Intro to Embroidery

Embroidery is the process of creating text or a design with thread. Spectacular designs can be created with the combination of fill stitches, column stitches and walking stitches. Far from the slow and meticulous nature of counted cross-stitch, modern computerized embroidery machines can make up to 1000 stitches per minute. Embroidery can be done on any garment which can be hooped, it’s an ideal compliment for products like polo shirts, button-up dress shirts, jackets, bags and hats.

High Peak Sportswear began doing embroidery three decades ago on a single head machine with limited capabilities. We now have top of the line, state of the art Tajima embroidery machines. Multi head machines produce up to 12 garments each run enabling us to do large orders quickly and at competitive prices. Our experience in design and embroidering garments combined with our attention to detail ensures your job will be done right and look great.

Our Design Studio allows customers to design artwork, but it is primarily suited for Screen Printing artwork. Read More

As described in our FAQ’s and elsewhere in this website, artwork for embroidery is very different from artwork for Screen Printing. Because of the nature of embroidery and the limitations of modern embroidery machines, artwork for embroidery is highly specialized and in some ways limits the complexity of the design.

We welcome you to use the design shop to upload your logo, add text and send it to us for review. Or if you choose, to put together elements of clip art which you would ideally like to have included in your embroidered design. However, our goal is to have a final product both of us are proud of. For this to happen, our art and embroidery staff will use their experience and expertise to advise and tailor your artwork. It serves no one’s interest for us to digitize artwork which we are confident will not look good, and in many cases won’t even sew without tearing holes in garments.

We look forward to putting our 30 years of embroidery experience to work for you and providing a stellar final product of which we are all proud of.

The Modern Embroidery Process

Step 1 - Artwork Stage

Our dedicated and talented artists will create artwork for your custom embroidery needs. Artwork for embroidery is specialized and varies greatly depending on whether you’re needing hats, shirts, or your custom logo on the various other items available. There are physical limitations of what even the best computerized embroidery machine can do, our artists understand these parameters. Of course, you’ll get a chance to approve artwork long before it’s embroidered onto any garment. More info can be found from our FAQ’s at the bottom of this page.

Artwork Stage Image

Step 2 - Digitizing Your Logo

After artwork is completed and approved, the artwork then has to be digitized. This digitized file is highly specialized and tells the embroidery machines how to sew the logo, what type of stitch to make, where to make it, and what color thread to use. The quality of this digitized file is extremely important and even the best embroidery machine can’t produce a high quality logo if the digitizing isn’t done properly. High Peak Sportswear has in house digitizing experts who will assure that the job is done properly, and that the final product will be great looking embroidered hats and shirts.

Digitizing Your Logo Image

Step 3 - Production

The first step after digitizing is to determine which of our embroidery machines is the best and most cost effective to produce the job. We have embroidery machines ranging from 1, 4, 8, and 12 heads. An 8 head machine will embroider 8 garments each run, a 12 head 12 garments each run etc. Depending on how many garments are in the order, if the embroidery is going on hats or shirts, how many stitches in the logo, and how much thread changing needs to be done, the appropriate sized machine will be chosen to complete the job.

Regardless of what type of garment is being embroidered, it has to be held in a hoop. We have hoops of all shapes and sizes which accommodate hats, jackets, left chest locations, sleeves etc. During the hooping process a piece of material called pellon is hooped along with the garment to be embroidered. This pellon will end up on the inside of the garment when embroidery is completed, it’s function is to provide a stable area for the embroidery and also to give the stitches additional material on which to hold.

Production Image Production Image 2 Production Image 3

Step 4 - Finishing

After the embroidery is completed the stitching is inspected, the pellon backing material is trimmed, and excess thread is trimmed. The trimming process is one aspect of the job that easily shows the attention to detail of the embroidery company which did the work. After the embroidery machine finishes one component of the design it moves to another area of the hat or shirt and continues sewing. This will drag a thread across the shirt or hat , and this thread will need to be trimmed either manually or by the embroidery machine itself. The embroidered garment is then steamed, folded, boxed and ready for pickup or delivery.

Finishing Image

Tackle Twill Embroidery

Tackle Twill uses an embroidery machine to sew down a piece of twill fabric, in a way similar to applique. It is an upscale product arguably producing the best looking and most durable embellishment to a uniform or other garment.

The process begins with the art department producing the design knowing what parameters exist for doing Tackle Twill. A computer program then generates a digitized file which includes 3 components. First is a walking stitch which goes around the entire outside of the twill. The second is a zig zag or column stitch which goes around the outside of the twill with half the stitch falling on the twill. The third component is a file which a plotter/cutter will use to cut the twill which will be applied.

The garment is hooped and placed in an embroidery machine, the embroidery machine then does the walking stitch which produces the outline of where the twill should be placed. After the twill is placed down the embroidery machine then does the zig zag stitch securing the twill to the garment.

Tackle Twill Embroidery Image

Frequently Asked Embroidery Questions


  1. What drives the price of custom embroidery?

    Unlike screen printing, the number of colors in the design is not a major component driving the price. The cost of embroidering a logo is driven by a combination of the number of garments to be done, and the number of stitches in the design, which determines how long the design will run on the machine. We have embroidery machines which do 1, 4, 8 or 12 garments at a time. We will choose the appropriate machine to keep production time as low as possible and thereby your cost as low as possible.

  2. How do I contact my sales person?

    Head over to our contact page which includes email and phone numbers for all of our sales staff.

  3. What is your turnaround time?

    Our standard turn around time is two weeks from the receipt of your order. If the order requires digitizing the standard turnaround time is 3 weeks.

  4. Do you do rush orders?

    Rush orders are available. Please call us today to see if your order can be fit into our production schedule. Rush charges may apply during peak business seasons.

  5. How will I receive my order?

    Orders can be picked up at any of our four locations in Blacksburg, Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Roanoke. Orders can also be shipped UPS, standard charges will apply. Some companies promise free shipping, but then build it into your cost elsewhere with an additional markup. We prefer to keep our pricing straightforward and honest, so that you can make the appropriate decisions.

  6. May I cancel an order?

    Orders that have not been produced can be cancelled. However, depending on when the order is cancelled, art charges, digitizing fees, or garment restocking fees will be charged to cover the costs already incurred.

  7. What is your return policy?

    We pride ourselves in exceeding the industry standard and providing exceptional customer satisfaction. However, due to the labor intensity of custom orders we cannot accept returns on decorated garments under any circumstances.

  8. What forms of payment do you accept?

    We accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express, cash and pre-approved checks.


  1. How is a design created for custom embroidery?

    Standard fonts are provided at no or minimal charges if you only need names or text. There are limitations as to the size various fonts can be embroidered, ask your salesperson for specifics.

    Custom logos or designs require digitizing which involves creating a program that shows the computerized embroidery machine where to sew, what kind of stitch to use, and what color thread to use.

  2. What is Digitizing?

    Any custom design to be embroidered will have to be digitized. Digitizing involves creating a computer program which tells the embroidery machine how to sew your logo. We have in-house digitizing available and can provide an estimate as to what it will cost to digitize a logo. We can also estimate the number of stitches which will be in the design.

  3. What colors of thread do you have?

    We have literally hundreds of colors of thread. If we don’t have the color you need we can purchase it, depending on the size of the order and the number of cones of thread required, there may be a charge.

  4. Is artwork required prior to digitizing?

    Yes, the digitizing process requires that appropriate artwork is either provided or produced by the High Peak Sportswear art department.

  5. Are there limitations on what artwork can be digitized?

    Yes, the custom embroidery process can produce a great looking logo but there are limits as to what even the best embroidery machine can do. Very small text, thin lines, shading and other design components create problems for all embroidery machines. Our art department will produce artwork which will work within the limitations of what can successfully be embroidered to assure a quality end result.

  6. What file format should be used for provided artwork?

    Our artists use primarily Apple computers running Adobe Illustrator. So if you’re providing artwork, it needs to be in vector format. We prefer to be provided illustrator files, eps, or vector pdf files. If questions remain our art department will be glad to discuss acceptable file types.

    Technical information on recommended art format:

    -For full color images, 4 color process and continuous-tone images with 300dpi at actual size.

    -All fonts (printer and screen) must be included with your file or all text should be converted to outlines or curves.

    -Software Applications: Files saved in any of the following applications are acceptable: Adobe Illustrator CS5 and below & Photoshop CS5 and below.

    -Please submit Vector art as eps, ai or pdf.

    -All customer provided digital files should be evaluated by one of our artists before any potential art charge can be estimated.

  7. How do I proof my artwork?

    For the protection of all parties involved, all artwork must be proofed by you prior to any order being produced. You will have the opportunity to view a representation of your job electronically via email or a web based art approval site. Please be aware that colors do vary on different monitors and inks on colored shirts have some interaction which will change the color or change the way a color is perceived.


  1. May I supply garments? (contract embroidery)

    If you provide the garments to be embroidered or printed, there are some potential issues of which you need to be aware. Recently there's been an explosion in the market of moisture wicking and other high tech performance garments. Many are problematic when printing, due to ink adhesion and scorching issues caused by the temperatures required to cure ink. Additionally if there are misprints, etc., since we didn't provide the garments we can't replace those which get damaged. It's safer for all parties and we prefer whenever possible to provide garments we know will work for the intended purposes.

  2. Can you guarantee exact quantities?

    Please notify your sales person if an exact quantity is necessary. Losses during production are always a possibility, please make your salesperson aware if an exact quantity is essential.

  3. What's the minimum amount of items I have to order for custom embroidery?

    Unlike screen printing, we can embroider as few as 1 item. Of course volume discounts apply to larger orders. Unless you’re only getting text, digitizing charges may make it prohibitively expensive to custom embroider only 1 garment.

  4. May I group items of different style, size and color in the same order?

    There is no simple answer to this, most of the time it’s not a problem, sometimes it’s a major problem. Below are some common considerations, but before assuming it is or is not ok to group styles, sizes, or colors please consult one of our sales staff or someone in the embroidery department and they can give you a definitive answer.

    Grouping different styles: Embroidery requires the item to be placed in a hoop which holds the garment while it’s being embroidered. There are definitely some different items which can be run together but often it is not possible. Talk with your salesperson or someone within the embroidery department to get a definitive answer on the garments you’re considering ordering.

    Grouping different colors: Depending on the size of the order, we use multi-head embroidery machines which will do 4 , 8, or 12 garments at a time. If the colors in the logo remain the same on all garment colors then it’s no trouble to embroider different color garments at the same time.

    Grouping different sizes: If the logo is the same size on all sized garments, and if all sized garments fit into the hoops, then different sizes can be all run together.

  5. Will I receive an embroidered sample?

    Normally it is not possible to do a sample due to high costs. Blank garment samples for sizing purposes can be ordered. Please contact us for information and charges.

Thread bobbins on machine
Wall of threads
Custom embroidered hats
Company logo being digitized
Dress shirts being embroidered
Trimming excess threads once finished