August '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 7 A U G U S T P R I N T W E A R || 35 The second problem is believing that digitizing is a conversion process like turning a PNG into a JPG—it is not. It is a reinterpretation of a two-dimensional art source into a three- dimensional embroidery. Done properly, it takes into account the distortion specific to the materials the file is intended for, all while understanding and dealing with the restrictions of embroidery as a medium, the artistic opportunities provided by thread, and the proper sequence for items that prevents excess distortion. Auto-digitizing software is part of major digitizing suites, and it has gotten better over the years, but it's not up to the task of creating detailed designs. It has to be used with a realistic idea of what it can achieve. That said, a "quick" path to great manual digitizing is hard to come by. It requires you to know how em- broidery works. Though you can take time as a digitizer to develop the "eye" for how thread can be used to enhance a design, simply being able to address different types of materials and the unique ways they respond to being embroidered is necessary, even with simple designs. After all, it only takes one filled element with a border to reveal that you don't know how to keep elements from shifting out of registration with each other. There's no shame in being an embroiderer before you are a digitizer. Contracting out your digitizing work, especially at first, is a great idea. If you can find a quality digitizer, running their files with careful observation is an education unto itself. Better yet, if you can spend some time working with a seasoned embroiderer before you run anything yourself, you'll be well ahead of the game. Find an embroiderer/digitizer who wants to learn your brand of printing and trade experience. It's a win-win solution. DECORATOR BEWARE With the all-important questions of machine and software (mostly) out of the way, here's a list of some quick-hit topics that tripped up my printer friends on their way to adding embroidery: Materials matter. It's incredibly tempting to buy that auctioned-off box of bulk thread from a shutdown shop to start your collection, but don't do it without getting your hands on the goods. Old, poorly stored thread may be brittle and break more frequently. If you can snap the thread with little force, it's probably going to do the same on the machine. The same goes for using materials that look like real embroidery materials, but aren't. Stabilizer is dimensionally stable. It holds up to the distortion natural to embroidery machines. Coffee filters and dryer sheets just don't do the same job, even if they bear a passing resemblance. Embroidery machines need constant maintenance. Though not all oiling points need this much attention, the hook has to be oiled once every four to six hours of operation. Other points need weekly lubrication as well, and the machine must be kept clean and lint free; not just to keep garments tidy, but to avoid problems with tension on the thread path. This is just part of the work it takes to properly maintain a trouble-free machine and avoid downtime. You must watch the machines. It may be advertised that you can set up, start the run, and walk away. You'll even hear embroiderers say that they do so, but the likelihood of catching a problem before it's critical or understanding what went wrong in a given run is exponentially less if you can only judge by the final sample. Watching the run, particularly when first-time sampling, is critical. In doing so, you will understand sequencing and fabric distortion more readily, and, even better, you'll never crash your needle into the hoop (breaking your recipro- cator in the process), even if you forget to trace the design to check placement. Quality is affected by multiple production variables. The digitized file is a key part of the process, but hoop tension, stabilizer type, machine speed, garment material, and supplementary supplies like topping can all affect the finished quality. It takes care to do each of these things correctly and experience to troubleshoot a flawed final piece. continued on page 95 with equipment, technologies and products Register Here: or call 800.560.9941 Get Secaucus Meadowlands Exposition Center August 17-19, 2017 Education Begins August 16

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