Underlay- Why you should learn to LOVE IT

Underlay is one of the most important foundations of embroidery digitizing”. However, it lacks excitement, fun, and it’s just difficult to communicate without the need to take a nap in between sentences.
That is not saying much! (I am sure somewhere in a marketing book, it says “you should not put your readers to sleep”)

So, let me try and explain underlay and why you need it.
Have you ever heard of Spanx? They were designed as an undergarment to hold things in place and to provide a smooth look under your attire.

Well, there you go!
That is the function of Underlay in our digitized designs. So when we stitch our designs out it holds the stitches, fabric, and stabilizer in place and makes your design look smooth when finished.
1.) Underlay binds your fabric to your stabilizer.
2.) Minimizes puckering
3.) Assist in Density – by providing foundation coverage.
4.) Underlay keeps all of your digitized objects well defined.

How to choose the “Right Underlay Stitching”
Let’s use the Spanx analogy again.
1.) Center Run- well we are all aware of the muffin top issues. Well, that is what happens when you use only the center run stitch on a large column satin or fill- it does provide a foundation. However, the edge of your design spills out the sides, creating a jagged/rough edge. We don’t want that. The only time we use a standalone center run is on VERY small columns. Say from 1.0-2.0 mm column.
2.) Edge Run – Edge Walk- is a running stitch- placed around the edges just a few 0.3-0.4 mm away from the edge of our fill or satin stitch. Providing the nice clean, crisp look. The underlay edge run creates a structure that will stop the top stitch from pulling in.
3.) Zig Zag – Double Zig Zag- Both Zig Zag- Double Zig Zag can be used to provide thorough underlay, or where raising satin stitches columns are needed to prevent the stitches from “sinking” (terry cloth, fleece, etc).
4.) Parallel- are used in complex Fill areas. Usually with angles either diagonal or perpendicular to the direction of the stitches in the main fill area. Parallel Underlay, provides the means to properly stabilize stitch intense areas, particularly large fill areas.
5.) Edge Run – Edge Walk &Zig Zag- This type of underlay is the result of combining an Edge Run-Edgewalk with a Zig Zag. The benefits are used to provide support for satin stitches as well as satin columns to prevent sinking with (terry cloth, fleece, etc). The Edge Run-Edge Walk provides a great foundation for stitch intense areas.
6.) Edge Run-Edge Walk & Parallel underlay- are used in complex fill areas. By combining the Edge Run-Edge Walk & Parallel underlay, it prevents the jagged, sawtooth, rough edges. Very desirable in fill areas using knit and other stretchy type fabrics.

So now that we have a basic understanding of Underlay Stitches, we can see why it is one of the most important aspects of digitizing great designs.

As Marilyn Monroe once said, “Give a girl the right pair of shoes, and she can conquer the world”. Well… in digitizing, “Give a girl the right underlay, and she can conquer any design”.

Worth noting… successful embroidery starts with a solid foundation that the only underlay can provide.

So, I hope I didn’t bore you too much… This is really a subject we discussing a lot more in depth. But, this will provide you an area to start researching.


Fun on the homestead author -