Monday, October 28, 2019

The Path Best Taken

Pathing is one of the most important elements to master in the process of digitizing. Quite simply, pathing means the order in which the design sews; what sews first and what sews second plus the progression of the design from first stitch to last. Efficient pathing is a design with the fewest trims possible and minimal color breaks. An optimal one color design would have only one trim which is at the end. This would mean that everything was planned or pathed so that all parts of the design were sewn without stopping. To do this, all stitches traveling between elements of the design are covered by the later parts of the stitching. The best way to start digitizing a logo, is to plan out the design in your head before you begin.

Along with pathing, color breaks go hand in hand. Generally, the design will need to be digitized from the background to the foreground so that elements of the design on top fall in front of parts that should be behind. The idea is to only visit each color of the design once if you can. (Some designs may require you to revisit colors later in the logo). A 3 color design that has 52 trims is a very poorly pathed design. Each trim is another possible thread break or pull out and slows the machine down. As an old boss of mine used to say, “We aren’t making money if the machine’s not running .”

The efficiency of an embroidery design is most apparent at the machine. If you are an embroiderer, it will be the first thing you notice and the first thing that will make you crazy if it’s not right. If the machine keeps stopping throughout an order making the job take longer, you may need to charge more for production. A poor design can make the job take 2 to 3 times longer.

If you’re a promotional products salesperson, the first thing that you’ll notice is how much hair your embroiderer is losing. This is where a quality digitizer breaks out front of the “cheap” pack. It’s great to pay only $25.00 for digitizing until your embroiderer has to charge you for editing and longer production times. Your embroiderer may even refuse to sew a design that’s really bad. If your embroiderer cringes every time you walk in the door, you may be using the wrong digitizer.

NeedleUp Digitizing is the “right digitizer”. We have the experience and knowledge to create consistently great designs that are beautiful and efficient at the machine making your run times minimal!

*****NeedleUp Digitizing is owned by Donna Lehmann. You can contact Donna by email: or call us at 303-287-6633 M-F. Visit our website for pictures of some of our recent work: *****

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Embroidery Digitizing - Customers - Changing Their Minds (Like changing their underwear)

We’ve all been there: Customer calls multiple times, either changing their order, adding to it or just altering the design or placement.  You can’t seem to get to “Final Answer” but they still want their job by the original deadline. Only that’s getting closer and closer….or worse, you’ve already started the job.  Now what?

You must draw the line in the sand. Small hurdle or huge ordeal?  Take a minute to access the situation.  Is this latest change something you can reasonably do?  Can you keep them happy and still meet your deadline?  Will you need to charge more for this addition? Of course, you want to keep the customer and you should absolutely do anything that you can to make them happy in the name of customer service, right?  Right!  ...... sort of.

Resist the urge to tell them that anything can be done for a price. While true at times remember that you cannot buy more time, so it’s up to you whether you’d like to place your sleeping bag in front of the machine or pay for overtime to get the job finished. Then there’s the fees that may be required for the change including the possible editing of the design, more garments, more supplies (thread, backing toppings), rush fees, more shipping or pick up fees, etc.  In the case of design changes, you need to go through the approval process again so there are no surprises or issues on what the customer expects.  Failing to get the new version of the design pre-approved before production can bite you in the butt, even if it’s just for a slightly different size or color. All these things eat up time, time you don’t really have if you are to meet the deadline.

Specifically, with regard to the digitizing, as always, get as much information as possible about what the customer now wants, what’s been changed and get an idea of how much time it will take to edit the design and if there are fees involved.  If the change is size related, have an idea of what size they now want.  Telling the digitizer, “I don’t know, just smaller” doesn’t help either of you to be timely. Be specific and you can get back on track to the deadline faster.

Finally, be up front with your customer and let them know as soon as possible if there will be any costs because of the changes they’re making.  Give them a choice so they are not surprised when the bill comes.  Be honest and realistic about what you can get done in the time you have and whether you can still meet the deadline. If you say you can, then you definitely need to!  Maybe your customer can take a partial order at deadline and receive the rest after;  let the customer decide.   That’s how you cross the finish line!

***For more information on NeedleUp’s digitizing services, visit our website at or contact Donna Lehmann by email:

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Embroidery Digitizing - Hats - New Placements, Old Problems

Hats are a very popular item to embroider but a stinker on the production: Not all designs are created equal when the customer decides they want hats. For a little while now, I’ve seen more of a trend towards different placements that I want to address.

Most hat jobs are the usual front design with maybe a back design arced over the keyhole or straight for flex flit type styles. Customers are trying to come up with new spots to embroider that stray from this by embroidering a design on the side of the hat or placing a design on the front panel to one side within the two seams. I’ve even seen a “bug” style logo squished down into the bottom right side of the left side panel. Limitations include the kind of hat frame used for the job but for the most part, you have approx. 3” of sewing space between seams (on a six-panel baseball type cap) and around 2” tall for height on the front two panels and 1.5” height on side panels.  These are very small areas and not every design will be able to shrink to those dimensions. 

You’ll need a simpler design with minimal or no text to fit those spots effectively.  Font style and size are very important, not too fancy and not too small.  Even ¼” text, which is normally considered minimum for flats, is too small for hats without a fill of some kind for support underneath it. Of course, there’s a gray area depending on the brand and fabric of the hats as usual.

While I understand the appeal of doing an alternate placement to make the hat different than the mainstream, you must understand the limitations of embroidery and your customer’s logo and be able to explain it to them and come up with an option that works for both of you.

Know your hat frame and sewing fields/available area so that you have that information for the digitizer.  That way, the design can be created at the correct size and without secondary editing and resizing to get it to fit.  Educate your customer to be flexible and realistic about what will fit the area to be embroidered.  Know that the same issues with registration on hats still exist and be mindful that you are sewing up and away from the center seam whether you will be crossing the seam or not.  This means that the design is not interchangeable should the customer change their mind and decide to sew it center front after all. 

If you talk to your customer and spend a moment to describe the issues and get to final answer before the digitizing, you may avoid costly edits and restarts to get to the finished order.  Hats are one of the most challenging garments that we embroider on but spend the time to understand the issues at hand and what your hat frame is capable of doing and you’ll be on your way to more hat jobs with happy clients!

**For more information on NeedleUp’s digitizing services, visit our website at or contact Donna Lehmann by email:

Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Year’s Business Resolution

Warning: Somewhat of a rant coming down the pike)
Sometimes, in the course of doing business, you have those days (or customers) that make you want to grab you keys, lock the door, get in the car and drive til the gas runs out without looking back. Of course you don’t but it isn’t because the fantasy doesn’t occur to you.
Our business is creative and technical and wonderful and hectic.  In this new year, I’ve made a few business resolutions that are intended to preserve my sanity while dealing with customers, deadlines and being pulled in different directions.

I have a tendency to skip over my own rules and procedures that I have in place sometimes causing issues that are the reason I created them in the first place. You know…. When you trust a customer  (or employee) and they disappoint.  This makes me my own worst enemy.

I also sometimes allow people to talk me into (or out of) things I know better than to do… either a heavily discounted price for a sob story or including multiple versions of a design without charging an editing fee for my time.  I can be a bit “lax” about invoice collections, late fees or allowing customers to go past their terms. All this does is teach customers that your time is not valuable and, believe me, they rarely appreciate it and expect it from then on.

 Lastly, I sometimes let customers dictate things I KNOW won’t work in the name of service to appease them and prove it. Customer asking for lettering that’s too small for the application or fabric type or trying to cram WAY too much text into a tiny area of the design will demand that I try it any way and then say, “Oh yea, that’s too small” or ‘That doesn’t work”.  *eye roll*  Of course they expect me to redo it at no charge that way it should have been from the beginning.

You know, I’ve been digitizing commercially for over 22 years and I can tell by looking at a design what will work and what will not.  I know better than to let customers run me, but we all want to please our customers so we deal with it and call it service. 

This year, my resolution is to follow my own rules and stand firm on the procedures I’ve set in place.  Work smarter, stick with my pricing schedule and stop being a pushover with my time. If I have to “fire” a few customers, then so be it.  After all, It’s not personal, It’s business.

Rant over!  Off the soapbox now!  Onward and Upward!

Any of these issues sound familiar?   Do you need to organize better?  Stick to your prices?  Stand by your procedures or create some? 

What are your business resolutions for 2016?  Do share!