Screen Printing VS Embroidery: Which type of T-shirt printing is best?

Embroidery and screen printing are the most popular types of t-shirt printing methods, allowing creators to transform their custom designs and ideas into high-quality garments.

However, these two printing options deliver fundamentally different results and are better suited to specific projects, so knowing which one is best for your project can be challenging.

So, which type of t-shirt printing is best for your project? We’re here to help you make the right choice. In this article, we break down the screen printing vs embroidery debate, covering the differences between these two popular printing methods and providing our top tips on choosing the right one.

Close up of an embroidery machine. The needle is in the process of stitching the border or an embroidered logo onto a mustard coloured jumper.

Table of Contents

  1. What is the difference between screen printing and custom embroidery?
  2. Is it cheaper to embroider or print?
  3. What kind of printing on shirts is best?
  4. What is Screen Printing vs Digital Printing?
  5. Embroidery vs Printing: Which is better?
  6. Discover Screen Printing and Custom Embroidery at Buytshirtsonline

What is the difference between screen printing and custom embroidery?

Embroidery and screen printing both offer excellent results for t-shirt personalisation. However, the best one for your project depends on your preferred customisation and clothing style and what you expect from your clothing in terms of longevity. 

Below, we’ve explored these two types of t-shirt printing, including what each service entails and what you can expect the finished products to look like. 

What is screen printing?

Screen printing, also known as silk screening or silk printing, is the process of printing custom designs, logos and text onto t-shirts and other garments. 

The process uses a mesh screen and an ink-blocking stencil. When correctly positioned, ink is evenly distributed, pushed through the stencil and transferred onto the fabric surface. The ink is applied through beautiful, porous mesh screens, allowing for subtle and intricate designs. 

Screen printing is perfect for bulk orders, offering quick results at a low price point. 

A girl with dark hair, wearing sunglasses, smiles happily into the camera. She is wearing an over-sized white t-shirt that has the words 'straight up' emblazoned across the front. Her hair is wavy and she is sitting outside on a sunny evening.

What is embroidery?

T-shirt embroidery is the process of stitching a custom design, logo or image onto a garment of your choice, for example, a polo shirt or hoodie. Our skilled team uses state-of-the-art embroidery machines, creating custom garments that stand out.

We first digitise your logo or design for the embroidery process to be ready for the machine.. Then, we colour-match the embroidery threads that will be used for your design, ensuring a perfect match. Our service offers a wide range of thread colours, so no matter your design or idea, it can be executed perfectly. 

The t-shirt embroidery machine has a framing mechanism that keeps the garment’s fabric embroidery area taut under the sewing needs, and the machine will move the frame accordingly. Once completed, we quality-check each product to ensure it meets our standards.

Close-up snapshot of a man wearing a black custom embroidered polo shirt. He has the top button of the collar undone, creating a cool, laid back look. The polo shirt is black and on the chest there is a small white embroidered logo. The backdrop is a blue sky.

Is it cheaper to embroider or print?

Generally, screen printing is cheaper than embroidery. However, this depends on your project requirements, order size, and colours. 

Screen printing is cost-effective, time-efficient, and a great way of customising larger order quantities while ensuring impeccable quality and results. As a result, it’s the ideal choice for bulk buying or one-off events, and it suits all clothing customisation needs.

However, it’s important to note that each colour is applied individually during screen printing. The more colours in your design, the more expensive screen printing can be.

Embroidery is most cost-effective for smaller orders and designs.

What kind of printing on t-shirts is best?

Different printing methods are better suited for different projects. Below, we discuss which garments these types of t-shirt printing methods are best for.

What garments is screen printing best for?

100% cotton shirts are best for screen printing. This is because high-cotton-density garments absorb moisture easily, allowing the ink to stick to the fabric well and preventing the ink from bleeding.

However, cotton and poly blend t-shirts can also deliver quality results.

A plain black ladies cotton t shirt. This t-shirt is available in various colours and is perfect for adding screen print designs. It is available in various colours and can be styled for professional or casual purposes.

Fruit of the Loom Lady-Fit Value Weight

What garments is embroidery best for?

Custom embroidery is best for high-cotton-density items like polo shirts, as thicker fabrics can handle the pulling from the stitching and won’t break down or become damaged.

With this in mind, polo shirts are an excellent, versatile garment choice for custom embroidery and are our most recommended apparel for embroidery. They are often created using more durable fabrics that can withstand the embroidery process without damaging the garment.

Moreover, polo shirts and embroidery are synonymous with workwear and smart casual clothing, making them ideal for achieving a bespoke, professional finish you will be proud to show off at work or charity events.

A plain navy blue polo shirt, set against a white backdrop. All button done up. This t-shirt is by fruit of the loom and is perfect for embroidery. It is available in various colours, and you can find styles for men and women in the collection. This polo shirt would be great for uniforms.

Fruit of the Loom Premium Polo Shirt

At Buytshirtsonline, we stock a fantastic range of polo shirts in various colours for men, women and children. We also stock unisex polo shirts, so we’re confident you’ll find something to suit you.

What is screen printing vs digital printing?

The main difference between screen printing and digital printing is the colour process. Screen printing applies one colour at a time, while digital printing produces a multiple-colour print in one go. 

Digital printing is more modern than screen printing, using the latest technologies to deliver highly-detailed results. With digital printing, your design is analysed on a computer and converted into a format directly printed onto your garment. In contrast, screen printing uses stencils to press ink into the fabric one colour at a time.

A man is facing away from the camera, he is wearing a white t-shirt with a black screen printed image on the back. The image pictured on his shirt is a lighthouse and a beach theme. The sun is rising in the background. It is purely black on a white base, no colour. The logo says 'cobbles classic'.

Embroidery vs screen printing: Which is better?

Embroidery and screen printing both offer high-quality results. However, these two types of t-shirt printing each have pros and cons, making the best one dependent on your project requirements.

Embroidery is renowned as the most durable type of t-shirt printing, creating custom designs that withstand multiple washes without breaking down or suffering wear and tear. It also adds extra professionalism to your clothing, making it a popular option for customising workwear or school uniform. With this in mind, if durability and professionalism are important to your project, embroidery is the best type of t-shirt printing.

Screen printing is the perfect t-shirt printing method for those looking to customise a large design on garments, such as t-shirts. The same also applies to intricate designs, such as transferring photographic images or artwork to a clothing item, as the silk screen printing machine requires the usage of more colour to capture every detail.

A lady holds up a white t-shirt with a pink printed design on the front, reading 'Best Mom Ever'.

Discover Screen Printing and Custom Embroidery at Buytshirtsonline

Buytshirtsonline is proud to offer state-of-the-art embroidery and screen printing for all your custom projects. With over a decade of t-shirt printing experience and a passion for creating premium custom clothing, we combine the latest technologies with precision and skill, helping you create unique garments that stand out. 

We stock an impressive range of industry-leading brands like Fruit of the Loom, Gildan and Stanley/Stella, so we’re confident you’ll find a style to suit you!

Shop our complete collection today and transform your design ideas into bespoke, custom garments with screen printing and embroidery services at Buytshirtsonline.

Related Articles

Everything you need to know about custom embroidery

The top 5 benefits of embroidery

Comments are closed here.