We expect many things of ourselves when digitizing, but there is no such thing as a “perfectly digitized design”. You may be close, but there is always that little something that you would change if you digitized the embroidery design again. For many digitizers, the major problem is small objects or small lettering. Every digitizing problem has a solution that lies in following the basics of good digitizing. If you understand the underlying physics of embroidery digitizing, the solution to virtually every problem becomes obvious.
When digitizing small lettering it requires very short stitches, which will create the majority of problems with small lettering. If you make a stitch short enough, it seems to disappear right into the fabric.
Embroidery and sewing machines traditionally use thread tension to manage thread output as you are machine embroidering or sewing. When two stitches are formed concurrently, the tension of the top and bottom thread joins the stitches together. That joining action pulls stitches closer together than the points where the needle originally entered the fabric. To compensate for this, pull compensation is usually added to a design. No matter how stable the backing or stabilizer is, every stitch you place on a piece of fabric will be shortened by at least half a millimeter, usually more.
But that is not the only reason that fabric seems to absorb short stitches. The effects of fabric nap rarely cross a digitizer’s mind, unless you are using corduroy or wool. Fabric nap refers to tiny fibers of the fabric, which are loose and protrude from the knit or weave of the fabric.
Whenever you are dealing with tiny stitches, the nap of every fabric becomes a factor. Dull appearing fabrics usually appear dull because of a large presence of nap, while shiny fabrics have little nap, or very fine fibers affecting the nap. When you embroider on any fabric, some nap will come into contact with the thread. Whatever amount of embroidery thread gets covered by nap, fibers will be hidden from view.
What makes most embroidery threads so special is their sheen, or the reflective quality that gives embroidery its characteristic glow. But the tables get turned when you create short stitches, and that same sheen that makes your thread desirable can create further headaches. As you know, angles you set when digitizing will change what you see. Embroidery threads can appear to be different shades of color based upon the angle from which they are viewed due to the smooth, shiny surface of the thread.