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What are we talking about? You may have guessed from the name of this article, it's custom embroidery.

Complete Guide To Custom Embroidery

If you know us here at Superior Ink, you know we're much more than screenprinters. We are day in and day out crafting legacies and building brands that will be remembered for generations. Every brand we work with has a mission in this world, and we thrive when our brands thrive. As we keep adding more and more ways to serve the brands we have the honor of working with, we want to showcase a side of Superior Ink that has at times remained in the shadows and sought out by brands that are looking to take the next step in their evolution.

What are we talking about? You may have guessed from the name of this article, that it's custom embroidery. Custom embroidery is to screen printing as Lamborghini is to Volkswagen (yeah, the fantasy of the people is made by the car of the people). It's a luxury introduction to the same company, and it's a perfect fit for brands that are ready to elevate their brand perception.

So, if you are already making custom merchandise and you are ready to layer on luxury, it may be time for embroidery to become a part of your portfolio. In this article, we are going to break down our process for crafting custom embroidery merch, and how we go beyond logos to fit your brand perfectly.

The Custom Embroidery Process

Embroidery is a craft steeped in history and artistry and appears complex at first glance. At Superior Ink, we love taking complicated concepts and distilling them down to their core...then recreating them for the world to see. This is where embroidery and design introduce themselves and go out for a drink to get to know each other better.

Similar to obtaining a screen printing quote, the journey kicks off with digitizing the client's design, a critical step to ensure the embroidery machines can interpret and stitch the design accurately. Digitizing isn't just a technical necessity; it's an art form in its own right. At this point, we discover if the design is a good fit for embroidery and if embroidery is a good fit for the garment. This is crucial to see if anything needs to be adjusted, or if sewing on a patch would match the integrity of the design better.

A test sew-out follows, providing a tangible preview for client approval before production starts up. This approach to design and digitization ensures quality from the beginning because embroidery presents unique challenges, particularly on items like structured hats or garments in inaccessible areas. It also keeps the brand involved making sure that the capabilities and limitations of embroidery for the project are clear before anything is sent to production. Because when our clients are happy, we're happy too.

A Note On Patches:

The decision between direct embroidery and patches often comes down to the specific needs and preferences of the project. Patches are particularly recommended for detailed designs on small spaces, offering a versatile and visually appealing solution. Our team works directly with you to design a patch that is then sent to be manufactured, comes back to us, and is sewn onto the blank.

Custom patch application

This is a great solution for any apparel that showcases the elevation of embroidery on a variety of surfaces. About 30% of the projects that go through the embroidery plant are some sort of patch application or custom patches. Patches can also provide more detail because of the size of the stitches on patches vs the large stitches associated with embroidery. So, when we sew your patch on the blank, we can be sure it's a patch made in embroidery heaven...

Stitching At Scale

As a company, we've loved growing the embroidery side of things. It's a natural next step for a lot of our brands that are already producing custom merch. As with everything we do, it's about intentionality and sustainability. In 2020 when we added embroidery to our offerings, there was a lot to learn. Thankfully, our embroidery department consists of a dedicated team that does everything from patches, embroidery, digitization, and production.

That team includes an embroiderer with over 20 years of experience. It's been exciting to see this side of production take shape and now we have 54 machines able to embellish about 30 to 40 pieces per hour, which has made it much more cost-effective on the consumer side and efficient on the operations side. This makes it an easy entry for bulk orders that other shops aren't able to handle. With over 800 colors of thread that we offer, we know we can get the color match right while adding in a little sustainability by reducing waste. That's just who we are, always looking for ways to support sustainable production even when working with volume.

Choosing the Right Apparel for Embroidery

The first part of selecting the right garment for the embroidery process is thinking about how the end product will appear. Simply from a practical standpoint, when you paint a brick wall it's going to have a different effect than if you are just painting smooth sheetrock, even though it may be the same quality paint. Similarly, when you embroider a surface that has texture, the result will be different than a sew-out on a smooth surface.

The great part about embroidery is that it can be adapted to the needs of the brand simply by bringing in aspects such as patches or having a portion of it screen printed and then the finishing touches added with embroidered details (but more on that later).

T-shirts are a natural hell-yes for screen printing, so we don't fix what ain't broke. However, this is where opportunity knocks with hoodies, polos, hats, jackets, and backpacks. Some of these options are often hard (or impossible) to screen print. Not just considering the bulk of some of these options, but also the material they are made of. Polyester is something that embellishes well but won't sustainable screen-print well as an example. Think of a puffy polyester-filled jacket that deserves some personality but wouldn't work at all as a canvas for screen printing.

This is where things get rolling, because embellishing things that aren't normally screen printed, brings into account materials that are by nature more delicate. Think of high-quality garments such as a North Face jacket or Lululemon merchandise. You wouldn't associate those brands directly with screen printing, but seeing an embroidered logo enhances the already exclusive reputation of the brand.

What about waterproof garments? Our process involves applying a backing post-embroidery, at this point, we consider the fabric's heat and pressure tolerance and move forward only if we can ensure a waterproof seal. It allows for us to have it as an option depending on the material set to embellish.

This step is crucial to be worked through as a collaboration with the brand, making sure the end product will match the vision and live up to performance. We know that you know the most sustainable garment is the one that is used over and over again.

A Note On Combining Embroidery and Screen Printing:

Incorporating both embroidery and screen printing into a single project allows for a rich diversity of texture and depth that no one technique could achieve alone. This approach has enabled us to create standout pieces that push the boundaries of what was thought possible. By layering the tactile dimensionality of embroidery atop the vibrant, expansive coverage of screen printing, we can produce garments that are visually engaging and highly customized. Our process, refined through communication and coordination of both our embroidery and screen printing departments, can incorporate the use of both techniques on the same garment. We typically begin with screen printing to lay down a broad canvas of color and detail, followed by embroidery to add nuanced, elevated elements that bring a premium feel to the final product.

Elevating Premium Company Apparel With Embroidery

Within every organization, a distinct culture emerges, shaped from the top down and deeply influenced by how each team member perceives their contribution to the company. In the realm of corporate or company apparel, we love the elegance of embroidery over screen printing. Embroidery offers a level of sophistication and premium quality unmatched by other methods, serving not just as branding but as an investment in the team your company has diligently assembled. It provides your employees with apparel they genuinely like to wear, enhancing their sense of belonging and pride.

Opting for embroidery means choosing garments of superior quality, which naturally conveys a message of value. This perception of value isn't just noticed by your team, but also extends to your customers, enhancing your brand's image. Moreover, the durability and perceived worth of embroidered apparel discourage the notion of it being disposable, ensuring that these items are treasured and utilized long-term. This is a strategic way of pairing the premium look of custom embroidery with the premium offerings your company works hard to get out into the world. Plus it sets a great tone for new hires that instantly become part of your company's well-dressed work family.

Where Will Custom Embroidered Merch Take You?

Embroidery at Superior Ink is more than just a service; it's a craft we are damn passionate about. We love seeing designs that were once flat and lifeless become wearable art in a matter of seconds.

As we continue to innovate and expand our embroidery capabilities, we hope you are right there with us exploring the possibilities that custom embroidery can bring to your brand. If you are looking to add a touch of luxury to your existing merch line or just getting ready to dip your tow into custom merch, don't go it alone. Superior Ink is here to guide you every step of the way.

Get in touch with us today to get a quote started and let's work together to craft some premium embroidered merch you won't be able to stop running your fingers over. We've got you covered with our comprehensive range of custom embroidery, design, relabelling, transfers and screen printing in Denver CO.

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2650 W. 6TH AVE
DENVER, CO 80204
(303) 761-4106
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