In promotional items, “decorating” means imprinting on something. It’s often used specifically for apparel like shirts, hats and uniforms.
The three standard types of apparel decorating most businesses use are:
- embroidery: stitching words or a design with thread
- screen printing: ink in solid fields of color
- direct to garment (DTG):digital imprinting, photographic
These are other ways to imprint. For instance, vinyl cuttings are great for numbers on football uniforms, but in promotions, businesses are typically getting lots of shirts with the exact same imprint. You usually get the best price-benefit sweet spot with embroidery, screen printing or DTG.
stitching words or a design with thread
Embroidery is best for polos and office shirts, jackets and hats. It makes for a classy traditional look with a small logo on the front of a shirt or sleeve.
- set up costs are high, $50-$200 (one time)
- low minimums so you can order one at a time
- typically small designs are embroidered on nice shirts like polos and button down shirts
- traditional, classy look
- can be as fancy as the budget allows
- available on almost any shirt and other apparel
applying spot colors with moderately heavy ink on top of the fabric
Screen printing is typically used for t-shirts with designs using solid colors. It’s best when ordering 16 or more shirts and get’s very economical at higher quantities.
- mid-range set up costs, $30-$150 (discounted after first order)
- can be done on almost any shirt available
- solid spot colors only (no photographs or gradients)
- lots of shirt styles available
- when you need more than 24 shirts, this gets economical
- great piece price when ordering high volume
Direct to Garment (DTG)
digital imprinting, photographic
DTG is best for photographs and designs with gradients. They can be ordered in low quantities including one at a time.
- mid-range set up costs $30-$150 (one time)
- ink blends into fabric
- colors are a little muted, a little de-saturated
- good for photographs and gradients
- good for ordering one at a time and small quantities
- can be automated online for lots of repeat orders
- limited shirts styles and colors can be used for DTG