Possibly one of the most underestimated art forms and potentially most favored, is embroidery. It’s quite simply, one of the most amazing things to watch as a needle pumps through 1000 threads per minute and zig zags layer after layer into an almost perfect replicated form of a digital image.
There are people who still construct embroidery by hand, some who use single needle machines and others who use industrial size machines to pump out thousands of hats in a single day. The process is actually quite interesting.
First, a digital image is constructed, maybe it’s a logo, a phrase, a word or an image of some kind. That digital image maybe a PNG or AI file is then sent off to a digitizer. Now this process is super intricate. Using 1’s and 0’s a programmer assigns every portion of the image on an X,Y plane and generates commands to be given to the Embroidery Machine. Also, every embroidery machine is slightly different and every design requires special treatment. There are softwares that do exist, that sort of construct these commands automatically, but when it comes to unique artwork, special fonts or anything outside of a basic image, it requires an expert to go through every point of the digitized commands.
Embroidery designs can range anywhere from two thousand to six thousand stitches, just for a hat. Now imagine a letterman’s jacket or giant patches, sometimes upwards of fifteen thousand stitches for a single patch. Once the design is digitized, it is imported to the machine, usually a flash drive of some kind holds all the designs and file types that give the machine the commands. After the file is imported, it is sized to fit whatever garment it is meant to be placed on. The machine is threaded to the proper colors and assigned which needle/ needles shall be making the design. There is usually one test run and then the entire process is set into motion. Needles will break, thread will get jammed and someone will need to monitor it’s mechanics all along.
Embroidery is an intense amount of work, but a very loved and respected style of artwork.