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Finishing

To Reinforce Or Not To Reinforce

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Have you ever lost sleep because you just couldn't decide whether or not to reinforce a banner. Or worst yet been embarrassed because you didn't even know how to reinforce? This third installment of "To or not to" series will help you get through such tough situations and let you catch up on your sleep!

Let us first discuss just what reinforcement is. There are only a handful of banner finishes which can actually be reinforced; here is a list of how we recommend each one be done:

○ Reinforced Hem – Place a webbing or car seatbelt (a bit overkill but hey, it's up to you) in the fold of the hem. Now proceed to sew or weld everything together.
○ Reinforced Pocket – Place a separate piece of material (usually same as the banner material) inside the pocket thus creating a pocket liner, or double pocket if you please. Now proceed to sew or weld everything together.
○ Reinforced Grommet – Place a patch of extra material (this could be anything from banner material to webbing to velour if you like), not much bigger than the grommet itself, where the grommet is going to be set in the banner. Now proceed to set the grommet making sure it goes through the reinforcement patch.
○ Reinforced Corners – Place a patch of material, usually triangular in shape, on the back of the banner right on the corners. Now proceed to sew or weld everything together.

Now that you know what you've always wanted to know, use these rules of thumb to decide whether or not you need reinforcement at all.

Do's

1 - Reinforce a hem if it's going to be an outdoor banner, especially if it's getting installed with grommets (yuck)
2 - Reinforce a pocket if the banner is made of mesh and requires aircraft cable/wire rope inside the pocket. The metal will cut through the weak mesh if the installation is long-term
3 - Reinforce a grommet only if your customer really, really, really insists. Putting a patch on a grommet has a placebo effect on the owner of the banner, not much else.
4 - Reinforce corners is also one of these placebo things. You will get the same strength out of a good reinforced hem. Most times the requirement for this comes from a finishing specification sheet that the customer has made on their own, or with the help of an engineer. Do it if the customer asks for it but don't offer it as a solution.

Dont's

1 - Reinforce a hem for indoor banners, very small (3' x 4') outdoor banners or short term outdoor banners.
2 - Reinforce a pocket on indoor banners, sewn outdoor banners (the stitching is the weakest link).
3 - Reinforce grommets with small pieces of material; it does not really do anything.
4 - Reinforce corners unless you have an engineer stamped finishing specification sheet or a pushy customer who thinks they know it all 😉

To Sew Or Not To Sew

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There are three ways to finish a banner; sew it, weld it or tape it. Seems pretty simple doesn't it? Well it isn't and we know this because people ask us all kinds of questions on the subject. Questions like "Can you sew these panels together to make one big banner?" or "What if I just tape the pockets in-house? Will that work?" or "What's stronger, sewing or welding?"

The sewing machine, one of the most important inventions of mankind and going strong since about 1810, has a warm gooshy place in the banner industry. It can do a lot but it can't do it all, here's a run down of the DOs and DON'Ts:

Do's

Sew anything indoors, it will last forever no matter what kind of thread is used. Where there is no sun, there is no UV breakdown of thread. Hemming all around; but if it's outdoor and large ask for some seatbelt webbing reinforcement.Back to back pole banners with sewn pockets, also ask for webbing but on the sides only.Use a special sewing machine called a serger (not to be confused with Sergio) to sew stretch fabrics so that the seam stretches with the fabric. Feel free to call us if you have any questions about sewing banners, sewing machines and threads.

Dont's

Use cotton or clear (like fishing line) thread for outdoor banners, it won't last more than a month. Sew multiple panels together to make a larger banner. Always get multi-panel jobs welded.Ask for sewn pockets on big outdoor banners and billboards.Use double sided tape instead of sewing for pole banners, they fall apart right quick.

A RULE OF THUMB

○ Sewing is reasonably strong, cheap and fast.
○ Welding is strong but slower and expensive.
○ Tape requires no tools but can be finicky; you can only use it on smaller banners.