October '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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50 || P R I N T W E A R O C T O B E R 2 0 1 5 EMBROIDERY BUSINESS Breaking ( Down ) Bags Embroidery hacks for difficult bags B Y E R I C H C A M P B E L L V arying wildly from open-sided totes and beach bags with ex- pansive, easily-accessed decora- tion areas to zippered, ribbed, and pocket-riddled surfaces of tech and tool bags, these infinitely useful, occasionally frustrating items offer value to every class of customer. Be they utilitarian daily-carry affairs or fashion-forward acces- sories, learning to decorate bags of all kinds puts you in the position to offer these one- size-fits-all wonders to complement your apparel programs. By exploring the most common snags you'll encounter with the various types of bags available on the market and discuss- ing proven strategies to sidestep them, we'll make our way toward mastery in decorating these lucrative carriers. SNAG 1: INTERFERENCE Without a doubt, the primary problem you'll encounter when embroidering bags is finding a place you can easily stitch. Though varying from bag to bag, many types share structures and construction elements that make hooping and stitching difficult or nearly impossible. Even if a bag's outer shell isn't densely populat- ed with pen pockets, zippers, and piping, the inner lining may have padding, pouches, and ID sleeves located immediately behind the only clear decoration area. Tool bags are the biggest culprit here, as their very nature as portable organizing aids requires them to be festooned with pockets and sleeves in every conceivable loca- tion. What's more, they need to be tough to handle the nature of their use, which means these bags have reinforcements ranging from plastic panels to metal bars in nearly every area. For the most part, the more feature-rich the bag, the more likely it will have a roadblock to decoration, but even simple totes can have thickly-layered seams and attachment points for handles that make certain areas of the panels off-limits to tra- ditional hooping. Hooping can be elusive for less-heavily constructed bags where flat Erich Campbell is an award-winning commercial embroidery digitizer with more than 15 years of experience as well as a long-time e-commerce man- ager, currently digitizing and creating online properties for Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Black Duck. A constant contributor to the industry's content landscape through webi- nars, podcasts, social media, and more, Erich is an evangelist for the craft, a stitch-obsessed embroidery believer, and firmly holds to constant, lifelong learning and the free exchange of technique and experience through conversations with his fellow stitch-work- ers. As a current industry and fiber-arts blogger and once medi- evalist-in-training turned tech-obsessed embroidery designer, Campbell brings his varied experience and interests to bear as an editorial author for numerous industry publications, a member of editorial boards, and a consultant for product support groups. This bag is much more the sort of standard bag you'll find yourself decorating. Though the decoration area looks large, much of it is inaccessible to the embroi- dery machine. Even so, this is a fairly easy bag to decorate that hides the back of the embroidery in a slim front pocket. (Image Courtesy Celeste Schwartz) ■ Intermediate

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