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Embroidery Tips: What Works and What Doesn’t


November 5, 2019


Adding an embroidered logo or slogan to a garment always adds a classy touch to it, and automatically elevates your product above common promotional items. When designing an embroidered item, however, there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure your customers have a quality shirt, jacket, or polo that they can wear proudly for the foreseeable future. Let’s take a look at some embroidery do’s and don’ts when it comes to creating your embroidery design:

Do: Use a simple design

Ralph Lauren Polo

Stitching creates a thicker line than ink, so designs that look great on paper can become convoluted and hard-to-read on fabric. Companies like Polo (the famous silhouette of a man on a horse), Lacoste (the very basic alligator), and Munsingwear (an outline of a penguin) have created fashion empires that have lasted decades by using simple and easily recognizable-branding. When working with embroidery, it’s smart to apply both clichés, “Keep It Simple Stupid,” and “Less is More” due to the transition from ink and paper to stitching and fabric.

Don’t: Go too big

Kid's Ralph Lauren Polo

To stay in the theme of clichés, if you are deciding between “Go Big or Go Home” when it comes to embroidery…go home! Large embroidered pieces only really work well on sports jerseys (hockey team patches, football numbers, etc.), and often make articles of regular clothing look like costume pieces, not to mention making their wearer look like a walking billboard. Small, tastefully done embroidered logos are a nice touch to most shirts. Large, garish, and look-at-me pieces will almost ensure your garment gets relegated to the giveaway pile next time your client cleans his or her closet.

Do: Use the correct fabric


Papa Johns Polo

Embroidered logos are great on outerwear, denim, and most knits (Polo, Lacoste, Penguin, etc.), but don’t really work well on cotton or performance fabrics. In most cases these items will look decent when you pop the tags off, but will be almost unwearable after a single wash. In most cases, embroidering lighter fabrics is a recipe for disaster because after the initial washing the material will gather around the embroidery and make the item look permanently wrinkled. Unless your market research indicates that your potential customers love ironing, or are into “shabby chic,” you should avoid this common pitfall.

Don’t: Use an overly detailed logo or excessive text


Beverly Hills Club Polo

Because of the increased thickness of the stitching, designs that look great on paper don’t always translate into great embroidery. Extremely detailed logos often become muddled during the transition and text often becomes crammed, making it difficult to read. Using the most basic version of your logo or an acronym for your slogan are both good options to avoid the common situation of the logo being almost unrecognizable when it’s embroidered.

Do: Properly place the embroidery

Raiders Crew Neck

A small logo on the left chest of a collared shirt is great. A massive company name in the middle of the chest is not. Embroidered logos look great when they are properly placed (chest, sleeve, or even the hood of a sweatshirt all work) and sized (tasteful, not overbearing). Large embroidered logos at the mid-chest make the garment look like it belongs with the team apparel (Starter, Majestic) or streetwear (Karl Kani, Cross Colors) of the early 90’s.

Don’t – Be too generic

While logos and branding should be simplified to avoid overcrowding, going too far in the opposite direction and watering down your message to the point where it loses meaning is also a bad idea.
Finding the correct balance of simple and effective can be challenging. To avoid some of the common mistakes listed above, it might be a good idea to employ or consult with a design professional before investing your hard earned money into any embroidered items.


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