Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Is It Mylar or Is It Cellophane?

There is a new embroidery technique that intrigues me.  It's called Mylar embroidery.  I've been searching on the web for any and all articles, videos, etc.  Apparently, Mylar embroidery is so new that even the "experts" are contradicting each other.  If you've been a reader of this blog for awhile, you probably remember, at some point in time, mention of the dastardly metallic thread.  Metallic thread is beautiful and adds shine and bling to your embroidery.  It comes in a variety of colors, not just gold and silver.  However, you will find that most embroiderers either charge more for metallic embroidery or shun it entirely.  Why?  Because it is a pain to work with metallic thread.  There are all kinds of articles out there in the internet world with tips on working with metallic thread.  The bottom line is that it is metal and if it doesn't saw itself in half going through all of those metal holes, i.e., needles, then it simply curls up and breaks.  Metallic thread causes friction because of the metal and you must embroider at a very slow speed to get the work accomplished.  All of the precautions make metallic thread embroidery a much longer process than with regular thread.  So, how do you get bling from embroidery if you don't use metallic thread?  The usual poly type of embroidery thread has a beautiful sheen and does give a shine to the embroidery -- but not like that metallic thread.  Enter Mylar embroidery.  Mylar, yes, as in the balloons.  Well, more or less.  Some experts says it's the Mylar in the balloon, others disagree.  Enter the contradictions.

What everyone agrees on is that Mylar embroidery is shiny, blingy and beautiful.  There are also some advantages to Mylar embroidery.  You get the shiny bling without metallic thread and that's a real plus.  In order for the shine to be seen, the embroidery design must be more open that your usual designs.  A more open design means less stitches.  Less stitches, in the case of embroiderers who charge per 1,000 stitches as Cajun Stitchery does, means lower price due to lower stitch count.  The way it works is the design is created to show shine in certain areas.  It could be the entire design or a part of the design.  Wherever the shine is desired, the digitizer puts codes into the design to stop and allow a sheet of Mylar to be inserted, then the open Mylar stitching stitches right on the Mylar.  More codes stop the machine after the stitching to removed the Mylar outside of the stitching area.  Then the machine starts again to finish the project.  The excess Mylar tears off easily since the edges have been perforated with stitches. 

At this point, there is more controversy.  How durable is Mylar?  Some compare Mylar with cellophane and use them interchangeably.  Others do not.  Still others says that it's not Mylar at all but a poly type material that isn't the official Mylar.  Some say they use, or rather re-use, Mylar balloons.  Others say never use Mylar balloons.  Some say you can use Mylar and cellophane to the same result.  Others say the Mylar is much more durable and the cellophane will bleed and not last as long.  They all say that it is washable, dryable but not dry cleanable.  They all seem to agree that it is the same thing as shrink wrap.  All of this leads to the question of whether someone is trying to make money off of a special type of material when plain, old cellophane will do fine.  A roll of cellophane can be purchased at the dollar store for a dollar.  The official material that these embroiders are selling costs about $5 a sheet.  That's a big price difference.  One article said that you can use cellophane to the same end as the Mylar but the cellophane doesn't launder well and would be more suitable to items that do not get washed much, such as hats and purses.  But if you are going to put it on a shirt or something that does get washed frequently, cellophane will not last as long as the Mylar.  The controversies go on and on.

You know we had to experiment.  We bought a roll of cellophane from the dollar store and used it as the base of a low density design.  Yes, I could see some sparkle but I really wouldn't say that it is as shiny as metallic thread.  We washed and dried it twice.  The sparkle is still there.  We will have to bite the bullet and buy the "official" material to determine the difference.  Be expecting more about this Mylar embroidery and our determinations from experimenting. 

All of that said, we are already getting orders for Mylar embroidery.  Search on the internet for "Mylar embroidery designs" and you will see some beautiful and sparkley designs.

Frequently we are asked to handmake items.  This is done through our Etsy Shop, only.  Cajun Stitchery does embroidery on ready-made items.  It is confusing and we do apologize for the confusion.  The blog does talk about our handmade items and recently the posts have been consumed with these handmade items for the Arts & Wine Festival.  It is one thing to make items in our spare time, between orders, and make things that are our creations and not to spec for an order.  It is a totally different thing to take orders for handmade items.  It takes a lot of time to make something from scratch.  For instance, in one of the posts, I gave directions for making plain 20" napkins.  That would be as simple a project as there is.  But even those plain napkins take probably 30 minutes each to get the fabric, square the fabric, cut the fabric, serge the edges, and sew up the serger tails.  We do take orders via Etsy for handmade items.  Depending on what you want, it can get pricey.  There are usually some blank items in our Etsy store, i.e., blank napkins, blank handkerchiefs.  The blank items may be purchased as is, or, if requested, we can apply embroidery for an additional charge.  This is confusing and I do apologize but it keeps my books straight.  Please feel free to order handmade items via our Etsy shop.

All of that said, the Etsy shop now has a set of 4 blank napkins made from the festive orange and yellow fabric.  The little witch that was embroidered on my orange napkins is 13,000 stitches.  The cost for embroidering the witch on a napkin would be $16.95 each.  We do, however, have smaller Halloween designs with considerably less stitches.

Time to get back to work.

C'est tout, mes amis!


  1. I have heard first time about this. Such that This is a new embroidery technique that intrigues. It's called Mylar embroidery.

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