Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Adding Texture

The practice of using puffy foam underneath satin or column sitiches to create a 3-D look to parts of your embroidery has been very popular on and off for the past at least ten years but this method of creating raised areas of your design becomes totally impractical if the garment upon which the embroidery is being placed is to be dry cleaned. The dry cleaning solution wil dissolve the foam and leave you with merely a very, very loose satin stitch. Another method to consider is to first digitize a skinny column stitch in the center of the final column stitch at full density. Then follow that with a slightly wider column stitch on top of that but still inside you final column stitch width and then finally finish that with your finished and top column stitch. Because none of your needle pentrations are in the same place you will not experience thread breaks, and you will end up with a significantly raised column stitch, which can serve as the focal point of your design. For example if you are digitizing a bouquet of roses and you want some of them to appear to more in the foreground use this underlay technique in varying degrees underneath the column stitches that make up those flowers. One row of underlay stitches under the roses you want in the mid-ground and two rows under the ones in the foreground and none under the ones you want to appear in the background. Try it it works. Good luck.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Becoming A Commercial Embroiderer

The only real difference between commercial embroidery and home embroidery is the fact that commercial embroidery is made to be sold. You may not think that this is a big difference, but it truly is. When you are embroidering as a career, you are creating for someone else and when you are finished, the embroidery is theirs. You can lose minutes, or even hours, of time contemplating the infinite designs, techniques and uses embroidery affords, and this is the fun and exciting aspect of embroidery if you are creating for pure enjoyment. It is the danger if you are trying to make a living. This is the quandary - to put enough of your-self into your work to make it exciting, but not so much that you get lost in it. This is just one of the ongoing creative battles you will have with yourself. The other is to design for your customers and not yourself. There is difference between quality and taste. When you are embroidering for sale you must always create a quality product, but it doesn't necessarily have to be designed to suit your own taste. If you can remember to keep your customer's needs at the forefront of your design decisions, you will stay on the right track. Additionally, a new factor is introduced that is called a profit. If you don't make a profit, you really aren't in business. To ensure a profit you have to make sure that you charge more than the embroidery costs to make. One tactic is to find the right customer. Everything is relative, so a price that is exorbitant to one can be reasonable and fair to another. Take something as simple as an embroidered pillow. As an embroiderer you can offer something uniquely designed to not just coordinate with a room, but to actually act as a design force to tie together disparate portions of the design. This way your custom embroidered accessory becomes an indispensable part of the room as well as being a bargain at any price. Another way to lower costs is to design with cost reduction in mind. You can lower embroidery time by reducing stitch count and by replacing large filled-in areas with applique. You can also reduce design time by incorporating stock designs rather than digitizing your own unique designs for every product. What embroidery can achieve - whether it is enjoyed as a hobby or as a business - is to produce something totally original, essentially from nothing. The only things you need are skill and imagination, and if you posses these two gifts you can satisfy the needs of even the most discriminating customer. Add to this the ability to scale back your projects to fit within a budget and you will corner the market.
Fashion embroidery requires a very different sensibility than most other types of commercial embroidery. When we create logoed embroidery we are bound by a long list of absolutes. The colors, design and in many cases, even the stitch types are already predetermined for us, and all we have to do is reproduce the design in embroidery. When we create fashion embroidery, however, we usually start with a much less finite point of departure. We might start with a pre-assembled garment in need of a little more personality, or a garment screaming to be monogrammed, or even a bolt of fabric waiting to be transformed into that absolutely perfect and unique outfit. All of these starting points offer many more options and, at the same time, many more decisions. I feel that the most important place to start is with the motivation for using embroidery.
The Embroidered Design
Embroidery can be used to create a focal point on a garment, or it can be used to lend both interest and texture in a much more subtle application. Depending on which of these effects you wish to achieve, your approach will differ. To create a focal point, your color palette would probably be bold and contrast with the base fabric of your garment. If you choose the more subtle approach, your color choices would probably contain different values of the same color family, or a collection of pastels on lighter fabrics, or rich colors on dark fabrics. Another choice to be made is the overall shape of your embroidered design. This step is probably the one that is most often ignored in the design process. Thumbing through a stock design catalog, you will probably notice that many of the available designs are created with overall square, rectangular, round or oval shapes, as this makes it very easy to personalize them by adding lettering. These designs can, however, be difficult to use in fashion embroidery and can give your end product a generic look. Using your editing tools to remove either the border or background of the stock design, thus giving it a much more natural and irregular shape, can often solve this problem. Irregular shapes allow the design to blend more seamlessly with the garment, as opposed to more geometric and regular shapes.
Another underexplored element crucial to successful fashion embroidery is density. When creating garments, especially those made of knits and lighter fabrics, the drape of the fabric is very important. If the stitch density within your embroidered design is too heavy, it can interfere with this drape and ruin the lines of the garment. When working with lighter fabrics, it is often better to rely on underlay to make your stitching more opaque rather than increasing your density.
Picking the right designs, colors, placement and configuration makes embroidery fit as an indispensable and integral design element.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Assessing Your Productivity

No matter how streamlined your embroidery shop is, there is always room for improvement. Different production methods are worth exploring due to the new and different products and processes that are constantly surfacing. All of them will require different solutions at one time or another. So, as the work we produce becomes more diversified, we need to re-evaluate how we can best use our facilities.When we talk about production, we usually start with machine speed, stitch counts and the amount of shifts necessary to complete a job. We start here because these three aspects are the basics for determining the time frame necessary to complete an order.There are, however, other variables which should be considered in the process. Some of these include shop layout, operator’s workload, even the amount of jumps and color changes in a design, but the list is really endless. Every aspect of your business, no matter how inconsequential it may seem, affects productivity. Therefore, on a regular basis, it is a good idea to sit back and take a fresh look at your embroidery operation. This doesn’t mean it is necessary to make regular changes to your embroidery operation. If, upon close inspection of your plant, you find no changes are needed, that is gratifying too.The important lesson to be learned is the necessity of objectively assessing your current processes. Once you are able to look at everything with fresh eyes, you can logically assess all your practices and eliminate those that are either redundant or have simply become obsolete.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Embroidery Supplies

The secret of perfect embroidery is based on an attractive design and the right thread colors. True perfection, however involves much more than what is seen on the surface; it also depends upon the optimal combination of fabric, needle, thread and backing, as well as the ideal registration of the embroidery machine. Selecting the right supplies for your next job will be much easier if you have a clear idea of the properties of these essential products.ThreadsThere are a number of first-rate suppliers of embroidery materials around the world. These companies offer a variety of threads made of different fibres, such as Rayon, cotton, wool, polyester, polypropylene, nylon and acrylic. Regardless of your needs--whether your embroidery calls for thread resistant to abrasion, chlorine or even fading--chances are you will find exactly what you need. Rayon thread, one of the most popular, is known for its softness and sheen. It is an ideal choice for embroidering ladies, men's and children's wear, as well as trendy sportswear. But, despite Rayon's qualities, this thread is not suitable for every application. For instance, it is not recommended for blue jeans, basic sportswear or work clothes that undergo industrial laundry conditions or the addition of chlorine to the wash. For these items, polyester thread would be the better choice. If your goal is to achieve an exclusively natural look, cotton and woolen embroidery yarns are an excellent choice. Cotton threads, in particular, are very attractive when used to embellish country dècor or fashion. Woolen threads, on the other hand, have a duller visual aspect that makes them more compatible with wool, knitwear and linens. For those special projects that call for a distinctly different thread, today's digitizers/designers have technology to thank for providing them with an exciting collection of novelty threads, including both metallic and light-reactive threads. With such unique products on the market, the doors to artistic expression are wide open. The one caveat that applies to these threads is that they are not usually chlorine or abrasion-resistant, so if these criteria are of importance, polyester thread should be used instead.
When creating beautiful embroidery, choosing the right backing is every bit as critical as choosing the right thread. For non-stretch materials, it is possible to use a non-woven backing without coating, while, for stretch materials, a non-woven with coating is preferred. Therefore, non-woven fabrics with coating may always be used, but their handling is more complicated and they are more expensive. It makes good sense to have a selection of white non-woven backings for sheer fabrics and black/anthracite ones for dark fabrics. Although non-woven backings are removed after the embroidery process, there might be remainders on the fabric itself, and this can have an unprofessional effect. If embroidery companies want to avoid the inconvenience of having a huge inventory of different quality non-woven backings, they should purchase non-wovens, as needed, for each order. When trying to determine the appropriate weight of backing to buy, the decisive factor is the fabric on which the non-woven backing is to be used. The rule is simple: The heavier the non-woven, the more suitable it is for heavier materials. While on the subject of backings, another product that deserves mentioning is self-adhesive backing. In addition to providing excellent stability, this product eliminates the need for hooping, making it the perfect backing for certain situations.
Bobbins & Needles
Provided the tension on your machine is correctly regulated, bobbin thread should not appear on the right side of your embroidery. For this reason, it is not a major issue whether you use black or white thread; although, in general, it is recommended that you use a black-coloured bobbin thread for dark colours. Bobbin thread on the cone is less expensive (because someone must wind the bobbins), but, for embroidery purposes, the pre-wound variety is often preferable because its delivery is smoother.
It is common knowledge that better-quality embroidery needles result in greater productivity and a higher quality of embroidery. The embroidery needle system (DB x K5) developed by Organ Needle offers some great advantages compared to the former system (287WK). Benefits include an easier and softer thread passage, less missed stitches and higher strength. Embroidery needles with a medium ball point (SES) have the advantage that not only light fabrics, but also heavy basic fabrics, are pricked softly. Very good embroidery results can be achieved with woven fabrics and knitwear, as well as with thin leather. The needle count, or strength, is determined by the dimension of the long groove and the needle eye. A new development in needles is the DB x K5 Innova Duo system developed by Lammertz Germany with an additional groove on the furrow side, which leads to even better running properties of thethread. The new embroidery needle system is recommended for difficult embroidery designs on difficult materials, especially, when using extremely long satin stitches, or for embroidery designs with high densities.
More Useful Products
Any discussion about embroidery supplies should include temporary adhesive sprays. This useful product is one of the most important aids for embroidering large surfaces, or for using with appliquès or emblems. The decisive criterion for temporary adhesives is, of course, the gluing property. The adhesive strength should last for approximately one day, yet be easy enough to remove after sewing. Furthermore, the glue should not gum up the embroidery needles. Embroiderers looking for a way to make their designs even more expressive will have already explored the use of appliquès. The availability of materials suitable for appliquè is huge. One popular fabric is permanently coated twill, which produces quality monograms and is also suitable for embroidering logos, badges and emblems. There are so many amazing embroidery products in today's market that embroiderers will find it easier than ever to produce truly unique, beautiful embroidery. It's all a question of exploring the wealth of products out there and experimenting with them.

Men's Fashion Embroidery

Embroidery is everywhere. Blouses, shirts, trousers, skirts, jackets and shoes all sport some type of embroidery. Another exciting trend is the combination of tie-dye and screenprinting with embroidery, which offers a very fresh, new look.Embroidery is popular because it is readily available, but also because designers have found ways of making it look anything but traditional. This has made it not just popular, but on the cutting edge and very desirable.Embroidery is once again hot, especially in the new men’s wear lines. Textures derived from a variety of different threads, tropical patterns, geometrics, hand-driven run and chain stitches are used together or separately to form totally new looks.In examining some of the fashion embroidery shops around the globe, we notice some very obvious facts. Most fashion embroidery is produced flat on either pre-cut pieces or on flat goods, which are cut later. Lasers have been added to many of the production rooms for various purposes: to cut individual pieces, cut designs in garment sections, create decorative borders or etch the surfaces of fabrics.As for the new men’s wear fabrics, we see natural fibres used with both ethnic-inspired and bold graphic designs, but we also see new synthetic fibres in sheer and opaque forms paired with anything from cross-stitch to multi-layered appliquéd fabrics and trims.This is a very exciting time for men’s wear because of the continued rise of the casual and corporate casual sectors. At the forefront of all of this is embroidery. Designer’s needs are fuelling expansion of embroidery shops, which is increasing the size of our overall global industry.