Mastering Micro Lettering

By Daniel Ceniceros, Contributing Writer

March 13, 2017

Do your customers ever request an embroidery design with very small letters? Designs often feature straightforward logos with letters as small or smaller than a quarter inch in height, which can be difficult to embroider.

It’s important to keep the small letters the way they are in order to maintain the integrity of your client’s logo. And if you can’t deliver, they will find another embroidery house that can. 

The following tips will help you approach these sometimes challenging small letters. Let’s start by considering a few simple points:

1. Keep scale and perspective in check.
Always print out a hard copy of the actual artwork size before you start the digitizing process.

Study the design carefully, looking for ways to execute a clean and smooth running program. I use a 1 to 1 image size (100%), which helps me keep things in perspective.

It’s easy to get lost in the size of a monitor screen and you can lose your sense of scale and perspective in a tight zoom-in shot. Another way I stay on point is to stick the hard copy of the artwork right next to my monitor.

2. Create letters manually.
I don’t recommend using automatic features or pre-made fonts for these little characters. I will build wireframe structures for each individual letter bit by bit (Image 1). It always takes a little extra time to do this way, but it’s well worth it in the end. 

Image 1
Left: Wireframe dissection; Right: Completed wireframe

3. Consider stitch angles and stitch throws.
Look at each section of the letter’s body. Try to simplify the stitching as much as possible by eliminating as many stitch direction changes as you can and determine how to keep your stitches as long as possible. I angle the stitches to get a longer throw (Image 2), as opposed to running the stitching at straight 90-degree angles to the columns (Image 3), which will sometimes cause stitches to bunch.

Image 2

Image 3

4. Keep things light.
My philosophy when it comes to underlay is: strong on the bottom, lighter on the top

In this particular case, I suggest a zigzag underlay with a density that is roughly 50% of your top stitching density. Use a light to moderate satin top stitch. Less is always better in tight areas.

5. Use finer materials.
For super detailed designs, consider using a finer needle.

For example, I use a “65/9” needle and 60s thread. You will be surprised how much detail you can get by using both a smaller needle and a finer thread. Making these two adjustments make all the difference in detailed embroidery and help you create the kind of work that will separate you from the competition.

6. Quality backing is key.

If your work is going on a knit fabric or anything that has a bit of stretch to it, make sure to use a high-quality, firm backing.

Remember backing is everything; it’s the true foundation of your embroidery work.

Now that some of the mystery has been removed, it’s time to take on projects featuring smaller letters with more confidence.

Daniel Ceniceros, owner of Stitch’d Embroidery Development, has been designing embroidery for more than twenty years.  For more information, visit stitchdemb.com.