Should We Embroider?

Image Credit: Photo by Chris F / Pexels 

Author: Ethical Swag

There is often a choice between transfer print, silkscreening and embroidery when decorating your swag. We wanted to unpack the pros and cons of each to help guide your decision. Here is the first in our two part series. If you are looking for part two, click here for HEAT TRANSFER AND SILKSCREENING.



  • Durable!  
    • Embroidery is long-lasting - so much so that it may outlive your swag!  This is great on fleece, heavy cotton, canvas, jackets, blankets, etc. but might be overkill on a t-shirt.  
    • It can be washed, does not shrink and doesn’t break down like some other methods (heat transfer may peel following many washes).
  • Versatile!  
    • We can often embroider over seams which comes in handy for some items!
    • We can do small and large quantities.
  • Professional
    • You can’t deny, it looks fabulous!  It looks great for your brand, high quality, crisp and professional.  That is the story you are telling with your brand so it ties in nicely!
  • Better on certain items
    • A ball cap, for example, is best embroidered.  Ball caps are thick, heavy fabric with lots of seams. Thin fabrics will get weighted down and pucker.


  • Cost
    • Usually more expensive but sometimes you have to pay for high impact!  Embroidery has a high impact.
    • Cost is based on size and number of stitches so keep this in mind.  We will include the cost on your estimate before sign-off and payment.  Unlike silkscreening, which has a run charge for each additional color, cost is independent of number of colors, it is a flat rate based on number of stitches.
    • You will need a .dst file format for embroidery.  Not to worry, we take care of this for you and will keep it on file for future projects.  It will cost a small fee to digitize the file the first time and will be included in your Estimate.  And we are happy to give you the file so you have it internally as well.
  • Colors
    • You can specify thread color and we will match as closely as possible but it may not be an exact color match.
    • We are unable to capture a fade or gradient in your design when embroidering.

  • Highly Detailed Logo
    • Finer details will be lost so if your logo has lots of fine detail, this may not be the way to go.
    • Small text doesn't work well. Larger clearly defined text works best.

  • Stitches 
    • Needle will “puncture” the fabric so embroidery is not recommended for waterproof and water resistant fabrics if you want to keep the rain out!

How to choose

We are here to help and it will depend on the artwork and the fabric.

  • Artwork
    • Simple, with large blocks of color.  So if there is a fade or gradient in your logo, lots of small text or high detail, this might not be the way to go.
  • Fabric
    • You don’t want anything that might shrink in the wash like a t-shirt.  Embroidery does not shrink.
    • If the fabric is lightweight, embroidery can pucker the fabric, so not ideal!