Embroidering Corporate Apparel
Correctly embroidering corporate apparel requires employing five crucial policies:
Use highly trained embroidery personnel.
Maintain a fine tuning of sophisticated equipment.
Use digitizing created specifically for the type of garment that is to be embroidered.
Work with an experienced digitizer who understands the capabilities of embroidery equipment.
Always advise the customer to choose a quality product.
Embroidery Stitch Count Estimation
Making a general stitch count estimation can give you the necessary information to choose between multiple logo options. The basic rule of thumb says to estimate 1,500 to 2,000 stitches per square inch. This rule applies to one layer of stitching only, as multiple layers will require additional stitches. Estimating stitch count of text is a bit more complicated. Lettering stitch counts will vary based on font style and letter size. Here are a few examples: the text ‘ABC Construction’ at 1/2 inch height (width is determined by the height and font) will range between 3,000 to 4,000 stitches, a 2 inch tall brown bear logo with text such as ‘Bear Outdoor Products’ ranges from 11,000 to 12,000 stitches. If your logo is meant for a full jacket back, the range of your stitch estimate will increase. You can figure that ten letters of 3 inch tall text ranges from 20,000 to 30,000 stitches. If your logo image is comparable to a largely detailed semi truck, it may take 100,000 to 150,000 stitches.
The most common embroidery placement is on the left chest, with an optional personalization on the right chest. An additional option, commonly used with polo shirts, is to embroider the left sleeve about one inch above the cuff. This choice gives the garment an extra zest of class. If you are looking to create a product with an up and coming flare, placing your logo on the back of the garment, just below the collar, will capture a bit more attention. Many sports related businesses have found this to be a striking placement.
Jackets are a captivating promotional item with a full back of embroidery. The left chest, of course, is also used to promote the item from both directions. If you have ever been to the rodeo, you have seen pro riders wearing long sleeve shirts with a full sleeve promotional embellishment. This country style is popular from the south of Georgia to the great northwest.
If you seek an exceptionally classy piece, try a small, delicate logo. This style of logo is most noticed on the cuff of a long sleeve shirt or on the collar of a dress shirt. One other place used from time to time is at the bottom of a shirt, on the front tail. This placement will only work on garments meant to be worn outside the pant.
Hat embroidery placement has always been front and center, but times have begun to change. If your design is under 3,000 stitches it can be placed on the side of the hat. This is one of the popular new placements. Another placement that is becoming more widely used is the hat closure strap, but only a few embroidery companies have this placement capability. All of these embellishment areas work well for finished hats.
If you order American made hats, however, your options increase enormously. As most American made hats are made to order, you can have them embroidered nearly anyplace. The hat factory will embroider these panels prior to assembly, giving you the option to embroider anywhere on the bill. You can also embroider your logo anywhere on the front panels, which is not an option with finished hats. If you like, you can even have the top panels embroidered! Take it one step further and create an image that covers the whole cap, for a spectacular, embroidered hat.
Sizing Your Logo Design
When determining the size to make your design, there are four main points to consider:
The placement of the design.
The type of product that you are having embroidered.
The impression you are hoping to give.
The cost, as determined by the stitch count.
Begin with the factor that is most important to you. If you prefer a very large logo, your placement will become more limited. If you prefer a variety of placements, you will want to limit yourself to a more petite logo. When cost is an key factor, a small logo is economical and classy.
Your image is at stake whenever you purchase corporate apparel. It begins with the quality of the garment you select. If you lay out a lower end polo shirt next to a medium to high end polo shirt, you will see subtle differences. The higher end shirt will have neat seams, double stitching, quality cuffs and collars, and most importantly the material will stand out as more durable and stylish. With as little as a 10% to 20% increase in price, you can greatly improve the product that will represent your company. Not only will your customers or employees enjoy the piece more, but they will wear it more often, thus promoting your company more often. If the garment is made of a poor quality material, the thread density will not withstand thousands of needle pokes in a small area and will actually fall out at some point. Poor material is also notorious for buckling around the embellishment after it is washed. Buckling can also be caused by mediocre embroidery procedures. If your company image is critical to you, then consult with a professional who understands all the elements of your corporate apparel and has an extensive knowledge of embroidery.
Deciding on Colors
Here comes the fun! If your company has yet to choose a logo for major promotion, do not let color choice go unquestioned. Choose a contrasting color to emphasize your product or a color that creates subconscious interest in your product. Studies show that bright primary colors make a customer feel more exited, energetic, even hungry. Toned down colors such as a soft blue or taupe make someone feel more relaxed and comfortable. Using these proven hints can get your product noticed before others in any setting.
When company colors have been chosen, it supports the company image to stick with them. At this point your product color becomes essential. Some of the same color rules apply. If you choose a contrasting color (black and white, red and green) your logo will stand out more, but simply standing out is not always a positive thing. If you want to keep your product attractive, it helps to choose colors that compliment one another like a deep blue and a medium blue of the same shade. There are some color combinations that do both jobs. Black and white is one of these, but this combo has been used to the point of causing indifference in the customer, unless it has a new flare like silver trim around your lettering. In all cases, however, if you have a strong company image based on your logo and colors, it is of the highest importance to carry on that image in every promotional product and corporate apparel purchase.
The Human Factor
The embroidering of your design can only be as good as the embroidery operator running the machines. Even in our high tech world there are several elements of embroidery that are human controlled. All garments are hooped in some fashion to mount them on the machines to be embroidered. This hooping process determines the exact placement of your logo and is entirely manual, thus your logo placement will vary slightly. Part of this imperfection is due to the garment. Each garment comes from the factory somewhat different than the last. The location of the pocket may differ in any direction. This problem occurs constantly, even with in the same manufacturer, the same shirt design, and within the same exact size of shirts. It is a slight variation, however, and usually unnoticeable.
Almost every hat worn today is professionally embroidered. Always choose a quality hat with an appropriate structure for your logo. Hire a professional to layout your design carefully select the placement to receive your company identity. When you have finished hats embroidered, they are embroidering your image on a domed surface. It can be very challenging for an embroider to work with finished hats. In fact, there are embroidery factories that outsource for hat embroidery because it is too difficult and frustrating. Certain designs lend themselves to troublesome embroidery, the most prevalent problem is trying to place a novel of tiny lettering on a hat. This poses technical problems for the machines and the operators. In general, lettering under 5/16″ will not be presentable on any garment, especially finished hats. When creating your logo for hats, try not to cram in a bunch of tiny text. It has been my experience that very few people actually read tiny text and it only deteriorates the overall appearance of your product.
Your image is everything! Take the process of ordering your corporate apparel seriously, work with someone you believe is taking your order to heart. I always suggest the five basics of embroidery:
Make your designs simple.
Use a quality garment.
Make educated color choices.
Use a knowledgeable embroidery company.
Hire a digitizer who understands your desires, who will show you a sewout of your new design before you allow them to embroider your goods, and who will adjust it if is does not meet your expectations.
Author: Rick Sheldon has 18 years experience in the Promotional Products Industry and is currently CEO of Save on Promotional Products Inc. a Discount Online Promotional Products Company. He can be contacted at 1-800-826-8706;
or visit www.saveonpromotionalproducts.com.