May '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 1 4 M ay Printwear | 67 66 | Printwear M ay 20 1 4 E mbroiderers love simple sin- gle-color designs. No color chang- es, few registration problems, and low stitch counts tend to epito- mize single-color designs. Sadly, some dig- itizers tend to give them little thought—sil- houettes are often covered from top to bot- tom with a solid slab of unidirectional fill, flat and uniform. Linework pieces may be overly-dense or sparse, following the given art without consideration for the outcome of the line placement when stitched. I've seen many single-color designs where the digitizer's work must have taken less interaction than running the machine that stitched it. While these designs aren't the contest winners or social-media stunners, they can be sublime. Though we can't work with a wide palette of colors, our hands are not tied. When we have an understanding of the tools at our disposal to create interest in single-color designs, we can craft fine and elegant dec- orative works. With consideration of the characteristics of our medium, technical know-how, and some creative interpreta- tion, we can take our single-color designs from dull to dazzling, all while maintaining production friendliness. Tools To CreaTe InTeresT Lucky for us, embroidery has far more than just color going for it when it comes to cre- ating visual interest. We have a rich store of qualities in our corner. Texture: We can utilize the sheen of the thread we choose and create texture by con- trasting or complementing the embroidery with the garment/substrate. Thread can be shiny or matte, and differences in stitch type and length create textural qualities: Take single-color designs From Dull to Dazzling b y E r i c h c a m p b E l l 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 Medieval- ist-in-training turned tech-obsessed embroidery designer, Erich brings his varied ex- perience and interests to bear on numerous industry publications and projects. Reach him at This large single-color design created for the back of a work shirt contains carved satin-stitch elements, both ran- dom and regular fills, pattern stitching, straight stitch shading, and contours. all of these elements in concert make for a dynamic, varied design with tex- tural contrast and dimension, despite being limited to a single color. (all im- ages courtesy Erich Campbell) PW_MAY14.indd 66 4/17/14 9:50 AM

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