What is the best embroidery digitizing service?
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One of the most common questions that comes up in my embroidery groups and forums is: “what is the best embroidery digitizing service?” I am actually amazed that this keeps popping up again and again because the same handful of digitizing services are always recommended. So, I thought it might be helpful if I put together a list.
Then, it dawned on me that perhaps people new to embroidery might be wondering why you would even need a digitizing service in the first place when there are plenty of cute embroidery designs available online. Allow me to explain…
Why would I need an embroidery digitizing service?
If you are running an embroidery business or thinking about running an embroidery business, you may have envisioned embroidering burp cloths and back to school t-shirts. That’s fine. But guess what? There is a huge need for corporate embroidered sportswear, and you will inevitably get asked to do exactly that.
Embroidered corporate gear is very pervasive. In a lot of workplaces, a polo shirt with a logo stitched above the left breast is often worn as an acceptable casual day outfit. Some workplaces even have embroidered logos on their uniforms. Visit any trade show and you’ll see employees working in booths with branded, embroidered gear. Even sports teams and schools often want embroidered items for their organizations.
Of course, you might also want to digitize something other than a corporate logo. A favorite photo, artwork, someone’s handwritten messages… these are all things I’ve been asked to digitize. If you are dying to stitch any of these out, it maybe be worth it to you to pay a digitizing service to have it digitized.
Why would I want to embroider corporate polos and pay to have logos digitized?
For the owner of a business that provides embroidery services, this is actually a good type of customer to land. This is because companies generally have bigger budgets than individuals. Also companies and organizations who want embroidered items will likely need more in the future. So, they represent potential ongoing revenue.
In addition, corporate customers are typically easier to deal with. If you are selling custom embroidered items to individuals, you have likely already encountered the high maintenance mom who has a million requests for the one birthday t-shirt, and of course needs it right away! These painful customer also tend to be the ones who have issues with the finished product and demand a refund or a fix.
On the other hand, if you get a job to embroider a company’s logo on 100 shirts, once the sample is approved, it’s full steam ahead. And there less likely to be a rejection when you deliver the final product. Plus 100 shirts pays A LOT better than 1 lousy birthday t-shirt.
However, unlike a cute birthday shirt where the design can be bought from a variety of different companies, a logo is custom. It must be provided by the customer and then converted into a format which can be stitched out on an embroidery machine. And, this conversion process is not done with a press of a button. It must be digitized, which is why you would need an embroidery digitizing service.
Keep in mind that if you need to get a customer’s logo digitized, you should pass that charge onto them in addition to whatever you are charging the customer for your embroidery services.
What is embroidery digitizing?
Company and organization logos are typically created in a vector-based drawing program. Vector graphics are ones that are stored in the computer as mathematical equations. The benefit of vector-based graphics is that, because they are stored as a mathematical equations, they can be recreated at any size and look crisp and clear. Logos are created as vector graphics so that they can be printed at a very small scale (like on a business card) as well as very large scale (like on a billboard).
Vector based graphics are frequently created in Adobe Illustrator and saved as .AI format or sometimes the more generic .EPS format. Either way EPS and AI are NOT the file formats embroidery machines read and interpret.
In order to be stitched out on an embroidery machine, a logo must be converted to a embroidery file format. This is because embroidery files contain more information than vector files, for example, stitch order, thread color and stitch density.
Learn more about embroidery digitizing.
While some digitizing software touts their ability to “auto digitize,” the results are often sub par. The computer doesn’t often make the best decisions regarding all the factors affecting a embroidery file. But, a masterful digitizer is trained to make these choices.
How do I find a good digitizer?
The best way to find a good digitizer is to ask for recommendations from professional embroiderers. These companies that embroider for companies and organizations have undoubtedly needed to get a logo into an embroidery file format. So, how do they do it? They use an embroidery digitizing service.
A professional embroiderer is the best person to get a recommendation from because they know what the design should look like and then gets to see the result of the digitizing once she stitches it out. If they quality is good and the price is right, the professional embroiderer will use this digitizing service again and again!
I’ve found that many good digitizing services are located outside of the U.S. Many domestic digitizers are focused on building a collection of designs that they can sell again and again. Digitizing a custom logo takes a lot of time and the only revenue a digitizer can earn from the design is the one-time fee. In areas of the world where the cost of living and wages are lower, the fee to digitize a custom design is more attractive than it is in the U.S.
You can get really superior custom digitizing from providers outside of the U.S.A. Just don’t be surprised if you are referred to someone in Brazil (for example).
Best embroidery digitizing services
Speaking of masterful embroidery digitizers, where do you go to find them? There are many companies and individuals that offer digitizing services. The following providers are mentioned and praised most frequently in my Facebook groups.
(Full disclosure: Because I do my own digitizing, I have not worked with all of these companies. They are simply recommendations from the embroiderers I know with some comments that they have posted about them.)
- Apex Embroidery Designs – an industry leader
- SS Digitizing – they are fabulous!!
- Chiefs Threads – quick turnaround – within hours!
- JJ Digitizing – affordable and dependable
- Stitched Impressions– does great work.
- Cactus Embroidery Designs – does fantastic work!
- Monkey Doodle Digitizing – always happy to help.
- Vitor Digitizing – did such a great job.
- A Kidz Creation Embroidery Designs– speedy and great.
- Greenline Digitizing – a Chinese company that charges $2.50/1,000 stitches
- Ultra Emb – $8 for any left chest or cap logo with unlimited stitches – 2 hour maximum turnaround time.
What should I tell the digitizing service about the graphic I want digitized?
If you need to get a logo digitized, the digitizing service will have some questions for you before they can even give you a quote. The biggest factor that will affect price is the complexity of the design. Logos are pretty straightforward. Photo-realistic images are more complex and therefore more expensive.
Once you have settled on a price, you will also need to tell the embroidery digitizing service provider:
- The final size you will need the design to be.
- The file format you need in order to stitch it out on your machine.
- The object that it will be stitched on. (Different types of clothing/accessories require heavier or light stitch densities.)
- How soon you will need it. Quick turnarounds may increase your price.
How much does it cost to digitize for embroidery?
Typically, prices range from $5 – $25. But, the price you pay to have a logo digitized depends on several factors.
- The complexity of the design you are getting digitized is the biggest factor that will affect the cost of the digitizing service. If the design has a lot of detail and will involve many thread color changes, it will be more difficult to digitize which justifies a higher cost.
- The stitch count. Some digitizers may base their price on stitch count. This seems a bit silly to me because I could digitize a big circle that has tons of stitches in it but would only take me a few seconds to digitize.
- The number of sizes of the design you ask for. If you are requesting the design in multiple sizes, the digitizer may charge you a bit more.
- The size of the company providing the embroidery digitizing service. If the company has a lot of overhead, they will need to charge more.
- The level of experience of the digitizer. Inexperienced digitizers may charge you less, but the quality may not be great. (Definitely ask to see samples of their work).
I have digitizing software. Can I do it myself?
Fortunately most corporate logos are comprised of simple geometric shapes and modifications to letterforms, so they are not the hardest graphic to digitized. A logo would be quicker and easier to digitize than a photorealistic design. I’ve digitized many logos and have been pleased with the results.
In fact, you can check out a very basic example where I converted a logo to an embroidery design just by using SewArt.
If you do digitize the logo yourself, be sure to test stitch it at the actual size on a material similar to the material of the garments the customer wants you to embroider. You may want to stitch it out at different densities to decide which looks best. Once you have a sample stitched out, show it to your customer for approval prior to proceeding.
How do I learn to digitize embroidery?
There are many YouTube videos and software specific courses available that will teach you how to digitize. Once you decide which embroidery digitizing software you want to learn, you need to educate yourself and practice, practice, practice.
Well, there you have it. I hope I’ve shed some light on embroidery digitizing services and you have found some of this information useful. Now, go out there and get some corporate customers!