Embroidery Tips for Corners and Capping

By Jesse Elliott, Contributing Writer

January 9, 2017

Digitizing can be more complex than you think. Something that may seem simple can actually be really difficult to get right. This is true about digitizing corners.

What’s so difficult about corners in outlines? You just make a line, transform to a satin stitch and you are good to go, right? Well, sort of. The following will discuss how and when to adjust corners in a design. 
(The following examples will reference Wilcom software. You can do the same things in Pulse and Design Shop, but the language may vary slightly.)

For a simple straight line, spacing is going to be evenly distributed from point A to point B (Figure 1).

Figure 1

When you add a corner, things change. The spacing is predicated by the angle. So, for a straight line that becomes a corner, the angle of the corner determines the spacing. What this means, is that the spacing will be wider on the corners than at the straight end. The spacing also will be wider the further out you go. So, the thicker the line, the wider the spacing for the outer edge of the stitch (Figure 2).

Figure 2

The other thing to look for is how pull compensation is affected. Pull compensation occurs in the same direction as the stitch, so if you have a stitch that is vertical, then the pull compensation will adjust vertically. 

At a corner, the pull compensation will follow the angle, so it will appear shorter than the straight up and down portion of the stitch. The more compensation is needed, the more noticeable this will be.

When using input C (also known as Steil stich in Pulse) you have an option of Fractional Spacing, which helps determine the point at which the stitch direction changes from perpendicular to the angle of the corner.

When using input A in Wilcom and the Column Tool in Pulse, a border is handmade by creating the inside and outside edges. If you simply stitch from corner to corner, you will get a gradual angle of stitch direction and the spacing will appear wider.

For thin borders (approximately 1.5 mm wide and smaller) that are more obtuse, such as those of an octagon, simply stitching from corner to corner will suffice. A better option is to go from corner to corner and add perpendicular lines somewhere near the corners. This will help keep the border from looking bowed in the middle and reduce the amount of area that will have wider spacing between stitches. Acute angles such as the points of stars would require this technique (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Corners & Caps
Now, we will explore mitre, hand mitred and caps. A mitre corner consists of a stitch that tapers into and out of the corner with an overlap where the two lines meet (think a picture frame.) To mitre a corner, go to Object Properties > FX >/Smart Corners and select mitre corners. You can determine what angle sharpness you want it to activate. You also have control over the amount of overlap. Sweats and knits will need more overlap than nylon or twill (Figure 4).

Figure 4

One important thing to keep in mind about mitred corners is that auto underlay does not adjust for tapering. So, you could end up with twice as much underlay in the corners than you need. This is more of a concern when going from extra wide widths, where the line will need more underlay. In this case, I suggest making a hand version and breaking up the corners so you can change the underlay in just those areas. In the hand version, instead of angling toward the corner, keep the stitch perpendicular and end just a stitch or two away from the corner. It may look wrong on screen, but it will fill up the corner when sewn.

Capping consists of two conjoining lines meeting as one solid section at the outer corner (Figure 5). The change from two lines to one point can sometimes look jarring, so adjust the split stitch function to activate for a little bit of the width to provide a smoother transition (Figure 6). Capping is perfect for stitching a small capital “A”.

Figure 5

Figure 6

Try comparing what it looks like when you do capping by hand and when you use the auto cap corners function. You have more control when you hand-digitize the capping, so try them both out and experiment with the controls (Figure 7).

Figure 7

The best advice I can give you is to try all of these methods and determine what works best for you. Factors such as different stroke widths and fabric types may require different corner styles.

Jesse Elliott is digitizing product manager for Ignition Drawing, formerly Artwork Source.