Embroidery digitizing is a process of converting a visual image into a so-called “stitch file” that is then read by an embroidery machine in order to reproduce the image on materials such as fabric, leather, stabilizers, and other non-woven materials with embroidery threads.
Digitizing is a rather complex process that includes several steps.
First, the image or artwork that is to be digitized must be analysed. Since many print images that one may see on letterhead or business cards cannot be adequately duplicated, it may require that portions of the image be edited.
After the artwork is edited, the digitizer creates a stitch sequence termed “pathing”
using specialized professional embroidery software.
Appropriate pathing results in a smoother design that ensures that gaps and/or jump stitching are eliminated efficiently.
Next, the digitizer assigns various types of stitches to the pattern in order to produce a sharp image. Underlay stitches must be put down; these help to secure the fabric to the backing, smooth out the nap of the fabric, and create the needed relief in the artwork so that it is clean and clear to the eye. Additionally, different fabrics require different types of stitches. Some fabrics, like denim, allow the stitches to lay on the surface, while other fabrics like fleece or knit fabric allow the stitches to sink into the fabric. Therefore, the digitizer employs basic types of stitches such as run, satin, and fill as well as various subtypes of each of these stitches, which combine to create the desired result. For example, a fill stitch is used for large areas, but the digitizer must choose which fill stitch will work best to create a smooth and even image. The digitizer achieves this by locating beginning and ending points as well as the direction of the fill on the fabric.
As the digitizer creates the design, the fabric is pushed and pulled. While this action is typical in the embroidery process, when the fabric is bulky, stitches are longer, or large areas are being covered, the fabric may more readily shift and potentially create undesired movement in the design and subsequent shifts in the stitches. The digitizer must, then, compensate for these movements to ensure a quality design.