Friday, April 22, 2016

Embroidery: Behind the Scenes

This week we’ve been sharing some of the embroidery collections that coordinate with our fabric lines. Today, we’re going behind the scenes. We talked with two experts at Oklahoma Embroidery Supply & Design: Tony Warriner, Design Center Manager, and Christy Burcham, Product Manager.

How are motifs from fabric lines chosen to become embroidery designs?
Christy: There are some artists who we have an established relationship with. Those artists have an idea of what motifs they’re drawing that they’d like to use for embroidery. That makes our job easy. Other times we go ‘shopping’—we look at new fabric lines and see what might add value to our embroidery lines.

Do you typically choose the focal motifs from fabrics?
Christy: Usually, though our digitizers can see things in fabric artwork that the average customer might not see as a motif. They pick out those pieces—even out of the background of a fabric—and make a really interesting piece.
Tony: There are a lot of really awesome background designs that work well for what we need.

Is there a range to the number of designs, or the complexity of designs that you like to have in a collection?
Tony: We try to cover a bit of everything. On average with a fabric line, we are looking for 20 designs to round out a collection. We’ll have 5 or 6 main focal point designs. Then we’ll have smaller elements that go with the main designs, as well as borders, corners, line work, and appliques.

How does a motif become an embroidery design?
Tony: We’ll start out by looking at the design. If there is a large open area of one color, we’ll decide we want to make that motif an applique. We’ll choose colors that match, and put some additional shading into it. We try to look at the embroidery from the perspective of the end user. We don’t want to have too many colors, which leads to lots of thread changing, but we use our techniques and a limited amount of colors to create what looks like twice as much. I think we do a really good job at keeping the colors and the amount of sewing time to a minimum.

What are some easy ways for a quilter to get into embroidery?
Christy: Getting your hands on it is where you want to get started, and there are lots of opportunities to do that. Many of our dealers offer classes where they’ll provide a machine. We do that too—we’ll go into a store and do a hands-on workshop. The customer doesn’t have to have used a machine before; she can come in and make a project during the class. If you have a friend with an embroidery machine, ask to try it. I think people will find it’s far less scary than they think it is.

How has embroidery evolved?
Tony: We used to actually lay out the artwork—as big as  poster—and take a ruler to mark off angles and points. Everything was so manual. It was done stitch by stitch by the digitizer. Now it’s all done on the computer.
Christy: The other thing that has changed dramatically is that the type of designs is so vastly different. Embroidery used to be industrial focused—mascots, logos, things you’d stitch on the chest of a shirt. Now our focus is heavily involved in what the creative user wants to do. It’s not about making clip art, it’s about the experience of a customer making something. It’s about what’s going to inspire someone to make something beautiful. Our biggest customer group is quilters. A lot of times people think that embroidery is a different sewer than a quilter. Embroiderers love to make quilts. Our most popular collections, our most popular products, are quilt-related. Quilting is big time.

Thanks, Tony and Christy, for taking the time to talk to us. 
Click here to see all Oklahoma Embroidery Supply & Design has to offer.
Click here to see the OESD designs that coordinate with our fabric lines.  

Announcing our four winners from Cherry Guidry's pattern giveaway last week:
Chickasaw Lake:Natalie F
Dogwood Star:Alesha Klein
Lakeside Ride:Quilter
Sunday Ride Minis:QuiltShopGal

Congratulations, ladies! You'll be hearing from Cherry via email about getting your pattern prizes. 
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1 comment:

  1. Excellent post. I almost overlooked that I won. Thank you. I'm so excited. I love Cherry Guidry's designs and absolutely thrilled to be able to stitch out the complimentary machine embroidery collection, which I think is going to be a super fun and versatile ME collection. THANK YOU.