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Embroidery ~ Cad Cut Garment Film ~ Photo Transfers ~ Silk Screening ~ Signs & Banners ~ Vehicle lettering

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September 3, 2011

More Garment Heat Film...

Today's challenge was to take a photo and transform the basic design of the photo onto a tee-shirt with vinyl heat film. 

The customer (my son in this instance) wanted a shirt to follow the sign as close as possible. The sign on the truck may be a little rustic, but he says that sign and word of mouth is the only advertising the his friend does and, it works.  So... if it ain't broke, don't fix it!!!   Uh, in this case do fix it and hire this handyman to do it!

Here's the picture that I used for original artwork...

Lucky for me, I have recently used a font similar to this and worked a simple draft.  Piece of cake.  I did it up in Corel Draw and exported it to a jpg for viewing.

The customer requested that the letters be spread apart, if I could.  Easy enough to do with kerning.  Then I started asking myself what kind of challenge would it be to get it closer yet to the photo image.  I stepped up to the plate and loaded the graphic from Corel to my cutter software then loaded the image in the background and got to work editing nodes.  I moved the little boxes around to match the hand painted sign.  Not so much a challenge, but more like how much time would it take.

After hours sitting in front of the computer moving nodes and changing node properties I feel pretty good that I've got a close match.  I can now reduce the size of the cut graphic (not to waste expensive vinyl) and cut a sample to see if it's ready for customer approval. 

My options are (1) to layer yellow lettering on black vinyl and put on any color of shirt.  Do-able but expensive because I would need to use twice as much material.    (2) Apply yellow lettering on a black shirt or (3) reverse weed the graphic in black (in the sample it's green scrap) and press it on a yellow shirt so the shirt shows through the lettering and looks like yellow lettering.   Either way is do-able, but in this case I reverse weeded and here's the sample.

Now I just need to get the t-shirts and get 'em done.  I will post pics of this when the job is complete.

July 13, 2011


Applique is everywhere.  Baby items, children's clothing, quilting, towels, sports clothing; just about anthing.  It's always been one of those things that I was going to learn but never got around to.  I always felt that maybe applique could be an affordable option for clubs or group logos since a good size "back" logo could be anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 stitches, well, the cost of embroidery can really add up.  So this year, I did it. What I found is that applique has less of a stitch count, but time wise it's not exactly quicker.  Lots of trimming which can be very time consuming. 

I had a customer come in with a toddler's t-shirt that she had done at a craft faire.  It wasn't the type of applique that one normally sees on a garment, it was untrimmed and would ravel in time around the edges.  It was kind of a cute concept and the result is below.

The next applique project was for a mom of twins that are starting school this year.  She wanted the initials of the school appliqued on t-shirts for the girls birthday.

Step one: fabric of choice and garment.  I learned from the first project that if the print on the fabric is too large it will most likely get lost in the corral of embroidery.  I was glad when the young mom brought over fabric that would be small enough to fit in the confines of the stitching. 

Step two:  The fabric was backed with a product called Wonder Under.  I used spray adhesive to secure it to the fabric then I laid the fabric on the t-shirt and hooped it.  A single line was used to secure the fabric to the t-shirt.  You'll have to look really close to see it.

Step three:  Trim.  This I found tedious.  Some people print out a pattern of the stitch and cut it out and then lay it on the garment and then put the final stitching around the edges.  I have not been brave enough to attempt this since I am worried that the fabric will move or the machine burps and then I have a ruined garment that I might not be able to replace.  During the trimming process you can't pull too hard on the excess or the applique fabric may ravel and you have to trim it close it enough to the edges won't poke out of the final satin stitch.

Step four:  Let the final stitching begin.

And the final product.  The customer loved the shirts.

I'm excited about these new projects.  Check back for more.

May 8, 2011

Embroidering Patches

Webster says, "Patch: a piece of cloth  sewed on a garment as an ornament or insignia".

Patches...  my first recollection of a patch would have been when I was earning badges in girl scouts.  Then (in the old days) thrifty mom's would patch the knees of little boys jeans.  And, of course, it's not unusual to see factory workers or anyone wearing a uniform with patch identification or decoration on it. 

I personally think that embroidery stitched on a garment looks better, but patches do have their place.  For example...

Some schools will not allow anything with a logo (except their own) on it.  This particular student had a high end Under Armour jacket.  The customer had us embroider the initial that the school uses on a patch to cover the left chest and the name on the school to cover the side logo. 

Shortly after that, a customer called and wanted some embroidery on a leather vest.  It's our policy NOT to stitch on leather.  Once a hole, always a hole.  We decided to order black patches.  It was a win/win situation. 

The next challenge is making small runs of our own patches.  Purchased patches are limited to certain sizes, certain shapes and certain colors.  Our customer has a logo that needs to go on a cap and the logo itself is too large to embroider in the normal hat hooping way.  Partner Pat is somewhat leary of making home made patches because patch purchaed "pre-made" have a marrow spine around the edge where the patch "edging" hangs on to. 

Partner Brian is up for the challenge and found a place where we could purchase "patch fabric".  It was a polyester twill with a woven backing,  very stiff stuff and only available in black and white.

This particular project isn't using traditional patches.  The cap is an atheletic mesh type cap and small lettering will just sink in to holes in the cap.  The next problem was the shape the customer wanted.  The content was just too much to fit in the possible stitch area of the cap (2.5" high).  Here's a copy of the artwork we were given...

We looked and looked for a patch in this shape.  Not an impossible task, but we only a small quantity to fill and usually on a custom patch this amount would certainly be cost prohibitive.  Partner Brian desided that the design should be stitched with a running stitch at the edge...

The patches were then cut close to the running stitch and sewn on to the cap with a satin stitch.  Not what we wanted 100% so back to the drawing board.

So, after more research, I ordered a small run patch kit from one of my vendors based on the You Tube video below.   It still really wasn't what we wanted, but the kit included the adhesive backing. 

Since we weren't really pleased with the actual patch fabric as it was a little hard to work with, we continued to ask questions from vendors that sold patches.  I did email one vendor and inquired if they sold the fabric by the yard.  The vendor responded that they use a twill that you can purchase from any fabric  store.   So, back to the drawing board and stitch on twill, affixed the adhesive backing to the twill, cut it out with a slight margin and really felt comfortable with the results!  The single on the left was using the technique from the Colman kit.  The two piles (middle and right) were made from twill fabric and the heat film.  The customer was happy and that's what counts.

Check back because I will post the progress as it happens.

May 5, 2011

Plastisol Transfers

For the longest time I've been hearing via the "forums", discussion groups and trade shows all about Plastisol Transfers.  I've been waiting to try them and finally got an order large enough to quantify the cost!

I ordered them through Transfer Express and the order process was painless.  I uploaded my artwork (perfect artwork that was provided to me by my customer).  My rep at Transfer Express called me to verify everything that I had put into my online order form.  Told me how much it was going to cost me and when I would get them.  Boohaa, I got them two days earlier than expected. 

I needed adult sizes as well as youth sizes so I had them gang two ten inch transfers and an eight inch transfer on one page.  Than all I had to do was cut and mark the backing paper for the center mark for alighment.

  • Now to prepare the shirts...  heat for 4-6 seconds to remove any manufacturing moisture.

  • Place the transfer on the shirt and align properly.

  • Press for 6 seconds

  • Remove backing

    • Admire my work!

    Perfect alternative to screen printing.  Of course the more you buy, the less they cost.   After the first run of t-shirts, my customer called me up and said they needed more youth sizes... 24 medium and 24 large.  All I had to do was order the shirts and press the transfers and deliver to the customer.  I pressed 48 t-shirts, folded and boxed them in two hours and 15 minutes!  Lead time can be as short as 3 days.  Same day if I have the garments in stock.