Resizing and Large Monograms
By Guest Blogger: Richards Jarden, owner of Embroideryarts (specializing in monogram designs for embroidery machines since 1996)
Large monograms – for pillows, chair backs, shower curtains, etc. – are popular now. Big embroidered monograms are seen in catalogues and home decor magazines on a regular basis. Although many of these highly decorative designs are produced on commercial embroidery machines, home embroiderers can make them too. A few things are required:
* A big hoop. In principle a design can be enlarged to the maximum size of the hoop you have – allowing a bit of border space so you don’t hit the hoop with the needle. There are quite a few large hoops on the market for home embroidery machines. However, keep in mind that sewing out a large monogram may not be as simple as buying a big hoop and slapping it on your machine. Your machine will have a maximum sewing field that is determined by the machine’s mechanics, and a large hoop and your machine need to have matching capabilities.
* A software program to resize designs. A wide range of options are available – from inexpensive stand-alone resizing programs to more full-featured editing and digitizing software with resizing capability. In principle a design can be made any size you choose.
In the early days of resizing designs the programs didn’t include stitch processors to change design density when the design size changed. The program moved stitches further apart when enlarging, closer together when reducing, but the stitch count remained the same. As a result, it was recommended that design size be changed no more than 20%. The thinking was that spreading stitches out 20% wouldn’t create a look that was noticeably too thin, and compacting the stitches by that amount wouldn’t significantly pack the stitches up and cause excessive thread breaks. All “modern” resizing programs now include stitch processors to adjust density and stitch count, but the 20% limit has persisted in the minds of some educators and embroiderers.
In practice, some software programs seem to do a better job than others when designs are made significantly larger than their original versions.
(Tip: If your software seems to balk at significant size changes, try resizing in stages. Resize a certain amount, then save the resized design as a new file, then resize the new version a bit more, save again, etc.)
Regardless of the software used, there is one “gotcha” that should be kept in mind – particularly with monogram designs, which are often digitized in satin stitch. An embroidery machine has a set column width limit (sometimes able to be changed by the user, often hard-wired). This limit – somewhere between 9mm and 12mm wide depending on the machine you have – is associated with a type of stitch called a “jump stitch” or “needle up” – and on machines with automatic trimmers a jump stitch is a component of a trim code.
What happens when a resized design exceeds this limit? On the machine, a portion of the column may not sew at all. In your software, the widest section of a column will “disappear” and expose the underlay, which isn’t as wide as the top stitching. This limit is part of your software’s functionality – usually the maximum column width can be set within your software’s menu structure. If you have the column width edit function enabled, when a satin stitch column exceeds this limit one of several things will happen: the software will convert all or part of the design to a fill stitch, or it will drop a stitch part-way across the width of the column (sometimes called a “split-column”).
For a monogram, composed of several different satin stitch columns, which may all be different widths, and may all be wider and narrower in different parts of the column, the split-column solution may be visually inconsistent, and disturb the overall look of the letters. If you are going to experiment with resizing, pay close attention to the split-column issue – the specifics of what your software is doing to a wider column may be very difficult to see on screen. Converting everything to a fill may be a better visual solution, but it also has its disadvantages – a flatter more mechanical appearance, and significantly more stitches with a consequently longer sewout time.
Embroideryarts has offered a custom resizing service for several years to resize our designs for customers who don’t have resizing software, don’t know how it works, or are too busy to bother with the technicalities. For the past 8 months we have been gradually introducing XL versions for some of our monogram sets. Since we have the original vector files that we created when digitizing the original versions we can manually move the outlines around to create thinner columns and designs that will still sew at larger sizes. Typically we redo an XL style so that all column details are no wider than 9mm in an enlarged 254mm (10” tall) design, then scale the letters down to 177mm (7” tall). This allows the end user to resize upward again to 10” with their own software without stumbling into the same column width issue.
The illustrations here show the two versions of our Empire Monogram Set. The monogram in red is the original (3 1/2” tall – 89mm), the one in green is the XL version (7” tall – 177mm). The XL version is thinner, but still quite prominent at this size.
If your software is one that converts stitch files (i.e. DST, PES,etc.) to vectors for resizing then you could make changes like this yourself.
Content in this feed is © Copyright 2012 by Eileen Roche and may not be republished without written permission. You’re welcome to forward to a friend or colleague but it’s not okay to add the RSS feed automatically as content on a blog or other website.