Category Archives: Apparel Decorating

Embroidery-The Process

(Part 3 of a 4 part series)

Garment decoration is quite popular these days.  The market has a high demand when it comes to beautiful ornamented clothing, totes, hats, blankets and more.  There are a variety of options to add color and décor to garments and embroidery is a particularly prevalent method.

Embroidery Defined

The definition of embroidery is the art of working raised and ornamental designs with a needle into any woven fabric, leather, paper etc…

Businesses often want to add logos to shirts, hats and even backpacks in order to help advertise their brand.  Embroidered products look professional and last longer than items that have been screen printed.

Embroidery Process

The technology associated with embroidery has come a long way.  There are a few basic steps to the process.  The following facts and information will give you an overview from start to finish.

  1. Embroidery is primarily done on machines today.
  2. Custom designs are loaded into a factory’s software.
  3. Then someone presses a frame around the imprint area. The goal here is to keep the surface taut so that it will have a flawless look.
  4. The frame gets locked into position under the machine’s sewing needle.
  5. The area is moved around in a way that it automatically creates the stitched pattern.
  6. The thread color is stitched individually until the logo is complete.
  7. There are no shortages of colors and options to create the right look for your design.
  8. The last step is for someone to clip the stray fibers by hand and then your product is ready.

The process for embroidering garments has changed over time and gotten much easier to do with all the improved technology.  Companies are able to create a custom logo design and have it replicated down to the exact colors.    They are able to have employee uniforms, hats and polo shirts embroidered quite simply and without a huge investment time and money wise.

Embroidery – Artwork (Part 2 of a 4 part series)

Embroidering garments is a great way to brand your promotional items.  Distributors that specialize in promo items are able to process orders quickly and use the artwork their customer provides to make an embroidered custom garment.  The artwork provided to a factory is able to be replicated to create your design.

Types of Artwork

Typically, companies require vector artwork to create items but when it comes to embroidery, they are able to be a bit more flexible.  High quality image files will do the trick, although vector artwork is encouraged.  The good news is that you have flexibility with embroidery and raster artwork such as a JPG will work.

Images work in most cases because they are digitized and then can be programmed into the embroidery machine.  Naturally, the clearer the image the better the finished embroidered product.  If you are concerned that your image may not be as high of a quality, then use vectored artwork so that you’re logo will look clearer.

Digitizing

In order for an embroidery machine to create your garment, you must digitize your artwork by creating a digital file.  This process is called digitizing.  When the digital file is uploaded then the machine is capable of stitching the logo onto the garments.  Digitizing lets the factory know the number of stitches required to recreate the design.

Policies and fees differ between factories when it comes to digitizing.  They usually offer their own artwork services and can digitize your design for you at a reasonable price.

Stitch Count

Factories decide the number of stiches it will take to create your design.  The stitch count is simply how many it will take to complete your logo.  The price of your garment increases as the stitch number gets higher.

The more quality the artwork, the better your embroidered garment will look.  Custom garments are popular, easy to order and embroidery adds a special touch to ensure the colors and logo are an exact replication.  Embroidered garments are customizable for your brand and will set you apart with your promotional items.

Embroidery – Background info

(Part 1 of a 4 part series)

Embroidered garments are probably more prevalent in the market than you’d think.  These days, they are seemingly everywhere.  You’d be surprised to see how many garments you actually have within your household that is already decorated this way.

Embroidery needs are here to stay and are found on about any garment from sports team clothing, employee uniforms or even a one year old’s 1st birthday party T-shirt.

Check out this list of promo items that frequently get embroidered:

  • Hats
  • Polo shirts
  • Towels
  • Tote bags
  • T-shirts
  • Backpacks
  • Blankets
  • Fleece jackets

Embroidery vs. Screen Printing

Often people wonder what the big difference is between embroidered items and screen printing garments.  While embroidery costs a bit more, there is an increase in value that goes along with that higher price.

Screen Printing

Screen printing works for some garments but it won’t last as long.   This option is a great fit if you need a lower price point and you don’t plan to hold onto the item for years to come.

Screen printing will begin to fade and crack over time and with many washes. There is only a thin layer of ink on your garment with this method.

Embroidery

Embroidered items are imprinted and so they last much longer.  The logo or artwork stands out from your item and has more substance to it as a result.

Another benefit of embroidered items is that you typically can have multiple colors and not pay an additional premium.  Businesses and schools find embroidery a great option.  They can showcase their logo’s colors and not have to skimp on what they really want because of a price issue.

Embroidered garments are an excellent and attractive option to display your brand, colors and logo.  This option rather than screen printing is a way to add value to clothing and a variety of other promo items.  Plus, embroidered items last longer, holding up better during both washes and normal wear and tear.

In our next issue, we will discuss the artwork including types of artwork, stitch Count, and digitizing.

Athleisure – Growing in Popularity

When it comes to clothing, consumers want to look good and feel comfortable at the same time.  One type of apparel that’s become quite popular is sports apparel known as “athleisure” clothing.  Technological advances in fabric have helped with this concept and the industry trend is on the rise for this type of everyday wear.

The idea of wearing your workout clothes for typical dress wear may be new to some.  However, take a glance around the grocery store, local coffee shop and gas station where you’ll notice what’s called athleisure style clothing everywhere.

The athleisure look includes a variety of styles and often has some sort of polyester in the fabric.  The reason for poly is because the clothing will hang and drape well, has wicking capability and makes the garment more lightweight.

Popular athleisure styles include:

  • Yoga style pants
  • Light poly jackets
  • Hoodies
  • Jogging pants

These days, athleisure attire is becoming more acceptable at the office, on a date and for weekend activity.  The market is booming with trendy, fresh product lines by Adidas, Nike or Under Armour that come in all styles and colors.  Consumers love choices and athleisure clothing allows them plenty of options.

There are three trends to note when it comes to athleisure products.

  1. Decoration

Embellishing athleisure clothing has become popular.  While the decoration makes the wearables more expensive, people are often willing to pay the increase in price.  Some companies are able to help the mark up because they create clothes and sell directly to decorators and then retail stores.

  1. Quarter-zips

Regardless of the type of clothing, quarter-zips have become most popular style wise.  You’ll notice hoodies, poly-fleece pull overs and even shorts with quarter-zips.  This style is in and seems to be quite versatile.

  1. Bright colors

Not only do consumers want soft, comfortable fabric but they want plentiful color options too.  Bright and bold colors are extremely popular when it comes to the athleisure style.

The athleisure look is quite prevalent and well accepted.  Consumers find these wearables to be comfortable, colorful and attractive.  New styles continue to come on the market and this trend is most likely to be around for quite some time.

How to Trademark Your Shirt Design

To trademark your T-shirt design is essential and should be handled with attention to details!  Please proceed with caution and put your best foot forward when it comes to trademarking your design.  While this will take work and effort, you’ll be glad you put the time in!

Here are a few best practices:

The Process:

The goal is to trademark your logo design.  There are a few things to know about this process.  The exclusionary rights go to the one who uses it first in a merchandise exchange.

The right to use the design depends on how far your sales “travel.”  In other words, if you sell your designed shirts in a state then you’ll have the exclusive right in that particular state.

Do Your Homework:

If you want to stand out and be noticed, then do your homework and lots of research.  Please be sure that you are ORIGINAL with your design.  This is truly essential for your brand and trademark.

Consider looking online and even search the US Patent Trademark Office online database for designs that yours may resemble.  Remember, you want to stand out rather than blend in or be mistaken for another brand.  Take great notes as you research and be sure you look at more than just your state.

Tell Everyone:

Now it’s time to let the public know about your latest and greatest trademarked design.  There are several steps.   First, register your design locally and then continue this process for any other state you plan to sell your design.

The basic steps to do this are to go to the secretary of state website to fill out the application, pay a fee and present your design.  This can get pricey but you’ll have officially given the public notice.

Time to Sell:

Officially, you can start selling and you should get on it immediately.  Spread the word to your area and beyond.  Always remember to save the receipt for your first sales per state.  This will show proof of first commerce.  Your trademark rights will apply in the states that you have sales.

The Next Level:

You’re now ready to go national.  Be thinking bigger and how you can expand your trademarked design.  At this point, you can go for a filing basis called “First Use.”  Simply put, this means that you are the first one to use the design for business purposes.

To conclude, these steps are all important.  The process will take some time but you’ll be glad you went through it.  Be sure to use a trademark symbol each time you use your design.

Garment Decorating Success!

The retail and clothing industry is flourishing and so is the art of garment decorating.  This technique to improve apparel appearance is wide spread throughout the industry.  There are so many options that it’s hard for a company to know which method is best.

For certain, plain is out and decorative is in.  Companies want to get the best bang for their buck when it comes to garment decorating.  There are several ways to do this and all of them end up with a great finished product.

How does one decide which method to use?  There are quite a few to choose from but check out the four below that have proven quite popular.

4 techniques for garment printing include:

  1. Screen Printing

This method is an oldie but a goody.  The process of screen printing onto a garment can cost more at the beginning but ultimately is worth the money later.

With this method, a picture is reproduced by dividing the design into a series of individual colors.  The sheer number of colors used for the garment can change the price.  The more you plan to print the less you’ll “feel” of the set up costs.

Screen printing involves exposing the colors on the screen and then aligning the press so that the colors will register correctly.  Remember, the more you print the better off you’ll be cost wise.

    2.  Digital Printing

This is a great method to decorate clothing because it can print without the initial set-up costs that you find in screen printing and other methods.  Companies like this option because it’s easier to customize their designs.  Digital printing is growing in popularity.

    3.  Dye Sublimation

This digital printing method is one where sublimation paper is put through a dye-sublimation inkjet printer and then the paper is pressed via a heat press.  The heat helps to inject the ink into the apparel item.  Dye sublimation works best on light colored clothing.

     4.  Print-cut decorating

The process of print-cut decorating is similar to dye sublimation; however, it is printed on a vinyl material rather than paper.  The extra vinyl material is diminished and leaves only the image area which is pressed onto a garment with heat.

Whether you want to screen print, use a digital technique, dye sublimation or print-cut decorate your product, you’ll be able to satisfy your customers with a variety of options.  Garment decorating is popular, easy, well received and offers a variety of techniques that are used in the market.

The Heat Transfer Puzzle

If you are in the market for having shirts printed on, it is important you understand what you are purchasing. Sometimes it can be hard to know the differences between the different types of printing such as heat transferring.

What is Heat Transfer?

Heat transfer is the process by which ink is printed onto a piece of paper and then transferred to the shirt or item when heat is applied. In order for this process to work properly, three things have to be taken into account: time, temperature, and pressure.

Depending on the type of fabric, one of two heat transfer processes can be used. Either the company will use transfer paper or plastisol transfers.

What is the Transfer Paper Method?

The transfer paper method uses an inkjet printer that prints the design onto a special paper using the right ink. The paper is placed on the garment and heat is applied with pressure for a certain length of time depending on the type of material.

What Are Plastisol Transfers?

This method is similar to the transfer paper method, because both require the ink to be printed on the special paper before being applied to the clothing. The biggest difference is the method in which the ink is printed on the paper. Plastisol transfers are printed on using the screen printing method.

Plastisol ink is printed onto the paper with the use of screen. Once the design is on the paper, a sand like grain is placed over the ink so that it does not blue.

What Are The Advantages to Using Heat Transfers Using the Paper Method?

When it comes to using this transfer paper method, there are a few advantages to the process. First of all, it allows for customization to be done easily. Since each piece of paper has to be printed on separately, it makes it easy to change the names and designs to be what you want it to be.

Another great advantage is that the same design can be printed out on completely different fabrics without an issue. It is particularly great for polyester open mesh jerseys, which otherwise are not easy to print on.

What Are The Advantages to Using Plastisol Transfers?

There are some great advantages to using plastisol transfers. This process is actually more durable than transfer paper printing. It can make it much easier to align the design on the material then going with straight up screen printing.

When it comes to printing your logo’s and designs on clothing, it is best to talk with the company about their recommended method. Knowing all of the information about heat transfers, it can help you make an informed decision.

Artwork Ownership Basics – Who Really Owns Your Art?

When you have designers create artwork for your company, who owns the design? Are you allowed to use it anyway you like? Do you have to give credit? These are questions that might have answers that will surprise you.

In General, Who Actually Owns the Art?

As a general rule of thumb, you can assume that the person who drew the work actually retains the rights. Even if you were charged a fee for the artwork, the person who put it together actually owns the copyright.

The Copyright Act of 1976 (USC Title 17) was put into place in order to protect artists and their work. Independently contracted artists retain the rights to the work they create for their clients unless otherwise specified.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are some exceptions to the copyright act that was established. If an artist is work for hire, then the one who hired them owns the work.

For example, if a person is hired by a company and they pay an hourly or salary wage to the individual, then their artwork is owned by the one who pays the salary. That would be considered a duty or responsibility of the job.

If you hire a person on staff to draw or create artwork, then you have the rights to the work they create.

Agreements Should Be Made Ahead of Time

It is important that you understand that without an agreement, when you hire an independent contractor or firm, they have the rights to the artwork they put together for you. That is why it is very important to get written contracts ahead of time.

Be sure that you ask the firm or independent contractor to draft an agreement with you stating that you retain ownership of the artwork and that they relinquish the rights. The same goes with print shops.

If you do not own the rights to the artwork that is created for you, then the artist has the ability to charge you for its use. Basically, the fees you have paid to the artist is for their time, not their finished product. Get it in writing!

 

Performance Wear

Performance apparel is one of the fastest growing sectors of today’s garment industry.

What is performance apparel?

These are garments that perform with a purpose.  They help athletes and active people keep cool, comfortable, and dry through managing moisture.

Polyester fabric has become the fabric of choice by many of the manufactures as it can be engineered to wick moisture away from the body.  In its simplest form, Polyester is plastic.   The same material used in making beverage bottles.

So how do you embellish plastic?

Screen printing is one option.  But when you place ink on a water wicking shirt you terminate the breathability of the garment.  All of the sudden, you’re drenched in sweat!

Embroidery is a common choice by the corporate community.  They are looking for style, fashion, and notoriety.  The problem with embroidery can be the puckering effect.  Many embroiders treat polyester the same as cotton and are not making the necessary changes to their sewing process.

A relatively new alternative is laser etching.  Laser etching uses a light beam to peel back microscopic layers of the fabric to create a permanent toned-down marking.  Some of our clients like to refer to it as a tattoo effect.   The water wicking stays intact; now you are wearing cool and innovative clothing without the billboard effect.

View our video Embroidery VS. Laser Etching