Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Polyneon Colors at MadeiraUSA

There are certain maxims that I hold dear:
“You can never have enough good health”

“You can never have enough good friends”

“You can never have enough sunny vacation days”

“You can never have enough chocolate”

“You can never have enough pictures of your grandchildren” 

And finally, “You can never have enough different thread colors in your place of business.”

Yeah, I know you think you have it covered, but how many times have you pointed out your thread display to a customer and showed them a thread card only to have them ask, plaintively, “Is that all? Do you have any other reds or blues?”

At Madeira USA, we’re helping (in the interest of full disclosure, I work for Madeira USA on the days I’m not at the beach) by supplementing our already bountiful Polyester thread offering with 72 new colors (57 fashion shades, 5 fluorescent colors and 10 multi-colors).  

If you haven’t already received the new Polyneon card #100-82, you can order one when you place your next Purchase Order or at either ISS Orlando or ISS Ft. Worth.

If you don’t use Madeira Polyneon, you should call your thread supplier periodically and inquire if they’ve added (or deleted) any colors and request a new thread card. Thread cards should be changed every few years as a matter of course because after years of exposure to sunlight, incandescent and fluorescent light and those new weird-looking corkscrew-shaped bulbs, the thread on the card can fade and may no longer match the thread you receive from your supplier.


So, in summary, if you want some EXCITING NEW COLORS, call Madeira (you know, the guys I work for) or check with your supplier and ask, “What’s new… for Back-to-School, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc.?”

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

6 Billion Reasons Why You Need to Master Embroidering on Performance Wear!

6 Billion Reasons Why You Need to Master 
Embroidering on Performance Wear!

I suspect that the same embroiderers who avoid using metallics because “it’s too difficult” avoid embroidering on performance wear because that stretchy fabric is allegedly difficult to deal with, as well. Am I right? But, as it is with metallics, once you know how to do it, the struggle is all but eliminated. It’s so important for you to master embroidering on performance wear because of its popularity in the athletic and team sales market, plus work-out apparel including Yoga, dance and ballet, and cheer squad outfits. Six billion dollars’ worth of popularity, when the industry’s value was last calculated!

Here are the four keys to overcoming your fear of performance wear-y J embroidery. Master your choices of the design, the backing, the hooping and the thread selection, and you’ll be golden.

Keep Designs Simple
Inasmuch as performance wear is so stretchy it is prone to major distortion, the greater the number of stitches, the more likely distortion will occur. You may have to gently urge your customer away from the huge 15,000+ stitch design they may love, to a more subtle and lower stitch count logo. You could point out the embroidered logos of some of the major athletic companies like Xersion, Under Armour, Nike, Bamboo and Pizzazz, whose embroidered logos have simple (yet elegant) low stitch counts. Remember to reduce density wherever possible on Performance Wear apparel. Too much density will cause puckering and distortion and lumpy-looking embroidery.
 And please note: In order to prevent that reduced stitch count from adversely affecting your income, suggest using their very large and beloved design on their team jackets, sweat shirts, booster pennants and warm-ups, which you would be happy to do for them.


Go as Light as You Can with Backing
 As you know, a synonym for backing is stabilizer, and no material in the world defies stability, as it pertains to embroidering, like performance wear. Think of wet spaghetti! It’s common for embroiderers (not you, of course) to pile on the backing and overcompensate for the lack of stability of the material; the net result being a blob (not blog) of backing standing out stiffly and probably irritating the wearer. Too much backing, especially the wrong backing, can be worse than not enough.
 I recommend the best stabilizer to use for most performance wear is no-show nylon commonly referred to as Weblon. It usually has a diagonal embossed pattern that makes it more stable and offers the maximum amount of multi-directional stability in a light weight material.  This means it is easier to hoop (but not too tightly), allowing for the good registration and least amount of puckering and looping. This product is great for designs up to about 8,000 stitches; two pieces may be used for larger and denser designs, although if you really need that much stabilizer you may want to get your customer to rethink the design.


No-show Weblon has other advantages: it is very soft, so it feels better against the skin; it weighs little and is all but invisible when viewed from the front.
Another option is pairing Weblon with a light -- 1.0 or 1.5 oz. -- Tear Away.  Adding the Tear Away will provide stability and softness. Make sure you put the Weblon closest to the apparel and the Tear Away behind it. Then just tear away the excess Tear Away (I know it’s childish, but I love saying “tear away the Tear Away”), leaving the soft, invisible Weblon against the body.


Easy Does it When Hooping
When you hoop your performance wear, ensure the fabric is smooth and firm.  It needs to be hooped tight enough to prevent movement, but not so tight that it distorts the fabric. If you hoop it too tightly, the fabric will contract when you take it out of the hoop and your well-embroidered design will be puckered and look crappy (an old embroidery term meaning your customer won’t be coming back). Be sure that the backing covers the hoop completely establishing a nice, firm base that will prevent the embroidery from bouncing during the sewing process. If there are no wrinkles in the hooped fabric and the material isn’t stretched, your hooping is well done. If slippage is a concern, try using an adhesive spray which will hold the garment in place and minimize slippage.

Rayon is My Thread of Choice
When it comes to thread, you can use any good quality rayon, polyester, metallic or specialty thread. Rayon is a softer thread, therefore more conducive to lying down in any direction well. This is necessary when working with such a thin, pliable material such as performance wear. So I recommend rayon as a first choice. And remember the quality part!
Be sure to use a ball point needle, either #70/10 or #75/11, which will cut down on the looping caused by the fabric bouncing. Seriously, it really works.


Practice Makes for No Worries
So, embroidering on Performance Wear isn’t impossible or even difficult; it merely entails some additional thought be put into the process. Following the guidelines above will ensure a “no-worries” experience for embroidering on all sorts of performance apparel. And remember, practice, practice, practice!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What Can I Say About Rayon... That Hasn't Been Said Before?


Recently, I was asked to deliver a few words explaining why so many embroiderers prefer Rayon embroidery thread.

I decided the best way to describe Rayon, was in terms of something else. You wanna know about Rayon? I’ll compare it to Polyester! Rayon is warm and elegant; Polyester is bright and brassy. Rayon is Ava Gardner, Ingrid Bergman, and Grace Kelly; Polyester is Rita Hayworth, Lucille Ball, and Marilyn Monroe (if you’re under 40, ask your mother).

Rayon is lustrous, smooth, and soft. Polyester is shiny. Rayon colors are deep and romantic. Polyester colors are shiny and uninhibited. Rayon is colorfast. Polyester is colorfast. Wait! What? You heard me! I said it!

Rayon is colorfast! You can wash it in very hot water up to 203⁰F (hotter than McDonald’s coffee), let it sit in hot water up to 100⁰F and send it to be dry cleaned and the colors will be as vibrant and alive as the day the stitches were put down. The one thing you can’t do is throw bleach into the wash. But why would anyone want to bleach their embroidery purposefully? Especially when most fine garments come with washing instructions forbidding the use of bleach!

And then there’s sewability; nothing sews with such consistent trouble-free performance, holding up to high-speed stitching without breaking or fraying. While it’s true that Polyester is marginally stronger, that doesn’t mean Rayon is weak. All factors being equal, (productive digitizing, machine capability, operator experience, etc.), using good quality Rayon will result in many hours of stitching sans thread breaks. As a matter of fact, thread breaks become memorable because there are so few of them. And because the thread “hand” is soft and smooth, it’s easy on the parts it runs over and the automatic trimmers.

And for us tree-huggers, Rayon is a renewable product unlike Polyester which is a derivative of petroleum (oil). Rayon is a manufactured, regenerated cellulose fiber. It is made from purified cellulose, primarily from sustainable wood pulp, which is chemically converted into a soluble compound. It is then dissolved and forced through a spinneret to produce filaments which are chemically solidified, resulting in fibers of nearly pure cellulose. A few years before I was born, English chemist Charles Cross, in 1894, patented his artificial silk, which he named "viscose" (thank you, Google).
Rayon thread comes in a wide range of solid and variegated colors. Most Rayon threads are available in a standard 40 weight, a thicker 30 weight (very useful and economical for saving stitches in large fill areas) and a thinner 60 weight (for fine detail and teeny, tiny lettering).

Concluding, I promise you, bleach notwithstanding, Rayon is a safe choice, an economical option, a good bet.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Golf, A Good Walk Spoiled


I like golf. I remember the first time I played. It was a little more than 30 years ago and I was working on a consulting project in Columbia, South Carolina. It was August and it was hot. My client, Jim, came into the office I was using after lunch one day and said, “Hey Arnie, why don’t we get out of here around three and go over to my club and play the back nine?” I tried to get out of it; it was hot. I told him I had never played golf or even hit a golf ball in my life and that was the truth, and that it wouldn’t be any fun for him. “On the contrary,” he said, “it will be fun for me to have someone else to laugh at. I’m the worst golfer in my regular foursome.”

So I ran out to K-Mart and picked up some golf shoes and I rented clubs at the pro shop and we played the back nine. It was hot -- so hot -- and we agreed to limit my hacking at the ball to six swings on par three’s and eight swings on par four’s and five’s. And, oh boy, it was hot and Jim did have a lot to laugh at, especially when I refused to look for my ball in the rough – I just knew there were copperheads, spiders and rattlesnakes in there. Oh my!

So the next day Jim came back and said, “That was fun. Let’s do it again.”

“Oy,” I said. And I thought that perhaps if I looked more like a golfer, I might play better. So I went to a golf store and bought a pair of bright red plaid trousers – I’m talking blood-on-the-sun bright red! But when it became time to change clothes and go to the club, I lost my nerve. I wasn’t a golfer and I hadn’t earned the right to wear the uniform. So I wore my chinos and headed out.

We played the front nine on that second day and on the first par four we came to I made par! I don’t know how. I probably didn’t do anything right; I just got really lucky. The exhilaration was immediate. I thought my heart was going to thump right out of my chest! And if that was the last hole we played, I might still be a golfer today. But no, we played the rest of the nine holes and I got my usual six’s and eight’s. What frustration! What disappointment! What a stupid game!!

I never played again. Why would anyone want to go through that angst on a regular basis? But in the process of relocating from Charlotte back up to Brooklyn recently, I found those preposterous pants in my closet. I tried them on to see how they looked but apparently, as many of you know, apparel has a tendency to shrink over the years, hanging in a closet (it probably has something to do with climate change). So I included them in the four or five bags of clothes and housewares I left out for the National Kidney Foundation pickup. And the next morning, when I was going out for a Starbucks, the pants were back on my doorstep with a note saying – we’re not that desperate!

So I’m not a golfer, but I know what supplies will result in a competitive advantage to those of you who do embroidery for golfers. These are products you will want to have readily available in your machine room.

Get some thread with a demonstrated reputation for withstanding the sun’s rays – increased UV protection is what I’m talking about. Golfers, duffers and hackers all play the game in the sun and no one wants their beautiful embroidery to get bleached by the sun and fade. The same is true of non-apparel golf items – towels, golf bags, club head covers, gloves and pin flags. An additional benefit to the thread I’m thinking of is that its vivid colors and weight make it ideal for the small lettering associated with country club logos. Unfamiliar with what I’ve described? Just ask me.

FORE!!!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Real Embroiderers Use Metallics


Through the ages, embroiderers have always been known for their high intelligence, enthusiasm, resourcefulness, great courage and good looks. It puzzles me, then, why so many current artisans of the embroidery craft exclude metallics from their repertoire and, in fact, avoid using metallic thread to the extent of not even mentioning it to customers. BABIES! CHICKENS! Cluck, cluck!

There are no GOOD reasons not to use metallics, which can breathe life into otherwise ordinary or boring embroideries. I strongly recommend you try 50 weight metallic. This size metallic thread doesn’t require any special digitizing, can be run with your regular 75/11 needle and can be used in practically any stock design, replacing a standard 40 weight thread. Its thin construction enables you to do small lettering.

So, let’s deal with some of the reasons (and myths) embroiderers have used to avoid metallics.

1. It’s expensive. Ok, I’ll give you that; it is more expensive than the top rayon or polyester thread you normally use. On the other hand, you should use it frugally, saving it for highlights, for emphasizing parts of the design and not for large fill areas. And you can charge more for it.

2. It requires special digitizing. No, not “special digitizing,” but the design must be programmed for metallic thread so that the density is lowered, allowing for the metallic threads to lay into the garment properly, without looking uncomfortably cramped into a small space. If the design isn’t digitized with metallic thread in mind, you can experience thread breaks as the stitches are “forced” into the too-small space.

3. You have to change needles. Not necessarily; though for the heavier sizes, such as 20, 30 and 35 weight, you should switch to 100/16 or 90/14. For the lighter 40 weight metallic, you can use an 80/12 or in some cases, don’t even have to change your 75/11. And remember that with the thinnest size metallic, the 50 weight, you change nothing! Except for the brilliant shine reflecting off your embroidery that may require the use of sun glasses, you need to change nothing.  But okay, technically, for the heavier weights and twisted foil metallics, you may be changing needles.

4. You will have to reduce your machine speed. Yeah, you should slow it down somewhat. Metallic threads are not as “supple” as rayon and polyester and at high speeds, changing directions might result in a thread break. Speeds between 600 and 700 stitches per minute should work ok.

5. Tensions have to be readjusted. So, metallic thread, being less supple than other top threads, tensions generally needs to be relaxed, looser than normal. You should try a sample run before starting production and, after getting the tensions properly adjusted, the metallic will run as well as rayon and polyester.

6. Special backings? No, not really, but you should avoid very stiff backing and material as they may be too abrasive and shred the thread.

7. Misdirections:
a. Don’t spray the thread with silicon or anything else.
b. Don’t put it on a stand across the room or in a different room.
c. Don’t heat it or freeze it.
d. Don’t lay the thread sideways or upside down.
These methodologies are used as a substitute for using good quality thread.

8. Directions:
            a. Use the best quality thread. See earlier blogs on how to make that decision,
                but it starts with getting samples.
            b. Use cones where possible instead of spools; the smaller the put-up,
                the more “memory” the thread has when coming off.
            c. Use the right sized needle.
            d. Ensure the design is meant for metallic thread or reduce the density to fit;
                make a sample run.
            e. Loosen the upper tensions.
            f. Slow down.

So, why bother making the changes to your embroidery life by introducing metallics? Because the results, esthetically and profitably, make a little bit of bother more than worthwhile. Even a small amount of metallic silver or gold, in place of gray or yellow, richly enhances a corporate logo or any embroidery.
 
So, don’t be chicken! Use metallics! Start with the 50 weight; it’s the easiest, requiring no changes to your machine. Then move into the heavier weights, after you’ve gained some confidence. Finally, segue into the rich variety of specialty threads available in the marketplace to enhance your product offering.