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Embroidery digitizing: tips and trick

There are several ways to estimate stitch count, you can look at the design and guess, or you can place a grid over the embroidery design and calculate the areas and stitch types.

Grid Estimating Technique

Below you will find a grid system composed of Ѕ” X Ѕ” blocks, along with a 5” linear ruler. (The ruler will be used for runs and satins.) Obtain a clear acetate sheet used for overhead projector presentations (8 Ѕ” X 11”), available from most Office Supply Stores and print out the measuring tool, so you can apply it as per the instructions of this article. Use a separate ruler to measure the blocks and verify that they are truly Ѕ” X Ѕ”. It’s possible that the grid sheet was inadvertently re-sized during printing or downloading.



Most of the various grids found online use the same size blocks. However, they tend to differ when it comes to assigning fill stitch coverage values to those blocks. Thus, it’s important to understand that different software systems may come up with different coverage values such as density.

The worldwide standard for density is 4.0 pts which is equivalent to 63.5 spi (stitches per inch). Theoretically this is the master density setting for all systems, but not necessarily. Plus, there are various auto-compensation functions which change the density based on user-inputs such as fabric type. Therefore, it’s important that you run a quick test of your own.

I found that on the Tajima DG/ML by Pulse Microsystems software the value for a Ѕ” X Ѕ” square is approximately 300 stitches, using embroidery fill pattern 1 (the default). Realize too, that different fill patterns will give different stitch counts. Using this concept you can continue your calculations with the end result looking like this:

FILL STITCHES (Density of 63.5 spi)

1” Square Area = 1000 stitches 200 stitches for underlay = 1200

Ѕ” Square Area = 300 stitches 150 stitches for underlay = 450

ј” Square Area = 100 stitches 100 stitches for underlay = 200

The graphic above is a ZOOMED IN view of a 1” long satin column with a density setting of 63.5 spi that I created. If you count the endpoints on either side of the column they add up to 64 per side – which adds up to 128 stitches total, as it takes two needle penetrations to make a stitch. (Said another way, a column of stitches is made up of two parts, the stitch and the return.) To be conservative, I use 150 stitches per linear inch in my estimates, rather than 128. You may feel more comfortable going as high as 200 stitches. You should end up with the following results:


SATIN STITCHES (Density of 63.5 spi )

1 Linear Inch = 150 stitches 50 stitches for underlay 200 stitches

Ѕ Linear Inch = 75 stitches 25 stitches for underlay 100 stitches

Run stitch estimation uses the same concepts as satin's. Set up a straight run segment that is five to six inches long. Measure the number of stitches that make up the segment. You should find that 1 linear inch has approximately 12 stitches, depending upon the run stitch length setting, in this case 3 mm.

It can be hard to predict what run stitch length setting will be used on any given design, plus runs can be tricky as it may be necessary to double-back in some places, I use a conservative number of 20 stitches per linear inch.


1 Linear Inch = 20 stitches

Depending on the amount of color changes I will add 200 stitches per color change.

Please note that if you go over and it turns out to be less you may be able to refund the customer the difference or give them a discount, but do not ask them for more money cause your guess work was out. They won't like this too much.

I would practice with this until you get a feel for machine embroidery designs.


Author: Frank Profokator


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