Embroidery is quickly becoming a popular choice for apparel-seekers. Offering a detailed and textured design, embroidery can be the perfect way to take a tee to the next level. However, embroidery isn’t without its own difficulties. With fragile needles and unpredictable machines, the technique can frustrate many. Marian Hinebauch from Logo Droppers knows this all too well. Starting with almost no embroidery experience, Marian now sees around 40% of her orders feature some element of embroidery. Today, she takes us through some of the biggest challenges she’s faced over her career and all the helpful ways she’s learned to solve them.
Making your machine go faster and further
Embroidery machines are notoriously time-consuming. Setting everything up can take a considerable amount of preparation, which can be testing when you’ve got a busy day on the floor. Rather than fight against technology, Marian suggests, you should make an effort to really understand how your equipment works. By familiarizing yourself with the exact capabilities of your machine, it can help you discover faster shortcuts and adapt your embroidery options to keep production streamlined. “I got my team together,” Marian recounts, “and sat down with all the embroiderers [to ask about the machine] because they have so many years of experience. That totally changed the production time.” And this learning shouldn’t stop. Marian is even in the process of organizing a meeting with her embroidery machine manufacturer to find out even more on its capabilities.
Diversifying your designs
Embroidery designs tend to be quite similar and can become repetitive over time. This can make it hard to flex your creativity, as well as convince clients to order new embroidery products. So when a client approached Marian with an experimental design featuring embroidered blooming flowers with loose thread detailing, she jumped at the opportunity to make it — despite having little idea of how to. By pushing herself to try a more expert design, Marian learned a new embroidery technique through practice and a bit of pressure. Now, she’s able to offer this loose-thread technique to other clients. Marian encourages more people not to shy away from techniques and designs that might be more challenging, as they often pay off in the end: “Two years ago, we started offering puff embroidery. It’s a pain but it’s pretty cool that we can offer it now! It might be time-consuming but that means we can charge more for it.”
Preventing the equipment from breaking
“An ongoing challenge with embroidery is maintaining the machines,” Marian says. To combat frequent needle breakages, Marian has learned that deep-cleaning the machine can drastically help. “Every week on Fridays, the crew stops 30 minutes earlier to clean the machines to the best of their knowledge with wiping down and sprays. And then once a month, I have someone come in to take apart all the heads and makes sure they’re oiled properly.” Although the cleaning has its costs, Marian assures that it actually saves money overall - both in the costs it takes to fix the machine each time, and the time wasted when it’s down.
When offering embroidery, you may be approached by clients who want their thread color to match the exact shade of a screen print of the same design. While it’s possible to find something close, embroidery threads don’t come in the same color selection as inks, let alone in a spectrum of Pantone swatches. As a solution, Marian informs the client about the color differences and then will show them 3 of the closest shades to pick from. By letting the client choose the final color themselves, it often leads to higher satisfaction with the product.