31st July 2008

Let’s Go To Video

I’ll confess, what I know about machine embroidery I’ve learned from working here at EnMart and Ensign Emblem. Although I’ve watched machines run, I’ve never tried to set one up or make it run myself. I can’t imagine how challenging machine embroidery must seem to someone who is starting out. I know it seems challenging to me, and I’m surrounded by machine embroidery experts.

If you’re just starting out in machine embroidery, the best help you can have is access to a pool of experts. If that’s not available, you might try viewing some of the many videos on the subject of machine embroidery. I’ve done a bit of research and, once I started looking, I was surprised to see how many videos were available.

One great source of videos about machine embroidery is YouTube. The price on these videos is certainly right, since they are offered for free. You can find videos on digitizing, designing and running your machine on You Tube, as well as videos from many of the major manufacturers. If you’re investigating embroidery machines with a view toward buying one, You Tube can also be of help a many of the major manufacturers post their demonstration videos.

If you are thinking of buying a new machine, demonstration videos can be a great help in making your decision. Many major embroidery machine manufacturers offer demonstration videos to help potential customers in their decision making process. Melco offers videos about their Amaya XT. The Brother Innov-is 4000D is on YouTube. If you are searching for information about a particular machine, a great way to start may be to search for videos about that machine. You may be surprised what you find.

Finally, there are a lot of videos out there about the machine embroidery process. Just Google “machine embroidery videos” and you’ll come up with 561,000 results. There are videos on digitizing and videos on machine maintenance and videos for specific machine embroidery software. These videos can make a great refresher course for those who already run their own machine embroidery business. They can also be a valuable resource for those who are just starting out.

EnMart is considering adding videos to our product offerings at some future date. Obviously, there are a lot of videos already out there, so we’d love to have some input on what topics have yet to be covered or need additional coverage. If you have any suggestions for us, please leave a note in the comments.

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips | Comments Off

29th July 2008

Bobbins and Backing and Canned Air, Oh My!

When a company offers a wide variety of products it is sometimes easy to focus on only one or two. In our case we tend to focus on the Iris thread, both because we think it is one of the best threads available and because we know that every embroiderer needs thread. Still, when we talk only about the thread, we neglect a wide variety of fine products that EnMart also offers for sale.

Today I wanted to take a minute to talk about those other products. I’ll start with our backing. EnMart offers cutaway, tearaway, water soluble, peel and stick and poly mesh backing. Our backing is available in a variety of sizes and, in some cases, in both black and white.

EnMart also offers bobbins through our online store. We offer both Style L and Style M as well as bobbin cases.

Our EnMart store also carries a wide variety of embroidery accessories. If you need Spot Lifter or Tacking Spray, we have it. We also offer seam rippers, thread clippers and scissors. You can also find oil for your embroidery machine and tools for fixing that machine in this section.

While you’re visiting our store you should also check out the MyThreadBox software. The full version of this software cross references the threads from all the major manufacturers. If you need to do a thread conversion from one manufacturer to another, MyThreadBox can be a great help.

As always, if there is something you don’t see on our site that you think we should offer, please do let us know. You can contact any of our customer service representatives or leave a note on the comments for any post on this blog.

posted in Machine Embroidery Supplies | Comments Off

28th July 2008

What Your Web Site Says About Your Business

For the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to assume that everyone out there has a web site for their business. If you don’t yet have a site, you should read this post anyway. Odds are that sometime soon you will have a site, if only because your customers demand that you have one.

A web site is more than just an online portal for your business. For those who know where to look and for what they should look, your business web site can tell them a lot about what sort of company you own and what kind of manager you are. The following is a list of things your web site can tell potential customers, whether you intended your web site to impart that information or not.

Are You Detail Oriented? – Do the links on your site work? Is the text on your site proofed for spelling and grammar errors. Can your customers find errors in your stated policies? The quality of your web site can be seen as reflecting on the quality of your work. If you want to be perceived as a detail oriented company that does quality work, make sure your web site gives that impression.

What Are Your Design Aesthetics? – Some colors are more suitable for the Web than others. Some fonts can be read more easily. Bigger text is always easier to read than smaller text. All the elements of your web site should come together to convey one overall impression. If you use a variety of fonts or clashing colors, you destroy the harmony. While designing for the web is different than designing for clothing or embroidery, they do have one thing in common. People will know a bad design when they see it.

Are You Going to Be Easy to Deal With? – Some web sites make it hard for visitors to find information they want. The policies may be hidden or not included on the site at all. There may be no contact information. Some sites will even make it difficult for customers to find pricing or a list of what work the company can do. If your site doesn’t have a lot of information or makes visitors hunt for information that should be obvious, your potential customers may start to wonder how easy it will be to get information when they talk to you in person.

Is Your Web Site Easy to Navigate? – When a visitor reaches your site can they easily tell how to move around? Is the menu easy to find and easy to understand? Do you have menus in multiple places? Does finding and using your menu require a lot of interpretation? Making your visitors solve a puzzle before they can move around your site will most likely lose your visitors. Navigation should be simple and easy to interpret and your site visitors should be able to find everything they’re looking for quickly and easily.

Are You Going to Waste My Time? – Flash openings and fun widgets may be cool, but they don’t really add anything that the customer needs. Your goal should be to get your customers to your site, to help them find what they need, and to assist them in completing their transaction as quickly as possible. Anything that gets in the way of that goal is most likely unnecessary.

For some customers, your web site may the first experience they ever have with your business. Take a moment to examine your site through the eyes of a customer and you may discover your site is saying a lot more about your company and you than you know.

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24th July 2008

Basic Embroidery Machine Maintenance

When you were a child your parents probably told you to take good care of your clothes and your toys because that would make them last longer. That particular nugget of advice may be as old as the hills, but it is also true. Taking care of your valuable equipment, like your embroidery machine, can help ensure that it is in good running order for a long time.

Fortunately for those of us who aren’t mechanical wizards, basic maintenance on an embroidery machine is not terribly difficult to do. Mostly it requires remembering to do a few simple things after every use, and that you be vigilant and call a professional if you notice your machine having a major issue. Since major issues are something that should really be handled by a professional, we’re simply going to discuss a few basic maintenance tips here in this blog.

Tip #1: Machines Should be Lint Free – You’re running fabric and thread, both of which fray, through your machine day after day. Dust and lint are bound to build up. If you see lint, make sure you brush it out of the machine with a lint brush. You could also try removing the lint and dust with canned air. Make sure you spray the air at an angle to the parts you are cleaning and keep the nozzle through which the air sprays a few inches from the machine to avoid condensation and blowing lint further into the machine.

Tip #2: Machines Should be Lubricated – Most machines will have an oiling schedule in the owner’s manual that comes with the machine. Make sure you follow that schedule. You should also make sure that you only use oil intended for embroidery machines. A drop or so of oil in the right spot can make your machine run much more smoothly.

Tip #3: Use the Right Needle – Using the right needle and using a sharp needle can make a huge different in the quality of your stitches. Needles should be changed often, at the very least they should be changed after every 8 hours of sewing. You should also suit your needle to the fabric and thread you are using. Ballpoint needles work best with knit or woven fabrics. A metallic embroidery needle is designed especially for use with metallic machine embroidery thread.

Tip #4: Make Sure Your Tension is Set Properly – Improper tension settings can result in thread break and poor stitch quality. Using quality thread and setting the tension on your machine properly will ensure the thread runs smoothly and experiences a minimum of breakage. EnMart provides running and tension instructions for all our thread to help ensure it runs with peak efficiency.

Tip #5: Call A Professional When Appropriate – There may be times when a basic fix isn’t going to be enough to repair a problem with your machine. In those cases, call the dealer from whom you bought the machine and schedule a service appointment. In some cases the dealer may be able to diagnose the problem by phone and tell you how to fix it. At the very least, you’ll get a professional assessment of what they problem might be and how complicated it would be to fix.

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips | 1 Comment

23rd July 2008

How to Choose Machine Embroidery Thread

Sometimes choosing a machine embroidery thread can make you feel like a kid in a candy story. There are all these tempting colors and varieties from which to choose, but how do you know which thread will be the best one for your job? Today I wanted to give you some tips for choosing the right machine embroidery thread for your job and for you.

Tip #1: Pick the Right Thread for Your Project – This may seem like a “well, duh” tip, but it is something that people do overlook. Some threads may work with certain materials better than others. Some threads just sew better on a particular type of machine. Knowing the quirks of both your machine and your material can help you make the right thread choice.

Tip #2: Know the Weight of Your Thread – The weight given for machine embroidery thread roughly translates into how many stitches it will take to cover the area which is being embroidered. A 50 weight thread will be thinner than a 40 weight thread and so on down the line. If you’re creating designs with a lot of stitches, or your embroidery needs to cover a large area, you want to be sure of the weight of your thread.

Tip #3: Know Your Special EffectsMetallic thread can lend a shiny appearance to your embroidery. Glow in the dark thread can add a unique glow to a Halloween costume. Variegated thread allows you to add a variety of colors while using one thread.

Tip #4: Do Your Research – All threads are not created equal. Some break more easily. Some tend to fray or fuzz. Before you purchase a thread, do your homework. Visit the web site of the thread manufacturer. Post a question on a machine embroidery forum or two and ask what other people’s experience with the thread has been. The more you know about the thread, the more likely it is that you’ll pick the thread that best suits your needs.

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22nd July 2008

How to Ruin Your Embroidery in Five Easy Steps

Every machine embroiderer knows that creating a perfect piece of machine embroidery is a combination of skill and luck. While we can’t help you out with the luck part, we can certainly point out some obstacles that could ruin your work. We recommend doing the exact opposite of these tips if you want your embroidery to succeed.

Tip #1: Fail to Use the Right Stabilizer – The backing you choose to use can have a huge impact on the success of your finished embroidery. Stable fabrics should generally be embroidered using a tearaway backing. Fabrics that are considered unstable like knit fabrics, generally should be embroidered using cutaway backing. Using the wrong kind of stabilizer for your fabric can lead to outline stitching shifting or puckered or bunched fabric.

Tip #2: Fail to Hoop Your Fabric Properly – Proper hooping ensures your fabric won’t move and stretches it taut so the design stitches more easily. Sloppy hooping or using the wrong sort of hooping technique or, with some fabrics, using a hoop at all, can cause your design to fail.

Tip #3: Fail to Measure Your Garment Properly – One of the easiest ways to ruin a garment you’ve just embroidered is to fail to measure the garment and center the embroidery properly. Failing to mark a placement line on the garment and failing to properly hoop the garment along that line will help to ensure that your embroidery does not appear in the proper place.

Tip #4: Use the Wrong Tension Settings – If the bobbin thread routinely shows through your embroidery you’re probably using the wrong tension settings on your machine. This will go a long way toward spoiling the appearance of your embroidery.

Tip #5: Aim for a Quick Finish – Your embroidery job is almost done and was stitched successfully. If you’re out to ruin the job, you only have one more chance, finishing. A few careless cuts can undo all the work you’ve already done. Make sure you cut quickly and very close to the embroidery. Don’t worry about holding the stabilizer taut, and trim with short, sharp cuts. Using dull scissors is a definitely plus if you are looking to ruin your work.

Obviously, no machine embroiderer wants to ruin a job, particularly not one that could bring money into their shop. If you keep our tips in mind, while remembering to do the exact opposite of what they tell you to do, your embroidery should be completed flawlessly.

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips | 1 Comment

17th July 2008

Ntrans: Transfer Profit to your Pocket

Screen printed t-shirts and other garments have been popular for a long time. When I was young I used to love the transfers that you could iron on t-shirts. I had one such t-shirt with an iron on transfer that said “Supergirl”. I wore that t-shirt until it was in tatters. Judging by the many different examples of screen printed garments I see on the street each day, many other people love their screen printed apparel as well.

If you own a screen print shop, the love of screen printed garments is good news for you. If, however, your specialty is embroidery, you may be missing out on a potential profit center that could help boost your business. As we all know, diversity is one of the keys to business success. If you can offer your customers both quality embroidered garments and quality screen printed garments you may be that much more likely to make the sale.

If you are searching for a way to add the ability to screen print to your arsenal of sales tools, EnMart has the answer. We call it Ntrans, and it is a unique screen print transfer sold exclusively by EnMart and created by our parent company Ensign Emblem. Ntrans transfers off a depth and clarity of color that other screen print transfers cannot match. Our transfers are also easy to apply. Best of all, Ntrans can be used anywhere that embroidery can be used. EnMart can create Ntrans transfers in a variety of sizes, and there are no limitations in the number of colors a design may have.

All you need to add Ntrans screen print transfers to your product offerings is the transfers, which we sell, and a heat press. EnMart also sells Geo. Knight heat presses, so you can completely equip your shop for selling screen printed garments without leaving our site.

For more information on Geo. Knight heat presses or Ntrans transfers, please contact our Customer Service Representatives. They will be happy to assist you.

posted in Garment Decoration | Comments Off

15th July 2008

Color Match

Every once in a while I like to check our site analytics program to see how people are finding our site. Most of the keywords that bring people to the EnMart site are pretty standard. People find us by searching things like machine embroidery thread, Iris thread or, simply, EnMart. Occasionally there are also more unique search terms that bring people to our site. One of the most unique I’ve seen lately is this: “color match machine”.

I would assume, based on the term, that someone was searching for a color conversion chart or conversion software for machine embroidery thread. If that’s the case, EnMart can certainly help.

If you’re searching for thread conversion software, we offer two versions. The first is MyThreadBox Free, which allows you to convert from other thread colors to Iris thread. EnMart has made a free copy of this software available to our customers. If can be downloaded from our web site. We also sell MyThreadBox, which is a software program that will allow you to convert from any of the popular brands of thread to any of the other popular brands of machine embroidery thread.

If you would prefer to have a paper conversion chart, we can help you there as well. We offer a polyester conversion chart which will allow you to convert from your current brand of thread to Iris thread. We also offer a Rayon to Polyester Conversion Chart. If you use Rayon thread, this chart will help you convert from your present brand of Rayon thread to Iris Polyester Thread.

As always, if you need help with a color match or anything else EnMart related, feel free to contact our customer service staff. They will be happy to help you find the information you need.

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14th July 2008

The Value of Repeat Customers

The online store that EnMart currently uses has a nice feature that tells us if a customer has ordered with us before when they place a new order. I always smile when I see the notation that a customer has ordered from us again. That little notation lets me know that we’re doing the right things in the right order. After all, people don’t place repeat orders with companies that didn’t provide good product and service the first time around.

Studies have shown that the cost of attracting a new customer can be up to eight times greater than the cost of retaining an existing customer. Despite this fact, many companies spend a lot of their time and money trying to get new customers in the door. While it is true that every business needs a steady stream of new customers if it is going to keep afloat, where businesses really need to concentrate their time and effort is on keeping the customers they already have, and on getting those customers to place orders again and again.

The value of repeat customers isn’t only in the fact that they may place multiple orders. Repeat customers come back to your business because they are happy with your products and services. They are also more likely to recommend your business to others or to speak favorably about your business in conversation. Repeat customers may be the best advertisement your business can have.

So, now that you know how valuable repeat customers can be, the question is this: how do you turn a first time customer into a repeat customer? Here are a few tips that will help keep your customers coming back for more.

  1. Respond to customer feedback. Every business makes the occasional mistake or rubs a customer the wrong way. Make sure you respond quickly when a customer tells you they are unhappy or dissatisfied.
  2. Keep in contact with your customers. Use a blog, a web site or a monthly postcard to keep in contact with customers. This will help keep your name at the top of the customer’s mind.
  3. Make refunds and exchanges a simple process. Again, every business screws up once in a while. Make the process of setting things right as easy and painless for your customers as possible.
  4. Hire happy, positive people and treat them well. Your sales staff as the only representatives of your company that your customers may ever see. Hiring happy, positive people and maintaining a positive work environment will help make sure your customers are greeted by happy, positive smiles every time they walk in the door.
  5. Walk Your Talk. Now days it is practically required for businesses to say they value their customers or they provide the best customer service. Before you make any claim about your business, make sure you can live up to what you say. If you want customers to keep coming back you have to meet their expectations, and their expectations will be influenced by what you tell them to expect from your business.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | 2 Comments

10th July 2008

Where Do You Get Your Embroidery News?

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time looking for sources of machine embroidery news. I’m mostly looking because I like to keep up on what’s happening in the industry. I’m also looking for news because I like to keep an eye on the competition. If another company has something amazing to sell you can be sure I want to know all about it. We are also, of course, interested in embroidery news because we want to figure out what sites our potential customers are visiting. If we find a good source of embroidery news, it is an equally good bet that our customers are hanging out there.

One source of embroidery news is embroidery magazines. We spend a lot of time reading both Stitches and Impressions. We also write for Stitches from time to time. An article I wrote appears in the July issue of Stitches. If you want to learn about why you should have a blog and/or web site, read the July Commentary. We are also working on some smaller articles for the Stitches e-mail newsletters. If you receive those, keep an eye out for the EnMart name.

Another source of embroidery news is the news website. One such site is www.topix.com. Their embroidery news section covers all that new in the world of machine and hand embroidery. Currently I’m the editor of the Topix embroidery news page, so if you have any good news tips, please share them with me. I want to make this site a great resource for embroiderers.

Another source for machine embroidery news is blogs like EnMart Embroidery Talk. There are a large number of machine embroidery blogs out there in the blogosphere. Some, like this one, are created by companies as a method of communicating with their customers. Others are written by people who enjoy embroidery and want to share their projects with the world. Blogs can be a great source of news and information.

We would love to know where our readers get their embroidery news. If you have a good source of news, please share it with us in the comments.

posted in Machine Embroidery News | 2 Comments

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