take advantage of the classic texture of a merrowed edge while printing a full-colour image on the face of the emblem. Mix one part retro-cool with one part cheap and quick production, add some saved time and effort, and mix in the toughness of a dye that becomes part of the fibre, and you may start liking sublimation, too. Although small desktop sublimation printers may cost more to run per unit of printed area, they are often more tolerant of downtime and may be the perfect tools for making small sets of ganged transfers for creating your own printed patches. Fibres for better optics No matter the application method, one can’t leave the subject of thread type out of a discussion on durability. Put simply, polyester thread will accept more abuse than rayon thread. It has a higher resistance to abrasion and breaking, can withstand industrial laundries and chlorine bleach, and is more colourfast and lightfast than rayon. In the case of matte finish threads, the UV resistance even makes polyester thread a great choice for outdoor decorators. When selecting a thread, polyester is the go-to for workwear, provided you aren’t likely to encounter fire. For electrical workers and firefighters, aramid fibre Nomex thread should be the call, considering the potential harm that could come from melting polyester. A strong finish Although most decorations won’t require the extreme attention to detail that comes from altering everything from digitising to materials, any jobs that manage to survive customer torture- testing are sure to win you high praise and enhance your company’s reputation The symbols on the rayon thread chart in the foreground forbid bleach, unlike the polyester chart in the background, but the rayon can take a hotter iron than the polyester – good things to knowwhen choosing a thread for your next workwear project [ Photo credit: Celeste Schwartz] Though not done for the durability or replaceability factor so much as the decorative factor, this piece by Buzzard’s Bay embroidery shows how a loose, cut edge that’s completely sealed can look clean on a finished piece. If this was made to handle difficult environments and not on headwear, you might want to use a zig-zag stitch to tack the edge down to avoid it being flipped over or creased in use Linear splits like this might be attractive, but do a lot less for durability than offset patterns for reliability with your customers. Think ahead about how your customer will use a garment, suggest design placements that avoid exposure to the worst damage, and provide solutions that don’t require them to endlessly replace garments. Your commitment to quality will keep these workwear customers coming back. Great for retro-cool workwear, perfect for individual customisation, and with less set-up and production time than embroidery, these ultra-tough sublimated patches are a great alternative when nothing else will survive, or when you want full colour with easy replacement KB TIPS & TECHNIQUES 32 images FEBRUARY 2021 Erich Campbell is an award-winning digitiser, embroidery columnist and educator, with more than 20 years’ experience both in production and the management of ecommerce properties. He is the programme manager for the commercial division of BriTon Leap.