How It’s Done: Embroidered T-Shirts

Choosing the right design for a custom t-shirt can be tricky, especially in the office. It may seem impossible to choose a design that both the CEO and your co-workers will approve of but the answer is simple: embroidery.

Embroidery takes the idea of a custom t-shirt to the next level. One step beyond the age-old tradition of silk-screening, embroidery still allows the customer to choose his or her own design but the result is a much cleaner and up-scale product.

The embroidery process may seem simple to the average customer, but if you choose to design your own shirt, you will soon realize that this procedure is a bit more complicated. Embroidery is commonly seen as a three step process: artwork, conversion and production.

The artwork stage is where the image for the t-shirt is created. The customer presents his or her desired image to the artist creating the shirts and he or she works with the client to create a final design for the shirts. Some original designs may need to be slightly altered in size or style to fulfill the needs of both the client and the t-shirt artist.

Once the design has been finalized, the conversion stage of the embroidery process begins. Conversion is a complicated process that requires the two-dimensional image to be converted into a three-dimensional, thread-based design. Nowadays, most custom t-shirt companies go about this digitally, using specific computer programs to convert the paper image into a digital file that programs the sewing machine directly. The stitch type, size, and color are all recorded digitally. Once the new, three-dimensional design is programmed into the machine, the final stage of the process can begin: production.

Production may seem like the easiest stage of the process but, in truth, it can be extremely complicated for the machine operator. While the image was digitized during the “conversion” step, the operator still needs to program the machine with the correct sewing speed and sequence of stitches. The operator then loads the appropriate colors and amount of thread needed for the design. Finally, each t-shirt is individually loaded onto the machine, embroidered, and removed.

Although the production phase of the embroidery process is commonly seen as the last step, it is always necessary to examine each garment for quality and consistency. Loose threads and excess backing material must be trimmed and the inspector looks for uniformity in each design. Once the t-shirts have passed this quality inspection, they are ready to be packaged for delivery or pick-up by the client.

The entire embroidery process can seem a bit daunting at first but a polished, professional product is well-worth the effort. An expert, classic embroidered t-shirt is the perfect solution for corporate garments, professional uniforms or any other situation that requires a more refined appearance.

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