From the Hoop: You get what you pay for with embroidery work

I'm averaging a post about embroidery work every other month, but I feel as though I post about it almost daily on Instagram. It's time to share a few pictures or recent projects on the blog.

Something I have come to believe, that some in the embroidery community don't agree with, is that you get what you pay for when it comes to embroidery designs. Every piece of embroidery you see that comes from a machine started as a digital file. The people who create embroidery designs are called digitizers. There are literally thousands of websites where digitizers sell their work.

When it comes to alphabet designs, I have been disappointed a few times by cheap designs. Here's an example of poorly digitized alphabet files:

Here's a close-up shot of a more expensive and better digitized design that is the same style as the one above (an interlocking vine design):

I don't think bad embroidery is about the machine. It's about the design files. The "good" and "bad" designs were all done on my machine and just hours apart. The files I used to create the monogram below cost many times what the ones above cost. Do you think the extra cost was worth it?

Here are some more designs from the "expensive" source. I put expensive in quotes because in the end, I think these are worth the price. I'm apt to use them again and again. I'll never use the cheap files again. I may have already deleted them from my computer!

I love, love, love those designs. They are all large designs, around 6-7 inches tall. They're perfect for monogramming tote bags and linens. The funny thing is that every person who has asked me to do monogram work for them has picked smaller, simpler designs. Here's one of the first items I did for a client. She chose a classic script for this tote bag.

While looking for linen inspiration online, I came across this monogram, which uses the first large design I shared above. I loved the strip effect and didn't know how it was made.

It turns out there are varigated threads, which change colors. They look random when they are on the spool, but once they stitch out, the stripes are apparent.

As I did research about the thread, I found that no one seems to have a reference document about how the different variegated threads look once stitched. The academic in me saw this as a fun, little research project. I gathered variegated threads from around Charlottesville and Marc picked some more up while out of town for business.

I had a feeling the Floriani brand thread might look better on a larger monogram, so I decided to try it out on some towels. I loved how it looked! I didn't even wait to finish before taking this picture:

Some people will swear that their inexpensive embroidery designs look as good as the expensive ones. There are a few inexpensive sources with which I've had luck, but I've also been disappointed by a few. I'd rather have the peace of mind knowing that a design is going to stitch out beautifully every single time.


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  3. So much embroidery, I love it! I can definitely tell the difference in quality of these, luckily you found it out pretty quickly and can use the good stuff from now on!

  4. I have seen that variegated thread and wondered what it would look like stitched up. Thanks for sharing.


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