Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Random Embroidery & Business Questions Answered

I get lots of questions from people on all aspects of what I do.  Everything from Customer Service to Shipping, to how to embroider.  Here's some answers on some of the quick questions I have gotten recently.

Embroidery Questions

What Embroidery program do you use?
I have used quite a few of them over the years and have found for me, Embird offers the best software for the lowest cost.  I haven't found any software that is better than Embird, at any cost.  Having said that, I have not used all embroidery software that exists.  I have heard good things about SophieSew, but I haven't been able to buy a copy.  From what I understand, you can only get it with purchase of a new embroidery machine.  When I figure out how to try it, I will probably post a review.

What Stabilizer do you use?
I use a lot of different stabilizer depending on what the fabric and design is.  Stabilizer is the unsung hero of embroidery and can cause so many issues if used incorrectly.  I personally use 2 sheets of S-18 (1.8oz) and one sheet of HD (3.2oz) when making patches. For towels, fleece or Minky I also use a sheet of water soluble Solvy on the top to hold down the nap in addition to the S-18 and HD.

 What Needles do you use?
Home Machines: HLx5 Titanium Sharp Point
Commercial Machine: DB K5 titanium Sharp Point
Size for both: 75/11 with 120d/2 & 40 weight thread

What thread do you use?
Polyester and Rayon have a good rivalry going on right now in the embroidery world. Rayon used to be the only thread type that mattered due to high luster.  In the last 10 years or so, some advances in Poly have made it so Poly thread is now just as vibrant.  My personal preference for patches is Poly because it melts under a blowtorch instead of burn, which happens to Rayon.  My machines also seem to prefer Poly and break a lot less.  However, I do use Rayon for some colors because not all colors can be had in Poly.

I spent a while (and too much money) trying out lots of different thread brands.  My first set was from a company called Kolors which used very similar thread color numbers as Marathon.  So even today, I tend to match back to a Marathon number when I colormatch and document what colors to use for a design even when I don't always use Marathon.  I also use Madeira, Robinton Anton & Isacord.

The cost of thread isn't that much of the final cost of the design, so don't skimp on thread.  For example, I have complete sets of CTS & Threadart colors.  Both are junk and shred in my machines quite often.  The difference in cost for 1 patch is very small between using the cheapest (CTS) and the most expensive thread (Robison Anton or Isacord).  The cost isn't worth the hassle for the extra few minutes it takes to keep re-threading the machine when it breaks.

This is what I currently have. If you need to pick 1 brand to start out with and do not want to test, pick Robinson Anton or Isacord.
Robison Anton Polyester  - Nearly Complete Set
Isacord Polyester - Nearly Complete Set
Marathon Polyester - Complete Set
Madeira Polyester - Complete Set

I also have fill colors from other brands that are not available in the 4 brands above.  These are from Royal, Salus, & Ameth among others.

Have used these next 2 brands quite a bit, but they don't even come close to the 4 above.  These are not recommended unless you have way more time than money.   Neither will sew at all in my commercial machine without breaking roughly every 30 to 90 seconds.  My Brother machine can handle some colors of the Threadart without constantly breaking, but the majority of colors constantly break for me even in my home machines.
Threadart Polyester - Complete Set (Not Recommended!)
CTS Polyester - Complete Set (Not Recommended!)

How much thread do you use?
It depends on the design, but my recent average is around 300 yards per 4" patch.

Business Questions

How much does shipping actually cost?
This is one of the questions I get pretty often.  Shipping is one of the things where some businesses put in profit or end up losing money.  Shipping cost stinks, but is a necessary evil.  Here is my actual cost for shipping 1 patch in a bubble mailer (my most often used shipping method) and the breakdown.

#000 Bubble Mailer : 10 cents
Self Adhesive Label: 12 cents
1 sheet of paper: 5 cents
Shipping Tape: 2 cents
2mil patch baggie: 2 cents
USPS Postage: $1.64
Lost Package Replacement: 54 cents
Total per package cost: $2.46

The lost package replacement may be confusing if you haven't shipped a bunch.When a package goes missing because the postman was a MLP fan or Derpy gotahold of it, that means I have to send another.  the cost on that replacement isn't $1.95, it is $1.95 plus the cost of the patch (about $5.40).  This happens about 7% of the time, so the lost package cost is ($1.95+5.40)*7% or 54 cents per shipment.  Of course, this package also has another 7% chance of getting lost but doing trig to get to the cost of shipping a patch is overkill.

The reason I charge $2.16 to ship a patch is because some patches can be shipped in a regular envelope.  The cost in a regular envelope is lower at $1.44.  Averaging the 2 out comes to within a few cents of $2.16 with my balance of sales.

That's all the questions I have time for today, more to come.