April '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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28 || P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 1 7 Erich Campbell is an award-winning commercial embroidery digitizer with more than 15 years of experience as well as a long-time e-commerce manager, currently digitizing and cre- ating online properties for Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Black Duck. A constant contributor to the industry's content landscape through webinars, podcasts, social media, and more, Erich is an evangelist for the craft, a stitch-obsessed ERICH'S EMBELLISHMENTS B Y E R I C H C A M P B E L L embroidery believer, and firmly holds to constant, lifelong learning and the free ex- change of technique and experience through conversations with his fellow stitch-work- ers. As a current industry and fiber-arts blogger and once medievalist-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. The Power of Plastic A Novel Patch-Making Method A round three years ago, I wrote a piece in Printwear that quite surprisingly became my most-shared article. In it, I preached the use of patches for items you couldn't easily embroider. More decorators have found themselves faced with jobs for cus- tom-shaped, small-run emblems more than ever, so I thought it only right to revisit the topic of patches with a new technique: the plastic- film method. As in the original article, I'll show how shops can use this tech- nique with equipment ranging from a standard hoop and fabric- store vinyl to the commercial plastic-film patch fixture, allowing you to adjust your investment based on your shop's production volume and style. By contrasting my usual method with these new entries, describing the process, and giving you insights gained from my tests, we can make these plastic solutions translate into real payoffs from our customers. PLASTIC MEMORIES The first time I saw this method, I wrongly assumed the embroi- derer was using a thick, clear water-soluble film instead of the fibrous stabilizer that I prefer to execute my usual patch-making method. But, soon thereafter, I noted both a professional system from a ma- jor thread provider utilizing a similar method, just as Buzzard's Bay Embroidery, a shop headed up by the inventive Tom Farr, posted samples of his work using what turned out to be clear vinyl. What's more, Tom had torture-tested his badges for wash and wear and was successfully churning out badges of all description. I have a strong tendency to prefer the tested methods that use industry-specific materials, but seeing Tom's work gave me the boost to grab some vinyl. According to several embroiderers I subsequently chatted with about their experiments, this method could reduce problems reported with the use of water-soluble backing. THE WASH-AWAY METHOD My usual method consists of hooping a layer of solid, fibrous, water-soluble back- ing, placing a piece of cut twill in the hoop according to a placement line that starts the design, stitching the central design area, and finishing by stitching a thick, well-un- derlaid satin-stitch border. After trimming, I'd rinse the patch with water to wash away the stabilizer, leaving a clean edge. Patches are finally allowed to dry completely before packaging and shipping. Vinyl and thread. Plastic patch aficionados assured me this was all I needed to make patches on any embroidery machine. (All photos courtesy the author)

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