There are some basic issues that can have a huge effect on the quality of your designs. We need to go back to the basics to create high-quality embroidery designs.
Machine speed has a huge effect on the quality of your design. I cringe when I see a machine going faster than 850 stitches per minutes. I run mine on an average of 750 stitches per minutes but if I am working on caps, it is down to 600 or 650 spi at max.
The machines today are being sold on the fact that they go a lot faster and there you can get more production done in a day. Yes this is true, but it can also cause many issues that slow down production. The faster your machine is sewing, the more pull you have on your thread. This can cause distortion in your small lettering and in satin stitches that border fill areas. The faster the machine speed, the tighter the thread pulls, and the narrower the stitch sews out. If the machine is going too fast, it can skip stitches or force the needle to penetrate in a bad spot and form a stitch that is uneven such as on heavy pique or fabric that has wide ribs such as twill. This really shows up on a twill cap.
The machine speed can also cause the thread to come out of the needle at the beginning of sewing and can leave a long thread or a loop at the beginning of the first part of your stitching.
Your machine needs to be using either rayon or polyester thread. You should not be switching back and forth if you can help it. This is something that we have to do at times and I am very unhappy when we have to do this, but we have customers that insist on a certain shade and if it matches in the rayon rather than the polyester, then that is what we use. I do not want to use any rayon thread on a garment that is going to be washed in the strong laundry detergents because it can fade. We do not have any many issues with our thread bleeding.
If you stick to polyester, you eliminate a lot of issues. In today’s world this is the thread that you should be using. We have been gradually switching over and we are using more and more polyester. It is much stronger and of course, it will not fade out when bleached. Your polyester thread has to run with a tighter tension than the rayon thread. When you are switching back and forth, it is very tough to keep your thread tension correct. It needs to be adjusted for the different type of thread.
Worn or Wrong Needles
Worn or Wrong Needles can create holes in the fabric. On knits it can create runs. You really need to be careful with this. Sometimes you can get away with a sharp needle on a knit such as a pique if you are using the 70/10 needles and they are new needles. It is strongly recommended that you change your needles to ballpoint needles if you are working with knits, especially the performance wear knits. You can almost count on holes in your fabric if you do not switch to the ballpoints on those types of fabrics. This can have a huge effect on your design.
They recommend that you change your needles every 2,000,000 stitches or after every 8 hours of constant stitching on that same needle bar. That is hard to keep track of and something that we really do not do, but I always had operators that were very much detail oriented and knew exactly when the needles needed to be changed. You can hear the difference in the sound when the needle goes down into the fabric. This comes from lots of experience and a lot of trial and error.
Using the correct backings or stabilizers is extremely important in the stabilizing of your design on your garment. If you are using the wrong backing or a cheap backing your design can rip right through the backing and it just does not sew out very good. It becomes very distorted, especially after it has been laundered.
This is something that you have to be very careful of. For all of your wovens, you need to use a tearaway backing. Do not ever use a cutaway on the woven fabrics, not even the no show. Many times the backing shrinks and it will cause the design to pull up and pucker. I have had several complaints about the no show backing shrinking. I have had several students tell me that they have discontinued using it because it was shrinking and their designs were distorted after they had been washed.I have some items here that have been washed and you can plainly see that this no show has not shrank at all! You need to always use quality backings.
Do not use cheap bobbins either. This is huge! Not only do they slow down your production, but they run very erratic and it is almost impossible to keep an even flow of tension. I highly recommend the Filtec bobbins. The can run all the way to the end without the tension changing and rarely do we have a bad one. Yes, they are more expensive, but the difference is the look and the production more than pays for the difference in the cost.
No Topping On Your Knits
This is a tough concept to get across to a lot of people. The difference in your designs is night and day when you use it. Every knit that went out of my shop was done with topping on it. It keeps the thread on top of the fabric instead of letting it sink into the garment and is very easy to remove. Yes it is another step, but at the same time that we are steaming it off, we are also removing the hoop mark from our item. I do not ever want to see a garment go out of here with a hoop mark on it. There is no excuse for that one at all.
Garments Not Hooped Correctly
When you are hooping your garments you want to make sure that they are tight enough. If it is, there will not no movement of the fabric inside of the hoop and you can hear a drum noise when you tap on it.
Size of Hoop
The size hoop that you use is critical. Many embroiderers will use the same 15 cm hoop for all of their designs. This is fine if the design was created for that 15 cm hoop, but if the design is smaller than that, you will not get the same effect.
Many times, we just need to go back to the basics to create high-quality embroidery designs. We sometimes forget the basics and how important they really are.
I found this new magnifying light that is great tool to use to remove stitches. I am so excited about this light and I want to share it with you. I have used many different tools in the past for removing stitches, but this is the best tool to remove stitches that I have found. You can stand it on the floor and move it anyplace that you want or you can remove the extender bar and place it on your table right in front of you.
Removing stitches is not a fun thing to do, but at times we all have to do it and you want to make the job as easy as possible and with less time. This tool makes it easy to use and see exactly what you are doing. It also helps to get a closer view to avoid creating holes in the fabric.
The ones in the past that I have used, I had to clamp them to the table and they were not always convenient. This one is much more convenient and it less intrusive than the standard fluorescent magnifying lamps to remove stitches.
It has variable light intensity with 3 different settings. I found this to be very helpful. The magnification is 2.5 times and it made it very easy to see the stitches and remove them. Here are some pictures of David using the lamp. You can see him using the seam ripper as well as “Peggys” Stitch Eraser! Peggy and I became good friends a long time ago!
When David tested it out, he was very excited when he realized how easy it was to see the stitches and be able to remove the stitches without creating holes in the fabric. Click on the picture to view it full size.
As a small embroidery shop owner, have you been in the situation of needing to train a embroidery production employee to help you but really did not know where to start? This can be very frustrating for the small embroidery shop owner that has always worked alone and has never had to teach anyone how to be a helper to them.
In this article, I will start with the very first employee that a small embroidery shop owner should start training for the embroidery production floor.
Train An Embroidery Production Employee To Start At The End Process!
If you have hired a new employee to start on the production floor, the best place to start is at the end of the process, regardless of what you have hired them for. Start them trimming, folding and packing. This helps them to see how the process is finished and helps to get them excited to learn more. If a new employee cannot trim, they need to be dismissed. This is a very basic function but takes a lot of dexterity and attention to detail. Many people feel that this part of the process is for low paying individuals that cannot do anything else. This could not be farther from the truth. A trimming mistake can ruin the entire process if close attention is not paid to detail. They need to have a positive attitude and their attitude will really show up during this process.
How To Start Training A Production Helper
They can then be moved into a helper’s position. A helper is someone that can help tie new threads onto the machine, load and unload the machine, carry work from the hooping area to the machine and carry the finished work from the machine to the trimmers. The training of this helper is very important. They must be shown everything that they are supposed to do and be thoroughly tested on these skills. This sounds like it is so simple that anyone should be able to do it, but they need to be taught exactly how each step is done.
Step One – Show them where the threads are stored and how you put them onto the machine. Teach them how to do the Weavers knot so that the threads will go right through the needles. Make sure that they understand exactly what is meant each step of the process. Have them do it over and over until they have it mastered. Do not let them go to step two until step one is mastered.
Here is a video showing you how to tie the Embroidery Threads so that they will go right through the needles! It works 99% of the time. Huge time-saver!
Proper training is extremely important when you hire a new employee for your embroidery operation. Without the proper training this new employee can end up creating a lot of mistakes and this leads to lost production. This is just as important for the small embroidery shop owner that is hiring their first employee as it is to the multi-head shop that has many employees. Learning the right process to train an embroidery production employee is very important. It is going to mean the difference between a well-run shop and one that is only mediocre. You want to make sure when you train an embroidery production employee that everyone is on the same page, so to speak!
Do you have a signed Embroidery Design Customer Approval Form as one of the required steps in your embroidery job process?
Do you ever finish an embroidery job for a customer only to find out that the colors were not exactly what the customer wanted and then we will not accept it? This is an issue that can be totally avoided. I have also been given repeat orders that were just like the last one, but this time the shirt is a different color and the same colors will not work on this new shirt; now what do you do? Many times your customer will tell you that you can select the right color but that does not mean that they are going to like the colors that you selected. Do not get caught in this trap!
An Embroidery Design Customer Approval Form should be one of the necessary forms that you have in your embroidery business and make sure that you always get your customers approval before sewing out their embroidery design! This is a very important step, whether it is a new order or a repeat order. This is a step that so many embroiderers overlook and do not want to be bothered with, but many get caught with a job that is finished and the customer is not happy with it. This is a huge mistake that can be totally avoided!
An embroidered sample of the finished design, it can be a virtual sample, in the correct colors is a must. If you cannot physically give your customer a sample, email a copy in the correct colors and require that he or she reply back to you with an OK. Print out this OK and file it with your job order.
If you have several color combinations on different colored garments, show him the predominate sample in the correct colors and attach a list all of the color sequences for the remaining combinations on another copy of the approval form. Make sure that your form does include all of these color combinations. This is very important. This can help save you many headaches, time and money. This process will show your customer how organized you are and will help to create confidence in both you and your customer.
Searching for the right Embroidery Design Placement Chart can be very confusing and frustrating. There are many charts available for many different types of garments and linens, but most of them are not specific and it is up to you to create that perfect placement chart that will work for 99 percent of your items.
Your customer is depending on you to know the proper placement and when he or she receives it and the design looks off, they are extremely disappointed.
The right placement is important in the final quality of your product and the presentation of that product to your customer.
The placement of a monogram or an embroidery design on a garment is subject to many variables. There was a time when tradition was very important, but in today’s world that is not always a big factor. There are basics that really need to be followed, but for the most part, placements are all over the place.
Your customer’s preference needs to be taken into consideration, but for the most part, the customer is trusting in you to make that right decision because you are the professional with the experience.
Many times, we have to figure it out by the type of garments, the lines on the garment, the size of the garment and the basic construction of it, but it is much easier when you have a basic guide that you can follow.
Here are some of the variables that you need to watch out for.
Working with Stripes – If there is a stripe you must make sure that you hoop according to the stripe even if it appears to be slightly crooked.
Are there any diagonal, horizontal or vertical seams in the area that the logo would normally be placed?
Are there any inside zippers?
Are there any inside pockets?
Is there an access zipper inside?
Is there a removable lining?
Is the lining larger and wants to bunch up?
Is there an existing embroidery that must be considered?
Attention to all of the details is extremely important when you are placing your logo, lettering or monogram on either the left or right chest of any garment. Having a good basic embroidery design placement chart is very important if you want to be consistent in all of your design placements!
Do you feel like your Embroidery Production Spoilage is getting out of hand? Are you having an unusual amount of rejects or mistakes being made during the production process? Do you have a lot of returns or customer complaints? Are you having to spend unneeded time redoing jobs because of misunderstanding?
In a small business these mistakes may be done by you as a business owner or one of your employees. In a large business, it is definitely being done by the person that is performing the task or doing the job. It does not matter who is responsible, but this is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately so that it does not get out of hand.
It is extremely frustrating when the customers start complaining about the quality or returning their items. Not only is this disheartening, it is very time consuming and hard on the bottom line. After working with many embroidery companies I have discovered this is becoming a growing problem among embroidery business both large and small.
Factors That Contribute To Embroidery Production Spoilage
There are several factors that can contribute to this but the top 3 factors are:
Work Orders not written up correctly
Missing information, lack of details or wrong information on the Work Orders
Employees not trained properly
Other factors that can also contribute to embroidery production spoilage; especially in larger businesses:
Lack of the right tools to work with
Employees not paying attention to detail.
Employees that do not take pride in their work
Unpleasant working conditions
I want to talk about the first 3 factors and how to avoid them.
Work Orders not written up correctly, missing information and lack of detail sort of all rolls into one, but this is usually the number one reason that mistakes are made in the first place. Each work order should be gone over thoroughly to make sure that all of the information is correct along with all of the detail.
I have worked with embroidery companies that did not even have an image of the design on the work order. This was absolutely shocking to me! This is such a necessary item. If the operator does not have a picture of the correct design right in front of her or him, how can they be 100% sure that the right design is going to be embroidered on the correct products.
If the order taker mistypes the design number, this can cause a huge mistake. If a picture or an image of the design is in front of them, this can act as a double check to make sure the design is in fact the correct one. Also make sure that the color number and color names are written for each part of the design. If they are not, this too could be a problem.
You must be very explicit in the way that you give all of your information to the person that is going to be doing the job, and this means every part of the job. The more information they have, the better chance you have of getting the order right.
This is true for the single person business that is doing all of their own work. DO NOT depend that you are going to remember everything that the customer tells you and not have it written down. This just does not work! I have worked with a lot of people that say they do not need to write it all down; it is in their head and they will remember it. This may be true, but as you grow and add other people to your company, this does not work. YOU MUST make sure that all of your information about every part of the job is totally clear and that anyone could pick up that order and understand what needs to be done.
Employees not trained properly is a huge factor is mistakes being made and poor workmanship. You need to have a regular training program that you have either developed or purchased to start your employee training. Employees need to know what is expected, what a great product looks like, what a bad product looks like as well as each process that goes with their job description. They need to be fully trained in each one of the processes.
Too many times they are told once how to do something and then they are expected to go out and do what it is they were told to do. In one large company that I worked with they put their new operator on a single head for the first 2 weeks and started them right out doing orders right on the machine. There is no preparation beforehand, no training as to what backings to use for each type of fabric and anything. After a couple of weeks, they were put on a multi-head machine and they are basically expected to do any of the orders that came in and know what to use for the backings and other tools needed.
This is not enough training. I would never leave a new employee on a machine by themselves for at least 3 months. There are too many questions, too many variables and too many issues that can creep up. They need constant supervision for at least 3 months in order for them to build up the confidence that they need to do the job right.
Embroidery Industry Standard of Loss
There has been an industry standard for many years of a 2% loss. Many claim that a 2% spoilage rate is acceptable. You may have that in your contract, but many people will not do business with you if you have a spoilage rate that high. If you properly train your operators to be aware of all of the factors that can happen and how to avoid them, your spoilage rate will be greatly reduced.
Operators should be required to show the amount of garments that were lost or ruined. This should be part of the production form that they are required to fill out at the end of each completed job. You must also know why the loss occurred. Keeping tracking the causes and the operators can help to reduce the loss and avoid them in the future.
Keeping a chart on a weekly basis of these losses is very valuable. This information can be reviewed at the end of the week and used to help retrain the operators in the areas that they are apparently lacking information. When operators know that they are being tracked, they have a tendency to be more careful and pay closer attention to detail.
Many people say that this is part of your Production Cost! I do not agree with that at all. This is a cost that can be almost eliminated if the employees are trained to pay attention to all of the details. Yes, there is some spoilage when a person first starts to be trained, but they must be trained from the very beginning that this is not acceptable.
I created a simple Embroidery-Production-Spoilage-Report that you can download, print out and use to keep track of the embroidery production spoilage in your embroidery shop. Just click on the blue link and the .pdf file will open up for you. Even if you are a one person shop, this will help you keep track of the costs that you errors create. This is a huge eye opener to everyone!