Hello everyone, how are you?
Whilst I love the designing and stitching aspect of each project there are always the instructions to be done. It occurred to me that you may be interested to learn more of the process involved in preparing the completed embroidery project and printing the instruction booklets that go inside your kit or pattern pack?
Recently I have spent time on re-designing the instruction book layouts, and all the new projects will be presented like this in the future. I have given a lot of thought to this over the years and I certainly don’t profess to have got it totally right or to be critical of the way that other designers present their instructions, but this is way works best for me. Basically I sat down and thought: “If I was stitching this project how would I like to see the instructions presented – what would make them easiest to follow?” The examples below are taken from different projects but will give you an idea of the layout.
Simple & Clean
I like the idea of a simple, clean and uncluttered visual presentation that lets the embroidery speak for itself. This style of illustration is becoming more and more popular – as can be seen in the decorating of our homes and in much of the graphic design that is available today. Here is the front cover – it shows a picture of the design, the name of the project, designer and technique.
The introduction tells a little about the project, what level it is for and any specific details that may be necessary for you to know. Not too much text just a brief note to introduce the project, don’t want you getting bored!
Thread & Material list
A clear and precise listing of the materials and threads needed for the design, with some options for substituting threads in-case you have a problem sourcing them. I know that many of my customers live in areas where it is not always easy to obtain certain brands of thread so I will always give substitutes. The design won’t look exactly the same if you use substitutes, but allows you to still stitch the project and make it your own.
This is based on “painting by numbers”. Each area is numbered in order of the stitching and each number corresponds to the thread colours needed for that section. Below the listed colours are the instructions for which stitches to use for that area. The instructions are placed on the page facing the stitch diagram so that the booklet can be left open at the page and referred to whilst stitching. Simple but effective?
With the advent of technology everything these days is visual, “A Picture says a thousand words”. I remember how frustrating it was to follow the instructions of some of my earlier embroidery books that were full of text but not enough pictures – or the pictures were too small and I could not see enough detail, so I decided that each area of the project should be accompanied by an enlarged photo which the reader could zoom into. There is also an enlarged photo of the full project.
For many months I have been working on a Handbook which is finally at the printers and hopefully will be available for sale next week. The book is titled Needlepainting & Whitework Handbook, and it includes every single detail on materials, preparation and comprehensive details, examples and hints for each stitch. I will tell you more about it once I have the printed copies to hand. The idea is that rather than try to squash these details into each instruction booklet, you will purchase one copy of the Handbook and use it to refer to for each kit/pattern that you purchase. This enables me to eliminate a couple of pages from each instruction booklet and make it more simple and cost effective.
All the pattern details are clearly listed on the back page – what is included in a kit, the size etc.
It is virtually impossible to compile instructions without making some mistakes – one of the common typos is in thread colours for example 253 which should be 235. A simple typing error can cause the whole pattern to go out of sync and many emails from confused customers! I am fortunate to have a good friend who edits each instruction booklet before it goes to print. She has a colour chart for each brand of thread and goes through it with a fine tooth comb, which is such a wonderful help.
A certain amount of graphic design knowledge is necessary to assemble these booklets before they go to the printer and I have been teaching myself this with the help of a program called CorelDraw over many, many years and now am able to draw all my own diagrams. I am fortunate to have a wonderful printing service in Cape Town and we have worked together to obtain the best colour rendition and print format. The size and weight of the booklet also has to be taken into consideration as it needs to be practical for posting overseas. It is very difficult to get a good likeness of the original embroidery in both colour and texture, but we do our best to capture the original likeness. Once I have compiled the booklet and it has been edited it is sent to the Printer. The Printer prints, cuts and assembles the booklets on good quality, coated paper, before they are returned to me ready for assembling into kits/packs.
You may find it interesting to know that the printed booklet and fabric with printed outline comprise most of the cost of your kit. A customer recently remarked that she thought the pack was overpriced considering it did not include threads – the cost of including thread will certainly almost double or more the price of a kit.
So there you have it – from Embroidery To Print. Till next time, wherever you are in the world happy stitching and remember “Embroidery forever, housework whenever”. Trish