From trade-show experts Exhibitor magazine comes this interesting and timely blog post about choosing green/sustainable decorated corporate apparel.
Ask Mr. Green – EXHIBITOR magazine.
If your company needs decorated apparel or workwear of any kind, whether organic, recycled, or recyclable, we can provide you with a green alternative at Black Duck!
This Bamboo Blend Polo is a great way to be sustainable and look professional!
All-Over Sublimation at Black Duck, of Black Duck!
You may have heard the term ‘sublimation’ going around lately. Some apparel decorators call it dye-sub, or dye sublimation printing, but no matter what you call it, sublimation printing is a versatile, digital printing method that opens up a world of opportunities to any consumer of decorated goods.
So, what is sublimation? Well, simply put, sublimation is a process by which sublimation dyes are printed onto a transfer medium with a specially prepared inkjet printer. Thereafter, those dyes are then transferred from the medium to an object or garment under the heat and pressure delivered by a commercial heat press. Sublimation only works on garments made of polyester, or on specialty objects made of polyester or given a polyester coating. When the heat and pressure are applied, the dye on the transfer medium sublimates, or becomes a gas, and is then absorbed into the polyester itself; the print is actually a part of the garment/coating. It doesn’t fade easily, wear, or have any texture or weight.
So, what does all of this mean to you, our customer? There are many benefits to the process:
- Full color on small runs. Unlike screen printing, there is no need for separate screens, films, or a great deal of setup for sublimation. Though you may well need to have us refine your art, the process thereafter is straightforward, and on smaller orders may prove less expensive overall than screen printing.
- Less need for minimum orders. We are more likely to be able to accommodate a smaller order or re-order when you sublimate, due to the reduced amount of setup needed to print your item.
- Individual customization. Though art charges may apply for this level of customization, seeing as each garment is printed from it’s own transfer rather than en masse on the same set of screens, this method makes it much easier to add individual customization to each printed item.
- Lighter hand. The nature of sublimation means that prints are never heavy or thick. The garment is unchanged by the process, save for the addition of your art.
- Durability. There is no cracking or peeling in a sublimated print, they last as long as the garment.
I know what you may be thinking, “There has to be a catch!” Well, the truth is, sublimation does have some restrictions, though you may find that many of these restrictions aren’t the kind of deal breakers you might imagine due to recent innovations in the industry. These are the things you have to watch out for:
- White/Light garments only. Sublimated color blend with the color on which they are printed, so the best result comes from printing on white garments. That said, though it is more expensive, you can choose to have an entire garment printed! This means that not only could you turn your white garment any color, you could also cover it’s surface with any image you like!
- Polyester garments only. Though it is true that this process only works on polyester, the polyester garments of today aren’t the heavy, impermeable garments of the ’70s that usually come to mind. The largest amount of modern performance fabrics, moisture-wicking fabrics, and the like are made of polyester. Comfortable, even cotton-like textured garments are being made in sublimation-friendly polyester!
- Higher price per piece in large runs. There comes a point when a large enough run of sublimation will become more expensive than traditional screen printing. That said, even if the blanks are slightly more expensive, for small runs, the reduced setup fees often make sublimation more economical for full-color or photo-realistic designs.
Is sublimation for you? That depends on your job; when you weigh all the facts you can see that if you want a small number of full-color printed garments, sublimation fits your needs perfectly. Moreover, if you are a fan of light-feeling prints and performance fabrics, you may find that you prefer it to traditional printing methods. Ultimately, if you absolutely want a cotton garment, have a large order, or just don’t know what you want, Albuquerque, New Mexico’s own Black Duck can make the decision easy. We can decorate for you via either method, so we can tailor any part of the decoration process to your specific order! Contact us; whether or not you want to try sublimation, we’ve got you (and your garment) covered.
When the decorated apparel industry looks for new techniques and styles, Albuquerque’s own Black Duck is always on their radar. When the illustrious EnMart, suppliers of quality products for the embroidery and heat-printing industries wanted to launch their entirely new product for producing three-dimensional embroidery, they only had one decorator (and digitizer ) in mind!
The excellent folks at EnMart sent us a sample roll of Q-104, an amazing water-soluble topping that allows embroiderers to stitch high-impact three-dimensional designs in a cool, loose and vintage style on just about anything. Little did we know that the days of only having the option to leave heavy foam products behind our dimensional embroidery were about to be over! Now, we can create big, 3D designs even on garments as light as a t-shirt- as evidenced by both our all-original ‘Dream Big, Stay Bold’ and ‘Lotus and Aum’ designs shown below!
Q-104 doesn’t replace 3D foam- when customers have heavier garments and hats, and they want the high-dimension, shiny finish, and durability of the traditional method, we’ll still suggest (and expertly design and execute) 3D foam decoration. That said, for vintage, distressed styles and light 3D effects, Q-104 is awesome, and for the next short while, Black Duck is literally the only place to go if you want in on the Q-104 action. Black Duck is proud to be first in the industry to use this fine product and first to bring it to you!
(Many thanks to EnMart and their awesome marketing diva Kristine Shreve for the opportunity to design with Q-104, and to my wife Celeste (who may have wished she hadn’t married an embroidery designer during late night stitching sessions) for taking these fantastic pictures of our finished samples. -EC)
Stylish banners and a bold center patch make these patches a biker's delight!
Lenoardo's Vitruvian Man finds himself taped up for KTI's Polos
The good people over at Impressions Magazine have seen fit to publish our pieces in yet another installment of their Embroidery Digitizing Artistry Gallery! This time around, they’ve printed our rockin’ ‘Regulators’ custom motorcycle patches as well as the finely detailed, single color work of the Vitruvian Man logo created for Kinesio Taping International’s sporty and corporate casual performance polo shirts.
Thanks again to Impressions Magazine for showcasing our work! We love to create these looks and we especially love seeing local Albuquerque institutions get their logos featured on the national stage!
We’re prepared to make your logo look its best, no matter if you want a gigantic jacket-back patch, ready to ride the highway with style, or you are looking to create that classical engraving look in the small span of a couple of inches square on your classy performance polo . Contact us at Black Duck, you’ll be glad we;re here to treat your logo like fine art.
(It’s easy for folks like us who have been in this industry for years to forget to explain the basics when we discuss apparel decoration with our customers, family and friends. To that end, we’ll be posting Basics posts from time to time to answer customer questions. – EC)
Simple letters with a single color stitched accent really pop when filled with a shiny twill applique.
Recently, a customer of ours wanted to create a design something like the rocker patches seen on motorcycle jackets. For the uninitiated, rockers are the arc-shaped patches, generally containing text, that are placed above and below the main emblem patch. Our customer, however, wanted us to apply this design to shirts in-house. I immediately asked, “Do they want us to create patches, or to appliqué patch-styled designs?”
This was (surprisingly to me) met with a little confusion. While most customers know that a patch or emblem is a design stitched on a free-standing piece of material, usually with a finished, overstitched edge, not all are familiar with appliqué. After I had launched into an explanation of the different methods of creating the design at hand, I realized that our customers and friends who read the Black Duck Blog might just find this information useful should they find themselves with the same kind of design.
Appliqué is a french term, meaning ‘applied’ or ‘a thing that has been applied’ which really describes the process handily. When we use applique, we custom-cut a piece of applique fabric, usually polyester twill, to fill a large area in an embroidered design. The fabric is generally cut on a computerized plotter which takes its cues from a vector line drawing prepared by our embroidery designer. These pieces are applied to a garment during the process of embroidery. Our machines trace an area on the garment where the cut piece is to be applied, then after the piece has been placed with a small amount of tacking spray, the machine tacks down the edges with a zig-zag stitch. For those who prefer a very clean edge, a tightly spaced satin stitch then sews to completely cover the edges.
This Eco-Friendly Award Winner has decoratively stitched rough-cut appliques, both standard and reverse!
Appliqué is most often used for outerwear, but can be used anywhere that a design calls for large enough filled area. We won an award from Impressions Magazine for our own eco-friendly combination of rough-cut jersey applique and reverse applique- a technique in which the added fabric is stitched underneath the top fabric and is revealed by cutting away the areas of the garment where the applied material should show through. By using this process we reclaimed a damaged garment and made a truly unique, retail styled piece.
When you want to try your hand at making your team name really stand out in shiny twill, bold printed materials, or edgy distressed appliqué, come see the friendly staff at Black Duck. We can help you make the most of any application!
The staff at Impressions Magazine have seen fit to feature yet another one of our designs in their latest online gallery!
This cap for Il Vicino's new I.V. Brewery and Canteen is a great rendition of their classic canteen logo.
This time, we’re being hailed for our Embroidery Digitizing Artistry in creating this simple, clean and classic rendition of the wool-sided canteen among wheet and hops featured in the logo of Albuquerque favorite Il Vicino’s new I.V. Brewery and Canteen. Complete with the textured stitching to emulate the woolen side panels and the weathered, typrewriter styled text, this cap design strikes the perfect note, much like the fine brews available at the Canteen.
If you want your brand to benefit from our artistry, email us, call us at (505) 884-3656, or come get a free consultation at our fully stocked showroom at 4820 Pan American Freeway today. We’re here to make your logo (and consequently your staff) look great!
No sooner do we see a hint of spring than the good people at Pantone have already released the colors to get you ready for the fall fashion season!
Pantone Fashion Color Report Fall 2012 – Fashion Design Trends – Pantone.com.
The ladies colors are vibrant, if a bit more saturated than those slated for this spring, but color of the year Tangerine Tango is, of course, here to stay. Rich autumnal golds meet with smoky blues and grays, but receive a kick of color from the bright Pink Flambe and Olympian Blue.
The men’s colors stay on a similar tack, with the omission, of course, of the shocking pink and the addition of the rich burgundy hue entitled Rhubarb. It looks to me that the saturated colors of early 2012 are here to stay for the fall.
Whether you are looking for high fashion, or function-first, Black Duck can help you find all the new colors in garments that suit your needs. Call us at (505) 884-3656 or email us at email@example.com with your decorated apparel dreams, and we’ll get you on the road to a colorful future.
(This is an edited version of an article that appeared on my blog for Stitches Magazine, redirected toward customer education. – EC)
Copyright is a sticky subject- luckily I got this image from the public domain material at Wikimedia Commons
We often encounter requests to reproduce copyrighted images in our trade, and for flagrant violations (for example, images featuring widely-known characters, logos and mascots of all sorts) most customers understand that we can be opening ourselves up to lawsuits, and are understanding when we turn down the job and offer to help them redesign their image, but when we are confronted with more subtle questions of copyright, we often come up against the same common misconceptions, ones whihc, I hope, this post will help to dispel.
First, a disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and nothing in this article can be considered proper legal advice – the following is for informational purposes only. If you have a serious question, please consult a legal professional. I do however have lots of experience helping our customers find ways to get the image they want on, the garment they want without breaking the law. Getting this right before you decide on a design for your garment will save you a tremendous amount of hassle in the long run.
Misconception #1: If an image doesn’t have a ‘circle c’ on it, it hasn’t been copyrighted. This is entirely false; copyright is automatic – it attaches to a work as soon as the original is created, and the creator doesn’t need to ‘file’ for copyright. If someone created it, and he or she hasn’t been dead for 70 years, that work is under copyright. There are exceptions, certainly. Some people expressly place their works into the public domain (this doesn’t just mean they display them in public, mind you – it means they release their rights to the public) or use a Creative Commons license that expressly outlines what rights that you, as a consumer of the creation, have. A common version of that license allows for work to be reproduced or altered provided it appears with attribution and is used for noncommercial purposes, so even then it’s not necessarily freely available for most purposes that we decorators would need. Just because it appears on the Internet, even if there is no attribution, doesn’t mean anyone can use it.
Misconception #2: If I alter the work a certain amount (6 changes, 60%, etc.) it’s no longer under copyright. Once again, false – this violates one of the expressed exclusive rights of creators. The copyright owner alone has these four rights spelled out in the law: to reproduce the copyrighted work, to display the copyrighted work publicly, to prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work, and to distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public. These sort of ‘magic formulas’ to avoid infringement all leave you open to violating that third right to create derivative works. Though there is a stipulation for transformative work – this requires that the new image/derivation you create no longer resembles the original – this isn’t something that a few color tweaks or a percentage of stylistic changes can help you avoid. This misconception is battled with a simple rule of thumb: If you hope that the popularity or style of the original work might fuel customer demand for the new image based on it, you can’t use it – you would be capitalizing on the original creation. There is room to argue if the piece is satirical or parodic, but you will very likely find that your apparel decoration shop won’t risk a lawsuit to print it, particularly if the copyright holder is a company notorious for suing over infringement.
Misconception #3: As long as I don’t use the entire image, it’s ‘fair use.’ Not true in the slightest – though you may have more chance of arguing for fair use if you don’t reproduce the entirety of an image, there are spelled-out guidelines in the law that you have to meet to qualify for fair use, and our commercial interests boot us right out of the equation. The four factors that determine fair use are the purpose and character of the use (i.e. is it commercial or for nonprofit educational purposes?); the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion used; and the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. Commercially reproducing an image on a garment immediately brings us afoul of the first and fourth factors, regardless of how much of the source is involved.
These rules are difficult at times to untangle, and in a digital age they can seem archaic, but there is something to be said for protecting the rights of our creative citizens. You wouldn’t want your competitor to steal your company logo and confuse your customers, right? We should rightly attempt to secure permission from those from whom we would take our inspiration. Besides, when you are trying to create an image that stands apart from the rest, copying something that’s already in the mix won’t get you very far. Believe me, though it’s tempting to piggyback on the popularity of a good thing, we’re out here trying to protect you, not to destroy your great logo concept. You may find a decorator willing to reproduce a dangerous image, but the ultimate risk also falls to you. Even if you get away with infringement, it only takes one cease and desist letter to require you ro recreate all of your assets; new letter head, new apparel, new signage, and all after you’ve already built up recognition of your brand. Don’t take the risk- respect creators’ rights. We’ll be here to help you create the original image that showcases your vision.
The right mix of fit and vintage finish makes this sport sweatshirt a winner.
We’ve got another gem from the new offerings we’re taking to this year’s Keller Williams Family Reunion that we’d like to show you. We created this show-stopping sweatshirt, complete with extremely distressed applique to get that vintage athletic apparel feeling for all the folks from Keller Williams. Long fans of other athletic-inspired styles on your myredgear.com website, we figure that the people at the show will love this high-end retail look.
We paired the company colors with a frayed twill applique and customized distressed text, digitized to match the piece in style and finish, to create a unique new way for the folks at Keller Williams to brand themselves and promote their business. Place that design on comfortable, softly-shaded crew-neck sweatshirts like these and you’ve got a combination that’s sure to keep their team in high spirits.
With more and more materials and decoration options on the market, you needn’t settle for simple polo-shirts and caps with the same old standard embroidery. Just ask the people who’ve been shopping at myredgear.com- they’ll tell you: from rhinestone bling to vintage-inspired sweatshirts, to sparkly-printed yoga pants, there’s a new world of corporate identity out there, and we’re here to bring it to you. They’ll be easy to find in their eye-catching custom gear, and you can be too.
Imagine your logo re-created as a field of sparkling crystals, the light glinting off of each one as your employees or customers move around, not only as walking billboards, but as shimmering ambassadors of your brand! It may not be for everyone, but many spas, restaurants, resorts, salons, and even national real-estate companies have decided to opt for ‘bling’ as part of their promotional strategy.
The Ladies of Keller Williams are shining!
You may be wondering, how we decided to go from embroidery and screen printing to rhinestones, well it turns out all we needed is some prodding from some of our favorite customers. Black Duck has been preparing for one of the biggest trade shows attended by our staff for one of our many national company stores. We’re headed to the Keller Williams Realty ‘Family Reunion’ as representatives of our myredgear.com site! One of the most requested products a couple of years back was for a ‘bling shirt’. After asking around to find out just what that oft-recorded search term might mean, we decided we had to give it a try. After a successful launch, we’ve expanded to offer two colors of custom rhinestone shirts and hats, and every trade show we sell out, despite increasing our stock.
You may not think that rhinestones are for you, but you’d be surprised at the variety of rhinestones and nailheads we can offer, in everything from the classic style you see above, to matte and mettalic pieces made for high-end menswear. Yes, folks, there are ‘guystones’ out there, too.
The next time you think about decorated apparel for your copmany, expand your mind and ask about rhinestones and other applied elements- we’ve got so much more than ink and thread.