The Top 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Buy Embroidery

We tell our customers we love seeing their names in stitches. That’s because embroidery is one of the most classic, and yet fashion-forward, decoration options out there.

However, embroidery is also one of the most misunderstood garment decoration methods, since it’s so much more than “sewing a logo on a backpack.”

While we don’t expect you to be a commercial embroidery expert (you can leave that to our team at Corporate Casuals), there are some things you should know about custom embroidery.

We’ve learned that when our clients know more about the embroidery process, the whole order lifecycle goes much smoother. (We bet that if you share some of this information with people you know, they’ll be pretty impressed because using embroidery for your branding is downright brilliant.)

So, here’s a quick embroidery primer based on the five questions we get asked the most.

What’s commercial embroidery anyway?

This is a great place to start. We’re not talking about hand-stitched embroideries here. Commercial embroidery is definitely more hardcore, since we’re mass-producing embroidered logos and artwork on a large number of polo shirts, sweatshirts, and accessories on industrial-grade machines. The embroidery equipment we use is capable of turning out high volumes of embroidered pieces per hour, at very high speeds.

How fast are these machines? Instead of miles per hour, we measure embroidery machine speed by stitches per minute. A modern commercial embroidery machine can sew at speeds greater than 900 stitches per minute and maintain perfect quality.

A typical left-chest logo has about 6,000 stitches. That means most commercial embroidery machines with one head can complete that job in about 10 minutes and maintain perfect quality. Using a six-head machine, we can run six polo shirts at once and stitch six logos on those shirts in about 10 minutes. Each logo will be identical and look great.

If I upload a JPEG file of my logo into your system, how does that become a stitched design on a polo shirt, jacket or cap?

When you upload an image or logo for us to embroider on your apparel, we convert it to an embroidery-machine-friendly file so we can stitch it out on our machines. (This conversion process is also called digitizing if you want to get more technical and learn some embroidery terminology.)

For the best possible results, we digitize your custom logo or artwork by hand. The talented embroidery artists on our design team use the most up-to-date digitizing software to produce a stitch file that will result in the crispest, best-looking embroidery. Even using expensive auto-digitizing software, you still won’t achieve the same quality that our artists do. You need human intervention and a trained eye to create the highest-quality stitch files.

embroidery digitizers hard at work
Digitizers Hard at Work

You may or may not know that many embroidery suppliers roll digitizing into the total cost of your job to make it appear “free.” (Trust us, it’s not.) We charge you a one-time setup fee of $35 for this conversion service. Once you’ve paid us to digitize your logo, you’ll never need to pay that fee again for that particular artwork. In fact, you can even change thread colors and remove portions of the logo, all without paying another setup fee.

We convert your artwork file into a specialized stitch file in an industry-standard Tajima DST format, which will work at any embroidery shop you might use in the future. While we hope you’ll never decide to leave us for another decorating provider, you can download your digitized logo from us at any time and take it with you to another shop.

You mentioned a one-time setup fee to digitize my logo. Is that really just a one-time fee?

Yes. When you upload a logo, that digitizing process costs a one-time setup fee of $35.However, whenever you add new elements or need to resize existing elements in an embroidery stitch file, then you’ll pay a new setup fee. If we’ve digitized a left-chest logo for you, but now you need it to be 5 inches wide for a jacket back, that’s a new stitch file and an additional one-time $35 setup charge.

But here’s where our stellar customer service goes to work for you: If the images or logos you upload are substantially the same, we’ll combine the logo setups into a single job—and charge you just one setup fee of $35.

For example, when you first upload an identical logo in red, white and blue, you’ll see three setup charges. However, the Corporate Casuals customer service rep who’s processing your order from beginning to end will adjust this to just one setup fee. Our embroidery artists will then create three separate logos in red, white and blue.

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If you need the same logo in different thread colors, just upload one artwork file and write a note to your customer service rep detailing what colors you need that artwork in. We’ll take care of the rest!

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If you still have questions about digitizing and setup charges, this blog article, Embroidery Setup Charges Explained is a good read to fill in any information gaps.

Is embroidery great for all artwork, or are there any limitations?

Great question, because the answer is a definite “yes.” While embroidery is a classic decoration method that offers a unique, 3-D look everyone loves to wear, not every piece of artwork or logo is optimal for every type of decoration.

An experienced decorator worth their salt, like the team at Corporate Casuals, will give you an honest assessment of the artwork or logo file you present to be embroidered.

So what are some design elements that don’t translate well into embroidery? For example, small text or trademark symbols, fine details, and color gradients can be difficult to reproduce using embroidery. Additionally, the level of detail we can reproduce in stitches also depends on your garment’s fabric type.

common issues with embroidered logos

But don’t worry! Our experienced embroidery artists can help optimize your artwork for stitching. We can also recommend the best fabric types to sew out your logo on, so you look like a million bucks.

For an Embroidery 101 crash course, check out the article, Ultimate Guide to Embroidery.

Are there any tips you share with your embroidery insiders (like me)?

Yes, glad you asked! Here are four tips we share with our favorite clients.

The order notes box is your new BFF.

If you have any special instructions for your order, this is the place to add them. Your customer service rep will review your entire order and any notes you added before placing it into our embroidery queue.

Use the "order notes" box for special instructions

Don’t forget to approve your new logo.

If you’ve sent us a new logo to be digitized, you’ll need to approve it before we stitch anything out for you. Check your email for the logo approval link that should arrive 24-48 hours after you place an order. Remember, if you don’t approve your logo in a timely manner, that could delay your shipment.

Embroidered apparel isn’t returnable. (In order words, we stitch it, you bought it.)

There are plenty of ways to make sure that you know what you’re buying in advance. For example, you can order a sample of the polo or hoodie you’d like embroidered. We can also stitch out a sample of your logo on your desired garment so you can see exactly how it’ll look. Your customer service rep can review some of these options with you before you give us the go-ahead. The bottom line is that once we stitch your garments, unless the garments themselves are defective, they’re yours.

Take advantage of the generous quantity discounts we offer.

When you’re placing an order for six uniform polo shirts for your sales team, consider whether you’re going to want to order six fleece jackets for them in a few weeks. Since we offer our clients great quantity discounts at 12, 48, 100 and 300 units, it makes good business sense for you to bundle your decorated apparel orders—since all items in your shopping cart contribute to the total items that qualify for discount pricing. Going back to our example, if you order the six polo shirts and six fleece jackets at the same time, your order of 12 pieces qualifies for the quantity discount.

We’re Here to Help… Contact the Experienced Embroidery Experts at Corporate Casuals in Concord, MA Today

If you’re looking for the highest-quality custom hats, bags, or sweatshirts to promote your brand, you can trust the pros at Corporate Casuals who work with local and national businesses. Our staff of highly trained industry professionals ensures that your next embroidered or screen-printed order looks great and ships on time. Call us at (866) 369-5935 or fill out our chat form to see how we can help with your branding needs. Since 1980, we’ve turned out more than 7 million (and counting) custom-decorated garments.