Is Water-Based Ink The Right Choice For You?

Aside from the aforementioned environmental benefits, water-based inks also have several pros. Most of them are PVC-free and give prints a nice, soft hand. However, the wrong choice could cause your screen to get blocked, preventing production. Additionally, some water-based inks produce too many VOCs, which is problematic for people who are sensitive to VOCs.

Water-Based Ink

Unlike plastisol inks, water-based inks embed pigments into the garment after the solvent is evaporated. These inks are permanent and don’t fade. The only drawback is that they are difficult to clean and have little hand feel after several washes. Still, if you’re committed to experimenting with water-based inks, there are a few things you should know about these inks.

Several Benefits

Water-based inks have several benefits. First of all, they’re more environmentally friendly, requiring fewer chemicals to clean up. Some water-based inks do contain petroleum products, which may not be environment-friendly, but most experts see them as being the right choice for you. Second, they require less energy to produce, which means they produce less waste. As long as you have the proper equipment, both types of inks can produce awesome results.

The Difference Between Plastisol and Water-Based Ink

When it comes to ink, water-based ink is not yet as widely used as plastisol. The primary difference between plastisol and water-based ink is the way that they cure. In plastisol printing, the solvent is briefly heated to cure the ink, while with water-based ink, it needs to be held at a high temperature until all of the solvent is removed.

A water-based ink requires a water-based emulsion to achieve the best color reproduction. An emulsion that can resist both water and solvents is ideal for printing on dark fabric. But it does have its disadvantages. One downside is that water-based ink requires a high-powered light source to achieve the desired results. So, it’s best to experiment with various options.

Using water-based ink can be overwhelming. It can be tricky to learn, but the benefits of both inks are numerous. Both inks can be used to print on paper and other materials, such as fabrics. They also can be combined to produce unique colors and designs. If you’re looking for a green alternative, it’s better to go with a water-based ink.


Water-based inks can be used in screen printing on paper or fabric. They are eco-friendly, and are free of PVC and other harmful chemicals. They are also a great choice for printing on breathable and soft fabrics. And, unlike plastisol inks, water-based inks can be washed with soap. If you want to make a difference in your production, water-based ink is a better choice.

Dries Quickly

Depending on your needs, water-based inks can be used on various substrates, including paper and fabric. The only difference between water-based ink and water-based inks is the amount of water in the ink. A water-based ink will dry quickly and can clog the mesh, preventing production. A wetting spray will be useful in extending the time for the ink to remain on the screen.

When it comes to water-based inks, the main solvent is water. However, different brands of these inks may also contain petroleum-based co-solvents. The difference between the two types of inks is only the amount of water the ink contains. The other two types can be used on paper, wood, and cardboard. They are both environmentally-friendly.

A water-based ink will dry more quickly than a solvent-based one, but the water-based inks will last longer. They also won’t wash out of fabric in the long run. Moreover, if the ink has been applied to fabric previously, water-based inks can also last a long time. Hence, a high-quality ink will keep the ink from fading.

Adding Embroidery to Your Shop?

Should You Purchase Embroidery Equipment?

So you have been in the screen printing business for a few years, and you have sent quite a few good-paying embroidery jobs to your local embroidery shop and haven’t seen a dime from it. You finally say to yourself, “Self, you should get a piece of that pie!” and you say back to yourself, “You are right, Self. Let’s sell embroidery ourselves and pay another shop to embroider our stuff!”. So you change your yellow pages ad from “SCREEN PRINTING” to “SCREEN PRINTING & EMBROIDERY.”

The calls start coming in, and you are getting quite a few orders for embroidery. You have already written your tenth check to your contract embroiderer and realize you could have bought a used motor scooter six times with the profit your contract embroiderer is taking from you. So you say to yourself again, “Self, I want a used motor scooter!” and you say back to yourself, “Self, if you get a scooter, I’m not riding on it! You drive crazy! But you are right. Let’s buy some embroidery machines and keep the profit for ourselves!” Then, you second guess yourself…

Are you are, or are you not an embroiderer?

Heck Yes! A screen printer CAN learn embroidery, and as you now know, it mates very well with screen printing. That is why all your existing customers are asking you for it. The embroidery itself, along with machine maintenance (and even machine repair!), fits entirely into the realm of a screen printing shop owner’s “Can Do” book.

Hire a Technician

Believe it or not, I didn’t always own my shop. I used to run a shop for a guy who didn’t know anything about screen printing. He was a businessman, and I learned how to print. While running that shop, we went through almost the exact scenario as the two Selves in the intro above. I finally convinced him that we needed a machine, and we took the plunge.

The best thing we did in the start-up process was to hire a technician. We bought a used single head Brother machine from the bank. We rolled it into the front room and looked at it. Threads were hanging all over it, MILLION levers and knobs and loops for the line to go thru and nine needles! We knew we didn’t even know how to turn it on, so we called Brother.

We paid a Brother certified technician a couple of thousand bucks to Drive in from Memphis and hook us up. We paid him 80 dollars per hour, and that included one-way driving from Memphis! When they told me that, I thought, “I want to be an embroidery machine technician when I grow up!”. But it was worth EVERY penny.

He showed us how to set up the machine and turn it on. Showed us how to thread the machine. Showed us how to load a design on it. It showed us how to adjust the tension. Then showed us how to run it; he even gave us lessons in essential maintenance and minor repair and showed us how to do basic digitizing on the software that came with the machine. (I don’t recommend trying digitizing until you are a MASTER at embroidery. Pay a professional a few pennies to do it for you.)

The cool thing was that we filmed the whole thing. If I had questions or forgot something he said or showed us, I had the tape. It worked awesomely. By the time he left us at the end of the day, I could hoop a shirt or hat and embroider it from start to finish. Worth every single cent!


After using the machine enough to ask some educated questions, I enrolled in a few classes at the ISS Show in Dallas, TX. I learned a few slick tricks and tips on what was causing all my thread breaks and stuff like that. I also took some classes that got a little deeper into machine maintenance and repair. 

Just Do It!

Man, get your feet wet contracting out some embroidery jobs, then, by all means, BUY THAT MACHINE!

Get a used machine if you are worried about the cost of the device. When I finally got out on my own in my shop, I bought a very used Brother single head on eBay. The thing was a wreck, and the guy that was selling it knew it. It broke down on him, so he called the technician. Sometimes the tech can walk you thru fixing your problem. I have had a tech walk me thru some MAJOR machine problems all over the phone. After talking to the tech, this guy decided the machine was toast and sold it for parts.

I bought the machine, got it in my shop, and called the same tech that helped us set up the machine in the other shop. He came by and spent half a day getting the machine running. I bought the machine for $600 on eBay and paid the technician about $1000.00 to fix it. $1600.00 for a used embroidery machine is pretty good! I would NOT recommend buying a wreck like this for your first machine. If you buy used, make sure it is in good condition. Watch the thing run.

After a year on that machine, I decided to buy a new one. I started by selling the used one on eBay again. This time the device brought me $3500.00! I made a profit! I decided to purchase a start-up kit from SWF Mesa. It came with a single head machine, digitizing software, all the tools and supplies you need to run it, and an excellent thread selection. I can’t remember what I paid for the whole ball of wax, but I think it was under $10,000.00. 

Used or New Machine? 

New! I would recommend buying a new machine as part of a starter kit like the one I stated above. You get a lot of stuff you don’t even know you need, and most of the time, they offer to train you. If they offer to teach you, take them up on their offer to pay a little more money and have someone come to you. This is good for several reasons. One, you get to stay at your shop and even keep it open for business most of the time. Two, you learn in your environment ON YOUR MACHINE! I can’t tell you how important it is to be taught on your machine. It is one thing to take a class that teaches you theories on embroidery, but to learn those same skills on the device you will be using is priceless. 

What Brand of Machine

I have only used two brands of machines: Brother and SWF. I have done a LOT of reading and taken a LOT of classes on the subject, and it all boils down to the embroidery head on the machine. Tajima is the leader in embroidery machines, but they cost a FORTUNE! Most of the big machine manufacturers have either copied the Tajima’s head or have used an actual Tajima head on their machines. I would look for something with a Tajima’s head.

Every new embroidery machine drops in value as bad as a car after you buy it. Tajima drops but will hold its value as a used machine, so if you can find a used Tajima for a reasonable price, go for it. You will most likely be able to get your investment back out of it when it is time to resell it. If you go new, then go with something like the SWF. The initial cost is much lower than the others but with excellent quality and excellent over-the-phone tech service. Ask them whose head they use.


Take the plunge! You won’t regret it. The profit you make from doing your embroidery will more than pay for the new machine. If you don’t believe me, hire a contract embroiderer for a year and see how much you pay them in that year. Buy a machine, take some classes, join online forums, and become an embroiderer!

How to Clean a Sewing Machine and Avoid damages

What is the number one thing you can do to make sure that your sewing machine keeps working well?

Clean the lint out. This is a by-product of sewing that can’t be avoided. The more you use the machine, the more lint gathers up in the gut of the machine. You can keep your machine working smoothly and avoid paying for major repairs if you look out after it periodically. Regular maintenance can save you a trip to the repair shop.

The frequency of these quick clean-ups depends on how often you use the machine. It’s best you clean the lint after every 8 to 10 hours of using the machine, but you can do it after every use as well. Look in the bobbin case, and if you see lint gathering up, it’s time for maintenance.

If your machine has trouble working, try cleaning it first. There are three basic things we recommend at you can try if you experience a malfunction. First, re-thread the needle and the bobbin. Then, insert a brand new needle, and clean the machine before restarting it.

Many problems are caused by the dust and lint that get into the working parts of the machine. After you clean the machine and it still doesn’t work properly, you’ll have to take it to the local repair shop. If you continue using it, you could cause even bigger problems.

We are now going to go through the step-by-step process of cleaning your sewing machine.

The Preparation

Find the instruction manual, you shouldn’t do anything until you have your machine’s instruction manual in front of you. Most sewing machines need the same maintenance, but you should still consult the instruction manual.

You will also need a lint brush (most machines come with one). If you don’t have one, you can get it at the local fabric store, but you can also use a small cleaning brush as well. Replace the old needles with new ones. You should always have them on hand if anything goes wrong and it’s best you start every project with new needles. Last but not least, you need a soft cloth like muslin.

The step by step cleaning process

Unplug your sew machine

Remove the old needle and discard it but remember the direction of the flat side of the needle. It usually faces the back of the machine, butmachines that have side-loading bobbins often have needles that face to the right.

Follow the instruction manual and remove the presser foot and the needle plate.

Take the bobbin and the bobbin case out of their place

Use the lint brush or a vacuum to remove all the lint and dust from the pieces you removed

Your manual should also show how to remove the “race area” (the place where the bobbin case is located). If you find it in the manual, make sure you follow the instructions carefully because putting the bobbin case back can be tricky. This is a step that’s usually done by the repairman, but you can do it if you feel comfortable with it.

Brush the lint of the feed dogs first

Then get rid of the lint and dirt in the race area and under the feed dogs.

Put the race area back together

If your sewing machine has a solid cover, remove it and clean the thread path out, if not, use a vacuum and blow air through the thread paths to clean the tension disks out.

Use the soft cloth to clean the exterior of the machine

Plug your sew machine back and turn it on. Try running it without any accessories and needles first, just to make sure it’s working properly.

Turn it off again

Replace the bobbin case, the bobbin, the needle plate, and the presser foot.

Insert a new needle and make sure it’s facing the right side

Lubrication or no Lubrication?

Lubrication is not necessary for all sewing machines. Some newer models don’t need any lubrication, but if they do, make sure you use the right type of oil. Don’t use household oil or WD-40. When you are done with the oil, put a cloth under the presser foot to soak the oil that was left behind.

Meet the 13-year-old sewing a ‘COVID Memorial Quilt’

The swirl of fear, uncertainty, and isolation young children are suffering from for the reason that the pandemic can make it additional complicated for them to cope with grief.

These 7 days I’ve been struck by how our youngest generation is coping with an improved globe. At a Catholic school on my block, elementary-aged children dutifully distance by themselves and use masks, but they are nonetheless laughing and playing. I have seen pics of mates and household kids happily savoring early at-home Halloween celebrations, Zooming into school, and normally currently being the resilient minor miracles that they are. 

Correct now I am waiting around anxiously for a new niece or nephew to be born (it is time to arrive out, kiddo), and I’m thinking that even although matters are tough ideal now, they’ll be Okay. They might not keep in mind a pre-COVID entire world, but ideally, they are going to remember us coming out the other side of this as superior, extra caring people.

Today’s big inspiration from the children

A 13-calendar-year-old girl from California is honoring all those we’ve misplaced to COVID-19.

Eighth-quality university student Madeleine Fugate, from Studio Metropolis, Calif., has started operating on a “COVID Memorial Quilt,” motivated by her mother, Katherine Fugate, who worked on the NAMES Venture AIDS Memorial Quilt in the 1980s.

“In seventh grade, for our record remaining, we had to do a Local community Motion Challenge,” Madeline told me. “That yr it was ‘Young Changemakers in a COVID-19 World.’  I was looking at the information and they saved indicating ‘the figures are heading up,’ and it genuinely upset me. I told my mom, ‘They are not quantities, they are people. Individuals who died.’”

She started to operate on the quilt and is accepting 8×8 squares from everyone who would like to honor a cherished 1 who died. So much she has at least 70 contributions.

“I hope it is a big deal if that means healing for men and women. There has been no mourning or grieving,” she stated. “Individuals have misplaced men and women they appreciate who have earned to be remembered.”

“I believe it feels unsafe proper now and youngsters all above the nation are possessing a tricky time,” Madeleine additional. “Plus, persons are dying and there is a lot of disappointment and suffering. … I consider we all have to come across a way to support. That is what this is all about. … I love what (youthful activist Greta Thunberg) is doing for the surroundings. If you have revenue use it to recover our earth and not hurt it anymore. I adore to sew so I’m generating a quilt to help people heal.

You can learn much more about the project here. And it’s possible use a quilt square to wipe away your tears.