If questions were rated based on the frequency of being asked, this one would be the 'coup de gras' of all the questions I get from our customers.
You've probably been calling around, and let me guess ... you're getting all kinds of different embroidery estimates from all kinds of embroiderers. Unfortunately, there truly are no hard-and-fast ways to pinpoint the cost of embroidery for your design, without actually having it converted to stitches.
That being said, the better question to be answered here is, How much should embroidery cost?
Calculating the cost of embroidery can seem somewhat complicated, but it's not. Let me explain ...
CALCULATING THE NUMBER OF STITCHES
In order to price your embroidery accurately, your design must be converted into stitches by a professional embroidery designer. The finished design is commonly called a "tape." Each tape must be engineered to run smoothly on various types of material. The tape file tells the embroidery machine where, when, and how many times the needle will penetrate the material to achieve the proper image. These needle penetrations are what's known as the "stitches."
PRICING THE STITCHES
There are two main embroidery pricing types that you will find in the embroidery industry; 'Per-Stitch Pricing' and 'Fixed Unit Pricing'
Per-Stitch Pricing - is the value the embroiderer places on a "tape" based on the amount of stitches that make up the design.
Most commonly, embroiderers will break each tape down into a unit price for every 1,000 stitches of the tape design. This unit price is established by the number of items ordered to be embroidered.
For example: Let's say you're ordering 12 caps and your "tape" (or design) has 7,500 stitches. Your embroiderer may have a 'Per-Stitch' rate of $1.00 per thousand stitches based on 12 garments. That would make your embroidery cost $7.50 per garment (7,500 / 1,000 = 7.5 X $1.00 = $7.50).
Fixed Unit Pricing - is the cost of your embroidery no matter how many stitches make up your tape design.
In other words, a provider may charge you $7.50 for your embroidery whether it is 5,000 stitches or 10,000 stitches. Though this type of pricing is rare, BE WARNED of companies who use this type of pricing. It sounds like a great bargain, but the embroiderer could simply use less stitches, sacrificing the embroidery quality in an effort to make more money.
KEEP IN MIND
The bottom-line here is to have an embroidered garment that best represents your company's image. Embroidery is an art form that takes a craftsman (which are far-and-few-between) to define each stitch so it looks its best on that garment.
Don't settle for the "best price" . . . settle for true embroidery quality.
After all, this is your business we're talking about.