Embroidery Design Guidelines


Design Detail
It can’t be overstated that in embroidery simpler is better. Customers want clean crisp designs more than they want everything in their highly detailed logos included. Over-detailed designs will appear cloudy if too much fine detail is included.


Cartoon figures are SO perfect for embroidery. They are already set up in a way that works for the nature of layering color and lines. Like the line drawings above, they are simple, yet a good cartoonist will use exaggerated features, varied line, and other tricks to create a character that jumps off the screen. Spend some time looking at cartoons and how they are created.


Create Embroidery Designs from Artwork
Artwork is breathtaking and often very complicated to replicate in embroidery. Too many tiny colors can lead to several thread knots at the back, blurred lines, fabric stretching, and even needle breaking. Use embroidery specific software to convert complex designs into simple digitized files. You can also reduce the number of threads and colors to ensure the best output.


The quality and detail of a raster image is based on its size and resolution. The resolution is the measure of horizontal and vertical pixels. The higher the resolution the more pixels the image has to reproduce detail and color.


  • Less is more in embroidery detail.
    In our videos, you will always hear “your brain fills in the details.” Please don’t try to cram a ton of detail into your designs. You will end up with bulletproof embroidery, and many of the tiny details you inserted simply are not needed. Your brain will fill out the design.
  • Start small.
    When creating a design don’t start with the Sistine Chapel. Start with a postage stamp. Work on something manageable, easy, and interesting for you. Trying to work on too large a design will frustrate you quickly
  • Resizing artwork.
    ALWAYS work to scale! That means if your bunny is going to be 2 2×3 inches make your artwork that size. Trying to digitize in a very small or very large format and resize will create problems for you. A general rule of thumb for resizing is up or down 10%.
  • Avoid Small Areas of Negative Space.
    Keep an eye out for small gaps in the design, and fill them in with a background color instead. Any small areas that remain will be automatically filled in as part of the digitization process.

1. Create a quick sketch or outline of your design. This will help with scale. Don’t worry about color right now we’re looking for shape, movement, character, etc. Working in black and white will free you from thinking of too many things. Remember, there are graphics available on the internet.
2. Map out some color. Once you have your black and white sketch, you can lock in some color. Don’t worry about fine details. We are simply looking for the overall color background which holds your design together. Remember that large areas of color with shading on top rather than many smaller pieces fit together will produce a softer embroidery. So, for example, if you are making a bunny, you can finish details with a line drawing.
3. Add highlights and details last. Once you have your color blocked out, you can add texture, highlights (like the glint in the eye, the very light tips of the ears), and finer details.


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Graphic Designing for Embroidery: Things To Remember
Image Size
Images selected by you need to fit within a resolution range of 150 DPI to 300 DPI. Uploading bigger files or resizing low quality photos will not help create a good design. The image will either blur or will have jagged edges, giving an unsatisfactory result.
Minimalist is BEST!
While computers can duplicate complex designs with multiple colors and transparent effects, that is not the case with embroidery machines and threads. It is best to follow a minimalist approach with embroidery solid background with a simple logo or design. You'll get tight lines and a polished look.



Level Of Detail Within Artwork
Embroidery can be used to create detailed shapes, text, and artwork. However, because custom embroidery creates your artwork by stitching threads, there are physical limits to how intricate details can be within your artwork. The smallest a single stitch can be is 2mm or ~.07". This means that the smallest level of detail within your artwork must be at least 2mm. If your artwork contains details smaller than 2mm the art will need to be modified to ensure it can be ready for embroidery, this may alter the look of your design details.



Avoid Too Many Small Details, Try to Streamline Features
The minimum thickness for shapes is 0.05” (1.3 mm).
Maximum thickness for shapes: 0.5” (12.5 mm).



Placement of embroidery designs on custom clothing, be it hats, polo shirts, jackets, bags, etc., is critical. It will be counterproductive to have an embroidered log o that is lopsided. Center your design in embroidery and ensure that you span out equally in both directions from there

When we say backgrounds, we mean both large filled areas behind your design and transparent or blank space. Large filled areas could be one solid color as well as multiple colors and patterns. Embroidery designs usually have a maximum of 15,000 stitches. Having either kind of filled background will consume a lot of your available stitch count. It will also increase the cost of your embroidery design order. Avoid backgrounds as much as possible or crop out whatever is not integral to your design.

When working with large, transparent spaces, ensure your image is placed correctly. Don't center a small design with spaces between elements crop and stretch the image to fill the maximum permitted area. If you have a lot of text or design with narrow negative spaces in between, fill them with color so that your design 'pops.'


Limited Colors
Less is better in this case, too. The fewer your color choices, the more polished the end design will be. It’s best to us e a maximum of sixteen colors but try to limit selection of up to six colors per design, irrespective of embroidery type.


Avoid Gradients
Instead of using gradients, use single, bold colors for your design with clear lines between graphical elements.


For Polos

  • For pique (not jersey) knits,  0.25'' text is recommended.
  • The standard size for a front logo design is 2.5" to 4" wide  x  1" to 2" tall.
  • For more prominent size logos, try the sleeve or back yoke area as you can go as large as 5" wide and 3" tall.



Guidance For Fonts & Text
Remember, your text and fonts will be created out of thread so you want to take precautions to ensure your text is legible. In general, it is recommend to avoid any fonts that are decorated, contain serifs, or are highly stylized. These fonts will not run as cleanly as well spaced out, large, sans serif fonts.

Lettering Minimum Size and Guidelines
1. All stock lettering included for all designs will be a minimum of .25” high. This minimum size helps ensure readability on hats which is a difficult application for embroidering on. With finished hats we are embroidering on a curved surface that also has a seam that runs down the front center of the embroidery area. This can make very small lettering that is less than .25” high unreadable which would otherwise be readable on garments such as polo shirts and similar. The .25” minimum is a guideline, as success is based on the line weight of the text. Bolder block lettering comes out cleaner than thin script does at small sizes. All lettering stroke widths have to be at least 1mm due to the needle diameter and the thickness of the thread used. It can be easiest to think of embroidering as using a magic marker, there is a minimum to how thin we can make lines due to the size of the marker tip. Another example using the magic marker is that writing too small of text will fill in the holes in the letters making them hard to read.
2. No outlined text of individual letters. Exceptions are when the entire word(s) has a thick overall outline or shadow, or the letter is 1” or above in height. Individual shadowed letters are not offered.
3. An excessive amount of text included in a design may need to be changed to two lines instead of one, abbreviated, or have parts removed.


Convert Your Text to Outlines




Letter Spacing & Ideal Fonts
You should also give additional thought and care to letter spacing, or tracking, to ensure your text is legible. Generally speaking, the best fonts for embroidery are cursive letters where each letter is  connected in script. The thread will continue between each letter and be more legible.

The next best fonts are san serif fonts because there are less pieces to each letter and are more easily legible. Serif fonts are not recommended at small scales, but if you intend to use one, we recommend adding additional space between each letter for visibility and clarity around each letter.

Use BIG Letters
Lowercase letter height starts from 0.25” (6.4 mm), and uppercase letter height starts from 0.3” (7.6 mm).
Any text smaller than 0.18” (4.57 mm) size will be increased, or the text will be omitted from the graphic altogether during digitizing process.


Finished Hat Embroidery Design Dimensions
• The maximum size for the front is between 4" 5.5" wide and 1.75" 2.2" tall, depending on the style of hat (beanie, high profile, and low profile)
• At 300dpi, this comes out to 1200 x 720 pixels.
• The text should be a minimum of 0.25'' tall.


No outlined text of individual letters. Exceptions are when the entire word(s) have a thick overall outline or shadow, or the letter is 1” or above in height. Individual shadowed letters are not offered.

An excessive amount of text included in a design may need to be changed to two lines instead of one, abbreviated, or have parts removed.



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