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Hello. Does anyone know the trick to getting embroidery on puffy foam to look professional?  I have tried it using a satin stitch but when the excess foam is torn away, the edges of the stitches are no longer smooth.  There are jagged edges of the foam left.  I have even digitized the design twice with the second one having a little wider satin stitch to cover the first. Is there a different kind of foam other that the one home sewers use?  Am I missing a step someplace?  I'm sewing on a Tajima Neo II with rayon thread.  I've tried it on canvas, caps, towels, Head bands.  Same problem on each one. 

The other problem I am having is embroidering on head bands and wrist bands.  What kind of topping are you using to get the stitches to stay on top and not sink into the stretchy fabric?  Do I need to do something with the density?  I've seen pictures of it done in catalogs.

If anyone can help me with either of these problems, I would be very appreciative.


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I do puff digitizing a lot.  Big learning curve for you to get it right.
Things to think about for those of you that haven't:
Its not at all like regular embroidery and will have a learning curve. That curve will entail ruining some hats as I have never seen anyone do it with proficiency on the first try. You'll need foam the color of the thread from an embroidery supplier and a heat gun from Lowes and or an electronics store. Here is where part of the learning comes in. Using the heat gun and not melting the thread, hat and or your shop :o) The heat gun is used for melting paint off a surface so it gets very hot. This is to remove any fuzzes left over (if any).
Don't get too complicated (like multiple colors in foam) as most everything you see retail was done on the panel before assembly so the trick is to get it on a curved surface and keep registration. I do a run stitch to secure the foam but you have to spay glue the foam so you can get your hands out of the way. Otherwise the foam will likely move before it sews.
Additional information on my site.
If your at an ISS this year the Tajima Booth runs my puff  ''Tajima'' design on a single head.


My friend Bonnie Landsburger is the author of ''Tips". for Stitches. You would have seen this tip in the March 2009 issue of Stitches Magazine. 

Here is how I digitize for beanies and terry. Actually I have been using this technique for years. I use a low density underlay under the logo / lettering leaving a 1/4 inch border the shape of the design. Its like a glow or ora for mental visuals. This is sewn the color of the beanie. This locks down the pores knit to the cut away backing and allows the logo to have some stability to sew on.
I used to have Terry Town as a customer in the old days about 12 years ago. One project, I think it was the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, we were having problems with the robes and the towels. I suggested using this technique and it worked. You will see this used on expensive towels these days. If you look close you will see the thread the same color as the towel. I have seen this on Polo's also. What it does is give a more stable substrate to sew on. I have even used this on Fleece. The small border around the design gives it definition and will make it less likely to use solvy.
Sample of this technique is in my gallery section on the bottom of the page
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Thank you, Marv, for your reply.  Is the learning curve for the heat gun only?  Is the Sulky foam the same as what I'd get from an embroidery supplier?  Is t here something special about the foam from a supplier? Are you saying that the jagged edged are a fact of life and that's what the heat gets rid of?  That there is no special trick to digitizing for sewing over the foam?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm wondering what others use as a "heat gun" for their puffy foam projects. Is it a blow dryer, is it a heat gun that is used when applying vinyl or is it something else.

Currently I am having issues with what we have melting the hat the foam was applied to. Any suggestions?

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I found that hairdryers were never hot enough for melting the puffy foam away.

I use a sort of mini-blow torch sold for hobby soldering. It is actually a disposable lighter  fitted into a 'handle' that concentrates the flame. I picked it up at my local hardware store. I have also heard of some people using regular small blow torches.

No matter what you use, I think you have to employ a fairly rapid hand motion, lightly winking the foam away with the flame, so as to not melt the hat.

Good luck!

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I'm from South Africa. I need help regarding 3d embroidery with the foam. I need advice on my Pull comp settings and density  to do the embroidery on the foam. Also on how to or if to use an underlay.  I understand that its necessary to close all the edges, but mine looks horrific. Any advice will be much appreciated.

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I wanted to use puffy foam in a design for a client. I took some notes from a John Deer video on the topic (below attachment). Using Deer's procedures I got it right the first time. The title of Deer's video is "Adorable Ideas Presents John Deer's Creative Digitizing Made Easy, Hands-On Learning, Fringe & Foam (2006)."

Basically the object is to totally encase the foam within the stitches so that as little foam as possible pokes out. Doubling the density of satin stitches serves not only to encase the foam, but also to cut the foam cleanly. At the ends of satin columns you want to "cap" the column by first making a short column perpendicular to your main column. WIthout the cap the foam will squeeze out the ends of the main column. Cutting back a bit more on your main column prevents the main column stitches from falling over the edge of the foam -- your cap stitches in the same color ensure the design looks whole.

It helps to use a little temporary spray glue to hold the foam to your design (place a stop just before the point where you want to install the foam). Use some quick runs to then tack down the foam, working from the center outward in the design.

Deer recommends hitting the embroidery with steam before pulling the excess foam away. It helps a little. Sometimes a bit of foam still pokes out. You can use the back of a crewel needle to coax the foam back under the stitches.

BTW, I've found that craft foam from a local arts and crafts store is cheaper than the embroidery foam I get from my usual embroidery supplier, and the craft foam works just as well.

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Puff isn't that easy to do. Its not a cookie cutter process. Each design is different and unique and has to be digitized with a lot of thought as to where the the needle will land next. The problem is most who fail at it use the same applications for all the elements within the design. Send me the design and I may be able to offer a solution.

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Hi , If you still need help with a 3D puff design , I can provide you or show you how to digitize designs to work with Puff. I have recently done 24 caps with 3d Puff lettering for our fishing club members., and it took a bit but looks sweet. Only thing is next time I won't use the puff with the glue on the back as it gums up my needles on my machine. But Basically I went to Michaels , a craft store here in Canada picked up colored foam 5mm thick and did the back ground stitches of the design first, than attached the foam and and did the design,  my density of the design was 150 spi for the satin stitches and all ends were capped. I will be using 3d puff in other designs really stands out. 

You can contact me

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