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Embroidery Glossary


French term meaning applying one piece of fabric to another. A cut piece of material stitched to another adding dimension, texture and reducing stitch count.


Material which is placed inside or under the item to be embroidered. The backing provides support and stability to the garment which will allow better results to the finished embroidered product. Backings come in two types. Cutaway and Tearaway. With cutaway, the excess backing is actually cut with a pair of scissors. With tearaway, the excess is simply torn away after the item is embroidered.

Bean Stitch

A bean stitch is a three ply running stitch which goes from Point A to Point B, then from Point B back to Point A and then finally from Point A to Point B.


A bobbin is a spool that is inside of the hook. The bobbin thread actually forms the stitches on the underside of the garment. The bobbin on an embroidery machine works in the same manner and for the same purpose as on a home sewing machine.

Bridge Machine

A bridge machine has the heads suspended on a bridge that goes across the machine. Without the arm on the base, a bridge machine is able to provide a larger sewing field from front to back on the machine. A bridge machine is good for cut pieces and also for yard goods.

Column Stitch

A series of zig-zag stitches placed closely together to form a column. Also known as a steil stitch or satin stitch.

Condensed Format

Condensed is a format in which a machine that can read condensed format, can change the size, density, column widths, and stitch lengths of a design. Two such condensed formats are Melco Condensed and Brother PG Outlines.

Expanded Format

Expanded is a format in which all the stitches are in place and the design is specified to be a specific size. Designs digitized in expanded format are not designed to be changed in size. Any changes in size will not affect the density or stitch count of a design.

Fill Stitch

Fill stitches are series of running stitches formed closely together to form different patterns and stitch directions. Fill stitches are used to cover large areas.

Running Stitch

A running stitch is one stitch which goes from Point A to Point B. A running stitch is often used for fine details, outlining, and underlay.

Satin Stitch

A satin stitch is a series of zig-zag stitches which are formed closely together. A satin stitch is normally anywhere from 2 mm to 12 mm.

Two-Ply Stitch

A two-ply stitch is a double running stitch. The stitch is formed by the machine sewing a complete running stitch area and then coming back over the same area and stopping where it started. Sews from Point A to Point B and then from Point B to Point A.


Underlay stitches are used under the regular stitching in a design. The stitches are placed to provide stability to the fabric and to create different effects. Underlay is normally a series of running stitches or a very light density fill often placed in the opposite direction that the stitching will go.
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