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How Do I: Choose a Backing

23rd June 2015

How Do I: Choose a Backing

8The type of backing used on an embroidered piece can have a big impact on the quality of the finished item,   but knowing which backing to use and when to use it can be difficult.   Add to that fact the problem of beginning embroiderers who may not even be aware there is more than one type of cutaway or tearaway available,  or even that cutaway and tearaway exist,  and the confusion only deepens.   Choosing a backing can be confusing and intimidating,   but it can also make a real difference in the speed, ease and quality of your embroidery,  so it is important.    Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a backing.

Backing comes in different typesCutaway and tearaway are the two main types of backing,   and are basically what their names imply they would be.   Cutaway stabilizers must be cut with scissors.   Tearaway stabilizers are designed to allow for any excess to be torn away after the embroidery is finished.   There are also a variety of specialty backings and toppings which also fit under the wider categories of cutaway or tearaway,  but have unique uses.   Poly mesh,  adhesive backing  and water soluble would be in this category.

Backing comes in different weights – Lighter weight backings are generally best for light weight fabrics.    Heavier weight tearaways can be very useful when embroidering caps.    Generally,  backing weight ranges from 1 oz to 3+ ounces.    Backing weight is determined by weighing a square yard of the backing in question.   Heavier weight backings,  3 ounces for instance,  will generally be sturdier and stiffer.   Lighter weight backings,  a 1.5 ounce perhaps,  will be more flexible,  may be softer,   and generally are more sheer.    To learn more about backing weight and why it matters you can read this post I wrote in 2010.

Backing comes in different colors – We’re not talking a wide variety of colors here,  backing is generally available in white,  black and beige.     Even a small variety of colors does matter however,  particularly when there is some possibility of the backing being visible through the garment.

Specialty backing can make a huge difference – Specialty backings were all designed to meet a need in the machine embroidery marketplace.   Poly mesh backing was designed for use with lightweight and sheer fabrics.     Adhesive backing is perfect for use with hard to hoop items,  allowing embroidery on patches and socks and things that would be too small to hoop on their own.    Water soluble topping allows the embroidering of names and monograms on towels and fleece,  keeping the lettering from sinking into the material.    For many jobs,  using a simple cutaway or tearaway will serve you well,  but specialty backings are always a good thing to have in your arsenal.

That’s a quick overview of how to choose a backing.    To learn more,  you can also read these additional posts I’ve written on the subject.

Backing Basics:  Types of Backing

Backing Basics:  Specialty Backing

posted in Backing/Stabilizers, Embroidery Questions, Machine Embroidery Tips | 1 Comment

14th January 2013

Multi-Media Embroidery

thread and inkI have to confess,  our parent company, Ensign Emblem, is a production embroidery shop.  We do a lot of great embroidery and have stitched some awesome looking designs in our time,  but Ensign Emblem,  aptly enough,  mostly embroiders emblems,  and so there isn’t a lot of call for mixed media or multi-media embroidery.    Still embroidery effects are fun and can add a bit of flash to your embroidered goods,  so knowing about the latest multi-media techniques could be good for your skill level and for your business.    Since I can’t speak from personal or corporate experience on this,  I thought I’d share some links to other blogs posts or sites that deal with the topic of multi-media embroidery,  and we can all learn together.

First up,  embroidery over direct to garment printing.  Granted,  this is an advertisement used to sell DTG printing to embroiderers,  but you’ve got to admit it’s pretty cool.   I love how the embroidery makes certain elements stand out from the printed picture.  In a weird way it almost looks like a comic book.

Second,  we have a post from Ann the Gran  featuring some little touches that can add a bit of pop to your embroidery.   I love the idea of embroidering a design and adding something other than embroidery in the appropriate place.  In the example given,  the extra element is a button,  but it gives a bit of dimensionality.  I also like the silk flowers on the lampshade idea.  Again,  adding something three dimensional to the embroidery adds more visual interest.

Third, we have patches  that  are sublimated and embroidered which,  I have to admit,  I’m kind of wanting to try here.    It looks like basically the same theory as the embroidered DTG print,  you simply print your image and then embroider certain parts of it.   Of course,  patches do tend to be smaller, so size might be an issue here,  and I imagine it would be easier if you did a sheet of images,  embroidered them all, and then cut and merrowed them to form emblems.   Still,  it’s a cool idea,  and one I would love to see our parent company try.

Fourth,  we have embroidering on vinyl.   Now this is more the sort of vinyl used for dining room chairs or boat seats,  but it’s still interesting.    I also know embroiderers out there who have been asked to embroider on boat or car seats.

Sadly,  I didn’t find a good example of sublimation and machine embroidery,  but that is something I’ve been pushing our sublimation gurus to try here.   Hopefully we’ll get the time to experiment a bit this year.    Hopefully, you all will get the time to experiment as well.  If you do create some multi-media embroidery,  particularly if you use EnMart products to do it,  please do share with us.  We love to see what you create.

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips | Comments Off

26th November 2012

Embroidery Machine Maintenance

It’s the holiday season and many businesses have embroidery machines that are stitching away at a fierce pace.   I’ve also heard of several businesses that have a backlog of orders and need their machines to keep running at top speed until the holiday rush is over.   In all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season it’s easy to forget that your machines need to be maintained,  but you shouldn’t neglect this important task.   A well maintained machine is one that keeps running and a machine that’s running is one that’s earning money for your business.   Of course,  any complicated maintenance or repairs might best be left to a professional,  but here are some small things you can do to keep your machine performing at its peak this holiday season.

Small thing #1Keep your machine lint and dust free – Dust and lint can cause problems with your power supply and with how the machine runs.  Make sure you keep a can of Clean Jet near your machine.   Lint brushes are also handy to have and useful for cleaning out the small crevices.

Small thing #2 – Keep your machine oiled – Proper lubrication will help ensure your machine runs smoothly.    White sewing machine oil can be used for lubricating large moving parts.   A zoom spout oiler, which also contains white sewing machine oil,  is useful for smaller or hard to reach areas.

Small thing #3 – The H Test – The H test will help ensure that your tensions are set correctly.   To perform this test,  set your machine to sew out the letter H.  When you look at the back of your sew out,  you should see 2/3 embroidery thread and 1/3 bobbin thread.  If you see a different ratio,  then your tensions are most likely off.

Small thing #4 – Clean your bobbin case –  This step is a simple thing but can make a big difference in how well your machine holds tensions.   Lint and dust can accumulate under the tension spring and should be removed.  Used the edge of playing card or a business card to clean away the debris.   Do not use anything metal as that could cause damage to the bobbin case.

 

 

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips | 1 Comment

3rd July 2012

Holiday Embroidery

If you live in the United States,  you know that tomorrow is Independence Day.    A lot of embroidery design companies have been offering their patriotic designs in honor of this holiday for a while now.     EnMart offers a red, white and blue Fourth of July thread palette.    We also carry embroidered American flag patches with white or gold borders.    As lovely as these items are,  however,  the fact remains that those who do holiday themed embroidery are already looking beyond the Fourth of July to what comes next.    If you’re one of those embroiderers,  EnMart does have items to offer for other holiday themed embroidery.

HALLOWEEN – Scary witches, goblins or tombstones can come to life with our Halloween Thread Palette.  Consisting of six Halloween specific colors,  from Ectoplasm (Bright Green) to Jack-o-Lantern (Orange)  this palette will help you embroider many Halloween related designs.    EnMart also carries Puft 3D Embroidery Foam,  which can help make your ghosts and ghouls stand out.    For those who want personalized trick or treat bags,  you could order EnMart’s sublimated patches with a Halloween themed design and then double sublimate them with each trick-or-treater’s name.

THANKSGIVING – Turkeys and Pilgrims will love our Thanksgiving palette which contains 6 5500 yard cones of Iris Thread as well as one mini cone each of gold and silver metallic.   Whether you’re embroidering an autumn table runner for the Thanksgiving table,  or cute tea towels with a Thanksgiving theme,  this palette will be of help.

CHRISTMAS – Christmas may be the ultimate embroidery holiday,  since there are so many gifts that can be embroidered.   EnMart’s Christmas Thread Palette will get you the basic colors you need for Christmas themed embroidery,  plus gold and silver metallic thread to add that special shine.  If you’re embroidering gifts,  you may want to look at our variegated thread which can add a pop of color and uniqueness to any design.   For those who have an embroiderer in their life who needs a Christmas gift,  don’t forget the Iris thread kits.

Whether you’re embroidering a ghost or a ghoul,  a turkey or a teepee,  a Christmas tree or a Christmas gift,  it is likely that EnMart has the supplies you need.   Make sure you bookmark our store and check back often.  We add new items on a regular basis.

posted in Machine Embroidery Supplies, Machine Embroidery Tips | Comments Off

15th June 2011

Machine Embroidery Resources

Every once in a while I like to do a post that is a round-up of resources available on a certain topic.   I’ve done several posts about sublimation resources over on the Sublistuff blog,  but I realized it’s been a while since I did a resource post here on the EmbroideryTalk Blog.    I’ve managed to collect a pretty good list of resources that I like and think are useful and I thought I would share some of those with you today.

Forums

The forums I tend to visit most often are T-Shirt Forums and the Apparel Decorators Forum.   Both have sections about machine embroidery.   If you’re looking for general advice on how to run a small business,  I’d also recommend the Small Business Forum.  It’s not specifically embroidery related,  but has good advice on websites,  marketing and other business questions.

YouTube

EnMart has a YouTube channel where we’ve been gather videos about embroidery and sublimation.   I’d also recommend Geo. Knight ‘s channel for an overview on heat presses.   The magazine Designs in Machine Embroidery has a channel.   Melco Embroidery Machines has a channel,  and so does Hirsch International.

Blogs

Erich Campbell is one of my favorite machine embroidery bloggers, and  that’s not just because he’s also a colleague and co-writer for Stitches Magazine.  Check out his On Links and Needles and his blog for Black Duck Inc to get the benefit of his experience and wisdom.   I’m also a huge fan of Fashion Incubator,  which encompasses not only machine embroidery but designing clothing and creating a clothing line.   The blog for the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP) is also very helpful.   Those people that run a retail location may find that the Retail Minded blog is of great use.

Organizations

EnMart is a supplier member of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP),  and I cannot recommend this organization highly enough.   They offer three great trade shows a year,  and provide help and support to all their members.   You can also receive discounts from supplier members and have access to lots of educational resources if you join.

Machines

If you’re looking for an embroidery machine,  here are a couple of places you might want to look.   Barudan Refurbishing sells used machines and are very knowledgeable.   They’ve worked on our parent company’s embroidery machines before, so we know they do good work.   If you’re interested in a Melco Bravo machine,  contact Nancy Rasmussen at Encore Embroidery for more information.

This is a list of some of the organizations,  sites and people I’ve found to be helpful.  If you have anything to add to the list,  please do so in the comments.

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8th September 2010

Avoiding Business (and Embroidery) Boredom

When I was young and complained of being bored and having nothing to do,  one of my aunts would tell me “If you’re bored,  it’s because you’re boring”.   It was annoying at the time,  but as I’ve gotten older the message has taken on a certain resonance.    If I’m bored,  with my life,  my job, my friends, my exercise routine,  whatever it might be,  it’s probably because I’ve let myself slip into a rut and as a result I’ve become boring.  If being something other than boring is on my agenda,  it’s up to me to figure out how to do that.   I need to change things up or do something different.

When it comes to embroidery there are a lot of people doing amazing things, but the reality of it is that the bulk of work for most machine embroidery business owners is pretty standard.  It’s the corporate logo on the polo shirt,  the monogram on the towel,  the sorority letters on the sweatshirt,  the football team name on the sports bag.  While such items may not be the most exciting in the world,  and may even become routine,  they’re also the items that pay the bills and buy the thread and keep the machines running.   Everyone needs a certain amount of this sort of thing to successfully run a business.

The danger comes,  at least in my mind,  when we forget that machine embroidery is also an art.  Think about it,  people who machine embroider make wearable or usable art, whether it’s an awesome design on the back of a jacket,  or a unique monogram for the pocket of a tote bag.   I’ve seen some amazing embroidery work and almost always that work came from someone who had stepped out of their routine and tried something new.  Maybe it was a new thread.  Perhaps they tried a new design technique.  Maybe they digitized in a different way.   Whatever the difference,  these people took a step outside their comfort zone and tried something new and the result was a spectacular finished piece that inspired others to try something new as well.

Today I want to spread that inspiration around a little.   If you’ve created and/or sewed out a design of which you’re really proud,  I invite you to share the story with us here in the comments on this blog.    If the unique and cool item you created was made with EnMart products,  you’re also more than welcome to add a photo on the EnMart Facebook page.   It would be really fun to have a collection of photos of amazing work that has been done using EnMart products.   Whatever avenue you choose,  I hope you all will share your work.

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips | 2 Comments

3rd August 2010

Just Because You Can Print It…..

The idea for this post came from this quote:   “Just because you can print it, doesn’t mean I can stitch it” which I first saw on the ADF forum.   The quote was from a great forum member,  who does a great job of explaining what he means on his web site.   Truth be told,  I probably could just direct you there,  but then this would be a short post,  so I decided to go into some of the rules about printing and embroidery that our parent company has accumulated over the 30 plus years it has been in business instead.

Rule 1:  Thread has density, ink doesn’t – When you print a design,  the ink is flat, and doesn’t take up space.  Thread has dimensions,  it needs to wrap around the material and it takes up space.   A very dense design won’t reproduce well in thread,  since there won’t be enough space for all the details.

Rule 2:  Small lettering won’t be legible – As a general rule,  lettering should be no smaller than 1/4 inch.   The optimum size of the letter may also depend on the font you choose to use.    You may need to experiment with different fonts to find the minimum size for any lettering done in that font.

Rule 3:  Gradients and shading won’t reproduce wellVariegated thread may be a way to get around some shading issues but,  as a general rule,  designs with shading or fading or gradients won’t reproduce well as embroidery.  Solid color designs work best.

Rule 4:  Bad artwork results in bad embroidery –  At some point we’ve probably all encountered the customer who brings us a print of a low res design with fuzzy artwork and wants it embroidered.   Bad artwork results in bad embroidery.  Make sure you get the best artwork possible and that you get the best digitizing possible too.   The better the work that you start with,  the better the finished product will be.

Rule 5:  Ink color and thread color aren’t always the same – The colors in a printed design may not be exactly duplicated by the thread used to embroider the design.   If the customer wants an exact duplicate of colors,  ask them for PMS numbers.  Most threads,  Iris thread among them,  do give PMS numbers for their thread colors.  This may not give you an exact match since there will be variations in color between ink and thread dyes,  but it should be reasonably close.

Rule 6:  The material being embroidered also matters –  Embroidering on fleece is different than embroidery on a polo shirt is different than embroidery on an oxford and so on.   When determining if a design will work for embroidery,  you should also consider on what fabric it will be embroidered.

Obviously,  this is just a broad overview of the subject.   If you have any additional questions,  please leave them in the comments.

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips | 6 Comments

29th June 2010

Embroidering Specialty Materials: Fleece

Because our parent company does embroidery and has for a number of years,  we often get questions about how to embroider a certain material.  Over the years,  we’ve probably embroidered almost every material you can imagine,  and we like to share our knowledge.  That’s why we’re starting a new series,   “Embroidering Specialty Materials” on this blog.  The first installment dealt with embroidering performance wear.

EnMart’s corporate headquarters is in Northern Michigan,  which is beautiful but can also be beyond cold in the Winter months.  For that reason,  a lot of us up here are huge fans of fleece.   An embroidered fleece jacket can make a great fashion statement,  but the material can be a bit tricky to embroider.  If you’re tackling embroidering fleece for the first time,  here are a few tips that might make your project go a little more smoothly.

Tip 1:  Fleece stretches – Like a lot of specialty materials, fleece stretches.  You need to make sure the fabric is adequately stabilized and is hooped so the fabric is taut but not stretched.

Tip 2:  Fleece can be crushed – Unlike some fabrics,  fleece has fibers that can be crushed.  If you hoop too tightly,  your fabric will have hoop marks when your embroidery is completed.     You should pay more attention to how taut the fabric is when hooped,  and less attention to how tight the hoop is on the fabric.  It is also recommended that you hoop your fabric and stabilizer together.   If you do have hoop marks they may be  eliminated by running your fingers over the hooped area once the hoop has been removed.

Tip 3:  A hoop my not be necessary – If you’re afraid of hoop marks,  you can embroider your fleece product without hooping it.  All you need is an adhesive backing or some regular backing sprayed with an adhesive spray.  Hoop the backing and then position the fleece on the adhesive.   Use a topping to ensure your stitches don’t sink into the fabric and embroider.

Tip 4:  Topping is a must – Fleece is a plush fabric,  and your stitches can sink into it easily if they’re not stabilized.   Use of a water soluble topping will help keep your stitches on top of the fabric.

Tip 5:  Your density may vary – When it comes to the density of your design,  opinions vary on how dense is too dense.  Some designers recommend that your design should be less dense,  and others recommend more density.  The best way to know if a design will work on your fleece is to do a test run on a scrap sample.

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips | 1 Comment

23rd June 2010

Embroidering Specialty Materials: Performance Wear

Because our parent company does embroidery and has for a number of years,  we often get questions about how to embroider a certain material.  Over the years,  we’ve probably embroidered almost every material you can imagine,  and we like to share our knowledge.  That’s why we’re starting a new series,   “Embroidering Specialty Materials” on this blog.  Today marks the first installment in this series,  during which we will discuss embroidering performance wear.

As some of you may already know,  EnMart has added Vapor Apparel to our product offerings.   I’m sure many people think of these garments as perfect for sublimation,  and they are,  but they also can be used to create some awesome embroidered performance wear.

Some embroiderers avoid creating embroidered performance wear because the fabric is a little trickier to handle.  Like any specialty fabric,  it requires some trial and error and a bit of know how to successful embroider a garment made from a performance fabric.   Today I wanted to share a few tips that can help you create the best embroidered performance wear possible.

Tip 1:  More stabilization is better than less. Stretchy fabrics,  a description that characterizes a lot of the performance fabrics,  require more stabilization.   Using multiple layers of a thin, sheer  cutaway will help stabilize the garment without adding a ton of bulk.

Tip 2:  Combat fabric movement with adhesive – Performance fabrics may be either slippery or stretchy,  so they’re more likely to move when being embroidered.  To combat this problem,  use an adhesive stabilizer or an adhesive spray.  This will hold the fabric in place and minimize slippage and stretching.

Tip 3:  Sew from the center out – Sewing toward an area that has already been embroidered may cause the fabric to bunch or wrinkle.  Designs for performance materials should be created to be sewed from the center out.  This method will push any wrinkles away from the design.

Tip 4:  Smooth is good – When you hoop your performance wear,  make sure the fabric is smooth and taut.  The fabric needs to be hooped tightly enough to prevent movement,  but not so tight that it distorts the fabric.

Tip 5:   Plan to experiment – Every machine sews differently, and every fabric reacts a bit differently so make sure you build in extra time when sewing performance materials.   Plan to sew out a shirt or two before you start running the actual job.  This will help ensure your settings and tensions are correct and let you get a feel for how the fabric sews before you begin the actual garments you will sell.

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips | 3 Comments

19th May 2010

EnMart’s “How Do I” Guide

Every once in a while it occurs to me that we have accumulated a lot of little tips over the years.  Most of them are just small items of information that are definitely helpful, but aren’t really large enough to sustain a full post on their own.  Eventually I’d like to put all these tips into a “How To Guide” which would be available on our website.  For today, however,  I thought I’d just include in this blog post a few of the latest hints and tips I’ve collected.  As always, if you have a “How Do I” question, please let us know.  We’ll be happy to address it.

Q1:  How do I heat seal a patch?

EnMart’s blank patches should always be heat sealed to a garment using a commercial heat press.  We do not recommend using an iron, as the seal most likely will not be as strong.  When using a heat press, set the temperature to 390 -400 degrees,  the pressure at 30 psi, and press for 12 – 13 seconds.  This should provide a strong seal.

Q2: How do I find fabric for patches?

If you do want to make patches on your own, EnMart offers a couple of options.  One is to purchase our 12 x 17 fabric sheets.   The other is to call us and request a price quote on a larger amount of fabric.  All fabric is 100% polyester and can withstand an industrial wash.

Q3:  How do I convert to Iris Thread?

The easiest way to convert to Iris Thread is to use our online thread conversion engine.   This engine allows for conversion from most popular thread brands and also allows for search by PMS colors.   If you have a large number of colors to convert,  you can also contact us for assistance.

Q4:  How do I know which bobbins I should use?

The size of bobbin your machine takes is one indicator.  Style L bobbins are smaller than Style M Bobbins.   When it comes to magnetic bobbins vs. paper sided bobbins the decision tends to rest with the person running the machine.  Some people just like magnetic bobbins better.  Others feel that magnetic bobbins don’t run well in their particular machine.   If you’d like to try a sample of our bobbins before you make your decision,  contact us and we’ll be happy to send you a couple of each to try.

Q5: How do I set up an account with EnMart?

If you are interested in setting up an account with EnMart,  you must complete a credit application.   Credit applications can be obtained from your Account Executive, or by contacting EnMart customer service.  Account applications are examined on a case by case basis.  Minimum purchase amounts may be required if account status is granted.

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