October '13

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Common Cures for Headwear Headaches Tactics for stitching caps by n Erich Campbell Intermediate Erich Campbell is an award-winning commercial embroidery digitizer of 13 years and long-time e-commerce manager, currently digitizing and creating online properties for Albuquerque, N.M.-based Black Duck. A current industry blogger and once Medievalist-in-training turned tech-obsessed embroidery designer, Erich brings his varied experience and interests to bear on numerous industry publications and projects. Reach him at I know decorators who do almost anything to avoid embroidering caps. Between compensating for the variety of shapes, structures, and materials and contending with thick seams, unruly straps and meddlesome hardware, caps can be a stumbling block. Even digitizers aren't immune to headwear headaches. Though I'm a proponent of careful sequencing and logical pathing in any design, they must be carefully crafted to avoid the buckling and rippling of the material that is common to the unavoidably loosely-hooped material of a finished cap. Add to this the issue of overly-detailed logos that need to be crammed down to fit into the short vertical space on caps, and we see why cap digitizing and design can be 56 | Printwear PW_OCT13.indd 56 a chore, particularly for some of the more inflexible commercial clients. No matter what part you play in the process of apparel decoration, you are more than likely to end up on the wrong side of cap-design difficulties in your career. But, there's no need to tear out one's hair over headwear. With diligent preparation and consideration, we can manage every phase from customer contact, through design and digitizing in such a way that all but ensures smooth, high-quality production. Pinpoint the problems The most common problems I've had with headwear aren't unique. Poor communication with customers makes an impact quicker than poorly-executed production. When taking an order for caps, we have to be ready to educate our customers about what will and won't work for our format before we lock in the design details. The first sticking point usually has to do with the aspect of our decoration area. The designs that best utilize the available space on a cap front have a horizontal aspect— they are wider than they are tall. It seems like common sense, but many of my clients have had to be ushered into my office to watch me scale their tall, narrow designs in real time to understand how small their logo will look when vertically sized for a cap. For logos that are vertical in aspect but made of discrete elements, such as an icon over lines of stacked text, rearrange it into a horizontal layout with the graphical el- October 2013 9/16/13 4:58 PM

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