Behind the Seams: How Embroidery, Screen Printing, and Digital Transfers Transform Workwear

Whether it’s your work uniform or a graphic tee, you have probably seen a variety of techniques used to create the designs on your clothing. But have you ever wondered how these designs were created and the processes involved in transferring the design onto the clothing? 

In this guide, we give you a behind-the-scenes look at the techniques used to put designs on clothing, including embroidery, screen printing and digital transfers, and how each process provides different advantages to your customised workwear. 


The Techniques Used to Customise Workwear 

Customised workwear can come in all shapes and sizes, from simple t-shirts to aprons. The designs can also vary in colour and level of detail. These factors all play a role in determining the technique used to transfer these designs onto clothing. For example, embroidery offers more durability, whereas screen printing allows for more vibrant designs in a shorter amount of time. Let’s delve into how each technique works and the benefits they can bring. 

How Embroidery Works 

Embroidery is a technique that has been used for centuries. Using a needle and thread, designs can be stitched onto a piece of clothing using various stitching methods. There are a few different embroidery techniques that can be used, including: 

  • Hand Embroidery: This is where a single person manually stitches a design onto clothing. Hand embroidery is typically used in high-end clothing. 
  • Embroidery Patches and Appliques: This method involves embroidering the design onto a separate piece of material before accurately cutting out the design and adhering it to the chosen piece of clothing. 
  • Direct Embroidery: As the name suggests, direct embroidery stitches the design onto the clothing directly through the use of machinery. 

Although each embroidery technique is similar in finish, the processes themselves are better suited to certain situations. For instance, hand embroidery is good for unique designs but takes longer, meaning it is better suited for one-off personal items. Machine embroidery, on the other hand, transfers a design from a computer to a piece of clothing via an embroidery machine. This allows for an accurate transfer of designs, which is perfect for bulk orders. 

Benefits of Embroidery for Branded Workwear

Professional Appearance 

Embroidered logos or designs provide a more professional look to a work uniform. Embroidery is a more expensive option compared to other techniques, meaning an embroidered logo can convey the impression that a business takes pride in its uniform. 


Compared to printed designs that can peel or fade over time, embroidery offers a more long-lasting option. This ensures designs don’t become distorted after washes and saves you time and money when it comes to replacing workwear. 

Promotional Tool 

The use of embroidery to customise your workwear can have a positive impact on promoting your brand. Employees will promote your business wherever they go, so having a design that is not prone to fading or peeling can present a more professional look and a positive opinion of your business. 

The Screen Printing Process

Screen printing is a little more complicated than embroidery and even digital transfers as there are multiple steps involved. Whether the screen printing process is manual or automatic, the general steps taken are the sample. By definition, screen printing is the use of advanced inks, a squeegee and a mesh screen to transfer a design via stencils onto clothing. Here is a short summary of the screen printing process:

  1. Create a Design: This may be your brand or an image. The design will then be transferred onto acetate film, ready to be formed into a stencil. 
  1. Select the Screen via the Mesh Count: The mesh count is the number of fibres in one square inch of the screen. Different mesh counts are used for specific areas of a design. For example, a higher mesh count means less ink will be pushed through the screen and onto the fabric, making it perfect for finer details. 
  1. The Mesh is Coated in a Light-Reactive Emulsion Layer: Three main types of emulsion are used in screen printing. This includes Diazo, SBQ-based and Dual-care emulsions. Each has a specific curing time and application. 
  1. Exposing the Emulsion: The acetate film with your design is then exposed to light to create the stencil. This causes specific areas to harden and develop. 
  1. Stencil Creation: Once exposed to light, areas that aren’t covered become hard, and any excess is washed away, leaving your design on the stencil. The screen is then dried and ready for screen printing.
  2. Prepping for Printing: The clothing or workwear is placed onto a flat surface, and the screen is placed above, ready for printing to begin. 
  1. Applying the Design: The screen is lowered onto the material on a flat surface. A small amount of ink is applied to the top of the screen but not to the design itself. The ink is then pushed down and spread, transferring your design onto the clothing. Once the stencil has been used, it can be washed with a special liquid that removes the emulsion, which means the mesh can be reused to create new stencils. 
  1. Heat Curing and Finishing Touches: The clothing with the final design must be heat-cured to seal the design in place. This can be done by placing it through a dryer. This ensures the design doesn’t just fade away once washed.

Benefits of Screen Printing 


Screen printing is more cost-effective than other options, such as embroidery, particularly when it comes to large quantities of workwear. Designs that incorporate simple graphics and a few colours will benefit the most from this technique. 

Quick Turnaround Times

The simple process of screen printing allows for faster production times. This means any urgent or urgent orders can benefit from screen printing as opposed to other methods. 


With the use of stencils and a precise printing process, screen printing offers consistency when it comes to transferring designs. This means that even if multiple workwear pieces need to be produced, you can have peace of mind that they will all be identical with this technique. 

Digital Transfers in a Nutshell 

Digital transfers are often used for more complex designs that are not suitable for screen printing. A heating process is used to transfer a design onto clothing, providing a longer-lasting product. The digital transfer process also requires fewer steps than screen printing.

  1. Create a Design: The design must first be created. This can be a brand logo or other elements you may want to print onto your workwear, such as names and titles. 
  2. Design is Printed onto Transfer Paper: You could think of this step as creating a large sticker. Your design is printed onto transfer paper, which acts as a medium to transfer your design onto your chosen clothing. 
  3. Cut Out the Design: The design that has been printed onto the transfer paper will then be accurately cut out using a plotter. 
  4. Place the Design onto the Clothing: The design is now placed onto the clothing and is ready to be transferred. 
  5. Heat and Pressure Applied: To transfer the design onto the clothing, heat and pressure must be applied to ensure good adhesion. Once complete, the image is permanently adhered to the clothing. 

Different types of digital transfers can have different finishes. For example, heat transfer, as described above, transfers the design onto the garment, and it sits on top of the surface. In contrast, sublimation uses special solid dyes that turn into gas when heat is applied to create permanent and long-lasting prints. 

Benefits of Digital Transfers 

Full-Colour Printing 

Digital transfers allow for full-colour printing, making it ideal for all types of designs, including detailed graphics and photographs. This means even if you have a more complex brand design that involves specific colours, you can still achieve high-quality customised workwear with digital transfers. 

Wash Resistance 

The durability of digital transfers is unmatched with its wash resistance. Designs remain intact even after multiple washes, offering a long-lasting work uniform. This is even more important for workwear that must be frequently washed, such as builder’s uniforms, as this form of workwear will not have to be replaced as often. 

Cost-Effective Solution for More Complex Designs 

Sometimes, more complex designs may not be possible with screen printing or would cost too much using embroidery. This is where digital transfers come in. Digital transfers offer a cost-effective option for those with more complex designs, with their ability to handle almost any design.

Connect Your Team with Customise it Now 

Customised workwear not only provides a sense of community in your workforce but also shows potential customers who you are and what you stand for. With several customisation techniques on offer, you can benefit from branded workwear no matter how complex your branding designs are. 

At Customise it Now, we offer all these techniques to provide you with high-quality customised workwear. From jackets to trousers, we have everything you need to fully kit out your staff with a customised uniform. Why not take a look at our other services to see how we can elevate your work uniform?  Show off your brand with Customise it Now today! 


Is embroidery good for clothes?

Embroidery offers a durable solution to customised workwear. With designs that won’t simply peel off in the wash, embroidery is a permanent personalisation you can use to transform your workwear. 

What is the process of screen printing?

Screen printing uses a mesh screen and ink to create designs. Ink is forced through a mesh screen with a stencil imprinted onto it. Areas of the mesh are blocked out, meaning ink cannot pass through these sections. The ink that does pass through the mesh creates the design, transferring your image onto clothing. 

What is digital transfer print?

Digital transfer printing differs from screen printing as it can produce full-colour and complex designs. Transferring a design onto white transfer paper allows the image to be applied to clothing with heat and pressure. This causes a permanent and long-lasting design on your customised workwear. 

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