Embroidery can be applied before or after the construction of a garment and concentrated in specific areas or as part of an overall design. It can be used as an embellishment on the surface of the cloth to enhance the look of the fabric or it can be used in a way that makes it integral to the function of the apparel, rather than simply as a decorative addition. For example, a buttonhole can be created with interesting stitch work and the shape of a simple garment can change through the application of smocking. Embroidery can do with machine or hand. In this article I will discuss on different types of embroidery machines and their functions.
Embroidery is a decorative needlework. Embroidery can be done with both hand and machine. In machine embroidery either a sewing or embroidery machine is utilized to make patterns on clothing materials. It is generally used in product branding, decorative purposes and corporate advertising.
Different Types of Embroidery Machines:
- Free-motion machine embroidery
- Computerized machine embroidery
- Single head embroidery machine
- Multi head embroidery machine
- Schiffli embroidery machine
A. Free-motion Machine Embroidery:
A basic type of zigzag sewing machine can be utilized to produce embroidery designs in the case of free-motion machine embroidery. Tightly banded fabric has to be moved beneath a needle to create a design in this kind of machine embroidery. In this case, the embroidery has to be developed manually by the operator using the machine’s settings so that the tight stitches form a design or an image on a fabric.
These types of machines have only one needle, hence the operators have to stop and manually rethread for every color in a multicolour design, which consumes lot of time. Any design created by this machine is very unique and cannot be accurately reproduced, unlike with computerized embroidery as this is a manual process rather than a digital production system.
B. Computerized Machine Embroidery:
Modern embroidery machines are mostly computer controlled and exclusively designed for embroidery. The embroidery machines normally comprise a frame that holds the framed area of fabric with tension below the sewing needle and automatically moves it to make a preprogrammed design which is saved in the machine.
Based on its capabilities, it requires various kinds of input from the user in a specified digital format for sewing the embroidery designs. In the case of multineedle industrial embroidery machines, threading has to be done before the running of the design and does not necessitate rethreading.
Functions of computerized machine embroidery:
The fundamental steps for producing the embroidery designs using a computerized embroidery machine are:
- Creating or obtaining a digitized design file
- Editing embroidery designs
- Loading final embroidery file into the machine
- Stabilizing the fabric with adequate tension and position it on the machine
- Starting the embroidery process and monitor the process
Digitized design files can be created on our own or purchased with embroidery software. Generally, embroidery file formats come under two categories, namely the source format, which is specific to the software and the machine format, which is particularly for a specific brand of embroidery machine. Embroidery machines commonly support one or more deign formats such as Tajima’s .dst, Melco’s .exp/.cnd and Barudan’s .fdr based on the brand of the machine. Machine formats normally comprise primarily stitch data (offsets) and machine functions (trims, jumps, etc.) and editing of these files is very difficult and needs extensive manual work.
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After a design has been digitized, the editing of designs or combining it with other designs can be carried out using the embroidery software. Most embroidery software allows the user to supplement text rapidly and effortlessly.
Loading the design:
After completion of editing work, the final design file is loaded into the machine in the form of floppy disks, CDs or USB interface cables. The design format required by the machine will vary depending on the particular brand.
Stabilizing the fabric:
During embroidery, wrinkling and other related issues can be avoided by stabilizing the fabric before the embroidery process. The fabric stabilizing method depends on the fabric characteristics, type of embroidery machine and the complexity of the design. For better stabilization of fabric, generally additional fabric pieces known as ‘interfacing’ are placed on the bottom or top of the fabric or both sides.
Embroidering the design:
Finally, the machine is switched ON and the embroidery process is monitored continuously. Many designs necessitate more than one color and may consist of extra processing for appliqués, foams and other kinds of special effects.
Editor of Fashion2Apparel. She is a fashion designer and ex-lecturer in Fashion Designing. She wants to spread fashion knowledge throughout the world.