If you have been thinking about incorporating embroidery into your everyday screen-printing activities, getting information on everything that is involved can help to guarantee success. But before you make any decision on how to proceed, decide on whether you will be doing a contract or retail operation.
Another decision to consider is whether you intend to set up a manufacturing plant or a storefront store. Having asked yourself these questions, the answers you get for these questions will determine how you proceed with your setup.
It will also determine the kind of equipment you will need to get started. A good scenario is where you conduct your due diligence and intensive research before buying any equipment for use.
One of the leading high-volume contract embroidery company’s is Say it in Stitches who are based in Florida, who have been providing outsourced contract embroidery services to thousands of promotional products companies, across the would since 1994.
Machinery—What Do You Need to Know?
Before anything else, you need to start by establishing what a high volume machine shop comprises of, and what it does. If statistics from the last few years are to be trusted, embroidery shops that have less than five hundred machines are fast closing shop.
In the modern world, a normal shop operates with around twenty-four heads. There are certain instances where some big direct traders may have as much as fifteen hundred heads, or even more. On the other hand, there is a chance this is not the kind of business you had set your mind on when you thought about embroidery.
Numerous minor embroidery apparatuses (the 4 and 6 head units) are known to offer better versatility and flexibility. Of late, the embroiders haven’t seen as many orders as they used to, so it has become inefficient for them to run operations with more than twelve heads.
The reality is that smaller machines tend to provide better choices, especially when they are customized. According to Steve Hobbs, a regional manager working with Brother Int’ l Corp, it’s always best to make sure that you start with at least two, four, or six head units.
It should also include a single head for samples and personalization. When shopping for machines, you should make it a point to head over to trade shows where you can see the machines firsthand as they sew. Trade shows also present an opportunity for you to talk to manufacturers and make any inquiries you may have regarding the available models.
Considering that most machines tend to have the same functions and features, it would be best if you bought a machine from a supplier who can offer training, support, and service. It doesn’t make sense for you to invest in a machine that neither you nor your personnel can operate.
You need to consider what would happen if the machine was to break down while you were in the midst of running a massive operation. Furthermore, make sure you don’t buy from the cheapest provider around. Buying cheap may prove expensive in the end.
Once you have decided on the machinery you want to buy, the next step is to ensure you buy all the required accessories. It’s the only way to ensure that the company will keep running smoothly, even when handling critical jobs.
Some of the accessories you need will include tools, needles, machine parts, threads, aerosol sprays, pre-wound ribbons, hooping aids, scissors, and backing topping. And this is not forgetting all the other ancillary equipment and miscellaneous accessories.
Currently, the most popular needle size happens to be the 75/11 that has a sharp point for use with terry cloth, denim, and tightly woven goods. For embroidery, the most common thread is the polyester size 40.
Keep in mind that the threads come in five thousand-m cones and one thousand-m spool. Make it a point to invest in a spool chest that can hold three hundred and sixty spools. You will find it handy when a last-minute customer walks in requesting for an odd color that is supposed to match a swatch book or a color card.
It will also be important to make sure that you have plenty of sideless bobbins or pre-wound sided bobbins. Typically, this can be found in the L and M styles, and can either be in black or white colors.
Backing often comes below the fabric that needs to be embroidered. It’s meant to ensure the fabric will remain still as the sewing happens. For this reason, backing will mainly occur in two main types, cutaway and tear away.
In this case, tear away backing refers to the non-woven material that is easily torn, and which is in many cases used on denim and canvas fabrics. It also comes in rolls and sheets. On the other hand, cutaway backing refers to the non-woven or woven material that you can easily trim.
It’s recommended for use with loose or fine knit fabric, and also happens to come in rolls and sheets. Cap backing is a form of tear-away that’s used for cap panels backing sizing, and which can be found in the form of rolls and pre-cut pieces.
When dealing with loose fabric texture, it’s best to consider using topping material. The fabric assists in ensuring that stitches will not start sinking into the fabric, which may make it appear uneven.
When using the topping material, the topping has to go on top of the fabric, which will allow you to embroider the design through the backing, garment fabric, and the topping. The result is a well-uniformed design.
In the case of water-activated topping, you will find that it tends to dissolve in steam and water. Heat-activated topping, as the name suggests, tends to dissolve whenever heat gets applied.
Punching designs or digitization is a process employed when converting artwork, e.g., raster or vector artwork into a digital format. It’s possible to do this by employing the skills of a digitizing artist or a digitization software that can help you to interpret the design used in that embroidery.
For digitization to work, it has to be done correctly to guarantee accurate results. A good digitizer should thus have advanced knowledge of the digitization software as well as have experience with characteristics of the numerous threads and fabrics in use today.
A crucial point to note is that just because you have some experience using design software doesn’t mean that the design you generate using a computer will end up looking good. When digitizing, you don’t necessarily need to have good artistic skills.
However, your artwork must be above reproach. It’s always best, to begin with, easy designs, as you look towards creating more beautiful and intricate decorations. The only way to ensure that your abilities will continue to grow is to experiment and to keep applying everything you are learning.
Before you can start digitizing, make sure you have at least six to twelve months of real-life embroidery work. As you try to gain this experience, you can outsource all your designs and professional work to a professional digitizer. If your budget allows it, try to hire an in-house digitizer.
A high embroidery shop often calls for one to have optimal efficiency and fast production. As you are considering the configuration and layout of your shop, you should ensure that it provides a good workflow.
In the long run, this will help to ensure that there is an efficient and smooth production process. It will also assist in reducing the overall downtime. If possible, try to begin with a single-head layout.
The layout will require you to ensure that everything remains in a U shape. It’s a shape aimed at ensuring that there’s fast access to any items that the operator may require. You will need to begin at the staging/hooping area where all the merchandise is kept.
Normally, this requires you to have a standard thirty-six-inch table that has an open bottom. Place a computer on it for use when making quick name drops. If you have other designs, make sure that they are all sent to the design center.
On the other hand, if you intend to use the design center for name drops only, try to ensure that you also set up the names of each operator. You will also need to ensure that the PC is removed from this particular location.
Keep in mind that the operator will generally move from the left side to the right side. As such, they will end up at the folding or trimming table where they will sew the garment. You may want to consider including a rolling laundry cart, while also ensuring that you have adequate lighting.
Shirley Mist has been involved in fashion and design for many years. She has also written extensively for many online publications. She currently writes for The Tribune World and is a valued member of our team.