Scaling Stock Monograms

Use these tips to successfully edit these luxurious letters.

By Lee Caroselli-Barnes, Contributing Writer

March 26, 2019

In embroidery, there is nothing more beautiful than a monogram. In fact, because of its luxury, a monogram on a man’s shirt cuff became a symbol of hope during the Great Depression. And, at a time of economic disaster, this small luxury kept our industry alive.

Monograms are a natural endeavor for smaller shops that cater to customers as individuals. But monograms also can be a lucrative addition to corporate logos in larger shops. Because they are so personal, the price can be flexible and offset some of the other more competitive types of embroidery.

Also, your customer will want a selection in an array of colors and sizes that makes him feel as if you are thinking solely about him. Ensure your options will cover everyone’s taste, and that you have the time needed to put the order together.

You don’t have to offer every monogram available; offer a few good ones that are set up so you only have to change the letter or letters, not the layout. Colors also should be limited, unless you are offering tone-on-tone on linens or upscale garments. In such a case, let the customer know you will match the thread to the fabric.

Scaling Tips
Some of our industry’s most beautiful monograms are stock offerings from companies that specialize in monogramming. Figure 1 is showing the “H” monogram (style AOL701H) that is offered by Embroidery Arts, Philadelphia, and can be found at embroideryarts.com.

Because monograms are used for different garments, linens and even framed pieces, these stock offerings must be scaled from large to small. Also, they must run like a dream without destroying the art’s integrity.

Doing this requires software that recognizes the original artist’s commands. If your software only allows stitch-by-stitch editing, then it is best to run the monogram at the size, or sizes, provided.

Most stock monograms are offered in two sizes; in the case of Embroidery Arts, there is the “XL version” of some of its more popular styles that allow for scaling from 7-10 inches. When dealing with stock monograms, you primarily are working with a satin or column stitch.

Small and Wide
To scale this design, the first rule is that the smaller the monogram letter, the smaller the satin-stitch column will be. The length of the stitch in the column has to be wide enough so that there is material between the two needle penetrations at each end of the stitch. If the two needle penetrations are too close with no material in between, you will lose that stitch.

Also, that wider, longer stitch results in the gloss that makes this embroidery beautiful. So, as with any satin or column stitch, scaling down the monogram requires widening the column.

Second, with a wider column, the thread will pull and fill in. If you don’t allow for the resulting increased density, the stitches will begin to push against each other. This will compromise the column’s beauty and cause it to “wobble.” To give those stitches room, simply lighten the density or increase the space between the stitches.

You will find that the default density values initially should be lightened by about 10%. This is because the software usually reinterprets the column stitch to be about 10%-15% more dense than the original artist’s programming. As you decrease the monogram’s size, the density or spacing needs to be decreased proportionately.

When you get to the very small column, you will find that if the default is .40mm, you will be running the column at .80mm. When shown at 100%, you will see that this fills in nicely and the design’s beauty isn’t compromised.

The next step is addressing the column’s width. These stitches love to pull in, which is an advantage. Not only does it allow you to run a very small column without thread breaks, but the pulling forces the stitches to fill in and be more rounded, adding beauty and dimension to the monogram.

To edit this particular monogram effectively, take it color by color, as each section has a different look or texture and needs to be addressed separately (see Figure 3). Starting with the small areas you see in color No. 1, check the density of the objects within it and lighten that density in proportion to the size you will be running.

If you have scaled that design down to 50% of the original letter size, you must lighten the density at least 60% and widen the column. When measuring the column (the length of the stitch), if you find that the length is 2.9mm and the needle width is .8mm, you will have material to work with. But I would still widen the column by 30% and lighten the density by 60%. Thus, if the default is .40mm, it should be .60mm.

The objects in color No. 2 are slightly larger. However, they stitch from the center and out, resulting in a shorter stitch. If that stitch length is 1.6mm and the needle’s width is half of that, there is no material between needle penetrations — so widen the column by at least 60%. The density then should be at .80mm, or a 90% decrease.

The last color, No. 3, is the letter itself. Here, the goal should be to keep the beautiful sheen. This still will require lightening the density as you reduce the size, but also widening the column for that all-important gloss. If these columns measure a little wider than 2mm, then make them twice as wide and reduce the density to .65mm.

These two steps — lightening density and widening columns as the stock monogram’s size is decreased — are the keys to success. Following the above tips will ensure a smooth-running, beautiful monogram at any size. In fact, these two steps will help you perfect other designs you are editing.

Lee Caroselli-Barnes, owner of Balboa Threadworks Embroidery Design, is known for her innovation and excellence in embroidery digitizing. She has more than 30 years of experience in the embroidery industry. For more information or to comment on this article, email Lee at balboainfo@aol.com.

Working With Your Software

To satisfy your customer’s appetite for a luxurious monogram that runs like a dream without destroying the art’s integrity, you should know how to scale it yourself. Figure 2 shows the digitized commands or nodes. This indicates that your system is reading the needed commands and can accomplish what you need when scaling the design. Below that same picture you will see how the stitches follow the node’s movement, and beside that, the stitch-by-stitch editing process, where only one stitch can be moved at a time.