The process that created that magical design stitching out on your machine may not seem readily apparent while it’s stitching. It sort of just comes into being, stitch by stitch, as your machine sews it out. But here at Urban Threads, we create all our designs in-house, from concept to completion, and a lot of steps go from making that idea into an embroidered reality. More, sometimes, than you might imagine.
To give you a bit of a peek at that process, we’re going to visit the steps of a design created by resident artist Taylor, so you can see the process a design goes through. It all begins with a simple concept, and a bunch of rough sketches…
This Death Before Decaf design was originally released back in January. Really, the process starts with one of our design meetings, where we all get together to decide the next group of designs we want to make. We bring customer requests, inspiration, and our own sketches to these meetings. This was part of our January monthly batch planning, and I guess we were all thinking about coffee. Not such an odd thought in meetings…
Once the idea came to be, there were a number of things Taylor had to consider while working on it. The concept was for a light-stitching, tattoo-inspired “tough” looking design for those hardcore coffee enthusiasts. This can mean a lot of things to an artist, and also offers a lot of different imagery to work with. Taylor started by sketching what we call “thumbnails,” small sketches to try out lots of different ideas.
The top right design was eventually chosen as the rough to pursue.
Next the artist turns the design into a “tight” rough. This means all details are worked out and the composition tightened up. This stage may take a few revisions, depending on the art. Urban Threads designs go through anywhere from 1-4 revisions from thumbnail to approved final to get the art just right.
After that the rough design is brought into Illustrator, where Taylor draws a clean pass on top of his rough. The design might go through a few extra changes during this time, making small tweaks with text size and other details.
The final design is finished in Illustrator. The design is then printed out and handed over to one our digitizers. All our work is designed and digitized in-house by our team. Many of our designs are worked on by our head of digitizing, Danielle.
The digitizing for this design is a bit more straightforward than some, as there are no stitch-filled areas or shading to complicate the layers. Just a nice, clean light-stitching design. Once the design is ready, it’s sent back to one of our embroidery machines to sew a sample, so we know the file will sew out on a machine just the way we expect. This is also the part of the process where we’ll tweak colors and other stitching details, because colors on screen don’t always match what you can do with color in thread.
So there it is! From an idea in a meeting, to a rough sketch, to a polished piece of art, to a machine embroidery design!
Along the way, artists work out not only ideas like art style, but work to reduce trims, try color schemes, and consider how and what it might stitch on. Then digitiziers carefully figure out how to piece the design together, to make it sew a seamlessly as possible on your own machine, and sew it out as many times as needed to test its compatibility on fabric and make sure it’s not doing anything that will ruin your project. Density is removed, trims reduced, fills pulled and pushed to make sure it all stitches out like it should, and of course, a large amount of artistry goes into making a drawn design look just as good in stitches.
Countless tweaks and corrections are made all along the way by the team, to get you the best darn hardcore coffee design possible. From ideation to stitches, there’s a lot that goes into an Urban Threads design, but hopefully all you’re thinking while you’re stitching your favorite is, “Yeah! This is going to make an awesome project!”
Because then the design has really done its job.