29th September 2008

Online Ordering

If you haven’t checked out the EnMart store lately, you should really take a moment to go explore.  We know that a lot of you are very busy and can’t always place an order during normal business hours.  The EnMart store is available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.  If you wake up at 2 in the morning with a sudden need to order a bunch of polyester thread, the website is there ready and waiting to take your order.

The online store is also a great place to check out our monthly specials and other featured products.  The front page of the site spotlights our sale products and other featured products that we think will be useful to our customers.  If you’re looking for a deal, the front page will be the place to find it.

The site also goes into detail about the various products we offer.  If you want to learn more about backing or Iris Thread the website is a great place to begin your education.  You can also learn more about what sort of company EnMart is and how we use our 30 plus years of experience to offer you the best products and services available.

If you’re new to ordering on the web you’ll find that the EnMart store makes placing an order very simple.   All you have to do is select the product or products you want to order and then follow the store prompts to ensure you enter the correct information.   The store guides you through the entire process.

We enjoy talking to our customers, but we also know that a quick and efficient shopping experience is a big plus for many of you.  The EnMart store allows us to offer you an efficient product selection and checkout process in an easy to use, familiar format.   As always, we are dedicated to providing you with the best user experience possible.  If you have any suggestions for how we could make your purchasing experience easier or faster, please contact us and let us know.

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25th September 2008

How To Build a Website

In addition to writing content for this blog, I often cross post to a blog that was made available to me on the Stitches Magazine Social Site.  One of the articles I posted there was a discussion of what your website says about your business.  In the comments on that post, I was asked if I had any tips for a business that was thinking of starting a web site.  Since I have started several sites in the past, I do have a few tips I’d like to pass along.

The first tip is about selecting a domain name.  Try to keep your domain name simple.  The best domain names are the same as your company name.  Getting cute and selecting a funny domain name generally doesn’t work in your favor.  You want your domain name to be easy to remember and easy to type.  Shorter is generally better.

You should also make a decision about hosting before you start designing your site.  There are several companies out there that offer hosting packages that are quite reasonably priced.  Many of them will offer packages that also allow you to buy your domain name at the same time your purchase your hosting.  Make sure you do your research and compare a couple of companies.  You should also make sure that you know what the bandwidth requirements for your site will be.  If you’re planning on running a video heavy site, you may need a different hosting package than you would if you were just setting up a static web page.

After you’ve secured your domain name and hosting, the next thing to do is research.  This is a vital and often overlooked step in the website building process.  You need to spend some time on the web to find out what your competition is doing.  You also need to look at a lot of web sites to get some idea of what you like in a web site and what you don’t like.  Learning about awkward navigation and other issues from looking at other websites will save you from having to confront those problems with your own site.

Once you’ve done your research, sit down and write a sitemap for your site.  A sitemap is a list of all the pages that make up your site.  You should have a detailed plan that lists all the pages you want your site to have before you start building the site.   The sitemap will also be your guide for the content you need to create.

After the sitemap is done you can start creating your content.  Write any text that needs to be written.  Do some keyword research so you know for what keywords you would like your site to rank.  Pair your text with the photos you will be using on the site.   Select the dominant color scheme for your site.

Finally, you’re ready to build your site.  There are several options for building a site, everything from hard coding it to using a program like Dreamweaver to purchasing a site template.  The method you use will most likely depend on your level of expertise.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | Comments Off

24th September 2008

How Listening Will Help You Sell

A lot of people think sales is all about talking, but nothing could be further from the truth.  One of the biggest weapons you have in your sales arsenal is the ability to listen.  If you learn to listen to your customers, and not only to the words they say, but their tone of voice and the words they choose not to say, you can learn the right way to sell to that customer.   It may take a little practice, but listening can become one of your most valuable sales skills.

When a customer comes into your shop or calls to place an order many  probably already have a goal in mind.  They want a 100 t-shirts or 5 hats or a monogrammed blanket for a friend’s new baby.   Sometimes it really is as straightforward as that and the only listening you have to do is when you’re taking down the specifics of the order.

In other cases, however, things may not be so easy.  Maybe you’re trying to sell a large business on using you to create their corporate logowear.  Perhaps a customer comes into your shop knowing they want shirts, but unsure about what kind, or even if it’s really shirts they want.  In these cases, your job is to sell the client on your services and your expertise and one of the best ways to do that is by listening.

Listening to your customers can help you do a lot more than figure out what they want at that particular moment.  Many customers may give you glimpses into other possible opportunities for sales.  If you listen you can generally also figure out how much knowledge your customer has about embroidery and corporate logowear and you can tailor the information you give your customer to fit their level of knowledge or to help educate them.

Taking the time to listen to your customer also allows you to ask questions beyond “so you want pink and not blue?”  Focused listening and asking targeted questions can get you a lot of information your client may not have intended to give you.  If you’re looking to turn a first time client into a long term client, every bit of information can be useful.  Listening allows you to ask targeted questions and then to absorb the answers and select the areas about which you would like more information.

Finally, listening helps make your customer feel important and special.  It’s a well known fact that every likes to feel as though they matter.  Paying attention and listening will make your customer feel like you value their business, which is never a bad thing.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | Comments Off

23rd September 2008

What Causes Thread Breaks?

We are proud to say that, used correctly, Iris thread will experience fewer thread breaks than most other machine embroidery thread.  We’ve used this thread ourselves, quite extensively, so we know that if the thread is loaded correctly and the machines are maintained correctly, Iris thread should run smoothly and easily.

That said, we also know that there are a lot of things that can go awry when setting up a machine or running a job.  If you’ve been having issues running Iris thread, or any machine embroidery thread, you may want to check for the following problems.  Correcting these issues could get your job, and your thread, back on track.

One issue might be too much adhesive spray.   While adhesive spray can be a very useful tool, too much spray can build up on your needle.  This build-up causes the needle to drag and can break your thread.  If you use adhesive spray, use it sparingly and replace your needle is you suspect problems.

Another problem might be incorrect needle depth.   If you needle hits the hoop or the throat plate, it may split the thread causing one ply to be peeled back while the other ply continutes to sew.  Eventually, the thread will break, but your stitching prior to the break will be thinner and not usable.  If you encounter this problem, reset your needle depth and check the needle you are using for damage.

You may also find that using the right needle for the type of thread with which you are sewing and the type of fabric on which you are sewing can be a great help.  If you are using metallic thread,  make sure you use a needle designed for metallic thread.   If you are sewing knits, use a ballpoint needle which won’t leave holes in your fabric.  Using the right needle will help ensure your thread runs more smoothly.

Improper threading may also be an issue.  If you’re thread is consistently breaking, check your machine’s manual for instructions on how to thread your machine.  Make sure the thread is going through all the guides in the proper sequence.

Thread breaks can be very frustrating and costly.  The best way to avoid them is to use a high quality thread, like Iris Thread, and to make sure your machine is in top notch condition.

posted in Thread | Comments Off

22nd September 2008

Helpful Hints and Tips

In my quest for information and topics for this blog, I spend a lot of time roaming the Internet looking for hints and tips I can share with those who read this blog.  Today I thought I share a few of the tips I’ve found in my travels among web pages and blogs.

The Secrets of Embroidery blog has a nice piece on creating solid fill.

The Embroidery Guide has an interesting article, which could be of use to customers of machine embroidery shops.  It details what you should look for when purchasing machine embroidery.  If you have customers who are new to or tentative about purchasing machine embroidery, this might be a great article to share with them.

Fashion Incubator has a link to an interesting IQ test for designers.   It involves putting different colors in the proper order by hue.  I didn’t do so well, but that’s why I’m a writer and not a designer.  It should be an interesting challenge for embroiderers who have to match colors.

If you’ve ever wondered how many stitches are in a spool or cone of thread, the Common Thread blog from Flying Needle Machine Embroidery can help you out.  They’ve posted a chart which shows how many stitches (approximately) should come from each thread put-up.

Also, if you haven’t checked it out yet, you should really swing by the T-Shirt Forums.   There is a lot of good information there about running a business.  They also have an embroidery section.  If you do stop by, please do say hello.  I’m generally around the forum at some point during the day.  My screen name is EnMartian.

By the way, if you know of any great embroidery forums, please share them with us here at EnMart.  We are always looking for new places to connect with embroiderers.  If you have a forum you especially like, please let us know in the comments section.

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips | Comments Off

17th September 2008

We’ve Got a New Look

If you’ve been on the web site any time before the last day or so, you might have noticed that our look has changed.  When we started this site, the front part or informational portion of the site was designed independently of the EnMart store.  We knew we wanted to get the informational part of the site operational so people could start learning about us and from us.  So we designed the informational site as a stand alone site and planned to add the store later.

When we did add the store, we discovered that a lot of things we had done on the front part of the site just didn’t work on the back end.  In a store, the focus has to be on the products.  Having a fancy site, however well designed, distracts from what you want shoppers to do, which is buy.   Given that, we wanted the back end to be streamlined, with as few obstacles in the way of making a purchase as we could manage.

A redesign of the site has been planned for a while, and we have finally been able to make it happen.  The content of the site is still the same.  The front end contains information about the products we offer and helpful tools that will assist you in getting the most from your EnMart products.  The back end, which you can reach by clicking the “Shop EnMart” button on any page of the front end of the site,  allows you to purchase any EnMart products through our secure shopping cart.

We’re think our new design is a good one and we’re proud to share it with all of you.  As always if you have any suggestions for things we could add to our site or improvements we could make,  please share them here in the comments section or contact us to share your thoughts.

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16th September 2008

Is Thread Tension Making You Tense?

If you use an embroidery machine you know how important thread tension can be to the success or failure of your design.  Unfortunately, mastering the proper tensions for your machine can take some trial and error.  Since each machine is a little bit different, you may need to make some adjustments before you get your thread running smoothly.  If you are currently having problems with your thread, here are some adjustments you can make which might help eliminate the issue you’re having.

The first thing to do is try and determine what sort of tension problem you have.  If your tension is too tight, you will most likely get excessive thread breaks and pulling or puckering of your design.  If your thread tension is too loose, you’ll end up with bobbin thread showing through the design, or looping of your embroidery thread.   Neither situation is an optimum one.

When your thread is tightened properly and you sew a test design, you should see the design divided into thirds.  The top third would be top thread, the bottom third would be top thread and the middle third would be bobbin thread.   This test run card from EnMart shows you how your test stitch should look.   If you aren’t seeing the 1/3 divisions, then your thread needs to be adjusted.

If more than 2/3 top thread is showing, you may need to tighten your top tension.  If more than 1/3 bobbin thread is showing, you may need to loosen your main tension or tighten your bobbin.  Once you’ve adjusted your tensions stitch the design again.  If you see the 2/3 top thread and 1/3 bobbin thread, you’ll know your tensions are correct and you can start sewing out your design.

Some thread companies recommend that the tensions be set at a certain range of grams for the best performance.   The question then becomes  how do you know at what tension the machine is currently set? One way to know is to purchase a tension gauge.  Such a gauge is generally relatively inexpensive and using it, and the recommended tension settings from your thread manufacturer can help ensure that your tensions are set to give you the best possible embroidering experience.

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips | Comments Off

15th September 2008

Machine Embroidery on Denim

Everywhere you look these days you see denim.  There are denim jackets and denim skirts.  You’ll see cute little newsboy caps made out of denim, as well as denim purses and totes.  You will also of course see many pairs of denim jeans. Denim is a very popular fabric, so most embroiderers will probably be asked to embroider on this material at least once in their careers.  If you’ve never embroidered on denim before, you’ll find it has some unique challenges.  Here are some tips to help make sure your denim embroidery goes smoothly.

Because denim is a twill weave, it can be difficult to stabilize.  The weave runs diagonally, which allows the fabric to “give” and makes it more comfortable.  That same diagonal pattern, however, makes it difficult to keep the grain of the fabric square in both directions.  You will have to hoop the fabric carefully.

Always use a stabilizer behind your design.  A good choice might be a cutaway stabilizer.  Once the item is securely hooped, slip a square of tearaway backing under the design area.  This combination of stabilizers has been shown to work with both regular and stretch denim.

Embroidering on denim also requires a heavy duty needle.  A large embroidery needle, like a 90/14 needle, is recommended.   Remember, most denim is thick fabric, so you’re going to need a needle that can handle repeatedly piercing through such fabric without going dull.

Make sure the color of thread in your designs is a nice contrast to the shade of denim on which you are embroidering.  Lighter thread colors will show up nicely on darker denim.  Darker thread colors will highlight your designs on lighter denim fabrics.

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips | Comments Off

11th September 2008

Thread Conversion Made Easy

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about thread conversion.  I know, from speaking with our customers, that converting from one brand of thread to another is one of the largest obstacles embroiders face when contemplating switching threads.   If you have used the same thread for quite a while, you most likely have information on what colors work for what projects.  Switching thread would require that you put all that information together again unless, of course, you have software that can do the work for you.  That’s where EnMart comes in.

EnMart is proud to offer two version of the MyThreadBox conversion software.   MyThreadBox Free for Iris Threads will allow you to find conversions between the brand of thread you currently use and Iris thread.  MyThreadBox Full Edition  allows you to convert from one thread to another regardless of what the brands are.  Both MyThreadBox versions contain thread matches for all the major machine embroidery thread manufacturers.

The MyThreadBox software gives you the ability to use any thread you wish to sew a design, not the thread that is listed with the design.  Because you can color match threads quickly and easily, you are able to choose thread from the manufacturer you like best.  You also now have the freedom to switch manufacturers if that’s what you choose to do.  MyThreadBox removes the hassles that switching from one thread manufacturer to another can cause.

Because MyThreadBox uses digital color matching on the RGB spectrum, it provides very accurate color matches.  The only thing more accurate would be having an embroidery color matching expert sit down and do the matches by hand.   The software runs on any PC with Windows 95 or better.

posted in Thread | Comments Off

9th September 2008

How To Embroider on Hats

Embroidering hats can be a great profit center for your business.  Like most other types of machine embroidery, there are certain things you should keep in mind when embroidering hats.  If you follow the tips given below, you should find that embroidering caps and hats is an easy and painless process.

Tip #1:  Design Size Matters –  When it comes to embroidering a hat, smaller designs generally work better than larger designs.   Your design should fit into the flat area of the cap where you will be embroidering.   The size of that area will determine the size of your design.

Tip #2: Make a Template –  Making a design template will help you place the designs properly on the hat.  It will also be of help with hooping the hat.   Using a template will give you the cross lines you need to hoop your hat correctly.

 Tip #3:  Use random designs –  Hats are hard to hoop and it is difficult to ensure they are in the hoop straight.  Using designs that are random and don’t require being centered can help you avoid the problems a hat that is hooped crookedly can cause.

Tip #4: Avoid Square Designs – Square designs do require straight hooping and  proper centering, which may be difficult to do.  If at all possible, avoid these sorts of designs.

Tip #5:  Use Backing Developed for CapsBacking designed for caps will enhance the clarity and crispness of your embroidered designs.  Backing will also help maintain the tension on the bobbin thread.

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips | 3 Comments

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