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The Ins and Outs of High-Volume Embroidery

(April 2007) posted on Mon Apr 02, 2007

This article discusses the equipment and accessories involved in the process and describes the floor plans that will help you optimize the embroidery workflow.


By Sherry Higgins

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After selecting the machinery for your shop, you'll need to stock up on essential accessories to keep your business operating smoothly. You'll need needles, thread, pre-wound bobbins, backing, topping, scissors, hooping aids, aerosol sprays, machine parts, tools, and other miscellaneous accessories and ancillary equipment.

The most common needle size is 75/11. It comes in sharp point for tightly woven goods, denim, and terry cloth; and ball point for knits, piques, and fleece. Polyester thread size 40 is the most common thread used for embroidery. Thread comes in 5000-m cones and 1000-m spools. Invest in a spool chest that holds 360 spools, which is great for that last minute customer that wants an odd color, and keep a color card or swatch book for color matching. You'll need plenty of pre-wound sided or sideless bobbins, which are available in L and M styles and either white or black.

Backing, which goes underneath the fabric to be embroidered to keep the fabric stable while sewing, comes in two basic types: tear away and cutaway. Tear away backing is a non-woven material that tears away easily, is best used on stable fabrics such as canvas and denim, and comes in sheets and rolls. Cutaway backing is a woven or non-woven material that can be trimmed away, best used with fine knit or loose fabric, and also comes in sheets and rolls. Cap backing is a tear away backing sized for cap panels. It comes in pre-cut pieces or rolls.

Use topping material when embroidering on any loose fabric texture because it prevents stitches from sinking into the fabric and appearing uneven. The topping goes on top of the garment fabric, then the designed is embroidered through the topping, garment fabric, and backing, resulting in a uniform design. Water-activated topping dissolves in water and steam. Heat-activated topping dissolves when heat is applied.

Scissors are essential for every embroidery shop. Embroidery snips have fine points that are used for close trimming, thread snips are used for quick and easy trimming, and 8-in. dressmaker shears are great for cutting backing and material.

Hooping aids help ensure proper placement of the embroidery on shirts, jackets, and hats. Clamping systems help to avoid hoop burns and are great for hard-to-hoop items, such as hand bags, computer cases, CD cases, jackets, and products that mark easily.


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