The greatest problem with small letter embroidery has nothing to do with height. Rather, the problem is that the column width is too thin for a needle to form a proper stitch.
When a customer wants too many characters in a given area, the letters are compressed, further compounding the problem of the column width. Generalized values can assist in determining the feasibility of text within a certain area.
For example, in a 4″ area, try following this guide based on a normal thickness font:
1″ lettering, eight characters
3/4″ lettering, 11 characters
1/2″ lettering, 17 characters
1/4″ lettering, 22 characters
3/16″ lettering, 30 characters
This guide is not absolute, but it’s a good way to gauge if text will fit within a certain area. The more characters added to the values provided, the greater the chance of problems arising. In many cases, problems with small lettering are self-inflicted. Our desire to please the customer overpowers common sense, and we can’t say no. If the embroidery won’t sew properly, it’s the decorator’s responsibility to educate the customer and offer alternatives.