Most commercial embroiderers price their work based on the number of stitches in the design. The difficult part is, in order to give a quote, one has to estimate the number of stitches a design has before it is even digitized. Not only is this useful info for embroiderers, but also for those who are outside sales, selling embroidered products. The knowledge of estimating stitches can save a lot of time when it comes to quoting the end customer. Sales people may have to send the art to their embroiderer, who then sometimes send it to their digitizer to get an estimated stitch count - adding more time, delaying the deal closing process.
I am going to show you a technique to help calculate the stitch count and have a more accurate quote for every order. Although it is essentially impossible to determine the exact stitch count on a design, the following steps will give you a very close guesstimate you will need for fast, proper quoting.
First and foremost, you have to communicate with your customer about how the design is being used. What size is the design? Is it only a left chest application? Will it be used on hats and bags as well? Are all applications going to use the same sized design? What type material are your garments? These are very important points you need to know in order to estimate the number of stitches - size and material are going to dictate what type of stitches are used and what underlay & density settings are best suitable.
Second, review the design and decide what type type of stitch will be used for each element. Are fill areas going to be bordered with satin stitches? Are detail lines going to be running stitches or satins? Is larger lettering going to be regular satins - satin fills - or fills with satin borders?
Once you established the details of your project, you have the information to make the calculations necessary to get your estimated stitch count. The following computation is your basic rule of thumb for estimating stitches. These stitch estimations are for a general design that works well hats, cotton and blended polos, etc.. This will give you a good average stitch count base to work off of. (working with more textured or delicate materials, will affect the number of stitches - more on that later)
Now that you have the stitch estimates for the different types of stitches, let's go through how to implement these numbers into your design stitch count estimate. The easiest way to measure the stitch areas is to first, size the art image to the exact size. Then, import your art into your art program (such as CorelDraw, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc).
Most of these programs have a "grid" or "guideline" option to view over your art. You will want to change your setting of your "grid" to 1" x 1" - this will give you 1" squares to help visualize how many stitches are within a 1" area.
Start by locating the fill stitch areas and use the grid to estimate how how square inches of fill are being used. (see shaded ares) The design spans 6 square inches - but does not completely fill each square. Look at the non filled (voided areas), and you can see these areas add up to about 1 square inch of voided areas. So the total estimated fill stitch areas = 5 square inches.
Next, locate all of the satin stitches in the design and use the grid to measure the length of the satin stitches used in the design. The "S" border travels an estimated 14 inches around the outside of the fill. Since this has 2 borders, the total estimated fill satin stitches = 28 linear inches.
Last, the small text. Change your grid to millimeters and size it to 5mm x 5mm. The small text on this design is 5mm tall. Eight total letters.
(Once letters reach 12mm in height- about .5" - use the satin stitch calcualtions above to measure the number of stitches)
Stitch Count Estimation:
- 5 sq inches of fill x 1,200 = 6,000 stitches
- 28 linear inches of satin x 150 = 4,200 stitches
- 8 letters at 100 each = 800 stitches.
- Total Estimated stitches: 11,000
Actual stitch count of digitized design: 10,736
Of course, there will be a variance in estimated stitches when working with material that require the design to be adjusted. More density and underlay on textured materials such as towels or knit beanies. Less density and underlay on delicate materials such as dry fit poly or satin. I find a good measure of estimating this stitch compensation would be about +/- 15% depending on the special material.
Although this is not an exact science, if you follow the calculations I have shown you here, you will be able to estimate a very close stitch count and provide your customers with an accurate quote for their project.
JA Digitizing Studios