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Lingo


In the following you will find a list of the terms and words commonly used by embroiderers, it is always good practice to use the correct terminology for our trade. This is meant for easy understanding between parties so as miscommunications will be at its minimal.

Accordion Spacing stitch spacing that gradually changes between dense and open fill, producing effects similar to halftones and color mix. Used for shading, color effects, layering, and interleaving several colors.
Applique A separate pre-cut piece of fabric that is decorated or plain , and applied on top of another piece of fabric. Appliques are frequently used to reduce overall embroidery stitch counts, difficult tone work and, substrates difficult to embroider directly.
Automatic Centering Connecting the first and last stitch of the design to its geometric center.
Backing Typically non-woven material, applied beneath material to be sewn to increase stability and support stitches. Available in few forms:- tear-aways, cut-aways, dissolve-away. These come in various weights and thickness. Backings are generally hooped or framed together with fabric or otherwise positioned between fabric and embroidery machine throat plate prior to stitching
Bean Stitch see triple run
Birdnesting Describes an accumulation of thread at the back or top of the embroidery resembling a bird’s nest. Typically caused by inadequate top thread tension, cause could be thread is not following the intended thread path.
Bobbin Spool or reel that holds the bottom thread (underthread), in the bobbin case. Usually in white and together with the top embroidery thread forms the required stitches.
Bore Sharp pointed instrument attached to machine used to pierce holes to make openings on the fabric.
Boring Hole opening onto fabric and stitches made around the opening to stop fraying.
Bridge Machine embroidery machine with sewing heads suspended on a cross beam across the whole machine, allowing a larger sewing field, having twin shafts, one for the upper sewing head and the other for the bobbin assembly beneath.
Buckram or Buckram Backing Heavy woven interlining material, usually stiffened. Commonly found at the inside crown of the baseball caps to give body and form.
Bullion Also called bullion wire badges, these are hand sewn with either silver or gold wires (made like springs). Generally from India or Pakistan.
Cap Frames Devices found on specialized machines to do embroidery on a finished cap. Some are wide angel or 270 degree. The later will embroider an area much further around a cap all the way to the sides
Cartoon Finished artwork of embroidery design ready for digitizing, usually 4-6 times larger than actual size.
Center Run Run stitches put beneath columns/satin stitches of 1.5-3mm width
Chain Stitch Stitch that is linked and form in a chain like manner.
Chenille / Chenilling Have the look of loops on towels and is created on specialized embroidery machines using heavy yarn or threads. e.g. athletic letters and alphabets.
Coiling A decorative effect using 3 yarns ( a coiling thread wrapped around a core thread that is sewn to the garment with the third thread).
Column Typically used to form borders around fill areas and for rendering text, the column stitch consists of closely spaced satin stitches.
Complex Fill Similar to standard fill except that the fill arears have ‘knock out portions creating openings or negative areas to form background design.
Condensed Format Digital designs stored in this format allows for less editing work as they will be limited in modifications. Proportionate number of stitches being placed between pre-defined points rather than individual stitches being assigned specific size and points, may not be read by all embroidery machines (see also expanded format).
Creeding Stitch see fill stitch.
Cylinder Arm type Machine embroidery machine with a post feature extending from table top. Suitable for cap attachment, sleeves and sewn up tee-shirts.
Database central storage and management application for designs, useful for Hugh catalog of designs and can be searched in multiple user-defined categories, e.g. in icons, names, stitches, details, customers and pricelists.
Density Amount of stitches per given area. Designer - Creator of embroidered designs who originates the ideas.
Digitizing This allows one to input a design via a scanner or a digitizing tablet and create stitches. The digitizing process is the most critical part of the whole process and using this propriety softwares skill and experience is of utmost importance.
Digitizing tablet Electronic platen or surface resembling a draftsman table . Artwork is pasted onto surface and a digitizer (similar to mouse, but has a cross mark) is used to input points, commands, color changes and needle penetrations.
Digitizing Puck similar to a mouse, but it is used in conjunction with a digitizing tablet, it comes with a cross-hair for positioning it over the point to be digitized.
Disk Floppy diskette to store designs and transfer data to machine. Available in Double Density (720K) or High Density (1.44Mb) . Older machines require double density disk to be formatted into their respective formats , even though your computer has a High Density floppy disk drive.
E-mailing Designs Embroidery designs can be e-mailed as attachments and should be send as Tajima .DST tape format, as majority of design centers and production factories can easily convert or directly use them.
E-stitch similar to satin stitch but is formed like a comb, as they are all joined only on one side of the column, used mainly for holding appliqué pieces down in its tacking process.
Edge Run Underlay For supporting wider columns, the run stitches are placed alongside the edges of the column.
Editing Function that helps embroiderers tweek designs for a better finishing, eg. moving of individual stitches or in blocks.Able to scale add text re-position or re-sequence elements. Modifying commands, add and deleting parts of the designs, etc.
Emblem Also known as insignia, crest, patch and badge. Usually characterised by a stitched or merrowed border, could be finished with back adhesive.
Embroidery Decorative sewing onto fabric or other substrates that incorporates design elements, text and motifs. Originally done by hand, embrodiery has evolved through the years to its current state of the art technology using computer aided designing and manufacturing,producing at high speeds using multi-heads machine.
Enlarger Draftsman or designer who draws the cartoon for the puncher to follow
Expanded Format Designs stored in this format assigns individual stitches specific sizes, selection of this format typically restricts users the ability to scale a design up or down because stitch counts and density remain constant regardless of final design size, which means no compensation of stitches is involved.
Empty stitch needle penetrations without any frame movement, used mainly for tie ins at the beginning of stitching.
Eyelet a hole bored into a fabric with reinforced stitching around its edges.
Facing Top of fabric where embroidery should be.
Feather Stitch a type of stitch in which short stitches project at right angles from a main line of stitching.
Fill Also called tatami (looks like the Japanese tatami straw mats) stitching, large areas that need to be covered will have a series of running stitches spaced closely together. Pattern can be varied in terms of stitch length, angle and density.
Finishing Any of a number of procedures of thread trimming, removal of excess backing, topping, oil spots, soil removal, steaming to remove hoop marks, labelling,bagging and packing.
Flagging As needle penetrates, fabric may also move up and down against the machine throat plate (just like a flying flag) causing bird-nesting and poor registration; typically due to poor presser foot adjustment or improper hooping.
Float Function command of machine to move to desired position of design without needle penetrations or needle drop.
Following the directions drawn on the enlargement by the designer as a guide for the puncher’s advancement and sequence in punching.
Formats Different embroidery machines and software speak different languages. They have their own codes, commands and outputs. A new, updated and high end software will be able to convert, translate and transform most of the formats in the common commercial formats are:- Barudan, Tajima, ZSK, Melco and Toyota.
Fox Test Method of testing thread tension and timing of machine. Sewing the word FOX in one inch satin block letters. Check underthread tension after sewing to examine for skipped stitches and the two-third, one-third ratio of top to bottom thread. FOX requires the pantograph to move in all directions to check both belt timing and function.
Frame see hoop
Guide Stitch a series of running stitch to guide pasting or alignment of fabic.
Hooping Aids or Hooping Station Device used to help in the hooping process , generally to quicken and assist in accuracy and consistency of hooping
Insignia term for military patch, badges and emblems.
Jacquard Named after Joseph M. Jacquard, inventor of the jacquard loom. It uses a punched card to instruct the loom to weave a pattern in cloth.
Lip Hooping this technique is useful for hooping smooth slicky fabrics or bulky items such as insulated jackets. The inner ring is pushed past the edge of the out ring so that the outer ring is higher up than the inner ring, forming a lip. This prevents slipping during sewing and prevents flagging. Also called recessed hooping.
Lettering Styles commonly called fonts or typefaces, comes in many styles and sizes e.g. Helvetica, Curtis Script, Century, Arial, Old English and sometimes in foreign language.
Lock Stitch Sometimes called tack or lock-down stitch, purpose is to prevent loose ends coming off from handling and washing, typically found at endings of each colour change, letters, stop points and end of design.
Logo Name, symbol or trademark of a company or organisation. Short for logotype.
Looping Erratic stitch construction often due to improper top thread tension, or using different types of thread (polyester ,rayon or metallics).
Merrow type and name of machine to stitch overlock edges of emblems.
Modem Device to connect computer to the Internet or send data to another computer.
Monogram Embroidery of stylized lettering, typically three or fewer letters representing the initial(s) of a person’s name or organisation.
Moss Stitch a looped stitch formed as a chenille stitch, but with finer thread to achieve a more elegant decorative stitch.
Motif Run A decorative outline stitch type, Using Motif run, one can repeat a selected motif along a digitized line.
Name Drop type and name of machine to stitch overlock edges of emblems.
Needle Round slender piece of steel in very smooth finishing with one end thicker for attaching to the machine and the other either in taper point, ball end and sharp. Just before the pointed end there is a hole (eye) for the thread to pass through.
Nippers Small scissors for thread trimming
Paper Tapes continuous paper strip about one inch in width with codes, commands and information perforated onto the strip to be read by embroidery machines. This has been outdated by the floppy disk and direct cable link.
Pantograph the metal frame between the needle and table. Use for moving the fabric and other fixtures attached to it for the sole purpose of creating the required designs.
Patches emblems of identification.
Pile fabric with a surface of upright yarns or fibers, cut or looped.e.g. corduroy,velvets and terry towels.
Pitch slope or angle of stitches in a relation to a base line
Presser Foot metal attachment around needle to hold fabric firm for needle penetration to form a stitch.
Programmer the puncher who designs and produces the computer tapes.
Program Split the puncher who designs and produces the computer tapes.
Objects A design is made up of a series of objects of different types , e.g. satin, fill, border, run stitches etc.
Overstitching when the frame moves further than the pattern directs.
Print Outs also called production worksheet, critical link between the designer and machine operator as it contains essential information.
Puckering Gathering of fabric in a wave like manner due to embroidery tension, inappropriate backing and wrong hooping.
Pull Compensation Deliberate distortion digitized into design to compensate for thread pulls. Eg. 10mm column will finish as 9 or 9.5 mm, therefore distortion should be 0.5mm compensation
Registration Proper relationship and alignment of all colours, stitches, sequence and processes.
Repeats The distance between two points at which the design repeats itself.
Running Stitch Could be called ‘walking’ stitch, used for fine details, outlining, joining separate design elements having the same colour and primarily for stabilizing the desing as an underlay of threads to pin the backing to the fabric.
SPM Stitches-Per-Minute measurement used to rate the embroidery machine operation speed.
Satin Stitch Similar to zigzag stitching, except that this is so closely packed together they form a continuous column in varying lengths,angles and density.
Scaling Proportionate enlarging and reducing the whole digitized design.
Scallop Stitch Decorative edge stitching that forms a series of curves.
Scanner Hardware of computer used to convert artwork (hard-copy or physical copy) to digital format.
Selvage outer edges of piece goods, usually crimped insome manner to retard fraying.
Short-Stitch Filter Feature in newer digitizing softwares that eliminates stitches shorter than a pre-determined length to reduce thread breaks.
Short Stitching Deliberate shorten stitches around corners and in letterings incorporated so as there will not be clustering and thread breaks.
Sketcher the artist who creates embroidered ideas.
Software Embroidery software is specifically designed for the embroidery industry. It is designed to generate stitches and output the information in a language that will communicate with the embroidery machine. Software such as Corel Draw, PhotoShop, FreeHand, Arts & Letters, etc. are great for generating graphics but do not generate stitches and will not write to a file that an embroidery machine understands.
Special Fill A function in the newer digitizing softwares that incorporates special patterns and textures at the fill areas.
Stitch Editing / Editing Alteration of one or more stitches in an embroidery design or function changes eg. trims, stops, colour changes and re-sizing.
Stitch Master the technical person in charge of stitching, responsible for maintenance of equipment, production and quality control.
Stitch Processing the calculation of stitch information by means of specialized software, allowing scaling of expanded format designs with density compensation.
Stitch Rate the amount being paid for per 1000 stitches.
Stock Designs Similar to clip art, ‘evergreen / generic’ embroidery designs available in digital format from design houses at a lower cost than a custom ordered design.
Stump threads that are not trimmed properly leaving a small end of thread.
Swatch a piece of fabric , embroidery or yarn.
Swing frame movement caused by the command in the program.
Tacking Iron Device used to fuse heat-sealable items such as appliques, emblems and letters to fabric, similar to small heating iron.
Tackle Twill Text characters cut from twill fabric with an adhesive backing, typically used for athletic applications, usually used as an applique.
Tape Archaic (rendered obsolete by digital technology) means of storing and transmitting embroidery design information on a paper tape, peforated with holes (similar to telex paper tapes). Presently, most embroiderers and design houses use diskettes.
Tatami See fill stitch, there are 3 types of tatami backstitch to produce different effects and edges : standard, borderline and diagonal backstitch.

  1. Standard backstitch is suitable for dense fill stitching rows are almost parallel and alternating row of backstitches is shorter, in order to avoid too many small stitches on the edge of the tatami.
  2. Borderline backstitch tatami is suitable for very open fill (layers of underlay). This is also called Trapunto Style Tatami. Rows are parallel, stitch rows goes to the edge of the shape and connects to the following row along the pattern’s edge. Creating a smooth and well defined edge. Suitable if the fill requires edge definition or fill needs to have a running outline along the edge.
  3. Diagonal Backstitch consist of forward stitches going straight across the shape and the backward rows are diagonal. This is suitable for connering and turning shapes that need tatami fill
Templates empty design with initial pre-set values to suit a certain type of embroidery job. Values, styles, and properties are all pre-defined.
Tension the lock stitches in the beginning and end of a sewing sequence.
Thread the lock stitches in the beginning and end of a sewing sequence.
Tie ins and Tie offs the lock stitches in the beginning and end of a sewing sequence.
Thread Cutting the removal of floats and unwanted thread jumps by hand or machine.
Through Miss a mistake in design or punching where a part of the design was left out.
Topping stitches generated automatically for the connecting of segments within the design.
Travel Run stitches generated automatically for the connecting of segments within the design.
Trimmers Devices found on most machines manufactured after 1990. They trim the threads between color changes, jump stitches, between block lettering, and at the end of the design
Trimming The removal of excess stitches and thread ends after embroidery.
True view This is the ability of seeing the design on-screen as if it is stitched in a 2-dimensional effect (TrueView is a trademark of Wilcom Pty Ltd).
Triple Run Similar to running stitch but that this runs 3 layers (forward, backward & forward) used for borders around fill stitches. Thickness is between running and satin stitching.
Tubular Frames Frames or hoops that are especially designed to sew on garments that are manufactured in a tubular fashion i.e.: tee-shirts, sweat shirts, golf shirts. It also works well with jackets. The opposite side of the garment hangs below a cylinder arm and is out of the way of the garments on the other heads. In the case of a jacket the front and arms would be out of the way(this mchine always comes with a function called table drop).
Underlay Stitches applied prior to other design elements for nuetralizing fabric, stabilizing design and to create special effects such as depth and dimensionality.
Varify sample sew-out of a new design to make sure the pattern is correct.
Walk Stitch see running stitch.
Zigzag Stitches that progress in an alternating angle (zigzag manner) , used for tacking down appliques and tackle twill.
Zigzag Underlay run stitches under wide columns fashioned in zigzag manner or double zigzag form for stability and support, even used in 3-D embroidery to hold foam down for stitching.
Applique A separate pre-cut piece of fabric that is decorated or plain , and applied on top of another piece of fabric. Appliques are frequently used to reduce overall embroidery stitch counts, difficult tone work and, substrates difficult to embroider directly.
Backing Typically non-woven material, applied beneath material to be sewn to increase stability and support stitches. Available in few forms:- tear-aways, cut-aways, dissolve-away. These come in various weights and thickness. Backings are generally hooped or framed together with fabric or otherwise positioned between fabric and embroidery machine throat plate prior to stitching
Bean Stitch see triple run
Birdnesting Describes an accumulation of thread at the back or top of the embroidery resembling a bird’s nest. Typically caused by inadequate top thread tension, cause could be thread is not following the intended thread path.
Buckram or Buckram Backing Heavy woven interlining material, usually stiffened. Commonly found at the inside crown of the baseball caps to give body and form.
Bullion Also called bullion wire badges, these are hand sewn with either silver or gold wires (made like springs). Generally from India or Pakistan.
Cap Frames Devices found on specialized machines to do embroidery on a finished cap. Some are wide angel or 270 degree. The later will embroider an area much further around a cap all the way to the sides
Column Typically used to form borders around fill areas and for rendering text, the column stitch consists of closely spaced satin stitches.
Complex Fill Similar to standard fill except that the fill arears have ‘knock out portions creating openings or negative areas to form background design.
Density Amount of stitches per given area. Designer - Creator of embroidered designs who originates the ideas.
Digitizing This allows one to input a design via a scanner or a digitizing tablet and create stitches. The digitizing process is the most critical part of the whole process and using this propriety softwares skill and experience is of utmost importance.
Disk Floppy diskette to store designs and transfer data to machine. Available in Double Density (720K) or High Density (1.44Mb) . Older machines require double density disk to be formatted into their respective formats , even though your computer has a High Density floppy disk drive.
E-mailing Designs Embroidery designs can be e-mailed as attachments and should be send as Tajima .DST tape format, as majority of design centers and production factories can easily convert or directly use them.
Editing Function that helps embroiderers tweek designs for a better finishing, eg. moving of individual stitches or in blocks.Able to scale add text re-position or re-sequence elements. Modifying commands, add and deleting parts of the designs, etc.
Emblem Also known as insignia, crest, patch and badge. Usually characterised by a stitched or merrowed border, could be finished with back adhesive.
Embroidery Decorative sewing onto fabric or other substrates that incorporates design elements, text and motifs. Originally done by hand, embrodiery has evolved through the years to its current state of the art technology using computer aided designing and manufacturing,producing at high speeds using multi-heads machine.
Fill Also called tatami (looks like the Japanese tatami straw mats) stitching, large areas that need to be covered will have a series of running stitches spaced closely together. Pattern can be varied in terms of stitch length, angle and density.
Finishing Any of a number of procedures of thread trimming, removal of excess backing, topping, oil spots, soil removal, steaming to remove hoop marks, labelling,bagging and packing.
Formats Different embroidery machines and software speak different languages. They have their own codes, commands and outputs. A new, updated and high end software will be able to convert, translate and transform most of the formats in the common commercial formats are:- Barudan, Tajima, ZSK, Melco and Toyota.
Hooping Aids or Hooping Station Device used to help in the hooping process , generally to quicken and assist in accuracy and consistency of hooping
Insignia term for military patch, badges and emblems.
Lettering Styles commonly called fonts or typefaces, comes in many styles and sizes e.g. Helvetica, Curtis Script, Century, Arial, Old English and sometimes in foreign language.
Lock Stitch Sometimes called tack or lock-down stitch, purpose is to prevent loose ends coming off from handling and washing, typically found at endings of each colour change, letters, stop points and end of design.
Logo Name, symbol or trademark of a company or organisation. Short for logotype.
Looping Erratic stitch construction often due to improper top thread tension, or using different types of thread (polyester ,rayon or metallics).
Merrow type and name of machine to stitch overlock edges of emblems.
Monogram Embroidery of stylized lettering, typically three or fewer letters representing the initial(s) of a person’s name or organisation.
Needle Round slender piece of steel in very smooth finishing with one end thicker for attaching to the machine and the other either in taper point, ball end and sharp. Just before the pointed end there is a hole (eye) for the thread to pass through.
Nippers Small scissors for thread trimming.
Pile fabric with a surface of upright yarns or fibers, cut or looped.e.g. corduroy,velvets and terry towels.
Print Outs also called production worksheet, critical link between the designer and machine operator as it contains essential information .
Programmer the puncher who designs and produces the computer tapes.
Puckering Gathering of fabric in a wave like manner due to embroidery tension, inappropriate backing and wrong hooping.
Pull Compensation Deliberate distortion digitized into design to compensate for thread pulls. Eg. 10mm column will finish as 9 or 9.5 mm, therefore distortion should be 0.5mm compensation
Registration Proper relationship and alignment of all colours, stitches, sequence and processes.
Running Stitch Could be called ‘walking’ stitch, used for fine details, outlining, joining separate design elements having the same colour and primarily for stabilizing the desing as an underlay of threads to pin the backing to the fabric.
Satin Stitch Similar to zigzag stitching, except that this is so closely packed together they form a continuous column in varying lengths,angles and density.
Scaling Proportionate enlarging and reducing the whole digitized design.
Short-Stitch Filter Feature in newer digitizing softwares that eliminates stitches shorter than a pre-determined length to reduce thread breaks.
Short Stitching Deliberate shorten stitches around corners and in letterings incorporated so as there will not be clustering and thread breaks.
Software Embroidery software is specifically designed for the embroidery industry. It is designed to generate stitches and output the information in a language that will communicate with the embroidery machine. Software such as Corel Draw, PhotoShop, FreeHand, Arts & Letters, etc. are great for generating graphics but do not generate stitches and will not write to a file that an embroidery machine understands.
Special Fill A function in the newer digitizing softwares that incorporates special patterns and textures at the fill areas.
Stitch Editing / Editing Alteration of one or more stitches in an embroidery design or function changes eg. trims, stops, colour changes and re-sizing.
Stitch Master the technical person in charge of stitching, responsible for maintenance of equipment, production and quality control.
Stitch Processing the calculation of stitch information by means of specialized software, allowing scaling of expanded format designs with density compensation.
Stock Designs Similar to clip art, ‘evergreen / generic’ embroidery designs available in digital format from design houses at a lower cost than a custom ordered design.
Stump threads that are not trimmed properly leaving a small end of thread.
Swatch a piece of fabric , embroidery or yarn.
Tackle Twill Text characters cut from twill fabric with an adhesive backing, typically used for athletic applications, usually used as an applique.
Tape Archaic (rendered obsolete by digital technology) means of storing and transmitting embroidery design information on a paper tape, peforated with holes (similar to telex paper tapes). Presently, most embroiderers and design houses use diskettes.
Tatami See fill stitch, there are 3 types of tatami backstitch to produce different effects and edges : standard, borderline and diagonal backstitch.

  1. Standard backstitch is suitable for dense fill stitching rows are almost parallel and alternating row of backstitches is shorter, in order to avoid too many small stitches on the edge of the tatami.
  2. Borderline backstitch tatami is suitable for very open fill (layers of underlay). This is also called Trapunto Style Tatami. Rows are parallel, stitch rows goes to the edge of the shape and connects to the following row along the pattern’s edge. Creating a smooth and well defined edge. Suitable if the fill requires edge definition or fill needs to have a running outline along the edge.
  3. Diagonal Backstitch consist of forward stitches going straight across the shape and the backward rows are diagonal. This is suitable for connering and turning shapes that need tatami fill
Templates empty design with initial pre-set values to suit a certain type of embroidery job. Values, styles, and properties are all pre-defined.
Tension Two or more strand of filaments twisted together for strength and other characteristics . Generally, comes in rayon, polyester, cotton and metallics.
Thread threads that are not trimmed properly leaving a small end of thread.
Tie ins and Tie offs the lock stitches in the beginning and end of a sewing sequence.
Thread Cutting the removal of floats and unwanted thread jumps by hand or machine.
Through Miss a mistake in design or punching where a part of the design was left out.
Topping Material placed on top of fabric while embroidering , used to neutralize fabric surface characteristics such as towel, fleece, corduroy and velvets.
Trimmers Devices found on most machines manufactured after 1990. They trim the threads between color changes, jump stitches, between block lettering, and at the end of the design
Trimming The removal of excess stitches and thread ends after embroidery.
Triple Run Similar to running stitch but that this runs 3 layers (forward, backward & forward) used for borders around fill stitches. Thickness is between running and satin stitching.
Tubular Frames Frames or hoops that are especially designed to sew on garments that are manufactured in a tubular fashion i.e.: tee-shirts, sweat shirts, golf shirts. It also works well with jackets. The opposite side of the garment hangs below a cylinder arm and is out of the way of the garments on the other heads. In the case of a jacket the front and arms would be out of the way(this mchine always comes with a function called table drop).
Underlay Stitches applied prior to other design elements for nuetralizing fabric, stabilizing design and to create special effects such as depth and dimensionality.
Walk Stitch see running stitch.
Zigzag Stitches that progress in an alternating angle (zigzag manner) , used for tacking down appliques and tackle twill.
Zigzag Underlay run stitches under wide columns fashioned in zigzag manner or double zigzag form for stability and support, even used in 3-D embroidery to hold foam down for stitching.
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