What is Spanx for embroidery designs? It’s underlay – the seamless foundation for beautiful embroidery. Without it, you’re going to see a whole lot of puckers, wrinkles and divets. Things that are very undesirable in embroidery and fashion.
But how do you know if you need it? Well, in fashion, a mirror will tell you if Spanx is a requirement for a certain outfit. In embroidery, a stitch out of the design will reveal the ugly or blissful truth.
Professionally digitized designs start with underlay since the underlay stitches are the foundation for the visible artistic stitches. Underlay, like Spanx, should be invisible with its presence known only to the stitcher/fashionista.
The amount of underlay that is in an embroidery design was decided by the digitizer at the time of creation. The digitizer takes into consideration the end use of the design and applies the appropriate type of underlay before laying down the beautiful stitches. For instance, when Designs in Machine Embroidery created the fonts for the Perfect Towel Kit, the end use of stitching on terry cloth was taken into consideration. The result, a double layer of lattice underlay, permanently holds down the nap of the terry cloth through the life of the towel not just until it is laundered. A double layer of lattice is two columns of fairly tight zigzag stitches that support the heavy satin stitches in the final design.
Formal H from the Perfect Towel Kit
single layer of lattice underlay
actual underlay of the Formal H design
Romanesque 2 is a beautiful collection of monograms in a delicate frame available from Embroidery Arts. If you take a close look at this lettering, you’ll know that the digitizer created this collection for medium weight fabrics such as bedding, table cloths and napkins.
The letter E from Romanesque 2, Embroidery Arts.
The underlay on the tall, vertical column includes three straight lines of stitching spaced across the width of the column providing a frame for the satin stitches. On the short horizontal line of the E, you’ll find a triple line of underlay stitched close together, creating a bed for the satin stitches. The two approaches reflect the push and pull of the fabric as there is greater stress on the wider vertical column than the short horizontal column. This underlay reflects the work of an experienced and knowledgeable digitizer.
The underlay stitches have been changed to black thread.
Our friends at OESD have a lovely collection of open and airy designs, Radiant Blossoms. The designs are intended to be used on delicate fabrics, nothing heavier than linen and often something as delicate as satin and chiffon. Very little underlay is included in the designs. More often than not, you’ll find an edge travel; a line of run stitches that lays down at the perimeter of the design segment and provides an anchor for the satin stitches. Always stitch a test of an embroidery design before you begin the actual project. But don’t just critique the final outcome; watch the process so you can see what underlay was included in the design. This will provide clues for what type of fabric the design was digitized for, saving you guesswork. You may discover that more (or less) underlay is needed for your particular fabric. In your digitizing software, go to Properties, Underlay to add or subtract underlay.
Admit it, fashionista, don’t you wish you could do that to the image in the mirror? I know I do!
Do you find yourself watching your machine stitch a design? Are you fascinated by the process? What have you learned about underlay while watching a design stitch? Share your thoughts and four readers will be randomly selected to win a $25 gift certificate from Seams Sew Special.