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The Fine Points of Thread Selection

(April 2007) posted on Sun Apr 01, 2007

Read on to find out about the kinds of threads available and discover the ways in which each can be effectively used.

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By Hajo Voeller

Most specialty threads lend themselves well to any substrate, providing it is not very sheer or delicate. In those cases, selecting the appropriate needle size for the job will often deliver good results. When in doubt, a test run, and/or checking with the manufacturer, will ensure success. Many specialty threads are available on the market today. Some follow fashion trends, while others set them. Some fulfill the specific needs of a market niche; others can be used to create a niche of their own. Here's a look at some of your options:

Wool blends are wool/acrylic threads that use their thickness and appearance to give designs a hand-embroidered look. Use a #100/16 needle and lighten the tension on your machine.

Twisted metallics consist of metallized polyester wrapped around a polyester core. They require a design with less density and the use of a larger needle (#90/14). These threads work best when the machine is slowed to 650-800 stitches/min.

Smooth metallics are made up of a variety of combinations of metallized polyester wrapped on a polyester or rayon core. They come in many different weights and colors and in cones and spools. Put-up and needle requirements may vary by thread weight. Metallic embroidery has enjoyed a popular run in fashion lately.

Soft metallics are very shiny, 100%-polyester threads. They can be used in place of metallic threads on children's wear or lingerie, where the softness of the back side of the embroidery, which comes in contact with the skin, is a concern.

Fire-resistant thread is made of 100% Aramid fiber. It's heat- and flame-resistant, complies with ISO stan-dards (ISO-6941 and ISO-15025), and is intended for markets such as fire and safety, auto racing, aeronautics, and petrochemicals.

Glow-in-the-dark threads offer a novel way to apply special effects on children's wear or sweatshirts. Use a #75/11 needle for best results. Providing your customers with sample stitch-outs of the specialty threads you use is the surest way to secure sales and substantiate your reasons for charging more for the product, should you choose to do so. For convenience, maintain a samples book that allows you to slide your specialty stitch-outs in and out of plastic sleeves.

The one-stop shop

Customers must know that you're able to fulfill all aspects of their decorated-apparel needs, whether the clients are in your shop, on the phone with your sales team, or visiting your Website. Demonstrating your abilities to offer a complete package will enable you to lure new customers and sell additional services to existing accounts. You can reinforce that image by keeping shipping costs down and handling fees low, carefully controlling inventory, assuring the best prices for volume work, decreasing turnaround time, and streamlining information management.

A great deal of the new business for which screen printers compete comes from word-of-mouth referrals. Keeping customers aware of the value-added work you're capable of offering is critical to your success. Ultimately, developing the reputation for reliable, personal service, will win not only your customers' business, but their loyalty as well.


About the author

Hajo Voeller is president of Madeira USA, Laconia, NH. He uses his many years of executive experience in sales and marketing to enhance Madeira's worldwide presence, secure greater market share, and expand the company's product portfolio. A native of Munich, Germany, Voeller most recently launched a new Madeira business division, E-Zee Backing & Topping.


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