Monday, September 29, 2008

Choosing The Right Stitch Type

Satin stitches take center stage because they reflect the most light (shiniest). Use this stitch type for whatever you want to be most prominent in your design. Running stitches and fill stitches are much duller because they are comprised of small stitches which don’t reflect as much light. To increase the prominence of these stitch types increase their stitch length. When you vary stitch types and the direction of those stitch types within your designs you increase the interest and complexity of the overall design. Embroidery is an art form with texture. We create more textural interest when we vary stitch type and direction. We basically use running stitches for detail work. Satin are used for filling thin areas and borders and for creating focal points in our designs. Fill stitches are used for filling large areas with stitching.When you vary the direction of the stitches in your design you assure that the light will hit the design at different times from different angles, this gives the design a lot of life. You can also use this to create 3-dimensionality in the design. As you change the angle of the stitches you can make the area of the design recede or jut out.By experimenting with the different stitch types and direction you can come to realize what a huge impact this can have on the effectiveness of your embroidery.

A Printing Revolution

Probably the largest advance in the area of garment decoration in decades, direct to substrate printers, are rapidly increasing the practicality of low volume printing. Now last minute printing orders or small run fill-in orders are no longer a problem. To buyers of promotional products, this technology is a boon for many reasons. The technology essentially eliminates set-up costs, allows for any size order, and gives you the detail and vibrancy of screenprinting while maintaining the hand of the fabric.
While embroidery is the decoration choice for uniforms and corporate image apparel, there are times when either the quantities or costs are a consideration. In the past screenprinting and transfers were the only other alternatives. Now you have a new weapon in your arsenal of low cost product choices.

The Process
Direct to Substrate printers work in much the same way as office ink jet printers. Their main advancement over a traditional ink jet printer is that they allow for the printing of vibrant colors on both Black and White 100% and cotton blend garments. Some fabrics do require pre-treating, and all fabrics require curing to make the image permanent. Direct to Substrate Printing, is exactly that, you print directly onto the item. Unlike other solutions that use inkjet technology, the DTS printers does not print onto a "transfer material" like Iron-On's. The DTS prints your image directly onto your shirt or other object. With Screen Printing, you must first separate the image into "color separations". From these separations you then create screens to which the ink is "pressed through" and onto your garment. After the print process you must clean the screens for reuse, using harsh toxic chemicals. This is time consuming and adds to the expenseThere are a few limitations to screen printing. First, screen printing can only be used on a limited number of items and garments. The DTS’s can print on textiles and non-textiles alike! Screen printing has a limited resolution. On top of that, you must create a screen for every color you use. DTS printers hve an amazing resolution and can print millions of colors. The DTS printers require no screens, little image prep time and prints shirts in seconds.

Cost Consideration
One thing that you might want to take into consideration when planning an order is that the cost for light colors on dark garments is usually higher as the process is more time consuming. The additional cost is due to the additional time it takes to print on dark substrates.

Because there is relatively little set up required to prepare a print, this method can be very cost effective.

Another advantage to DTS is that it combines very well with embroidery, Because the process does not affect the hand of the fabric, embroidering on top of it is no problem at all. Because you can print just about anything from photographic detail to bold graphics, DTS allow you to create precision images with unlimited blending of colors which is not possible with embroidery alone. You can then add depth and texture with embroidery on top of the image, to create a focal point. This combination affords both the detail from the DTS printer and texture from the embroidery.
DTG printing can also be combined with screenprinting, which is especially advantageous if you have a design that is constant such as a logo which needs to be combined with different names or titles. The logo can be screenprinted in bulk and the individual names or titles can be added later using the DTS printer.
While DTS printers are not the answer to all of your decoration needs, they certainly offer a very good alternative to screenprinting in situations where screenprinting would be cost prohibitive.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Home Decor

The new "Do It Yourself" home design industry is flourishing. Businesses such as Home Depot, Lowes, and Builders Square are located in just about every town in the country, and that is where people are shopping, in order to do as much of the work themselves. Saving money and getting creative with our homes is a very popular hobby. for many is relaxing and at the same times allows you to get the exact look you want, in a very economical way.
Embroidery is a perfect tie in to this bureoning industry. Embroidery is all about customization. When we embroider something, we make it unique. This is a particularly desirable concept when we are talking about designing our own private oasis away from the hustle and bustle of daily lives. What better way to design your own environment than by embellishing it with embroidery, which reflects your unique tastes and interests?
Aside from its personalization abilities, it can also be a design tool. Embroidery can be used as a unifying design element to tie a room together. You can use it to add the wallpaper design to the guest towels in a bathroom. It may be used to echo a carpet pattern on a throw pillow or to change the personality of an ordinary item.
For example, take a simple white pillow and add a blue anchor, and it becomes the perfect accesory in the cabin of a yacht or the back deck of a cutty cabin. Add some bold abstract orange daisies and the pillow becomes the perfect accent for a 60's themed Soho studio. If you add heaps of building blocks it becomes the perfect addition to a child's playroom.
The home decor segment of the embroidery industry is not an easy one to break into. You often need the right connections or need to be in the right place at the right time, but if you do it can be very lucrative and create tons of word of mouth business.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bobbins Up

As embroiderers, our biggest concern about the appearance of our end product is focused on the top. However, bobbin thread also plays an important role in the embroidery process. If the bobbin thread is too tight, the embroidery ill pull in, causing running stitches to disappear and columns to look too skinny. If the bobbin thread is too loose, you will see it on the top of the embroidery, and that might even be worse. In addition to tension, there are other points to consider, such as the many different bobbin thread choice from which to choose- cotton, cotton poly blends, monofilament polyester and spun polyester.
On top of that, it comes in many different packages, such as cones, and pre-wound bobbins. If that isn't enough, pre-wound bobbins come with or without cardboard sides and magnetic and non-magnetic.
In most cases we don't care what the bobbin looks like as long as the top of the embroidery looks fine. The are, however, times when the back is just as important as the front. When embroidering on director's chairs, for example, there is not really any practical way to hide the back, so it becomes important to make sure the back looks as good as possible. Napkins and Handkerchiefs are two more product where this also applies. One way to make the back look better is to wind your own bobbins using the same thread you are using for the top stitching. This will make the back of you embroidery look much the same as the top. There is also the issue of backing, when the back side of the embroidery is visible you don't want any backing showing. For most woven fabrics you can use a tear-away backing, in which case the excess backing can be torn away after the embroidery is done. There are instances where you don't want the backing to show through the embroidery, in those cases you can use a water or heat soluble backing.
Bobbins Up
Reverse or bobbin embroidery is another process where the bobbin takes center stage. The reverse embroidery technique uses the bobbin thread as the finishing thread. This is usually accomplished using metallic or floss thread in the bobbin case, which you combine with a similarly colored rayon thread in your needle. Since the finished side is the back side, make sure that you hoop the fabric upside down. Your tensions should be set so that the bobbin thread is pulled to the top of side of the fabric. (loose bobbin, tight top thread) This will ensure that the top thread is invisible in the finished embroidery. Because in the case of floss, you are working with heavier thread, your density should be lowered to about 30 stitches per inch. The finished result will look as though the the thread was hand- sewn using a loop stitch from the bottom.
The thread you choose for your bobbin can have a profound effect on your finished product. It can add to the professional look of the design, it can add texture or it can even make up your finished design. These are just some of the options that you have for bringing you bobbin thread to the forefront of your embroidered creations.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Embroidered Patches

Embroidering on Pre-made patches is much easier than you might have thought. Pre-cut blank patches are readily available. While patches can be purchased with a heat seal backing, they can be more of a challenge to embroider on. The heat seal backing can cause your needles and hook assembly to be gummed up causing tension problems. You can add a heat seal backing or peel and stick backing after you finish embroidering the patch.

You can use the repeat key on you embroidery machine to enter in the dimensions from center to center of your patches in both the X and Y directions. This will make sure that you matches will you uniform and further automate the process.

Patch Frames
Patch Holder Attachments for Embroidery Machines allow for the simultaneous attachment of up to 12 separate patches within the same frame, eliminating the need for constant interruption of labor and increasing the productivity of your workforce.
The patches are held in place by spring loaded frames that hold the patches in place firmly without leaving marks. Patch holders are made to any size, shape and for any machine. This handy product will increase your quality, productivity and profit.

Adhesive Backing
An alternative to patch frames is to use peel and stich adhesive cut-away backing within either your border frame or you largest hoop. Use you copy and repeat function on you machine keyboad as you would with a patch frame. After you run you first set of patches trace the patches on the backing and then carefully cut around the embroidery to remove the patches while keeping the backing in the frame. You now have a patch frame holder which can be used over and over. You might want to slip a piece of tear-away backing underneath and replace it for every run.
There are not many companies out there that offer low volume patch orders, using either of these techniques will allow you to easily take advantage of this luctritive niche market.

Planning Work Flow

Simple preparation is often all you need to turn a potentially negative situation into a positive one. Every year at this time, we receive last minute orders for personalized embroidered items. To avoid the rush this year, you need to put yourself in the forefront of your prospective customers' minds before they start planning for the gift-giving season.
Review your records and track the business flow from the previous year. Determine which times were the busiest, and plan on hiring extra help during those times. It is important to factor in the training period for new or temporary workers, as they can only begin being productive once they know what they are expected to do.
The best approach to a busy season is to take a proactive stance and control the workflow. One method of doing this is to offer you customers an incentive to order early. A discount for ordering early or an up-charge for last minute orders might be all they need to place their orders early. A catalog is another way to stimulate interest and get you customer thinking about their holiday needs. Another idea for generating orders early is to host a holiday home shopping party. Assemble samples of embroidered holiday related garments to peruse. Remember keep it simple Limit you inventory choices and choice of designs and colors. You want to spend their time ordering, not deciding what to buy.
Of course these are just some ideas for controlling your shop's productivity during a rush season. Throughout the year you will experience both slow and busy periods. If you identify these trends and take action to control them you can keep you shop running smoothly all year. We all think that being busy is a good thing, but if you can stretch that busy season into a slow one you can reduce stress in both slow and busy times.