Are you trying to decide between screen printing and embroidery?

Well, let’s start with the big question – what’s the difference between the two?

Screen Printing

Screen Printing, or silk screening as it is sometimes called, is a method of decoration that uses ink and screens to print designs onto fabric. Your design is burned into the screen so that when the ink is pressed across it, that ink can only be transferred through those open holes in the screen. With designs that have multiple colors, the colors are layered on one at a time from lightest to darkest. Each color in your design requires its own screen. Here at Shadows, state-of-the-art machines that can print thousands of shirts and 8 colors at a time. Once your design is printed, an industrial dryer is used to set the ink into the fabric to eliminate the bleeding of color.


Embroidery is the art of sewing your design into fabric. With embroidery, your logo has to be digitized, or formatted, in a way that our embroidery machines can read. Don’t worry, Shadows has a team of professional embroiderers that takes care of this step for you. Shadows houses 31 computer-controlled embroidery machines ready to stitch your logo or design onto your favorite polos, hats, bags, and more!


The type of item you want decorated is going to have the most influence over the decoration method used. Items with larger imprint areas (think tote bags, sweatshirts, and t-shirts) are most commonly screen printing as it is more cost effective to screen print larger designs. Screen printing also has a softer handle that is better for large logos and deigns. We do not recommend screen printing on hats, jackets, or textured items such as fluffy blankets or fleece jackets. The ink does not adhere to as consistently to these materials.

While almost anything can be embroidered, we don’t typically recommend lighter weight items, such as t-shirts, to be embroidered. This is because the stitching is often too “heavy” for the fabric and can cause puckering around the logo.

While almost anything can be embroidered, we don’t typically recommend lighter weight items, such as t-shirts, to be embroidered. This is because the stitching is often too “heavy” for the fabric and can cause puckering around the logo.


So, what’s easier on the wallet, screen printing or embroidery? Well, the answer to that question is going to depend on more than just the decoration method.  If you are making this decision based on price, you will have to consider the size of your design, the number of colors in your design and how many imprint areas you need. With both screen printing and embroidery your cost is going to go up with each additional imprint location. Some common examples of multiple imprint areas are t-shirts with a small left chest logo and a full back design or polos with a logo embroidered on the right sleeve and a name on the left chest.

Screen printing tends to be more cost effective for large orders, however, screen print pricing is largely determined by the number of colors in your design. The more colors you want means we need more screens, ink and labor to bring your design to life! Most of the designs we see here at Shadows are between 2 and 4 colors.

The nice thing about embroidery is that the number of colors in your design will not effect your cost, you can have one color or you can have 12 colors. The only catch is – if your design requires 10,000 stitches or more, it will cost you a little extra. Larger and more intricate designs take more time on the machine and require more thread to stitch out. Don’t worry though, most left chest logos are well under 10,000 stitches.

Also, consider how many items you want. The higher the quantity, the lower the cost per item. Keep in mind, our minimum order is 24 items with the same design.

Need some help figuring out which method will be more cost effective for your design?


Embroidery is often chosen for its durable properties because the design essentially becomes part of the garment. This means you can wash it as many times as you want without thread coming loose or colors fading. While both decoration methods are durable enough to last the lifetime of the shirt, screen printing decoration tends to fade and crack after a few years of wash and wear. Embroidery takes the cake in this round!


So long story short, screen printing is great for larger and more detailed designs while embroidery offers a long-lasting and highly professionally touch to your garment. Ready to get started? Here at Shadows,

we have the equipment and professionals ready to make your screen printing or embroidery dreams come true!