“Tombs are the clothes of the dead and a grave is a plain suit; while an expensive monument is one with embroidery.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
“I’m itching to be stitching!” – Anonymous
Mankind began the art of embroidery when we were still cave dwellers; using ligament (commonly known as “sinew”), animal skin and needles made from bone as a way to keep warm.
It wasn’t until the 1700’s that embroidery took a different turn and the rich were walking around wearing fine clothes covered in embroidered designs that took ages to complete since everything had to be done by hand.
The long days it took to make just one garment made the fashion very costly and only for the high and mighty of society.
Fast forward to the 21st century and embroidery has gone even further and joined the tech ranks.
Now we have “computerized embroidery” and digitizing tablets that make starting a home embroidery business more than just a hobby for grandma; embroidery has become a legit home business for those who are smart enough to see opportunity.
Of course the love and passion for creating art on “wearable canvas” using thread has to be the major driving force…
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The ABC’s of Digitized Embroidery
Welcome to the world of digital embroidery where thread and needle produce masterpieces on fabric framed on hoops with the aid of a computer software.
All you need to do is feed a pattern, edit it to your specifications, and let the computer and the embroidery machine do the rest.
These computer aided embroidery machines are sold in public both commercially and for personal use.
Home embroidery machines perform on a smaller scale and most of them have a single needle just like the traditional sewing machine you know.
This means you can only work on one piece of garment at a time.
Unlike the small home machines, commercial embroidery machines are built and designed to produce embroidery work in bulk which of course means more needles and they’re quite large in size.
In fact, some commercial machines cost thousands of dollars and some are big enough to fill a couple of rooms combined!
How Hard is Digitized Embroidery?
Well, you have to be a puncher first. Punchers are graphic designers who produce embroidery designs in a special file format.
Many people new to embroidery opt to buy their designs which come in two main formats.
* Machine Format: these are machine specific data files that are also very hard to edit since they contain small details like jumps and trims which are machine functions as well as stitch data such as offsets. Each embroidery machine has its own unique machine file format.
* Source Format: very easy to edit and deal with since they are software specific. As long as you have the software used to create design then you’re good to go…
These embroidery files contain information such as thread color, outlines and basically every other functionality required to re-produce a solid digital embroidery design.
Its also important to note that some machine formats have been known to work with several embroidery machines from rival companies.
Better still, there are conversion programs that you can use to switch the design work from one format to another.
Design changes that you can carry out on your computer include:
- Adding or removing stitches individually
- Color changes
- Duplicating (cloning)
- Adding text
After the editing is complete, its time to move things over to your home embroidery machine (using a CD, flash drive or USB cable connection) and bring your designs to life!
Stabilizing your fabric comes next; this takes care of wrinkling when needle takes to fabric.
Hoops are used to hold the fabric in place as the arm moves the hoop while the needle is in work. The stabilizing procedure takes different forms:
- Tear away
- Open Mesh
- Heat “n”Gone
- Cut away
- Water soluble
Once everything is done you can turn your machine on and watch as your creations develop.
You might need to intervene manually like when changing a few threads (switching colors…) or cutting jumps. Expect to receive lots of requests for monograms!
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Why Invest in a Home Embroidery Machine?
Are there any worthwhile business ideas that would make an embroidery machine a good investment?
The answer is simply a resounding YES! And what’s more… the ideas are not about to run out any time time soon; you will only be limited by your own creativity and machines functionality or performance!
All in all, the time it takes to embroider a single piece has been significantly reduced.
The truth is… you can source for both individual customers as well as companies and do different kinds of embroidery designs with one embroidery machine and a good enough computer.
Working from home has the following benefits:
- Determine your expenditure
- Decide when and if to expand
- Create your own working schedule and set the hours
- Price your services and products as you deem fair
The only thing you have to consider is the type of embroidery machine you want to buy and whatever deals you have at your disposal.
Another thing of course is your budget. Please note that you can find secondhand machines in good condition but for a fairer price as well as new ones that can be a bit pricey depending on make and model (functionality…).
Potential customers may vary from:
1. Interior decor clients (both individuals and companies)
2. Corporate employee uniforms and branded apparel
3. Teams – especially local teams involved in sporting activities
4. Event decorations for baby showers, reunions, weddings, or graduations
5. Pet owners looking to decorate items for their pets (e.g. monograms on blankets and so on…)
The best way to start is funding a few projects on your own and maybe extending the courtesy to your family and close friends.
Word of mouth can really get you far especially when working from home.
From there you can gather your business proposals and visit local schools, hospitals, churches, and other organizations.
Collect emails and send out product catalogs to all the potential clients. This is where passing a few free samples around comes in handy… see?
And you need clear photos of these to show potential customers what you can actually do.
Things to consider…
You will need the following items to go with your computer and embroidery machine:
- Ready embroidery graphic designs
- Extra needles
- Different color threads
Here you have to consider things like manpower. This however depends on how big your business is.
Most home businesses are small enough for the owner to handle with just a little hired help once in a while.
You might need to hire permanent employees once business picks up.
Other things to put into careful consideration include local licensing authorities to find out the legal side of operating your line of business from your country, check with your taxation agency/agencies, and finally you can talk to suppliers and iron out issues on ordering and delivery.
Starting a home embroidery business can be a nice outlet as well as one kick-ass business idea!
Have fun and remember…talk to someone for some advice, read a book, watch a few videos, join a forum and always stay current on what’s trending and you will be just fine.
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