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Color, Conversion and Consistency

5th July 2011

Color, Conversion and Consistency

I’ve written several posts about converting from another thread to Iris thread because I know it is a task that many embroidery business owners dread and want to avoid.  Although we try to make it as easy as it possibly could be,  the fact remains that, in switching from one manufacturer to another,  you could encounter color variations that might impact existing customers of your business.  This is, of course,  something we all want to avoid,  so I thought I’d take a minute to discuss how we make our conversions, how Iris thread is dyed and what variations might be seen.

When we first started working on conversion charts for Iris thread,  we started matching thread by hand.  We have  experts here who have many years of embroidery and color matching experience,  and they did our conversions by sitting around a table and comparing thread colors.   Matches were also examined under room light, OttLite and natural light.   The goal was to get an exact match,  or so close a match that it varied only slightly.   There were some thread colors from other manufacturers that we did not convert because we couldn’t find a match that was exact enough to meet our standards, and so we don’t offer a conversion for those colors.

Anyone who deals with thread knows that thread manufacturers have formulas for the colors they offer,  and that every effort is made to keep dye lots consistent with the formula and with each other.   We also know, however,  that slight variations can happen.  Most variations in shade will be so slight that they will probably be almost indistinguishable, but occasionally there is one that is more evident.  Bad dye lots are generally scrapped,  and Hilos Iris,  unlike a lot of thread manufacturers, does not re-dye bad dye lots to be sold as black thread.  To learn more about the dying process,  you can watch the video on our YouTube channel about how Iris thread is made.

Consistency of dye lots and color matches is as important to us as it is to you.   We know that switching from one thread manufacturer to another is a big step, particularly when your customers are accustomed to certain shades of thread.   There are also, as we well know,  customers for whom close enough will never be close enough.  When we created our conversion engine,  the goal was to give you the most precise conversion we could provide and,  if we couldn’t provide a conversion that we felt was a good match,  not to offer you anything at all.

EnMart is committed to making thread conversion as easy as possible for our customers.  Whether it’s the Dynamic Dozen program,  hand matching threads from a chart,  or providing an online thread conversion engine that offers matches for popular thread brands and PMS colors,  our goal is to make the conversion from the brand you’re using now to Iris Thread as smooth as possible.   If you have any questions about thread conversions or need assistance with making a conversion of your own,  please contact us.  We’d be happy to help.

posted in Thread | 16 Comments

5th May 2011

The Proof is in the Running

For those who don’t already know,  EnMart exhibited at the DAX Show in Chicago last weekend.  One of the best parts of exhibiting at those shows is the other exhibitors you get to meet.  Nancy Rasmussen from Encore Embroidery is one such exhibitor.  Her booth had been in the same neighborhood as ours at a couple of shows and we had a few discussions about the Melco machines she sells, repairs and trains people to use and our Iris thread.

We’d talked before about having Nancy run the Iris Polyester Thread on the BRAVO  machine she had in her booth, but in Chicago we finally made that happen.   She pulled the thread she was running off her machine, and we pulled cones off our wall display and gave them to her to run.  Let me stress these weren’t special cones,  or pristine cones that had never been taken out of the box.  These cones had been to a couple of trade shows,  had been bounced around in a truck, and had been used as display thread.   If any thread would show fractures or stress points or have weaknesses,  this thread would be it.

Nancy loaded all the thread onto her machine and started it running.   That machine,  and the thread on it,  ran for the next two days without a thread break.  Both the machine  and the thread just kept going and going and going.  It was an amazing,  in person, demonstration of the strength and durability of the Iris thread.  Even thread that had been roughed up and bounced around ran beautifully.  If that thread ran well, can you imagine what Iris thread fresh off the warehouse shelf would do?

You can see a short video of the Iris thread running on Encore Embroidery’s Melco machine on EnMart’s Facebook page.   If you would like a sample of the Iris UltraBrite Polyester thread so you can do your own run test,  please contact us.   If you own or are thinking or purchasing a BRAVO Machine  give Encore Embroidery a call.  Nancy knows her stuff.

posted in Hilos Iris, Thread, Trade Shows | 3 Comments

21st April 2011

Designs for Thread Palettes

One of the really fun things about working in this industry is the opportunities for collaboration that sometimes occur.   EnMart was lucky enough to connect with Erich Campbell from Black Duck Inc when he was a recipient of a prize we were offering as part of the Stitches Golden Needle Awards a few years ago.  Subsequently, Erich and I both became bloggers for Stitches and then columnists as well.  Erich has always been very supportive of EnMart.  Some of you may remember the fabulous jacket back he designed and embroidered to help us introduce our colored metallic thread.   He has also done some wonderful embroidery designs for us to use with our thread palettes, one of which you can see on his Facebook page now.

For those who don’t know,  EnMart thread palettes which all, of course, feature Iris Thread,  were designed as a way to offer thread colors with a common theme at a reduced price.    The theory was that it would be easier and less expensive to purchase a palette designed for baby gifts or the Fourth of July,  then it would be to assemble the colors one by one and purchase them separately.    The intent was to also, in time,  combine the palettes with a design or series of designs that could be used with the palette and would be a good fit with the palette’s theme.

We still have the intention of creating thread palette/design packages,  but before we invested a lot of time and effort into creating them,  I thought it would be prudent to ask our customers and potential customers whether or not this is something that interests them.  Would you guys be interested in purchasing thread palette packages that also contained designs created for that palette?  Please let us know in the comments.

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6th April 2011

About Iris Thread

Every day, when I sit down to write a post,  I spend a few minutes thinking about my topic.   Today I was thinking about doing a post on Iris thread,  when I realized that I wasn’t sure there was anything I hadn’t already said.    I talked in a post last week about a nice compliment that was made about our metallic thread.  I wrote about our awesome merrow floss in February.   EnMart’s lovely accent threads were discussed back in December.

Those posts are just about our accent threads.   When it comes to Iris Rayon and Polyester,  the list of thread related subjects I’ve covered is pretty long.    I’ve discussed 5 reasons why we use Iris Thread.    I’ve talked about making thread conversion easier with EnMart’s Dynamic Dozen.   One blog post covered the fact that Iris Thread has 300 colors from which to choose,  all the colors of the rainbow and then some.   I also wrote a post about the fact that the thread colors are just plain pretty.   I’ve even gotten goofy and suggested 5  reasons not to switch to Iris thread.

If you lined up all the words I’ve written about Iris Thread over the last few years,  you could probably stretch a good way across the country by now.    There may be very few people who have read all those words,  but if you have,  you’ll notice that a few common themes keep popping up.   Iris Polyester Thread is durable.   Iris Rayon Thread is rayon like they used to make it.   Iris Thread, both rayon and poly, is colorful and offers a great shine.  Iris Thread is a thread priced to fit your budget,  and its ability to run smoothly in your machine will save you production time.

Clearly,  I written a lot about Iris Thread,  which stands to reason as it is one of the premiere products EnMart sells,  but words are only half the story.   The proof is in the test run.  If you’ve been considering Iris Thread,  but haven’t given it a try yet,  contact us and we’ll be glad to send you a sample to test.

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30th March 2011

We’re Not the Only Ones Saying It….

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know that I’ve written about our metallic thread in the past.   Back in December,  I talked about our great selection of accent threads.  In September I wrote about an awesome embroidered jacket back that was embroidered entirely with our colored metallic thread,  created by a good friend of EnMart,  Black Duck Inc. In August,  I talked about how our metallic thread was the cure for the metallic blues which afflict so many embroiderers.   The list of the posts I’ve written about our metallic thread could go on and on,  but although each post has a different slant on the subject,  they all end up mentioning one thing:  our metallic thread is one of the best in the business.

Those of us who work for EnMart,  who’ve worked with the thread, and who sell it,  have talked about the qualities of this thread a lot.   We tell people it runs better than the other metallic threads on the market,  that it has less thread breaks,  that even if someone is dedicated to metallic thread avoidance,  Iris Dazzling Metallic thread will change their mind.    We had out samples at trade shows and tell those who take them to give it a try and then give us a call and let us know how great the thread runs and how easy it is to use.   Those calls do come,  or we see a person who took a sample at a previous show at another show and they tell us in person how great the thread runs and how much they love to use it.  That, of course, is something we always love to hear.

We also love to read positive comments about our metallic thread.   That’s why it was so great to get the following comment on a post I wrote about the DAX Minneapolis show.

Saw you at the Dax show, Picked up a sample of metallic thread. Did a sew out today, BEST sewing metallic I have used!

I’m aware that we can talk about how great our metallic thread is and how well it sews and how easy it is to use and, for some people,  that will just sound like another round of sales talk, and be taken with a grain of salt.   The comment on the blog, however, is an unsolicited testimonial from someone, just like those of you reading this,  who owns a machine and got a sample of Iris Metallic Thread to try.   If you’re skeptical about metallic thread, or have had a bad experience in the past,  I encourage you to do what the person who left the comment did, and give a sample of our Iris Dazzling Metallic thread a test run.

I’m sure, if you do,  you’ll soon be sending us a positive comment as well.

posted in Hilos Iris, Thread | 1 Comment

8th February 2011

5 Questions about Merrow Floss

If you’ve ever visited our website,  you probably already know that we sell a variety of threads.   Most of the thread we sell is Iris Thread,  and it is meant for machine embroidery.   EnMart does, however,  offer a few kinds of specialty thread,  and one of those threads is merrow floss.   For those of you who aren’t familiar with merrow floss,  I thought I’d use today’s blog post to list and answer some of the most common questions we get about this type of thread.

Question 1:  What is merrow floss? –  Merrow floss is a type of thread that is typically used in a merrow machine to create the colorful border you see on many patches and emblems.  Our merrow floss is 300/4 and 100% polyester thread.

Question 2:  Can you use merrow floss to do regular embroidery? – We’ve never tried it,  but our tentative answer would be probably not.   Merrow floss requires special needles and is thicker than regular machine embroidery thread.  If you were to try embroidering a design with it,  you would certainly need to have your design specially digitized to take into account the increased thickness of the thread.   It is also uncertain how well merrow thread would run in a standard embroidery machine.

Question 3:  How tough is your merrow floss? - The Iris Merrow floss is regularly used by our parent company, Ensign Emblem.   Ensign creates emblems for industrial laundries, so the materials used in those emblems need to be tough enough to withstand an industrial wash and dry.   Iris merrow thread is wash fast and color fast and stands up to an industrial laundering with ease.

Question 4:  Is this the merrow thread used on the blank patches EnMart sells? – We’ve said it before and will most likely say it again,  EnMart and Ensign Emblem use the products that EnMart sells.  The merrow floss is no exception.   The colorful borders on our blank patches and our custom sublimated patches are all created using Iris merrow thread.

Question 5:  Do I need a special machine to use merrow floss? – Merrow floss is designed to be used with a merrow machine.    We recommend running your floss in this machine.  We have not tried running the floss using a standard embroidery machine and have no knowledge of how well or not well that would work.

posted in Thread | 1 Comment

10th January 2011

Valentine’s Day Values

If you work in the garment decoration or promotional products industry I know it seems like one holiday is barely over before you’re thinking about the next.   We just finished with the Santas and presents and fir trees of Christmas and now we’re already on to cupids and cherubs and hearts for Valentine’s Day and shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day.    If you’re readying your inventory for the next big holiday,  EnMart has some items that can help you stock your shop with hearts and shamrocks without breaking your budget.

First, of course,  are EnMart’s thread palettes.  Our Valentine’s Day palette offers all the pink and red your hearts could desire.   We also have a palette stuffed with green for St. Patrick’s Day and a pretty pastel palette for Easter.   Each thread palette contains 5500 yard cones of Iris polyester thread in some of our most popular colors.

Second on the list we have our heart shaped sublimation blanks.   We have a heart shaped sandstone coaster, a heart shaped ceramic ornament, and even a heart shaped metal pet tag.   If you’re also in need of ink with which to print your blanks,   EnMart is currently offering free ground shipping on all sublimation ink.

Third, we can’t forget our blank patches.   While it is a special order item,   we do have a heart shaped blank patch.   Order these in pink and red and turn anything into a Valentine’s Day gift.

Finally,  don’t forget Ntrans Screenprint transfers.   Durable, colorful and easy to apply, these transfers are perfect for adding a little bit of screenprinted love to a variety of items.   Whether it’s heart and flowers or the wearin’ o’ the green,  these transfers will stand up to washing and drying while retaining their color and smooth hand.

posted in Sublimation, Thread | 1 Comment

22nd December 2010

Accent Threads

Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows I talk about the Iris thread we sell quite a bit.   Lately, however,  we’ve been working on some sales materials for next year,  and it has reminded me that in addition to the Iris UltraBrite Polyester and Iris Smooth ‘N Silky Rayon,  we also offer some great accent threads.    Today I wanted to talk a little bit about those threads.

First, of course,  is the metallic thread.  The Iris Dazzling Metallic is available in gold and silver.   I actually like to call it the “Miracle Metallic”  since it has caused so many people who had sworn off metallic thread to start sewing with it again.   The Dazzling Metallic is top quality thread,  that runs smoothly with fewer thread breaks.  If you’ve been a diehard metallic hater,  give this thread a try.  I’m confident it will change your mind.

EnMart also carries a line of colored metallic thread.  This stuff is awesome and the colors are vibrant.     As I’ve pointed out in previous posts,  our colored metallic thread can add a lot of zing to your designs.   It is also an easy thread with which to embroider.    Best of all, the finished results are full of shine and color and really stand out.

Next on the list is our polyester variegated thread.   This, like the colored metallic,  is a thread with vibrant colors.  From stormy greys to brillant yellows,  from baby blue to petal pink,   this thread runs the gamut of shades.  Like all EnMart threads,  it is a smooth running and durable thread.    Our variegated thread is perfect for machine embroidery, quilting and embellishment of all types.

Finally,  while it’s not strictly and accent thread or even an embroidery thread,  I didn’t want to forget to mention our merrow floss.   EnMart’s parent company,  Ensign Emblem,  uses this floss on the emblems they manufacture.    We know this floss is colorfast and washfast because we’ve seen it subjected over and over again to an industrial wash and dry.    If you create patches,  this merrow floss should be perfect for your needs.

posted in Thread | 1 Comment

15th December 2010

5 Reasons Why We Use Iris Thread

I’m sure anyone who has ever been on an embroidery forum has seen the following question asked at least once.  “What machine embroidery thread do you use and why?”  is a pretty common question.   New embroiderers are often looking for advice on what thread to use.  Experienced embroiderers may be dissatisfied with their current thread and looking for an alternative.  Everyone likes to hear from those who have actually used a product before they try that product themselves.

One of the reasons that EnMart sells Iris thread,  actually one of the reasons that EnMart was formed, is because our parent company uses Iris thread.   Our parent company, Ensign Emblem,  has tried pretty much every thread manufactured over its 36 year history,  and has very exacting standards for the thread the company uses.  Iris thread passed all our tests with ease.

Since I’m guessing some of you will have the same sort of tests that we have,  I thought it might be useful to go into some of the reasons that we use Iris thread.   Hopefully, our experience will help you decide whether Iris thread is right for you.

Reason 1:  The color - Both Iris UltraBrite Polyester and Iris Smooth ‘N Silky Rayon are available in 300 vibrant shades.    From stormy grays to pure pastels to a black and white that are really black and white,  Iris Thread has a complete color palette available.    All you have to do is take a look at an Iris thread chart, and you’ll easily see that Iris has a glorious selection of colors.

Reason 2:  The durability – Our parent company creates emblems and garments for industrial laundries,  in other words, primarily uniforms.  The garments and patches are subjected to an industrial wash and dry, which is harsh.  The thread has to resist fraying and hold its color.  Iris UltraBrite Polyester passes these tests with ease.  This thread is tough!

Reason 3:  The price – Iris thread isn’t the cheapest thread on the market,  but it’s not the most expensive either.  The thread is priced reasonably,  and with quantity discounts, like EnMart’s Dynamic Dozen program,  you can save money on the colors you use most often.

Reason 4:  The run test – Thread that breaks, snarls or birdnests is thread that slows down production.  Iris thread is designed to run smoothly in all major embroidery machines.   It is also designed to avoid breaks and other common thread issues.   Provided your settings and tensions are correct for your machine,  you shouldn’t have many issues that will cause production stops with this thread.

Reason 5:  The customer service – Hilos Iris has always been very responsive to us and we, in turn,  have extended that responsiveness to our EnMart customers.  Most orders are shipped same day.  When you call us,  you’ll get a live person,  not a recording saying your business is very important to us.    We know there are a lot of places where you can buy thread.  Our goal is to make sure that no one provides you the products and service you need better than we do.

posted in Thread | Comments Off

9th December 2010

The Dreaded Thread Conversion Made Easy

Let’s face it,  no one likes converting from one thread brand to another.  In fact,  I’d guess that wanting to avoid thread conversions is one of the main reasons that people aren’t currently using Iris thread.   The thread is, after all,  strong, and color fast,  offered in a wide variety of beautiful colors, and sold at a very reasonable price per cone.   To us, it makes sense that saving money on a high quality thread would be a great motivator,  but apparently the dislike of thread conversion is strong in some people.   Given that fact,  we’ve set out to make the conversion process as easy as we possibly can.

One way we make thread conversion easy is through our online conversion engine.  This conversion engine converts several popular brands of polyester thread to Iris UltraBrite Polyester.   It also converts several popular brands of Rayon thread to Iris Polyester.   Because our Poly thread is so much shinier than standard polyester machine embroidery threads, and because it tends to be more durable than rayon,  we created the rayon to poly conversion.  If you would prefer a rayon to rayon conversion,  we do have a printed rayon to rayon thread chart that we can e-mail or mail to you at your request.   We also have printed thread conversion charts for thread brands which may not be listed in our online search engine.  If you don’t see your brand,  just call us.

Another way we make thread conversion easy is through our Dynamic Dozen program.  We know that most embroidery businesses have a core set of colors they use the most.  We call those colors the Dynamic Dozen (mostly because I like alliteration) but they could be the Terrific Ten or the Fantastic Five,  or whatever number of colors you run through the most.  If you have a core set of colors,  EnMart can create a conversion chart specifically for those colors and keep it on file for you here in our office.  That way,  when you place an order,  we can quickly tell you what your core colors would be.   You can also download EnMart’s Dynamic Dozen thread list,  if it is similar to your own.

Thread conversion doesn’t have to be a chore that sucks up hours of time and causes headaches.  EnMart, or rather our parent company,  has had a lot of experience over the years with converting from one thread brand to another, and we’re old hands at making the process as pain free as possible.   We’ll be happy to share our expertise with you.

posted in Thread | Comments Off

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