Introduction to converting your design into an embroidery-able format.


When you send us your artwork or logo for an embroidery order for the first time, there is a charge to convert this design into a format, which can be read and understood by the embroidery machines. There are a number of formats but DST is the most generally used.

This conversion is always done better as a manual process and depending on the complexity, can take a few minutes or several hours. Auto processing does not guarantee the best result and so we avoid this.

Manual digitising is a skill, which requires hours of training and then hours of practice to be good.

There is a difference between good digitising and bad digitising.

The results of poor digitising can manifest at the production stage in a couple of ways.

  • 1Multiple stoppages due to thread breaks with badly plotted or thought-out stitch sequences.

2It also manifests itself in the aesthetic appeal of the design because it is a human that can dictate the angle and direction of the threads as they are embroidered and this input is what makes a design come to life or look flat and uninspiring.

This second aspect is what you see as a customer. When you alter the angle or length of a thread, you alter the way that it reflects light back to the viewer. When you overstitch certain areas with additional threads, you give those areas prominence with their raised profile. When you choose a running stitch, satin stitch or fill stitch, you are creating a different look and each one has its merits and a time and place.

Consideration for the fabric to be embroidered is critical.

T-shirts often cannot hold the weight of stitches that a sweatshirt of fleece can. This alters the way it is digitised.

Fleeces require an underlay stitch before any satin stitching can be done to flatten the ‘loft’ of the fibres so that your satin stitches do not sink and disappear from view.

When a design requires digitising, it is imported into a design program like Wilcom or Brother PE design (there are others).


The artwork layer is locked and the digitiser uses a suite of tools to over-trace the design with control points (nodes or anchors) and curves to create sections that are then filled with the appropriate stitch.

The digitiser chooses which part of the design is going to overlay or underlay the other parts of the design, in effect, creating layers and stitch sequences that are vital to the images final appearance.

Text has to be given some consideration when working at smaller scales.

It is very common for customers to supply artwork where the text is too small to be embroider-able effectively.

In these instances, it will be necessary to either enlarge the text within the context of the design alter to a simpler font or remove it completely.

Satin stitches are always the better option for text but running stitches are often used for very small detail and these are always best on an underlay or fill stitch.

In general, lettering needs to be at least 6mm high to be embroider-able.

This concludes the introduction.

As always, your Shirtworks account manager can provide expert advice where needed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *