April '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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32 || P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 1 7 ERICH'S EMBELLISHMENTS counter distortion and avoid excessive edge perforation before the border stitching, both flaws were easily counteracted. PLASTIC METHOD: PROS AND CONS Though both setups produced a viable patch, the commercial system was slightly less prone to pull distortion. Both emblems were thinner and more flexible than what I traditionally produce, but certainly acceptable for pieces intended to be firmly attached to garments. For both methods, I would advocate testing designs to bring down densities to the minimum needed for coverage. This would help mitigate the distortion expected when one drives thousands of stitches through a piece of plastic. Likewise, testing for distortion will help with ideal edge placement. On the standard vinyl tests, extra pull compensation/more border overlap was required to get a truly uniform edge, while the com- mercial vinyl needed extra reduction in the opposite direction to avoid the fill background from peeking out of the border. Pros: • No need to use support material, avoiding manual labor or the need for a plotter/cutter or laser to create blanks. • Using thread to create the patch background eliminates the need for specialty color base materials for solid-colored patches. • Clear material means that the small amount of material show- ing at the edges is not obtrusive to the look of the patch. • No washing or wetting = no waiting for patches to dry, ensur- ing a quicker path between stitching and delivery. • (Commercial System Only) The ability to easily attach patches to garments allows for light garments to take large logos or create garments for customers who find direct contact with the reverse side of stitched logos to be uncomfortable. Cons: • High stitch counts = long run times. Cut materials take an ex- tra step, but significantly reduce time spent on the embroidery machines. • Distortion and problems on the machine can cause complete failure. During an early testing run, a problem in the bobbin case caused a small knot to form below the work surface. This caught on the needle plate, prematurely ripping away the em- blem at 75 percent completion for a total loss. • Thinner patches. If you want a thicker, more substantial em- blem, the thread-only method will require additional applica- tion of support materials. THE HYBRID SOLUTION Though I originally intended to utilize only the thread-and-plastic method of badge making, I ended by combining the use of cut materials. Unsurprisingly, other professionals like Tom had also applied the same method, hooping the plastic film, and following with the application of a cut-material blank. This creates a more traditional look and feel while maintaining the ease of finishing that makes the plastic method unique. Though the use of pre-cut or in-hoop cut materials requires far more labor, it does mitigate some of the drawbacks of the thread-only method. It reduces the distortion resulting from the densely-filled area of the fully-stitched background while reducing machine time and increases the thick- ness of the emblem, a quality some customers find desirable. Also, the commercial system can still hoop a garment and allow this more traditional patch stitched to a frame sheet to be attached to a garment with the satin border for a smooth-edged and secure fin- ish. The losses are in cutting time and color versatility, something that can often be mitigated by using a light fill of the appropriate custom color over the blank while still leaving you with overall savings in machine time and distortion. The plastic film method is a useful addition to the small-batch patch creation toolkit. Each version has its place; for occasional patch-makers requiring a fast turnaround, the hooped vinyl method will serve, but those who regularly make emblems or who want to make use of the hoop and frame combination for ease of attachment to garments, the commercial system may prove worthwhile. At first, it was hard to believe that this clear material was going to have the body it took to hold up to full- coverage stitching without tearing out.

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