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Clothing decorating methods – what’s the difference?

Ever wondered what the different decoration methods are for clothing and which one would be most suitable for you?

It can be a little bit confusing when it comes to picking the right branding method for your workwear and uniform.  Should you go for embroidery?  Or would it look better in vinyl or screen printed? Here’s an explanation of some of the methods we offer and the advantages/disadvantages of each.


Embroidery is by far the most popular type of branding method we supply when it comes to uniforms and workwear.  This process is where a machine puts multiple stitches into a garment such as a polo shirt using different coloured threads to make up a logo.  The embroidery process is extremely durable and creates a great finish, particularly if you have a good logo!  There is usually a setup cost involved where we need to ‘digitise’ your logo.  This is where a piece of software is used to redraw your logo onto a computer and add the ‘stitch’ elements to your logo as the embroidery machines will need to know how many stitches to use for your logo, when to change needle (which changes the thread colour), how dense and thick to stitch the design and lots of other information.  A good result is dependant on having a good digitised logo, which is why we take care to make sure your design is sampled first and you are happy with it before proceeding with any orders.

Embroidered Clothing Advantages

  • Extremely durable
  • Large Quantities no problem
  • Small Quantities no problem
  • No issues with wash temperature
  • Looks smart
  • Personalisation available
  • Repeat orders no problem with no additional setup costs

Embroidered Clothing Disadvantages

  • Setup costs can sometimes make smaller quantities unfeasible
  • Large logos not possible – every time the machine puts a stitch into a garment it pulls the fabric, so a large logo across a back of a t-shirt for example might feel uncomfortable to wear
  • Delicate material not ideal as it can ‘pucker’

Vinyl Transfer

Vinyl transfer is very popular with sports teams and trainers as it looks really vibrant and is great for personalisation.  Vinyl transfer is where a piece of vinyl material is cut out into the desired shape – this can be a logo, lettering or an outline.  We also supply printed vinyl transfer as an option.  The difference is we can print any logo design or even photograph and cut out rather than be limited to the colours of vinyl that are available.  Vinyl transfers are used a lot for personalised names and numbers on the backs of tops as well as people looking for a sleek design.

Vinyl Transfer Clothing Advantages

  • Bright, vibrant finish
  • Small Quantities no problem
  • Personalisation extremely easy
  • No setup costs (depending on artwork supplied)
  • Repeat orders no problem with no setup costs
  • Artwork can be resized for larger/smaller garments with little effort

Vinyl Transfer Clothing Disadvantages

  • Large volumes aren’t always cost effective (try screen printing)
  • Need to be careful when washing
  • Longevity isn’t quite as long as embroidery, although very hard wearing

Screen Printing

Screen printing is the process of applying ink onto a garment through a series of print ‘screens’.  Each colour in your logo will require a different screen for a different colour of ‘paint/ink’.  The screen printing process is great for large volume orders as once the screen is setup the cost per print is relatively inexpensive and gets cheaper the more garments are ordered.  It’s worth noting that although extremely durable you don’t get the ‘clean’ pure ‘fill’ that you would if you used a vinyl as the ink is passed through a screen, inevitably it will be slightly uneven in places, even when produced by an automatic machine.  We use a combination of manual screen printers and automatic machines depending on the quantities ordered and complexity of your artwork.

Screen Printed Clothing Advantages

  • Extremely durable
  • Ideal for large quantities
  • High levels of detail and small print available

Screen Printed Clothing Disadvantages

  • Setup costs can be quite expensive if lots of colours are in your artwork
  • Not ideal for small quantities due to setup costs
  • Unless you have multiple screens you are limited to one size artwork across multiple sized garments
  • Personalisation not possible
  • Repeat orders/one offs not possible without further setup costs

We can help suggest the best method to suit your requirements, just let us know what you are looking for and send us your artwork and we can help you make a decision!

There are also other clothing decoration methods such as DTG (direct-to-garment) printing, Rhinestone and Dye Sublimation just to name a few!  If you have any queries on any other method not mentioned here just send us an email and we’ll see how we can help!