The embroidery process begins with an idea or a piece of artwork. That artwork then has to be "digitized" which is the specialized process of converting two dimensional artwork into stitches or thread.
While the digitizing process automates the machine stitching, much of the process continues to be hands on. Before the sewing can begin, specific thread colors must be loaded by hand into the machines. A spool of thread for each color for each sewing head must be loaded. The machine itself is programmed by the operator to sew the design in a particular color sequence and a particular sewing speed. The garments must then be "hooped" individually, again by hand, and then loaded into the machine. Once the design has completed sewing, the garment is taken off the machine, un-hooped, and then sent to the next step in the production process.
The actual embroidery stitching consists of: 1. Fixing the area of the garment to be embroidered in a device called a hoop; 2. Attaching the hooped garment to the embroidery machine so that it can be embroidered; and 3. Removing extraneous stitches accumulated during the embroidery process and removing the backing material used to stabilize the fabric during embroidery (commonly referred to as “cutting, tearing, and trimming”)
Selecting the type of garment/apparel material is an important consideration when embroidering. A T-shirt for example will likely have fewer stitches than denim given that the fabric is not as heavy and will not hold as many stitches.