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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I own a boardwalk style tshirt shirt on the Jersey Shore. Classic tons of resort / location transfers and Wild Side type stock designs on the walls.
Been at it 5 years. Fast season, open May 1st-close Sept 31 every year.

After constantly being asked about custom tshirts, 3 years ago I expanded into heat transfer vinyl and custom plastisol transfers for custom orders. It has been growing very well, sports teams, schools, lots of construction companies, delis, etc, but I have limitations with what jobs I can get with just a heat press (Hotronix Air Fusion) and a cutter (Graphtec ce-6000). I really want to grow the custom side into a year round business. (I do flooring work in the winter, got kids to feed) But i need more angles, more diversification to get through the cold winters on the beach.

SCREEN PRINTING is out because I do not have the room in my store during busy summer season for equipment and no way can I put a washout booth in a nice clean retail store. (In the winter I clear out most of the retail racks and it becomes my warehouse, but still)

DTG is out because the equipment is cray expensive, you have to run them every day constantly and a perfect temperature and humidity is IMPOSSIBLE with the entire front of the store literally wide open to the beach and boardwalk 5 months out of the year. The whole certain shirts that are pretreated thing annoys me to. I can put a transfer or vinyl on any tshirt you want. Except triblends, lol.

So this brings me to my big expansion....

So I have a split plan with why it makes so much sense for me. I know I loose out on certain custom work shirt jobs because they want 50-100 t-shirts for employees but need 2-6 embroidered polos for Sales staff.
Embroidered is what customers want for polos. Period.
Plus, I can up-sell hats, jackets, embroidered instead of printed hoodies and sweatshirts, etc. A lot of my regular customers are really excited and I have a bunch of sales already for a machine I don’t know how to use yet, lol. From what I’ve read here, play my cards right and I will be looking for a 4 head in a year.

The other end of the spectrum that is special to my situation is the retail end of my business. The same hoodie I buy for $10 and sell for $35 printed I could get $50 for with a quick embroidered appliqué.
And hats. All I got right now are truckers right I print with vinyl, tried flock but ehh results. I am hoping to really finally up my hat game with this machine. I think this machine is going to up my high end retail game considerably.

I do not like buying used equipment, especially something complicated I do not know how to use. A lot of people recommend finding a used machine to start out, but in this case I need new. So I did my research over the past few months on this site and others. Made a list of questions to ask sales reps of all the different manufacturers at ISS Atlantic City last month.

Tajima - can’t afford it

SWF - bankruptcy thing, confusing support

Happy - oddball of the bunch

ZSK - wanted to like the germans, (I have a bad vintage VW habit). But the machines were loud, oddly flashy looking with clear cases, they had no idea about service techs in my area, wanted to push some random digitizing software on me, and there whole vibe was more about the rhinestone bling thing.

Barudan - Of course I want a Barudan, from everything I have read they are the best. But there full size single head is $17,500 and with the finance rates they gave me would have cost me close to $20,000 by time I paid it off. I got 2 kids man, my car didn’t cost $20,000 paid off.

Melco- i was really, really leaning towards getting a Melco going to the show. Had an appointment to speak with a rep I had been talking with. The machines just looked like plastic hobby machines. The fact that they are the only ones to “figure out” thread tension using a computer and not knobs bothered me even more at the show. If it works so much better, wouldn’t others be switching over???????? Financing was not great either.

Ricoma- *GASP* chinese machines are junk that last 5 years if your lucky. Right?
Look, I get it, I can buy a used BMW and beat on it and it will still go, or I can buy a new Hyundai and take care of it for 200,000 miles. I had talked to a few people that own them, they all said yes they have had some problems but company always took care of them and warranties everything. But the machines sew out fantastic when taken care of.
I come from an automotive background, so I am very capable of figuring out how something works and how to fix it.
The fact that they really talked about how they will use Skype and facetime to teach you how to fix the machine really appeals to someone like me a lot more than a local service tech who is gonna charge me $600 every time I am confused about a machine I have never used before.

I checked out their facebook group. Lots of new users turning out great looking products. And helping each other.

The machines look solid. I talked to a local Service tech and have read posts from others that say the new generation of Chinese machines are lightyears better than the total crap they were making 15 years ago that deserve the bad rap they got.
Another thing I found interesting is that Ricoma designed the machine, and also sells it to other companies with a private label. I understand Coldesi was SWF until the bankruptcy, and the fact that they switched to these chinese machines gave me more confidence.

Look, I know I took a gamble. But if the machine lasts the 6 years it is warranted for I will be happy and I will learn the business. If it is a piece of crap I will sell it and find a used 4 head Barudan after Ricoma spent hours upon hours of tech support teaching me how an Embroidery machine works.

I bought the MT-1501, $12,500 with 0% financing. Biggest single head they make, with a 14x20 sew size and completely open underneath so you can do big bulky items. If i only have one, I want it to do anything.

It gets delivered on Monday.

Ok - questions. I knew I wanted Wilcom, and the Ricoma comes with Wilcom. Wait? Its a crappy outdated version? Loopholes already.
I am gonna outsource everything in the beginning, but will DecoStudio E3 lite at least let me do custom Monograms, etc easily?
I need to be able to buy stock designs online and name drop them for retail stuff right away.

Should I just upgrade the Wilcom software right away rather than messing with something out of date? I see they have “levels” and I was thinking the “lettering and editing” option, BUT DOES THIS LEVEL offer any autodigitizing functionality at all?

I must say, my Ricoma salesman Juan was very honest I am better off talking to Wilcom directly then bothering to buy it from Ricoma. He said all he could offer me is full E4 for $3500 and he knew it was much cheaper to upgrade the decostudio after I get my machine.
BTW, i have a 8 year old MacBook so I have to buy a new laptop first anyways.

And Hats - Can I use the software to redo a stock design for a hat center out or does it have to be re digitized from scratch? I am stressed about hats and artwork, I use resort plastisol transfer companies that have amazing art they redo as my local towns that Pay my rent all year round in just the summer, but I do not know anybody that will sell me good name drop resort hat embroidery files. I think I am just gonna have to work with a digitizer to make me 5-10 good hat designs from a few basic ideas.

Appliqué- this is going to be huge for me in retail sales. Thats the “look” in resort stuff and I can crank out full appliqué hoodies in 10,000 stitches and make turnover profit with a single head. I also think I can upsell my custom customers with appliqué. I can cut PSA twill with my graphtec for now but I already see a laser cutter in my future. I feel like the Stahls kissCut and Dalco is just kinda expensive by time you buy sew disk from them and everything else.
But the Stahls rip-away appliqué I FIRMLY believe is going to be retail gold in my store.

Biggest Question-

I am really close to getting TwillStitch Pro. I feel like this software will get me a lot of retail concepts I need ASAP without needing a digitizer, and I come from a Vector Adobe Illustrator background with custom transfers and vinyl so i feel like i could figure it out quickly.

There are a lot of great reviews on TwillStitch Pro on this site, but most of them are pretty dated, especially when it cone to computer software.

Would I be better off just getting a higher teared Wilcom and learning how to make the Appliqué in Wilcom from the beginning?

I do not want to spend $500 on TwillStitch if its outdated when I could just put that towards upgrading Wilcom, But if it really does work as well as advertised and will be a complement to Wilcom in the future anyways I will just get TwillStitch Pro first and live with DecoStudio lite for now?.!.?.!

Let me know what you guys think....

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I would strongly suggest having a look at the Hatch software. It is also made by Wilcom and includes a lot of what you would pay extra for in the full-on Wilcom software. You would not have as much control of certain things but doubt that you really need it in the beginning. They offer a 30 day free trial - so nothing to lose by testing it out.
There are also facebook pages devoted to Hatch. See what is being produced there. I think you will be impressed.
Good luck.

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2,732 Posts
If you read the older posts on twill stitch pro, you probably found the writeup I did back in 2008 or somewhere around there. Honestly, haven't used it since... I had/have the older version, they came out with an updated version but I've never seen it. Instead of spending $500 on that, listen to Alison and spend the $1200 on Hatch or download the trial and use it for free for 30 days - most of what you learn using it should cross over to the Wilcom you already have. If I didn't have hundreds of files ties up in Embroidery Office (which came with our machine, don't even THINK about buying ANYTHING from Sierra....) I would have bought the full blown version of Hatch already, it seemed to do everything I need to do.

If you are just starting on embroidery and you are entering your busiest time of year, ask yourself, do you really have time to learn how to operate the machine AND learn how to digitize? No... learn the machine, outsource your digitizing for now. When you calm down after the summer, take some of the designs that you have paid to have digitized, watch how they sew out, learn how the person before you attacked the design. You will thank me later.

I'm not far from you and I'm down in Brick every couple of weeks, give me a shout if you need help. If you need appliques digitized, I might be able to help or I can HIGHLY recommend Dana, she's done a number of designs for me, they all sew out perfect. I had her digitize a design for me last week and I had the file in a couple of hours... I'm not familiar with your machine but if you have questions, post something in this forum, some problems are not specific to the machines themselves...

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And Hats - Can I use the software to redo a stock design for a hat center out or does it have to be re digitized from scratch? I am stressed about hats and artwork, I use resort plastisol transfer companies that have amazing art they redo as my local towns that Pay my rent all year round in just the summer, but I do not know anybody that will sell me good name drop resort hat embroidery files. I think I am just gonna have to work with a digitizer to make me 5-10 good hat designs from a few basic ideas.
Depending on the design, the answer is "maybe"... I've seen some designs that sew out OK on a cap even though they were not designed for a cap and I've seen others that sew fine on flats but complete crap on hats. In most cases, assume the answer is no...

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hatch is my backup plan. What I have read it is amazing close to full blown Wilcom for a lot less money. I am going to register the Wilcom DecoStudio lite that comes with the machine right away and then I can request an Upgrade price from them.. if it’s not to much more I will go to E4, but if its still a huge difference I will just go with Hatch. Ive heard they want $1800 for the upgrade, think it would be worth the extra $600 over Hatch.
I do find it interesting tough that even if you ask Wilcom what the difference is directly, they will tell you Hatch is for Hobby use and E4 is for Commercial use. Its like they don’t want to admit that Hatch is mostly the same thing at a much better price point.

Tfalk -
You are 100% right I do not have time to learn digitizing going into my busy season. That’s exactly what I am planning.
I was thinking about getting TwillStitch Pro because Appliqué on Hoodies and Zip-ups is my #1 objective for the upcoming season and I figured that software would get me going with it quicker. However, I think you are right, just outsource the appliqué designs like everything else for now and save the money to put towards Hatch or upgrading my DecoStudio to Wilcom E4 after the summer and learn how to do Appliqué in that software.

I would love to have somebody who knew the business stop by my store and give me a few tips.

I am going to reach out to Dana at DixieDesigns with a bunch of stuff. She seems to be very highly regarded on this site and I have read quite a few of her posts and like her approach. from everything I have read having top quality digitizing is key to a good design, and will help me tremendously starting out to know the files were done correctly by somebody I can easily reach out to if I have any trouble.

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