Hot Embellishment Tip
Puff It Up
Stitches Magazine
November 2007

By Elaine Wong

The next time a customer brings you a cap, sports jacket or denim bag to spruce up, consider giving
them the ultimate eye-popping experience: puff embroidery.

"It's a great [way] to draw attention to a logo and can lead to more sales when people stop to ask,
'Who did that?'" says Drew Coufal, president of Akron, OH-based Sew & Sew Embroidery.

The actual process, however, isn't as simple as placing foam down and stitching over it.  
Embroiderers have to pay attention to fabric selection and logo design, says Coufal, adding that this
process works best on stable fabrics such as sweatshirts and jackets.

As for logo selection, it's advisable to steer clear of designs created for flat embroidery.  Instead, opt
for logos that have "a tight 1 millimeter edge walk to cut the foam, caps at the end of each section to
prevent the foam from being pinched out, and the correct density to cover the foam as it stitches,"
Coufal says.

In general, the foam section should be the last area digitized to give the machine operator time to
apply the puffy substance and allow the design to finish sewing.  Aim for foam that  matches the
thread color stitching on top of the design, so any small piece still visible after stitching can easily
blend it.  If you're working with a limited foam color selection, chose a shade that's as neutral as
possible.

"Try using 2 to 4 millimeter high foam for the cleanest results, as taller foam such as a 6-millimeter
piece can become a little more difficult to control," Coufal says.

To remove any extra foam that's been squeezed out during the embroidery stage, use a heat gun to
briefly curl the excess back into the satin column.  Alternatively, embroiderers can also use a steamer
to shrink the foam back inside the stitches.