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Handmade vs. Professionally Made?

28th November 2011

Handmade vs. Professionally Made?

Recently we had an interesting discussion on the EnMart Facebook page about whether or not gifts professional embroiderers or sublimators or direct to garment printers made were considered handmade gifts.    There are several movements encouraging handmade instead of store bought gifts,  and others which encourage recycled or upcycled gifts,  but it’s hard to know where to draw the line.   If you embroider for a living and you monogram a scarf as a Christmas gift,  is that gift considered handmade?  It wouldn’t necessarily, I don’t think, be considered handmade if a customer purchased it from you,  so where, exactly, is the line drawn?  Also,  does it really matter?

First of all, we need to examine the meaning of the word handmade, which means exactly what it says, made by hand.  If we go strictly by that definition, then nothing made on a machine is handmade, and so really there is no discussion.   If we switch from handmade to homemade,  we have a little more wiggle room.  Homemade is defined as made or prepared at home, locally, by the maker’s own efforts.   If we go by that definition,  then anything made by a professional embroider or printer could be said to be homemade,  as it was made by that person’s own efforts, if not in their home.

Second,  we need to consider how we think about embroidery and sublimation and direct to garment printing.  These are essentially creative endeavors.  Designs are created.   Something attractive and useful is created from a blank canvas of some kind.   Whether that creation is done on an embroidery machine,  with a printer and heat press or by someone in a chair with a needle and thread,  the end result is something that can be both useful and beautiful, a work of art if you will.   If we return to our examination of definitions for a moment,  art is defined as (1) the creation of works of beauty or other special significance and (2) the exercise of human skill.   Using those definitions,  the things that embroiders and printers create can be considered art.

In the end,  it probably doesn’t matter what it’s called or where the gift is purchased or where or who it’s made,  the meaning and intent behind the gift is what really matters.    Whether you embroidery or print professionally or as a hobby,  you’re still spending time and effort creating something special for someone else.   That’s what makes a gift special and personal and, to me,  that’s the issue,  not where the gift was made.

So, that’s my take on the subject.  What do you think?

posted in Embroidery Questions | 2 Comments

23rd November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

EnMart wishes all our customers, fans, and friends a Happy Thanksgiving.

On the list of things for which we are thankful,  you all rank at the top!

We will be closed on Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25 in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Normal business operations will resume Monday, November 28.

posted in About EnMart | Comments Off

18th November 2011

The Friday Blog Round-Up 11/18/11

First up today is a post from the Fashion Incubator blog about reasons to standardize basic sewing processes.  People argue against standardization because they feel it stifles creatively.  This post argues that standardizing the basics will allow us to get better at what we do and will help speed innovation and creativity.  It’s an interesting idea.

Second on the list this week is a post from Erich Campbell about creating and selling stock designs.  He offers some good suggestions, particularly the one about avoiding making designs that could infringe on established copyrights.  I see this sort of question asked about copyrights all the time on forums, and the answer is always that the best thing to do is avoid even giving the appearance of infringing on someone else’s copyrighted material.  If you’re thinking about selling some of your designs,  this blog post is a good place to start gathering information.

Third at bat is a post from the Retail Minded blog about building sales through social media.  While these tips are pretty basic,  they’re a good reminder that social media can be a useful way to publicize sales and new merchandise.   If you have a brick and mortar shop,  you should also remember to remind people to check in when they visit your store.

Fourth on the docket is a great post from Sadia Sews about how to create a trim you can recycle when the item that is being trimmed wears out.  This is perfect for towels, or pillowcases, and anything that might take a lot of wear and tear.    The design is a beautiful cutwork pattern.

Fifth on deck today is a post from Brains on Fire about how social media is changing how we sell and how our customers relate to us.   It used to be we went to a brick and mortar store and saw what the retailers had for sale and the signs they put out and that was it.  Today, using a smartphone,  you can check in,  get additional discounts,  read reviews,  ask your social network for recommendations and let people know where and when you’re shopping.  It’s a whole different world when it comes to retail and the smart companies are learning to master that world.

Finally, I’m going to mention my latest post for my blog for Stitches Magazine.    It’s about doing the math and why that can benefit your business.



posted in Around the Blogosphere | Comments Off

16th November 2011

New Label, Same High Quality Backing

Many people who have been embroidering for some time may already be familiar with the JSI red-shirt logo.  This logo has symbolized quality stabilizer products for many embroiderers for a number of years.    Because we know the significance of this logo,  having used JSI products ourselves in the past,  EnMart has created a new label for our backing products.   Featuring the red t-shirt,  this label also features the EnMart logo and our URL on a distinctive blue background.   If you want quality backing products,  this is the label you need to see when you open your next backing order.

High quality backing is one of the foundation stones of any good embroidery project.  EnMart has always  proudly carried the JSI line of backing from QST.  John Solomon Inc. (JSI) is a name that has long been linked with quality stabilizer products,  and QST has carried on that tradition of excellence since they acquired the company.    The JSI product line offers a wide variety of premium stabilizer options,  as well as specialty items like poly meshBadgemaster and fusible products.

JSI backing is of wet-laid construction,  which means that the fibers are dispersed in a solution and then dried.  This creates a multi-directional, uniform non-woven,  which has even quality and won’t stretch.   The non-directional construction means that the tearaway backings of this type will tear easily in all directions.   Wet-laid backing also provides for a more even sheet of backing,  avoiding the lumps, bumps and thin spots that can occur with a lesser quality stabilizer.


posted in Backing/Stabilizers | Comments Off

4th November 2011

The Friday Blog Round-Up 11/4/11

First up today we have a post that compares digitizing and baking apple pies.   Bonnie at My Two Stitches  tells us that can be as easy as pie,  if you make sure you have all the ingredients and follow your recipe while being spontaneous enough to recognize that each pie (or design) will be slightly different.   She also recommends keeping a notebook with parameter values as a kind of “technical recipe” book,  which will save you time when you sit down to digitize a design.  If you’re new to digitizing,  or want to learn more about it,  check out this blog.

Second on deck today,  the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP) is asking what you need to succeed.  Anyone who reads this blog even casually probably already knows that EnMart is a supplier member of the NNEP and that I’m a huge fan of the organization.  If you run a machine embroidery business or have anything to do with embroidery,  this is one organization that can be of use to you.

Third on the docket we have an experiment with some new design elements.  Sadia from Sadia Sews took inspiration from a type of tile that is native to Iran,  where her maternal ancestors were from.  The result is some very cool looking designs which can be used to make heirlooms or to create something totally modern and unique.  I love to see from where people get their inspirations for designs,  so this post was very interesting.  Plus,  I think the designs could be used in a lot of fun ways.

Fourth with a squee and a “OMG, how cute is this”  is this embroidered Star Trek Quiet Book.   It’s an activity book for little kids based on Star Trek.   As a lifelong Trekker this made my day.   Hat tip to Urban Threads for originally pointing this out.

Fifth at bat today is a piece of good advice, faking it ’til you make it isn’t the way to go about things.   This post makes the point that successful people aren’t faking anything,  they don’t pretend to have expertise or knowledge or skills they don’t have, instead they work to develop what they need and to integrate new information and new skills on the fly.  The result is someone who is genuine and always evolving.


posted in Around the Blogosphere | Comments Off

2nd November 2011

EnMart Education on Video

If you follow us on Facebook you may have seen that I’ve recently been soliciting ideas for video topics.   It has always been our intention to take EnMart Education to video at some point,  and that time appears to be getting closer.   We now have a YouTube channel where we already display some videos we’ve made in the past.  Our goal now is to turn that channel into a clearinghouse of embroidery and sublimation knowledge.  For that to be accomplished,  we need your help.

First,  we need to know what sort of subjects you would like us to cover in these videos.  Please keep in mind that most videos will only be two to three minutes long and will primarily focus on one aspect of a particular discipline.    Our goal is to creative short, informative videos,  each of which can answer a particular question for the viewer.   We don’t plan to undertake anything like an overview of embroidery techniques or an examination of every sublimation printer,  those subjects may be helpful,  but they would make for documentary size videos.  Instead,  we’re looking for suggestions for small, bite size topics.   Right now,  our plan is for the first video to cover how to tell the quality of your stabilizer.   Suggestions have also been made for a video about applique.   We are always on the look out for more subjects that would be of interest,  so if you have a suggestion,  please contact us or share it in the comments here.

Second,  we need your recommendations for videos from other places that we should be sharing on our YouTube channel.  Mostly, what we’re looking for here is informative videos that can help our customers learn.   If you’ve found a particular video helpful,  please make a recommendation so we can consider making it a favorite on our channel.  As we all know,  there is a lot of video content out there,  and a clearinghouse of the most useful video content related to embroidery and sublimation would be helpful.  I’d like the EnMart channel to become that clearinghouse,  and recommendations from you all about the videos you’ve found most helpful could make that happen.

posted in About EnMart | Comments Off

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