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Digitizing Fundamentals XI

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Planning a design - Careful and thorough preparation is the key

The most important part of a design is the preparation that is done prior to using the computer. Spending time plotting out the sequence, identifying stitch types, and choosing stitch control factors will save time and simplify the on-screen part of the digitizing job.

Design Analysis

The first step in digitizing is to sit back, get comfortable, and analyze the design from start to finish. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it suitable for embroidery?
  • What will it be sewn on?
  • What is the ideal size?
  • How many colors are in the design?
  • What is the logical sew order?
  • Are there any special features or focus points?
  • Which details will work? Which ones won’t?
  • Are there any special challenges?

    Separation by Color

    The second step in planning a design is to break it down by color. The intent is to sew each color completely before moving on to the next one. However, that is not always possible due to the way the design is layered. Therefore, after breaking it down by color, continue breaking it down by layer.

    Anchoring the Design

    When possible, it is desirable to digitize the largest elements of a design first as this provides more stability or an “anchor”. When practical work from the largest elements down to the smallest elements. As every design is different, that may not always be possible, but it should be a basic rule-of-thumb. Keep in mind that a large element can affect smaller elements around it, but rarely will a small element affect larger ones that are nearby.

    Develop a Roadmap

    After analyzing and breaking down the design, the next step is to build a roadmap for the digitizing. This involves choosing the sew sequence, stitch types, stitch directions, stitch patterns, underlays, overlaps, push-pull compensation methods, etc.

    All of this information should then be written down and used as a guide to follow while punching. If done properly, this will improve the efficiency of the job, while decreasing editing.

    Proper Pathing Saves Money

    One of the goals for laying out a proper path through a design is to minimize thread trims and color changes. Trims and color changes cost MONEY!!

    A machine sewing at an average speed of 600spm is sewing 10 stitches per second (sps).

    1 trim can take up to 5 seconds or a loss of 50 stitches.

    1 color change can take up to 10 seconds or a loss of 100 stitches.

    10 color changes add the equivalent of up to 1000 stitches to a design. If you are charging $1.00/1000 to sew, then such a design costs an extra $1.00 each time you run it, just to cover the color changes.

    And now you are ready to go to the computer.



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    Meet The Author: John Deer
    John Deer is owner of Punch Perfect/Art-Sew-Perfect, a digitizing, stock design and educational firm. He is a third-generation embroiderer with 19 years of digitizing experience and has personally won 30 awards in trade publications.

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