To see the effects of stitch length and density on fabric, I suggest creating a stitch swatch chart. Full instructions for creating a swatch chart similar to the one below in Generations digitizing software are included in Anatomy of a Design: How to Think Like a Digitizer and Become a Better Embroiderer. In fact, the sample shown in this article is included as part of the downloadable files collection associated with the book. (Click the link in the Resources section of the ebook.)
If you’re familiar with your digitizing software, you can probably see how the swatch chart shown below (screen captured from Punto) was created. Each swatch in this sample is 25 millimeters square (approximately 1″ x 1″). Each column represents a different density setting, while each row represents a different stitch length setting. For example, the upper left hand swatch has a density of .30 and a stitch length of 2.0mm while the upper right hand swatch has a density of .45 and a stitch length of 2.0mm. I’ve labeled stitch count for each swatch in white (its not part of the stitch file!).
- Note 1: The swatches do not have any underlay or travel stitches.
- Note 2: These swatches are not intended as recommended settings!
- Note 3: For accurate results, the swatch chart should be made with the same software you are using to digitize the design.
If you digitize, creating different swatch charts can help you select stitch attributes for various fabrics. Look at them and feel them. In general, you want the least amount of density with a longer stitch length that provides the desired coverage. I also recommend creating swatch charts that factor in various underlay settings as well as charts to sample fill patterns. Sewn swatch charts will give you a much better gauge of the actual result than looking at stitches on the screen. Sew them in various thread colors on different fabrics and colors.
They take a little time to make and sew but with a single color design, you won’t be tending the machine. These swatches can be eye-opening!