Examples of what does not work well in embroidery

Every day at DigitisingMart, the team is presented with orders that typically will not embroider well. Part of DigitisingMart’s role is to train its customers as to what will and what will not work. These fall in to five major categories.

Too much lettering in too small a place

DigitisingMart often gets requests to fit designs like this into areas as small as 2.5 inches. While this might be an extreme example it happens all the time. Lettering is particularly challenging because everyone knows what a letter looks like and even one stitch out of place can make a letter look wrong.

Certain substrates will accept small lettering better than others but generally speaking, 4mm is the smallest Arial (sans serif) letter can be programmed. Smaller than that and your machine will not form quality stitches or the holes in letters like A, B, D, O, P, Q, R, (for capital letters) a, b, d, g, o, p, q, s (for lower case) will fill in and look like blobs.


Embroidery is a solid medium and threads cannot be blended to copy the effect shown here. Can it be faked? Yes, but whether or not the end product will be accepted is entirely subjective and depends entirely on the expectations of the end user. Effects like this are meant to mimic reflectivity.

Embroidery thread by its nature will shine and reflect light so while this effect may be necessary in print, in embroidery this may happen all by itself.

Transparent effects

Since thread is opaque you cannot see something that is on a layer behind the thread. Because of that images like this are virtually impossible to emulate in embroidery. Objects behind windows are also very difficult.

Distressed effects

Design’s like BIORUST below do not work well for embroidery.  Needle and thread do not have enough resolution to duplicate this effect.

Logos on caps 

In general, the maximum height for a cap design is 2.25in tall. On some machines you can push this to 2.5in but whenever you push the extreme limits of cap embroidery you are asking for trouble in the form of damaged product and broken machines.

Designs like this are beautiful but it is not friendly to cap embroidery.  There is too much small lettering in not enough space to allow for quality embroidery. To make this design work, the answer is to delete the outer ring and small lettering.


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