Q:. I am having a hard time with caps especially the unstructured type. Text is always mangled, and designs with fill stitches are always off and distorted. I've tried cutaway and tearaway backing, Solvy, and slowing down my machine. Please someone help!
A:. The issues you seem to be having sound more like a digitizing problem than the right stabilizer. As Walter Floriani taught me, “Digitizing is mastering the art of distortion!” Especially on a curved, unstructured cap, you are going to have some distortion. If your design looks nice and pretty onscreen, and everything matches up but it sews distorted, you need to adjust the digitizing for the type of fabric and cap you are working on. Another thing to make sure of is if you have a fill pattern, always make sure it is sewing off grain line. It should never directly on grain line. Even a couple of degrees off is better than none.
Q:. Sometimes my embroidery designs have puckering. What causes this and how can I eliminate it?
A:. Puckering is caused by using the wrong stabilizer or improper use of a stabilizer. If the garment is a knit or any fabric that stretches, a cutaway is the best choice. Use one layer for designs under 6,000 stitches. Use two layers for designs with 6,000 or more stitches.
If the fabric is a woven or stable fabric, you can use a tearaway. The same rules apply regarding stitch counts. One layer for fewer than 6,000 and two layers for more than 6,000. Always make sure the garment is properly hooped with tambourine tight tension.
One of the biggest mistakes I see is people trying to avoid hooping by using a sticky backed hoopless type of stabilizer. This is designed for things that cannot be hooped like a baby sock or a tie. If the item fits in a hoop, you are going to get the best results from hooping it. Trying to use a hoopless stabilizer to save time is going to result in substandard embroidery.
Q:. Can thread go “bad?” If so, what kind of care and conditions must it be stored in to keep it useable?
A:. Thread does not go bad, but rayon and cotton thread will dry out if stored for too long, and this can result in more thread breaks. Rayon and cotton need moisture so if you live in an arid, dry area, you may find this is more of a problem than in a humid area. To rescue dried-out thread, store it in the refrigerator for a few days. This will restore it. Polyester thread does not have this problem.
As far as storage, you never want to store thread up on a wall. It will collect dust and dirt and sunlight will fade the color. You may have mini spools up on display for customers to choose thread colors, but your production thread that is not on the machine should be stored in boxes away from dust and light.
Q:. Do you always need to use a stabilizer or are there some materials or situations where you can go without?
A:. I always prefer using a stabilizer with everything even if it’s one that is going to wash away. I have found that most digitizers have not been properly trained. Unless the digitizer has been properly trained and is manually digitizing designs, the stabilizer is a must to compensate for poor digitizing.
Q:. How do you embroidery on ribbed corduroy and get good results?
A:. For stretchy corduroy, I recommend using a cutaway and if it’s cotton corduroy, you’ll also want to use a topping. I prefer heat dissolvable toppings over water soluble toppings because they are less messy.
Q:. I am a singlehead shop considering accepting contract embroidery work. What advice would you give and what policies should I establish to protect my profits?
A:. I would advise against this unless you are intending to farm the contract orders to a multihead shop. I strongly recommend that a singlehead shop stick to retail work where you can get a markup on the garment as well as charging retail for the embroidering. It takes a lot of pieces to be able to make any money charging wholesale prices for the embroidery. Also, you are then competing with volume production houses with multiheads for large orders.