Embroidery vs. Screen Printing: Which One Should You Choose?

Elanor E. Gary
Looking to customize your clothing items but can’t decide between embroidery and screen printing? Our latest article compares these two techniques, discussing their differences, benefits, and drawbacks to help you decide on your next project. Let’s get started!

Embroidery and screen printing are popular methods of customizing clothing and promotional items. Despite having unique advantages and limitations, these two deliver quality work. Choosing between them depends on budget, design complexity, and desired outcome. Embroidery is a more long-lasting choice and gives your fabrics a professional look, but screen printing is more cost-effective and always works best in large designs. But read through this comparison before deciding what’s best for you.

Table Of Contents

What Is Embroidery?

Embroidery is a stitching process that involves decorating fabrics using a needle and thread. Once a design is identified, it is created on the material using a specialized embroidery machine or by hand. The stitching process involves using yarn in beautiful colors with a natural feel. Embroidery allows you to feel the authentic artwork of logos on fabrics.

What Is Screen Printing?

Screen printing is simply an art form. It involves taking pictures or graphics on the shirt or other surfaces by pushing colors from a mesh screen. The technique involves using stencils or meshes to transfer ink onto a surface. The ink is then applied on top of the screen, and a squeegee is used to push the ink through the stencil onto the surface, creating the desired design.

Screen printing is known to reduce production time at a low cost. It can help when you need bulk production. It is best on fabrics like polyester, silk, and cotton. Screen printing is commonly applied to designing t-shirts, animated kid’s clothing, and other dresses.

Screen Printing vs. Embroidery: How to Choose? 

1. Cost

As an entrepreneur, the cost will primarily affect most of your decisions. Owning something is already costly, so you don’t always want to spend more. But in this situation, it is also important to note that neither of these two is cheaper. The cost of embroidery and screen printing is affected by the design's complexity and the garments' quality.

When you go for embroidery, it is best to choose a flat-rate cost to ensure your design doesn’t depend on many colors. Embroidery allows you to have up to 15 colors at little or no extra cost. But with screen printing, the number of colors predominantly affects the price. Each new color leads to a new mesh, which costs extra. Screen printing is only cheaper when going for large designs and logos.

2. Durability

Before designing your clothes, durability is a significant factor that you must always consider. You can understand that embroidery is more durable from the descriptions of these two. It is because embroidery is stitched on top of the fabric, unlike screen printing.

Screen printing is less durable because it can easily crack and fade after a short while, especially when washed at high temperatures. It can also melt when iron makes it less stable. Embroidery, however, created a lot of sophisticated weight, making it not susceptible to heat or any temperature changes. It can only be damaged if you decide to destroy the design.

3. Suppliers and Equipment

Before choosing how to design your material, you must consider the availability of the supplies and equipment that you will require during the printing process. Embroidery and screen printing make a vast difference in the type of equipment that is used.

When designing with embroidery, you will require stabilizers, needles, embroidery thread, hoops, and fine machines. Screen printing is, however, different. It requires film & dip tanks, washout booths and screens, photon emulsion paint, a drying rack, and a squeegee.

Though this equipment sounds like a lot, it is always easy to acquire. In embroidery, once you buy the embroidery machine, other items will come with it as a package. In screen printing, the main items are the ink and mesh screen. Once you have those, acquiring the rest of the items is easy. They are always sold in packages, and their prices are more affordable.

4. Quality

Screen printing and embroidery quality are measured by their ability to withstand harsh conditions without deteriorating in design. Clearly, in this comparison, embroidery has the best quality.

Even though screen printing is bold and big, embroidery is small and more professional. Embroidery is about 3 to 5 inches in size. Its size makes it more substantial because of the use of thread, which gives it a 3D look and texture. Embroidery creates high-quality designs, while screen printing gives crisp and sharp logos. Unlike embroidery, screen printing is good on lightweight clothes without creating holes that may cause the material to sag.

5. Suitability

The design you want essentially depends on the garment you want to decorate. Embroidery is always best for polo and golf shirts. Baseball caps, jackets, and business shirts: When used on these items, they look professional and stylish. Embroidery also works best with thick fabrics or materials like fleece.

On the other hand, screen printing is best on non-official clothing like hoodies and t-shirts. These items are less bulky, and if embroidery is used, it will lead to wrinkling and puckering. Items like hoodies also have a softer feel, which makes screen printing work best on them. Screen printing also needs material with a large area of design, which is best on T-shirts and hoodies.

6. Artwork

The quality of your design also depends on the artwork. Both of these two techniques require high-quality artwork so that they are considered of great worth. The artwork of embroidery and screen printing is far apart. The two require different layers and different color requirements.

When considering artwork, you require separate layers for multicolor designs so that each color can print individually. Screen printing requires a thin layer of colors, but embroidery requires a more dense artwork. Their artwork can be vectorized and changed to a desired line to produce a clean image.


From the comparison, it is worth noting that embroidery is always the best option if you are still deciding what to choose. However, many factors affect your choice, including the size of your material, the material itself, and your current budget. Before deciding, consider the following factors to ensure you get the best design for your clothes.

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