. The digitizer then uses a device known as a puck to indicate stitch types, shapes, underlay and actual needle penetrations.

Double Needle
Two rows of parallel stitching at the sleeve and/or bottom hem for a cleaner, more finished look.

Double Stitched
The finish on a sleeve and/or bottom hem that uses two needles to create parallel rows of visible stitching. It gives the garment a cleaner, more finished look and adds durability.

Editing
Changing aspects of a design via a computerized editing program. Most programs allow the user to scale designs up or down, edit stitch by stitch or block by block, merge lettering with the design, move aspects of the design around, combine designs, and insert or edit machine commands.

Emblem
Logo or design with a finished edge. Commonly a badge of identification usually worn on outer clothing. Historically, an emblem carried a motto, verse or suggested a moral lesson. Also known as a crest or patch.

Embossing
A surface effect achieved on fabric by means of passing cloth through a series of engraved rollers that impart figures or designs to its surface. Rollers work through heat and pressure.

Embroidery
Decorative stitching on fabric. Generally involves non-lettered designs but can also include lettering and/or monograms. Evidence of embroidery exists during the reign of Egyptian pharaohs, in the writings of Homer, and from the Crusaders of the 12th century. Evolved from handwork and manual sewing machines to high-speed computerized multi-head machines.

Expanded Format
A design program in which individual stitches in a design have been specifically digitized for a certain size. Because stitch count remains constant, designs punched in this format cannot generally be enlarged or reduced more than 10 to 20 percent without distortion. See Condensed Format.

Facing
A piece of fabric that is sewn to the collar, front opening, cuffs or arms of a garment to create a finished look.

Fancy Fills
A digitizing function that automatically incorporates special patterns or textures into fill areas. Also known as specialty fills.

Feather Stitching
Lightweight designs constructed of run stitches. Ideal for tricots, nylons and taffetas.

Fill Stitch
Series of run stitches commonly used to cover large areas. Different fill patterns can be created by altering the angle, length or repeat sequence of the stitches. Also known as a geflect stitch.

Finishing
Processes performed after embroidery is complete. Includes trimming loose threads, cutting or tearing away excess backing, removing topping, cleaning any stains, pressing or steaming to remove wrinkles or hoop marks and packaging for sale or shipment.

Flagging
Up-and-down motion of goods under action of the needle. Called flagging because it resembles a waving flag. Often caused by improper framing of goods. Flagging may result in poor registration, unsatisfactory stitch format and birdnesting.

Foam Embroidery
This type of embroidery gets its 3-D appearance from foam that’s placed over the area to be embroidered. As the design is stitched, the needle perforates the foam. Once completed, the unused foam is pulled away. Foam is available in a variety of colors and thicknesses.

Foil
Comes in several colors, with the most popular being red, gold and silver. To use foil, screen print the garment, place the foil over the wet ink, remove the garment from the platen, and cure it with a heat press. The printed and foiled garment can be flash dried before it’s removed from the platen. Other colors then can be printed on top of the foil.

Frame
Holding device for insertion of goods under an embroidery head for the application of embroidery. May employ a number of means for maintaining stability during the embroidery process, including clamps, vacuum devices, magnets or springs. See Hoops.

Free-Standing Lace
Digitized so that threads are interwoven. The embroidery of lace requires a soluble backing or topping of the embroiderer’s choice of substrate. The lace design is embroidered on the soluble product, which is then washed away, leaving just the thread in place. Many of the lace designs require additional work, shaping them into projects such as baskets, ornaments or doilies.

French Knots
A stitch featuring a raised, knotted center.

Fringe
Threads that are cut and hang loosely from the edge of a design.

Geflect Stitch
Series of run stitches commonly used to cover large areas. Different fill patterns can be created by altering the angle, length or repeat sequence of the stitches. Also known as a fill stitch.

Grommets
Small holes that allow for air circulation and ventilation. Usually found in the underarm or in the back neck of garments.

Hand
The way the fabric feels when it’s touched. Terms like softness, crispness, dryness and silkiness are all used to describe the hand of the fabric.

Heirloom Embroidery
Embroidered goods designed to be passed down from generation to generation.

Hook
Holds the bobbin case in the machine, and plays a vital role in stitch formation. Making two complete rotations for each stitch, its point meets a loop of top thread at a precisely timed moment and distance (gap) to form a stitch.

Hoop
Device made from wood, plastic or steel with which fabric is gripped tightly between an inner ring and an outer ring. The hoop is attached to the machine’s pantograph. Machine hoops are designed to push the fabric to the bottom of the inner ring and hold it against the machine bed for embroidering.

Hooping Device
Device that aids in hooping garments or items for embroidery. Especially helpful for hooping multilayered items and for uniformly hooping multiple items.

Jump Stitch
Movement of the pantograph and rotation of the sewing head without the needle going down.

Lace
The use of threads alone to produce a designed fabric. Most often used to embellish women’s apparel and home fashions.

Lettering
Embroidery using letters or words. Lettering, commonly called keyboard lettering, may be created using an embroidery lettering program on a PC or from circuit boards that allow a variance of letter styles, sizes, heights, densities and other characteristics.

Lock Stitch
Commonly referred to as a lock-down or tack-down stitch. A lock stitch is formed by three or four consecutive stitches of at least a 10-point movement. It should be used at the end of any element in your design where jump stitches will follow, such as color change or the end of a design. May be stitched in a triangle, star or in a straight line. Also the name of the type of stitch formed by the hook and needle of home sewing machines, as well as computerized embroidery machines.

Logo
Name, symbol or trademark of a company or organization. Short for logotype.

Looping
Loops on the surface of embroidery, generally caused by poor tension or tension problems. Typically occurs when polyester top thread has been improperly tensioned.

Machine Language
The codes and formats used by different machine manufacturers within the embroidery industry. Common formats include Barudan, Brother, Fortran, Happy, Marco, Meistergram, Melco, Pfaff, Stellar, Tajima, Toyota, Ultramatic and ZSK. Most digitizing systems can save designs in these languages so the computer disk can be read by the embroidery machine.

Marking
Marking goods serves as an aid in positioning the frame and referencing the needle start points.

Modular
Machine system where many separate stitching heads, or configurations of heads, are controlled by a central computer.

Monogram
Embroidered design composed of one or more letters, usually the initials of a name.

Moss Stitch
Chenille-type stitch. See Chenille.

Motif
An appliqué. A single embroidered design.

Needle
Small, slender piece of steel with a hole for thread and a point for stitching fabric. A machine needle differs from a handwork needle; the machine needle’s eye is found at its pointed end. Machine embroidery needles come with sharp points for piercing heavy, tightly woven fabrics; ball points, which glide between the fibers of knits; and a variety of specialty points, such as wedge points, which are used for leather.

Network
1) To link embroidery machines via a central computer and disk-drive system.
2) A group of machines linked via a central computer.

Nippers
See Thread Clippers.

Pad Printing
Pad printing utilizes a flexible silicone rubber transfer pad that picks up a film of ink from a photo-etched printing plate and transfers it to an item. Pad printing is usually used for 3-D items.

Paper Tape
One punching format that uses a continuous reel of paper or Mylar tape containing X-Y coordinate information in binary, Fortran or other numeric codes to control pantograph movement. It’s becoming less favored and replaced by computer disks.

Patches
Made from twill fabric, patches have a merrowed edge and an adhesive back. Most embroidery shops don’t own a merrowing machine, so making patches from scratch isn’t an option, nor is it cost effective. One can still, however, supply them for the customer. Companies that specialize in making patches are plentiful, and the prices are much better than the average embroidery shop can manage. For the small odd jobs, though, blank patches are available in many shapes, colors and sizes.

Pattern
An outline of a garment on paper. It usually embodies all the pieces necessary to cut a complete garment from material.

Pencil Rub
A low-cost way of producing a “sample” of an embroidery design. Consists of a piece of tracing paper placed over a sewout and rubbed lightly with a pencil to produce an impression of the embroidery.

Petit Point
Using a grid, like those used in cross-stitch, petit point is a single-angle stitch repeated in the same place until the desired fullness is achieved. Usually very stitch intensive.

Photo Stitch Designs
Created from a scanned photo; the photograph is imported into the digitizing software, and with a few keystrokes the design is digitized and ready to sew. The possibilities for uses are endless, ranging from portraits to buildings. A series of run stitches and loose fills are used to replicate a photograph with cloth and thread. Photo stitch designs are popular with individuals and corporations.

Piqué
A fabric of cotton or spun rayon woven lengthwise with raised cords.

Placket
The opening of a shirt or jacket where the garment fastens. A reverse placket is the reversed opening for women’s garments.

Preshrunk
Fabrics or garments that have received a preshrinking treatment to prevent further shrinkage. Often done on cottons – to remove the tendency for cloth to shrink – before cutting the fabric for use in a garment.

Puckering
Result of fabric being gathered by the stitches. Many possible causes include incorrect density, loose hooping, lack of backing, incorrect tension or dull needle.

Puff Additives
Mixed with ink when a raised look is desired. The ink is screen printed as usual, with the dryer’s heat causing a reaction that makes the ink increase in size, resulting in a puffy look.

Puff Embroidery
A technique popular in the early ’90s, which seems to be gaining popularity again. A special thick backing is placed in the hoop under the substrate, usually a sweatshirt. The design itself consists of light fill and blank spaces. The technique works great for names, with light fill separating letters that are negative. In the embroidery process, the blank spaces puff up and the area between them is flattened by the fill stitches.

Pull Compensation
A degree of distortion built into a design by the digitizer to compensate for pull on the fabric caused by the embroidery stitches.

Punching
Conversion of artwork into a series of commands to be read by an embroidery machine’s computer. Derived from an early method of machine embroidery in which a part of the machine, called an automat, reads paper tapes, or Jacquards, punched with holes representing stitches, pantograph movements and other commands. While still capable of producing paper tape, many computer digitizing systems now store this information in disk format.

Registration
Correct registration is achieved when all stitches and design elements line up correctly.

Reverse Appliqué
A process in which the fabric is placed on the underside of the garment, and the garment is cut along the tack-down stitch so that the material shows through. Not nearly as easy as regular appliqué, the process, however, shouldn’t be discounted. The dimension that the technique provides is quite different from regular appliqué, and when your customer wants a unique look, this might be something to consider.

Run Stitch
Consists of one stitch between two points. Used for outlining and fine detail. Also known as a walk stitch.

SPI
Acronyms for stitches per inch; system for measuring density or the number of satin stitches in an inch of embroidery.

SPM
Acronym for stitches per minute; system for measuring the running speed of an embroidery machine.

Satin Stitch
Formed by closely arranged zigzag stitches. Can be laid down at any angle and with varying stitch lengths. Adapted from the blatt stitch, used in schiffli embroidery. See Blatt Stitch.

Scaling
Ability within one design program to enlarge or reduce a design. In expanded format, most scaling is limited to 10 to 20 percent because the stitch count remains constant despite the final design size. In condensed or outline formats, scale changes may be more dramatic, because stitch count and density may be varied.

Scanning
Scanners convert designs into a computer format, allowing the digitizer to use even the most primitive artwork without recreating the design. Many digitizing systems allow the digitizer to transfer the design directly into the digitizing program without using intermediary software.

Schiffli Machine
A commercial embroidery machine that utilizes the combination of needle and shuttle to form a stitch. Massive in size and excellent for emblem production, the creation of lace, embroidery production on oversized items and production orders of extremely large quantities.

Short Stitch
A digitizing technique that places shorter stitches in curves and corners to avoid an unnecessarily bulky buildup of stitches.

Silk Screening
A photographic process that transfers artwork onto a porous nylon screen, which allows a custom color ink to flow onto the garment. Also known as screen printing.

Sleeve
Part of the garment that covers part of or the entire arm.

Specialty Fill
A fill which features a “relief” or motif design within the selected fill area.

Stability
The property of a bonded fabric that prevents sagging, slipping or stretching. This is conducive to ease of handling in manufacturing, and helps the fabric to keep its shape in wear, dry cleaning and washing.

Stain Release
Allows fabric to release soiling and stains upon washing.

Stain Repellent
Fabric dipped in a chemical bath that adds a concentration of compound, such as Teflon, that repels stains.

Steil Stitch
See Column Stitch.

Stitch Count
The total number of stitches in a particular design.

Stitch Editing
Digitizing feature that allows one or more stitches in a pattern to be deleted or altered.

Stitch Lengths
A variable setting for all stitch types: run, satin and fill.

Stitch Type
A wide variety of stitches are available, but in actuality, there are two basic stitch types – the run and satin stitch. All other types are a variation of these two.

Stock Designs
Digitized generic embroidery designs that are readily available at a cost below that of custom-digitized designs.

Storm Flap
A strip of fabric that covers the zipper or snap closure of a jacket to protect against wind and moisture. Storm flaps can also be sewn on the inside of the zipper.

Straight-Stitch Machine
A machine that features needles that move up and down in one spot. The pantograph punches the design along. The majority of commercial embroidery machines use this type of needle movement.

Swatch
A small sample of material used for inspection, comparison, construction, color, finish and sales purposes.

Swiss Embroidery
1) Satin stitch embroidery.
2) Also recalls the origins of an automated embroidery machine that was developed in the 1800s by Isaak Groebli. Embroidery remains a government-supported industry in Switzerland today.

Tackle Twill
Letters or numbers cut from polyester or rayon twill fabric that are commonly used for athletic teams and organizations. Tackle twill appliqués attached to a garment have an adhesive backing that tacks them in place; the edges of the appliqués are then zigzag stitched.

Tassels
A group of long stitches, which dangle from a design. Most often used to embellish home décor.

Tatami Stitch
Series of run stitches, commonly used to cover large areas. Different fill patterns can be created by varying the stitch length, angle or sequence.

Tension
Tautness of thread when forming stitches. Top thread tension, as well as bobbin thread tension, needs to be set. Proper thread tension is achieved when about one-third of the thread showing on the underside of the fabric on a column stitch is bobbin thread.

Textile
Traditionally a textile is defined as a woven fabric made by interlacing yarns.

Thread
Fine cord of natural or synthetic fibers, made of two or more filaments twisted together and used for stitching. Embroidery threads are available in a variety of types, including rayon, polyester, cotton, acrylic and metallics.

Thread Clippers
Small cutting utensil with a spring action that’s operated by the thumb in a hole on the top blade and the fingers cupped around the bottom blade. Useful for quick thread cutting, but unsuitable for detailed trimming or removal of backing.

Thread Count
The actual number of warp ends and filling picks per inch in a woven cloth. In knitted fabric, thread count implies the number of wales or ribs.

Thread
Fine cord of natural or synthetic fibers, made of two or more filaments twisted together, and used for stitching. Embroidery threads are available in a variety of types, including rayon, polyester, cotton, acrylic and metallics.

Topping
Material hooped or placed on top of fabrics that have definable nap or surface texture, such as corduroy and terry cloth. This is done prior to embroidery. The topping compacts the wale or nap and holds the stitches above it. Includes a variety of substances, such as plastic wrap, water-soluble plastic, “foil” and open-weave fabric that has been chemically treated to disintegrate with the application of heat. Also known as facing.

Trapunto
A form of 3-D embroidery. An area is stitched to create a pocket between the fabric and backing, which is then stuffed from the back with some type of fluffy filling.

Trimming
Operation in the finishing process that involves trimming the reverse and top sides of the embroidery, including jump stitches and backing.

Tulle
A fine net of acetate, nylon, rayon or silk used for the embroidery of imitation laces.

Underlay
Stitches laid down before other design elements to help stabilize stretchy fabrics and to tack down high wales or naps on fabrics, so the design’s details don’t get lost. May also be used to create such effects as crowned, flat or raised areas in the embroidery, depending on how they are laid down.

Variable Sizing
Ability to scale a design to different sizes.

Verify
Sample sewout of a new embroidery design to make sure the pattern is correct.

Walk Stitch
See Run Stitch.

Water Repellent
Ability of a fabric to resist penetration by water under certain conditions. Various types of tests are used, and these are conducted on samples before and after subjection to standard washing and dry cleaning tests.

Water Resistant
Fabric treated chemically to resist water. Not to be confused with water repellent.

Waterproof
A garment that’s seam-sealed and able to withstand a specific amount of water pressure, keeping the wearer completely dry by blocking water from coming in.

Welt
A strip of material seamed to a pocket opening as a finishing as well as a strengthening device; a covered cord or ornamental strip sewn on a border or along a seam.

Wickability
The ability of a fiber or fabric to disperse moisture and allow it to pass through to the surface of the fabric, so that evaporation can take place.

Wrinkle Resistant
The application of resin to fabric which is then heated to extremely high temperatures to cure garments and make them hold their shape without wrinkling.

Yoke Back
A piece of fabric that connects the back of a garment to the shoulders. This allows the garment to lie flat.

Zigzag Machine
A machine that features a needle that swings left and right, laying down the stitches in a zigzag pattern. Offers high-speed sewing. Ideal for monogramming and personalization.

Zigzag Stitch
Stitches that go from one side of an area to be sewn diagonally to the other side. Diagonals may be placed closely together to form a satin stitch.

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