The Density Decision

Density or stitch spacing in machine embroidery makes a huge impact. By changing the density of the thread or the stitch spacing you can manipulate a design to look exceptionally different.

The more fabric that shows through a design, the lighter it looks. Designers often leave a great deal of fabric show-through to imitate hand embroidery. This changes the look drastically and depending on the design can transform your look from polished to whimsical. Consider these two designs from Urban Threads :

embroidery 300x178 The Density Decision

Image by Urban Threads

The “Baroque” style uses thicker thread to create a very dimensional look. The uniform stitch spacing throughout the rose creates a dense and polished design. Whereas the “Painterly” style rose pattern uses varying thread colors and stitch spacing as well as fabric show-through to create a more whimsical look. Both roses are lovely in their own right, but with a change to the color choice, fabric show-through and stitch spacing they are extremely different.

When changing the density of a design remember that increasing the stitch spacing will make the design appear less dense or lighter, whereas decreasing the stitch spacing will make the design denser or thicker. To familiarize yourself with the various stitch spacing settings try creating a sample stitchout. Kay Hickman describes the process of making a sample stitchout in the March/April ’12 issue of Creative Machine Embroidery. “Open a new page in your software program then draw several squares with tatami or  step-fill stitches. Adjust the stitch spacing in each square and add lettering to label each square.” By understanding the difference in stitch spacing you can better master your embroidery designs and make them your own.

03 density 225x300 The Density DecisionDo you every change the density of a design? Do you prefer denser styles such as the “Baroque” rose? Or are you a fan of the lighter look seen in the “Painterly” rose design?

For additional information regarding density, refer to the Basic Training article “Design Density” by Kay Hickman in the March/April ’12 issue of Creative Machine Embroidery.

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3 Responses to The Density Decision

  1. Kelly Preciado says:

    I like the Painterly look. I don’t change the desenity very often. Not comfortable doing it yet.

  2. Jane H says:

    I recently started playing with density, mainly for designs I’ve purchased that have a lot of stitches. You buy a design that has more than 20K stitches you have to worry about the fabric that is going to hold it. I was playing with my sizing software and I discovered a couple of different ways to change the density. There are a few options that let you change how you size designs that can help you change the size with or without changing the density. There is proportion and expanded stitch processing. To change the density there are options of column/satin density and fill density settings too. First make sure you know how to get out of a design without saving the changes. Then you can change the design size and look at it and see how it looks – you will be able to look at it and tell if the density is too thin. Play around by first reducing by 50% then do another 50% and then look at it using a 3D or full density view and you can tell how much background will show through. The other way I play around is by changing the size without checking the proportion and expanded stitch processing, then it will change the size without changing the stitch count which reduces the density.
    It never hurts to try this with a design, start stitching it out, and see how it looks. Think of this as playing with the designs and realize you always do a test run before the final version anyway… so play a little and have fun… jane

  3. Claudia Ziersch says:

    I like both, but have only changed density on designs I’ve programmed myself. It’s interesting to think about!

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