Fonts to use

Choosing the right font:

How small a font you can use is determined by the column width of the letter to be embroidered. Typically, the easiest fonts to embroider are block type fonts. This is due to the simple fact that the letter column widths are usually more or less uniform throughout the letter as opposed to serif type letters that often have widely varying column widths. Some parts of a serif type letter might embroider very well at a size of, say, 5 mm tall, but the thinner parts of the letter will disappear into your garment at that particular size. On the other hand, all parts of a block type letter will embroider well at a height of 5 mm. Typically I respect a minimum letter height of 7 mm for serif type letters and 4 mm for block type letters.

Figuring out the right density:

The general rule is as follows: the wider the column, the heavier the density. Inversely, the thinner the column, the lighter the density. Consequently, the taller the letter, the heavier the density and the smaller the letter, the lighter the density. A good starting point for density is .45mm and from there you can adjust.

Material type:

Typically stable cotton type materials are the easiest to embroider on. Other materials such as terrycloth, fleece and knitted materials are much harder to embroider and require extra measures to ensure quality embroidery. These can consist of using solvy, increasing your pull compensation or simply embroidering a very light tone on tone fill (1mm density) that will act as a nice foundation for your letter. When embroidering on these materials, you will have to increase the minimum heights of your fonts.


When considering what type of underlay to use, you need look at the width of your column and not the height of your letter. Column widths of .7 mm to 1.2 mm tend to require a running stitch underlay. Column widths that are larger than 1.2 mm will typically use a zigzag underlay. When embroidering letters whose columns are wider than 1.2 mm on top of a fill, you will want to use an edge walk type of underlay. The reason for this is that you don’t want your letter columns to bleed into the fill background when the columns are running in the same direction as your fill. The edge walk underlay will act as a bridge and so that your column does not disappear into the fill.

Trims and tie offs:

When doing small letters, you will want to avoid trims between letters. This is due to the fact that with a trim comes a tie off to prevent your letter from unraveling. The problem with this is that when you insert a tie off, it acts as a small knot and produces a small bump. That bump will be very prominent on small letters but less so on larger letters. To avoid this use the “closest join “feature on your software to travel from one letter to the next. This eliminates the need for tie off stitches thus producing a cleaner, crisper letter.

Short stitches and other effects:

Short stitches are very often overlooked when digitizing small letters. Turning on your short stitches feature can dramatically increase the crispness of your small letters. When turning a corner such as in the letter L, there can be an accumulation of stitches on the inside of that corner, which results in a bump. This bump can make your letters look very messy. Turning on your short stitches feature will eliminate a certain amount excess stitches inside that corner thus preventing the bump. Another feature you need to consider is pull compensation. I tend to use a pull compensation of between .25 mm and .3 mm as a starting point. When I’m embroidering on knitted material, fleece or terrycloth, I usually increase my pull compensation to between .35mm and .4 mm because of the nature of the material. It tends to swallow up more of your column than your typical cotton type materi