June '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 99 of 102

2 0 1 6 J U N E P R I N T W E A R || 95 talking about and selling only one brand or style of shirt, you are leaving all sorts of po- tential business on the table. This lesson also applies to the apparel decoration methods that you offer. If you only offer direct embroidery, you are leav- ing yourself wide open to lose the customer to another apparel decoration professional. Find someone that can create heat-press, appliqué, screen-print, or digital-print products for you. This way, you keep your customer but can offer outsourced work in the method they request. Be their "one- stop shop," even if you do not do the other forms of apparel decoration. LESSON 4 We tend to default to immediate customer service mode, going right to the point by showing the customer just what we think they want. I discovered that a visual stroll through a catalog can sometimes bring in additional (and highly profitable) orders. Page through the catalogs with your cus- tomers. You do not have to flip to every single page; I moved through the book in chunks. They often see something that catches their eye. It might meet a need they have immediately, or it might plant a seed for a future order. It was surprising how of- ten they said, "Oh wait, go back, what was that?" That, my friend, is the sound of op- portunity knocking. The next time you find yourself in the grocery store, take a look around. What are they working hard to sell you? It is the high- profit, upsell products. They know you will buy meat. They know you will get milk. They have eggs in the far corner, because they know you will pass through all sorts of other things to get there. Notice what is on sale. There are savings to be found on things like pop, ice cream, and snacks. These non- essential, but highly profitable products are important sales for the grocery store that brings up the profits and helps level out losses on the perishables. Apply some of their effective and time-tested strategies to your business to increase your sales and increase your profits. continued from page 25 exposed glitter flake, glitter down, atop the sublimation transfer, completely covering the print area. I then placed another protective sheet of paper atop the back of the glitter flake. It seems like overkill, but those who often sublimate know that these sheets help to avoid the transfer of sublimation dye or loose adhesive to your platen. There's nothing so frustrating as unwittingly printing a ghostly image of leftover dye or a streak of adhesive to your next gar- ment. Once I'd built my print sandwich, I pressed it at the temperature and for the duration recommended for my sublimation inks, quickly removing the glitter flake from the transfer thereafter to avoid blurring the image. AT THE EMBROIDERY MACHINE After my sublimated sheet was entirely cooled, I brought it to the embroidery area still tacked to the Teflon sheet. The glitter flake material is a little hard to handle once it is peeled from that sheet, so I waited to peel it until I was ready to place it on the garment. In this case, I elected to cut each design away separately to leave the other ganged designs on the sheet stable until they were needed for production. I hooped the sweatshirts in the usual fashion, making sure I had room to execute my de- sign and to lay my material flat in the hoop. I ran the placement line and then prepared the glitter flake material, peeling it from the Teflon sheet and very lightly misting the back with embroidery-specific spray adhesive. It may not be necessary to do so, particularly if your im- age or pattern does not require precise placement, but I prefer to firmly attach the material with spray before stitching. After running the placement line, I laid the material over the entire design area carefully, making sure not to leave any rippling or bubbling, and proceeded to the next color change containing the top stitching. With the stitching completed, I left the garment hooped while tearing away the excess ma- terial. In any areas where access was tight, I used a fine-tipped, angled tweezer to reach under the material and tear it away completely. After the excess glitter flake material was removed, I unhooped the design, leaving the stabilizer intact. FINAL PRESSING AND FINISHING I brought the stitched and weeded garments back to the heat press, which was set to the lower temperature and duration recommended by the vendor for adhering the glitter flake to the garment. I placed the garment on the press with a small foam pad under the image area, though some use a heat printing pillow for this purpose. I added a protective paper cover sheet over the design area to prevent any accidental dye transfer as before, pressed the decora- tion firmly in place, and removed the cover sheet. I finished the garment by removing excess stabilizer and steaming out any hoop marks as needed. Though I've always been a champion of embroidery for high-value looks, sometimes to the exclusion of other decorating methods, these pieces stunned me with how attractive they turned out and how little effort and time it took to achieve this complicated multimedia look. My pieces consisted of a scant 50 square inches of glitter flake and ink and only 12,000 stitches of single-color embroidery, yet they competed favorably for visual attention with fully embroidered pieces from my portfolio that would have taken five times the labor hours to produce. Add to this the disruptive ability all digital media shares to create single-piece customization and the fact that a multi-head piece could use the same outline design with variously printed transfers on each head to produce a plethora of image combinations in each run, and you have a technique that doesn't just save time, but opens up an entirely new segment of highly-individualized products without the added costs of direct digital printing. The ability to employ sublimated images on garments one can't print due to their color or fi- ber content rounds out a list of benefits that leave me seeing a sparkling future for sublimated glitter flake appliqué. continued from page 29 ERICH'S EMBELLISHMENTS STITCH SOLUTIONS

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