Purchasing an embroidery
machine takes time, research and patience. This is going to be your future
business, and with any luck, a good income. Treat this like looking for
a new job. Take the time to find the right company with the right machine
and the right training, support and warranty.
Take a look at the information
and tips below to be better informed. Then call one of our knowledgeable
salespeople, or our technicians if you have any further questions.
about commercial embroidery as a start-up business.
Embroidery machines are sold by the number of sewing heads, and sewing
needles. The number of sewing heads indicate how many items or garments
can be embroidered simultaneously. A machine can have 1,2,3,4,6,8,12,15,16,20,24,
or 30 heads. It is a single piece of equipment with multiple heads on
How many sewing heads do I need?
1-head machines are usually purchased for start-up businesses
that will embroider less than 20 garments per day. A 1-head machine can
embroider about 40 garments per 8-hour day. This is based on a 4,000-6,000
stitch design. Calculate roughly 10 minutes of machine time to sew a 5,000
stitch design. There are approximately 1,000 stitches in 1 square inch.
An average size logo on a shirt or hat is 2"x3" or 6 square
inches or 6,000 stitches.
head has 1-16 needles. If a machine's model number is 1202, this
usually means that it is a 2-head machine with 12 needles. A 1501 model
would mean 1-head, and 15 needles, and a 906 would mean 9-needles, and
6-heads. Not all manufacturers use this method to label their machines
but most do.
How many needles do I need?
Less than 10 years ago most machines only had 9-needles at most.
Most of the designs that you embroider will have less than 6 colors, and
most machines can handle more than 100 color changes. So if you embroider
a design with more colors than you have needles, you will just change
out the thread as the machine is sewing and the machine never stops. However
it is very convenient to have more needles for a couple of reasons. If
you have a regular client that uses the same colors all the time you can
leave those needles loaded with those colors, and not have to change them.
Also on some heavy materials like leather, and treated canvas it is recommended
that you use sharp point needles, so you could leave the sharp point needles
on the machine all the time for those items.
- Devices found on most machines manufactured after 1990. They trim the
threads between color changes, jump stitches, between block lettering,
and at the end of the design.
(Cap Frames, Cap Driver, Cap Gauge)
Devices found on most machines to do embroidery on a finished cap. This
is an attachment that will rotate around the sewing arm and hold a hat for
sewing. This is the best way to accurately sew a large design on a hat.
Older machines would press the hat down flat and sew it. This method could
only sew a small design (less than 2"x 2") and would appear skewed
because the design was not following the curvature of the hat.
Cap frames are the attachment that holds or hoops the hat for sewing. Cap
frames come in 3 sizes; Standard, semi-wide, and wide-angle. Standard sews
an area of about 2.5" x 5", semi-wide sews an area of about 3"
x 7", and wide-angle sews an area of about 3" x 14". Most
manufacturers now only offer the wide and semi-wide cap frames. However,
after market suppliers still manufacture standard cap frames for all machine
Wide-angle would seem to be the best choice because of the larger sewing
area, but savvy machine operators will tell you that standard cap frames
are much faster to hoop. So you will find that high production facilities
will always have standard cap frames. You can always put the hat into a
regular tubular hoop to sew the side of the hat. The only thing you could
not sew with a standard or semi-wide cap frame is one continuous design
that is longer than 5" or 7" respectively.
The cap driver is the item that attaches directly to the machine and rotates
around the sewing arm. You attach the cap frame with hat to this driver
while on the machine.
This is attached to a table close to your machine, and is used for hooping
hats. You attach the cap frame to the cap gauge, open the cap frame, load
the cap or hat into the cap frame, then move the cap frame with hat loaded
over to the cap driver on the machine.
|Tubular Frames - Frames
or hoops that are especially designed to sew on garments that are manufactured
in a tubular fashion i.e.: tee-shirts, sweat shirts, golf shirts. It also
works well with jackets. The opposite side of the garment hangs below a
cylinder arm and is out of the way of the garments on the other heads. In
the case of a jacket the front and arms would be out of the way.
|Software - Embroidery
software is specifically designed for the embroidery industry. It is designed
to generate stitches and output the information in a language that will
communicate with the embroidery machine. Software such as Corel Draw, Arts
& Letters, etc. are great for generating graphics but do not generate
stitches and will not write to a file that an embroidery machine understands.
There are several types of software sold to people with embroidery machines.
They generally break down into 3 basic categories. Each manufacturer offers
different features within these categories however.
|Lettering - This software
is intended to give you the ability to type in the lettering you want to
sew and output it to a disk or directly to the machine for the machine to
sew it. It usually has the ability to distort the lettering and is usually
inclusive of several font and symbol styles. It also will allow you to add
lettering to an embroidery design.
|Editing and lettering
- This has the same features as the lettering software, but in addition
allows you to edit an embroidery design. Sometimes when you are using a
stock design, you may need to change the color sequence or add/remove a
stitch or two. You may also take parts of two different designs and combine
them to make one design and so on. Often when you have a design digitized
it becomes necessary to make some minor changes to make it sew better.
|Digitizing - Usually
incorporates all of the above features but also includes the digitizing
features. This allows one to input a design via a scanner or a digitizing
tablet and create stitches.Note: Most people who sell equipment agree that
it is not advisable for people without experience with embroidery equipment
attempt their own digitizing prior to having some experience with the equipment.
The digitizing process is the most critical part of the whole process and
generally speaking it is best to use experienced digitizers until you have
gained the experience with the equipment. Generally speaking the companies
that offer this software can be upgraded from one level to another.
|What do I
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|Most of the companies that sell
equipment will usually package everything you need together but it may be
helpful to look at the individual parts of the package.
Usually the sale of machines include all of the standard hoops/frames
that you will need to get started. Generally the manufacturer will offer
additional hoops that you can buy as you need them. Usually there are cap
frames and 2-3 sizes of hoops sold with machines and these are sometimes
enough but may not always be. Generally when hoops are included, there are
2 of each size for each head.This will allow you to hoop a garment while
one is sewing and then you can re-hoop the machine more quickly.
There are many accessories available for your machine, and business.
While not necessary, they will make your job a lot easier. Below is a list
of common accessories.
Hooping boards are great for placing the embroidery in the exact same place
on multiple shirts. It speeds up the process dramatically. Click
here to see the hooping board.
|Jacket sewing kit
If you plan on sewing a lot of heavy jackets, or blankets, or canvas bags,
you need a sturdy double height hoop to hold the garment, and a table on
the machine to support the garment. Click here to
see a jacket sewing kit
The clamping system can actually eliminate hoops altogether. But
this system really shines when you need to sew on the back of a hat, or
on a purse, or in a pocket on a computer bag. Because the clamp reaches
into an opening like a pocket, you can move beyond the seam or zipper to
clamp the product.
Click here to see the clamping system
- generally this is one of the three categories mentioned above. We generally
recommend that unless you have embroidery experience you would be better
off purchasing the automatic digitizing packages. Most of this software
comes in Windows XP versions. Some companies that sell this software will
want to include the computer in the sale, but there are others that do not.
|Computer - Most of the
software will work on a Windows 98, 2000, & XP computer and most of
the time, if you have a computer you would like to use, it will usually
work. There have been times when the software we sell will not work correctly
on all PCs. Some companies such as Packard Bell make their computers in
such a fashion that they are not compatible with Embroidery industry software.
- This would be an assortment of thread, backing, topping material, scissors,
sewing snips, machine oil, bobbins, needles, etc. Also it is a good idea
to have some sort of hooping device. This
is a work aid that makes hooping garments easier.
|Stock Designs - While
stock designs are not required, they may prove to be most helpful. There
are several companies who offer collections of designs. Some of the larger
companies furnish nice color catalogs with detailed pictures, sizes and
stitch counts of these designs. They become excellent sales tools and options
for your customers who may find a stock design that would work and you could
offer this design to you customer as a quick solution and it would be less
expensive than a custom digitized design. We also find that by having one
of these collections it helps you develop marketing and sales opportunities.
I know what machine and supplies to buy, what's next?
Insurance for your machine and software is mandatory if you are
leasing your equipment. So if you plan on leasing, start shopping for insurance
because not all insurance companies will cover commercial machines that
are in your home.
A business license is issued buy the city your business is in. It can be
purchased from your local City Clerk office, or even purchased online.
A fictitious business name statement is an article placed in a
specific local newspaper. When you purchase your Business license, they
will tell you which local paper to place your ad in. The ad will simply
read that you will be starting a business at a certain address, under a
|Business checking account
Within 24 hours after you place the ad with the local newspaper,
you will be allowed to open a business checking account
This sales tax license is purchased from your local State Board
Of Equalization. It allows you to purchase items from suppliers without
paying tax. Some suppliers of garments will not give you the best discount
unless you have a resale number.
Contact all of the garment suppliers to receive catalogs from them. Most
suppliers will have catalogs that will have no pricing in it so your customers
can view the catalogs.
The first thing
you will do after the training is over, is create some samples of your work
to display. Sew out samples of text available for names, a few corporate
logos like McDonalds, Century 21, and sew out a few large designs of the
local school mascot, or sports team.
Many of the garment suppliers also offer a starter kit or display kit of
garments at a discount for your garment display.
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