The Embroiderrific Team was at the Bubbles and Bow Ties NYE 2021 Party held at the Ascend Prime Steak and Sushi in Bellevue, Washington. While the party guests enjoyed sipping Don Julio 1942 tequilas, we were monogramming face masks and bow ties.
Preparations started a month before the event. We had to make sure our equipment were freshly serviced and in tip top condition, the client approved the embroidery design, supplies were on hand, and the staff were trained.
The day of the event was also full of excitement. It had been snowing a few days prior so there was still lots of snow and slippery ice on the ground . We left early to make sure we have enough time to set-up. On the way to the venue, just as we passed the Totem Lake area, we saw “I-405 S Closed” on the traffic reader board. No explanation as to why. Holy moly! How is that even possible?!? Google Maps didn’t show any indication of the delay. Anyway, ten minutes later, the interstate surprisingly cleared and we were able to get to the Lincoln Square loading dock 15 minutes earlier than our scheduled time. We hauled three embroidery machines and supplies up the freight elevator to the 31st floor. We prepped the supplies and calibrated the equipment. Half an hour later, we were all set up and ready to go!
By 8 pm, guests started arriving to the “Don Julio 1942 Experience” room. We started taking monogram orders. We heard a lot of “What? You can monogram masks at a party while we sip our tequilas?” Many have not seen an embroidery machine before and were mesmerized by the rhythm of the needles racing at 1,000 stitches per minute. By midnight, while the guests watched the beautiful fireworks display on west side of the restaurant, we were heads down on our machines making sure the work was done perfectly, efficiently, and all the orders completed before the guests leave.
We worked non-stop for five hours and embroidered over 200 masks and bow ties!
Based on the feedback that we received from the Ascend team and their guests, we did an outstanding job. We were extremely professional and they hope to see us again in the future.
Special shout out to the Ascend Hospitality Group Marketing Team who hired and placed their confidence on us! Looking forward to doing more collaboration with you.
I’ve worked with several old machines but this is my first vintage Bernina. It’s a Bernina 801 manufactured in 1980.
One of the things that fascinated me about is how fast it can sew. I’d say it’s close to 1,000 stitches per minute and comparable to my industrial Juki sewing machine. None of the other vintage machines I’ve seen can do that.
However, the downside to this is that it accelerates very quickly. It’s so hard to control the speed when you step on the foot pedal.
I wanted to use it for precision work (like quilt piecing and blanket stitching an applique). So I tinkered with it to see if I can fix it instead of sending it to the shop.
Here’s the YouTube video on how I adjusted the foot pedal of my Bernina 801 which allowed me to control the machine better.
If you would like to buy or sell a used sewing, embroidery machine or serger and you are in the Pacific Northwest, contact us.
How would you like to see your company or team insignia transformed….from an idea or a drawing perhaps… into a symbol of pride that you’ll be proud to wear?
Converting graphic designs and embroidering that design on any material is very much an art as well as a science. It requires the knowledge, right tools, and most importantly, patience to make this happen.
We just finished a custom project for a customer. She has a talent for drawing and is passionate about martial arts. She drew a beautiful and intricate “B.E.F.C.” logo and asked if I can embroider it on a few items: a tote bag, several sun visors, and three different brands of jackets. The “package” was going to be presented to a very good friend, her B.E.F.C. co-founder for her 50th birthday.
Judging from the intricacy of her design, I knew I’ll need to roll up my sleeves for this one. So game on! Challenge accepted!
STEP 1: DIGITIZING THE DESIGN
One of the first steps I had to do is digitize the design in three (3) different sizes. Resizing an embroidery file isn’t just like enlarging a photo like you’re using MS Powerpoint or MS Word. You can only resize so much without losing the quality. For images, you need a special graphic editing software like Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator to make sure you retain the quality. For embroidery, we use a special embroidery digitizing software as well. After a few hours, I finished the first iteration. I sent it to my customer to review.
While waiting for her thumbs up, prepared the materials to do the sew-outs. We do at least 2 sew-outs for every size/design.
STEP 2: SEW-OUT
What’s a “sew-out”? It’s a stitch out of the embroidery design. This is part of the package we provide to clients with volume orders. The goal is to make sure that the client sees how the design looks as it is stitched on the fabric before we embroider the actual items.
For the sew-out, I looked for fabric that’s as close as possible (in terms of color and material type) to the final fabric. We have half a room full of fabric so 95% of the time, I’m able to find something from our supplies. If it’s the first sew-out and I can’t find the right color, I’d go for the closest material type. The first sew-out is just for me anyway. I’m looking for details to confirm that how it looks on the screen is the same as how it is on the material. If I find some flaws or came up with ideas on how to improve the way it’s digitized, I’d go back to the digitizing software to make edits. We practice kaizen in our shop.. . So 99% of the time, we tweak the design to make it better.
STEP 3: EMBROIDERY PROCESS
My client LOVES sunvisors! From the beginning, I knew that though this is the smallest item, it will present a new challenge for us. The visor has a limited embroidery field (2-2.5 inches tall in front; 1.5 in. on the sides) so I had to get creative with the placement and in hooping the item. My client & I decided to keep the eagle design in the front, and put the group name and the GPS location on each of the sides. This way, we can make the logo as big as possible. Ironically, it’s the tiniest logo that took me the longest to do!
The jacket back was #2 in terms of complexity. The good news is because you have a bigger embroidery field, you can do a lot more. But as the scripture says, “To whom much is given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). There was this pressure to make sure that this logo reflects as much of the details there is in that 3 x 3 in. image she emailed me. (I have to admit that it was a self-imposed pressure. My client was very nice and easy-going. This is just ME wanting to deliver as perfect a product as possible!). So for the jacket back, I used a couple of extra thread colors to helped with giving the artwork more dimension. I used our magnetic hoops to hold the jackets during embroidery.
CHEST & CANVAS BAG LOGO
The logo we used for the chest and the bag was the easiest to digitize I had enough space so I was able to embroider the image and the text together. I used my strongest magnetic hoop and made the logo as big as possible. There were three different jacket materials though. A couple of them were thinner (knit poly/cotton) type so I had to prep and reinforce the fabric well before embroidering.
STEP 4: DELIVERY
The most fun part of this project is seeing smiles all around the room when the birthday girl opened her presents.
This is just one of our transformation projects. For more examples, check out our portfolio.
If you want to see your logo immortalized via embroidery, contact us.
In the Filipino culture, there’s a saying that goes…
(Translation: If you don’t look back from where you came from, you won’t get to where you’re going.)
For me, it boils down to reflection and gratitude… As a person, a professional, and an entrepreneur, those are the guiding principles that I live by. I try not to forget the people who helped me along the way. At the end of every project, it’s critical for me to pause and think about what went well and what can be improved. Every little encounter leads to the next opportunity which gets me closer to my goals.
So, as I kick off this new year (and before things get busy), I took some time to reflect on my learnings from last year. My intent is to be better prepared to plan and steer the business this year. Here are my thoughts:
Always be grateful for your customers.
When my customers are not nice or just plain mean, I try to just smile and still provide the best customer service I can. I don’t know the circumstances they were facing at that time. I don’t know the demons they were fighting before they interacted with me. I do know that I will do everything I can to make their user experience a good memory so that they remember me when someone asks them for a referral.
Everyone has their own circle of influence. Word-of-mouth remains to be Embroiderrific’s #1 form of advertising. Since we don’t have a brick-and-mortar storefront, we rely primarily on customer referrals and on our online presence. But once our customers know about us, they keep coming back. This to us is the best advertisement. (BTW, contact us if you want to hire us and need references.)
Standardize your processes then create checklists.
During the first couple of years in the embroidery business, Embroiderrific catered to custom work. As our online business picked up, we received more online orders and we identified products that are popular. At the same time, we received contracts with other customers for their branding requests. Soon after, we collaborated with some of our logowear customers on event embroidery projects. We would bring our equipment on site and perform custom work. Through our evolution, we developed standard processes for how we run our business (standardizing inventory, production, logistics and delivery). One of most helpful things we implemented were checklists. We have checklists for how to receive inventory, how to create/apply a heat print and how to embroider items. Using checklists for “to do lists” or “things to bring” alleviated stress and allowed us to stay focused on the big picture. It helped me to not forget things like charging my Square reader before a big show!
Learning to pivot is a critical skill. You CAN teach old dogs new tricks.
We all have examples of “Adapting to Change”, especially during COVID. Shutdowns, mandates and social distancing created challenges all over the world. In my neighborhoods, we saw many businesses struggle and shut down for good (tutoring, hospitality and retail – among many others). Sports activities were cancelled. When our school partners were required shut down, they had to find a way to deliver education to their students remotely. Remote learning created a challenge for Embroiderrific as well, because our customers saw no need for school logo wear during quarantine. In an effort to both maintain and nurture our relationship with our school partners and survive as a business, Embroiderrific worked with our schools to develop low cost, hand-made facemasks that the schools could sell to their student families.
Create a “Charge It To Experience” expense line in your financial statements.
“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde. When I managed an auction company in Subic Bay, I had a mentor who called the process of learning from mistakes my “tuition fee”. There are some things that can’t be learn from school. They need to be learned through first-hand experience.
Every now and then, we run into this when we provide a quote on a service or product we’ve never embroidered on before. Once, we provided a quote but with the supply chain issues, raw material prices increased right after we have a signed P.O. At another time, we didn’t charge enough for a job that took us twice longer than planned. Well, we just had to remember what we need to adjust for next time, charge it to experience, and move on to the next job. No need beating ourselves over it! At least now, we know better and can modify our plan.
Having a good support system is crucial to your success.
Last year, we came up with some new product and service offerings. When we think we’re ready to go but before we actually flip the switch, we found it useful to bounce off these ideas with friends and family.
Our network is a great (and free!) source of feedback and of help that we can tap into. Some of us have over 1,000 friends on Facebook or Instagram. Ask them. You just have to preface it that you want them to be brutally honest. You don’t want them to tell you what you want to hear. Just a reminder if you’re using social media: Unless you want them publicly posting their thoughts, you may want to request them to PM or DM you.
If you have yet to build good support system, it’s not too late to start one.
With all the surprises we’ve seen these past couple of years, who knows what this new year brings? All we can do is remember the lessons we’ve learned these past few years, move forward and be prepared to face the challenges that come our way.
A friend of mine asked if I could make embroidered face masks for her Girl Scout Troop who’s getting ready to sell their cookies.
I LOVE doing custom projects like this! Let me walk you through how I did it…
Find out the type of mask will be used. Is it a ready-made mask or will it assembled/sewn after the embroidery? What kind of fabric? What mask style? Answering these questions gave me an idea on the footprint available for the embroidery and helps in the design planning process. Embroidery can surely make masks beautiful… but I had to avoid making the designs dense designs can impact the breathability and wearer’s comfort.
2. Ask for an idea of the design. Is there a ready-made embroidery design that can be purchased? I tell my clients that it is usually better if we can find ready-made designs. These are usually less than $10 and is cheaper than digitizing from scratch. Etsy is a great place to find reasonably priced embroidery designs. Now, if they want a their logo embroidered, we will really need to digitize from scratch.
3. Digitize the design. Since I have hundreds of embroidery fonts and I enjoy digitizing, I decided to create her design from scratch. I used my embroidery digitizing software and came up with five (5) options for her. Five different fonts and five different cookies.
4. Hoop the fabric. Since the masks were already cut, I had to get creative in hooping them. I placed some tearaway stabilizer on my Hoop Master magnetic hoop. I could have used fabric glue or pins to hold them in place. But I avoid using pins when I can because somehow, I keep pricking my fingers! Instead, I used the Sew-Tites (magnet) that I bought from Sewing Expo last year.
5. Stitch the design. I embroidered at 800 stitches per minute. My multi-needle machine came very handy for this because I didn’t need to re-thread with every color change.
6. Clean-up and quality control. After stitching, I removed the excess stabilizer on the back using a pair of tweezers and cut any loose threads.
7. Press. I never underestimate the power of pressing. Using iron on medium/wool setting gives embroidery that professional look. I’ve found that wool mat is the best one to use because it absorbs any moisture.
I hope my friend’s troop wears these masks proudly. More importantly, I hope they sell a TON of cookies this year.
My son has been actively competing in chess tournaments in the last three years. Over the course of time, after those long days of hanging out with him during tournaments, I’ve learned the dos & don’ts of this sport. Thought I’d share these with parents who are new to this.
get a tournament-style chess set for practice. This helps the kids (especially
the newer ones) get used to playing with bigger chess pieces. There are letters
& numbers on the board sides that tell them how to notate.
tell your kids to notate during the game. This is a requirement in order to do a post-game
analysis. You can retrace the steps & find out where your child could have
made a mistake. They won’t like it at first and will probably tell you
that it slows them down. But they’ll get used to it. Of course, if you child
has a chess coach, they’re probably doing this already.
Registration is done online & most tournaments offer $5-$10 discounts for
signing up early. I don’t know about you but with everything that’s going on in
our household, we can’t always make a decision whether my child should join or
not. What I do is once I hear about a tournament, put 2 placeholders on my calendar
– one for the early registration deadline & the other for the tournament
dress for comfort.
Your child will be sitting down & playing for a long time. It’s important
that he/she is relaxed so he/she can just focus on the next move.
show up 10 mins. earlier than the registration start time. Most organizers simply allocate a
general waiting area. If you beat the crowds, you can find the better
spots. 50% of the chess parents bring their laptop so proximity to a power
outlet is a plus. Some venues don’t have enough tables for the 200+ people that
bring a power strip.
Share 1 power outlet with 5-6 other folks so you can get brownie points from
the other parents!
bring a book, laptop (with charger), or lots of magazines to read. There are at least 5 games in one
tournament. You’ll be sitting and waiting for a long time. At first, I would
bring 1-2 magazines… But I’ve found that these don’t make it to the 3rd
not expect that you can watch your kid play the whole time. – By the nature of the game, chess
requires concentration. After the preliminary announcements, parents are
asked to leave the playing area and wait outside.
bring healthy snacks and lunch that don’t require re-heating. – Most tournaments have concessions
that sell pizza and some baked goods but it’s good to be prepared in case your
child has some dietary restrictions. There is usually no microwaves where you
can heat food.
Don’t be rude. Expect to see a lot of the familiar
faces after 3-4 matches. Chess is a small community. Unlike the more physical
sports like soccer or volleyball, the kids’ can advance their rating, without
having to travel to other cities/states. After 3-4 matches, you’ll see the same
kids competing and of course, see the same parents.
Here are some
chess resources for you to consider:
It’s R&D time. Need to start preparing for the WA State Elementary Chess Tournament next month. There will be over 1,000 Washingtonian kids from all over the state who will be competing. (My son is one of them! ) We will be selling souvenir hats at this event.
One of the first things on our To Do List is digitize & finalize the design.
Here’s the first cut…. It still needs some tweaking but it’s a good start.
This project was a fun one. 🙂 We were asked to make T-shirts for a Lego STEM class in one of the Seattle elementary schools. The kids drew the logo. We cleaned it up and printed those in the front of white shirts.
The outline was done in black. This was perfect because if the kids wanted to personalize their shirts, they can paint their robots. Fabric paint would be best but regular permanent markers should work as well.
There wasn’t enough space to put the school name, mascot (Ridgecrest Ram) and the sponsor, Boeing, on the front of the shirt. So, these were placed on each sleeve.
Every now and then, we get embroidery projects that keep us up at night. The very first one was a big contract for stitching logos with a small font on a very thin knit material. After numerous hours spent researching the mechanics of it, talking to other field experts, and doing trial & error, I finally got it down. My client called us back for their next couple projects so I guess we did well!
We recently finished another challenging project. Carhartt is one of, if not the most trusted brand by companies engaged in outdoor work. Our client, Impact Builds wanted their workers to wear Carhartt jackets embroidered with their company logo. Not only do these jackets provide good insulation with the right amount of bulk, they are tough enough to handle the demands of the job. But I tell yah…. it’s a nightmare for many embroiderers!
“Magnetic hoops are the way to go” is what everybody says. But it needed a lot more than that. After experimenting with two different kinds of magnetic hoop (Snap Hoop Master & Magna Hoop Quick Snap) , testing out the best hoop size, tweaking the machine settings on design placement, switching to thicker needles, doing a few test stitches, and 8+ hours trying to get it to stitch perfectly, we finally nailed it down.
Sew Expo happens once a year in Puyallup, Washington. If you’re a crafter in the Puget Sound area, this is the place to be. I have been going annually over the last few years and I feel like my personal experience gets better and better as the years go by.
My next door neighbor, Nancy Cornwell, introduced me to Expo (as it’s fondly called) 10 years ago. Dubbed as the “Polar Princess”, she wrote several books on sewing with fleece. When Nancy learned that I was interested in sewing, she gave me complimentary tickets to come to the show where she was teaching seminars. I went… and I got hooked… that changed my life forever. (You can still get Nancy’s books in Amazon but she retired from the business and has been focusing on golf and traveling these days!)
Three years ago, I bought fabric… and my Brother VM5100 Dream Creator machine from Paul La Ponte of Quality Sewing. This made me venture into quilting and rekindled my love for sewing. I sewed every day that year and made 10 quilts!
Last year, I bought fabric (of course!) and advanced digitizing lessons from John Deer and a few pairs of Kai scissors from kaiscissors.com.
This year’s discovery (aside from the beautiful fabric that shows landscapes of Venice, Rome, & the Stonehenge which I got from Feather Your Nest Quilt Store) is Tsukineko inks from Joyce Teng of TSC Designs. I’ve been looking for ideas to expand my embroidery business. Fabric art is an area that I want to study/focus on this year.
Along with a couple of my friends, I attended Joyce’ class called “Enchantment with Fabric and Tsukineko Ink”. We were all amazed to see how she transformed a plain fabric into these beautiful masterpieces. The fact that she uses common household items such as Barbasol shaving cream, isopropyl alcohol, aloe vera gel, and SoftScrub to make magic with these all-purpose inks made her my hero. With that small $4 bottle of ink, you can transform 300 yards of plain white (or black) fabric into something special!
I can’t wait to get started experimenting with Tsukineko inks. I have a ton of projects in mind and I’ll be writing about my adventures in the next few months.
There are a couple other stories I want to share about today… but for now, I need to sleep. My sugar high from finishing that Bull Chip Cookie is coming down.
One of the trends that warms my heart or rather my arms… ARM SOCKS!!!
My very resourceful daughter is the first one in the family who got into this. Unbeknownst to me, she found some of her old tights that she’s outgrown and cut them so she can wear them as arm socks around the house. As a mom, I was mortified, felt so guilty, and vowed that I will find her some decent ones that she can wear to school or when watching football or soccer games.
I finally found a good supplier & ordered a whole bunch last week. These arm socks now available through my Etsy Shop – EmbroiderrificNW for $9.95. Hopefully, there’ll be some left when craft fair season rolls around next month.
For her graduation gift, my daughter wanted to come back to Oahu. The whole family loved this idea! After all, it has been almost 10 years and our family has grown since.
To commemorate our first visit, we decided to stay again in one of the condos at Kuilima Estates (North Shore). We love this area because it’s away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki yet close enough to some of the best beaches in Oahu.
We made this hat for Ms. Cindy of The Estates at Turtle Bay, the vacation rental company that we’ve always relied on. It’s amazing seeing this company grow. Their friendly staff are so helpful and easy to talk to. The condos are very clean, beautifully furnished and have all the basic necessities that make you feel like you’re home.
A friend of ours is getting married this weekend. Both her and her husband-to-be are University of Washington alumni. To give them something different but special, I decided to put a twist into an otherwise traditional design. I did a “his/hers” towel set using the UW school colors (purple & gold) as the theme.
Believe it or not, the hardest part of this is undertaking is finding the right shade of UW-purple towel!
We showed this to several friends and got positive feedback. So, we decided to add this to our EmbroiderrificNW Etsy shop today. This 2-pc. towel set starts at $24.99.
A customer requested for a special order of a hoodie and a baseball hat. She asked us to embroider the CHB logo on left chest and Cabin 3 on the right chest. We didn’t have the hoodie size she wanted in navy but we have it in royal blue.
Embroidery and heat press machines in tow, we headed over to Embassy Suites Lynnwood over the Memorial Day Weekend. The Washington Chess Federation (WCF) gave us the rare opportunity to spend a couple of days with hundreds of top-rated chess players all over the state including several Grandmasters who flew in to Seattle for Washington Open 2018. We ran the booth selling embroidered hats & other items.
We weren’t sure what to expect since our son has never played in this tournament and there was a product line that we wanted to introduce. Our mantra has always been “When in doubt, over-prepare!” and that’s exactly what we did. Since our last roadshow, we found better & more compact tools & fixtures that freed up room for some “just in case” items in the SUV. We brought extra hoops, supplies, laptop and embroidery designs and these came handy as clients asked us to do jobs that we’ve never done before.
Transporting our brand new 210 lb. Knight heat press was one of the major challenges we faced. It took three people to move this thing!
The other big challenge was Suyesh’s bag. His mom bought the bag from Chess Pros (booth next door) and asked us to embroider one of the patch designs on it along with his child’s name. The foam lining of the bag was very thick & there was not a lot of room for the free arm to move. I had to tweak the way the design was digitized, used thicker needles, and slowed down the machine. In the end, it looked great though. I ended up monogramming a few more bags until we powered down the machine for the day.
Embroidering our original patch desigg
Chess Bag Embroidery
One great thing about it being a 2-day event was that we were able to pivot and tweak our product offerings on Day 2. During the Day 1 debrief, the team noticed that sales wasn’t so hot. So, on Day 2, I embroidered one of our “Worst Knightmare” patch designs on a hat. After displaying it for 10 minutes, someone bought it. It became so popular that after the event, we decided to make this available via our Etsy Store – EmbroiderrificNW
I’ll have to say that the ultimate highlight of the event was gaining new acquaintances that carried with it prospect of future collaboration with them. A non-profit group approached us about partnering on some volunteer work with middle schoolers during the summer. We shook hands with Enrico Sevillano, a 2008 U.S. Open Champion, who was born from my homeland (Philippines). We met Jeffrey Roland, editor-in-chief of NW Chess Magazine and some of the officers of WCF (Gary Dorfner, David Hendricks, Robert Allen). There were several other great people we met. The whole experience was simply amazing!
I certainly would not be writing about this experience if it weren’t for the Washington Chess Federation (WCF) believing in us. We don’t know how to say thank you enough to Josh Sinanan, WCF President and Dan Matthews WCF Tournament Director. Aside from being excellent chess players, coaches, and promoters, these guys and the the WCF officers are genuinely great people and so pleasurable to work with.
To all the officers and members of the Washington Chess Federation, thank you so very much for the opportunity. We look forward to supporting your future events.
(These WCF Hats are still available in our Etsy Store.)
Every Friday afternoon, I volunteer my time to teach sewing at a grade school in Seattle. For an hour and a half every week, I hang out with young girls (and boys!) who want to learn how to sew. The kids range from 9 to 13 years old.
Why do I do this? First of all, it’s fun! Kids never cease to amaze me with the things they say. Secondly, they no longer teach Home Ec and I know there are kids out there who are eager to learn. Third, I want to continue the legacy that my grandma and some of the other women who taught me to sew & quilt started.
Since families are busy, I decided to break the curriculum into 2 areas. Part 1 was the sewing class. We made a drawstring backpack. Part 2 is the quilting class. We’re making some quilted placemats right now. I gave them jelly rolls to work with since I’m not that comfortable having kids use rotary cutters unless I’m watching them.
Having other moms (Rachel C. this year, and Sandra K. last year) helps tremendously! Thank God for these ladies.