Embroidery or Screen Printing: What should I choose?
Apr 13, 2021
By Eva Reinoso Tejada :::
When you are trying to personalize apparel to brand your business and provide your team a professional look, the top two choices you find are embroidery and screen printing. Embroidery is an ancient technique where an image, text, drawing, or logo is stitched to a garment with one or more colors of thread. Screen printing, on the other hand, is made by pressing a thick ink through a meshed screen that has been “burned” with an image. A multiple-color screen printing project requires a different mesh for each color printed and they need to be printed in an aligned or “registered” fashion. After all colors have been laid on the fabric, it is then passed through an oven to cure and permanently fix the ink to the fabric.
These are the questions that you need to ask to decide between screen printing and embroidery:
1. Size of the design: If you are planning in decorating on a large area of the garment, like the front or back of a t-shirt, you are better off using screen printing (see example of a two-color full back printed t-shirt). A large area of coverage is easier and more affordable to reach with ink than with stitches of thread. A full back logo could have at least 50,000 stitches, and that will raise the price of your project considerably, as it is very time consuming to make. The exception: If you are decorating the back of a jacket, it will always look better if it is embroidered, as the embroidery sits better on the texture of the jacket and looks very good. I always use the rule of thumb: if you are investing in a jacket, you might as well invest in the embroidery. It is like buying an upscale stove or fridge for a big house. Click here to see an example of a full back embroidered logo by Image Impressions.
2. Number of colors of the design: Considering that each color implies a screen, for screen printing, if you have a logo with 8 colors, but the size is not too big (like a left chest logo), embroidery is your best option.
3. Amount of money invested on the garment: If you are paying $30 or $40 for a polo shirt, it will be worth it to embroider the logo, and keep a more elevated look, as embroidery is perceived as “better” and more valuable overall. If you are spending $8 - $12 on a t-shirt, it is almost expected that it will be printed.
4. Complexity of the design / logo: This is a tough one. More colors will cost you more money on screen printing, but if a logo has too many details, small text, and fine lines, it will not be easy to embroider. If you are embroidering small text, usually any letter that doesn’t reach 0.25” in height, will probably not look as crisp as you would like. It cannot be understated how important it is to make logos as simple and clean as possible, while keeping the spirit of it. Many times, a logo that has been used for online platforms, or for paper printed products, will need to be further adjusted to be able to produce the desired outcome when applied to fabric via screen printing or embroidery.
This is an oversimplified view of the decision-making process between screen printing and embroidery. The best way to make this decision is to talk to your printer / decorator, as they do this every day. Ask them questions, explain to them what you are trying to achieve and what is your desired outcome, as well as your budget. Ask them if your logo can be improved to achieve the best possible outcome. They will be able to guide you further and suggest the ideal decoration process for your circumstances. We, at Image Impressions provide free consultations for any apparel decoration, and you will always talk to a live person, by telephone or by visiting our store at 6801 Broadway, Denver, CO 80221. At the time of publishing this blog, we are running a special where you buy 12 pieces of decorated apparel and the 13th piece is free. Take advantage of this limited-time offer, see more details here.
This is a good example of a clean, elegant, and streamlined logo and how it produces the best results for apparel decoration. This customer ordered a variety of products that were decorated with embroidery, such as hats, blankets, and fleece jackets.