Urban Threads Style Guide

JAN 7, 2015

 Designing for Embroidery


So, you’ve got a chance to get a totally awesome coordinating embroidery design to match your fabric! How exactly do you go about it? Well, first you work on your fabric design as usual, but you’ll want to keep in mind that one design in that pattern might become embroidery. What that design looks like is part of what you’ll need to plan for. Developing an embroidery design requires you to consider a few things to make sure your concept can be translated into stitches…


The main thing to consider is the level of detail. Some embroidery designs are big, and fill the space on pillows and wall hangings. Other projects require smaller designs, like emblems on a shirt. When planning artwork for a design, keep the level of detail in mind. If the artwork is too complicated, it can’t be embroidered in a small size, and has less of a chance to win. So whatever your chosen embroidery element is, it can’t be so detailed that the design can’t be shrunk down to less than 4 inches in either direction, the smallest size required.


So, what is too complicated? Well, that can be tricky to describe. Tiny details are best avoided, especially lots of little things that don’t touch each other, like all those dots in our little monster’s hat. Rendering all those details in individual stitches would be a nightmare, and would just make your design look muddy. Go for bigger, chunkier objects. Smaller details can be rendered in outlines, but not in shapes.

Also, try not to have too much going on in one area. Stitches on top of stitches make a design very dense and not user friendly. It may help to think of drawing your design in a 4 inch by 4 inch square. Bigger, bolder designs work best!


That being said, our digitizers are pretty skilled at rendering different kinds of art. More complicated linework can be done in a clean, running stitch style. Full color artwork can be done with big, bold stitch-filled areas. And sometimes you can combine both to keep detail and color in the same design. Have a look around urbanthreads.com to get an idea of what our digitizers are capable of, what kind of art makes amazing embroidery, and how much detail is just right.


Pillow by Flying Parrot Quilts

Now, your fabric of course can have all kinds of fun, extra details and designs included as part of
the pattern. But your embroidery design can only be one element of that pattern, for simplicity’s sake. For example, in this Tula Pink fabric, only the tree was taken as an embroidery element.

If your fabric design doesn’t have one super-obvious element that is its showcase piece, we will choose one part of it that we believe will best translate into a coordinating embroidery design.


And what about the file itself? Well, if your design is chosen, we will need the final art work as either a high resolution jpg (at least 300 dpi and letter size) or as a vector file, like Illustrator. Either one will work for us.

It should also be noted that some small details in your design might be modified or edited in order to make it work better as an embroidery design. Don’t worry, our team is always careful to keep the design as true as possible to the artist’s intentions. You probably won’t even notice.


As we’ve found with the freedom of Spoonflower fabric, the crafty possibilities are endless! We used the Toile Noir fabric from our Spoonflower store to make chic coordinating pillows that matched an embroidered one.

It’s just one more crafty way to express your art.


Have fun, and good luck. We hope that you’ll see your name in lights, and your artwork in stitches!


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