Simple steps for killer threads

There’s a lot of custom merchandise out there, and making yours stand out can sometimes feel like a challenge. One way to show the world that you mean business is by using embroidery for your design, and this is a technique which works especially well on t-shirts.

(To see some inspiration, check out our post on brands with killer embroidered tees.)

T-shirt embroidery is a classic design technique that instantly speaks to quality and durability, and will make your merchandise stand out amongst a crowd. If you’re here because you’re considering the embroidery route, we have gathered some basic tips for you to keep in mind.

Top tips for creating custom embroidered t-shirts

Keep it simple

Embroidery gets the best results when the designs aren’t over-complicated, especially when it comes to the thinner fabric of a t-shirt. Remember that dense, large designs can pull on fabric and cause t-shirts to hang differently, so if you are aiming for something more ambitious, be sure to test a few prototypes before rolling out a whole order of the design. The beauty of embroidery is that it is itself an eye-catching design element, adding texture and drawing the eye without needing to be intricate or fussy.

Get creative with placement

While the breast or the center of a shirt are the more obvious places for embroidery – which is of course because it sits so well on these spots – it is also worth considering where else you might want to embroider. If your brand identity embodies a different kind of energy, then you can try to reflect this with your embroidery placement too. Perhaps a discreet logo placed at the nape of the neck aligns with the refinement of what you offer, or a design that sits along the ribs is more in the spirit of your edgier clientele?

Consider 3D puff embroidery

It’s worth remembering that there is more than one way to embroider, with the main two options being Flat Embroidery and 3D Puff Embroidery. While flat embroidery, which sits flush with the fabric, is the most versatile and therefore the most common, there is a lot to be said for considering 3D embroidery where appropriate. The 3D style is built out in a raised design that more prominently catches the light, and works really well as a way to make small, simple designs stand out even more.

Adjust how you think about colour

Remember that unlike with printing, the colour of embroidery has a more dynamic quality. This means you can actually be much more creative with it – weaving together different tones for a textured shade that changes with the light, or using a thread the same colour as your fabric for a subtle decal that can feel very rich and elegant. This works especially well when the fabric is a bright colour, as the fabric and thread will both reflect light differently.

Embroidery isn’t just for logos

While the most obvious and the most common kind of merch embroidery is based around brand logos, it’s great to remember the other ways you can use it. Floral embroidery is one of the most traditional designs, and taking inspiration from this to add small motifs or emblems to your t-shirt might be a way to make it stand out. A simpler alternative is to use thread to produce a patterned garment – maybe you want to embroider a false pocket, or add some stripes to the sleeve? 

Want to create your own embroidered t-shirts? ICON Printing offer fast turnaround printing on a range of garments, counting a number of clients ranging from such as WeWork to Boiler Room and the Tate. Get a quote in 2 minutes online.