Embroidery is all about balance!  Your thread and bobbin have to be balanced to work, and your embroidery designs and placement also have to be balanced.  Have you ever finished some embroidery work and looked back and said “hmmmm” knowing there is something wrong, but not quite sure what it is? Balance and placement, as well as thread colors, will probably make all of the difference.

Needless to say, proper hooping skills falls into this as well – but we have talked a lot about hooping skills, so we know that your embroidery is only as good as your hooping skills.  So let’s assume that you have hooped your design properly and used the correct stabilizer so that you know your design will stitch out properly.

Design Size: The idea of having some nice embroidery on a garment, for example, is to improve the look of the garment – that is to say draw attention to the garment and make it look better.  Properly placed and sized embroidery will accomplish this.  If you make your embroidery design too small, then it will not look great.  And on the other side, if you make your embroidery design too large, it will be overwhelming the garment.   So let’s say that you have a t-shirt that you would like to do some embroidery on.  You have a design in mind:  the design is huge and has a ton of stitches.  Will it work?  yes, probably with the correct stabilizer and hooping, but will it look great?  probably not!  So, the size of the embroidery design does matter.   Density matters, too.  T-shirts can be quite thin, so you need to pick a less dense design and save the huge design for a jean jacket or your sweatshirt.  So the size of the design is very important, but you CAN do large designs on t-shirts, I am not saying that you can’t – if you pick the correct design, you can put a large design on a shirt – but you don’t want a dense, thick design that is going to pull in the shirt and change how the shirt sits when you wear it.  So size does matter, but if you have a lighter stitch design, as long as it fits on the shirt and has the correct placement, it will balance out.

Position:  Location is everything!  Once you decide on your design and before you get to the all important hooping, you need to find the correct position for your embroidery design.   If you have a beautiful embroidery design and you stitch it in the wrong place, you won’t have nice results.  For example, working on a sweatshirt.  Because the sweatshirt is thicker, you can use just about any design that you want on it (of course not huge or dense).  But the location is everything!  If you have a larger design and you stitch it in the left chest position,  it is not going to look right!  It is going to be off balance!  If you have a smaller design and you stitch it in the center position, you will have the same effect – it is going to put the whole garment out of balance.    Here are some examples.

incorrect design placement

This monogram design is too small and is not in the correct position

The first example, the embroidery design is a bit small but not too bad, but it is in the wrong position!  It is way too far over to the right, and too close to the sleeve seam.  This may look “ok” to some flat like this, but once someone wears this item, it will look terrible!  What if the person who is wearing the shirt, likes to buy shirts that are a little bit bigger?  that design is going to fall into the creases of the shirt, near the armpit and you won’t be able to see it at all!

How about this one?

large design, incorrect placement.

this design is larger, but it is not in the correct position.

The design above is larger than the first one, the design here is almost 6×6, but wow, look at the positioning?  The design is placed way too low, and again, while it will maybe be “ok” out flat when someone wears this shirt, it will not look good at all – the design is placed way too low!

Last one!

design placed and sized correctly

Just right!

Now, doesn’t this look better?  the design fits into the 4×4 hoop and is placed correctly on the shirt.  Anyone who wears the shirt will be happy with that placement!  You can see the design, it is placed properly and looks great.

Design placement and design size is everything!  You can see how important it is to keep everything in balance to make great embroidery.  Hooping and thread colors are also super important, but we will save the colors for another blog.


The key answer is “try it before you stitch it”.

There are a few ways, and I would suggest using a combination of everything to get it right.

There are placement RULES that you need to stick with – there are many charts and measurements and guides that will tell you exactly where to place a front left chest logo.  Stick with those – you will get good results.  You need to find the proper place and mark it with a sticker or with air fade markers so you know exactly where it goes.

PRINT OUT TEMPLATES.  Yep, unless you have some cool gadgets around, that will position the hoop for you on the shirt, you need to PRINT OUT A TEMPLATE OF YOUR DESIGN!  Most embroidery software will have this feature.  The software will print out your design, and show the center of your design as well as placement lines – the cross going from the center to the edges.  Rough cut out this design and take it to the garment you are working on.  Any kind of Tape is handy at this time, you can tape your template to the garment and put it on to see how it will look!  Yes, that is how you get a good balance going on – if you have it on BEFORE you stitch it out, you can see how good it will look – and you don’t waste any time stitching!  Look for balance – is the design too big?  does the design overwhelm the garment?  Can you step back and read the design – or know what the design is?  There are many things to look for, but just stop and take a good look and see what you think.  Try a few different placements and sizes and see what you think.  Even on bags, you need to print out your template.

Even on bags, you need to print out your template!  I have seen a few bags where the design stitched over the handles.  That would not have happened if the template was printed out.  I have seen some bags that the design is way too big or way too small – again, if they had printed out the design, they would have realized that the design was not right and not in the right position.

Find the correct position for your design and mark it – you can use a sticker or special pens, but mark where the design looks good and is balanced with the garment or item that you are embroidering.  In the picture below, I am doing a series of designs down and around the front of a zip hoodie – this one is one of many designs I am going to stitch!

use a template for perfect placement

Try your designs BEFORE you stitch them! (design from UltimateStash.com – manly motifs)

Once you have your design placed, then make your mark!  Mark the exact placement with a sticker, grab your stabilizer and hoop it all properly and then take it to your machine.  Once it stitches out, you know you will be happy with the design placement and you know it will look good because you have tried it before you stitch it.

So balance out your embroidery by using the right size and the right placement of your designs – get that “WOW factor” when you get it right!

Happy Digitizing and Hooping,

Until next time



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