February '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 6 F E B R U A R Y P R I N T W E A R || 31 the work of hundreds of digitizers with a wide range of skill levels and talents. While this may add to the variety of their offerings, it also makes each purchase of stock a bit of a gamble. Large flaws in the art might be seen in the preview images made available to the customer, but the deeper tech- nical considerations are not often visible until you purchase, open, and analyze your design. That said, you can reduce your exposure to poor designs by carefully choosing the sources suited for your application, and the following tips will help you make the most of your foray into stock. Start with trusted suppliers. At first, you may rely on rec- ommendations from friends in the industry and comments in forums to find stock suppliers well-loved by embroider- ers. However you discover them, it's good to keep stock design houses that create work you can rely on firmly in mind. Look for collections maintained by a single digitizer or company, as these tend to be more reliably uniform in execution. When you find a company whose offerings in- trigue you, look for their free designs and test them. Once you've found technically able, efficient digitizers, know which of their collections offer designs that fit the niches you most commonly serve. Know your finished size. Even if you have software that can reprocess an expanded design to keep you from either having overly dense designs when downscaling or poor cov- erage when upscaling, stock designs are best used at their intended size. As a digitizer, I've had many designs that re- quired detail or blending that had me individually placing stitches to achieve the perfect look. These manual details are made with explicit measurements based on the finished size of the design. Different choices about stitch type, place- ment, compensation and more would be made if I executed the same design at a different size. Check for finished de- sign sizes and help customers choose designs that fit their embroidery area, not just their artistic sense. A good rule of thumb when you are forced to resize, is to never scale by more than 15 percent in either direction. Even then you'll have to measure your shortest and longest stitches, compen- sation, and gaps to make sure that the 15 percent doesn't cause your design to have technical problems. Check colors and color changes. Stock designers often target the lucrative home embroidery market by offering detailed artistic renderings. Whereas a home-embroiderer creating a single piece has no problem dedicating extra time to their beloved project, we must maintain efficiency Some digitizing software has the option to output high-resolution versions of 3D Design pre- views for the purposes of digital printing. This piece was digitized for a full-shirt front, but due to the light nature of the shirts, one of the decoration options offered was to print the 3D pre- view of the embroidered art rather than stitch out the large design on the thin shirts. A high- resolution image provides more than enough information for a digital print, though the look is certainly not the same as a true embroidered piece. (Image courtesy Erich Campbell)

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