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The Ins and Outs of High-Volume Embroidery

(April 2007) posted on Mon Apr 02, 2007

This article discusses the equipment and accessories involved in the process and describes the floor plans that will help you optimize the embroidery workflow.

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By Sherry Higgins

2. If the next job requires thread of a different color, change the thread while the last run is sewing. Just replace the thread on the needles not sewing (most embroidery machines have between nine and 15 needles, and chances are you are not sewing a design with nine colors). But watch those fingers!

3. Avoid changing over the machine as much as possible; for example, from flat goods to caps. Change-overs are very time consuming, and it's much more efficient to run all the shirts together, then all the caps, even if you're mixing jobs. You can also set up certain machines for sewing caps only and feed these machines all of the caps. Some shops run caps only two days a week to avoid the wasted time of constantly changing frames. The order of sewing or mixing jobs doesn't matter as long as you meet the deadline.

4. Different products and fabrics require different needles, so make your first six needles ballpoint and the rest sharp to minimize changing them. Six ballpoint needles are recommended because corporate logos are usually six or fewer colors, and sharp needles damage knit shirts.

A few words about training

Manufacturers typically provide training as part of a machine purchase—about a day and a half of training on a single-head machine and approximately four to five days for a multi-head unit. You'll want to train your employees to handle the basic operation of the machine. They should be taught to enter designs, delete designs, rotate designs, load and offload garments, select needles, tension bobbins and threads, when to oil, and how to break down the machine from flat goods, caps, and clamps. They should also be well versed in hooping and proper placement, as well as which type of backing and toppings to use with each garment. After 30 days, they should be able to do all of these things. Keep the mistakes (ruined garments) to use as a learning and training tool—samples of what should be avoided.

Employees should spend the next 30 days learning basic machine maintenance and troubleshooting and how to stick appliqué and puffy foam. Encourage them to attend classes and seminars offered at industry trade shows. Those resources will help them improve their work.

Ready, set, sew

Adding a high-volume embroidery business to your shop can be a lucrative and rewarding experience, but it also is a complex undertaking that requires substantial research and consideration, a workable plan, and adequate capital. With all of these in place, you'll find that embroidery is an excellent way to stitch up new opportunities and profits for your company.


About the author

Sherry Higgins is a marketing consultant and president of Total Marketing Solutions LLC, a full-service agency specializing in marketing strategy and design. She has 20 years of experience in marketing and public relations. Higgins holds a bachelor's degree in marketing from Kean University. She can be reached at 908-686-9031 or


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