Start Here November '21

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S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 1 Embroidery T hough many decorators elect to leave larger scale patch and emblem produc- tion to companies that specialize in the field, more and more are looking to bring small-run sampling and patch production in-house. Though you can invest in spe- cialty equipment to create the traditional overlock-stitched edge that we've seen in classic patches, you can start creating small-run patches with little more than your embroidery machine and the addi- tion of some specialty support materials, scaling up to equipment that increases throughput or automates processes as you produce more patches. In this article, I cover some simple methods for making patches and a couple of the simplest methods with a brief, step- by-step guide at the end. Embroidered-Edge Patches We'll refer to any patches we edge without the use of the traditional Merrow overstock machine as embroidered-edge patches. These can be either made with a base fabric or use thread and a special non-fabric substrate to create the body of the patch, but all are edged in-hoop. These patches require relatively little manual labor depending on the method used to create them, and can be made in virtually any shape, bucking the limita- tions of sharp points, thin structures, or through-holes that traditional overlock patches can't address. Their weaknesses are that embroidery's "interlock" stitch leaves visible bobbin thread rather than the full color "wrap" of the traditional overlock edge, and they require either precise cutting or the use of specialty stabilizers to achieve their custom shapes. Embroidered-Edge Patch Making Methods Heat Cutting: With small-run heat- cut patches, the patch and edging run are stitched directly through a hooped span of polyester patch material. Once the design is completed, the full material sheet is unhooped, placed on a sheet of glass, and manually cut with a tool reminiscent of a woodburning pen, often referred to as a Embroidered- Edge Patches Bring small-run sampling and patch production in-house By Erich Campbell Erich Campbell has more than 18 years' experience as an award-winning digitizer, e-commerce manager, and industry educator. He empowers decorators to do their best work and achieve a greater success. A cur- rent educator and long-time contributor to industry trade publications, Erich takes every opportunity to provide value to the industry. HOW TO CREATE 26 Extremely detailed custom shapes like the one seen here are difficult or even impos- sible to edge with a standard Merrow machine; for these shapes, an embroidered edge, whether commercially executed or done in-shop, is the best option. (Image courtesy Erich Campbell) Hot knife cutting sees the patch cut from a span of polyester thread using a hot knife tool as seen with this scrap sample piece. They would usually be stitched in multiples on a complete span, including borders, after which they would be carefully cut by dragging the tip of the hot knife's chisel point along the edge of the stitched border, melting the polyester fabric to both remove it from the span and seal the edge against any fraying. (Image courtesy Erich Campbell)

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