August '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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34 || P R I N T W E A R A U G U S T 2 0 1 7 ERICH'S EMBELLISHMENTS enough to learn without the constant possibility that your machine is either not designed to do what you want or that it's not in good condition. At first, it may be hard for you to know the difference between problems with your technique and problems with your machine. You want to start with a machine that runs well; you want a capable commercial multi-needle machine with a large sewing area and solid support from the manufacturer or dealer. In the best-case scenario, that support may include training, not only in the maintenance and operation of your machine but often in the embroidery itself. Remember all the additional benefits before you tally up the total value of your purchase and compare it to the auction special. Ask careful questions of the dealer, be specific about the market you're addressing, and make sure you are getting the tools you need to service your clientele. In short, can you embroider with an underpowered home ma- chine or a semi-functioning used commercial? Yes, I've done both myself when the need arose. Should you? Not at this stage. You want to learn the proper method to operate and avoid wasting effort and resources. This is particularly true if you are already a successful printer. You don't want your embroidery capabilities to be so out of balance with what you can offer as a printer that your customer can readily see the difference in experience. The second question I commonly hear is, "Which digitizing soft- ware does the best conversion? How can I learn that quickly?" Once again, this question shows so many misconceptions that it's almost hard to break down. First, I assume printers rarely think, "I am about to buy a press, but I want to make my own designs. So, at the same time I'm setting this up, I'm going to become a graphic designer really quickly." The comparison may not be perfect as far as relative difficulty, but learning to digitize is a very complicated process. The best digitizers I've known embroidered first, having run machines with other people's designs for months or even years before they learned digitizing. Some specifically started as operators with the aim of understanding the way the designs are put together and how design, machine, embroidery supplies, and garments interact. In short, you must learn a great deal of embroidery before you learn to digitize well. It's only in knowing that interaction that you can make the best attempt at learning to digitize. Above: I learned my craft on this well-worn ma- chine. By all accounts, it's a lovely machine that was very capable and easy to use. That said, buy- ing one now that is discontinued with parts and service, both becoming more scarce, would not be the best bet for most beginners in the field. (Image courtesy the author) Inset: New embroiderers are always shocked at how much difference stabilizer can make. Many may even use the right stabilizer type, but use it incorrectly. (Images courtesy the author) As you can see on this multi-head machine, you have to keep the thread paths very clean for the machine to stay consistently tensioned. (Image courtesy the author) Embroidery knowledge is based on a foundational understanding of how machine, needle, thread, and fabric come together and what influences they have on each other. Auto digitizing tools do a fair job on very simple pieces, but even with natural and fairly uncomplicated pieces, artistic choices are only made by a digitizer who works at least somewhat manu- ally. (Image courtesy of the author) New embroiderers are often sur- prised that designs aren't universal for every combination of material or able to be endlessly resized. In the case of this design, it was cre- ated specifically for 3D foam. Many assume that you can throw foam under any satin-stitch detail and the material will do the work, but designs like this tribal heart have almost twice the density of stitches in a standard satin stitch design and have special transitions and end-caps to hold the foam together or cut away the excess respectively. (Image courtesy Madeira USA)

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