What Can You Make with Vinyl?

Photo courtesy of Siser NA

As many of you may already know,  EnMart has started selling heat transfer vinyl.  We’re excited about this new product line because it gives our customers yet another decoration option,  and the opportunity to fill all their decoration needs in one place.   We do know,  however,  that we now offer an embarrassment of choices when it comes to decoration options and sometimes it’s hard to know what you want to do.   To help you deal with this problem,  we decided to create some blog posts talking about the various things you can do with the particular products we sell.

Let’s start with the EasyWeed Heat Transfer Vinyl.  EasyWeed applies at a lower temperature than other vinyls,  can be hot or cold peeled and is slightly thinner than other vinyls on the market.   That makes it ideal for things like this cute set of his and her pillowcases.  If pillowcases aren’t your jam,  a blaze orange beanie for the hunter in your life might do the trick.  Keep him or her safe and stylish all at the same time.

A fun way to change things up when it comes to vinyl is EasyWeed Electric,  which offers vibrant colors and a pearlescent metallic sheen.   This is the perfect vinyl for when you want to attract a little notice, without being too over the top.  Using this vinyl,  you can show your eco-friendly cred and make this upcycled Earth Day tote bag.  Or,  if baby’s first Thanksgiving needs a little more sparkle,  you can create this adorable bib and onsie set.

We all know a little sparkle is the spice of life,  and EasyWeed Glitter is a great way to add visual interest without creating a mess.   No small pieces of glitter ending up anywhere,  no sequins to shed,  just pure,  unadulterated attention getting sparkle.  Jazz up the most boring of items, an elbow patch,  with a little extra glitter. Decorate a canvas with HTV Glitter and create your own work of shiny art.

You can also take your vinyl to the next century with the Holographic HTV.  This vinyl has color changing chips which give designs an extra bit of dimension and depth.  It’s perfect for celebrating a milestone,  like a graduation,  by decorating your mortarboard.   You can also add bling to almost any item by creating our own glitter rhinestones.

The one thing to remember about vinyl is that it’s very adaptable and not just for garments.   You can put the vinyl products EnMart sells on wood, on table runners made of burlap,  or even on faux leather.   The only limit is your imagination.

And remember,  at EnMart,  we want you to have it your way when it comes to vinyl.  That’s why we sell vinyl by the yard,  so you can orders as much or as little as you need for your project.   We are also always open to ideas for products we should stock.   If you’re looking for a particular vinyl you don’t see on our site,  contact us and let us know.

Frequently Asked Questions About Shipping

Sometimes it seems like deciding how your order should be shipped is the hardest part of placing an order.   How fast does it need to get there?   How much money do you want to spend?  Does one carrier operate a little more efficiently than another in your area?  There are a lot of details that need to come into play to make sure the shipping option you select is the best one for you,  and today I wanted to answer some common questions about shipping from EnMart,  in hopes of making that decision a little easier.

What shippers does EnMart use? Currently our primary shipping option is Federal Express.   We also offer shipping via USPS for package ten pounds and under.  We do have the ability to ship via UPS as well,  although that must be requested.  We can also ship on a customer’s account number.

How do I request you ship on my account?  “Use my Fedex/UPS Acct #” is an option on the pull down menu where you can select shipping.   If you select this option,  we will ship on your account.  Please make sure your account number is either included in the notes on your order or listed in the designated spot in your account record.

Who determines if a location is business or residential? That determination is made by the carrier,  usually based on USPS zoning tables.   EnMart has no control over how a business is classified.  The carriers charge us based on those classifications and that is how we charge you.

Is USPS always the cheapest shipping option? Not always.  USPS can be a great option for things like blank patches,  but it isn’t always the least expensive way to ship.  Make sure to check out all your options and compare prices when deciding how your order should be shipped.

How quickly do items from EnMart ship? Most items that are in stock and on the shelves will ship same day. Larger orders may take an additional day.  Orders placed later in the day may also ship next day.  Items,  like blank patches,  that need to be made,  will ship based on the posted production times.

Can I pick up items at your facilities? We do have a local pick-up option which is available for customers who are near one of our locations.   Polyester Thread and stabilizer are available for pick-up at every location.   Other items may only be stocked in certain locations.   You will be notified if you elect to pick-up locally and the item is not available.

Does EnMart offer free shipping? As a general rule we don’t offer free shipping.  We do occasionally have a special where free shipping is offered,  but those are rare.  Our problem with free shipping has always been that it isn’t really free,  the cost is generally just passed on in the cost of the items purchased.  Rather than raise our prices to provide “free” shipping,  we decided to keep our prices and shipping costs reasonable.

Remember,  if you have questions about the best way to ship the items you order from EnMart,  you can always contact us and ask.

Stabilizer Secrets: Choosing a Stabilizer

One thing that many embroiderers overlook,  or may not be aware of,  is the fact that using the correct stabilizer can have a huge impact on the success of failure of a stitch-out.   Yes,  there will always be that one embroiderer who uses one type of backing for everything and does well  but,  for the most part,  a good marriage of stabilizer and fabric and design is required for embroidery to appear at its best.    The correct choice of stabilizer can make your sew-out smoother,  faster and provide a finished piece that is of a higher quality.   Because this is such an important decision,  we wanted to offer some things to consider before you choose.

First,  as we already know from this post backing/stabilizer comes in different types.  If you take it down to the most basic level,  you’re dealing with either cutaway or tearaway stabilizer.  Even the specialty backings will most likely be one of these two types,  so knowing when and why you might want to use a particular type is crucial.  Tearaway stabilizer is easier to remove as it tears away,  so it might be a good option for jobs where there are time constraints.  Cutaway stabilizer generally has less stretch to it,  so it may be a better option for performance wear or other stretchy fabrics.   When choosing which stabilizer to use make sure to take into account all the qualities of the fabric,  requirements of the design,  and things like time and effort expended when making your decision.   The right stabilizer choice will improve both your sew-out and your production time.

Second,  stabilizer weight matters too.   Nothing is less attractive than a stitch-out that is weighted down with a wad of backing.   Or a design that is so dense that it’s like a lump of wood attached to the fabric of the garment.   As a general rule,  light weight fabrics should be stabilized by a light weight backing,  and heavier fabrics with a heavier backing.   The goal is to find a backing that will stabilize the stitch-out without weighing down or distorting the fabric.

Third,  don’t forget backing does have a color palette.   Granted,  it’s not much of one,  generally being confined to black,  white and beige,  but there are color choices available.   If the item to be embroidered is thin or if there’s a chance at all the stabilizer might be seen,  it’s best to try to use a stabilizer that is close in color to the item being embroidered.

Finally,  don’t forget that specialty backing can have a huge impact on how well the finished design works.   Poly mesh is a great option for polos and lightweight fabrics. R2000 (a polypropylene stabilizer) is an ideal option for performance wear.   Adhesive backing comes in very handy when there are items like socks of blank patches to be embroidered.  Water soluble topping helps monograms and other embroidery stand out on fleece or towels.    It is entirely possible that you could go your whole embroidery career using only a standard cutaway or tearaway,  but why would you do that?  The specialty stabilizers can offer a variety of qualities that will help make your jobs easier and the execution of the design much smoother.   While specialty backings may,  in some cases,  be a slightly pricier option,  they will pay for themselves in speedier production time and quality finished products.

Remember,  stabilizer is the foundation on which everything else is built.  Just as you wouldn’t build your house on a sinkhole,  don’t build your embroidery on a stabilizer that can’t do the job required of it.   Choosing your stabilizer with care and after thinking about the requirements of the fabric and the stitch-out will ensure that you make a choice which will stand up to the needs of your embroidery and help create a finished product that will delight your customers.

New Tools to Make Shopping Easier

Earlier in June we announced the debut of our new website.   We decided, in part,  to revamp the old site because we wanted to make it easier for our customers to shop with EnMart.   One way to do that,  we thought,  was to add some tools that would help streamline the shopping process for certain products.   I’d like to introduce a few of those tools to you today.

The first tool is our Patch Designer. One of the main issues for people who buy patches has always been figuring out border and fabric color.   Our new Patch Designer tool allows you to do that in real time,  since it adds the colors you pick to a graphic of the patch you want to buy.   That way you can see if purple really does work with aqua,  or exactly what shade of gray you need.  Obviously monitors may skew colors a bit,  but the Patch Designer offers as true a color representation as we could provide.

The Patch Designer tool also walks you through every step in the purchase process,  ensuring you don’t forget to select a backing or don’t leave off a border or fabric color.   Once you’ve added all the necessary information,  this tool for designing blank patches gives you the option to add everything to your cart.   No fuss,  no muss and you can add all your patch details in one place.

Another useful new tool we’ve added is the Thread Color Selector.   This tool offers a color grid on which you can select your desired shade.   Once the shade is selected,  the tool will show you the Iris Thread color numbers that most exactly match your selection.  If you have an RGB number for the color you need,  you can select anywhere with that color area and then use the slider bar to reach the RGB color number needed.    The Color Selector will always show the closest matches available.

The next tool is an update of our Thread Cross Reference Converter.  This is the tool you can use to convert from another brand of thread to Iris.   Currently you can convert from Madeira, Robison Anton,  Isacord and Gunold,  as well as search for a thread color based on a Pantone color.  The goal of this tool is to make thread conversion easy and painless.

All the new tools can be found under the Resources tab in the top menu on the website.

Welcome to the New EnMart Website

Have you ever had that experience where you redecorate your house and for the first few days you bump into the coffee table because it isn’t where it used to be?  Things are familiar, yet different.   That’s a bit what creating our new website has been like. All the things you love about EnMart are still here, some of them just may be in different places.     And we’ve added some new features that are designed to make shopping with us easier and more fun.

One new thing is the Patch Designer, a tool that allows you to see your color choices in real time before you make your purchase.   Wondering if aqua and pink works better than navy and red?   This tool will tell you.    Another tool we’re excited about is the Thread Color Selector.   You pick a hue from the color chart and the selector shows you the Iris threads that are the closest match.   If you want to purchase, you simply click the color chip for the color you want and it adds to your cart.   Add in our redesigned Thread Conversion Engine and you’ve got a great system for finding or converting thread colors, all created to make your shopping experience more stress free and streamlined.

You may notice that the website navigation is different too.   Our menus have been redesigned to assist our customers in quickly finding what they need.  Also, did we mention we’ve added vinyl to our product offerings?  We know a lot of our customers are multi-hyphenates, embroiderers-sublimators-quilters or sublimators – crafters or some other combination.   Adding vinyl to the products we offer means we’re that much more of a one stop shop for our customers who work in more than one decoration discipline.

Finally,  there’s the new logo.   A more modern take on the EnMart name,  while still keeping a bit of the flavor of the old logo.   We think it’s a great fit with the new look of the website and for the way EnMart has evolved.

Welcome to the new EnMart.   Thank you for shopping with us.

Stabilizer Secrets: Weight and Why it Matters

One of the more mysterious things about stabilizer,  for some people anyway,  is weight and what that means when it comes to selecting and using stabilizer for a particular job.   On the surface,  backing weight seems pretty simple,  ounces are a familiar weight measurement,  so saying a type of backing is 2.5 ounces seems fairly easy to understand.  What complicates things is when you start factoring backing weight into the success or failure of an embroidered project.   Will using a 2.0 oz. backing rather than a 2.5 oz. backing mean the doom of your design?  Does the weight you choose to use really have that much impact on the success or failure of your project?  Manufacturers go through the bother of weighing stabilizer so the weight much have some impact on the function.

The first thing to understand about stabilizer weight is how manufacturers determine what that weight should be.  The weight of a piece of backing is measured by the square yard.  This means that,  should you have 1.5 oz. backing of the same type but from different manufacturers,  each square yard you weigh should weigh 1.5 oz.   Heavier weight backings,  a 3.0 cutaway for instance,  will be thicker and less flexible.   A lighter weight backing,  say a 1.8 oz. tearaway,  will be thinner and have more flexibility.

Obviously,  the weight of the backing will impact the functionality of the backing as well.  If,  for instance,  you’re sewing a sweatshirt, and the design is dense,  a heavier weight backing will pair with the fabric better and be more suited to holding a dense design.   Suppose,  however,  that you’re sewing on a lightweight polo shirt,  with a bit of a drape.  Then you’ll want a lighter weight stabilizer that is able to move with the drape of the fabric and not interfere with the lines of the garment.  Weight impacts drape and flexibility and the ability to hold a certain number of stitches or a dense design.   All these elements can impact the success or failure of your finished design.

The construction of the backing also has a little bit to do with the weight of the backing,  and a lot to do with the quality.  Machine embroidery stabilizer is typically made up of polyester fibers which are held together with viscose or wood pulp.  High quality backing will have more poly fibers and less viscose,  in lower quality backing the ratios will be the reverse.  What determines the quality of the stabilizer is the length of the poly fibers and the amount of polyester versus filler that is in the material.

A quick and easy test to determine quality is the light test.  Take the piece of stabilizer you want to examine and hold it up to a strong light source.   If the piece you’re examining is high quality,  the stabilizer will have even density and feel smooth when you run your hand over it. A lower quality backing will have thin spots and dense spots making for a more uneven sheet.   This uneven density can impact the quality of your sew-out significantly.

Keep in mind that the sheerness and weight of a backing does not always determine the number of stitches that can be stabilized. Take,  for instance,  the poly mesh backing that EnMart sells.  This backing is embossed,  which means if you hold it to a light source,  you’ll see a textured pattern in the material.   The texture allows the poly mesh to hold substantially more stitches than an unembossed piece of the same weight would be able to hold.

In the end,  weight is just one factor that impacts how a stabilizer will perform for a particular job.   The make-up of the fibers and the construction of the backing can also be critical.   And whether or not the stabilizer has any added features like embossing or texture can also make a difference in the density of the designs that can be used.  When deciding what stabilizer to use for your job,  make sure you take all these factors into account.

Stabilizer Secrets: Types of Stabilizer

Once upon a time,  some years ago and on another blog, we offered a series of posts about stabilizer.   The goal was to enumerate the types of stabilizer,  discuss why specialty stabilizer existed and why it was used,  and generally explain stabilizer to help our customers who purchased it use what they purchased more effectively.

Fast forward to 2019,  and we’ve added some new stabilizers to the mix, and definitely a number of new customers,  so it seemed worthwhile to revisit this series with updates as required.  As Mary Poppins (the original,  not the Emily Blunt version) advised, the best place to start is the very beginning,  so we’ll start with a brief overview of broad categories of stabilizer.  Subsequent posts will deal with specialty stabilizers,  why stabilizer weight matters,  how the materials used to create your stabilizer make a difference in the finished product and how stabilizer and fabric work together for successful embroidery.  The goal,  by the end of the series,  is to leave you with an understanding of the importance of stabilizer, and the ability to choose which stabilizer you need for which project.

At the most basic, stabilizers can be separated into two categories,  cutaway and tearaway.  As the names imply,  one type (tearaway) can be torn,  while the other type (cutaway) requires cutting with scissors to be removed. Every type of stabilizer falls into one of these two categories,  with the exception of water soluble,  which requires water to be removed.  Water solubles also tend to be toppings,  used to keep stitches from sinking into pile fabrics,  or used for standalone projects like freestanding lace.

A lot of embroiderers like tearaway backing because removal can happen fairly quickly,  since the excess stabilizer can simply be torn away.  A lot of the efficiency and quality of a tearaway can be shown by how quickly and cleanly it tears. A tearaway stabilizer that doesn’t tear cleanly will leave fuzzy edges that can fray or just make the embroidery look messy.   You also want a tearaway that stabilizes and holds stitches but which requires only a minimum amount of force to tear.  If you have to yank hard to tear away the excess,  you risk pulling out stitches or distorting the finished product.

Tearaway stabilizers are generally offered in light-weight,  medium-weight and heavy-weight options.  The medium and heavy weight options may also often be called “hat” or “cap” backing.  These are the weights that will most often be used when adding embroidery to a hat.   The cap backings are generally heavier, stiffer and more paper-like,  so they tear cleanly and easily.

Unlike tearaway stabilizers cutaway stabilizers require a little more work to remove. Cutting away the excess stabilizer is the most common method of removal,  and cuts can be as close to the stitches or as far away as desired.  Some embroiderers will cut their stabilizer to slightly larger than their design before they embroider,  which lessens the need for cutting after the stitch-out is finished.

Cutaway stabilizer is often used with lighter or stretchy fabrics as it is sturdy and provides the fabric with increased stability.   This type of stabilizer is also a popular choice for heavy weight fabrics like sweatshirts.   A 2.5 oz. weight is considered to be a universal or multipurpose cutaway and,  for some embroiderers,  is the only stabilizer they use.

While it is tempting to continue this discussion with an in depth look at the types of specialty stabilizers available,  each of which fall into one of these two main categories,  I think we’ll leave that for another post.  Stay tuned for the next entry in this series,  which will discuss specialty backings,  why they’re used, and how they help you create better embroidery.

Using Photos to Make the Sale

One of the basic tenants of sales is that people have to know what you have to sell if they’re going to want to buy.   It’s so basic that people often forget that knowledge is part of the equation.  Particularly when selling something like a decorated garment,  a picture can often be worth a thousand words.  The question is where do you put those pictures so your customers see them,  and how do you use those pictures to impart a sense of your expertise and what you can do for those who choose to work with you?

One way to get the message out about what you can do is Pinterest.   As I’ve said before,  Pinterest is about aspiration and getting ideas for items that you want to make or buy.   Having Pinterest boards for your company (these are EnMart’s boards) allows you to showcase different aspects of what you can do.  You can create boards around a certain event or theme,  or make boards that feature a particular product decorated in different ways. If you have Pinterest boards,  make sure they’re featured on your website and social media feeds,  and refer your customers to them in your printed literature.

Another way to help spread the word about what you can do is to share pictures of what you make with your suppliers.  Or you can use a supplier hashtag (#IrisThread, for instance) to alert your suppliers to a picture that might interest them. I know,  here at EnMart,  we love getting pictures of products that were made with supplies purchased from us.  We also share those pictures on our Facebook feed (22,000+ fans) and our Twitter feed.  Granted not all the people who like any of your suppliers are going to be in your potential market spheres,  but some of them might.  Plus,  having your work shared by your suppliers gives you a bit of decorator credibility.   Your work is good enough that it’s being presented as an example of what can be done.

As a writer for industry magazines,  I know I’m always looking for photos to illustrate the pieces I write,  so this can be another fertile ground for pictures of the items you create.  Most of the time,  when an article writer needs pics for a piece,  they will put out a call on social media,  asking for pictures of work that centers on a particular discipline, type of garment or theme.  If you are planning to submit a photo for publication,  remember it needs to be at least 1 MB, and 300 DPI.  Magazines can work with less,  but the odds of your picture getting used are better if you stick to those guidelines.

One last bit of advice,  which goes for any photo you use anywhere.  Make sure your photos are the best quality they can be.   Yes,  you can take a good photo with the cameras on most phones these days,  but it still might be worth investing in a camera,  especially if you’re offering your products for sale online.   Pictures are often the first impression a customer forms of your products, so make sure you are, visually,  putting your best foot forward.  Taking quality pictures may be more time consuming and perhaps more costly,  but the benefits will far outweigh the drawbacks.

EnMart’s Tips and Tricks for Success

Every company is different,  and each has its own way of doing things,  and its own little insider secrets.  Since the end of 2018 is close at hand,  I figured it might be a good time to share a few tips for getting the most from your relationship with EnMart,  so you can start 2019 off on the right note.

Tip #1:  Look for the discounts and the specials –  Iris UltraBrite Polyester Thread,  the king cones anyway,  definitely falls in this category.  Did you know if you purchase 12 or more in any combination of colors you will receive a dollar off per cone?  That takes the wholesale price of a dozen cones from $76.20 to $64.20.  There are also quantity discounts on certain items as well.   Make sure to check the “Qty Breaks” tab on the sublimation products and on blank patches.  Purchasing a few more items than planned could be very helpful to your budget.

Tip #2: Sell what others don’t sell – EnMart offers a few products that other suppliers don’t offer.   One such product is the Iris Thread mentioned previously.  Another product that is available only from EnMart is the Remembears.  Offering a product your competitors don’t offer gives you an advantage in your particular marketplace.  If you seize the opportunity early,  you can lock in and dominate the customer base for those products.

Tip #3: Order early –  We at EnMart pride ourselves on our speedy shipping and strive to get orders for goods that don’t need to be manufactured out the same day. If you want prompt shipping of your orders,  it’s best to place them as early in the day as you can.   Our official cut off time for same day orders is 2 p.m.  In practice we may stretch that a little,  but it’s still always best to order sooner rather than later.

Tip #4: Time Issue – Talk To Us – We know that sometimes orders get placed at the last minute, or a customer brings you a rush order and you need supplies now.  We’re familiar with the panic that can cause,  and we’re willing to help,  if you let us know.   If you have a time sensitive issue with an order,  put a note on the order when you place it,  or contact us to let us know about your needs.  We can’t promise to be able to meet every request,  but we certainly can’t meet any of the ones we don’t know anything about.

Tip #5 – Follow us on Social Media – Want to be the first to know about specials or sales?  Eager to hear about new products before your competitors?  EnMart generally spreads any news we have to share through our social media feeds or by e-mail.   Follow EnMart on Facebook or Twitter,  or visit our boards on Pinterest to stay up on what’s happening at EnMart.  You can also join our mailing list to be sure you receive our e-mails.

No Sale, Just Low Prices

If you’re anything like me,  you’ve probably gotten roughly one million Black Friday e-mails by now.   First it was teasers.  Then it was doorbusters.   Somehow Black Friday the day became Black Friday the week (or several weeks),  and it seems that everyone wants to offer you a deal or a special or a once in a lifetime can’t miss opportunity.

One of the things we get asked quite often is why EnMart doesn’t offer free shipping or do more sales.   There are a lot of reasons why we don’t,  but the most basic one is this – we don’t because everyone else does.   It’s not that we’re contrarian,  it’s more that our goal is to offer our products at prices that produce a profit for us while still being budget friendly for our customers.  Also,  when there’s a blizzard of offers already out there,  standing out from the crowd can be tough.

Still,  we get that free shipping and sales are expected and desired by a lot of our customers,  so I wanted to address in more detail the reasons why we don’t offer either of those things on a regular basis.  One reason we don’t tend to offer free shipping more often is the fact that,  in our experience,  when we have offered it,  orders have not increased.   If we offer a free shipping coupon for orders past a current price threshold,  customers often neglect to use it,  even if they meet the threshold.  Order size also doesn’t tend to increase when we offer free shipping.   Since the whole goal of offering something for free is to encourage more people to buy,  when that doesn’t appear to motivate the behavior we want,  we try something else.

EnMart also does a lot of work to keep shipping costs and product prices budget friendly for our customers.   We offer a variety of shipping options,  including allowing customers to ship via the U.S. Postal Service or on their own accounts.  Our shipping costs are also based on the shipping rates offered to our parent company.  Since that company ships a large number of packages daily,  EnMart customers benefit from rates that are lower than they might otherwise be.

As for sales,  we like sales as much as the next company,  and have tried,  over the years,  to come up with some fun sales that offered good deals.  Still, as with the free shipping scenario,  we find that sales don’t tend to increase the volume or size of orders we get.   They also don’t seem to be a prime motivator for those who are placing orders.  So,  we end up back at our basic premise,  that good service,  good products and budget friendly prices are a larger motivator for our customers.

Please keep in mind that we do offer sales and specials when the mood strikes us.   The best way to keep up to date on what sales and specials are available is to follow us on Twitter or Facebook,  or to sign up for our mailing list.   If we have a special offer running,  we will send out an e-mail and announce it on social media.

Also,  if you have any comments or suggestion for a sale you’d like to see us offer,  or a thought about our current policy,  we’d love to hear from you.   Feel free to comment on this blog post,  leave us a comment or a message on social media,  or contact us through any of the available methods.