Understanding the Benefits of Backing and Top Material

August 14, 2013

Summary : The key to a clean embroidered logo isn't just great digitizing and perfect thread tensions. There are some factors to consider when choosing what type of backing and topping material to use, and why to use them.

By Ray Adriano | Published : 2/1/2013

Most chef apparel shops will tell you that backing is used to help make fabric sturdy when being sewn on an embroidery machine. While this is definitely true, it is not the only factor to consider when choosing the right backing for your restaurants’ logoed apparel.

Most of today’s logoed chef apparel needs can be accomplished with three basic backing varieties, and a water-soluble top material. The four materials we will discuss are tear-away, cut-away, light mesh, and Solvy.

Tear-away, being one of the least expensive and least time-consuming materials, is the most popular among many embroidery shops. Saving time in finishing is always nice, but quality suffers due to this “paper-like” backing being brittle and easily fraying. As a general rule, we only use tear-away on hats, where trimming is difficult due to the stiff, structured shape of a finished cap.

Chef apparel is subjected to industrial washing machines, which can really beat up the embroidered logo. Cut-away is the best all-around backing for sturdiness, providing a crisp, clean finished product. It’s tightly woven and compressed texture may be slightly more expensive, but it provides an easily trimmed material that will hold its shape after many wash cycles. Cut-away is Chef Duds preferred backing and is used on chef coats, chef hats, aprons, and both kitchen and server shirts.

Light mesh backing is a thin, inexpensive, cut-away material. As the name implies, it is a loosely woven, compressed material. It works well with thicker types of fabric and can add thickness when combined with regular cut-away backing.

Lastly we have water-soluble top material, such as Solvy. This is a thin, transparent material that will dissolve the first time a garment is washed. The purpose of Solvy is to help smooth out rough or uneven material, like high-piled fleece found in many towels and fleece outerwear. A second, and sometimes overlooked, feature is that it can add tension to the top side of the garment. If you find your thread seems to get “sucked” down into the material, try adding one or more layers of Solvy to correct this common problem.

A select few materials such as leather and vinyl, are so thick that they do not require any backing to be used at all. Although the frequency that we sew on these types of garments here at Chef Duds may be few and far between, we must remember that special needs may be required in the digitization so as to not perforate the material and cut out the entire logo.

At Chef Duds, you can be assured that your logo will look crisp and clean the first time you put your logoed chef apparel on, as well as the hundredth time.


Size Chart

*All sizes indicated are pre-wash.