John Wright of Wilcom explains how to create badges using EmbroideryStudio e4.2

Badges are commonly associated with schools, sports teams, the healthcare and hospitality industries and other businesses that wish to identify a group. They are also often used in retail as a cool, fashion accessory. These versatile embroidered designs can be attached to any garment or product, including shirts, caps, trousers and bags, and are limited only by the space available, explains John Wright, software trainer at Wilcom. As the badges are made separately and then glued or stitched to an item, they are especially useful when decorating garments where direct embroidery is difficult, such as those that have multiple pockets, seams or a zipper.

For decorators that wish to make their own badges, there are, says John, various approaches to choose from as well as a number of tricks that can be employed to reduce production time and ensure a high quality result. In the case of a regularly shaped badge design, a run stitch is used to act as a guide for cutting the badge before the merrowing, a type of overlocking. A merrowed edge can only be used on standard shapes as it will not correctly finish any acute angles, and the badges must be pre-cut as the merrow machine doesn’t cut the fabric as it stitches.

On some machines, this edge run is replaced by a laser cutter, allowing the badge to be cut out directly on the embroidery machine. Alternatively, a knife in the shape of the badge, also known as a die-cut knife, can be used to cut the design using the run line as a guide, or the badges can be manually cut using sharp scissors. Whichever method is chosen, once the badge is cut then the merrow machine can stitch over the edge with a thin nylon thread, producing a secure finish. For small runs and badges that have an acute angle, it is often impossible to overlock, so the preferred edge is a satin stitch. These are cut with a ‘hot knife’, which fuses the edge of the rayon thread to prevent unravelling, or they can be carefully cut by hand with scissors.

For truly personalised badges, decorators can use the ‘Teamname’ feature in Wilcom’s EmbroideryStudio e4.2. The process is identical for both badge options above – the design is created and a border added – but an extra step is added to the process that allows a different name or title to be automatically stitched onto each badge. In all cases, the edge guide and satin border should be stitched last to avoid any distortion of the badge shape. 

(1) Badges are best embroidered on stable fabric; this means you can reduce underlay and remove overlaps, and improve your design by eliminating distortions and unnecessary stitches. Another little tip to help eliminate distortions is to digitise from the centre out. Trick: Reducing overlapping will save minutes on each badge; when multiplied by the number of badges, this will significantly reduce the run time of a job and decrease overall costs.

(2) Add a run stitch outline to the badge; this will be a guide for the knife or scissors in preparation for the overlocked edge. The overlocking may vary in width but will usually be about 3mm wide.

(3) To reduce the bulkiness and stiffness of the badge choose a fabric the same colour as the badge background colour. This will have the added effect of reducing stitches and run time.

(4) Use the Mirror Merge Tool in EmbroideryStudio e4.2 to quickly duplicate the logo for the machine hoop.

(5) The Mirror Merge tool in ES e4.2 will automatically re-sequence all the colours. Alternatively, you can re-sequence the design manually. The aim of this process is to re-order the colours so that each colour thread (across all logos) stitches out at one time. This step will reduce thread change and therefore greatly reduce machine run time without loss of registration.

(6) With a circular knife, press to cut the badges or cut by hand with sharp scissors, using the stitch line as a guide. Trick: Prevent unravelling by cutting with a hot knife or laser which fuses the edge of the rayon thread.

(7) Personalisation is a way to add a little extra to your badge offering. Use the Teamname Matrix in ES e4.2 to import your list of names; it will automatically embroider the names under the logo.

(8) Use a merrow overlocker to edge the badge. If your badge has acute angles, you must use a satin stitch as shown, instead of the merrow overlock. Trick: If you want the overlock to run along the edge of the stitched badge, set the offset for the guideline at approximately 1mm so you will end with a 2mm cover of the stitched badge.