Preparing Artwork for Embroidery

Maximize the impact of your custom embroidery design, by looking over these general guidelines on preparing your art for embroidery. By taking these tips into consideration, you can save time both before and after getting in touch with your embroidery service provider.

How to Supply Your Art Files

During preparation for embroidery services, we recommend using the settings below:

Artwork File Formats

File Type: .png with transparent backgroundResolution: 300dpi+ (up to 600dpi)
File Dimensions: Exact size you’d like it stitchedColour Mode: RGB

At a minimum, please supply a clean image file (most types are fine – jpeg, png, gif, etc) of your artwork. The resolution doesn’t necessarily need to be that high for embroidery, as long as the elements / colours are clear and not distorted by excessive compression. We also need to know what width or height you require (we always scale proportionally – we won’t stretch it).

We also accept these file formats: .png .psd, .ai, .tiff, .jpg, .pdf, .eps, .svg. However, please ensure any file types containing layers do not have hidden layers and the fonts have been outlined / rasterised.

General Embroidery Art Guidelines

At a glance, our main tips for embroidery designs are:

Bolder is Better

A bolder design is not just visually appealing but also more suitable. It allows for better thread coverage and reduces the risk of fabric showing through, ensuring a high-quality finish.

Minimum Font Size

Ensure the smallest letter (or number) used is no shorter than 5mm. This allows for adequate space for the needle and thread to create clear and legible text, preventing any distortion or loss of detail in your design.

Minimum Line Thickness

If your design includes very thin lines, you may need to thicken them. This adjustment ensures that the lines are clearly visible and effectively embroidered.

Negative Space

Depending on the fabric you’re working with (like headwear), negative space in your design may require a stitched backing. This helps to maintain the integrity and appearance of your design.

Some of these tips are expanded on more further down this page.

Recommended Embroidery Sizes

At Blackwater Studios we see a lot of artwork come through our workshop. This means we’ve got a good feel for common embroidery sizes and positioning. Check out our suggestions below.

Minimum Text Height: 5mmMax Embroidery Area: 27cm or 24cm2
Minimum Recommended Line Thickness: 1mm

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Breast / Pocket

Typically used for logos, this should be big enough to read. Simple bold logos work better. If it includes text, ensure the type is going to be big enough to stitch and still be legible. Small letters should be at least 5mm tall.

Recommend*: 9cm x 9cm
Typically placed on wearer’s left.

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We can embroider onto a range of bag textile bag types, such as rucksacks and laptop bags. The main requirement is sufficient space to be able to apply the embroidery hoop. Which may rule out small pocket panels.

Recommended Max: 9cm x 9cm
Max Size: 11cm x 11cm

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Across Chest / Back

For larger designs, we recommend heavier weight garments (sweatshirts & hoodies). Partly to maintain integrity with a large number of stitches, but also to resist the literal weight of the embroidery causing creases/folds.

Max Longest Edge: 27cm
Max Area: 24cm x 24cm

Embroidered Whale on Organic Cotton Waffle Beanies for EcoAWARE


A popular choice for embroidery. However, not all beanies are equally viable. We may recommend products based on your supplied design.

Recommended Max: 9cm x 5.5cm
Max Size: 11cm x 5.5cm

Calculating the Stitches for Your Design

The impact of stitch count for your design is worth understanding, as it can make a big difference to the cost of your order. Luckily, there are a number of ways to reduce stitches where necessary.

What is Stitch Count?

The stitch count for your design refers to the number of stitches needed to recreate it on a garment. This count is determined by the complexity and size of the design, and affects the final price per garment. This is due to additional thread used, more complex setups, and extended run times.

When you make an order with Blackwater Studios, we will use your artwork, along with your preferred dimensions, to establish an estimated stitch count. Small designs like those on hats typically have a low stitch count (1,500~), while larger designs with intricate backgrounds and foreground elements may have a higher stitch count (25000~).

We will give you an estimated stitch count and quote before proceeding with your order.

Comparison of Stitch Counts

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6,000 Stitches

Examples include small linework designs and text logos designed for pocket area.

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22,000 Stitches

Can be expected for larger, filled and more detailed designs.

What Influences Stitch Count?

There are a number of factors that can influence stitch count. Below are some of the main areas you may want to consider when designing for embroidery.

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Design Complexity

The number of elements and details in the design.

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Thread Colour Changes

Designs with multiple colours will require more stitches to complete.

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Design Size

The larger the design, the more stitches it will require.

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Outline Work

Designs with detailed outlines and borders will require more stitches than designs with simple outlines.

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Background Fill

Designs with large areas of fill will require more stitches than designs with limited or no fill.

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Garment Type and Fabric

Certain fabrics and garment styles may require more or fewer stitches to achieve the desired result.

Not all of the above affect stitch count equally. However, with an awareness of how stitch count is influenced, you can make design decisions early on which could ultimately save you money on each embroidered item.

We will give you an estimated stitch count and quote before proceeding with your order.

Converting Your Artwork to Stitches

Elements in your design and what material it is being stitched onto, will determined how your design will be digitised. Here are some considerations, if you want to influence how it may look.

Thin Lines in Your Design

Embroidery offers a variety of stitching styles to choose from. Our team will use the most suitable style for your art to ensure the best results, unless you have a specific preference.

Different stitch types have varying densities and can impact the stitch count.

Check out the comparisons below:

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Original Illustration

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Satin Stitch

Satin Outline Stitch

Satin stitch is a common type of embroidery stitch used for line work, outlines, and text. It requires lines to be at least 1mm thick, so ensure that your artwork has enough space around the lines.

For line work or text wider than 1mm.

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Running Stitch

Running Stitch

A running stitch can be used for super thin lines (<1mm wide). This is a single thread width that runs along design lines, creating a unique and distinct look. However, it is usually used in moderation as it is less defined than other types of stitches.

Lines thinner than 1mm.

There is an opportunity to preview the stitching outcome of your design, once it has been digitised. At this point some tweaks to the digitising may be possible. However, in some scenarios it may be more appropriate to alter the artwork itself. In the latter case, we would suggest some options.

If you are still unsure, or have questions – simply get in touch and we can discuss the best options.

Working with an Embroidery Service Provider

Tips when finding and dealing with an embroidery provider.

Choosing a Reputable Provider

Choosing a reputable embroidery service provider is crucial to ensure high-quality results. It’s important to consider factors such as experience, quality of work, customer reviews, and pricing when making your choice. Check out their social media, get a vibe.

If you’re looking to gauge more about Blackwater Studios, we would recommend our Instagram or Google Reviews.

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Communication and Collaboration

Communication is always important, but it is even more essential for services which ‘interpret’ your design into a new format.

Ask if the provider will allow you to see the stitch out before proceeding with the main order. This will give you a chance to make any necessary adjustments to the design.

At Blackwater Studios, we will show you the digitised version as standard, but also allow you to request a ‘first stitch sign off’. This comes after payment full, but gives you a final chance to check you’re happy before production.


Embroidery is a unique art form that transforms your design into a tactile experience. However, it’s important to understand that the process of turning a design into stitches will inevitably alter its appearance.

Unlike printing services, which can replicate a design closely to the original file, embroidery involves rebuilding your design from the ground up. This process, while creating a distinct and textured result, may lead to slight variations from your original design.

Embrace these changes as part of the charm and uniqueness of embroidery.

Pricing and Turnaround Time

A lot of providers may expect you to enquire with them first to find out their prices. Other embroidery providers (like ourselves) prefer to display prices clearly on their website. This might be on a dedicated page or directly on individual product pages. In any case, ensure that the suppliers pricing is transparent and within your budget.

Turnaround time can vary from provider to provider. At Blackwater Studios, the turnaround time for embroidery is generally 10-15 working days. This gives you a rough idea of the time frame to expect. You also check when the providers turnaround begins – as it may not be from initial contact. Generally, turnaround begins from payment and approval. Remember, quality work might take time, so plan accordingly.

Read more about our embroidery services.

Talk to us.

We can give you a free, no obligation quote.

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