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Decoration Types - What Should I Use for a Garment?

  • updated 11 mths ago

Once you’ve selected your garments, you’ll need to select a decoration method. There are plenty to choose from, like screen printing, woven labels, patches, embroidery, and heat transfers. Each method is unique and will work differently depending on the application.

Below you’ll find general guidance about decoration methods we suggest for different garment types. Depending on the exact garment, we may have more restrictions on decorations or require additional time to test whether a decoration method will work.


T-Shirts

A casual shirt, these are open to many different decoration methods.

Our primary recommendation is screen printing for the best overall feel and range of artwork possible. Whether you’re looking at a company logo on a chest, or a large intricate design on a back, we can likely do it using screen printing.

Depending on the materials in your t-shirt, we may recommend different ink types.

  • Water based inks work well for mostly cotton or fully cotton t-shirts. This type of ink absorbs into the fibers, producing a softer print with a more retail feel, but can be less saturated in appearance with color accuracy varying by t-shirt color
  • Plastisol inks work well on all t-shirts. This type of ink sits atop the fibers, giving the print a tactile feel, but this also means more accurate colors regardless of the t-shirt color

If your art contains a high number of colors, or photographic elements, we may recommend these methods.

  • For high quantity orders (>144), we may recommend Digital Squeegee. This method has similarities to screen printing but utilizes elements of full color printing to produce complex art
  • For lower quantity orders (<144), we may recommend Direct to Garment printing. This method works on limited garments but allows for more complex prints at lower quantities

Alternatively, if you’re looking at other decoration methods, here’s our guidance.

  • Woven Labels would be our next recommendation. While these are size limited, they can serve as a subtle branding element on the bottom hem or arm hem of a t-shirt
  • Embroidery would come next but is admittedly less ideal. Depending on the weight of the material, and the size of the embroidery, it may create undesirable pinching in the material. It also requires backing inside the garment, which may be uncomfortable for the wearer
  • Patches are not recommended. Due to the lighter weight material of most t-shirts, the added weight of a patch would have an impact on its wearability

Hoodies

A casual sweatshirt with a hood, this garment is ideal for many different decoration methods.

Our primary recommendation is screen printing, providing the best general feel with the widest range of artwork options available.

Depending on the materials in your hoodie, we may recommend different ink types.

  • Water based inks work well for mostly or fully cotton hoodies. This type of ink absorbs into the fibers, producing a softer feel print, but can be less color accurate depending on hoodie color
  • Plastisol inks work well on all hoodies. This type of ink sits atop the fibers, giving the print a more solid feel, but this also means more accurate colors regardless of the hoodie color

If screen printing isn’t possible based on where you’d like the design, we may use heat transfers.

Alternatively, if you want a different decoration method, here’s our guidance.

  • Woven Labels could be an option to explore. These are size limited, but can serve as a subtle branding element on one of the various hems of the hoodie, or even the pocket
  • Embroidery is another option. Compared to t-shirts, many hoodies are made with heavier materials making pinching issues less likely. Additionally, since they’re more like to be worn with additional layers underneath, the backing material is less likely to rub directly on the wearer
  • Patches are also an option. Depending on the type of patch, the added weight may be noticeable when the hoodie is worn, but generally they’re less of an issue

Polos

A more formal shirt, these are open to a few decoration methods.

Our primary recommendation is embroidery for the best overall appearance and reliable results. Company logos or symbols placed on the left chest is a common choice that suit most polos. 

Alternatively, if you want a different decoration method, here is our guidance.

  • Woven Labels are an option to explore. These can be attached in a wide variety of locations, and the crisp appearance of art produced on one compliment most polos
  • Patches are available but not commonly used
  • Screen printing may be available but not commonly used. If the material cannot accommodate a screen print we may recommend the use of heat transfers and require a pre-pro

Button-Ups

A more formal shirt, these are open to many decoration methods.

Our primary recommendation is embroidery for the best overall appearance and reliable results. Company logos or symbols placed on the left chest is a common choice that suit most button-ups.

Alternatively, if you want a different decoration method, here is our guidance.

  • Woven Labels are a good option to explore. These can be attached in a wide variety of locations, and the crisp appearance of art produced on one compliment most button-ups
  • Patches are also a good option. There’s a wide variety of types to choose from, and since most button-ups are made with heavier materials they’re less likely to weigh it down
  • Screen printing may be an option, but it'll depend on the exact button-up. Many are made with materials that wick moisture, or have texture, that make a reliable direct print harder to do. If this type of decoration is desired, we may explore heat transfers and require a pre-pro

Jackets and Vests

A warmer layer, jackets and vests are open to many decoration methods.

Our primary recommendation is embroidery for the best overall appearance and most reliable results. Company logos or symbols placed on the left chest, or alternatively a back tag, are a common choice.

Alternatively, if you want a different decoration method, here is our guidance.

  • Woven Labels are a good option to explore. These can be attached in a wide variety of locations, and the crisp appearance of art produced on one compliment most jackets and vests
  • Patches are also a good option. There are a wide variety of types to choose from, and since most jackets and vests are made with heavier materials, they are less likely to weigh it down
  • Screen printing is not recommended. Most jackets and vests are made with materials that are difficult to print on and won’t produce good results
  • Heat transfers may be an option if your art cannot be produced otherwise. This comes with the caveat that a pre-pro will be required to determine whether the garment can accept heat without being damaged

Pants and Shorts

Pants and shorts are open to many different decoration methods.

Due to the wide variety of materials in this category, a primary recommendation is difficult to make. If you’d prefer the art is applied direct to the garment with an ink-like appearance, we’re likely to recommend screen printing if it’s mostly cotton-based, or heat transfers if it’s mostly synthetic (non-cotton fabrics).

Alternatively, if you want a different decoration method, here is our guidance.

  • Woven Labels are an option to explore. A small label on the waist, pocket, or hem of the legs can serve as a subtle branding choice
  • Embroidery is another option. Depending on the exact pants or shorts, where we can embroider it will vary, but smaller designs can produce a nice result without too much backing material rubbing against the wearer
  • Patches are not recommended

Hats

Hats are open to many different decoration methods.

Our primary recommendation is embroidery for the best overall appearance. Company logos or symbols commonly look great on the front of a hat, with text or a small icon accenting it on the back or side.

Alternatively, if you want a different decoration method, here is our guidance.

  • Patches are a great option to explore. There are wide variety of types to choose from and some, such as woven patches, can give you a sharp result with more detail than embroidery
  • Woven Labels are also an option. These can give you really crisp art, and be attached in a variety of locations
  • Heat Transfers may be an option on select hats. We only recommend this if your artwork is highly detailed and cannot be produced with other methods
  • Screen printing is not an option

Beanies

Beanies are open to a few decoration methods.

Our primary recommendation is embroidery for the best overall appearance. Company logos or symbols commonly look good on a beanie.

Alternatively, if you want a different decoration method, here is our guidance.

  • Patches are a great option to explore. There are a wide variety of types to choose from and some, such as woven patches, can give you a sharp result with more detail than embroidery
  • Woven Labels are also an option. These can give you really crisp art, and be attached in a variety of locations
  • Heat Transfers and Screen Printing are not an option

Cautionary Note

All guidance on this page is generalized to the product category. Depending on the garments you choose, the exact decoration options may be more restricted. In some cases, a pre-pro may be required as we need to confirm whether the decoration method will work with the materials.

  • 11 mths agoLast active
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