Embroidery vs Monogramming 101 Compared and Explained 2021

Embroidery and monogramming are two decorative sewing techniques for personalizing and customizing designs on apparel and accessories.

As demand for upcycled clothes and personalized apparel grows, so do the trends toward embroidery and monogramming.

But what are they?

Is there a difference between the two? I’ve done the research so you don’t have to.

Now, let’s explore embroidery vs monogramming!

What is embroidery?

Making an Embroidery of a Human Portrait
Making an Embroidery of a Human Portrait

Embroidery is a technique used to add a personalized touch through different stitching techniques to create an array of designs.

It is the art of applying designs onto fabric using a needle and thread.

Typically rendered in threads or yarn, these designs are composed of different types of stitches.

Origin

While historically, embroidery was straightforward and involved hand stitching techniques such as cross stitch, chain stitch, or blanket stitch, it took time and the results weren’t always consistent or professional.

Nowadays, embroidery is mostly done using digitized designs on a computerized embroidery and sewing device

Patterns can be created by an embroiderer with dedicated software on a computer—they’re also easy to download online.

What is monogramming?

BYC Monogram
BYC Monogram

A monogram is a symbol consisting of two or more letters, often the initials of a company or individual.

They have long been used by companies as recognizable logos or for a country’s reigning sovereign.

A monogram doesn’t have to be created via sewing instruments as it can be printed, painted, or cut out from vinyl.

Purpose

The primary purpose of monogramming is to decorate an item or depict a possession of someone…

Monograms are a popular way to personalize items such as wedding, baby, and travel gifts.

Monograms contain only small patterns that serve as initials of a logo whereas embroidery can be used to create intricate and large designs.

To some, monogramming might seem limited compared to embroidery.

Are monogramming and embroidery the same thing?

While embroidery and monograms can both incorporate initials to embellish or decorate a product, they do have many differences.

A monogram, by basic definition, should have characters or letters that are combined in some way, so if characters made of thread are distinct and not unconnected it is not a monogram.

There is no such limitation however when it comes to embroidery, which has limitless sewing techniques and styles.

You can literally embroider ANYTHING that exists!

Embroidery vs Monogramming

If you are offering embroidery and monogramming to customers and friends, you should know the real difference between embroidery vs monogramming.

The words embroidery and monogram are used interchangeably, but we now know they are two different things.

Monogramming

This is important to consider if you are starting a home business, or maybe are sending your items to be personalized at a separate embroidering business.

If you want your logo or sign monogrammed onto materials, for example, the embroidering business will do that for you easily, but it will be a clear difference from embroidery.

Embroidering

If the letters connect, and they’re initials, acronyms, or abbreviations then the job can count as a monogram.

If these letters are separate, it would be embroidering stitching services.

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Many modern embroidery sewing machines will include monogramming designs when purchasing, but you can buy standalone monogramming programs as well.

Embroidery

Embroidery on Green Fabric
Embroidery on Green Fabric

Usage

  • To decorate an item or accessory and add a unique, personal touch.
  • Create pieces of art and design.
  • Embroider a beautiful hem.
  • Give quality value to a pocket or collar.

Pros

  • The ability to use a variety of techniques and patterns.
  • The possibilities are limitless!
  • More than just cursive, you can embroider any picture or piece of art that can be transferred online to an embroidered design.

Cons

  • Can be complicated.
  • Lots of design-related software to learn.

Embroidery can lead your imagination and creative expression in many directions.

Nowadays, there are advanced embroidery sewing machines that let you embroider high quality decorative designs.

Check out an embroidery machine in action below…

Brother PE-800 embroidering a custom design

Embroidery models can come with accessories like different spool holders, so you can change the thread’s color without having to re-thread it.

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To prevent the material from distorting, an embroidery frame can be used.

Monogramming

Usage

  • To distill ownership of an item.
  • Add a personalized monogram to a gift.
  • Can add a monogram logo or business sign.

Pros:

  • Usually quite a quick process.
  • Simple – monograms can’t go that wrong.

Cons

  • Limiting in what you can create.

There are many different styles and arrangements of monogramming.

Letters are layered in front of each other or side by side.

When monogramming a logo, brand vision is important to help translate the essence of a company when adding monograms to items.

Rules

Monogramming started thousands of years ago, and there are still very traditional rules of thumb.

These are especially important to consider if you are hoping to create a home business.

While not everyone follows this method, I think it’s very interesting!

Monogramming for women:

ACB Monogram
ACB Monogram

The monogram should include her first, last, and middle name. E.g. If her name was Anna Beatrice Clement, the monogram would be ACB.

Traditionally, a woman’s maiden initials can be used even after marriage.

For example, if Anna married Mr. Downey and took his surname, her monogram could be ADC.

Monogramming for men:

ABC Monogram
ABC Monogram

Some people traditionally prefer to use a different monogram order, the first, middle. and last initials.

For example, Andy Bobby Clement would be ABC, rather than ACB like a woman’s.

Monogramming for children:

This is the same for children, Anna Beatrice Clement would be ACB, the same as a monogram for a woman.

The order is the first, the last, then the middle initial.

Soon to be or married couple monograms:

The monogram contains the bride’s first initial, the couple’s last name and the groom’s initials.

For the names Anna Brown and Andy Brown, the monogram would read ABA.

There is a difference in styles you can create:

  • The initial – the letters are intertwined with decorative touches.
  • The block – all the letters are the same height and width
  • The traditional style – popularly used for couples and three letter monograms, the typography on the sides are usually smaller in size than the first name.

Here, the letter in the middle represents the last name and is usually larger to emphasize this.

  • The stacked – good for three-letter names—the first two names are stacked on top of each other on the left and the surname is on the right, and the height should match the size of the first two.
  • The circle or diamond – where the letters are shaped to form a circle or diamond.

Can you monogram with an embroidery machine?

Yes is the simple answer.

Most embroidery devices come with different types of functions specifically for monogramming.

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If you want to get more creative with the monograms beyond the built in embroidery features, you can use a monogramming software program to create different fonts and designs.

Machine

Lots of appliances come with monogramming fonts built-in, so if it can be used for monogramming, you can also use it for embroidery.

You would need to attach the materials to the frame or embroidery hoop tightly, usually attaching a stabilizer to the back to hold the material rigid.

This material will need to stay taut.

Here’s a video of a monogram done with a machine.

Brother PE800 Stitching out a Monogram Design From Start to Finish | SEWING REPORT

If you’re looking to create embroidery and monograms in large volumes, a commercial product might offer the durability and efficiency you need.

Monogramming is usually only done within a single color or small amount of different thread colors, hence a small single head needle appliance would be sufficient.

Machine embroidery designs usually have multiple colors, so you might need a multi-head needle model.

Is a monogramming sewing machine hard to use?

If you already know how to use a sewing device, the learning curve for your embroidery and sewing apparatus shouldn’t be too hard depending on the model you’ve invested in.

Some embroidery products come with computer programs which may be the trickiest part to learn, but most have lots of related resources online.

Learning Process

Learning and creating embroidery and monograms is the same as taking up a new skill and if you’re not familiar with it it may seem more difficult to pick up.

The key is practice, using the right hoop and placement on the items.

How much does embroidery and monogramming apparatus cost?

If you are looking top of the line, you will be paying a premium for it.

You can find an embroidery tool that is commercial grade for less money.

Machine Embroidering a Geometric Pattern
Machine Embroidering a Geometric Pattern

The lower end of the price point will usually have fewer functions, tend to be slower, and vary greatly in price.

How do monogram and embroidery machines work?

The embroidery machine’s method works by taking a pre programmed font and stitching your design.

Each will work differently when it comes to the amount of needles and color changes needed.

  1. To start, you’ll create your design and then use a hoop to center where you want the design to be on the material.
  2. Get the embroidery design to sit where you want it to, and then put it to work.

You shouldn’t have to guide the fabric, threads, or change the stitches like a sewing device.

Conclusion

So, there’re actually quite a lot of differences related to embroidery vs monogramming, huh?

Who’d have thought it could be so complicated! It all depends on personal preference and the overall outcome of how you want a product to look.

Distinction

The key thing that you need to know is this: remember the differences if you want to take something to get custom embroidered or monogrammed – ABC will look different if it’s monogrammed or embroidered.

So, make sure you are aware, especially if you want to start a business.

I hope you find the one you’re looking for so you can start creating for projects or embroidery services!

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Kris Daub
Kris Daub
[email protected] byCurated I'm a maker at heart! I love to create and tech others to create. I particularly sewing and hand crafts like ebroidery. I also love larger home decorating projects. ✂️ 🧵