Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah

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EnMart will be closed on Monday, December 26 in honor of Christmas.   We will re-open on Tuesday, December 27.   We wish all our clients and friends a happy and joyous holiday!

Time Travel Tuesday: Which Thread is Best

extra-35-picAmong the eternal questions that plague the machine embroidery community,  the question of which thread is best is probably the one heard most often.  Sometimes the question involves what type of thread works best,  and sometimes it centers more on which brand of thread is best,  but the answer required always centers around a comparison and a qualification,  something has to come out on top as “the best”.

A couple decades ago,  the answer to the which thread is best question,  at least when it came to type of thread,  would have been rayon.  Made from regenerated cellulose,  rayon was the thread of choice for a lot of embroiderers back in the day.   It had great shine and made embroidery pop,  but it wasn’t necessarily a strong thread,  or a washfast one.  Still, for a long time,  it was the only game in town.

Polyester,  in the time when rayon was king,  was primarily a matte thread,  dull and not considered a show piece thread.  Over time, though, manufacturers,  like Hilos Iris,  started working on creating a polyester thread with shine.  They also worked on strength and durability,  using trilobal fibers to make the thread both stronger and shinier.  The result was a polyester thread that could beat rayon at its own game,  a thread that equaled rayon in shine,  but exceeded it in colorfastness,  washfastness and strength.   While there are still die hard rayon users in the embroidery world,  a lot of embroiderers have switched to polyester.

Once an embroiderer settled on what type of thread to use,  the next question to be answered was which brand was best.   As with the rayon/polyester debate,  the choices for a brand of thread started out narrower and expanded over the years.  Madeira and Robinson Anton are brands that have been around for a quite a while.  American and Efird has been around for over 100 years.  Coats and Clark, in one incarnation or another,  has been around for quite a while as well.

As time went on,  new brands entered the market place.   Iris thread,  a trilobal polyester was introduced to the American market in 2007.  Fil-Tec introduced their Glide thread.   Companies started bringing in and selling cheaper thread from the Pacific Rim.  Suddenly,  embroiderers were spoiled for choice.  The question about which thread was best was heard more and more often.

The simple answer to the question of what thread is best is this:  the best thread is the thread that works most efficiently for you.  Different threads will sew out differently depending on what machine is being used.   The fabric being sewn, and how the design is digitized can also have an impact on how well a thread works.  The durability, colorfastness and washfastness of the thread should also be considered.   Thread breaks that slow down productions,  or colors that run can lead to lost business and lost time.

The biggest mistake embroiderers make,  in my opinion,  when considering which thread is best for them is placing price at the top of the list of things to consider.  Many shops may operate on strict budgets and price will need to be factored into the purchasing decision,  but placing price before how the thread sews out,  or giving price more weight than the durability of the thread, or settling for a thread that isn’t colorfast because it’s a thread that’s cheap accomplishes exactly the opposite of what’s intended.  Not all cheap thread is bad thread,  and not all expensive thread is great thread,  but the likelihood that a thread that costs more will also have more time, effort and quality materials in its construction should not be ignored.

One way to gather data for your decision about which thread is best for you without breaking your budget is to ask the thread manufacturer for a sample you can test.   Most manufacturers or distributors will be happy to send out a sample.   If you’d like a sample of Iris thread,  please contact us and we’ll be happy to get one out to you.

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How to: Order from EnMart

order-onlineIt occurred to me the other day that we put tools in place to make it easier for our customers to order and to take advantage of pricing levels and other incentives,  but what we think is easier might not appear the same way to those who are buying from us.   So,  I started looking at the site through the eyes of a customer,  and trying to figure out,  if I were new to the site,  what I could grasp easily and what might be harder to figure out.  Once I had my list,  I decided to put a blog post together,  to help those of you who buy from us get the most of your EnMart experience.

Wholesale Pricing:  Wholesale pricing is available to those businesses that have a tax i.d. number and who apply for a wholesale account.   If you do not apply and your account is not set up for wholesale pricing,  you will not see those prices nor receive them at checkout.  To apply for a business log-in,  you can click the “I Need A Business Log-in” button on the home page,  or click the “Wholesale” button in the top menu on any other page of the site.   You must submit your tax i.d. number to be considered for wholesale pricing.  Once your application is received,  it generally is approved quickly.   You will be notified by e-mail when your wholesale account is activated.   To see wholesale pricing,  make sure you log-in before you shop.

Pricing Levels: There are some products which only have one tier of pricing,  which is wholesale pricing.   Often this is because it is a product which wouldn’t interest the general public,  is one that can’t be seen by the general public,  or is a product that has an industry wide or manufacturer mandated price that we need to meet.  Things like thread,   backingblank patches and bobbins do have both public and wholesale pricing,  so having a wholesale log-in if you’re qualified for one is a good option.

Shipment Times: Our goal is always to ship every order as quickly as we can.  Most orders,  if they contain goods we can simply pull off a shelf will ship same day,  if placed before 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.  Things that need to be made,  like blank patches,  have longer lead times for shipping.  When there is a lead time,  it will be noted on the page for the item.   Order shipment speed may also be impacted by the volume of orders received.

Sales Tax: By law,  EnMart is required to charge sales tax in Michigan,  Illinois,  California,  Nevada,  Georgia and New Jersey.  When someone applies for a business log-in,  if they are in one of those states,  the approval e-mail will also contain an attached form,  which must be completed and submitted back to EnMart for an account to be made tax exempt.   If the form is not completed and on file,  we must charge sales tax.

If you ever have questions about anything pertaining to EnMart,  you can always feel free to contact us. We want your shopping experience with EnMart to be a good one,  so feel free to reach out if you need any assistance.

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Happy Thanksgiving

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EnMart will be closed Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25 in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday.    We will reopen on Monday,  November 28, 2016.

We wish all our friends and customers a happy and safe Thanksgiving. 

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Customer Spotlight – Tricia Maloney

triciamaloneycustomerspotlightName:  Tricia Maloney

Business:  Orphan Quilt Designs by Tricia Maloney

Website:  http://www.orphanquilter.com

Blog: http://www.quiltwithaview.blogspot.com

Tricia Maloney is a quilt designer, author and teacher.   She has written three books about quilting, Orphan Block Quilts, A Russian Journey in Quilts, and her latest book,  coming out in November,  I Love Precut Quilts,  which is available for pre-order.   We are proud to say that our Iris Thread is used to create some of the quilts in that book,  and we’re excited to even have a small part in the creation of Tricia’s work.  Tricia will also be doing demos in the EnMart booth,  booth 1365,  at Quilt Market.  We’re excited for her to share some details about her new book,  her experiences with quilting,  and her experiences with Iris Thread.  Before, however, that happens,  we thought we’d let you get to know Tricia a little better here.

What do you like best about what you do?

Quilting is never boring.  One day I might be working on my computer designing or writing or connecting with people.  Another day I might be piecing or quilting at my sewing machine.  Yet another day I might be lecturing or teaching.  Sometimes I do all three in the same day.

I also love connecting with people.

Did I mention the fabrics???????

What is the biggest challenge you face in doing your work?

Time is my biggest challenge – there’s never enough of it.  I have a tendency to take on a lot of projects all at once and sometimes I get a little frazzled, but everything usually works out just fine.  If only I didn’t have to sleep……

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing your industry as a whole?

Rising costs of fabric, supplies, books, patterns, etc.  The more costly things get, the more quilters have to make tough decisions about their buying practices.

Were you always creative?  Did you make things as a child?

Yes, I’ve always been afflicted with creativity.  LOL!  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making things.

As a young child, I used to love to draw toy catalogs and write the descriptions of the toys.  Later I wrote stories and poetry.  I made dolls and even some of my own jumpers and dresses.  I made my first quilt after I graduated from college and it’s been an exciting ride since then.

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Was there a mentor or someone in your field that helped you when you were starting out?

Yes, when I began to seriously think about writing a book, I had the opportunity to talk to a local designer who had just written her first sewing book.  She very graciously connected me to her editor which eventually led to the publication of my first book, Orphan Block Quilts.

What one tip would you give people starting out in your field?

I would tell people not to be afraid to fail.  You just have to pick yourself up and try again because there’s really no failure in trying.

What are your goals for your business?

I want to see my business grow steadily over time.  I plan to write more quilt books, work with a greater variety of magazines and other publications, and I want to get back to designing fabric collections.

If you could time travel back to when you started in this industry, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I would tell myself to do my homework.  It’s so very important to know what’s trending right now and what’s coming in the future.

What’s your favorite leisure time activity?

I enjoy reading a good book, preferably something that will make me smile.

Why do you buy from/work with EnMart?

The products are high quality and the service is friendly and efficient.

What EnMart products do you use most?

I discovered Iris Ultra Quilting Thread around the time I started my new quilt book, I Love Precut Quilts!.

Why do you use those products?

I was very impressed with the quality of the thread.  It was strong yet easy to work with for both piecing and machine quilting.  I’m really excited about the new colors, too!

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How To: Vinyl and Rhinestones on a Cubbie

Please note:  The manufacturer of Cubbies does not recommend that Cubbies be used for anything except embroidery.   This was an experiment that an EnMart customer did that we wanted to share with you.

WeIMG_3897 have long maintained that Cubbies are about a lot more than just birth announcements and can be decorated in a variety of ways,  some of which don’t involve thread.  Today we’re going to prove that to you,  by featuring a Cream Dumble,  decorated by Brandi Womack of MommaWombatCreations.   This adorable little guy is decorated with both rhinestones and vinyl.  Best of all, Brandi provided us with some hints and tips on how you can create your own decorated Dumble or other Cubbie, using these materials.

The infinity heart was a design that Brandi created herself,  because she couldn’t find an existing design that she liked.  At first the heart and the infinity symbol were intended to both be vinyl,  but Brandi decided to add a little bling to the design by creating the infinity symbol from rhinestones instead.   Templates were created using a Silhouette Cameo.   Sticky flock with hotflex tape was used for the rhinestone template.  The vinyl is Siser Easyweed.  The vinyl was pressed to the ear using a heat press set at 310 degrees.  It only needed to be tacked in place, so it was only pressed for a few seconds.  The rhinestones required that the temperature on the heat press be bumped up to 325 degrees and required a press time of 25 seconds.

The other ear has a vinyl monogram featuring the initials of both Brandi and her husband.It was created offset in two layers.  It was pressed at 310 degrees to tack it into place and then pressed for a full 22 seconds to secure it to the Dumble.  Please keep in mind that pressing temperatures will vary based on the type of vinyl used for the project.

Finally,  Brandi added the jaunty bow around Mr. Dumble’s neck as the finishing touch.   The bow was created using ribbon and floral wire.   The first step was to fold the ribbon end over end and then twisting floral wire around the middle of the folded ribbon to hold the bundle together.  Then the ribbon was fluffed until it achieved the desired fullness.  After that,  a longer piece was cut to go around the Dumble’s neck,  using a noose like loop.   Additional floral wire secured the bow to the loop for the neck.  The wire was trimmed as short as it could be to match the length of the ribbons. Once the wire was trimmed,  the bow was slipped over the neck,  and the ends of the ribbon were trimmed to a length that suited the size of the Dumble.

This is a great design for an anniversary or wedding gift,  and would be a treasured memento for any couple.   It also goes to show that vinyl and rhinestones can be an elegant way to decorate a Cubbie.

To see more of Brandi Womack’s work,  visit MommaWombatCreations on Facebook.

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Customer Spotlight: G. Barner Quilts

CS_G.BarnerQuiltsName:  Greg Barner

Business Name:  G. Barner Quilts

Website:  www.gbarnerquilts.com

Greg Barner creates fabulous quilts in a variety of styles.  His work is bursting with color and geometric shapes.  Visit his site, www.gbarnerquilts.com to see a wonderful gallery of his work.  You can see a small selection of his wonderful quilts in the picture gallery in the middle of this post.  He also instructs and gives classes in the art of quilting.  Here’s what he had to say about his craft,  the industry and why he uses EnMart products.

What do you like best about what you do?

GB: I started quilting fourteen years ago when I needed something to do that was creative, mathematical and involved problem solving.  Quilting fit the bill.  When my mother retired she took up quilting for others and I would help once in a while. When I neared retirement I knew I needed something to fill my spare time so I took up quilting with the intention of seeing how good I could get and doing some instructing.  I continue to work at getting better and I have done quite a bit of instructing around the area.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?

GB: I like the challenge of learning new techniques and patterns,  but I also like creating my own patterns,  especially abstract patterns.  In fourteen years of quilting I have not lost interest in learning more.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing your industry as a whole?

GB: There are a lot of quilters in Michigan,  especially Northern Michigan.  The biggest challenge is to continue to grow as an industry,  involving more people in quilting,  particularly the younger generation. Another major challenge is cost,  mainly the cost of fabric which continues to increase.  If the pattern continues it will make it difficult for some people to continue because they can’t afford the fabric.

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Were you always creative?  Did you make things as a child?

GB: I have always been doing something creative.  Growing up I was involved in vocal music and drama as well as sports.  I taught elementary school for forty years and tried to be as creative as possible in my approach.

Was there a mentor or someone in your field that helped you when you were starting out?

GB: My quilting is mainly self taught (trial and error a lot of the time). I do have an extensive library of quilting books and magazines for ideas. I have found shop owners and other quilters very willing to help me improve.

What one tip would you give people starting out in your field?

GB: I would encourage people starting out to pick smaller and simpler projects to learn with.  This would allow a person to experience more techniques in a shorter time and perhaps with less frustration.

What are your goals for your business?

GB: My goals for the future are to continue to experiment with new patterns and techniques.   I would like to create more of my own patterns.

What products sold by EnMart do you use most, and why?

GB:  I was introduced to Iris threads a number of years ago by an embroiderer. I piece (sew) with the Iris Ultra Cotton thread and I quilt almost exclusively with Iris thread.  My long arm works really well with the Iris UltraBright polyester thread and customers like the look of it.  I have tried other threads,  but my long arm quilter prefers the Iris thread.

Note:  If you’ve visited the EnMart booths at AQS Paducah or Quilt Market in Houston,  you’ve seen Greg’s work.  He very graciously allows us to display his quilts in our booth at these shows.

 

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Featured Friday 7/15/16

megaphoneWith all the problems in the world right now,  it seemed like a good day to spotlight some of the good that’s happening in the world.   People sharing knowledge is always a good thing,  and we’re lucky to have so many smart people out there who are willing to share what they know.

First to share knowledge this morning is Eileen from Eileen’s Machine Embroidery Blog.  She’s talking about stitching in ombre, a look I really like.  I’m with her in liking this look.  It’s visually interesting and doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult to do.

Second on the list is Stahls with a great post about different ways to get ready for football season,  if you’re the shop outfitting the team.  From two-a-day practice uniforms and athletic wear to sports bags,  Stahls has decoration suggestions that are sure to make your local football team happy.  It’s definitely time to start thinking about back to school,  and this post covers one aspect of decorating school apparel.

Third in line at the knowledge drop today is the Retail Minded blog,  with a discussion about rebranding and when it’s time to do so.  If you’re considering a rebrand for your business,  make sure it’s happening for the right reasons.  This post talks about some reasons to rebrand and how to refine your vision of what they new brand should be.   If you’re thinking your business image needs an upgrade,  this is a great post to read.

Fourth on the docket is a piece from the Purple Daisies Quilting blog,  which talks about the cost of all the free knowledge that people are sharing.  The post makes a good point,  people who love their craft and want to share it,  also love to share knowledge,  but sometimes sharing that knowledge is their business as well.  This post recommends trying to support those who are teaching you for free by purchasing their products and supporting their work.  I think it’s a good recommendation.

Last up,  I want to share a post from Seth Godin called “The Flip is Elusive“. With all that’s been happening in the world,  and because I’m kind of a crusader at heart,  I’ve been thinking about how we can change the world for the better,  and I think this post answers that question quite well.   It’s not about big and flashy.  It’s not about making others wrong so you can be right.  It’s about persistence,  and trying to understand what others are saying.  If we keep showing up day after day and try to make our little piece of the world better,  I believe we will succeed.

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Time Travel Tuesday: Not Just a Patch

ensign logo pictureMost of you probably know that EnMart sells blank patches. These squares and circles,  ovals and oblongs,  rectangles and rockers are a popular item,  but they’re not just for embroidering with a name or a logo.  Other markets for patches could include the souvenir market,  morale patches,  merit badges and more.  Over the years,  patches have taken on many different meanings.  In this Time Travel Tuesday post,  I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of them while,  perhaps,  pointing out some potential new markets for patches.

The use of emblems to signify allegiance with a particular group has existed pretty much as long as recorded history.  Heraldic emblems were common in this time period.   An heraldic emblem or crest was often used to represent a noble house or knight,  and would show up on flags and tapestries when that particular individual or family was represented.  Wearing a heraldic badge showed allegiance to a particular family or house.   The two sides in the English “War of the Roses” used white or red roses on, among other things, badges,  to symbolize which side they had taken in the war.   A badge was an easy way to identify who was friend and who was foe.

Badges as collectibles or a record of having been to a particular place, souvenirs we’d call them now,  also have their root in history.  Pilgrims in the Middle Ages used to get metal badges from the famous shrines they visited.  This was such a common practice it was even mentioned in the “Canterbury Tales” by Chaucer. In later years,  when automobiles and trains and planes made the process of traveling simpler,  many people started collecting badges from National Parks or other attractions they’d visited to help commemorate their stay.  There is even a market for national park collectibles, particularly vintage badges.

Merit badges are another type of badge that has been around for quite a while.  Anyone who has participated in the Girl or Boy Scouts is familiar with a merit badge,  which is awarded for completing a series of tasks or learning a new skill.  The Boy Scouts began using merit badges in 1911.  The Girl Scouts in 1912.  Merit badges are popular with many clubs and can be used to showcase achievements and new skills,  or to signify new ranks earned within the group.

Emblems have a long history of providing identity and cohesion for a group,  of commemorating an event or occasion that people want to remember,  or memorializing the learning of a new skill or the achievement of a new rank.   Part of the reason the trade in vintage emblems is so brisk is the fact that these emblems symbolize and event or memory of which people want to be a part.   Who wouldn’t have wanted to be one of the people entitled to wear the mission patch for Apollo 11?  What memories would a person have if they collected a badge during a visit to every National Park?  Emblems are part of our history and also a little piece of history themselves.

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Happy Independence Day

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EnMart will be closed on Monday,  July 4, 2016 in honor of Independence Day.   We will resume normal business hours on Tuesday,  July 5, 2016.

We wish everyone a happy and safe holiday!

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