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Advantages of Mixed-Media Production with Embroidery & Print

Monday, February 26, 2018
Melco eagle tote close up view
It is common for a retail clothing business to use either embroidery or print to create team wear, workwear, souvenirs, and personalized products for their customers. However, advances in technology have made it possible to combine production techniques. Now, you can add embroidery to print designs, using laser alignment technology. Create decorated apparel in ways not possible before!
Let’s take a closer look at some real-world scenarios. Imagine a large embroidery design that would need large areas of fill stitches/underlay. A design like that not only requires time and money spent on digitizing, but also high stitch counts and long run times on your embroidery machines. Rather than digitizing and embroidering the entire design, it might make sense to print large areas of color fill, for example, and then embroider other details over top of the print. This approach can be used to reduce digitizing and machine run time, while creating beautiful, colorful designs that would otherwise be impossible with embroidery alone.
Melco eagle tote close up view
The Right Equipment
Before you can accomplish this technique, you must have the right equipment. We use SureColor F2100 DTG printers, Roland Print/Cut Systems, and Melco EMT16 PLUS embroidery machines to create eye-catching mixed-media designs. Work-flow starts with the print and is finished with embroidery. As you can imagine, aligning or registering the print with embroidery could be complicated. But, with Melco’s exclusive Laser Alignment Tool, hooping and registration is easy, and it can be done with precision and consistency.
The Print
From the printing side, application is simple. Create and optimize your artwork for your printer, just like you would for any normal print job. Analyze the design, and consider what elements you want to embroider, and what elements you will want to print. Then, separate the areas you’d like to digitize for embroidery, and move them to their own layer(s). 

Quick tip: Create your art to about the same dimensions you expect to print and at a high resolution. It’s always better to overestimate size. The image below shows the areas we selected for print.

American flags with seal and document

Printed, Hooped, Ready for Embroidery!

Melco printer printing on t-shirt


The Embroidery
NOTE: Using the Laser Alignment Tool for this application requires a vector line. This line serves as a guide or reference for the laser on the embroidery machine to calculate position, orientation, and size of the design. We added this line during the digitizing process. The vector line is the red solid line running horizontally from the bottom left corner of the flag on the left to the bottom right corner of the opposite flag.
Using your digitizing software (we used Melco’s DesignShop V10), open the print design and digitize the embroidery around the print design.


Eagle and flag Melco logo in a design file


When the digitizing process is finished, don’t forget to add the vector line as mentioned above. Run the line between two points in your art. This step is critical! The Laser Alignment Tool uses this line to automatically compensate for small variations that may occur during printing and hooping, including fabric stretching/shrinkage. This is especially useful when hooping a design, as there is no major concern for ensuring the print is hooped perfectly square, and any variations in fabric stretch can be accounted for.


Eagle with Melco on design file


The application of print/embroidery mixed media is extremely versatile. The idea starts in the art. Decide what parts of thedesign you would like to print, and what elements you can accent with embroidery. Stitch a boarder around printed patches, or the inside of tackle twill lettering. Add embroidered highlights on a printed jacket back or hoody. Create a beautiful monogram and add it to a printed background on tote bags. All of these techniques can be done easily with the right tools and a little creativity. Mixed media with print and embroidery opens a unique and creative space, and it offers the customer that extra flair they may be looking for on special projects. This is a technique that has endless opportunities for being creative. What new mixed media idea will you come up with to make more money with your business?


Melco eagle tote bag