The Scanner as an Embroidery Tool

Use your imagination—Use your Scanner

 I remember when the scanner was viewed as a blessing and a curse in the world of embroidery digitizing. Those with vision eagerly embraced the concept of being able to scan a graphic into the computer, bring it up on the screen in the digitizing system, and punch away. The other camp (I call them—with affection—the “I-walked-five-miles-to-school-in-three-feet-of-snow” crowd) couldn’t quite get their arms around the idea that the board and its precision plotting would ever be replaced by such modern techniques.

I am constantly fascinated by how often this happens in our ever changing world. And to think that the fellow who ran the patent office in the late 1800s wanted to close the office as “everything that could be invented, had been.”

I love using the scanner to facilitate precision, placement and more in my embroidery world. Here are some tips that work for me.

 Pocket Placement Precision

 The order of 48 denim shirts is in—and the logo has to be placed over the pocket…“in the same exact spot on every shirt,” the customer says with a smile.

Out comes the ruler and the disappearing (we hope!) ink pen. Forty-eight times we will measure and mark, double-check and then try to hoop the same way each time so the design will always fit even if we have to move the needle a little to line things up.

Or do we?

How about taking that shirt to the scanner and capturing a straight image of that pocket? Now bring that image into your digitizing system and use it as the background when you digitize the design or set an already prepared design in place.

Now put the start and stop point of the design at the left (or right) corner of the pocket in the template. You should have an option in your software to do this.

Hoop the first shirt, with a careful eye to leaving enough room for the size of the design and move the starting needle to the corner of the pocket you have chosen for the start point.

Don’t forget to trace the design to ensure that all the stitching activity will fall safely within the hoop.

When you hit the start button the needle will move from the corner of the pocket, the design will stitch over the center of the pocket and then move to the stop point which is back where it started—over the corner of the pocket.

Hoop the next shirt—try to hoop the same area you did on the first shirt. If the needle is not over the corner of the pocket, move it there, being sure that the design has all the room it needs and then hit the start button.

Once again the design will stitch over the pocket, in the same location as the first shirt and then end over the corner of the pocket.

Repeat 46 more times and you will have 48 shirts with the design in the same location.

 Cap Keyhole Placement

 I often advise customers to put their business phone number or web site address on the back of the shirt or cap so the potential customers can eyeball it at their leisure and memorize it, jot it down or enter it into their cell phone. Trying to read and remember a phone number or web address that is on the front of a garment can be seen as “confrontational” and might make both parties uneasy.

You can break out the measuring tools and try to remember the math you have long forgotten to determine the arc of the keyhole (all cap keyholes are not necessarily arched the same).

Or you can use your scanner.

Open the strap on the back of the cap and place it flat on the scanner’s glass. You could also trace the arch on a piece of paper so you don’t have to wrestle with keeping the cap in place.

Name the file using the manufacturer’s name and the number of the cap so you can find it easily when you have an order for the same style cap again. If you have vetted the caps available in our industry and chosen the ones that fit your cap frames the best, offering only these to your customers, you will eventually have a scanned template for each cap you offer. You might take a quiet afternoon and scan and name all the disparate caps that you offer, one after the other, so you will be ready to prepare the stitched message on any cap in your inventory.

Open the template in your software and prepare the lettering or phone number. The center seam on the back of the cap is a natural start and stop point.

You can stitch the back of a cap using a regular hoop. Just open the strap and flatten out the curve of the cap and hoop it as you would any flat garment.

Line up the seam with the selected needle on the machine, trace to be sure it will fit comfortably and stitch away.

You can also stitch out the planned design on a piece of fabric and use it as a guide when you hoop your cap so you know the machine won’t run afoul of the hoop.

 Keep Your Eyes and Your Mind Open

 There are all kinds of “tools” that you can use to make tasks, especially repetitive tasks, easier. Plackets, buttons, stripes—any of these things can be used as a guide as long as the shirt is manufactured straight and the stripes or buttons are in the same place on every shirt. Think of ways to use your scanner to make permanent templates on goods that are made the same way consistently and you embroidery often.

If you have a special way that you use your scanner in embroidery—or other “tools” in unorthodox ways—I’d love to hear about them so they can be shared with other embroiderers.