10 Things You Need To Know When Ordering Embroidered Apparel
A polo shirt is a polo shirt. NOT! "Polo shirt" is just a term used to describe a knit shirt that goes over the head and has a collar. So it could be used to describe hundreds and hundreds of different shirts.
Though polo shirts are the most commonly embroidered promotional clothing item, there are jackets, woven shirts, hats and more for which embroidery is the optimal decorating choice.
Adding to the number of styles to choose from, you also need to think about sizes, colors, embroidery, artwork to use... whew, that's a lot of details! So let's break down what information you really need when you are ordering branded apparel for your trade show personnel or even for everyday wear.
1. Type of Garment. Do you need polos or woven dress shirts? Either are used for trade show and event staff use, although polos tend to be the more comfortable choice.
2. Fabric. How comfortable a shirt or jacket feels is largely determined by the fabric and your group's preferences. "Jersey" has a smooth surface and is used in both polos and T shirts. "Pique" has a textured surface and is usually a bit heavier than jersey. "Jacquard" has a patterned surface that's knitted in. There are also "performance" fabrics which are designed to release sweat and keep dry—good for golf outings and other warm weather events.
3. Mens, Ladies or Unisex Styles. While many women could wear a men’s shirt, a ladies cut shirt has a more flattering fit. If you have a lot of women working at your show or in your office, it is suggested to order styles that have a ladies fit. Looks better for your marketing image, feels better for them.
4. Size. Usually branded wearables are sized in Small, Medium, Large, etc. which are comparable to the same size designations in retail. So do not expect a totally custom fit. If you think sizing may be an issue, order blank samples before ordering your decorated apparel. Even though the samples are non-returnable, if you have a large quantity or dollar value order, it's worth it to be sure.
5. Quantity of Each Size. Get sizes in advance, don't guess! Since I always encourage people to go greener with their promotions, this eliminates the waste of both material and dollars that comes with over-ordering when you don't know sizes. Plus, by asking your recipients what sizes they want, it puts the onus on them for selecting a size.
6. Color of Garment. Easy, sort of. Again, if it's critical to match up a shirt color with your logo or theme, might be wise to get a sample in advance to check.
7. Location of Embroidery. For polos, woven shirts and jackets, embroidering the logo on the left chest is typical. Why? Because you usually put your name tag or embroidered name on the right so that your name is clearly visible when you shake hands. (Ah, so that's why.) Additional typical embroidery locations include the lower sleeve for polos and cuffs for long sleeve woven shirts. Note that cuff embroidery is facing upside down to the wearer so the customer can read it right side up. Other locations may be available, but it depends on the particular garment in question. Be aware, though, that embroidering in multiple or difficult locations can increase your cost dramatically.
8. Color of Embroidery. Usually you can have multiple color threads in the same logo for no additional charge. From the supplier we use, you can have up to 4 or 6 (sometimes more) colors at no additional charge; your particular supplier's maximum color limit may vary. If you have a particular PMS (Pantone Matching System) color that needs to be matched, it can be done, but it may involve additional fees.
9. Size of Embroidery. For polos, woven shirts, and jackets, around a 3" x 3" embroidered left chest logo area is typically a maximum. For polo lower sleeve and woven shirt cuffs, usually 1" x 2" is maximum (sometimes smaller). Other embroidery location sizes vary. However, always check before creating any design for embroidery.
10. Artwork. Though embroidery can emulate shading, remember that each shade in your artwork is a different thread. With shading in your logo, you'll hit that 10 color thread color maximum in a hurry. Your logo artwork must be crisp, clean, non-gradient vector artwork to achieve the best embroidery possible. See a full discussion on artwork in the chapter What is Good Artwork for Imprinting? which applies to both imprinted and embroidered apparel.