Embroidery is a customisation process which consists of applying decorative designs onto fabric using a needle. These motifs are traditionally rendered in thread and are composed of different kinds of stitches.



Once you've chosen the perfect garment, it's time to decide whether you want your logo or design printed or embroidered. They both deliver stunning results, but one or the other will suit your purposes, clothing, order quantity and design style best. Here's what you need to know.

Most people supply artwork in a digital format, either a .jpg, vectored Illustrator or rasterised Photoshop file. We have to re-draw the design before uploading it, a skilled job that puts it into a format our embroidery machines can read. Depending on the design, re-drawing and bringing your design to sparkling life can be either simple or very complicated.

We use state-of-the-art industry specific Computer Aided Design programs to convert a file so the design is embroidery-ready. It involves a number of processes including deciding the type of stitch, stitch frequency, stitch size and stitch direction. Once our digitiser has done their work we usually output your file as DST file, occasionally an alternative format.

Our digitisers are highly experienced and professional people. They make informed, intelligent decisions about designs to make sure the result is as good as it possibly can be. We never use the 'auto-digitise' tool in the software we use. That's just lazy, and it doesn’t deliver the best results.

We pride ourselves in doing a brilliant job every time, making sure the finished garments we create are the highest quality. It's what makes our work worthwhile.

Advantages of embroidery

  • it looks prestigious
  • great for small designs like company logos
  • ideal for sweatshirts, heavier T-shirts and school uniforms
  • no extra charges for repeat orders
  • embroidery area as big as 24 x 24cm

Disadvantages of embroidery

  • can be expensive for large designs
  • the level of detail can be limited

embroidery vs screen print

When is embroidery a better solution than printing?

Embroidery offers a more prestigious-looking, harder wearing and decorative solution. It's also textured, a 3d effect that simply shouts quality. It's ideal for:

  • Tough outdoor workwear that's washed frequently
  • Catering wear and kitchenware, which gets dirty fast and needs regular hot washes
  • When you want your people to look super-smart and make the best possible impression
  • If your budget doesn't stretch to regularly replacing worn out clothing
  • On our rain jackets and heavy winter jackets, which often come pre-treated with a water repellent coating that also repels printing inks and adhesives
  • On fleeces and knitwear, where the fluffy surface means it's impossible to print
  • On caps, where it creates a much better finish than printing

When is printing a better solution than embroidery?

Embroidery doesn't work all the time, for every order. Sometimes it's best to have your logo or design screen-printed or digitally printed instead, using a direct to garment digital process or even a vinyl transfer. Print is probably best when:

  • Your design is very detailed or features tiny lettering – text has to be at least 6mm height to be embroidered successfully. If your design isn't big enough and you want embroidery, we can often adjust the design to make it work, by enlarging the text and rearranging it to the right scale
  • Your logo has gradients, where an object in it gradually changes colour as you move across it, also called 'hombre'
  • When your logo is large. We usually quote for designs requiring up to 25,000 stitches. An ordinary left breast logo, for example, tends to be anything from 3000 stitches per line to 20,000 stitches for a particularly dense background stitched design, for example a university crest. The maximum size of an embroidered logo is usually 10cm x 10cm, which means it is most suited to the left breast area, arm or the nape of the neck
  • Embroidery has weight, which means it pulls on light fabrics and thin garments with a density of under 140 grams per square metre and looks nasty. Most modern sportswear is made of polyester, as are cheap T shirts and fashion wear
  • Embroidery can leave a slightly rough finish on the inside of the garment, which can irritate the skin when you move around a lot, for example when playing sport


  • create high resolution files of 300dpi, or 72dpi with extremely large dimensions
  • vector based images are the best as they can be easily amended and they can scale to any size without loss of details
  • try to avoid very small details in the artwork as the smallest stitch can maximum be 2mm, however this can be amended at our end to ensure a good result.
  • in order for the font to be legible, it needs to have a minimum height of 60mm or more. Different fonts may have different height requirements.
  • we can embroider up to 8 colours, but if your artwork contains more, we can assist you in amending the colours.
  • rasterise or outline the type to avoid it being replaced with a default one

What our customer say about our embroidery work

Despite the mother of all client deadline issues, Shirtworks came through with flying colours.I think the first time I used Shirtworks was 1986, so something must be working!

- John

Our company needed an urgent and good value sweatshirt order. *** was helpful and responsive throughout the process and helped us get the best deal for our requirements. The jumpers were not only looked exactly as we hoped but arrived early too. Thanks, Shirtworks!

- Lauren

*** was friendly and helpful over the phone and *** was patient and very quick to respond to alterations to the mock-ups. The t-shirts were delivered on time. The print quality is perfect. You've made us very happy and I'm looking forward to placing further orders with you.

- Chris