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Embroidery Glossary

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3-D Foam Embroidery:
This type of embroidery gets its 3-D appearance from foam that’s placed over the area to be embroidered. As the design is stitched, the needle perforates the foam. Once completed, the unused foam is pulled away. Foam is available in a variety of colors and thicknesses.
A separate, pre-cut piece of fabric that is decorated (or decorated and then cut), and applied to another piece of fabric, typically a garment. Appliqués are frequently used to reduce overall embroidery stitch counts, add dimension and texture, execute reproductions of which embroidery is impractical and decorate substrates difficult to embroider directly.
Automatic Color Change:
The ability of a multi-needle commercial embroidery machine to follow a command to change to another specified needle with a different thread color without intervention.
Woven or nonwoven material used underneath the item or fabric being embroidered to provide support and stability. Sometimes known by brand name of “Pellon”. Can be hooped with the item or placed between the machine and throat plate and the hooped garment. Available in various weights and in three basic types – cutaway, tearaway, and washaway.
Bean (Running) Stitch:
Three stitches placed back and forth between two points. Often used for outlining, because it eliminates the need for repeatedly digitizing a single-ply run stitch outline.
Collection of thread between goods and needle plate, resembling a bird’s nest. Typically caused by inadequate top-thread tension, top thread not following thread path, or up-and-down substrate movement under needle (see flagging), birdnesting describes an accumulation of thread between substrate and needle plate, and can result in restricted or irregular substrate travel.
Blending (gradients):
A digitizing technique that makes different colors of thread flow together in a more pleasing manner. Relies heavily on variable densities. Gives a design a more realistic, 3-D look.
Bobbin Case:
Small, round metal device for holding the bobbin. Used to tension the bobbin thread. Inserted in the hook for sewing.
Spool or reel that is inside the hook and that holds the bobbin thread, which helps form the securing stitches on the underside of the fabric. Bobbin on an embroidery machine works the same way as on a home sewing machine. Bobbin thread works with upper thread to create stitches.
Coarse, woven fabric stiffened with glue, used to stabilize fabric for stitching. Commonly used in caps to hold the front panel erect. Sometimes used as substitute for other backing.
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