Organizing Your Embroidery Space

By Connie R. Smith, Contributing Writer

February 15, 2018

Have you ever walked into a friend’s house and as you looked around you thought: “Boy, that sofa would look much better on the other side of the room?” or “Why would they put the coffee table by the chair and not in front of the sofa? The positioning could just be a matter of taste or it’s possible, that’s the only way things will fit in the room.

Arranging your embroidery space is much different. If you have a very small space then you might have to make use of the walls to hang thread and rolls of stabilizer. Or, you might have a very large room, but there may be windows, doors and even columns that prevent you from putting things when you really wanted them to go.

A great way to begin organizing a room is to lay the room out on graph paper. If you have a graphics program, it’s faster, but using graph paper also allows you to cut pieces of different colored paper to coincide with you machines, tables, desks, etc., and then move them around until you see what works.

I prefer to use paper, and designate that 1 space equals 1 foot. Get the measurements of your machine(s) from you dealer. Most of them will not be exact footage. It will be feet and some inches so just round up to the next full foot. If the machine is going along a wall, then you will need to make sure there is enough room to get behind for threading, maintenance and cleaning the floor. I’d suggest about 3 ft. Also, leave enough room at the ends to get around to the back.

Placing your hooping tables is a little different. They need to be closer to your machine so you don’t have to take more steps than needed from the hooper to the machine. Don’t work harder, work smarter. You’ll notice those saved steps at the end of a long work day.

When placing your items on a graph, you will be able to see how the work flows through the room. Are you making more trips than needed to the warehouse to get orders, or do you have to walk all the way across the room to get thread for your machine? Its little things like this that can hold up orders and slow production.

The fully arranged room shows how to fit several machines, staging areas, hooping tables and even desks and a place to display samples (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

You can see the green lines designate bringing orders into the work area and the red lines designate taking it from the cleaning/trimming area out to shipping. This cuts down on steps and also looking all over the place for an order (see Figure 2). Another way of arranging multiple machines is to group them with one large hooping table in the middle and space machines around it.

Figure 2

Make sure your machines are placed close to electrical outlets. Most of the time it is much easier to move a machine than do major electrical changes. There is always the possibility you might have to make changes. When looking for a space to set up business this is for sure one of the things you need to look at closely.

Having enough lighting and the proper lighting also is important. Natural light is best. If you don’t have windows, you may be able to make things work by changing bulbs. The latest is LED lighting, but that may require new fixtures and your budget may not cover that. Most warehouses and older strip-mall spaces will have florescent fixtures. If the bulbs haven’t been changed in awhile, replace them with 50-60K —color temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin (K) — bulbs will add much more of a natural light effect to your room. Make sure to place fixtures 4 ft.-6 ft. apart for the best coverage. 

You want to get the whitest bulb you can find. The reason lighting is so important is for matching thread colors. It even helps you tell the difference in garment colors. If the navy shirts get gold thread and the black ones get red, you need to be able at a glance to tell the difference in the colors. I remember many times walking outside to match thread color to the trim of a garment. One thing to remember if you have halogen lighting is, when it goes off it takes time for them to come back on. If you have just a second of power outage the lights will go off. This can delay production.

Having a good hooping table can save time and steps. For a smaller shop with only one machine, you might think a folding table will work. After standing bent over hooping all day you will realize that’s not going to work. I had someone make my table using a 4’ x 8’ sheet of plywood. Dowel rods were attached for holding hoops and a shelf on the bottom is used to store backing, a file to keep paperwork and boxes of bobbins. You can make it high enough you don’t have to bend over and that will save the strain on your back and legs (see Figure 3). The top of the table was sanded smooth and then coated with three coats of enamel paint and then a sealer so it wouldn’t chip. If you have several machines and are only using one table to hoop then putting two pieces of the plywood together makes enough space for several people to work. A good industrial mat to stand on will help your feet from getting tired.

Figure 3

Remember, you have wall space to hang things like thread, backing and shelves to store items. Make use of the space you have. Think it through and set it up in your mind and then put it on paper. In no time at all you will have an efficient space and a business that runs smoothly.

Connie R. Smith has been in the embroidery industry for more than 30 years and has been an industry speaker and consultant. She also is an award-winning digitizer. For more information or to comment on this article, email Connie at lickatstitch@yahoo.com.